Inside an abandoned attic, Finn is inside the body of a local witch and chanting over a large table with maps spread over the surface. When the papers lit in flames, he shoved the table away in a fit of rage.
At the sound of the door opening behind him, he turned to find a seemingly unfamiliar woman walk in with a sly smile on her face. “Who are you?”
“I was wondering if you’d recognize me,” she replied softly. Looking at him, she shrugged slightly. “Then again, you look a bit different yourself.”
“I’m going to ask you again, before I ask much less nicely,” Finn stated. “Who are you?”
The woman only smiled a bit playfully as she stepped in further. “Fitting I should find you up here. We used to climb up in the trees when we were planning a bit of mischief. Never wanted mother to hear what we were whispering about. Now Finn, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about me.”
He looked at her, confused but recognition in his eyes. “It can’t be. Freya?”
Freya grinned as she took that as permission to push forward to pull him into a hug. Both on varying degrees of emotional levels in their reunion.
Soon the two were catching up, she sharing her story, he soon found himself admitting to her that their hybrid brother had a child. A daughter, leading them to grow concerned about their own memories and fears of Dahlia and the curse that Esther had instilled in Finn growing up.
“You will find, Finn, that nothing is truly impossible to find,” Freya told him gently before she brought a delicate butterfly back to life that had died during one of his spelled experiments. “I just need a few items to help.”
Staying at the farmhouse when comparing it to Dowager was a life that Bella had to adjust to. Even though she was still restricted to the house for her own safety, she didn’t have the threats of other patients that could snap at the slightest provocation. The thought forced her to pause as she looked up from the book she’d been reading to the vampire that’d saved her life.
He was an enigma to her. She could see that his intentions were well. His soul seemed to be gentle but there was something bubbling underneath, as if it was crawling underneath his skin. Elijah had kept his, and his brother’s, promise to protect her by taking care of Victoria without a second thought when she made her appearance. At times, he left the house to walk around the property, giving Camille a chance to get to know the girl more. As the two watched him excuse himself for his most recent trip, Cami smiled as she caught as their guest’s eyes followed his every move until he was out of sight.
“So you must be relieved that one of the threats against you is gone,” she said, breaking the silence that stretched between them as the baby slept in her rocker.
Bella turned her attention from the door to the blond, letting out a breath as she knew she hadn’t spoken much with her since her arrival. Her first night, she’d been too shaken by Victoria’s visit to speak more that night with them as Elijah insisted on her attempting to eat. As it was, it had been difficult to find any kind of rest once they had called it a night. She was aware they’d given her some cautious space with the nightmare she knew she’d inevitably suffer.
Her breath caught as she thought of how to answer, of how she truly felt. Victoria had been a threat, but now that she had accepted the Cullens for the monsters that they truly were, she realized that the redheaded vampire had been the least of her problems. She had thought frequently about how’d she would react if or when she’d face them again. “I suppose,” she responded, her voice soft as her fingers toyed with the corner of the pages of the book she had been reading. A glance at the woman, she knew the answer didn’t suffice to her satisfaction as she stared at her, waiting for more. “After the first encounter with her, and the family killing her mate, her returning in some way had always been in the back of my mind. No matter how much they denied the possibility.”
Camille nodded, trying to understand the girl. “You’re still afraid of them coming for you now that you’re out.”
“They put me in there,” Bella rolled her eyes. “I’m more concerned about how to deal with them when they do show up. From what I’ve figured from Klaus, you all are rather involved with some crazy shit of your own so I can’t exactly count on the brothers to be there every second of the day to pull my human ass out of trouble.”
“You know that they will do what they can to help you. Elijah already proved that…”
Her eyes glared at her, irritation at whatever game that she was trying to play with her. “He may have taken care of one vampire, but I’m not naive enough to know it will stop there. I’m not going to expect him or his brother to simply drop their obligations to this little girl here because I happen to stumble along needing help.”
Camille paused, not sure of how to continue. She hadn’t anticipated such a volatile response from the human girl who had been so quiet and seemingly traumatized. “You aren’t afraid to die?”
“Let’s just say that I’ve accepted my fate,” she eventually said. “I was fine staying at the Dowager house, but Rebekah insisted on my leaving with her.” She let out a breath. “That doesn’t mean that I’m not afraid of dying. It simply comes with the territory of running with vampires.”
“Elijah told me a little about this other type of vampire. You do know that the Mikaelsons are a whole other ballgame when it comes to the supernatural?”
Bella grew agitated, frustrated, by the questions and closed the book she held for her to set it beside her on the couch. “What is it you really want to know?”
The older woman was careful as she attempted to hold back her surprise at the bluntness from the girl. She had expected her to be more evasive, rather than confrontational. “I can’t help but notice that you’ve taken an interest in Elijah. While he is charming, I do want to warn you that he is going through a… particularly difficult time right now.”
She stared at her, incredulous at the insinuation. “What the hell are you accusing me of? Am I grateful for what he’s done for me? Of course I am. But I am also not blind. I see that he has issues. I can see he has this… bloodlust. It’s not the first time I’ve been around it before, though not with their kind of vampire. So don’t take me for naive just because of my age.”
“I’m not,” Camille replied, trying to find the right words, but if the girl was upfront with her, then maybe she should return the favor. Every bone in her body was against it, especially after what the girl had been through, but maybe she was stronger than she lead them believe. “I’m just saying, if you’re hoping for more than their help, I shouldn’t count on it.”
Bella shook her head, not understanding what she was still trying to hint at. “I never asked for their help. Rebekah volunteered it and then I was dragged here. Do I really look like I’m capable of putting up a fight against anyone? Let alone a supposed thousand year old hybrid vampire that I never knew existed until the other day?”
“How did you get involved with vampires anyway? Are you some kind of groupie?”
The young brunette’s lip curled back in disgust as she launched herself from the couch and away from the area where she sat near the infant. “You know nothing of how I got involved in this shit. The last thing I am is some kind of groupie. If I had my choice now, I’d see every last one of those beings burned to ash!”
Cami smiled slightly at that. She didn’t know whether to feel sad for the girl or at least relieved. She truly was an ordinary human getting caught up in vampire business. Much like herself. “Yeah, okay. I’m sorry,” she said as she threw up her hands. “I had to ask. Let me tell you some more about me. My uncle was the priest here in New Orleans of St. Anne’s church. A few years ago, I moved back here because of the things my twin brother had done. I never believed them when they said he was crazy and I wanted to figure it out for myself. Mostly the reason why I started to study psychology, I suppose,” Cami said, shifting in her seat.
“So let me guess… Klaus stuck you up here to psychoanalyze his brother because he’s actually behaving like a vampire?” Bella narrowed her eyes.
“I suppose, but I’m also a family friend. I got sucked into their lives because my uncle and my brother tried so hard to keep me out of it and now… well. I’m doing their job now. My family has kept the secrets of the supernatural for a very long time and these vampires have become my friends, despite them being assholes every now and then.”
Crossing her arms, the girl moved to look out the window. “Somehow, somewhere, history always finds a way of repeating itself. Vampires, wolves, innocents being hunted down. What’s the story behind Hope? Why are so many after her? It can’t be just because of her being a supernatural baby. Children are born to wolves and witches all the time. Granted vampires aren’t supposed to be able to, but Klaus is an exception.”
“From what I know is that Hope will be the only child Klaus is able to produce after a witch closed the loophole that made it for him to father a child. People are after her because the Mikaelsons hold a lot of power. They’re the Original vampires. They were part witch before that. Have the baby, have a hold over the most powerful Original of all, which is Klaus,” Cami said after thinking about how much she would share. “Because they’re so ancient and powerful, they all have a healthy dose of paranoia and a dozen of other issues, but they all want to keep Hope safe while they sort through this mess they’re in.”
“And whoever is stupid enough to come after them deserves whatever fate is handed to them by his hand,” she shrugged. “Paranoia isn’t something to brush off. If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are. I may have been tucked safely in a magical asylum full of nutty witches, but I still quite obviously had a tag on my ass. The fear that she would get through, was always there. The fucked up part is that I actually felt a little safer inside, even with the Kindred’s overpowering methods of control.”
“I can understand that,” she replied with a slow nod. “But you don’t have to be afraid anymore. Let them come.”
Bella had a bemused smile on her face as she saw Elijah out in the yard, walking around. “Contradicting, aren’t you? We can’t have it both ways.”
“What? I said they’d help you, but if you’re looking for more, then you shouldn’t keep your hopes up.”
“Yes, they’d help, if they aren’t busy with something to protect Hope. I already said that I won’t take them away from that for myself. I don’t know what other hopes you seem to be seeing that I’m not here.”
“You won’t have to, there are other means to protect yourself,” Cami smiled at her. “I happen to know a handful of witches who can make protective charms. I’ll get a few items out of storage that will help with being safer inside this house whenever Elijah isn’t around. There are more options than you think.”
She turned to face her and canted her head to the side. “I’ve heard of charms. I used to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast. I still ended up dating a vampire that locked me in an asylum. My wolf best friend didn’t help get me out of that mess when he found out the truth… Huh… I should one day find out just where his loyalties are if I survive this mess…”
Cami couldn’t help but laugh. “You’ve never heard of magic before?”
“Illusions, sleight of the hand, Vegas sidewalk shows? Sure. Then there are the things that I saw in Dowager, things that gave me nightmares in the beginning. Thanks Camille, but I don’t believe that charms would be capable of working for what I need,” she murmured, her attention distracted as her thoughts growing darker.
Noticing the girl’s distraction, she turned her head in question. “What are you thinking about?”
“I wondered if non-witches would be capable of practicing magic,” Bella shrugged. “Not worth the attempt. I know it would be dangerous if it were possible. At least I know that my thoughts are protected.”
“I’m not a witch, yet there are several magic items in our family vault that I could use.”
“Are they capable of fighting and killing your enemy? I doubt it,” she huffed as she turned to face her.
“At least inflict a lot of pain long enough to get away and call for help.”
Bella glared, her body tense as if she was preparing for an attack. “I don’t know how many times you and I are going to go around in circles about this, but I doubt that you are getting the picture. I would be grateful for the Mikaelsons’ help, yes. Do I expect it? No. I’d much rather fight my own battles myself, but I can’t if I’m not stronger or the knowledge for it. All I know is that I have this pointless shield that the Cullens speculated, because their mind reader couldn’t get into my head and hear my thoughts. So stop accusing me of being out for using this family!”
She perked up. “A shield? What else does it do apart from keeping people out?”
“What the hell?! I’m not a damn science experiment!” she screamed, causing Hope to stir and fuss from her sleep. Guilt clouded her face for waking the baby, but her anger was too great.
“Camille, that’s quite enough,” Elijah said quietly as he stood in the doorway. “You’re asking far too many questions,” he continued as he walked inside the room, gently giving Hope’s rocker a little push so it kept rocking and the infant stopped fussing before looking at their guest. “My apologies, Bella. She likes to talk.”
“I see that,” she sniffed, her tone lowering. “It’s annoying. I don’t want to talk about them. I’d rather see all of them burned to ash in any method that I can use.”
An amused smile appeared on Elijah’s face as he briefly rubbed her back with his hand. “I will do my absolute best for that to occur, even if it’s simply lighting a match to throw on their decapitated bodies.”
“Fat load of good it’ll do me considering I don’t have the speed and strength to rip their heads off myself,” she grumbled, conflict building in her in the presence of the man.
Elijah looked over to Cami, who immediately jumped to her feet. “Let me take Hope out of the house. We can go to the farmer’s market, give you two some time alone,” she suggested. When Elijah nodded, she took the rocker and went to gather her belongings. “We’ll be back soon.”
As Bella’s eyes followed her out of the house, she hadn’t moved from where she stood. Glancing up at him, she was hesitant to ask about the constant tensions. “She got on your nerves too? With her questions?”
“In situations such as the one you currently find yourself in, I think that if you truly wish to share information, you would,” he spoke quietly. “Of course, I am curious, like Camille, but the fact of the matter is that it is far more important that you feel safe with us.” He was quiet for a moment and then smiled. “I happened to overhear your talk about magical charms, protection spells.”
She let out a dramatic sigh, stepping away. “Not you, too. Look, I had a Quileute friend that gave me a dreamcatcher that was supposed to be blessed by one of their shamans, but it did shit.”
“Oh, not me too,” he said amused, moving towards the window. “Let me ask you this however. Your Cold Ones sparkled in the sunlight, did they not? What do you think the sunlight does to a vampire like me? Doesn’t lore say that we’re supposed to combust when coming in contact with direct sunlight?” He held his hand in a ray of sunshine coming through the curtains and watched it curiously.
Her eyes followed his movements, keeping silent at first. “I suppose, but so would being stabbed in the heart with a stake and from what I’ve learned, doesn’t work on you either.”
He smiled at that. “Had I been an ordinary vampire, it would. It takes a very special kind of stake to kill me and my family.”
“A special kind? What? Like filet mignon? Are you a medium rare kind of guy? I’m not an idiot, and I refuse to be treated like one,” she argued, her eyes blazing as she pointed at his hand. “After Camille, and now this…I get that you guys are different, but this is mocking what little sanity I might have left after everything.”
“I’m not treating you like an idiot, as you say, Bella,” Elijah said amused. “Vampires do combust when coming into contact with direct sunlight,” he said as he moved his hand from the window and took a step back so he was in the shadow. “Witches are able to give us a ring, charmed with a protective spell, that allows us to walk in daylight.” He removed his ring and handed it to her.
“Charming,” she answered blandly, eyeing him with some concern. “Your point?”
“Without that ring, this happens,” he said almost diabolically as he put his hand in the beam of light, causing his hand to start blistering and smoking upon impact.
Dropping the ring in her surprise, she propelled herself forward to grab his hand, her body blocking the sunlight simply by her action. “What the hell did you do to yourself?! Are you crazy?!” she scolded as she covered the blistered hand with her sleeve.
“I would think that’s debatable,” he replied as he watched her in fascination. “Do not worry, it will heal. I was merely showing you that there are, indeed, charms and magic out there that are beneficial to anyone.”
Bella’s eyes shot daggers at him as she pulled her sleeve up slowly, seeing for herself as the wounds slowly healed in front of her. “Charms may very well help keep me temporarily safe but it doesn’t get rid of the problem, Elijah. I’ve had a year in my own hell where I’ve had nothing but time to think about what I would do if I were ever to be free.”
“I understand it won’t get rid of the problem, but it could hopefully stall them long enough,” he said as he knelt to get his ring off the ground and put it back around his finger. “The world isn’t simply black and white. There are grey areas and of course, color in between. Options.” He smiled. “My brother Kol would definitely like you once he shows some sense.”
“Why? Is he one that would be able to point me to someone free to help me take out a coven of Cold Ones?” she asked innocently.
“Do you believe that we’re not doing everything in our power besides dealing with our current situation? I assure you, my brother Niklaus has his spies out for those Cold Ones you told Rebekah about. The moment they enter our city, we will know about it.”
Bella thought about that, momentarily surprised at the admission that they were already helping her in some way. “Then why was I brought here? Why couldn’t I stay in the city?”
“We will be returning to the city, but as of this moment, no one was available to keep an eye on you but myself,” Elijah admitted. “Yes, you would be safer at the compound where you can enjoy the protection of Niklaus’ finest vampires, but he was right in bringing you here. The thought of you having to be there on your own when everyone else is occupied doesn’t sit well with me, either.”
“Why? Neither of you know me. What would one human matter to a family of vampires a millennia in age?” she asked, not understanding where he was coming from.
“We take protecting humans who deserve it quite seriously,” he replied as he looked into her eyes. “My sister has taken a liking to you and my brother and I do love a good fight every now and then.” He continued, a small smirk in place. “And to be fair, Niklaus finds you interesting as you cannot be compelled. He most likely wants to help you explore why and how, so you can use it to your advantage. That shield of yours, I assume.”
Bella sighed as she ran a hand through her hair. “Great. Another psychotic vampire fascinated by things I can’t explain about my brain. At least this one actually treated me like a normal vampire I guess, for what I expected of what he is. Not pretending to be something else.”
“I assure you, we mean you no harm.” Elijah said as he cursed his cellphone rang.
“Don’t promise something like that,” she snapped.
“I said that I assured it, it’s not a promise,” he said playfully. “Please excuse me,” he said calmly as he picked up the phone. “Niklaus.”
“Finn knows. About Hope, about everything. I don’t know how long until he gets there but he is on his way.” His brother urged him.
“Yes, remarkably well on his way,” Elijah replied as he looked out the window and saw a car standing outside. “I would say.” He nearly jumped back when Finn appeared in front of the window. “Bella, you need to leave, run. To the shed.”
She stared at him wide eyed. “What? Why?” she demanded.
“I do not have time to explain, go,” he said as he shoved his phone in his pocket and looked at her. “Go.”
“Like hell! Who is outside?!” she argued, hearing the banging coming from outside.
He could hear how his brother blasted the back door off its hinges. “Go through the front door,” he moved himself so he would be in Finn’s path. Why was she suddenly all brave? He had told her to leave, had he not?
“Is it a vampire? Another human?” she spouted her questions as she tried to look around him. “When there is a threat, you get rid of them…”
Elijah stared at his brother, who simply raised his hand and with a flick of his wrist, sent Elijah flying back into the living room. “It isnot that simple, now go!” he said as he got to his feet and used his speed to get in front of Bella again.
She had stared at the stranger, angry for his attack. Angry at the threat he imposed on her vampire friend.
“How did you find me?” Elijah asked his brother after Finn put up a boundary spell that Elijah couldn’t get through, all the while wishing Bella to leave. He started to take small steps back, forcing her to move with him and hopefully push her out of the door.
“With a little help from our sister,” he replied.
“Rebekah would never-”
“We have more than one, you know.” Finn replied casually. “And I get the sense she doesn’t like you very much.”
“Freya…” Bella whispered, immediately connecting the dots. “From Dowager,” she blinked as she leaned into Elijah’s back. The woman had freed them only to send this man after her own family.
“Mother warned me Dahlia would kill us all to acquire another first born Mikaelson. And me? I’m in no mood to die.”
Elijah kept walking backwards and slightly nodded. “I understand, brother, but you are not leaving with Hope.” He reached behind him, eyes on his sibling. “Bella, please. I do not wish for you to get hurt.”
“The ever so noble Elijah,” Finn sneered. “Not wanting to have a woman see him lose a fight.”
“If you hadn’t learned anything from the conversations today, I don’t have any intention of running and leaving you alone,” she protested, her hands grasping at his jacket.
Elijah turned to her. “Tell me,” he said in a low voice, only so that she could hear. “Does your shield also protect you from physical harm? From dying?”
“Doubtful, but you and and brother will just have to pick up my mantle in my absence and rid the world of Cold Ones in my name once you’re done with the other issues at hand,” she shrugged. “I said I wasn’t afraid of dying.”
“As much as I applaud your bravery, I do not wish to see you dead.” He reached behind her and opened the door. He then turned back to his brother, surprised that he hadn’t spoken up. “Cowering behind your witchcraft. You always were pathetic, Finn.”
“After nearly a millennium of dishonorable acts hidden away in your own mind, you have the audacity to call me names? Ha! What I do now, I do for the members of my family who can still be saved. Unfortunately, neither you nor Niklaus managed to make that list.” Finn pointed to the nearest sharp object and used his telekinesis to throw it into Elijah. When the vampire didn’t budge, he threw something else. And another one that he pulled from his coat when Elijah still wouldn’t go down.
Much to Bella’s surprise, the vampire dropped to the ground, his skin turning all veiny and grey and she let out a breath. He had said he was indestructible!
“Now, little human, where’s the child?” Finn demanded as he walked towards her.
She stared at Elijah’s dead body in shock, breathing heavily before looking to the dark skinned man. Knowing he was the vampires’ brother in some way, she figured it was in the same situation that Rebekah had found herself in when she awoke in Dowager with her. “Uh… I don’t know,” she denied, shaking her head. Pointing at the vampire corpse, she exclaimed, “You killed him!”
Finn kicked against Elijah’s limp body and smirked. “No, I incapacitated him. Granted, maybe not for long so I’d better make best of my time.” Realizing the girl wasn’t a threat and could be dealt with later, he turned around and started to explore the house. “Where are you, Camille?” He said as he looked at the sweater on the sofa. “I know you’re around!”
Bella said nothing, choosing to leave the man to his search as she turned back to Elijah. Kneeling at his side, she took his hand, her fingers brushing over his ring as the memory of his earlier display came to mind. “If you find her, would you mind supergluing her mouth shut?” she muttered, keeping her eyes down.
“You can’t hide forever, Camille!” Finn’s voice carried to the hallway where Bella was with Elijah.
Elijah stirred as the grey skin disappeared and his eyes flew open, looking at Bella in surprise.
Bella barely suppressed a gasp as she reached out to cover his mouth to avoid him speaking aloud. Raising her finger to her lips for him to remain silent, she pointed to the hallway where the intruder had moved.
“Oh, look at that,” Finn said as he looked at Bella and his brother, who was still down for the count. “Little girl, if I were you I wouldn’t trust my brother as far as I can throw him…” he chuckled at his own little joke. “Or as fast as I can throw stuff into him. I don’t know why you’re here, but he won’t save you.”
“I never asked to be saved,” she responded as she turned to eye him. “Maybe if you could beat that into his head…?”
“I’ll get to you later,” Finn said as he bounded up the stairs. “Camille!”
She leaned back, listening carefully before standing to her feet and making her to the kitchen as quickly and quietly as she could. Turning on all the range top controls as high as she could, she looked around for anything else easily flammable. A glance out the window, she found a propane tank and grimaced. “Elijah?” she whispered.
Elijah sat up as he started to pull the implements out of his body with a silent groan. He was going to kill his brother. He eyed Bella and listened to her movements when he couldn’t see her anymore and blinked. What was she doing? He then looked up to the ceiling, wondering what his brother was doing apart from looking for Camille.
He headed to the kitchen and grabbed a knife before grabbing Bella by her waist and put her down at the door. “Leave.”
“No. Get that propane tank inside fast and open it. The pressure inside will release the gas and fill the rooms pretty fast,” she whispered harshly as she reached for his hand, holding it up.
He looked at her before punching a hole in the wall next to them and broke the gas line. “Like so?”
The blank look on her face left her stunned. “That works, too,” she blinked, growing lightheaded.
Elijah turned around as he heard Finn bound down the stairs again and the moment he could see him, he threw the knife right at him. He could tell that his brother was weakened, somehow. He then quickly turned around to Bella, opened the door and looked for the nearest soft spot. “Forgive me, Isabella,” he said with a whisper, lifting her up with his hands and threw her outside into the haystack across the yard before closing the door. He had barely closed it when Finn pulled him back inside and smacked him into a few more walls before he finally landed in the sun room.
He could hear Finn scream in agony as he collapsed in the hallway and took a moment to assess himself as he was on the floor. He was bleeding. There was blood on his hands. Fascinated in his daze, he continued to smear blood on his hands. Like they were supposed to be bloody. Painted red. With blood. All the monstrosities that he had done and forgotten, behind the red door. He lifted his hand and tasted the blood. His blood, but yet, he could taste all of his victims.
“Look at you, brother, you’re a mess,” Finn said as he finally managed to get into the room.
He forced himself to remember what Bella had set out to do, why he had broken the gas pipe and thought the girl was a genius, but had to force himself not to listen to his brother. He kept looking at his hands.
“And, as we both know, untidiness is your undoing. Tell me, do your soiled clothes serve as a reminder of your filthy memories? Your many sins? Are you having bad memories now, brother? Perhaps of the innocent Tatia? Or any one of the other poor souls who met their fate at your hands?”
Imbecile. Yes, the memories were there, but he had to focus. Focus in being unfocused.
“What about that human girl you so ungraciously tossed out of the house the other moment? Has she survived? Or will she be yet another notch on your dark soul? Her blood on your hands? I don’t think she would mind though. From what I overheard,” Finn continued. “It’s a shame, really, because, in a way, she, and Klaus’ child, is just another one of your victims. Had you the will to stand against me, you might’ve saved her. But, because she was left under the protection of a wretch, a beast that basks in the blood of others, She. Will. Die. I suppose your little niece never really had a chance. I’d ask for a response, but I wouldn’t want to taint myself with the vulgar refuge that must, even now, be flashing through your mind.”
With that, Elijah sighed and dropped his hands as he looked at his brother. “I can assure you, my mind is quite clear,” he said with a little smile on his lips. “As is the gas that has pervaded every single room in this home whilst you’ve been rambling like the lunatic that you are,” Elijah spoke calmly. “You have disgraced this family for the last time,” he said as he took off his daylight ring. “Goodbye, brother.”