Waking up each morning was the same. Bella had learned quickly in her first days in Dowager that there were certain rules. The ones that had run of the patients were called The Kindred, and that the facility was actually to hold uncontrollable witches. Knowing she was not one, she had attempted to leave but discovered that she, too, was somehow included in this magical barrier.
Everyday she sat, numb, as she thought about how she ended up there. She remembered her birthday party, Jasper lunging for her but Emmett and Rosalie managing to pull him from the house. The following days had been a blur as Edward had practically ignored her attempts to reach out to him. That was until he decided to try to break up with her in the middle of the woods. It infuriated her something fierce. He pleaded that she not do anything foolish, for his sake. She threatened to expose him, to tell anyone who would listen the truth about their family if he really thought that little of her.
It was then, that everything grew foggy until she had woken, trapped in her prison. Witches. She couldn’t believe that they existed, but then she had dated a vampire. There were few other residents that were lucid enough that she was able to learn more about her situation from but once she did, she knew she was not quite in the safest of environments if she didn’t adapt.
Over the course of a year, Bella went through a mind numbing routine, waking in her bed. Washing up, eating the bland breakfast, then either sitting in front of the television or reading the same books that the house held for God knew how long. In the beginning there were a few hiccups, such as throwing the meds at the staff when they tried getting her to take them. That was quickly rectified when they came at her, ready to punish her by cutting her face with a knife. After that, she was careful in hiding the drugs, playing the part. And she played it well.
She had come to accept her life as it was. So when she woke up, expecting it to be another routine morning, she was surprised to find a new girl strapped to the other bed in her room. She had cowered in the corner when one of the Kindred man arrived when she woke screaming to be released, only for him to shove pills down her throat to sedate her again.
When the new girl woke again, she was more cautious as she looked around before she sat up in her bed. Bella kept her own head down as she continued to read silently. She heard her quickly leave her bed and make her way to the door, but she needed to be stopped. “Don’t. They will catch you and bring you back,” Bella said in a soft voice.
The girl turned her head to look at her over her shoulder before stepping backward to look at her. “What do you know of this place?” she asked.
Bella looked up through her messy curtain of hair. “I know that you cannot escape,” she bluntly stated. “Best you learn the rules and find your routine.”
Her mouth twisted into a wry grimace as she made her way over to the bed that Bella sat on, looking her over. “What’s your name?”
Hesitating, she glanced to the door, afraid that one of The Kindred wouldn’t come in and penalize them for breaking any rules. “Bella,” she answered.
“I’m Rebekah Mikaelson,” she said as she looked around then made her way over to the dresser that had a dusty mirror hanging on the wall behind it. “Bloody bastard. I’m going to kill him when I get my hands on him…”
“Right. Good luck with that,” Bella said as she raised an eyebrow. “As I told you, no one leaves this place. It’s like, magically sealed or something. From what I was able to learn, witches are put in here and no one is able to escape.”
Rebekah spun around in place as her breath hitched, recognition of the story coming to mind. “Dowager,” she muttered, looking down at her body. “He must have stuck me in a bloody, crazy witch. Perhaps if you and I pool our magic, then we can break out of this joint.”
“Wish I could help you but I’m not a witch,” the human girl shrugged, returning to her book.
“Well you bloody aren’t a vampire,” Rebekah snapped as she moved to sit at the foot of the bed and studied the girl. “Tell me the truth. What are you?”
Sighing, Bella closed her book and looked away. “My father and my ex-boyfriend’s father had me admitted because I believed vampires to be real. I know enough to keep my mouth shut now so if you want to survive in any capacity in here, then give up on your crazy ideas for getting out of here.”
Bella should have realized that when Rebekah had immediately asked about escaping, that she wouldn’t easily give it up. She was only more adamant about finding a way after witnessing several events with other residents that she had been filled in on.
The following days were a whirlwind as Rebekah attempted to explore the building, insisting that she had found a girl encased in the room that had always been locked. Bella thought she might had truly gone insane and bit her nails as she followed her around.
When she went to hand her apple to the girl that was frequently watching the television, the human girl knew that it would not end well. As soon as the Kindred woman saw it, she had Rebekah hauled off to their room to be beaten and medicated. Bella couldn’t help but whimper as she waited downstairs, listening to the echos of her roommate’s cries and not having any ability to stop it.
A year Bella had been living the nightmare of the Dowager asylum. She hadn’t had troubles like this, she’d followed their rules. But inside, she knew that what was going on was wrong. As she stood there, tears silently falling over her face, she looked up to find the girl with the apple staring at her.
Blinking, she shook her head and ran up the stairs to her room. There were two of them, one holding Rebekah and another shoving the pills in her mouth that she continued to fight against. She let out a small moan, knowing that she would pay dearly for what she was about to do, but she couldn’t let her new friend pay for something so innocent as sharing her food.
Jumping on the witch’s back, Bella pulled at her hair and clawed at her face as much as she could, but as she bit her nails due to her increased anxiety from her environment, she was unable to cause much damage in that attempt. The witch was able to throw her off of her back and into the dresser where Bella’s struck the heavy wood. Letting out a low groan, she slipped into unconsciousness.
No one noticed the woman watching from the hallway.
When both girls awaken, they find the bodies of the Kindred women hanging from the baluster. The girl that Rebekah had given her apple to was waiting for them outside of their room, watching on as everyone looked curiously at the bodies before moving on as if it were nothing but a passing occurrence.
Bella knew the truth, or part of it. Someone, or something, much stronger than they were was in the building. A slight movement distracted her and she looked to the woman who gave her and Rebekah a small smile. “I hate bullies,” she said simply. “Would you both like to leave now?”
“Um…” Bella mumbled as she blinked back at her while Rebekah narrowed her eyes on the woman.
“What did you do?”
The woman smiled kindly at her. “Come now. It’s time to leave this place,” she said as she confidently made her way down the stairs.
Rebekah and Bella looked at one another, the dark skinned girl shrugging her shoulders as she started to follow. Bella hesitated as she thought about her life that had been before she was placed in the asylum and knew she would never be able to go back. She had nowhere else to go.
“Quit your thinking and let’s go. We’ll figure things out as we go along. I won’t let you go off until I get your whole story, Little Dove. You do have lots to learn after all,” Rebekah whispered in her ear as she returned to pull her along.
As soon as they reached the bottom of the stairs, the woman blew the front doors open, shocking the two. As she spoke a few words, a spell Bella presumed as she was fairly new to the idea of witches and magic, they were cautious as they followed the blond out of the building. She hadn’t stopped once she reached the gate, blowing it right off the hinges.
“Who the bloody hell are you?” Rebekah asked as she stared at her, pulling Bella behind her as she became fully aware of truly how much power the witch before them held.
“You really haven’t realized who I am yet? You wouldn’t have as we’ve only met once before,” she answered with a sad smile. “You weren’t born when I was given away. Do me a favor sweet Rebekah. Tell our brothers that I will be seeing them soon.”
Bella watched as the woman turned and walked away while her friend stood in shock. “Um… What was that all about?”
“I think we just met my big sister who was supposed have been dead,” she muttered. “Come. We need to go see my brothers. I need to get back into my own body and they can probably handle your vampire problem for you, whatever it may be.”
“I never said I had a vampire problem!” she protested.
“Right, and you just ended up in a magical asylum by coincidence. Dove, whoever placed you there, did it there to keep you hidden or to keep you from talking to the wrong people. Whatever trouble you stumbled into, it won’t end. Especially once they learn you’ve broken free. My family is one of the strongest in our world. Despite their shortcomings, Klaus and Elijah tend to be suckers for a damsel in distress. They will fall over their feet to take the head of whomever is after you,” Rebekah explained. After a moment, she smiled knowingly. “And it’s not like you have anywhere else to go.”
Bella scowled at the smirk that was on her face. “Sometimes I wonder if you really aren’t insane.”
“Niklaus! Where is that wretched brother of ours?!” Rebekah hollered as she pulled a frightened Bella behind her. “When I get my hands on him, he will wish he was in his old body!”
Bella was confused again by her use of those words, not understanding what she was meaning when she spoke them. When a sandy, blond haired man stepped into the breezeway, scowling at the girls, she couldn’t help but to shake in fear as she moved to hide behind.
He stared at the dark skinned girl as she positively seethed. Blinking, he canted his head to the side. “Rebekah?” he questioned as he looked at her. His lips curled back into a sneer. “Where have you been?!”
“Stuck in the horrid Dowager house, Nik. Our bloody bastard of a brother put me in the wrong body and it wasn’t by mistake. Did you know that our big sister still lives?” she questioned him. “At least that is who she claimed she was. If it wasn’t for her, we would still be stuck in that cursed prison.”
Klaus released a breath as he turned his attention to the meek girl hiding behind his sister. “And what have you brought home? Dinner? She doesn’t look to be more than perhaps a passing snack for the skin and and bones that she is.”
“Bella is not a blood bag. I offered our family’s help. It seems that her ex-boyfriend and his vampire family had a hand in her being in that nightmare,” Rebekah huffed, pulling Bella around. “And wouldn’t you know? They are vegetarians, brother.”
His eyebrow raised as he smiled slightly in amusement. “His name wouldn’t happen to be Stefan now, would it, Love?”
The girl’s eyes dropped in shame as Rebekah spoke about her vampires, feeling almost as if she were mocking them and perhaps her. When he called her Love, she was unable to hold back the small, kittenish growl as it reminded her of Edward. “No,” she mumbled, rubbing her wrist in agitation. “I shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t have taken me out of there. They’ll come for me.”
“Sensitive,” Klaus murmured as he studied her. He stepped closer and reached out for her wrist that she’d been preoccupied by, ignoring the look of warning from his now witch sister. The girl’s breath hitched as he ran his thumb over the scarring, his eyes slowly moving up to meet hers. He could easily see the recognition in them, that she knew he was aware of what it was. “Yes. You are quite the fascinating creature. Tell me, what you know about vampires,” he said looked into her eyes, attempting to compel her.
Bella frowned and shook her head. “They don’t exist and I should be back at the asylum so that no one gets in trouble, or hurt,” she pleaded softly.
Rebekah’s jaw fell as Klaus looked at her in shock. “I swear there were no traces of vervain in that place and she’s been in there for a year she said.”
He continued to stare at the human girl as he contemplated the ramifications of what this girl would mean in their world. They would need answers and he was certain she was more than she may even be aware. “Rebekah, go to Marcel’s and stay there. I will take your friend to Elijah. He will be able to watch over her while we deal with our other – complications.”
“Elijah? But he’s – is he still…?”
Klaus grimaced and wavered. “He is still our best option for protecting Hope. Camille is there as well. I had hoped that she might be able to talk to him some. I will watch over your friend; and perhaps purchase her a new wardrobe along the way. I will fill her in on the fact that her place in the world just got much smaller.”
Not knowing how to take what she was hearing, Bella shivered. As afraid as she felt she should be of this Klaus, she also felt no intent of harm coming from him. Guiding her out to his car, he was silent as he helped strap her in, but all she could do was keep vigilant.
Once he joined her and they were on the road, he smiled over as she peered out the window. “What is your name, Kitten?”
She glanced at him, hesitating. He couldn’t help but to roll his eyes. “I don’t know what has been done to you but I give you my word that whatever trouble you are in, my family will help. Granted, it may take some time as we are handling a bit of a crisis at present. I know that bite was made not by just any vampire. You will learn by being with the likes of my family, there is more to the supernatural world. It is not limited to just Cold Ones, Sweetheart.”
Swallowing, her heart raced as he spoke rather candidly about the vampires she had been involved with but he had used a name that she’d heard before. When she had tried to flirt rather badly with her childhood friend to tell her his tribe’s tales. Looking over at the man, he only smiled back, waiting. “My name is Bella. What – what do you mean Cold Ones?”
Klaus’ smile grew to a triumphant grin. Having been given the green light, he started the long story about another race of vampires, a true species born of magic. He eventually left her to think about the information he laid upon her as he went into the store to pick up several changes of clothing.
After loading the trunk with all the bags, he leaned on her open window. “Are you ready to meet more of the family, Kitten?”
“Why not? My life is already something out of a deranged movie. Let’s just add a family of nearly impossibly to kill vampires to it. Forget the fact that my ex and his family apparently are like the red-headed stepchildren to your kind. Now I really feel like I am insane!”
“Well then! You’ll fit right in with the lot of us. We make the insane look good,” he replied cheerfully and zipped around until he was inside the car again. “I’ll have to apologize in advance for Elijah once we get there. He can be quite the tiresome one. Kol and I are more the fun ones. You can share your story with Elijah. I am confident he will come up with a suitable plan against the walking disco balls.”
Bella just sat, unable to react any further as Klaus spoke more about the differences between the two races. Complained more, but she could see that there was clearly no love lost in his eyes for them. If she wasn’t so nervous about having more unfamiliar faces being thrust at her, she might have been open to asking questions, however once they pulled off the main road, the man grew more serious as he stared forward out the windshield when he spoke.
“There is someone else in the house where I’m taking you. If you choose that you cannot stay with us; you must be aware that I cannot allow you to leave alive. I’ve already said this to one of few trusted that is here as well and she understands the gravity of the secret. I – know I am asking a lot of you but when it comes to this one thing, I cannot waver,” he explained before looking to her.
She frowned as she eyed the house they were approaching curiously, wondering what kind of secret it could hold that he would kill to protect. “I already figured my days would be numbered once I figured out – Edward for what he was. I’m not afraid of death anymore, but I have no want or reason to leave. So far all Rebekah and you’ve shown me is kindness that I can only hope to one day repay. And perhaps that woman that helped us escape.”
“Yes. That woman. I will have to have a talk with Rebekah and Elijah about her. I am skeptical of her story but it’s nothing to do with you, Sweetheart. We are here,” Klaus smiled. He helped her out and took the bags he had purchased for her before leading her up the porch.
He didn’t stop once at the door, entering with ease. He peered in the first open doorways before pausing to listen. “Come,” he whispered, taking her by the arm gently and lead her to a large, comfortable sitting room where she saw a pretty, blond woman holding a baby. She also noticed a man sitting on the couch but had his back to them as they walked in as he kept his attention on a book in his lap.
“When you said you were coming to visit, you did not mention you were bringing someone with you,” he voiced as Bella watched Klaus move straight for the infant.
He took the little girl in his arms and smiled proudly as he held her, ignoring the man. “As I told you in the car, we are holding a great secret here and now you. You are welcome to stay here, it will be safe. Elijah will see to that as he is also looking after my daughter.”
“Daughter?!” Bella yelped as she looked between Klaus and the baby. She could definitely see the resemblance, but in her shock she had not noticed the man turn his attention her.
“Yes. Bella, this is Elijah, my big brother. You may ignore him if he annoys you as I do. Otherwise do feel free to share your story with him,” Klaus introduced. “Brother, our sister had found our new friend here when Kol had jumped her into an alternate body which happened to have been located in the Dowager building. Supposedly it is our dead sister Freya whom assisted their magical escape. Bella has her own sordid history with our – cousins, some Cold Ones, whom had placed her in there that she fears will come searching for her if they catch word of her escape. I do hope she shares the rest of the story with you as I am sure it is utterly fascinating.”
Elijah blinked as he looked back to his brother and then the girl again. “Yes, I am sure it is. I am most eager to hear it. Although I am sure you would prefer to be able to properly wash and change into more comfortable attire before having to get into such unpleasant memories… Bella,” he offered as he stood. “Please, anything in this home is available for use.”
She raised an eyebrow before looking to Klaus, who simply nodded his confirmation. Taking the bags that he had set down, she quickly left to go searching for an empty room to sort through what he had gotten her.
The vampire was struck frozen in his place, pondering the strange young woman that his brother brought to them. “She is certainly something else, isn’t she?” Klaus voiced from next to him.
“She is… intriguing, yes. Who did you say is after the girl?”
“All we’ve been able to get out of her is that she was once involved with a group of Cold Ones and that they had placed her in Dowager. She cannot be compelled and she is not on any vervain that we can tell. I thought that with the spare time you have, you might be able to – charm her into giving up more of her story.”
Elijah looked at him, somewhat amused by his suggestion. “Charm her?” He repeated.
“Surely you know how to attract a pretty lady? You’ve certainly gotten Hayley up in a fritz, however she does not seem willing to bite despite the dance the two of you continue to do. Especially now with Jackson in the picture. Regardless, you have history of being the most level headed. Ease her fears and get her to spill her secrets so that we can go and rip some Cold Ones apart once we have this other mess with our mother and Finn cleared away,” Klaus smirked as he handed his daughter over. Pressing his lips to her forehead, he sighed. “And you my little Princess. You be good for Uncle Elijah.”
He quickly disappeared, leaving the man no less than befuddled.
Elijah blinked before looking at the baby in his arms. “We’ll give her thirty minutes and then we’ll go look for her,” he said as he set her in her highchair. “In the meantime, perhaps we should make the girl something to eat, yes?”
Camille walked in from having had stepped out while the brothers were discussing their newest addition. Sitting at the counter, she watched as Elijah silently moved about the room as he cooked. “How is she?”
He glanced up at her, not quite sure of how to answer. “She does appear troubled. Though, to tolerate Niklaus and brave him by herself for the length of the trip and her having no knowledge of his history shows incredible… bravery,” he answered carefully.
“Bravery or stupidity?” Cami clarified.
Pursing his lips, he paused over the stove before looking back at her. “As young as she might look, I do not believe her to be naive. I admit, I would like to learn of the events that lead to her ending up in a place that was designed to hold witches when supposedly, she is not one.”
“If she isn’t a witch, then what could she be?”
“I do not know,” he murmured as he quieted down to strain his hearing. While overall it was quiet in the house, he could distinctly pick up the girl’s increased heart rate on the second floor. “Cami, if you would please, take over the cooking and watching Hope while I check on our guest?”
She got up and went to resume where he was leaving off. “Something wrong?”
“I am not certain. It could be nothing,” Elijah assured her before quietly making his way upstairs. He could hear Bella in the guestroom, he was thankful that she had found it on her own, and he didn’t dare enter.
“Bella, is everything all right?” He asked as he was standing in front of the door.
Inside the room, Bella had just walked out of the bath from finishing the first decent shower she had in a year. As she reached for the clothes she had set aside to wear, her eyes had picked up a glimmer with a flash of red reflecting in the mirror of the vanity. Turning sharply to look with her own eyes, she had not seen anything yet, but she could not stop the fear from building.
Just as she thought she saw strands of red streak by the window again, Elijah had knocked, checking on her. With her eyes glued on the window, she was unable to answer, or move. Not until the familiar face held still, staring back at her with a hungry and malicious grin.
A gasp barely escaped as she backed up as far as she could between the vanity and dresser, the delicate trinkets on display falling from the surface and breaking. Her heart raced faster than she ever thought as she feared it would just jump through her chest.
“Do forgive me if you’re not dressed,” Elijah muttered as he opened the door as Bella’s heart rate spiked and she barely breathed. He saw a red streak move away from the window at vampire speed and looked at Bella, it wasn’t hard to put two and two together. The red streak had been one of her tormentors. “You are safe inside this house,” he told her. “I will return shortly. If it makes you feel safer, keep looking out of your window. She cannot hurt you,” he vowed before flashing outside, easily picking up the scent of the Cold One.
Bella wanted to respond, to say that the vampires she dealt with weren’t like his family. That they didn’t need invitations inside, that the flimsy walls weren’t enough to protect her. Letting out a whimper, she timidly inched her way to the window, pulling the robe she wore tighter around herself.
Elijah found the red headed vampire at the barn, hiding out. “Good evening,” he said as he brushed invisible dust off of his suit jacket. When the vampire looked up to see him, he gave a small smirk, the edges of his lips barely curling up, before he darted forward and grabbed her by the hair.
“I do not believe we have had the pleasure of meeting one another,” he said as he pulled her along with him towards Bella’s window. “My name is Elijah Mikaelson and you, Cold One are trespassing. But no matter, the situation shall rectify itself momentarily.”
The red-headed vampire was fighting him, but she wasn’t a match for Elijah’s strength in his anger.
“I realize that your kind do not take notice of innocence versus guilt, but I assure, I am more than happy to teach you the difference between the two. She is utterly defenseless and the fact that you think you can cause her harm…” Elijah smiled politely though the anger was clear in his brown eyes. “Well, it only shows that there is no hope for you.”
The Cold One growled as she continued to struggle. “Defenseless is a lie. The bitch had a whole coven surrounding her that killed my mate. I want her head for my mate’s. It was her’s that took mine,” she hissed as she tried to claw at his hands.
“Interesting,” Elijah tugged harder on her hair. “But still, she is a human. You should have, instead, focused your… ire on her mate instead of her…” He stopped at the back of the house where Bella was looking out of the window.
At seeing the vampire she’d feared since the day at the baseball clearing, the girl nearly shook at the sight of her. Even restrained, she started to tremble in fear.
“No… no, no, no…” she babbled as she tried to hold herself together, grasping at her head.
Elijah turned the female vampire around and there was a vindictive glint in his eye as he ripped off her head with a sound like grated metal, as if it were nothing. He then proceeded to tear off her arms and legs before piling them all up and set the pyre alight.
“I believe there is a saying,” he said as he finished, looking down at the pile of twitching limbs. “…you should have picked someone your own size,” he said with a growl before getting his handkerchief to remove some of the Cold One venom from his hands. It stung a little and an annoyed grimace twisted his lips as he cleaned his fingers.
The distraught girl was unable to pull her eyes away from the scene, falling to her knees and holding onto the sill as she blinked. He had destroyed Victoria. She’d met him not more than an hour before, spoken so few words and one of her biggest fears so easily marked off. Dragging her eyes from the fire, she focused on Rebekah’s brother. Elijah.
He still looked as neat and prim as he had when Klaus brought her in. He did not know her, nor did he have the opportunity to question her about her reasons for being there before he set off after the potential threat without any questions asked. Her hand let go of the sill, allowing her body to collapse fully to the floor as she absorbed everything, the new revelations she needed to acknowledge and perhaps, accept.
After making sure that the pile of fire couldn’t walk away anymore, he moved back into the house to check up on their guest. She had looked beautiful when he had walked in the other moment, freshly showered, in her robe. While she had been the looker when his brother had brought her in, soap did make a difference.
Standing in the doorway, he looked at her as she sat on the floor. “Are you all right?”
Bella tilted her head to the side slightly, having heard the question but was unsure of how to answer exactly. Her eyes had a blank, thousand yard stare at the wall that shifted in his direction, flickering over his form. Swallowing as she found it difficult to find any words to say at first, she did was surprised that in all the stress, she could not help but to find the man strangely alluring. Even without the vampire enticement. Instead, she asked in turn, “She didn’t hurt you?”
He smiled at that. “My dear, I am an Original vampire. If I must, I eat Cold Ones for breakfast. Speaking of food, are you hungry?”
“Food?” Bella repeated, blinking at the change of subject and looked around. “I – I don’t know. I guess…”
“You do not have to eat, of course. But there is freshly squeezed orange juice and pancakes with bacon, if you’d like. Nothing too harsh on the stomach,” he said with a smile. “I could bring it up here if you do not feel like leaving your room.”
Shuddering as she gave a half glance at the window behind her. “If you don’t mind, would I be able to stay in another room instead? I don’t think I’ll be able to get any sleep in here now. But I could come down. I just need to get dressed,” she pointed out, blushing as she tugged on her robe and move to stand.
“Of course, there are many rooms for you to choose from,” he said kindly. “I shall leave you to make your decision.” He was about to turn around to leave, when she spoke again.
Bella slowly started for the door, biting her lip. “Elijah?”
She went up to him and wrapped her arms around him tightly, her face pressed to his chest as she shuddered still with her nervousness from the event. “Thank you.”
He swallowed hard and gently pat her back. “You are most certainly welcome.”
Bella couldn’t help but smile as her fingers curled into his shirt. Before she let go of him, she asked. “Do you think you and Klaus would be willing to hunt the family that put me in that place? I would try to handle it myself but I don’t exactly have super strength like you or likely get myself killed in the process.”
“Of course,” he replied and gently tucked a strand of her wet hair behind her ear. “As soon as we’ve dealt with our current situation, we will do whatever it takes for you to be free of them. Until then, you are going to be safe here. Why not discuss this in a more comfortable setting? Tell me everything you know?”
Having difficulty giving all the details, she detached herself from her hug and offered a weak smile. “I can try. It’s hard because everyone said I was crazy, so… But I will join you shortly,” she said.
Elijah nodded slowly, understanding her reservations. “We will be waiting for you, Bella.”