When a Dove Begins to Fly With Crows
Bonnie Bennett felt numb. With each day passing, she dragged herself to school and idly sat through her classes, though the teachers' words never reached her. She responded automatically to Elena and Caroline's attempts to draw her attention, keeping them at distance with a fake, reassuring smile that didn't falter until she headed for her Prius and performed the acts to get the vehicle up and running.
Upon coming home to an empty house, she took an aspirin to calm the throbbing headache that was the only disturbance to the absolute muteness surrounding her.
Bonnie Bennett felt empty. Completely, utterly empty but for a raw, painful feeling of despair that clenched her heart every time the reason for her grievance flickered through the wad of cotton wool in her mind.
Sometimes, whether it would be when Caroline said something infinitely tactless or when she watched a show on television, she was momentarily distracted from the inescapable exasperation that would return twice as fiercely the following moment, a cruel punishment for her negligence. These were moments to avoid.
She had asked her father not to clean up her grandmother's house as of yet and, knowing how much his daughter had loved her Grams, he had respected her wishes. She had yet to visit the house, though.
At night, after she'd done her homework - thanks to the copied notes Elena silently slipped her - she sat down at the window seat and watched the dark sky above the looming forest. When weariness took over and silent tears flowed down her cheeks, she found that the gloomy call of crows from the woods framed her dejected mood.
She cried herself to sleep every night.
When Bonnie came home, she felt that it had been a Tuesday like all of the others, except for the headache which now throbbed inside her head with even more ferocity. Bonnie sighed shakily as she blindly made her way toward the kitchen, closing her eyes against the light which sent shards of pain into her brain.
Today, Caroline had realized that she had lost not only one but two of her most talented cheerleaders in less than a year's time. She hadn't taken it very well. Reaching inside the drawer, Bonnie decided on taking two aspirins today.
Then she dragged herself up the stairs to do her homework.
Darkness had fallen over Mystic Falls when Bonnie closed her French textbook. She made herself a cup of tea and sat down at the window seat, one leg tucked underneath the other, while she breathed in the sultry air coming in through the opened window. Of their own accord, tears started to stream down her cheeks as she looked up at the starry night.
"I'm so tired, Grams," Bonnie suddenly whispered, her voice choked from sadness. Never before had she spoken when she was watching the night sky, but the events of today had shaken the stoic numbness blanketing her. "I quit cheerleading today. I just…can't work up the enthusiasm anymore. Caroline, of course, didn't understand. Knowing her, I won't hear the end of it tomorrow, but I… I don't know how much of that stuff I can handle. I…I miss you so much, Grams."
Her hand clenched the cup of tea she was holding, her knuckles turning white. "How do I go on, Grams? I'm trying, but I feel like I'm drowning in a pool of blackness. It's killing me, Grams!"
She bowed her head as a sob suddenly ripped through her chest. "I need you. Why did you leave me? How will I ever go on learning what you wanted me to learn when you're not here anymore? I don't know if I have the strength to do it on my own, the will to do it on my own. This all is still so very new to me…"
Bonnie took in a shaky breath and squeezed her eyes shut to get a grip on herself before she looked up at the dark velvet sky. Through her tears, she saw the stars glisten like small, reassuring dots of light in the dark veil covering the world. The sight somewhat calmed her, and her fists, which had been curled under the hollows of her knees, relaxed.
"How will I know you're alright?" she whispered quietly. "That you've found your way into the afterlife? I wish you would give me a sign, anything…"
A sigh involuntarily escaped her as her fingers massaged her temples, when an air current unexpectedly brushed her face. In reflex, Bonnie jerked up her head and looked around. "Grams?" she asked breathlessly, but her gaze only met with the stars glistening in the sky and the forest rustling at the background like before. All had gone quiet again.
Disappointed, Bonnie shook her head, but then her gaze came to rest upon the black bird that suddenly flew closer and perched on her windowsill. It was a crow.
Bonnie felt herself stiffen and blinked as the crow cocked its little head and looked at her through beady black eyes. Her headache, dulled by the aspirin, was forgotten as she stared back. An ominous feeling told her that she'd seen this crow before, whenever she would wake up from the frightening nightmares that resulted in sleep walking. She furrowed her eyebrows.
Her first instinct was to shoo him away, and she had lifted her arm to do so when an old memory drifted to the surface. A memory of her Grams telling her about crows as a symbol of the spiritual aspect of death or the transition of the spirit into the afterlife.
Bonnie's breath caught and her hand fell to her side again. She leaned forward to the bird, her eyes narrowing. "Grams?" she repeated, this time hesitant, though a bit hopeful.
"Caw!" the crow called indignantly and ruffled its feathers before it cocked its head once more.
Bonnie shook her head in disappointment. "I didn't think so," she mumbled as the small spark of hope left her and the familiar feeling of loss enveloped her once more. Still, the crow had managed to pull her out of her misery for a moment, and for that she was grateful.
"Wait here," she said idly to the small animal and disappeared inside her room to return with a crumbled biscuit out of a pack she held in a drawer of her desk. Bonnie leaned out the window and noticed that the crow had stayed at exactly the same place she'd left him. A small smile formed on her lips as she carefully lay down the crumbs on the windowsill and retreated.
The crow took a few hesitant steps forward and clicked its beak. Its gaze trailed to the crumbs spread before it.
"For you," Bonnie invited him in a soft, non-threatening tone. She nodded encouragingly when the crow's beady eyes looked up at her again, searching her delicate features. The moment she retreated and closed the window, the crow approached the crumbs with a few large hops and eagerly began to pick them up.
When Bonnie returned to close the over curtains, the crow was gone.
The next day, Bonnie awoke a bit more rested than usual and got ready for another day at school. Thankfully, and probably due to interference from Elena, Caroline stopped bugging her about her quitting cheerleading in the middle of the school year. So her headache was not as intense as she'd expected it to be when she parked her Prius back at home and walked into the kitchen.
She spent a few hours studying for a geography test that didn't hold her interest, breathing a sigh of relief when her cell phone rang. It was Elena.
"Hey, girl. I didn't catch you after school. How are you now?" Elena's somewhat husky voice was filled with sympathy, and Bonnie closed her eyes as the gnawing despair stung her heart once more.
"I…" she started hesitantly. "I'm alright, I suppose. Last night I actually had a good night's sleep…"
"You did look better today," Elena chimed in, obviously clinging to the hint of positivity enclosed in Bonnie's words.
Bonnie smiled wryly. Was it only a few months ago that she had been saying the same thing when Elena's parents had died? "Thanks," she sighed.
"Should I come over?" Elena asked from the other side of the line. "Or you could come to my place and stay to sleep."
Bonnie cast a look over her shoulder and noticed that dusk was setting in. She hesitated. Though she wasn't really in the mood, perhaps a girl's night over would distract her from things. And with Jenna and Jeremy around, Elena's house was a lot livelier than her own quiet home. A sigh escaped her and she thought about accepting, but the call of a crow startled her. Bonnie turned and cast a look out the window. The golden rays of the setting sun had made place for a murky half light, pulling her toward the windowsill. She made a decision.
"Actually, Elena, could we do that some other time? I'm really tired, and I would be glad if I had another one of those good night's sleep."
"Of course," Elena responded understandingly. "But don't run away on me tomorrow, ok?"
"Ok," Bonnie smiled apologetically, then something came to mind. "Oh, Elena, thanks for getting Caroline off my back today on my quitting cheerleading. I was so sure she was going to give me hard time for that."
For a moment, it was quiet at the other side of the line.
"Well, I'm glad that she didn't," Elena finally said, "though perhaps she has activated her only brain cell concerned with tact and sympathy, because I didn't talk to her."
"Oh…" Bonnie fell silent. She had been positive that Elena had spoken to Caroline, since their friend hadn't showed any sympathy when Elena's parents died, let alone Bonnie's grandmother, whom the blonde had always found a bit strange. "Well, I've got to be going. I want to have dinner ready when my dad comes home."
"Sure," Elena agreed. "Goodnight. See you tomorrow."
Bonnie put down her cell phone and rose from her bed, heading straight for the window seat. She slowly sank onto the cushioned seat and looked up at the sky. It was cloudy tonight and the stars were veiled, though the surroundings seemed lighter, somehow, because of the reflection of the lights on earth.
The croaking sound of a crow's call nearby startled her, and Bonnie shot up straight. Her wide eyes immediately fixed on the small figure of a familiar black bird that sat on the windowsill not too far away from her. It clicked his beak and ruffled his feathers when it saw that it had caught her attention. Its beady eyes gleamed in the warm light coming from her room.
"You again?" She leaned outside the window and raised her eyebrows. "Do you want some more biscuits?"
The crow hopped on its place and cocked its little head.
She shook her head and sighed. "That's what comes from acting on impulse. How will I get you to go away now?"
The crow stepped a bit closer, as if saying 'you won't.' A small smile appeared on Bonnie's features.
"Wait here," she said to the bird and retreated inside to return with a crumbled biscuit.
She carefully sprinkled the crumbs on the windowsill and sat down, waiting for the crow to pick them up. Somehow, she felt that she wouldn't have to retreat again for him to eat the crumbs. It wasn't a shy crow.
To her satisfaction, the crow did indeed take a few steps closer and started to pick up the crumbs after it had watched her for a moment with curious, beady eyes.
As the silence was broken only by the soft sound of a crow's beak ticking against the wooden windowsill, Bonnie averted her gaze toward the night sky and her thoughts inevitably drifted toward her grandmother.
"You know, birdie, when I first saw you, I thought you were my Grams."
The crow momentarily looked up and croaked softly at her statement. It sounded a bit offended. Bonnie smiled wryly and somehow felt the urge to explain herself.
"Yeah, pathetic, I know. But, it's just…she passed away not too long ago, and I…I just miss her so much." The last words she choked out. Her blurry gaze registered how the crow finished its last crumb and, instead of flying away, sat right beside her, watching her with a strangely intense gaze. A gaze which seemed to encourage her to continue talking, to breach the wall of numbness shielding her from the world outside her pain.
She bowed her head, looking at the crow's black feathers which gleamed in the golden light of the standard lamp behind her.
"My Grams was a fabulous woman - beautiful, strong, intelligent. She was a college professor, you know? After my parents got divorced and with my father being away all the time, she practically raised me. She taught me…to value the good in this world, to study hard, and to always look outside the box. I guess, when I look back, she was already preparing me… My Grams was proud, powerful, and…a witch."
The crow cocked its little head, and Bonnie nodded smilingly, imagining the animal reacting to her words. "Yes, she was a witch. But don't you worry. She wasn't the kind that would turn you into a frog, or something like that…" The crow ruffled its feathers and with a small smile, Bonnie lay her head on her knees as she watched him blink.
"I never got to know what exactly she could do, though," she mumbled regretfully. "I can still remember the day she told me that all of the strange things happening to me were because I was a witch. I didn't believe her, you know? I didn't want to believe her. Witches were creatures from fairy tales. Not me. But, before I knew it, I lit candles without using fire and had them floating through the air…"
The crow again made a soft, croaking sound and hopped closer, its beady eyes looking up at her with interest.
Bonnie sighed. "She had just started to teach me. And now she's gone, and I don't know what to do now. Should I go on and try to teach myself? Or perhaps it was for the best when I just let it be. No more witchcraft, no more vampires trying to take advantage of what I am-" She spoke those words with disgust, and for a moment she imagined that the crow flinched under her hard stare. "-no more deaths."
A lonely tear slid down her cheek as she locked eyes with the crow. A silent moment passed, and somehow Bonnie felt as if the beady black eyes were pleading with her not to give in to her doubts. She leaned her head back against the window frame, feeling rage against the person who had caused all of her misery flaring up.
"Tell me, birdie," she asked in a toneless voice that betrayed the anger lying underneath, "why did he have to be so persistent, so…so blind? He could have known that Katherine was bad news. Why did he have to kill all those people and misuse Caroline and…and kill my Grams?"
With a furious gaze in her brown eyes, she looked down on the black bird that sat motionlessly by her feet.
"Yes, he killed her!" she hissed, as hot tears now flowed freely down her cheeks. "My Grams died from the strain the spell put on her body, a strain which would have killed me, too, if she hadn't been with me that night!"
She leaned her head on her knees and sobbed uncontrollably. "I hate him! I hate him! I hate him!" Her muffled cries sounded painfully as she clenched her fists and slammed them against the windowsill.
As suddenly as it had begun, Bonnie was pulled from her rage when she heard a loud "Caw!". She watched with wide eyes as the crow flapped its wings in fright and flew away.
A feeling of guilt immediately washed over her while the bird disappeared into the dark night sky. She had scared off the crow by her fierce emotion and her sudden act of violence. Poor bird.
The feeling of a stinging pain made her look down. Her left hand was still curled into a fist, and blood dripped on the windowsill where a splinter had penetrated deeply into her skin. Cursing herself, Bonnie retreated inside to search for a bandage.
From the woods, a crow called.
"I need your help, little brother."
Stefan looked up to see Damon standing before him, his stony face betraying nothing. He was a little shocked. These words were some of the very few which Damon had said since the debacle in Fell's Church. He had retreated into a brooding silence, which wasn't like him. Stefan's heart had wrenched at seeing his brother hurting so badly, but Damon didn't allow anybody to come near him to support him. Not even Elena, whom he avoided.
So, Stefan kept his features composed when he asked carefully, "What is it?"
For a moment, Damon just looked at him, then sat down. "I need you to ask Elena to go inside Sheila Bennett's old house and search for the witch's grimoire."
After an initial moment of surprise, Stefan couldn't help the look of suspicion passing over his face. Emily's grimoire was safe with Bonnie, and he couldn't fathom why his brother would take an interest in the probably-less-elaborate grimoire of Bonnie's late grandmother. Or how Damon would know it wasn't in Bonnie's possession already.
Damon must have sensed his hesitation, because he bowed forward slightly and said with emphasis on each word, "And then you'll have Elena give it to Bonnie."
A look of confusion was now apparent on Stefan's face, causing Damon to sigh and roll his eyes in his characteristic way.
"Look. The witch might have suspected the…" he looked away uncomfortably now, "unfortunate ending of the spell, but I don't think she would have destroyed her grimoire, like she was supposed to when she felt her time had come. Bonnie is very new to the art and she needs every help, every encouragement she can get. Including her own grandmother's cookbook." Only slight sarcasm laced his abnormally-serious voice.
Stefan had silently listened to his brother's words, but now bowed his head and frowned as he stared Damon in the eye. "And what's in it for you, Damon? What do you want with Bonnie now? I'm feeling very, very sorry about how things turned out for you, but I can't let you mess with her even further. She's hurting, and her grandmother died because of us."
Stefan really meant this. He felt awfully guilty knowing that him running into the tomb had caused Sheila and Bonnie to lift the seal.
"I know she's hurting!" Damon snapped at him, and Stefan backed down a little bit, surprised at his brother's unexpected ferocity. But Damon quickly regained his composure and stood up abruptly, fixing his little brother with a cold blue stare. "I take it you don't want to help me then?"
He turned around and walked away, but he was stopped by Stefan appearing before him with vampire speed.
"You're wrong there, Damon," he said. "I do want to help."
The following day, Bonnie faithfully waited for Elena to arrive and they walked to the parking lot together. From the corner of her eye, she saw Caroline eying her while she walked away with Matt, but the blonde averted her gaze when she crossed Bonnie's gaze. Shrugging it off, Bonnie returned her attention to Elena, who looked positively uncomfortable this afternoon. Which was strange, since Bonnie had heard nothing unusual in her voice on the phone the previous night. But, when Bonnie wanted to ask her about it, Elena ducked into her SUV and pulled something from the glove compartment. It was an ordinary notebook.
"So, erm, Stefan asked me to give you this." Elena pushed the book into her hands.
"What is it?" Bonnie didn't take a look at it as she questioned Elena, but her best friend didn't seem in the mood to talk anymore and gently shoved her toward her own Prius. "Just take it, Bonnie, and promise me you'll take a look at it when you're home. Please?"
"Sure," Bonnie raised an eyebrow and put the book into her backpack as a relieved smile appeared on Elena's serious features.
"Great. Thank you. See you tomorrow!"
And as her friend quickly jumped into her SUV, Bonnie shook her head. There was something strange going on here.
At home, she automatically headed toward the kitchen only to discover that the heavy feeling in her head didn't warrant any taking of pain medication. Perhaps crying out her frustration last night had helped, she mused in pleasant surprise. She didn't linger on it, though, as she made herself some tea and walked up the stairs to her room, where her homework waited.
Bonnie spent an hour and a half studying, actually becoming absorbed by the difficult economy assignment as darkness fell over Mystic Falls. The moment she wrote down the last result, the memory of the frightened crow drifted to the surface, and Bonnie stood up and opened the drawer. She took a biscuit and, with a guilty expression, crumbled it on the windowsill outside, sitting down on the window seat to wait for the black bird to arrive. She noticed that she actually hoped he'd come back, for the animal made her open up about her sorrow in a way nobody had been able to before.
As she waited, her eyelids grew heavy and she felt herself drifting to sleep. Suddenly a soft "Caw!" roughly pulled her from her slumber. Her eyes shot open. For a moment, Bonnie looked around in bewilderment, then leaned outside to see the crow perched amidst the biscuit crumbs in front of her. It looked at her curiously.
Bonnie's face lit up and her beating heart jumped up before calming down. "Thank God, you came back," she exclaimed, and the crow cocked its head as if saying 'of course.'
A smile relaxed Bonnie's tense features. "I'm sorry I startled you last night. I won't do it again, I promise."
The crow merely ruffled its feathers and seemed to look at her hand, where a small band aid covered the now-closed cut from the splinter. Bonnie followed its gaze. "Yes," she agreed regretfully. "That's what comes from letting yourself go like that."
She sighed and shook her head. "And all because of Damon Salvatore."
Her gaze averted to the heavily clouded sky. It was going to rain pretty soon. The crow made a small sound and started to pick up the crumbs.
"An awful waste of time," Bonnie spoke thoughtfully as she rested her chin on her hands, her elbows propped on the windowsill as she stared upwards. "It's strange, though. I absolutely loathe him, I really do. He's so different from his brother, Stefan. Anything he does is for his own good, and he misuses and manipulates people like puppets to serve his plans, but every time I think of him, I only see the despair on his face when Emily destroyed the crystal, or his devastation when Katherine wasn't in the tomb... It makes me wonder what she was like, what she's done to be loved so fiercely for such a long time...if she was worth it. Ugh, I don't know… I guess somewhere inside, I might feel a bit sorry for him, and I hate myself for it." She shook her head to clear her thoughts from the image of the older Salvatore brother, looking up when the crow flapped its wings, clicking its beak at her, the windowsill clear of crumbs.
"You're out of biscuit, aren't you?" she changed the subject with a chuckle in her voice, and the crow made a croaking sound which almost sounded relieved.
"Well, maybe there's more." With a mischievous smile, Bonnie reached inside her pocket, then opened her hands, revealing more crumbs. "But you have to come and get it."
The crow clicked its beak in surprise, staring at her with an intense gaze as if gauging her intentions.
"Come on, I know you can do it," she said in a low voice, stilling her movements as to not frighten the bird. Carefully, it took a step forward, flapped its wings again, then hopped closer until it had reached her small hands.
"That's it, almost there. Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you," Bonnie whispered calmingly, and the bird blinked before hesitantly hopping onto her hands.
For a moment, neither of them moved, awaiting each other's reactions, then the crow lowered its little head and started to pick up the crumbs from her flattened palms.
Bonnie slowly let out her breath as she looked down on the crow sitting on her hands. He was bigger than her hands, and the sharp nails at the ends of his claws scratched the sensitive skin of her palms as he moved around to pick up the crumbs, clearly avoiding the cut underneath the band aid.
"Good boy," Bonnie whispered delightedly and smiled when the crow croaked indignantly at her words. It apparently didn't like to be treated like a dog, but when the crumbs were gone, it stayed put and even sat down, allowing Bonnie to cup her hands around its small body. A warm feeling engulfed her when its soft feathers brushed her palms.
Outside, it started to rain. Bonnie wistfully looked at the raindrops falling down. "You know, sometimes I feel so lonely. With my Grams gone, I realize there is no one left but me and my dad." She closed her eyes and savored the feeling of the crow's feathers against her skin. "And my friends… Elena has Stefan, and even Caroline and Matt are together now…"
The crow moved in her hands and made a soft gurgling sound, much like a cat's purring. It sounded very soothingly.
She couldn't help but smile, and the crow blinked its beady eyes against her. "Thank you," she said quietly and, on impulse, she started to pull back, retreating into her room. The crow looked up in alarm and jumped out of her hands before she reached the window frame.
"Oh, I'm sorry, birdie. I didn't realize," she mumbled. "You probably would have panicked and gotten injured inside."
The crow cocked its head and croaked softly as if to contradict her. Just then, the young witch saw the headlights of her father's car approach the house. "I think it's time for you to go now, birdie."
The bird cocked its head, seeming to nod, and spread its wings. With a last look toward the young witch, it flew away into the dark woods.
The following evenings, the crow faithfully returned to the windowsill, always around the time when dusk would start to shroud the woods into darkness. And always, it would find Bonnie sitting on the window seat, holding crumbs of enticing biscuit. Soon, the crow lost all of its hesitance toward her and immediately landed on the palms of her hands, where the crumbs waited. It avoided going inside her room, though, and Bonnie was careful not to draw it too close toward the window. Instead, she was content with speaking to it in a hushed tone that seemed to have a soothing effect on the crow. The bird's visits caused her mood to lift considerably, much to especially Elena's relief, though the few times Bonnie met with Stefan, he'd cast her a thoughtful, searching look. He never asked, though.
It was on a tranquil, somewhat warm summer evening when Bonnie's gaze caught the movement of two crows in flight high above the woods. They twisted and turned elegantly, calling out to each other, before they disappeared crow didn't seem to notice them, as it had its beady black eyes trained on her.
Something occurred to her.
"My Grams once told me," she said quietly, "that all crows live in families of monogamously mated pairs. Just like that pair just there."
She looked down on her crow, sitting contentedly in her hands and clicking its beak at her.
"But you have never brought along another crow. Don't you have a mate to go to?" she asked, a hint of worry in her voice as she watched the bird expectantly.
The crow opened its beak, only to shut it again. It flapped its wings and looked at her with a lost look in its beady eyes. Then it suddenly took off.
Bonnie watched the bird go until it was swallowed by darkness, a feeling of regret tugging at her heart.
A/N: Welcome to this Bamon story. The title of this story is inspired by a German proverb.
Like in the books, in this story Damon can turn into a crow (among other animals). This is somewhat different from the show where the crow is an animal controlled by Damon Salvatore to foreshadow his arrival, similar to the fog. In the fifth episode (You're Undead To Me) the crow suffers an untimely death because Damon fed on him to regain some strength after being locked away and starved by Stefan. He only returns in Bonnie's nightmares about Emily. In this story, she doesn't know about the crow's true identity.
As Bonnie remembers from Grams telling her, crows are sometimes associated with the spiritual aspects of death, or the transition of the spirit into the afterlife, whereas ravens tend to be associated with the more negative, physical aspect of death. The bird in the show is actually a raven.
Many thanks go to my beta Crimson Eyed Sakura for her wonderful work on this story.