"Suspecting and knowing are not the same."

― Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief

Miss Mystic Falls/Founder's Day Gala at the Lockwood Mansion, mid-December

As usual, when it came to Mystic Falls' events, Caroline had outdone herself. The Miss Mystic Falls and September festival – for the start of the school year – had been one of Caroline's crowning achievements. Unfortunately, it was tainted by the fact that Bonnie and Elena had discovered she 1) knew nothing about the supernatural and 2) Damon had been using her as a personal blood bag and goodness knows what else (Elena didn't like to think about it; but she was aware of it).

Despite that, the Founder's Day celebrations were the highlight of December as 2013 came to close. Not only had Caroline organized the float parade down Main Street for the current Miss Mystic Falls, but also she had organized the Gala at the Lockwood Mansion following the Miss Mystic Falls float, and all the activities in between the parade and Gala for those who had not been invited to the Lockwood's that evening. Additionally, she planned the Founder's Ball on New Year's Eve and the fireworks at the end of the New Years Eve celebration. Elena was, quite honestly, in awe.

However, as much as she was in awe and gushing about Caroline's skills, she was avoiding her best friends. Why? Because despite their last conversation ("There definitely is something strange going on with Mystic Falls in general, and I think we should know more about the supernatural world before we get further pulled in."), she had been talking to Stefan, and well, he was her date that evening as well as officially her boyfriend.

Of course, based on her last conversation with Caroline and Bonnie – both of whom she hadn't seen in a while due to their work commitments, Caroline's out of town guest, and Bonnie's extra lessons with her Grams about her magical power increase – Elena wasn't taking too many risks or chances. She genuinely liked Stefan – he was nice, comfortable, kind, and helpful – but even she could admit that there was a part of her dating Stefan for information. He had tried to lie about Katherine, tried to avoid talking about Doppelgangers when Elena effectively gave him an out, and he had stayed in Mystic Falls to see if she had a similar personality to Katherine instead of wanting to get to know her. Strangely, Damon was the brother who told the truth, who answered her every question. And wasn't that the crux of her problem?

One brother told the truth, the other lied; one brother was devilishly dastardly in his approach to humanity while the other was all-vegan and pro-life; one brother wanted to wrap her in wool and shelter her, while the other made her see the supernatural world as it was with eyes wide open.

And yet, she was dating the safe one.

How in the world had it gotten to that?

So, as far as Elena was concerned, even if she was using Stefan to pump some information out of him, it wasn't as if he hadn't tried to hide things from her, either. Mutually beneficial using of one another, while attempting an actual relationship.

Elena was sure it was already doomed from the start, but hey – it was going to be fun while it lasted (or so she told herself). She just wasn't ready for Caroline or Bonnie's reprimanding looks.

So there she was, at home, ignoring her Aunt's knowing looks as she prettied herself up in her shared bathroom with Jeremy, who was whining loudly enough from downstairs about how Carol Lockwood wanted bits and pieces of their parents' personal artifacts to hold at the auction at the Gala.

Jeremy stomped up the stairs, going into his bedroom and flopping heavily down onto his bed sideways. Then, he noticed Elena through the open door to the bathroom. He watched her as she delicately lined her eyelids with black eyeliner, cap the pencil, and then reach for the mascara. Her eyes went wide, as did her mouth, and Jeremy had to speak.

"Why is it that when you put on mascara, your mouth opens?" he asked, sitting up.

"Keeps the face slack," replied Elena oddly, speaking through her open mouth and rolling the words around her tongue instead to try to pronounce them. "Easier to apply."

Elena finished, capping the wand back into the tube, and turned to her brother. "What were you complaining about earlier?"

"Aunt Jenna said Carol Lockwood came by earlier and wants pieces of mom and dad's stuff for the auction. Said mom promised her some pieces before..." he trailed off, losing steam in his anger.

Elena nodded. "Do we know if there was anything put specifically aside?"

Jeremy shook his head. "No. And Aunt Jenna just got a bunch of stuff from the boxes in the attic and was going to give her them!"

"Like what?" asked Elena, frowning. She crossed her arms and cocked her hip against the bathroom counter.

Jeremy lay back down on the bed, this time facing the ceiling and began listing some of the items off monotonously. "Carol wants Mom's antique Cartier chandelier earrings from Great-Grandma in France, an old dagger of granddad's, and dad's pocket watch."

Elena stood straight at the last item. "She can't have the pocket watch."

Jeremy turned his head to his sister. "Why not?"

"You've read dad's journals, right? That was our ancestor's pocket watch. They use it to suss out vampires when all the pieces are together," explained Elena, moving to the frame of the open door, hovering at the edge of Jeremy's room. "It hasn't worked since dad was younger, because something is missing from it, but when it is all put together, it hunts vampires."

"Normally I wouldn't really care," sighed Jeremy, "But given that Anna is one..."

"And Stefan and Damon," agreed Elena quietly. "But why would Carol Lockwood want it?"

Jeremy shrugged, facing the ceiling again, but this time reaching for his side table where his large Bose earphones lay. "Dunno. Maybe she doesn't want it in particular. Remember? It's for the auction. Maybe she knows someone wants to bid on it because they want it."

"But the only people who would even know what it can do, would be Council members, since mom and dad were on it," argued Elena. She then blinked as the realization washed over her, causing a flush to heat her suddenly cold body.

"What?" asked Jeremy, in the midst of putting his earphones on.

"The Council knows," she breathed out, frozen in place.

Jeremy took in his sister's wide eyes and, feeling dread come over him, hesitantly asked, "Who knows what?"

"The Council knows there are vampires in Mystic Falls," replied Elena, backing up towards her room. "And they want to find them."

"To do what?" asked Jeremy, finally sitting up fully and ignoring the headphones around his neck.

Elena's wide brown eyes met Jeremy's. "Kill them, of course."

She dashed into her room, heaving Jeremy staring bewilderedly behind her, and dove for her phone that was charging on her bed. She swiped to unlock it, and went straight to her contacts, beginning a call with Bonnie and then immediately three-way calling Caroline, too.

"What's up, El?" asked Bonnie as she answered on the third ring. Caroline quickly answered after her, opening with, "This better be important because I have a catering company that messed with the vegan order and I don't want every freaking Fell breathing down my neck because some idiot forgot to add avocados."

"The Council knows that there are vampires in town," blurted out Elena.

"I'm sorry?" asked Bonnie after a moment of silence.

"Carol Lockwood came by the house a few hours wanting some old pieces of my parents for the auction tonight, but was pretty specific on what they were going to give over," explained Elena hurriedly, wanting to get all the information out as soon as possible. "One of them is my dad's old pocket watch. It's the same watch that our ancestor used to find the vampires during the Battle of Willow Creek."

"She asked for them specifically?" asked Caroline, and Elena could hear the wheels turning in her mind from over the phone.



"Logan Fell was turned into a vampire by someone other than Stefan and Damon," inputted Bonnie, with a sigh. "As much as I don't like either of them, they were telling the truth about that. And Ric's been following Damon, hasn't he? We've seen them at the Grill a few times, drinking. He'd know if Damon went off and did something."

"Well, Alaric has to sleep some time, too," offered Caroline sardonically, but then said, "But that's true. He did promise to try to stay more on the clean and narrow, after... the... school dance."

"Look," offered Bonnie, "Caroline you said that we need to know more because we're obviously now in the middle of something that other people know more about. So let's start finding some things out: you look into the Council; I'll see what Grams and Professor Shane can tell me about my powers and try to... control them more."

"Are you okay, Bon?" asked Elena. "Has something happened?"

"Ummm..." hedged Bonnie, "There might have been a slight miscalculation of the candles this past weekend. Nothing serious. Just... maybe a pillow – or three – now has scorch marks."

"Are you okay?" echoed Caroline, and Elena and Bonnie could hear the low murmur of people as she began moving through crowds down on Main St.

"It wasn't anything serious," argued Bonnie. "I just need more control."

Elena sighed. "Fine. But then I'm going to start looking into Doppelgangers and my parents' old journals. See if I can find anything useful."

"Report later, girls?" asked Caroline authoritatively.

Elena was about the respond when Caroline shrieked, "NO! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? Tyler, put that down! Oh my God, it doesn't go there. No, I don't care what –" she made a loud exhale through her nose and then muttered, "I'll see you guys later. Problems to deal with," and then hung up.

"Well," said Bonnie after a moment. "See you at the Gala in a few hours."

"Bye, Bon," said Elena, hanging up.

"All okay?" called Jeremy, loudly and over his earphones.

Elena nodded, giving him a negligent hand wave and left her room to find her Aunt Jenna, and to see if they could avoid giving the pocket watch to the Lockwood auction.

However, upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, Elena froze at the sight of the tall, skinny man with a head full of wavy, dark brown hair with a receding hairline.

"Hello, Elena," he said, his voice low and almost sinister.

"Uncle John," stuttered Elena in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

He smiled, but it was half a smirk and more of an 'I know something you don't know' smile. "I heard that the Council is having some... trouble... and I thought I'd lend a hand." He glanced to the side where Jenna was standing, arms crossed and eyes narrowed at her brother-in-law's brother, one she didn't like much.

"I thought I'd hang around for a bit, see how you and Jeremy are doing, too," he continued.

Elena swallowed heavily.

"That's ok, isn't it?"

Elena and Jenna shared a quick glance.

"Of course, John," Jenna said, motioning at his suitcase. "Let's go get you settled into the guest bedroom."

"Thank you," he said, then eyed Elena. "Why are you dressed so nice? Do you have a date or something?"

"Yeah, kinda," answered Elena slowly. "It's the Founder's Gala tonight. I'm going with my boyfriend."

"Oh," replied John, a fixed smile on his face. "I hope I'll see Matt when he comes to pick you up. I remember going to those events – horribly pretentious. Hated them."

Elena shifted uneasily, unsure of what to say but Jenna opened her mouth to answer instead. "Elena and Matt aren't dating anymore. She's talking about her new boyfriend, Stefan."

"Stefan...?" John trailed off, a widening smile stretching his lips.

"Salvatore," offered Jenna, as Elena's face paled and heated up simultaneously, realizing that John must be on the Council already or knowledgeable about vampires to suddenly have that shit-eating grin on his face. "He and his brother just moved here recently."

"Why, I think I might just join you and your boyfriend tonight, Elena," said John, turning and heading up the stairs with Jenna. "See you in an hour!"

Elena wished the floor would open up and swallow her in response.

The Gala, while a success in some ways, was a complete failure in others. The failures had nothing to do with the event itself, the catering, the music, or even the decoration (Caroline was too much of a perfectionist to have problems there); instead, having John Gilbert back in Mystic Falls meant that many people were happily welcoming him "home" while Elena stood to the side with Stefan, Damon, Caroline and Bonnie. (When asking Caroline and Bonnie where their dates were, Bonnie replied she was going 'stag' and Caroline said Nik was out of town for business, hunting down some sort of lead or something)

"At least he doesn't have the pocket watch," offered Bonnie in consolation, as the group drowned their current worries in alcohol.

"Good point, Sabrina," said Damon, glancing at Elena. "Where is the watch?"

"With Jer," answered Elena. "He doesn't want it going to the Lockwood's or anyone else given he's"—she looked around furtively—"dating you-know-who."

"Voldemort?" drawled Caroline, her eyes roaming the ballroom and keeping a keen eye on the hired help.

Elena shot her a dry look that Caroline ignored. "Whatever. He's willing to help. He found a lot out on his own, and through Vicki, so he said he'd help if I start giving him some more information, too."

"And...?" asked Damon, implying something.

"And what?" asked Elena.

"And you're only going to give him bits and pieces, not tell him everything," he finished, staring at her intently.

Elena shook her head. "No way. He's involved now. He needs to know anything and everything to make the best decisions he can."

Caroline raised her eyebrows, and Elena flushed. She knew what Caroline was thinking: it's not as if we know everything either, is it? Especially when your boyfriend and his brother keep things from us, too. Like it or not, we've all got personal agendas here, Elena...

"Well, standing here and moping isn't going to help us any other than throw lots of suspicion on us, especially if he is Council like we think," bossed Caroline. She linked arms with Bonnie and began steering her towards the dance floor. "I think we're going to find Matt and Tyler, and see what the football team is up to. Why don't you and Stefan dance, Elena?"

Then they were gone, leaving Elena sandwiched between Damon and Stefan, both of whom were sending each other awkward hostile looks over her head.

She sighed.

"I'm going to grab us some drinks and see if I can overhear anything," offered Stefan finally, bending and giving Elena a quick buss across her lips. "Want anything in particular?"

"Just... something strong," weakly replied Elena, realizing she was left with Damon, alone.

Stefan nodded and soon was lost in the familiar black-suited crowd of other men around the bar.

Elena could feel Damon's eyes on her, making her skin prickle.

"What?" she finally burst out.

"You're taking a lot of this news well," he finally said, keeping his blue eyes on her.

"What news?"

"That you're a doppelganger. That Katherine looked exactly like you. That Stefan was only here to see if you were a psychotic, manipulative bitch," replied Damon cheerfully. "I mean, you are here with my brother. So bygones must be bygones."

Elena rolled her eyes. "Just because I seem to be processing it, doesn't mean I like it." She crossed her arms. "And don't think I didn't notice that Stefan didn't want to answer my questions."

"Unlike me?" charmed Damon with a flirty girl. "I'll tell you anything you want to hear, Elena."

"I think you should stop with the flirty little comments and the eye-thing you do," replied Elena instead, frowning as she looked up at Damon.

"What eye-thing?" he asked, confusion melting his grin into a frown.

Elena sighed. "Don't make me regret being your friend, okay?"

"Elena," he began, seriously, "For all intents and purposes, I have never lied to you. I might kill, steal, cheat, or manipulate my way through life – but I have never lied to you. I don't treat you like an idiot, and I know you're human and therefore more fragile than a vampire is. But I'm not going to sugar-coat life for you."

He finished by staring hard into her eyes. "I am not my brother," and then he left Elena alone, standing by the wall wondering what the fuck was up with Damon Salvatore.

Despite having graduated university with her parents' funeral hanging over her head successfully, Elena didn't hold a full time career like Caroline, nor did she have an absolute direction in life like Bonnie had now with magic. She worked part time at the Mystic Falls Gazette, as a copy editor, with ambitions and dreams of one day being a world-famous novelist or journalist (despite it being a dying field of online bloggers and pseudo-news).

However, being a mere part timer on the lowly rung of journalism, meant that Elena had ample free time to research whatever she wanted and tell her boss, Franklin Fells II, that it was for self-study and self-research for something personal ("It's family history on my mom's side, Mr. Fells. Honest."). Besides, her internet search results on doppelgangers weren't expansive or useful at all; she had several official definitions of them being harbingers of bad luck and evil omens (Katherine sounded like one) from Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster, and even Urban Dictionary. Google Images was fun and she spent several hours gapping at celebrity lookalikes and contest results, before realising she had gone off on the wrong track. There was a bad 1993 movie of that name; articles on finding your own Doppelganger or people meeting their doppelgangers for the first time.

But nothing on supernatural doppelgangers like herself and Katherine.

So she was forced to attend a different avenue: her family history, and hope that something would come up – an old picture, a description – of an older family member related to her, despite being adopted, that could explain away her likeness to Katherine.

But first, she needed to know more about John Gilbert and Isobel Flemming. Did her doppelganger side come from John, and the Gilberts, or did it come from Isobel and the Flemmings? She never let on to John that she knew the truth, that her parents told her about the council and vampires, ever, so she had an edge on the man and his sudden arrival. But knowledge was power, and Caroline had a point of things starting to heat up and they had to be forewarned.

There was very little on her birth mother, Isobel, in the Mystic Falls Gazette. She showed up only twice: once in an article attached to a visiting club to Mystic Falls High from the next town over, and then a second time attached to John Gilbert's name as his date for an award he received in marksmanship.

Noting down whatever information she could of Isobel, at worst case requiring a trip to Coleman Falls, the town she came from, Elena moved to learn more about her father's family, the Gilberts. She knew most of her family history of her great-grandfather and his role as a settler of Mystic Falls, but she didn't know where he came from, or what her family was before the Gilberts. Bored, she began searching passenger ships from the 1700s, and naval records, stumbling upon an ancestor of hers, Geoffrey Gilbert on , and then from there it was just one name after another, one land holding record after another, and – perhaps strangely enough – one Wikipedia page of a famous act her family had done after another.

The Gilbert name was originally Norman, or Germanic, Giselbert; her oldest traceable "Gilbert" ancestor was Gilbert, or Crispin, the Count of Brionne and Eu in northern France, and one of the guardians of William the Conqueror when he was a child. The name itself meant "pledge" or "young noble," in the first half, and "bright" or "famous" in the second part of the name. Giselbert then could be traced to the early 800s, of Dukes and Lords of Lorraine as well as men with strongholds against invading Vikings, particularly Reginar, Duke of Lorraine, and his offspring and their occupation of what would later become parts of the Holy Roman Empire and modern-day Belgium.

Although most of her family fled to Northern France afterwards, their beginnings were in Belgium and the over-land access of westward travelling Vikings searching for their next raid. After Northern France and the crusades, the Middle Ages had the Giselbert/Gilberts settle in England up until English Civil War when the Gilberts cut their losses as Cavaliers and royal supporters (of course they would be, after all the raising of royalty and dukedoms they held), fleeing after Cromwell implemented the Protectorate.

They travelled to Jamestown, got caught up in Bacon's Rebellion, helped establish Williamsburg; the Gilbert family stayed there and got caught up in the American Revolution, only to have significant losses in the family. Following that, they made their money in shipping and farming, and eventually in the mid-1800s, founded Mystic Falls, cleverly hidden in the wooded mountains of Virginia and far from the ocean. And there, John Gilbert, Elena's great-grandfather, became a vampire hunter.

Of course, learning how they first knew of vampires would be another story altogether, groaned Elena, letting her head fall to her work desk with a loud smack.

Bonnie wasn't having a fun time of things, either. School had all but shut down by this time in December, leaving her Grams with nothing to teach until January, and Atticus Shane, her fellow co-teacher of the course, was finishing up his assignments and marking before leaving on an expedition over the holiday period to Canada's Atlantic coast.

Ever since the "pillow incident" as her grandmother referred to it, Bonnie had spent hours in deep mediation, trying hard to reach and feel her magic flow around her, connect to it, speak to it, and try, mostly, to reason with it. Grams hadn't been pleased when she'd one day walked into a lesson with Bonnie only to realise her powers had significantly grown in a week, and was left wondering why. Bonnie didn't have the heart to tell her at first, that she absorbed the magic of one hundred dead witches in order to have the power to lock (or free, at that time) Katherine Pierce in the tomb under Fell's church.

But she caved.

And Grams had been appalled.

Vampires in Mystic Falls! Bonnie willingly working alongside vampires! The shock, the horror, the disgust on her Grams face made Bonnie feel about two inches tall by the time she was done chewing her out.

But Bonnie held her ground. She explained what happened to Caroline, Stefan and Damon's interest in Elena (and didn't that make her Grams shift guiltily, reminding Bonnie about her mother's disappearance and something Elena had once said about her parents' journals, but that was another topic to discuss later), and their deal to entomb Katherine permanently.

Grams didn't like it. Truthfully, Bonnie didn't like it either. She didn't trust Stefan or Damon – well, Damon less than Stefan, but there was also something just off about Stefan she couldn't quite get a grasp on whenever she touched his skin – and she didn't like Elena's rose-tinted viewed of the two vampires, especially after what Damon did to Caroline. Bonnie knew Caroline wasn't comfortable around either Stefan or Damon since September, all with good reason, but she put up with them for Elena's sake and Elena didn't even notice.

Bonnie just inherently didn't trust either vampire, and she certainly didn't trust Elena's emotions around them, end of story.

Yet, her working with Damon and the power boost she received from the witches meant that her Grams was riding her ass to do better and to learn faster.

It also meant going back to basics.

Bonnie sighed. "Why am I doing this again?"

"To gain control," snapped her Grams, arms folded as she elegantly reclined in the comfortable office chair she had in her school office. "You wanted more power Bonnie, and while you had quite a lot of control before, gaining that power has upset your natural inner balance and now you most regain it, one trial at a time.

"Now. Concentrate on lighting the candle."

Bonnie sighed again, arms straight and gripping the edge of the cushioned seat she was on, as she leaned slightly forward and frowned, eyes intently upon the unlit wick of the candle on Grams' desk. Bonnie could feel the magic just underneath her skin, bubbling and ready to command and work with. It was a rolling, roaring sensation of raw power – the smell of rain before a thunderstorm, the awe of watching a hurricane rip through and destroying all that stood in its path, the heat of lava steadily making its way down the volcano's side – Bonnie couldn't explain what magic felt like, properly, just what sensations it felt like to her.

It was raw power. Strength, heat, anger and domination all rolled together in a neat package of feeling the shift in the air before a breeze, knowing what vegetation was dying and getting a growth cycle just by being nearby, or feeling the trickle of a river's current and knowing where it was going. She was connected to it, just as much as it was connected to her.

But that didn't mean that the power of one hundred witches exactly liked being in Bonnie, especially giving how she received it and why she wanted it to begin with. Power is power, whether used for good or evil, and at this point, Bonnie didn't like the hushed whispers and emotions she sometimes caught – when she was alone, in the shower, brushing her teeth, or making toast in the still of the morning – whispers that begged her to find Stefan and Damon, to teach them what being a Bennett meant...

Bonnie ignored that. She concentrated on the wick, looking at it intently, feeling the power bubble up under her skin, building, slowly gaining momentum as she thought of what she wanted – the candle lit and a flame flickering in the slightly darkened office – and just as she was about to whisper the spell...

The office door opened with the flourish and a voice began, "Sheila! I'm glad you're still here, oh... I... didn't mean to interrupt."

The power dissipated and Bonnie was left with nothing. She sighed again, turning in her chair to face Atticus Shane, who stood contrite in the open doorway, hand still on the knob.

"My apologies, Bonnie," he began, shutting the door behind him as he stepped into the room. "I didn't mean to interrupt your training. How's it going?"

"Slow," she grumbled, sitting back in the chair and crossing her arms petulantly.

Shane and Sheila shared a look over Bonnie head that had her rolling her eyes. "Bonnie had a significant increase in her powers recently and is having trouble controlling it. Do you have any suggestions, Atticus?"

The curly-haired young man tapped a finger to his lips and he looked up at the ceiling, hmming. "Well, you can always tap into your emotions."

"My emotions?" asked Bonnie just as her Grams snapped, "Absolutely not."

"Wait, what?" asked Bonnie, turning to her grandmother. "What is this about using my emotions?"

Sheila refused to speak, glaring at her granddaughter like her word was enough, but Shane decided to seat himself in the vacant chair next to Bonnie and began to explain. "Using your emotions during spells is something called Expressionism. Predominantly, when you tap into your emotions, your spells, and your magical ability, become stronger. It also offers a much narrower perspective when casting, so that you can concentrate specifically on the spell you are casting. No getting distracted by events beyond your view."

"It also twists your magic," inputted Sheila darkly, glowering at Shane. "That's what Atticus isn't telling you, Bonnie. It is evil, dark magic. You are no longer connecting to nature, but to the magic inherently within you and within others around you. You become a Siphon, an abomination of a witch – you steal and take other's magical abilities instead of using what is provided to you by the Spirits and Nature itself."

"Well, that's up for debate," Shane demurred politely, glancing away from Sheila with a small smile.

"No, it's not," snapped Sheila back, leaving Bonnie swiveling her head from one to the other. She was utterly confused, brows furrowed as she tried to understand. "That's enough for today, Bonnie. Go home and spend some time with your father. We're done."

Bonnie stood slowly from the chair, nodding, her eyes bouncing from her Grams to Shane. Her grandmother began fiddling with sage on her desk in a small ashtray as she spoke. "Uh, sure, Grams. I'll speak to you tomorrow. Night, Professor Shane."

"Goodnight, Bonnie," Shane said as Sheila strode around her desk to kiss Bonnie on the cheek and send her away.

As soon as Bonnie stepped through the door, a silencing spell went up and Bonnie scowled.

Instead of going straight home from Wittmore, Bonnie instead went to the Mystic Grill, needing a drink and deciding she didn't want to hear her father's silent judgment at home as she had a cold one. However, upon entering the Grill, she couldn't help but groan. Of all the people she wanted to avoid, she had to see Damon Salvatore nursing a half-full tumbler.

Unfortunately, Damon also noticed her, and gestured for Bonnie to join him at the bar. Sighing, she did so reluctantly, trudging over slowly and nearly falling into the chair that Damon pushed out with a booted foot.

"And a hello to you, too, Witchy," the vampire greeted Bonnie sardonically with a tilt of his tumbler.

Bonnie ignored him, flagging down Matt Donovan and practically begging the blond man, "Shot of tequila, please. Now. Make it a double, Matt."

Matt let the surprise show on his face with his eyebrows reaching high and his mouth dropping open a tiny bit, but nodded and turned away to get a shot glass and the Jose Cuervo.

Damon raised his eyebrows in surprise and glee. "What brings you to the Grill at four o'clock in the afternoon for such a drink?"

Bonnie pondered what to say as she leaned against the bar with one arm, propping her chin up in that hand. Matt set her shot in front of her and then left, to help another person, and Bonnie idly ran a finger around the rim of the glass.

"Grams was trying to talk me through beginner spell work," she finally said, watching Damon from the corner of her eye watching her intently. "I've been having trouble since the house a few months back, and she's been taking me back to the beginning."

"So what's the problem? Can't handle your juju?" smirked Damon.

Bonnie shook her head and sighed. "Kind of, but not. Like... every time I do a spell, I do it – just with more force or stronger than before."

"Again, so what's the problem?"

Bonnie shrugged. "Grams is all like 'find the balance in Nature!' and I'm like, I'm trying, but the connection just isn't there. And then I'm trying and trying to get it to work when I'm at home, and I get so frustrated... and that emotion spills over and then I supercharge my spell."

Damon swirled his drink and took a sip. "Sounds like you're going to be a great help in keeping Elena safe, in my mind. I don't see a downside to this."

Bonnie scoffed. "Yeah, neither did I until Professor Shane came in and said something about using emotion to facilitate spell work."


"Atticus Shane, my Grams' colleague. He teaches about the occult and rituals and stuff for Wittmore in their Religious Studies and Lib Arts programs," explained Bonnie. "We went to him ages ago when Elena learned she was adopted. He used to work with her birth mom."

"No kidding!" said Damon sarcastically, eyes wide and mouth stretched in a thin line, clearly showing he didn't care.

"Yeah well," sighed Bonnie. "Anyway. He said when you use magic with emotion, it's called Expressionism. Heard of it?"

Damon hummed. "Expressionism... no... can't say I have. What's so bad about it?"

"Grams went nuts," added Bonnie, before explaining, "Says that because witches uses natural magicks around them, we draw from other living things, like the earth, plants, etc., and what we are born with naturally – something that has a limit quota, like I only had thirty percent magical ability and then after the witch house, I now have seventy. I can't do more than the seventy percent of magic I have; once that engine is empty, so is my magical ability until I recharge.

"Expressionism draws on the power of emotion in spell casting, which Grams said is Dark, because of it being magic coming from you. Magic coming from you or from another living human being is called... um, oh what was it?" Bonnie frowned. "Yeah, Siphoning. Something totally against magic and witches in general it's called abominable."

"I'm still not seeing what's so bad about Expressionism," offered Damon finally. "Isn't it a bit Star Wars?" he made a face and began to imitate Yoda by modulating his voice: "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering... but what about positive emotions? Are they just as bad if you're using love, or joy, or pride, to cast your spells?"

Bonnie paused in lifting her shot glass. "I... hadn't thought about that."

Damon gave her a knowing look. "Exactly, Witchy. Looks like your Grams was just focusing on the negative aspects of Expressionism, if that's what it is. Look – I can see how negative emotions and spell casting supercharge you to the point where you might get lost in all that emotion because it'll tumble." At Bonnie's wrong, he expanded: "Think of it like a domino set: each time you use Expressionism, or a negative emotion to focus your casting, it builds because it knocks another domino down. And then another, and another, and then another. What happens at the end?"

Bonnie understood. "All the dominoes are down because the one that came before it caused the next to fall. They build upon each other."

"I'd imagine that negativity can be like that. One day someone cuts you off driving, and you get pissed. The next day, they do it again and you get angrier. The next day, you cut them off and they rear-end you and you're at fault for an insurance claim," Damon shrugged. "It all comes together in the end."

"What do you suggest I do then?" asked Bonnie hesitantly. "I can't just ignore what my Grams said. She's been practicing for decades and has more knowledge than I ever will."

Damon shrugged and tossed back what was left of his drink. "Then go out and find the information you need. Ask around. Google it, I don't know. But get your shit together, Sabrina."

Bonnie frowned and reared back from the words Damon began to spit at her, surprised at the hostile direction. "God, what crawled up your ass and died?"

Damon pulled on his leather jacket and gave her a winning grin. "Oh, didn't you know, Bonnie? I'm the evil one. You can't trust a word I'm saying."

He then breezed out of the Grill, leaving Bonnie at the bar with an untouched shot of tequila, feeling exasperated. But, despite Damon's attitude...

"Vampire's got a point," she muttered, and then drank her shot.

"Quite honestly, there isn't shit," was how Caroline opened her conversation with Bonnie and Elena on three-way a few evenings later.

Elena got the other two girls up to date on her family history and how there wasn't anything about doppelgangers on the Gilbert side; it was Caroline who realised that the first-floor storage room of her building, used by the Town for old paper storage (since everything else had overflowed at town hall, and therefore had an abundance of records of Mystic Falls, pre-1900), had the information they needed on the Council.

It was purely by accident; Nik had gone to Norfolk to check up on someone ("I'm spying on him really, he doesn't know I'm keeping an eye on him since he's trying to keep an eye on me."), and Caroline was bored. So, what else better to do then look at the first floor storage rooms Jenna had pointed out when she moved in as empty and old records? Jenna had said that because Caroline worked for the town, she could have access to the information, too...

So she applied with the Heritage Department – run by Carol Lockwood – and cited she needed the information to check town event traditions and events that had fallen out of favour over the years to see if there was anything they could resurrect. Carol Lockwood rolled her eyes and signed the paper, and Caroline went to the old man in Archives and received the skeleton key for the bottom two rooms. One she was turning into her office, moving from the town hall to the spacious room in her building on the first floor, but the other she planned on snooping in.

Despite what the Founding Families of Mystic Falls thought, those pre-twentieth century record keepers were horrible liars. Caroline noted several inconsistencies surrounding the Battle of Willow Creek from the start that any reputable researcher should have noticed right away; even more, there were issues with population records and building deeds from the moment Mystic Falls was settled. Caroline had never seen houses and businesses change so many hands so quickly!

"It's really easy to see who was friendly with whom," began Caroline, leafing through the dusty paper and sneezing. She brushed a hand under her nose, rubbing at it, and then tucked a piece of stray hair from her high ponytail behind her ear. "A Fell would purchase this or that from a Gilbert, who then sold something to a Forbes, who then bought something and sold something else to a Lockwood – it's all kind of incestuous, actually. Especially some of these marriage records. Make things a bit awkward."

Elena's laugh was tinny over the speaker. "So you think this is the Founding Families for sure?"

Caroline nodded, even though Elena and Bonnie couldn't see her. "Absolutely. They match all the original names on the Founding document, and they really only prefer interacting with each other. I can see where the Donovan family came first to Mystic Falls and to be honest, they were always kind of shunned. Bennetts were always here – native? Local? I can't really tell – but they operated on the fringe. Gone to for the purchasing of something or the service of something, so in the know, but not part of the know, you know?"

"That was a lot of 'you know's," commented Bonnie dryly, "But yeah, we know."

"Funny," scowled Caroline.

"So, the Battle of Willow Creek. What's written about that?" asked Elena, drawing the attention from Bonnie and Caroline.

Caroline shuffled some more papers, sighing. "Two versions; one recorded as 'accurate' and I'm making quotation marks here – and the other as what we learned in school. There was a population boom in the late 1880s in Mystic Falls, and again after World War Two, so the Founding Families had to alter history a bit to keep the supernatural quiet."

"Were people more aware in the past, then?" asked Bonnie.

"No," answered Caroline, "It doesn't look like it, mainly because there wasn't anything to hide. The Battle of Willow Creek had the largest population of vampires in Mystic Falls ever, and since. I can easily see when Damon and Stefan appeared – every fifty years or so – because there were a few unexplained deaths for about two or three weeks and then a Salvatore relative got antsy and the Founding Families purchased more land or built something, and then things went quiet again. Last time they were here was in the fifties? I think Stefan was here later than that – in the nineties when we were in elementary school – but I'm still working on that."

"Back to Willow Creek..." started Elena.

Bonnie jumped in, "But you know who the other vampires were, then?"

"Yeah, just a sec," replied Caroline, moving another paper on top. "A business lady, Pearl Lee; a Union soldier named Harper Jones; a few vagrants who settled on the edge of time and did woodwork and odd jobs for the town: Charlie Smith, Henry LeFerve, Frederick Hynes, William Cuttle. Bethanne Johnson, she worked as a maid in the Hamilton house."

"How do you know they were the vampires?" asked Bonnie.

Caroline sighed and leaned against the single, large desk in the storage room. Everything else were rows of metal shelving and sagging, water-marked boxes covered in dust and mould.

"Because they all appeared within months of each other," she answered. "Mystic Falls is at least a four hour drive from the ocean. We don't have trade or export, Bon. People come to Mystic Falls because they have the money to sustain themselves financially without needing trade or industry. Most people were either wealthy landowners, businessmen with their companies in Norfolk, Richmond, or Hampton, or farmers. Why would stragglers come to us?"

"... good point," conceded Bonnie.

"Anyway, something that is deceptively quiet is the Lockwood family," said Caroline, rotating on her feet to face away from the desk. "There's loads of information on what the family did, even though the Fells were the ones with the money to build and name things around here... but history of the Lockwoods? Anything about where they came from before Mystic Falls? Nothing. Nada. Zip."

"So that means nothing that could point us in the direction of werewolves?" sighed Elena.

"Not at all," answered Caroline. "And to be honest, at this point I'd be wondering where your family got their information from, 'Lena. Because as far as the Founding Families were concerned, they only knew about vampires."

"I'll look into it," their doppelganger friend sighed, sounding frustrated.

"Are you sure you want to take that on, on top of everything else with your family history?" asked Bonnie cautiously over the phone.

"We all need to do our parts," Elena replied, ignoring Bonnie's comment. "Caroline was right; something is really fishy with things, not just Stefan and Damon coming back, but the timing of Katherine making an appearance, too. And Anna suddenly in town? That's four vampires in less than four months."

Five, thought Caroline, but determined not to say anything about her boyfriend.

"Elena," began Caroline slowly, "You should know something important that I found."

"Oh? What?"

"Stefan and Damon didn't seem to come back to Mystic Falls since the fifties, but there was definitely a vampire of some sort when we were six here," she said slowly, turning on her heels back to the desk and looking down at the odd looking, DOS-printer paper with dotted tear-away edges. It was a single sheet, a small note tucked away and hopefully forgotten.

"Was it Katherine?" asked Bonnie.

"No," answered Caroline. "It's a print out from an old DOS computer, to Bonnie's mom from your dad, Elena. It looks like it was slipped in with a bunch of receipts for the store Bonnie's Grams runs."

Elena was surprised. "What? What's it say?"

Caroline paused, then said: "'Cast the spell. Tomorrow, full moon, midnight. We'll lure Mikael, you pick the place.'"

"Who's Mikael? And what spell?" demanded Elena.

"Do you think this is what caused my mother to lose her powers and leave?" asked Bonnie at the same time.

"I'm not sure," hedged Caroline, her mind whirling away. "But I think we need to figure out what happened in 1998 between your parents."

Elena groaned. "Something else to research. We need more help."

"Do you want to ask Jeremy?" asked Bonnie hesitantly.

"He's already involved," added Caroline quietly.

Elena sighed. "I think I will need to now. And he can help with some more of the research that he's already begun, just take it in a different direction."

"What's he working on?" demanded Caroline.

"General research on vampires and werewolves and other supernaturals," answered Elena. "But I can set him to work on the Gilbert journals. It's time he reads them anyway."

With the new plan set, the girls hung up and Caroline happily left the dusty and dark storage room, locking the heavy wooden door behind her, and began making her way back to her apartment.

It was already dark, even though it was barely five in the afternoon, and the air held a crisp, shivering quality to it that it normally did mid-December. Winter was bearing down on Mystic Falls, and Caroline was eager to leave the unheated part of her old building – the downstairs entryway and the storage rooms (due to climate control issues) – for her cozy and warm apartment.

Maybe break out the cider, put that complementing pecan pie in the oven and have a slice with vanilla ice cream while watching something on ABC, thought Caroline, unlocking her front door. With Nik out of town, she wouldn't mind having some "me" time that involved her, her bathroom, and her imagination.

She had left some lights on, in order not to return to a pitch-black apartment with the only light coming from the two streetlights across the road next to the cemetery, but was confused by the darkness that met her.

Odd, she thought, frowning and reaching behind her to the waistband of her skinny jeans, where she had her vervain-soaked rider's crop tucked in, I thought I left the kitchen light on? And the TV?

Caroline inched forward, gently shutting the door shut behind her. It was locked. If someone is in here, they jimmied the lock and then locked it on entering. It can't be a vampire because they need to be invited in. Maybe a werewolf?

Each thought was more worrisome than the last; she didn't know any werewolves she might have angered, so they were an unknown. If it were a regular break-in, the person waiting on her would be the most mundane thing to happen and her riding crop was useless; she would need to use Alaric's self-defense training instead.

Caroline eased through the main passageway into her open layout living/kitchen, sliding along the wall to protect her back as she did so, moving along to where the downstairs full bath was. As she ghosted past the partially open door, she felt a breeze at her back, causing her to freeze.

Then, in a blurry of movement, she spun, kicking out with her heel and catching someone in their mid-section; they grunted and fell back against the bathroom counter. Lights flickered in her vision, and Caroline blinked; they didn't go away and she wondered what was causing the odd, but pretty, soft flickering light. Was there something wrong with her LCD light bulbs?

"What the bloody hell, sweetheart!?" shouted out a distinctly familiar British voice.

The bathroom lights came on, and Caroline sheepishly lowered her hands – which she brought up as fists to her face – and grinned guiltily at Nik, who stood slightly hunched over, glowering from under his brows with one hand tightly gripping her granite countertop.

"Please don't crack the countertop," were the first words out of Caroline's mouth. Even she grimaced as she heard them. "What I meant was, are you okay?"

Nik rolled his eyes in a very Caroline-like move. Clearly, he was spending too much time with her. "Fine. I'll heal. It wasn't that hard a kick." He beadily looked at her. "Any reason why you did kick me, sweetheart?"

"Sorry," said Caroline contritely, moving closer to Nik and gently place a hand on his arm. She sidled up next to him and gave him a gentle hug. "I left the kitchen lights on and the TV while I was downstairs. I didn't expect you back anytime soon, so I was surprised and thought someone broke in."

Nik's grumpy and sour expression melted as he felt Caroline fit to his side, and he sighed at her explanation. "I'm sorry for giving you a fright."

"That's fine," replied Caroline, closing her eyes and enjoying being next to her boyfriend. She then popped her eyes open and took in the bathroom, which she hadn't noticed before. Nik had the bathtub full with bubbles, the relaxing fragrance of lavender and jasmine permeating the room from the incense sticks burning alongside several candles of varying height. That had been the flickering she had seen earlier.

"What's this?" asked Caroline.

"I thought a nice surprise for you," began Nik, indulgently looking around at his work. "Since you have been so busy with all these events recently."

"Nik!" cried Caroline delightedly. "Thank you. I was planning on taking a bath later tonight, too!" She sighed, nestling closer. "This is a wonderful surprise. I just wasn't expecting you back so soon. Did you get what you needed?"

Nik nodded, reaching up and smoothing the back of Caroline's head as he did so. "Very much so. My brother seems to think I'm still in London and not here."

Caroline lifted her head. "Your brother? That's who you were spying on? And he thinks he's spying on you?"

Nik smothered a smile. "Elijah always thought he had the upper hand all these years. But I knew where he was."

"Why on earth would be spying on you? Trying to find out where you are?" asked Caroline, gently disentangling herself from Nik's arms, leading him out of the bathroom and towards the kitchen. She turned on only the under-counter lights in the kitchen, leaving them in a soft, intimate darkness. Nik settled at the kitchen table, one leg splayed out from the chair while his right arm rested comfortably along the tabletop. He was watching Caroline with a fond, if not small, smile – but Caroline could see the affection in his eyes.

She began setting the temperature on the oven for her pie, busying herself with small plates and forks for them. She was patiently waiting for Nik to share with her when he was ready; she had learned that he was very cautious, and while academically understanding that as a vampire he was much stronger than she was, she always treated him like a man, a normal human being, and inwardly, Caroline thought Nik appreciated it.

"We had a falling out several years ago," finally said Nik. "Elijah is under the impression that I... I had killed our siblings."

"Killed your siblings?" Caroline gapped unattractively as she turned to face her boyfriend. She blinked. "But... that doesn't make sense. Every time you have spoken about them, you're... you're just so full of love and fondness in your voice. People who like their siblings don't go around killing them."

Nik seemed pleased by her observation, relaxing even further into his chair. "Yes, well, apparently Elijah likes to think the worst of me."

Caroline snorted.

"They're alive, just... indisposed at the moment," murmured Nik further, and Caroline was unsure if she was supposed to hear that or not. "But no matter. Elijah has been trying to keep tabs on me to stop me dealing with the curse."

"That's ridiculous!" blurted out Caroline, shortly distracted as the oven's indicator beeped, telling her the oven was at the right temperature for the pie. "A curse is a curse, it's something bad. Why would your brother want you to suffer it? To stop you from being what you originally were: a werewolf?"

"Because I was originally a werewolf is why he wants me to fail in finding the necessary items to break the curse," admitted Nik with a bitter, wry smile. "Can you imagine a werewolf and a vampire in the same body? What they might be like?"

"You mean what you might be like," replied Caroline shrewdly, turning from the table to take the pie out of its box and then slide it into the oven on a pizza stone. She set the timer for the allotted time on the box and shut the oven door, stepping back to the table.

Nik was looking at the tabletop, emotions flickering on his face too quickly for Caroline to read, but enough to guess.

"I'd imagine that a werewolf and a vampire inhabiting the same body could be a bit of a problem," began Caroline. "The immortality of a vampire, and the strength of a werewolf? That sounds pretty OP to me."

Nik looked up from his frowning concentration of the table, to ask, "OP?"

Caroline laughed. "Over powered. Gamer term." She let the smile die on her lips before sitting across from Nik at the table. "There seems to be a lot of drawbacks, too, though."

"Drawbacks?" Nik scoffed. "I'd be the strongest being in the entire universe. Immortal, untouchable. I couldn't be killed!"

"It sounds lonely, Nik," murmured Caroline, her hand fluttering out from her side to hovering uncertainly over his on the table. She clenched her fist instead and turned to look out a nearby window. "Think about it: even if you had another vampire beside you, they could still be killed the usual ways vampires can be killed, by sunlight or staking. A werewolf isn't immortal, so they'd age and die like a regular human. There'd be no one else like you."

Nik looked like he was pondering her words, but there was a still a mischievous look to his face that told Caroline she didn't know the whole story.

"Yes, well, it's all hypothetical right now anyway," dismissed Nik eventually after the silence between them went on for a few minutes, waving a negligent hand. "My mother never planned on me breaking the curse, and I've spent years gathering the information I needed on the Moonstone and her original spell in order to get the necessary pieces, and I'm almost there."

He glanced at Caroline when she failed to respond, only to see her with her mouth dropped open and an angry flush across her cheeks.

What brought that on? He wondered, and then mentally reviewed what he just said, grimacing. Fuck.

"Your mother?" Caroline shrilly repeated, finally breaking the silence. "Your mother was the one who cursed you?"

Seeing no way out of the conversation, unable to compel the memory from Caroline (not that he necessarily wanted to), Nik wondered what his next move could be other than telling Caroline the truth. He wasn't looking forward to having her look at him like a monster for wanting to break his mother's curse – from knowing he hated his mother for what she did. Humans needed social and familial contact, did they not?

Nik sighed. "She... had an affair with a man who lived near us. He was a werewolf, and passed the trait down to me. I didn't know until I made my first vampire kill, after we had transitioned."

"Why did it take that long to manifest?" asked Caroline, still horrified with wide eyes and a pale face.

"Werewolves only become wolves after they make their first kill, as punishment for killing another human being. Wolves are then cursed to transform and become mindless beasts every full moon," explained Nik slowly, not looking at Caroline.

Caroline shook her head. "That's nuts. Who decided that was a good punishment for killing someone? What if it's accidental? Vehicular manslaughter? You push someone, they fall and hit their head, get a concussion and fall into a coma and a week later, die? Would that cause you to turn?" She shook her head again and breathed heavily through her nose. "Way too many variables to get that one right."

Nik looked at Caroline strangely. She was taking this a little too well. "Aren't you upset with me? I told you my mother cursed me."

"And? So what? My mother ignored me most of my life, so it's not like I can really say anything about mother/child relationships," argued back Caroline.

"Caroline," implored Nik, reaching forward and taking both her hands in his, "It wasn't just that my mother cursed me. I hate my mother for what she did. I—"


Nik looked then, and then back at Caroline, licking his lips nervously. "I... I told my siblings that our father, Mikael, killed her but in truth... I did. I ripped her heart out, so angry at what she stole from me, cursing my werewolf side. I never told them. I couldn't. They'd hate me."

Mikael, thought Caroline, mulling over the familiar name of the vampire that went after Elena when they were six. But that was for another time, Nik was more pressing. "So why are you telling me if you never told anyone else?"

It was the most vulnerable Caroline had ever seen anyone. Nik's face was open, maybe not filled with remorse over the deed, but definitely haunted and conflicted by the guilt he felt – whether for killing his mother in an emotional outburst, or for lying to his siblings, Caroline didn't know – and the fear he felt that she would turn away from him.

It was obvious Nik craved acceptance and that his mother's affair weighed heavily on him. There was far more to the story than Caroline knew.

"Why were you angry?" she asked instead, trying to understand.

"Werewolves are emotional. Incredibly emotional. And when they turn, their emotions are heightened, just like a newly transitioned vampire's emotions and personality traits are heightened," explained Nik, grateful in some sense that he wasn't being called out on his actions. "I was in pain, from the curse. It was like a part of me was being ripped in two. I could feel the call of my werewolf side, telling me to transform thanks to the moon and my kill, but the curse was stopping it. Something was missing in me."

"Your mother knew," sighed Caroline. "From the beginning that it was a possibility."

"And then Mikael would know what she did," agreed Nik. "That she was unfaithful."

"You took advantage of that," continued Caroline, eyeing Nik.

He nodded. "I told my siblings he did it. It made sense to them."

Caroline bit her lip and a deep breath before speaking. "Lying to them was wrong. You shouldn't have done that." At Nik's rapidly darkening face, she continued, "But, your mother definitely should not have taken something that was a part of you. Not because it was a result of her indiscretion. That wasn't fair on you at all."

Nik blinked.

"I don't think you should have killed her, or she deserved to die," finished Caroline, "But you should never be made to feel like you're less than what you are for it. I understand wanting to rid yourself of the Sun and Moon curse, wholly."

"Thank you, sweetheart," murmured Nik, stroking his thumb against the soft skin of the back of Caroline's hand as he did so.

"You said you needed pieces to break the curse?" she asked, tilting her head.

Nik nodded, his blue eyes deeper and darker than she had ever seen them. "The Moonstone ties everything together. I need a witch to cast the spell, which I have. And the Sun and the Moon components are self-explanatory."

"A wolf and vampire, I'm guessing," agreed Caroline, nose twitching as the pecan pie's succulent smells began wafting from the oven, warming the entire apartment up.

"Yes," answered Nik. "And it has to take place here," he added reluctantly.

"Here?" asked Caroline incredulously, blinking. "In Mystic Falls?"

Nik nodded. "This was our home once upon a time. Where the spell was originally cast. Where it needs to be undone."

"Wow. Okay. Didn't see that one coming," muttered Caroline. Then, pieces began to fall into place. "Wait a minute. Katherine told Damon the reason he couldn't beat her was because she was older and stronger by over four hundred years. You said she stole the Moonstone from you when she first turned into a vampire. That means you're over five hundred years old, at least."

He was watching her silently as she worked things out.

"Mystic Falls was your home, once," continued Caroline, in planner mode as she ignored the man across from her. "You were in England when Katherine turned, so you had to have lived here before the 1500s. But there isn't any indication that there was a settlement here, just natives. You're European looking – uh, sorry for being a bit, uh, you know – so you must have European ethnicity. And there was a time when European settlers came over to Canada and the United States, before they were what they are now."

She triumphantly finished with a smile and a sparkle in her eyes. "Vikings. Before the eleventh century."

Nik smothered a smile, although it was still visible in the crinkling at the corner of his eyes. "Well done, sweetheart. There was a small village here back in 990 AD. And this was where I was turned into a vampire."

"That would make you over a thousand years old!" gapped Caroline.

"And from a family of the first vampires ever created," agreed Nik. "I'm the Original vampire."

Caroline blinked. "Jesus."

Happy now that the conversation was away from the curse, Nik began to regale Caroline with some of the sights he had seen over his length life, not even interrupting in his flow when the oven timer went off and Caroline served him a warm slice of pecan pie with a side of vanilla ice cream and a warm, herbal tea. Not even when they finished their meal, or left the TV on mute to continue, or when Caroline began to yawn at three in the morning.

She fell asleep listening to him describe his meeting with Magellan, teaching him a thing or two about maps, a smile on her lips.

Too many things Nik had said didn't add up, leaving Caroline frustrated and more than a bit worried. The man who went after Elena was named Mikael, the same as his father – someone who was over a thousand year old and a vampire to boot. Nik going after Katherine because she stole the Moonstone was one thing, but it was another for her to look exactly like Elena. Doppelgangers, for whatever information they could find and if you could trust Damon's word, weren't exactly popping up left, right and center.

The curse itself seemed straightforward – a witch to cast and undo the original spell; a werewolf as a representation of the Moon, and a vampire to represent the Sun. But how Nik would use them was something he was mum on, as well as how they all worked together to break the curse. And, when Caroline thought it, like she told Nik, curses were bad. Curses to break? Probably nothing good happened to those involved except to Nik, who would benefit from it.

Uninspired, Caroline was glad for the fact that now she knew more about Nik, he was forthcoming in telling her where he was going and why – at least, if she could take "Elijah is watching two vampires who used to work for me right now. They were on the run since they helped Katarina escape me before, but I think they're going to try to make themselves useful and help get my pieces in exchange for a pardon" as being forthcoming.

Wait a minute, she thought, suddenly sitting upright from her slouched position in front of her laptop at her kitchen table. Wait. A. Minute.

The Sun is the weakness of a vampire, just as the Moon is the weakness of the werewolf, she thought, biting her lip as her eyes darted about unseeingly. They're binaries, opposites; the vampire and werewolf.

So what was the opposite of a witch casting (or breaking?) a spell? Stumped, Caroline sighed and began running her fingers lightly over her keyboard. Her internet browser remained on a Google search for doppelgangers, an odd research bit she was doing for Elena.

Doppelgangers had to be important, Caroline decided. Even though he hadn't said anything about Elena; meeting her, speaking to her, anything at all. So where did they tie in?

Thinking about it, Caroline realised Nik never told her how he and his siblings were turned into vampires, either. Just that they were the first.

Okay, Caroline. So think. She began chewing on her lip. How are vampires made? How was Nik turned into the first vampire? It had to have been a spell. A spell his mother cast on him and his siblings, and I guess his father, too. But Nik indicated that they transitioned like all other vampires, and Elena's Gilbert family journal says that the only way to become a vampire is to drink human blood.


Doppelgangers were magical creatures that shared identical physical appearances, something that was down to DNA. Which was part of your genetic makeup – meaning Elena and Katherine were identical down to their blood.

But did that mean there was another doppelganger, one that looked like Elena when Nik was still human?

Frowning, Caroline heavily sighed, erased her browser history, and shut the internet browser down. Nik's ritual and curse was beginning to appear far dodgier than Caroline had initially thought, and while she didn't want to think anything bad about him... there definitely was more going on that she knew.

For now though, she'd keep quiet until she knew more about Mikael, doppelgangers, and the curse. Once she had the information she needed, then she would make a decision.