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[personal profile] wheatear
Title: Taken (Chapter 31)
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries (TV series)
Characters/Pairings: Elijah/Elena, Damon, Katherine, ensemble
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None.
Summary: Post-2x15 AU: Elijah succeeds in kidnapping Elena, Katherine is out of the tomb and the Salvatore brothers have one hell of a mess to fix. Sometimes you have no choice but to make a deal with the devil. If you can get the devil to make a deal with you...

previously


31. The Ritual

“Bonnie?” Caroline rushed over to her friend at once. “Are you okay?”

Bonnie was shaking, her face streaked with tears. Damon had her arm slung over his shoulder, supporting her as she stumbled inside. He looked grim. Caroline stared at them both. She couldn’t see any injuries on Bonnie, but she could smell blood.

She licked her lips nervously. “Where’s Matt?”

Damon answered. “Sorry, Caroline. He’s gone.”

It was the way he said her name that really hit it home. No trace of sarcasm, no insulting nicknames. Just the truth. Matt was gone. She looked at Bonnie, who nodded.

“I’m sorry. I – I couldn’t stop it. When I found him, he was already...”

She felt weak-kneed, like she was about to collapse. The Salvatore boarding house seemed to spin around her.

“No,” she whispered. “No...”

This was her fault.

Distantly, she heard Bonnie say, “Are the witches here?” Damon nodded in response and Bonnie moved away... There was activity going on around her, but Caroline barely registered any of it. She felt dazed.

She hiccupped. It was a stupid reaction, she thought furiously, not even proper tears, but it felt like she had a frog in her throat. Then Stefan came up to her and asked, “Are you okay?” After that, she couldn’t contain it.

The next few minutes passed in a blur. First she could do nothing but cry, sobbing her heart out in front of the fire while Stefan held her. Then her guilty feelings poured out as words.

“We should have gone back for him! I left him there when I knew he had no protection against Klaus, no ring, nothing, he’s just a human – was just a human – Matt...” She sobbed his name again and again, like a prayer, like an apology. “Matt...”

Stefan bore all of this patiently: her messy sobs, tears and mascara all over his shirt as she buried her face into his shoulder. He stroked her hair, his voice calm and soothing, until eventually her tears ran out.

“This isn’t your fault,” he said firmly. “It’s Klaus. Klaus did this, and he’s going to pay for it. We’ll make sure he never hurts anyone else.”

“I wasn’t even there,” she whispered. “He was dying, and I wasn’t even there.”

Stefan was silent for a moment. “I know how that feels,” he said. “To lose someone you love, and not be able to do anything about it.”

She looked up at him, sniffing. “When?”

Again, he paused before answering, measuring every word. “Katherine. Back when we thought she had died in the church. We tried to save her, and we failed. By the time we woke up, she had already burned.”

“Except she hadn’t,” said Caroline.

He nodded.

The fire flickered in the hearth. Her thoughts darted around wildly, as fast as the thrumming of her heart. She had been too overwhelmed with emotion to think through everything, but gradually her senses were returning to her.

“When does the sacrifice happen?”

“It’s already started,” Stefan answered heavily.

She sat up. As comforting as it had been to have Stefan holding her, she couldn’t forget why they had gone to Klaus’s hideout in the first place. A renewed sense of determination flared in her eyes. “Tyler. If we don’t save him, Matt will have died for nothing – we have to save him.”

“I know.” He spoke faster, the emotion rising in his voice. “Every minute that passes, Elena is closer to dying. But we need all the witches to kill Klaus, and Jonas and Luka aren’t here. Elijah’s disappeared too.”

She made a distressed noise. They’d lost the Martins as allies – and that meant she’d lost her chance of protecting her house, protecting her mother, against Klaus. Without them, Klaus would sacrifice both Tyler and Elena, and then they were all doomed. He’d be unstoppable.

“We have to find them.”

He nodded. “Bonnie’s on it.”

“Bonnie.” She exhaled. Bonnie was always on it. She had lost Matt too – witnessed him dead – but that hadn’t stopped her. Caroline wished she could be half as strong as Bonnie. She gave a tiny smile. “Yeah... She always pulls through.”

Stefan smiled back. His eyes crinkled when he did that, full of concern, soft and genuine. “You always pull through,” he said, gently wiping the tears from her eyes. “Come on.”

*

Damon answered the door. “You’re late.”

“My apologies,” said Elijah pleasantly. “I got held up.”

He swept into the house, Jenna and Jeremy trailing behind him. Damon looked as though he wanted to stop them, but Jenna raised an eyebrow at him and he let them pass. She suppressed a grin. Accompanying Elijah had its advantages.

“So,” said Elijah, immediately taking centre stage in the middle of the room, “are we all prepared?”

Looking around, somehow Jenna didn’t think so. There was Caroline, sitting next to Stefan with her hands folded into her lap, her face pale and drawn even for a vampire. A few seconds later, Alaric walked in and collapsed into one of the armchairs with a damp cloth pressed to his forehead. He must have been injured. What had happened? She gave Jeremy a sideways glance and took a step closer to him.

“No,” was Damon’s response. “Your witches betrayed us, Elijah. Jonas and Luka got the jump on us. They tried to rescue Greta, she didn’t want to be rescued, so they took off.”

“Don’t forget Matt,” said Alaric heavily, prompting a tearful sniff from Caroline.

Jenna frowned, confused. “Matt Donovan?”

Stefan broke the news. “Matt’s gone.”

“Gone?” Jeremy repeated, stepping forward. “You don’t mean... dead?”

The looks on everyone’s faces answered that question.

Damon waved a hand. “Not important right now. The point is Elena is about to be sacrificed as we speak, we’re three witches short, we’re still wearing the Klaus death rings, and Katherine is nowhere to be found.” He poured a glass of what looked like whiskey and gulped it down. Jenna had a feeling it wasn’t his first drink of the day.

She was too overwhelmed to speak. Apparently they had missed a lot. Matt was Elena’s ex-boyfriend – he was a nice kid. Jenna had met him several times. When she had been recovering from a knife wound in her stomach, he had accompanied Elena and Jeremy to the hospital to pick her up and helped to take care of her. Matt was probably the last person she would associate with the supernatural goings-on in Mystic Falls, so how he had gotten caught up in this mess, she didn’t know.

“Thank you for summing that up, Damon,” said Elijah. “I believe I can help.”

Just like that, he had taken control. All eyes were on him, Damon sceptical, Jeremy still openly suspicious, but everyone was listening. Jenna folded her arms. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about Elijah. But she thought that she had been right about one thing: they needed him.

“Katerina is safely contained,” Elijah began. “Sheriff Forbes has her in custody. As for the witches, I can contact the Martins. Where are the other witches?”

Damon jerked his head. “This way.”

That was the cue for all the vampires except for Caroline to disperse, leaving only Alaric, Jeremy, Caroline and Jenna in the room. The normal people, Jenna thought wryly, although they had all long since gone way past normal. They were caught up in the supernatural, but still not important enough to take part in the plan. It made her miss Katherine, weirdly. Katherine, who was locked up with no one to save her.

She sighed. “Well, good to know everything’s under control.”

Jeremy snorted. “Yeah, right.”

She watched Jeremy waver for a moment before he decided to go over to Caroline, who looked lost and alone. She knew they were thinking of Matt. First John, then Matt... It seemed like in this war between vampires, the only people who died were the humans caught up in the conflict.

Jeremy murmured something to Caroline, and then the pair of them stood up and exited the room. Leaving her alone with Alaric. Jenna caught her breath. Oh. She hadn’t thought of that.

Alaric glanced up at her and cleared his throat awkwardly. At least he’d done that first. She’d been thinking about it.

“Well,” he said, and then couldn’t seem to think of anything to add.

Jenna took pity on him and stepped closer. “Are you hurt? I thought vampire blood could heal people. You’d think one of them would offer to help.”

He ran a hand through his hair where she could see a bruise on the side of his head. “Damon did, but I refused. It’s nothing. A few bruises and scrapes. I’d rather clear my head with a drink.”

“Because that’ll help.”

“Well... Maybe I didn’t want a clear head.”

She frowned. “What happened, Ric?”

He told her, in a halting, often vague manner, but not because he was trying to hide anything. No, she realized. It was because he felt guilty. Alaric had been at the scene and Matt had ended up dead.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

He nodded, expression bleak.

Jenna hesitated. She felt genuine sympathy for him, for the first time in a long time. But she didn’t know what else to say. They were both lost. She sat down next to him and clasped her hands in her lap. “So... what do we do now?”

“Whatever we can,” he said.

Not much, she thought, guessing that was his implication too. She shook her head. “You know, Elijah brought us here. I brought a whole pile of weapons. I thought we might be able to help, but I guess not. I don’t know why he bothered.”

Alaric shrugged. “Maybe he likes you.”

She laughed out of sheer surprise. “Right.”

“If I’m being honest... I was jealous,” Alaric admitted.

“Well, we did kiss.” Dear God. It was like her brain short-circuited sometimes. Jenna shook her head and back-tracked fast. “Uh, that was after I broke up with you. And I killed him right after, so you probably don’t want me as a girlfriend anyway.”

He laughed. “I finally get to tell you... That was pretty amazing. Killing an Original vampire. That takes guts.”

“Well, I hear you did it first.”

“Well, I hear I’m stupid. And reckless.”

She smiled despite herself. She had forgotten how warm Alaric’s eyes could be. Still, they were dancing around all the real issues. It was fun, but she couldn’t keep it up.

“Ric,” she said slowly. “I’m still mad at you for lying to me. I don’t know if I can get past that. Even if it’s true that Katherine compelled me, that’s still a big deal for me.”

His expression sobered. “I know.”

“I get why you did it,” she went on, trying to keep her voice steady, “and why Elena and Jeremy lied too. I know you thought you were protecting me.” That was as close as she could come to forgiving him. She had to forgive Elena and Jeremy because... well, they were family. They looked out for each other no matter what.

“We tried,” he said. “We tried to stop this, to protect Elena... The one thing you can count on is that Damon and Stefan will do anything to keep her safe. So whatever goes down tonight... They’ll die before they’ll let her be killed.”

Jenna nodded. She had gotten that by now. Both brothers were in love with Elena, both brothers had a single-minded drive to protect her. She was sure that Elijah was going to take full advantage of that. Whatever his plan was, it involved witches and vampires. Not her. So she would have to find some other way to be useful.

Just like that, the answer came to her.

“Ric,” she said, “can I ask you a favour?”

“Sure. Anything, Jenna.”

“Look out for Jeremy,” she said. “I – I think there’s something I can do, but I don’t want to leave him unprotected. Keep him safe for me.”

This was almost too blatantly manipulative, she thought. She wasn’t great in that department, but Alaric seemed too eager to win her favour to notice.

“I will,” he said. “If that’s all I can do here, I will. What are you going to do?”

She stood up. “Something that will help Elena.”

*

There were three circles. One for each sacrifice. Elena tried to dredge up what Elijah had told her about the ritual. Klaus must sacrifice a werewolf, a vampire, and the doppelgänger, in that order. With her death, the curse would be broken. He would become a hybrid.

She scrambled to her feet, trying not to breathe in the smoke of the fire. She was in the middle ring. In the left hand ring, sitting with her hands wrapped around her knees, was Isobel.

As if she could sense Elena’s gaze, her mother lifted her head. “Hello, Elena.” Her voice was dry, cracked.

She couldn’t respond. What was there to say? Elena shook her head, backing away. To her right...

“Tyler,” she gasped.

He was lying down in the grass, breathing heavily. Sweat glistened on his skin, and as she watched, he jerked and writhed in pain. But he had seen her.

“Elena,” he whispered. “They – they never told me about this part. The sacrifice. I met a girl just like you. Katherine. I saw a picture of her–” He jerked again, crying out, and Elena had to turn away in distress – she could hear his bones snapping.

She couldn’t believe it. Why Tyler? She had expected Isobel, but not Tyler. He was supposed to be far away from all of this. Did Klaus really want to torment her that much? Wasn’t it enough for him to sacrifice his victims? No, he wanted them all to suffer. She shook her head blindly.

“Tyler – I’m sorry, I’m so sorry...”

Every word he spoke sounded like a terrible effort. “No – Elena – I’m going to change, but before I do, I wanted to apologize. For that night at your parents’ lake house.”

“No,” she said, “no, Tyler, you don’t have to apologize for anything, you already told me – you didn’t know. None of us knew things would end up like this. We should have been more honest with you. If we’d been open with you from the start...”

She swallowed. Would things have been different? They could have worked with Tyler, helped protect him. Stefan, Damon and Caroline all knew everything about the curse; she had made sure of that. Maybe that was why they weren’t in this circle and Tyler was.

Tyler let out a keening noise that sounded more animal than human. He was transforming... Soon there would be a wolf, not a human, trapped in that ring of fire, and then...

She looked outside the rings. There, a few feet away, Klaus was standing watching them, a smile on his face. Behind him, she recognized Greta and Maddox, the two witches. Maddox, she thought. He had promised to help. But he was chanting too, hand clasped with Greta’s over a stone basin.

Elena’s eyes shifted back to Klaus, and he winked at her.

As soon as Tyler becomes a wolf, she thought. That’s when he’s going to kill him.

She didn’t give Klaus the satisfaction of a response. Instead, she turned away from him, back towards Tyler. He was curled up, gritting his teeth as more spasms wracked his body.

“Hold on,” she urged him. “Fight it.”

“I can’t,” Tyler gasped. “The others – Caroline – are they coming?”

Elena licked her lips, thinking quickly. They were supposed to be. They had to be. She didn’t know what was going on out there, but she could only assume that her friends intended to rescue them. Elijah could rally everyone and tell them about Maddox’s offer, what he had shown the two of them...

A demonstration, he had said. He had walked over to the unconscious Katherine, knelt down, and slipped the ring off her finger without any spells, incantations or any apparent effort at all. That was all it took. The witch who created the rings could remove them at any time.

She looked up. The moon was rising. They had to get here soon.

But she couldn’t give the game away in front of Klaus. Instead, she shook her head. “I – I don’t know.”

“Caroline,” Tyler gritted out. “Tell Caroline–”

His eyes flashed yellow in the firelight. He lunged forward with a growl, teeth bared, and Elena stumbled back in horror.

He couldn’t reach her, not with the fire between them, but it was still horribly frightening to see the monster behind Tyler’s eyes. That wasn’t him anymore, snapping and snarling, pacing the outside of the ring like a caged animal. But if there was anything of Tyler left in there at all, she had to answer him.

“I’ll tell her,” she whispered. “I will.”

The transformation was happening fast now: his bones cracking and reshaping, fingers becoming claws, fur rippling across his body. For one moment she glanced away and saw Klaus watching too, expression rapt. He looked fascinated. No, more than fascinated. He looked hungry. This was what he wanted; this was why he had waited a thousand years to complete the ritual.

They were going to die so that Klaus could become even more of a monster than he already was.

She felt sick. No one had come. Tyler was gone; in his place was a sleek coal-black wolf, its ears flattened as it shied away from the fire.

Klaus gestured over to Greta and Maddox, and the flames surrounding the wolf died away.

The wolf remained still for a moment, hackles raised, as if it didn’t quite know what to do. Then it took off, but not away from the scene – it rushed towards Klaus with supernatural speed. Klaus chuckled as he met the wolf head-on, grabbed it by the scruff of its neck and pinned it to the ground. The wolf’s limbs thrashed, its jaws snapping this way and that as it tried to get at the vampire grinning above it.
Elena couldn’t breathe. A part of her hoped that the wolf could overpower Klaus or escape his grasp somehow, but she knew it wasn’t going to happen. Klaus was too strong.

It was over in seconds. The wolf let out a plaintive yelp before Klaus ripped out its heart and stood triumphantly holding the bloody thing in hand.

Tyler’s heart, she thought numbly. Tyler’s dead. She watched Klaus walk over to the witches and hold the still-dripping heart over the stone basin. Light flashed when the droplets of blood met whatever was inside the basin – a sign that the spell was working, she supposed. Tyler had died so that the ritual could be completed. The futility of it all overwhelmed her.

She collapsed to her knees and stared into the flames, gaze unfocused. Bright spots danced in front of her eyes. The witches’ chanting had faded away; all she could hear was the crackling of the fire, and all she could feel was the intense heat. Her hands found the grass and dirt beneath her, real and solid and alive, but she was overcome with only one desire: to throw herself into those flames. To burn along with everything else.

She crawled forward and the heat scorched her face, burning her tears away, and the flames flared up. But she couldn’t touch them. She was thrown back into the middle of the circle, where she hit the ground with a painful thud. Grimacing, she got to her feet, and found that she was being observed.

Isobel was staring at her from her circle. “What are you doing?”

“I have to die,” she mumbled. “I have to die.”

Klaus tutted. “Careful, love. You’ll die soon enough, don’t worry. After I deal with your mother.”

Elena looked at Isobel then and saw her own feelings reflected in her mother’s eyes: a sad resignation to her fate. They were both going to die, bound together. They’d never had so much in common, she thought bitterly.

She sat cross-legged on the grass, and waited.

*

The witches had gathered in the Salvatore library. Bonnie wasn’t sure why they had chosen to congregate there in particular, but Abby had seemed keen to stay away from the vampires and Gloria had been pleased to discover such a treasure trove of books. She supposed that knowledge must be attractive for witches. They recorded their spells in books, after all. As for Bonnie herself, she had never liked being anywhere in the Salvatore boarding house, so it made no difference to her.

When she told them what had happened, Abby simply squeezed her arm. It was the nearest she had come to showing any parental affection, and Bonnie was grateful for it.

“Are we still going ahead with this?” Lucy asked.

Bonnie nodded. “The sacrifice is happening. We have to.”

Her calls to Luka had failed, and so had her attempt to use magic to locate the Martins. Then Elijah appeared and told her that Jonas and Luka would be with them shortly. She didn’t know what Elijah had said to them. Probably some kind of threat.
When they turned up, Bonnie made sure she was there.

“Let me speak to them,” she said.

For a second, she wondered if Elijah would allow this, but he simply nodded, his expression unfathomable, and slipped away. So it was Bonnie alone that opened the door of the Salvatore house and let the Martins in. Luka nodded and gave her a faint smile – still trying to be nice, she thought, after everything – but Jonas didn’t look as though he had the energy to be angry, let alone polite.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said.

Bonnie nodded. “This way.”

She led them into the library and found a quiet corner away from everyone else where they could talk.

“I know how you must be feeling right now,” she began.

“No, you don’t,” Jonas cut her off. He was standing behind an ornate desk, knuckles gripping the edge. “Elijah promised us that by killing Klaus, we could save Greta. This was all for Greta. All of it... Without her, what’s the point?”

Next to him, Luka nodded unhappily. He hadn’t said anything. But it was hard to imagine that he disagreed with his father on this.

“You can still save her,” said Bonnie. “Hear me out, please. If Klaus is dead, she has to move on. You have a chance to help her. If you don’t do anything... she’ll never be free of him. None of us will.”

Jonas’s brows knitted together. He had decided to come here, she thought, even if he had been threatened. Surely that meant they were willing to help.

Someone cleared their throat. Bonnie jumped, and turned around to find that they weren’t as alone as she had thought. Gloria stepped forward. She gave the Martins a calculating look.

“Excuse me, I overheard. If I might butt in. Bonnie is being really patient here. Your daughter got seduced by the dark side of magic. That sucks. We’re all sad for you. But she’s still alive, and that’s more than can be said for Bonnie’s friend who got killed today, or the countless number of witches Klaus has ever used and disposed of. Believe me, I know. I’ve known that guy for a long time, and killing him will be doing a big favour to all witches. The world will be a better place without him. Just a little fact for you.”

Jonas looked around at them. Gloria wasn’t the only one who had joined them. Abby looked up from a book she had been reading and returned it to a shelf before coming over too.

“Are you going to help?” she asked.

Finally, Jonas nodded. “What about Elijah?”

Luka spoke up. “He didn’t know, Dad. None of us knew that Greta wouldn’t...”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” said Abby. “Elijah tells people what they want to hear. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Jonas was silent – Bonnie was aware, and she was fairly sure that they were all aware – that Elijah could easily overhear their conversation if he wanted to. Even amongst a group of powerful witches, they were all still wary of the Original vampire’s power.

“There are only six of us,” Jonas said. “Six of us means...”

“One of us has to die,” said Bonnie. She held up her hand, showing her ring. “I know.”

She noticed Gloria raising her eyebrows at Abby, and glanced at her mother to see her tight-lipped. Abby still hadn’t said anything about that. Again, maybe that was because of Elijah’s presence, but she’d had a chance to speak up before he had arrived, when it had become clear that their mission to get Greta’s help had failed. They’d both avoided mentioning it.

“It’s a pity,” said Gloria finally, “to lose one of ours for one of theirs.”

“This is Klaus we’re talking about,” Bonnie countered. She thought of Matt’s body, one more innocent in a long line of victims. If she needed to strengthen her resolve, that was enough. “We’ve wasted enough time. I’ll tell Stefan we’re ready.”

*

Caroline felt like going up to one of the Salvatore guest rooms, locking the door, and curling up in bed to cry herself to sleep. Or better yet, doing the same thing in the comfort of her own bedroom, away from everyone and everything else.

Instead, she was sitting on the staircase, staring numbly into space. That was how Damon found her. He dropped down on to the step beside her and Caroline flinched, but he only handed her a half-finished blood bag. At once her body reminded her how thirsty she was. She took it, fingers trembling as she gulped the liquid down.

“Perk up, Barbie,” he said. “Your mother called. They’ve picked up Matt’s body, so if you want to pay your respects...”

She lowered the blood bag and looked at him. “Did she ask for me?”

He shrugged. “Your mom’s pretty occupied right now. She’ll be the one cleaning up all this mess after we’re done.”

It didn’t escape Caroline’s notice that he referred only to her mother. Damon was an expert at cleaning up vampire-related messes, since he created so many of them. He probably didn’t expect to survive the night, she thought.

“Katherine will die when Klaus does, won’t she?” said Caroline slowly. “So if I’m there, I’ll know when you’ve succeeded.”

Damon nodded, twisting the ruby ring on his finger. It didn’t go at all with his daylight ring, she thought, ridiculously. He could pull off the lapis lazuli ring, but a second ring just looked over the top.

“If you want to keep watch on the bitch, you can do that too.”

“It’s better than doing nothing.”

He nodded again, a tired smile forming on his lips. “Right. I’d do it, but... sacrifice rituals and all that.”

“Right.”

“No one keeps Katherine contained,” he warned her. “Not even Klaus. Make sure she doesn’t get out.”

Before she could respond, Stefan appeared. “The Martins have agreed to help us. Elijah wants us all in the library.”

Damon stood up at once. “Goodbye, Caroline.”

Stefan nodded at her, giving her a small smile. “Goodbye.”

They disappeared, and Caroline felt her stomach drop. That wasn’t just a ‘see you later’. Already the house felt too big and silent without them. Not so long ago, she had thought that both Salvatores were goners. She had decided that she needed to step up in their place. When this was all over, she would have to pick up the pieces too.

She got to her feet, feeling slightly unsteady. Before she reached the entrance, however, she was stopped by Jenna.

Caroline blinked. “Hey.”

“You’re going to the police station, right?” said Jenna. “Can I come?”

next

Date: 2012-05-11 04:14 am (UTC)
silverusagi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverusagi
I kind of love the fact that every character except Elena has gotten screwed over by Elijah. Like you had the thing with Abby, and how he made a deal that she interpreted one way, but not his way. Then you have Jonas being pissed that they didn't get Greta back. Which technically wasn't Elijah's fault, as Greta obviously has free will. But yeah, Elijah probably knew that most witches weren't being forced by Klaus, he just neglected to mention it. So you've everyone running around telling Elena 'DON'T TRUST HIM', but Elena does keep trusting him, because that's been her experience with him. And everyone thinks he's leading her on and is going to turn on her like everyone else, BUT YOU KNOW HE'S NOT. :)

Date: 2012-05-11 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wheatear.livejournal.com
Ha, thank you! It's something I love on the show too. Elijah has screwed over Elena, but she's also seen sides of him that other characters haven't.

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