When A Dove Begins to Fly With Crows

Sixth Evening

Most of the following school day went by in a blur for Bonnie, but this time her absentmindedness wasn't caused by the numbing grief over her grandmother's death. Not noticing Elena's wary looks at her, she dreamily stared out the window, her chin resting on her hand as her thoughts whirled around the kiss that still tingled on her lips and the memory of a pair of arms holding her in a strong embrace. She didn't know if the disturbing feeling she felt could be called hope.

Bonnie counted the minutes on each of the classrooms' clocks until finally she was able to leave for the parking lot and be alone with her thoughts. With her summer dress fluttering around her, she entered her car, not noticing that she was being stared at from the woods by beady black eyes.

Upon making it home, she forced herself to start writing the photosynthesis essay for Biology that really needed to be finished, and so she didn't notice when the sun started to set and the shady half-light of dusk began to veil the world outside.

At that moment a sudden, croaking "Caw!" cut through her concentration.

She shot up from her chair, her eyes wide in shock. There, outside on the windowsill, sat a familiar looking crow, watching her with beady black eyes.

Bonnie rushed toward the window and threw it open. The crow hopped up and flapped its wings, but didn't fly away.

"Where have you been?!"

Blinking its eyes, the black bird backed away from Bonnie's positively livid expression.

"Don't you know how long I've waited for you to come back, and you didn't! I thought I had done something wrong… At one point I even thought you were…dead." She choked out the last word, emotions overcoming her.

It actually had been the ending of a particularly horrible nightmare, waking up covered in sweat, when she'd seen the inanimate body of a crow lying underneath the staircase of an old, stately house.

Staring at her, the crow croaked softly at her words. It almost sounded like an apology. It carefully hopped closer and inclined its little head.

Bonnie looked down on the small creature gazing up at her, and she let out a short laugh. With a shaky smile, she shook her head and a moment later, she sat down on the window seat with a crumbled biscuit in her hands. "Here. You don't deserve it, but you're the only one who eats them, anyway."

She lowered her hands toward the windowsill and the crow immediately hopped into her palms, its nervousness gone.

Bonnie allowed herself a small smile at the sight and leaned her head against the window frame, looking at a point in the distance. "You know, I really missed you. You've been the only one I could talk to about...well, everything. And since you left, a lot of strange things have happened. Do you remember when I told you about Damon Salvatore?"

She looked down on the black bird in her hands, and for a moment it seemed as if the bird stopped picking up crumbs.

"I think you do. Apart from Grams, I fear I've been talking about him the most," she said softly. "And from the moment you disappeared, I kept bumping into him. At first, he just showed up looking like he wanted to talk but he never did. But then I sort of...confronted him and something...happened."

Bonnie lowered her gaze, hesitance flashing across her face. "It seemed like some kind of connection formed between him and me, in which I could see all of his loneliness displayed for me, and without me even wanting it, I reached out."

She didn't notice that the crow had now forgotten about the crumbs and looked up at her with an intense gaze. "I've never really thought about it before, but he protected Emily's entire lineage of witches. Including me. He still wants to protect me, even after Emily's betrayal. And it makes me wonder: what does he know about Emily and the agreement they had? What has he done to keep me safe? And where does that leave us? Have I ever met him, even before Elena met Stefan?"

The crow clicked its beak.

"And yesterday, he appeared again, when I was studying witching lessons in the front yard."

A delicate blush graced her cheeks and she suddenly looked away shyly. "He offered to help me with my witching lessons. He…kissed me." The last words she whispered as she lowered her gaze. The bird kept watching her with its beady eyes, compelling her to go on. "It felt nice. In fact, it was the best kiss I have ever had, but I also don't understand why. Why does he keep showing up? What does he want with me? Does he want to use me again? Somehow it doesn't feel that way. It almost feels like...he wants to be with me, in spite of Elena. That doesn't make any sense though. Why me? Is it my blood? I know that he longs for my blood..."

Her expression momentarily darkened at the thought but then she gave the crow an amused grin. "I think that my powers spice it up a bit."

The croaks the crow let out now definitely sounded like human laughter, and Bonnie's smile widened to a grin. She cupped her hands around the bird and shivers of pleasure went through its little body at her careful touch.

She sighed. "Is it possible to loathe and even hate somebody, while at the same time you feel a flutter in your heart the moment that he lowers his guard for you - the only witch in town, the one person he's bound to protect…"

The bird in her hands had become completely still as her voice trailed away, its black gaze fixed on the young witch's lovely features. It croaked softly.

Bonnie looked down on her pet bird, one of her curls falling onto its equally dark feathers and she chuckled softly. "What a pair we are. The witch and her crow. The only thing we'll still need is a black cat."

The crow called indignantly, causing Bonnie to grin. "I already thought so. But it was worth a try."

Ruffling its feathers, the crow settled down on her palms and looked up at her contently. For a few peaceful moments, they sat in silence as a full moon rose in the east. Then Bonnie looked down and slowly withdrew one of her hands from the crow's body, lifting it up.

The crow noticed her movement and his beady eyes nervously followed her hand hovering over him.

"Hush," Bonnie whispered calmingly. "Don't worry. I only want to touch you."

Her fingers gingerly brushed its black feathers and, when the crow didn't back away, she added some more pressure to her caresses trailing down from its little head to its back.

The crow started to relax and pulled in its neck, basking in the witch's caresses.

Bonnie only withdrew her hand when a pair of headlights slowly approached the house. Opening its almost closed eyes, the crow slightly flapped its wings in her hand, in silent protest.

"It's time for you to leave," she whispered regretfully, "but there's always tomorrow evening."

The crow hopped from her hands and onto the windowsill, ruffling its feathers. Then it flew up and unexpectedly landed on her shoulder. Sharp claws suddenly dug into her skin and the crow brushed his smooth beak against her earlobe, giving it an affectionate nibble.

When her crow took off and disappeared into the darkness Bonnie stared after it, wide-eyed and with a smile on her face.

Seventh Evening

The following evenings, the crow returned like before. It loved to nestle in her cupped hands and enjoy the feeling of her fingers caressing it. Sometimes, though, it went to sit upon her shoulder as she leaned against the window frame and it made that alluring, purring sound whenever she lifted her hand to stroke its smooth, bluish-black feathers.

Dusk once again became the witch's favorite time of day.

It didn't go by unnoticed by Elena that Bonnie seemed to finally be recovering from her grandmother's death. The numbness had retreated, allowing for the real, lively Bonnie to return. Elena felt grateful that Sheila's grimoire had such a positive effect on her granddaughter and often found herself astonished at the spells the young witch had learned. Her powers were growing rapidly.

The only thing that worried her was the fact that, lately, a black crow was often seen in Bonnie's vicinity. Elena had noticed the bird watching her on several occasions, only to fly away when she or Stefan inconspicuously shooed it, the latter often with a hard stare. Her friend didn't seem to notice the black bird following her, though, so Elena kept quiet about it in order to not burden her.

The next Wednesday, however, Elena had said goodbye to Bonnie and was walking toward her SUV when she saw the crow openly perched on the roof of Bonnie's Prius. Her eyes widened and her gaze flashed toward Bonnie, who, to her dismay, had seen the bird as well and let out a surprised gasp. Elena waited for Bonnie to shoo the crow, but instead her friend lifted her hand and let the crow hop onto it, smiling as she even petted the bird.

Elena watched in bewilderment as Damon inclined his head and croaked softly at the witch. She took a few steps forward when Damon saw her and, with a slight ruffling of his feathers, took off.

"You know, with you being a witch and all, I thought you'd be more careful around crows."

Bonnie turned around in surprise at hearing Elena's voice behind her. The initial joy of suddenly seeing her crow waiting for her on the rooftop of her car had changed into disappointment when he unexpectedly flew away and now she met with a gaze from her friend she could only describe as...disapproval?

Bonnie frowned. "Were you watching me?"

"That's not the point, Bonnie," Elena replied, narrowing her eyes. "It seems that you're quite familiar with that crow and I strongly advise you to keep your distance from him."

Bonnie's eyes widened in disbelief. "You did not just tell me to stay away from a bird. You talk about it as if it's a person."

Elena turned a little red under her apparent sarcasm. "Look, I'm only saying this for your own good. I don't want you to get hurt even more after what happened..." To her surprise, her voice sounded insincere even to her own ears.

For a moment, a pained expression passed over Bonnie's features, then she shook her head. "All this isn't making any sense to me, but to me it sounds awfully like you are jealous, Elena. Jealous of the attention a crow is giving me."

The color on Elena's cheeks brightened. "Oh, you think I am? Well, maybe you should know that..."

Her words were cut off when her gaze crossed Stefan, who had suddenly shown up next to her SUV and was staring at her with an intense expression on his face. Her eyes widened.

"I have to go," she said hastily, and before Bonnie could comprehend her strange behavior, Elena had already turned around and headed for her own car.

That evening, Bonnie sat down on the window seat after having finished her homework for both school and witching lessons and enjoyed the warm summer breeze caressing her skin, while the scent of the roses underneath her window filled the air. Her thoughts drifted back to the awkward conversation she'd had with Elena this afternoon. Bonnie had never seen Elena acting this...strange. And the things she had said seemed utter nonsense to her. However, her words somehow had stirred a feeling of unrest in Bonnie, as if her friend had appealed to instincts she'd buried deep inside when she grew more and more attached to her crow. Her crow...

A soft croak pulled her from her thoughts, and Bonnie looked down to see the crow sitting next to her hand, its head inclined as it ruffled its feathers.

"Oh," she sighed. "Birdie." But instead of cupping her hands for it to hop onto, she stayed still and merely stared at the bird on the windowsill.

It was a crow like every other crow, a bird of medium size with gleaming black feathers and intelligent, beady eyes. She'd grown attached to this bird. Every evening when it alighted on the windowsill and would hop into her hands, she liked to think that it liked being with her, liked to be petted by her, because it had come back even after she'd run out of biscuits.

The crow seemed surprised by her withdrawn reaction because it suddenly flew up and landed on her knee. This was as close to the window as it had ever been. The bird croaked indignantly as what seemed to be a questioning gaze appeared in its black eyes.

But Bonnie simply looked back, then asked, "What is it about youthat I should be afraid of? Why did Elena warn me about you?"

The crow went quiet, probably from the serious tone in her voice. It blinked.

For a long moment, Bonnie silently studied him, imagining that the bird was staring back at her with a reproachful gaze in its gleaming little eyes. Finally, she sighed and reached out. With her index finger she stroked its little head, eliciting a purring sound from the bird. A small smile broke through her tense features.

"I don't want to stay away from you," she whispered as she stroked its soft feathers. She cupped her hands for it to jump into, which the bird immediately did. "You've helped me through the loss of Grams, you're there when I need someone to talk to, and it always seems like you actually...understand."

The crow cocked its head as if nodding, and with a bit more decisiveness Bonnie added, "I won't let you be taken away from me. You're my crow."


With a ruffling of its feathers, the crow called indignantly, and Bonnie smiled as it cocked his little head. "I'll just pretend that you agree with me, birdie."

The crow simply clicked its beak and peacefully nestled into her hands as Bonnie relaxed against the windowsill, looking thoughtfully into the general direction of her grandmother's old house.

She hadn't been lying. The bird had helped build up the courage to face the world and to face life again, and now that it was here to stay, she felt that she was finally ready to take the last step in her healing process.

"I've decided to visit Grams' house tomorrow after school," she said quietly, and the crow looked up with a surprised gaze in its beady eyes. "I feel I'm ready now...thanks to you, birdie."

The crow cocked its head and almost contently croaked at her words.

For a moment, Bonnie remained silent as she absentmindedly stroked the bird's feathers, enjoying the shivers of pleasure that coursed through its little body while she watched the last rays of the sun disappearing behind the dense wood that loomed behind the front yard. Darkness had fallen over Mystic Falls.

The crow started to move in her hands, and she knew that it was almost time. The regretful moment for her bird to disappear into the woods. "It's almost time for you to go, birdie."

She cast a last glance on the dark trees across from the house. "I just wish..."

Her voice trailed away hesitantly as a blush colored her cheeks, but the crow looked up at her expectantly, waiting for her to continue.

Then Bonnie continued quietly, "I just wish I was a crow so I could follow you wherever you're going when you leave at night..."

With a surprised sound, the crow clicked his beak and completely stilled its movements at her wistful words.

"Bonnie? Who are you talking to?" a voice came from the other side of her bedroom door. Bonnie's head snapped up. It was her father. She hadn't even noticed him coming home. And neither had the crow, apparently.

"Erm, just some bird, Dad. He comes here sometimes for biscuits," she replied hastily, hoping that her father didn't decide to come in.

But after a moment of silence, her father replied absentmindedly, "Oh, ok, honey. Just don't let him soil the entire windowsill."

Bonnie's eyes widened and a nervous giggle escaped her as the crow flapped its wings in silent protest, utterly affronted.

"I'm sorry," the young witch mouthed at it as she lowered her hands to let it hop onto the windowsill.

The crow flapped his wings, understanding that it needed to be silent and clicked his beak, a spot of black against her white windowsill, seemingly reluctant to leave. On impulse, Bonnie bowed forward and brushed her lips against its little head in the smallest of caresses. The bird went completely rigid as it stared at her with an unreadable look in its beady eyes. Then it suddenly took off and disappeared around the house.

"See you tomorrow, birdie," Bonnie whispered and closed the window.

Eighth Evening

The crow had apparently understood that it would get Bonnie into trouble if it approached her in public, so it refrained from doing so while she was in school, and Bonnie thought it best to let Elena believe that she'd followed her advice. Instead, she and Elena talked about the spells she'd learned in the past few days. Witching lessons were far more interesting than math.

That afternoon, Bonnie didn't go straight home; instead, true to her resolution, she let her hands turn the steering wheel and, for the first time in what felt forever, follow the familiar road to Grams' old home. When the salmon-colored house came into view, Bonnie subconsciously slowed down, her eyes filling with tears.

With her heart racing in her chest, she gingerly got out of the car and turned toward the front door. Taking a deep, shaky breath to calm herself, she tightened her grip around the keys and determinedly walked up the front porch.

Bonnie didn't know how long she was inside the house, wandering through the empty, tastefully furnished rooms, pulling open drawers here and there and running her hands across the polished wooden side tables and heavy curtains. The spirit of Grams was still very much present in her home, as if she would appear from the dining room every moment. But it didn't hurt Bonnie anymore. The few tears she'd shed when she found herself in the vestibule had quickly dried, and after she'd gotten over her hesitation, she deeply enjoyed being in her grandmother's house and a warm feeling glowed inside of her.

When the sun sank away from the windows in the living room, Bonnie stepped out of the house and sat down on the front porch steps, like when she was a child. Leaning her head against a smooth white pillar, Bonnie let her eyes wander over the surroundings as her sandaled foot absentmindedly drew circles in a heap of sand. It was the last thing she saw before she sank into an exhausted but peaceful sleep.

He shouldn't be here. He really shouldn't. But when she'd told him that she would be here the entire afternoon, he couldn't resist the urge to go see her. Maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was worry, it could even be the unnerving and quickly growing feeling of longing for her, but he didn't really mind. All of his doubts were forgotten as she stepped from the woodland shade and spotted her small frame resting against the pillar on her grandmother's front porch. She appeared to be asleep.

With vampiric speed, he rushed up to her and stopped right before her to look down on her as conflicted feelings passed over his face.

Not too long ago, Damon had been standing in another girl's bedroom, watching her sleep in his endless loneliness, but as the source of his love for the image of her, his addiction, had been proven false, he couldn't remember ever having felt this moved by the sight of a young woman sleeping. Contrary to Elena, Bonnie wasn't the incarnation of her early nineteenth century ancestor, though Emily's strong yet delicate features had survived through the generations and showed in her young descendant's charming face.

Emily had been the only person who had always been able to unnerve him, whom he had actually feared, and if it hadn't been for Katherine, he would have stayed away from her as far as possible. But in their need to save their loved ones, they had surprisingly found each other, though it had condemned him to watch over her offspring for eternity.

Damon knelt down and stretched out his hand to gently trail his finger along Bonnie's cheek and exposed neckline. To his surprise, she didn't wake up.

Bonnie Bennett. The last witch of Emily's line - and the least experienced one at that, too. True to his word, he had protected her like the other witches before her, and Emily's betrayal hadn't made him rethink his side of the bargain. Unknowingly, even unbeknownst to himself, Bonnie had taken up a special place in his heart, which he thought had been broken after Katherine's betrayal. He wondered if Emily had ever foreseen for that to happen, or would approve of him caressing her descendant like a lover.

Damon's expression softened as he gently brushed away a curl from her face, and his gaze trailed toward Bonnie's neck, seeing the vein that barely visibly pulsed underneath her caramel skin. He pulled back his hand and inhaled deeply.

A network of dark veins appeared around his suddenly blackening eyes. His nostrils filled with the sweet scent of Emily's powerful lineage that ran through Bonnie's veins. The memory of her taste had stayed with him ever since he'd sunk his teeth into her and had left him hungering for more. When Damon had kissed her on the front lawn, he'd been able to contain himself but for that one, small prick. But here, on her grandmother's front porch, with her intoxicating scent mixing with the scent of the roses surrounding the house, he fought a losing battle.

Slowly but determinedly, Damon leaned in, his face only inches from hers as the crease between her delicate eyebrows deepened. His nose then touched her soft cheek and drew a line toward her earlobe until his lips hovered above her exposed neck. He closed his eyes as he lightly grazed her incredibly soft skin and the tip of his tongue peeked through his slightly parted lips, tracing the place where the vampire was going to attack.

Then he suddenly sighed and drew back with supernatural speed, catching her hand before it could grab his arm.

She looked at him with wide eyes. For a moment, they were rooted to their spots, watching each other as Damon's eyes returned to normal.

"What made you stop?" the witch whispered, breaking the silence.

Damon shook his head and loosened his grip on Bonnie's arm.

"You." His conflicted tone betrayed the feelings of relief and regret that coursed through him as he looked down on her.

Confusion passed over Bonnie's features and she lifted her hand to her neck, hiding it from view. Damon grimaced.

"Next time, I will set you on fire," she stated simply, the danger behind her threatening announcement crystal clear without the use of rightful anger.

Damon blinked and sat down next to her, his arms loosely resting on his knees.

Bonnie shifted somewhat closer to her pillar. "What are you doing here?"

A bitter expression momentarily flashed through Damon's ice blue eyes. "Next question, please."

Bonnie carefully let go of her neck and rested her hands in her lap. The vampire next to her noticed how the soft yellow of the thin cotton dress complimented her skin. Imperceptibly to Bonnie, his eyes softened.

"How did you know I was here?" she finally asked. "I didn't tell anyone I was coming."

Damon merely shook his head. "I have my sources," he refused to explain.

Bonnie's eyes traveled over his sharp profile as he absentmindedly stared into the distance. Her gaze came to rest upon his lips, which just now had grazed her neck but only yesterday had been pressed against hers, parting for her to taste their softness... A feeling she very much wanted to experience again. Her eyes widened at the direction her thoughts were taking and she quickly averted her gaze, focusing on the straps of her sandals instead.

"That was a brave thing to do, little witch."

Bonnie blinked at his unexpected remark. "What?"

"The visit." With a little jerk of his head, he motioned to the house behind them. "How do you feel?"

"Oh, I..." She looked at the circles in the sand underneath her feet. How did she feel? Relieved, she guessed, that she had finally come to peace with her grandmother's passing. "Better than I had expected," she said honestly. "I only feel glad to be back where my Grams lived. The place still breathes her."

"Hmm," Damon cast a look over his shoulder and he frowned slightly as if he felt it too, the echoes of Sheila's presence here. It made him feel uncomfortable.

His reaction reminded Bonnie of the connection between the vampire and her family.

"So," she spoke up quietly. "You've protected every witch in Emily's line."

Damon grimaced. "Yep, each and every one of them," he replied evenly, with a hint of self-mockery.

"Then you must really hate us by now," Bonnie stated matter-of-factly with a hint of regret lacing her voice.

Curiously, Damon glanced at her from the corner of his eye, but then he shook his head dismissively and a vague smile started to play around his lips. "Do you want me to?"

Bonnie sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. "I didn't say that," she said quietly. "...But I guess the correct answer would be - I don't care if you do."

Damon nodded. "You're a quick study, little witch."

A thoughtful silence settled between the vampire and the witch sitting on the front porch, each immersed in their own thoughts. The wind rustled through the high trees, playing with Bonnie's curls, and Damon's sharp gaze followed her elegant movement as she pulled back the loose strands falling into her face. A crow called in the woods and she subconsciously straightened up somewhat.

The elder Salvatore brother smiled. "Do you like crows?"

A look of confusion passed over Bonnie's face, and she blinked as she turned to face him. "What?"

Damon nodded toward the woods, where another crow responded to the first one. "Crows. I saw you responding to their call. Do you like them?"

To her horror, Bonnie felt a deep blush creep to her cheeks. She didn't feel like telling him about her pet crow. Damon Salvatore for sure would be the one not to understand it.

She forced herself to shrug as she set an indifferent face. "Oh, not in particular. There's only one crow who sometimes visits my home and I give him some biscuits."

Damon frowned as a disbelieving expression flashed over his features, then he slightly narrowed his eyes and his gaze bore into hers. Bonnie couldn't move. "Didn't your grandmother tell you to be careful around crows?"

The ominous words lingered between them as Bonnie opened her mouth, then closed it again. "He makes me feel better," she whispered. "I was hurting so much. But the crow's visits somehow comforted me and made me find the will to go on."

Damon's features hadn't changed while listening to her words, but something flickered in his eyes as her voice trailed away.

"That's quite an accomplishment for a bird," he finally said, but his voice held no trace of mockery. He even sounded a little bit jealous, Bonnie realized in astonishment, until Damon turned his head to look at her, his indulgent smile distracting her.

"So, what do you talk about when he visits?" For some reason, his gaze wandered toward her hands and a longing expression momentarily passed over his face.

"I won't tell you that," Bonnie said, offended, thinking about all those times she'd mused about Damon himself and the confusing way she felt about him.

The vampire looked at her with an attentive gaze as his voice took on a velvety tone. "Really? You do know that you might only make me more curious about what my little witch talks about with the animals in the woods..."

Perhaps it had been his intention to persuade her into talking or to mock her, but his attempt failed as an amused smile formed on Bonnie's lips. "Well, your little witch is not planning on telling you, so you have to learn to live with it."

He grimaced at her choice of words. "Charming," he commented, and Bonnie cast him a sweet smile. Changing the subject, he asked, "So, how are things going with the witching lessons?"

Bonnie cocked her head and narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing his curious but rather innocent expression. Her heart sped up. She hated it when he looked at her that way. "You seem pretty interested in them," she stated.

He smirked before the innocent look returned. "It's my duty to protect Emily's line of witches." His gaze held hers for a moment, then he continued in a softer tone, "...and if that means helping her last descendant to not give up on her magic..."

His voice trailed away, and Bonnie blinked as she let the words sink in, then her eyes widened in realization. "The grimoire. Elena said it was Stefan who..."

"A little white lie. You wouldn't have accepted my help so easily."

Then his head suddenly snapped up. In the west, the sun started to set. "It's time for me to go now, little witch." He quickly rose, then slightly leaned in to trail a finger along her cheek.

"So soft," he whispered, before casting her one of his characteristic smirks.

He strode toward the woods at a human pace when the sound of Bonnie's voice made him stop and turn.

"Why do you keep showing up?"

She was standing now and her hand rested on the wooden pillar as she watched him standing in the front yard, her heart racing in her chest. For a moment, he seemed to hesitate. Then a melancholic expression passed over his face. "Not everyone has a crow to turn to, little witch."

And with that, he disappeared between the trees.

Half an hour later, Bonnie parked her car before her house and quickly went upstairs. She opened her window and leaned outside, thinking about the last words Damon had said to her before he had disappeared into the woods. She'd been caught off guard by him showing up at her grandmother's house, but somehow it hadn't bothered her that he had been sitting there next to her on her grandmother's front porch.

On the contrary, she couldn't deny the excited jolt of her heart she'd felt at seeing him, nor could she forget the fluttering of her heart when she discovered it had been him who had returned her grandmother's grimoire to her. A sigh escaped her as she massaged her temples while confusion about Damon's helpful behavior toward her absorbed her thoughts.

Finally, Bonnie turned away from the window and, ignoring her homework, she jumped onto her bed to start on her other, less ordinary homework. She hoped that she would be able to work up the concentration to do so.

Opening her grandmother's grimoire, she followed the instruction and leafed to the page Sheila's instructions sent her to. A spell for summoning animals.

Bonnie's eyes started to gleam in excitement as she read the words. This could get interesting. Her curls falling over her forehead, she started to read the directions. The spell was a difficult one to learn, so the grimoire instructed her to start with the focus on an animal she had a strong connection with.

Bonnie's slender finger rested on the elegantly written words. She suddenly regretted not having all kinds of pets wandering around the house, though she had never really cared for them. A gust of wind came in through the open window, making the net curtains billow. She shivered as she sat up, noticing the false light preceding twilight. A smile broke through her serious features.

Closing her eyes, Bonnie focused on the crow.

A startled cry and a loud thud, followed by a pained groan and muffled curses coming from the bathroom, where Damon had just shut off the water, made Stefan look up from his book in shock.

Lately, it had become a daily routine for his older brother to freshen himself up at sunset and disappear for a couple of hours, always in his crow form. He didn't bother to hide his actions from Stefan, who had some suspicions as to where he went, but since he'd also noticed that Damon seemed to be recovering from the disaster at the tomb and nothing bad had so far happened, he let things be.

In the blink of an eye, Stefan now appeared upstairs and opened the bathroom door. His eyes widened. Sprawled on the bathroom floor was his brother. Damon was clenching the bathtub as an invisible force violently tugged on his body.

Stefan raised his eyebrows. "What are you doing?"

Damon glared at him. "How would I know? One moment I'm taking a shower, the next moment I'm knocked out of the bathtub and smashed against the door."

Leaning against the doorframe, Stefan amusedly watched his brother fight a losing battle to stay inside of the bathroom. Another invisible tug peeled off his fingers and, with a painful bang against the doorpost, Damon flew through the doorway, past his brother and through the hallway. His body then tumbled down the banister and inevitably drew toward the front door.

Stefan's smirk broadened as he heard Damon's distressed voice call, "Wipe that smirk from your face and at least throw me a towel!"

Only obeying the second command, Stefan flashed down the stairs and threw his brother a towel to cover himself.

"Looks like witchcraft to me. Made one angry with you again?" he commented amusedly before lazily strolling toward the front door as Damon struggled to put on the towel.

Damon's eyes widened. "You wouldn't…"

"Do what…?" Stefan asked innocently and threw open the front door. Roaring with laughter, he watched his older brother disappear outside with a startled cry.

As Damon helplessly rushed through the darkening sky, Stefan's words and the direction he moved into made his eyes widen in realization. Shit.

He tried to change into his crow form, but the foreign pull on his body interfered with his own powers and he could only watch as the familiar house inescapably appeared into view. He closed his eyes.

A loud bang and a series of colorful curses coming from outside the window broke Bonnie's concentration. Her eyes shot open and her head snapped at the windowsill. She watched in horror as Damon Salvatore scrambled to stay on the small windowsill. He helplessly tried to grab a hold onto something, wearing...nothing but a towel.

"What are you doing here?" she shrieked in panic.

"You tell me." Damon glared at her while trying to stabilize himself against the wall.

"I didn't call you! I was summoning…" Bonnie's eyes widened in shock.

"Yes…?" Maybe now was a good time to change into his crow form.

"Oh God," Bonnie whispered as she stepped back, her hand before her mouth as she looked about to faint.

Okay, maybe not.

"You know, a little help here would be appreciated, little witch." Damon tried for a charming smile, but in his uncomfortable position it came out as a grimace.

"I can't let you in," she responded automatically, and his face fell.

"You summoned me!" he barked.

"I didn't!" Bonnie seemed genuinely panicked now and started to pace around in her room as she looked at him from the corner of her eye.

"Oh! And what would you have done if the crow would have slammed against the protection or even the wall next to your window? Do you honestly think it would have survived that?" Damon winced at the thought.

"I… I…" she looked up. "I hadn't really thought about that," she replied lamely. "I didn't know the power had such speed…"

"Well, now you do," Damon groaned and pushed himself against the wall. "So, can I come in now?"

"Can't you just…let yourself fall onto the lawn or something? I mean, you can't actually die." Bonnie came closer hesitantly, a begging look in her eyes, but Damon suddenly looked over his shoulder. Despite his awkward situation, he was distracted by something. Then his eyebrows raised in a mocking expression.

"And land right in front of your father's car, naked?"

Bonnie gasped and rushed toward the window, seeing the headlights of her father's car heading for the house. Oh no, he had come home early!

Her panicked gaze crossed Damon's and he inclined his head, smirking.

"Oh, for the love of… Come in!"

In whatever impossible way, Grams is gonna kill me.

"You can turn around now, little witch." Damon's mocking voice pulled her from the frantic thoughts whirling around in her head. "It's safe."

Hesitantly, she did as he said, immensely relieved to see his lean body decently covered by the jeans and the old striped sweater she'd snatched from her father's closet before he'd entered the house. Thank God it was his routine to go to the kitchen first.

She let her gaze travel over Damon's appearance. The conventional clothes, so different from his dark designer outfits, made him look strangely innocent. As her eyes lingered on the vampire standing in the middle of her room, hands lazily resting in his pockets, she tried to forget the image of his pale, sculptured body as he elegantly climbed through her window and straightened to his full height. She failed terribly.

"Like what you see?"

Bonnie's eyes widened in shock and, to her horror, she felt the blood rush to her cheeks as he looked at her with an indulgent half-smile. His hair, still moist from the shower he'd been taking when she'd snatched him away, was falling playfully over his forehead.

"What?! No! I..." Bonnie tore her gaze from him and continued her agitated pacing until Damon suddenly reached out, willing her to turn toward the vampire that blocked her view of the window.

For a long, painful moment they remained quiet, then Bonnie clenched her fists and clenched her teeth. "So, you can change into a crow." It wasn't a question.

She cast a quick gaze at him, giving him a momentary insight into the incredible hurt in her eyes. "You led me on. I told you...everything. You horrible, evil..." Her voice was low from anger, and grief choked her words. The tears burned behind her eyes. She felt utterly betrayed. With a face contorted in fury, she heaved her hand as if to slap him only for it to fall powerlessly alongside her body.

"Why?" she whispered brokenly. "Why does it always have to be me?"

Damon looked down on the devastated girl - his little witch - as mixed feelings passed over his face. He was touched by her words. And she was right. Why did it always have to be her who had to suffer the consequences of his actions? Was it because she was Emily's descendant that he couldn't leave her be?

Though she would never believe him now, the moment he'd landed on her windowsill for the first time, he'd really wanted to support her, to help her over her loss of her grandmother. At the same time, he'd felt drawn to her because of the recognition he'd felt when seeing the emptiness in her eyes. If he were honest with himself, the scent of her blood had pulled him toward her, too.

He knew she would never have allowed him in her proximity, so he'd resolved to approach her in his crow form. It had worked. After a hesitant beginning, she'd opened up to him in a way which had surprised him, but which had also become balm to his own, scarred soul. She had been blissfully ignorant of who he was, and slowly he'd come to know this descendant of Emily's whom he'd been watching over ever since she was born - the little witch, as he'd begun calling her. He noticed that she, although she seemed to suppress it in her teenage need to be normal, had a wisdom that went beyond her years. A subconscious knowing that came with her dormant powers, which unnerved him but at the same time intrigued him to no extent.

During the long days of hanging around in the Salvatore Boarding House, he'd started to yearn for the moment when twilight set in and he could change into his crow form before flying to the Bennetts' home. He couldn't believe how much he'd gotten attached to the little witch in such a short time. She had become a bright spot of light in the darkness following Katherine's betrayal. Even Stefan had noticed but had refrained from asking.

He was glad that she hadn't been able to see the look of expectation on his face, eager for the moment when she would fold her hands around his feathered body and talk about the things that occupied her mind.

Surprisingly, he had taken a large part in that. She seemed horribly conflicted about his behavior. She hated him for his ruthlessness, but at the same time, she wasn't able to forget the moments when he'd been forced to lower his guard to her and had shown a glimpse of the hidden Damon, the human Damon.

Which was not a good thing. For either of them.

As a witch, she should be cursing the ground he walked on. But his true identity was safe behind the crow's black plumage and instead she showed him warmth, and her blissful scent made him lower his guard even more each passing night. That was, until she unwittingly confronted him with the loss of Katherine. Hard. He had refrained from visiting the house during the evenings but noticed that he couldn't bear to lose sight of her after he'd already lost her loving embrace.

Of course, she'd noticed him popping up everywhere and he had received her glares with an impassive face as the memory of her smile stung his cold heart. He'd actually felt glad when she finally had come up to him and broke through the impasse. And then it happened. That moment in which he'd lost control of himself and was completely taken over by an alien force that freed him from the hurt his attachment to Katherine had brought him, until he'd belatedly responded to her question about the mate he missed. Only then he realized that she, descendant of the powerful witch posing as Katherine's handmaiden, actually might be worthy.

The next day, he'd planned on returning to her window as a crow, but when he'd noticed her sitting on the front lawn, he'd decided on impulse not to land on the branch with a view of her bedroom window, like he'd done before, but walk up to her in his human…well, vampire form. Suddenly, he had wanted her to get to know him, to smile up at the person he truly was. The memory of their kiss still burned on his lips. It had made him follow her to her grandmother's house the day afterwards.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled, looking at the door with a troubled gaze. For once, he was at a loss for words other than a sincere apology.

Bonnie froze. Here she was, and in the moment of her greatest despair he…apologized. He actually apologized.

As a rule, Damon Salvatore didn't apologize to anyone, since apparently he didn't do regret either. But now she heard the words fall from his lips in a low tone and it felt sincere. She was suddenly reminded of the way the crow would softly croak before he would nestle in her cupped hands and look up at her with its head inclined. The pieces of the puzzle finally came together. Looking into Damon's ice blue eyes, she recognized the proud but affectionate bird in him, watching her with an intent gaze.

Tears she had managed to bite back now freely started to flow down her cheeks and she bowed her head. "Was it real? Oh God, tell me that it was real," she choked.

Damon looked down on Bonnie's bowed head, her face hidden by black curls.

"It is real," he said softly. "There's a reason the crow kept coming back, Bonnie."

Her breath hitched at his words. More than anything in the world, she wanted to believe them, but for obvious reasons she hesitated.

On impulse, Damon reached out and wrapped his arms around her. Bonnie froze when she suddenly found herself in his embrace, but then she lifted her hands towards his chest and grabbed onto his sweater. Her fingers dug into the skin underneath as she struggled between the hurt demanding that she pull away and the longing to stay in his arms. The air around them began to tremble from the witch's fierce emotions.

As slight fear for her powers crept into his heart, Damon withstood the pain her surprisingly strong hands caused him and he knew that, though it would sadden him, he would let her go if she wanted to.

Bonnie finally seemed to notice the force field building around them and took a deep, shaky breath to try and control herself. For a moment, they remained motionless, before Damon felt her magical hold on them loosening. He hesitantly put his hand on her head and laced his fingers through her curls. In response, Bonnie rested her head against his chest.

"You piece of..." she whispered with a muffled voice.

Damon closed his eyes in regret, then drew back. With a speed imperceptible to the human eye he reappeared before the window, ready to leave.


The word had left her lips before Bonnie knew it and she took a step forward. "Is...is this goodbye, then?"

Damon turned back slightly and a contemplating look appeared on his face as he scrutinized her tense features which showed regret and resentment. "Only if you want it to be, little witch."

Bonnie's eyes widened, and he knew he had reminded her of that strangely intimate moment in the parking lot. She watched as he remained standing on his spot near the window. The vampire who had shared the same feelings of loss with her and in his crow form had helped her through the loss of Grams. The vampire who now looked at her with a shimmer of hope in his eyes, wishing for his witch to accept his presence around her. And she knew it was too late to keep Damon Salvatore at a safe distance. She had already invited him in...and she didn't regret it.

A shaky but challenging smile broke through her tense expression. "I'll see you next evening, then."

Damon's expression lit up in a barely imperceptible way and he took a few steps closer to reach out and trail his finger along her soft cheek. Then he pulled Bonnie in. Their faces merely inches apart, he admired the color of her eyes as she lost herself in his. He smiled.

"Thank you," Damon whispered before he leaned in and finally felt her lips on his again. To his surprise, she immediately welcomed him, deepening the kiss as her arms slid around his neck. She pressed her body against his and he pulled her tightly against him, taking in her sweet scent until the blood thirst became too much to bear. He knew he had to train himself to endure it if he wanted to stay close to her. She would definitely help with that. Drawing back, he tenderly kissed her closing eyes.

"See you then," he said softly, his eyes softening ever so slightly as he gave her a last, light peck on the lips.

He stepped back and suddenly changed into the familiar black crow. Her gleaming eyes followed him as he circled around her, then momentarily sat down on her shoulder and gave her earlobe an affectionate nibble before he disappeared into the woods.

Bonnie smiled as she watched him go - her pet crow, her protector, her vampire, her possible love, to return to his little witch as soon as possible, as the crow flies.


A/N: And it's done. I would like to thank my beta Crimson Eyed Sakura for beta reading this story years after it was first published.

Thanks again for reading!