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Title: Taken (Chapter 34)
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


34. Through the Fire

Klaus seemed surprisingly calm, regarding the scene with little more than a raised eyebrow. It was Elijah who cast around like a trapped animal, nostrils flared, furious that they had dared to betray him.

“I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you weren’t expecting this.” Klaus folded his arms. “Change of plan?”

Elijah ignored him. He stepped up to the very edge of the flames – but from the inside this time, and oh, he had walked straight into this. Blinded by his desire for revenge, he had thought only of having a front row seat when his mission finally succeeded. He had given the witches exact instructions on how to kill an Original, and here he was, about to die with his brother.

The fire flared up, forcing him to step back. He hissed at Bonnie. “What are you doing?”

She stared back at him, unflinching. “Sending you both to hell.”

*

In the second that everything went pitch black, Elena froze. She didn’t know if this was supposed to happen or not. But then the world reappeared, the scene exactly as it had been before except for one crucial thing: Elijah was trapped with Klaus.

“No,” Elena gasped, trying to wrench free of Damon’s grip. “What are you doing? What is she doing?”

“She’s doing what we’ve been trying to do for a long time,” Damon replied.

Stefan took a step forward. His jaw dropped; in contrast to his brother, he clearly hadn’t anticipated this. “They’re going to kill both of them.”

It was like a lead weight had landed on her chest and plummeted through to her stomach. “You can’t! Stop it! Make them stop it.”

“You’re being difficult, Elena,” said Damon in a bored tone. She made a sound that was part sob, part growl, and kicked him, forcing her already worn-out body to struggle as hard as she could. It did no good. Damon didn’t even do her the courtesy of looking at her; he simply held her at arm’s length while he looked on at the scene playing out before them.

They were only a few yards away, but Bonnie had her back to her and so did the other witches. Even if Bonnie heard her shouting, would she listen? Would any of them listen?

“Stefan,” she said. “Please. Stop this. You know that Elijah doesn’t deserve this. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be dead by now!”

Stefan looked at her, and she thought that he looked conflicted. His brows were drawn, the fire casting deep shadows over his face. But he shook his head.

“It’s for the best, Elena,” he said quietly.

She wanted to spit at him. “This isn’t right, and you know it.”

“Don’t blame us,” Damon said. “This was Bonnie’s idea. She’s getting her revenge.”

Bonnie... Elena swallowed. She could see Bonnie’s hand entwined tightly with Abigail’s, a mother-daughter silhouette standing directly before Elijah and Klaus. They had been separated for ten years, and Bonnie blamed Elijah for that. She blamed both of the Originals.

Even as she watched, the witches raised their hands and thunder rumbled in the air, a deep, rolling sound that reverberated through her. The fire burned higher.

“Bonnie!” she called, one desperate, final time. “Bonnie, please stop!”

*

The flames were encroaching on them. Little by little, they inched forward, eating up the grass, the ground, the air. The witches continued their chanting, and all Elijah could see were hostile faces.

He and his brother backed away.

“Really though,” Klaus huffed. “Back-up plan. Now would be a good time.”

Elijah gritted his teeth. “You may want to think of some better last words, brother.”

“Oh, you’re joking.”

He wished that he were. He looked around again, searching for something, anything that might save them. Beyond the flames, beyond the witches, Elijah found the one person who wasn’t willing them both to die: Elena. The wind gusted strands of hair over her face, and her eyes were glazed with tears.

I’m sorry, her expression told him. I’m sorry.

The Salvatores had her. They always did. She couldn’t help.

*

Elena couldn’t look away. The circle of fire was drawing inexorably inwards, the two figures trapped inside standing shoulder to shoulder.

Bonnie hadn’t heard her. Neither Stefan nor Damon would listen. She was as trapped as Elijah was, and now she would have to watch him die too.

She felt tired, drained, spent. She was sick of having to struggle all the time, to fight for every single decision, to make her voice heard.

Elijah didn’t take his eyes off her. That was one thing that no one could take away: the connection they shared. Nothing could take that away.

She held her breath.

*

Klaus stiffened at his side. The flames were licking at their feet; there was nowhere else to go. He was standing on the brink of a volcano.

“I was never supposed to die,” Klaus whispered. “I’m immortal.” His voice rose to a shriek. “I’m immortal!”

“Well,” said Elijah, trying to sound calm, so as not to betray his fear – he would be damned if he wasn’t going to die with his dignity intact, “I suppose we shall go together.”

He wanted to say something to Elena, even if she couldn’t hear him, because she was still watching him and this would be his last chance, his last word... The words caught in his throat. Klaus had turned and grabbed his shoulders – his brother’s eyes burned into him, bright, fierce, so unlike Elena’s – the heat was unbearable–

“No,” Klaus growled. “No.”

He felt his flesh beginning to sizzle, the expensive leather of his shoes burning away. His back, his hands, all scorching; he couldn’t breathe–

Pain. Not the torture of the fire that he could see reflected in his brother’s eyes. A sharp, horribly familiar pain in his chest: cold, numbing. Elijah gasped, looked down–

A silver dagger.

“Our family are alive,” Klaus whispered. “Save them.”

He twisted the dagger, and the last thing Elijah felt was his brother’s hand on his shoulder before he slipped away.

*

The feeling was... indescribable. Intoxicating. All the more so because it was shared: Bonnie had never felt so connected to a group of people. Ever since Grams had died, she had practised her craft in solitude. She hadn’t enjoyed it.

But tonight she revelled in it, and she revelled in being part of something bigger than herself. The faces around her were all rapt with concentration, all focused on the same goal. The moon was almost past its apex; this, now, was the height of her power, and she felt a righteous satisfaction as she watched the flames consume the two Original vampires. Klaus didn’t go quietly. His brother collapsed first, and Klaus roared in pain, bellowed at the world, at them, at her:

“I will destroy you, Bonnie! Mark my words – I will haunt you–”

But the fire seared his flesh, and though Bonnie was shaken for a moment – the hatred in his eyes was almost palpable – her mother tightened her hold on her hand, and she completed the final words of the spell.

Lights danced in front of her eyes. Klaus’s cries were abruptly cut off as he too was consumed by the flames. Like a light bulb being blown, the fire went out. Bonnie stood still, breathing in quick, shallow breaths. She could smell the smoke from the fire and something else, something worse: the charred, acrid smell of burnt flesh. The air was full of ash.

They’d done it. They’d taken on the oldest vampires in the world, and won.

Behind her, someone was sobbing.

*

“That’s it,” said Isobel.

The way she said it, Jenna couldn’t tell if this was a victory or not. “Is he dead?”
To her, the woods were quiet, filled only with the usual sounds of bugs chirping and the bubbling of the nearby river. She only had Isobel’s word to go by for what was going on out there. It was awful; her stomach wasn’t just churning, it was practically eating itself up with worry and impatience.

Slowly, Isobel nodded.

Jenna couldn’t stand it anymore. She fumbled with her bag, took out a flashlight and a stake – hey, she’d come prepared – and started walking. But she had only gone a few steps before Isobel appeared silently in front of her. Jenna flinched, but held her ground.

“I have to go to her.”

“I know,” said Isobel. “You’re Elena’s guardian. That’s the difference between you and me. I may be her mother, but I’m not part of this family. Take care of her, Jenna.”

She touched Jenna’s arm, a light, quick touch, smiling – and was that a catch in her voice? Jenna blinked, unsure how to respond. Of course that was all the time the vampire needed to disappear.

Alone, she took a deep breath to steel herself, and set off again. She was heading roughly in the direction that she had seen Katherine disappear in, navigating partly by memory, partly by instinct. She wasn’t unafraid; in fact, she became more petrified with every step she took. What if she ran into a hostile vampire? What if Klaus wasn’t really dead? What if she simply got lost and wandered in circles around the woods until she had to suffer the humiliation of calling someone to rescue her?

But soon enough, she spotted a thin trail of smoke rising up from the trees, and adjusted her course towards it.

Jenna stepped into the clearing and saw two things. The first was the witches, congregated in two small groups. The Martins were trying to comfort a sobbing girl. Evidently whatever they were doing wasn’t working, because Jonas passed his hand over the girl’s forehead and she sank into his arms, either unconscious or asleep. The other witches stood to one side, some watching, others in murmured conversation. They all looked exhausted.

But it was the second thing that really grabbed her attention. She moved her flashlight over the clearing and caught the back of a leather jacket: Damon. He looked at her, nostrils flared, before turning back to the two figures on the ground. Stefan was stooped over Elena, his hand at her back. Elena was crying.

If Jenna had the advantage of vampire speed, she would have flown over there in an instant. As it was, she had to make do with running, stumbling over the uneven ground with no care for herself.

“Elena!” She shoved Stefan aside unceremoniously, dropping down beside her niece. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

Damon folded his arms as Stefan backed off to stand next to his brother. “She’ll be fine.”

Elena reached for her and Jenna hugged her tightly, relieved beyond words that her niece was okay. She was obviously shaken, and who wouldn’t be after the ordeal she’d been through, but she was okay. She’d survived. It looked like they all had.

“He’s dead,” Elena whispered.

Jenna could feel Elena’s tears dampening her hair. “I know. Thank God.”

“Tyler.” Her niece shook her head, barely managing to choke out the next word. “Elijah.”

“Tyler?” Jenna swallowed. So they hadn’t all made it. She heard footsteps crunching twigs and leaves underfoot, and looked up.

It was Bonnie. “There’s a dead wolf in one of the circles,” she said. “We think that it’s Tyler.”

“And Elijah?”

She hadn’t been hearing things, had she? Elena had said Elijah. How had the most powerful vampire among them lost his life in the fight against Klaus?

Bonnie’s expression was stony. “Come and see.”

*

Elena was grateful beyond measure to Jenna; her aunt had turned up exactly when she needed her. She didn’t need Stefan’s soft words or comforting arms just then – no, she didn’t want them, because it all sounded so hollow. She didn’t want Damon, and she didn’t know if she could even look at Bonnie, who was avoiding her eyes, choosing to address Jenna instead.

She stood up unsteadily. Jenna offered her a supporting arm, and together the two of them followed Bonnie. Elena glanced back; Damon had already gone straight to the Martins, clearly anticipating another potential threat, while Stefan simply watched from a distance.

She couldn’t look as they moved past the wolf corpse, though Jenna made a noise of distress.

Instead, she fixed her gaze on the blackened circle, smoke still rising from what looked like a charred husk in the middle. It was hard to be sure. Jenna had the flashlight, but it only took a murmured request for her to hand it over. Elena didn’t know if she wanted to look. But she had seen enough tonight to give her nightmares for the rest of her life. One more wouldn’t make much difference.

“Don’t,” Bonnie warned her. “The ground is still too hot.”

It was the first thing she had said to her directly. Elena looked at her best friend, and felt her mouth tremble. “Didn’t you hear me? Before you killed them both?”

“I’m sorry,” said Bonnie. “But it was our only chance. I had to.”

Elena didn’t know how to respond. She shook her head, stepping away from both Jenna and Bonnie, and approached the circle alone. Her heart was hammering. She could feel the heat through her boots, but it was bearable. She picked her way forward, the beam of the flashlight flickering this way and that. There was something there... Something more than a pile of ashes.

Was it a body? She shifted the flashlight down, and a glint of silver caught her eye. It was the handle of a blade, charred, but still distinct in its shape and design.

“Elena!”

That was Bonnie calling her, voice sharp and anxious. In a moment they’d all be upon her. Elena knelt down, reaching out to grab what she thought was a shoulder – she pulled, twisting the body around, and a shock of excitement jolted through her when she recognized a familiar profile: even dead and covered in ash, she could tell it was him. Elijah had been daggered but his body had survived the fire, so did that mean–

With both hands, she grasped the handle of the dagger and yanked, crying out in pain as she did so – it burned.

“Elena!”

This time it was Stefan; she looked up to find him almost on her and scrambled for the blade, which she had dropped. She found it, wincing as she flattened her palm over it and felt her skin blister.

He looked from her to the body. “What have you done?”

She scrabbled back, breathing hard. Damon had appeared on the other side of Elijah’s body, frowning as he looked down at it. Bonnie ran up to them too, Jenna not far behind, and she could see that she had attracted the attention of the other witches.

She sat up, cleared her throat. Her mouth was dry. She didn’t know if she could manage more than a croak, but she spoke up as loudly as she could anyway, so that everyone could hear.

“Elijah and I had a deal. I won’t let him die.”

Damon hissed a profanity and Elena tensed, sure that he was about to restrain her again. But instead he froze, and a moment later, she realized why: Elijah gasped back into life, his body jerking up, limbs twitching. It wasn’t graceful; he looked worse than he had when she’d pulled him out of the lake – he was covered in ash and grime, his suit in tatters, almost completely gone in places. But despite all that there was still a raw air of power about him; Damon and Stefan backed away; everyone else was frozen in position. Bonnie looked both grim and frightened, her mouth a thin line.

“Bonnie,” said Damon tightly.

She shook her head. “I can’t – we already used up all our magic...”

Someone else stepped forward instead. Maddox strode past Bonnie, his face a mask of intensity, and made to snatch the dagger away from her. Elena jerked back, and then Elijah was upon Maddox; he snapped the witch’s neck, killing him in an instant. Several people gasped; Elena stared, wide-eyed; she would never get used to just how quickly people could die.

Elijah straightened up, glancing between Damon and Stefan who looked like they were readying to attack. “Go on,” he said softly. “Any of you.”

They didn’t move. No one moved. She had to do something before someone else got themselves killed. Elena staggered to her feet, still clutching the dagger in her burnt hand. Silently, she held out the dagger to Elijah, who took it.

His eyes swept over the group. “Where is Klaus?”

Damon replied. “I think you’re covered in him.”

For the first time, Elijah seemed to notice the state of his clothes. He lifted a hand, staring at the dirt and ash that coated his skin.

“We did it, Elijah,” said Elena, reaching out to touch his arm. He seemed almost in a stupor. “We finally killed him.”

“Yes,” he replied, distantly. He looked at her, and she saw the sorrow in his eyes. Tonight hadn’t felt like a victory for either of them. She tried a smile anyway, because whatever else had happened, Klaus was still dead. It didn’t fit right; Elijah smiled back and that didn’t look right on him either, not with the ashes still clinging to his face. Her hand was still on his arm; he reached out to take it, curling his fingers around hers in a strangely formal gesture.

“Thank you, Elena.”

He inclined his head; she felt his fingers slipping away from hers... Elena opened her mouth to protest, to say something, anything, but it was too late. He was gone.

*

Vampires didn’t get tired, but Damon felt drained anyway when he trudged back into the Salvatore boarding house, his brother equally heavy of foot beside him. They had delivered Elena safely home, at which point Jenna had insisted that they leave her alone. Now he just wanted this night to be over.

Stefan sighed, and Damon patted him on the back. “Hey. Guess what? We won.”

Stefan gave a weary smile. “Yeah. We did.”

“Sure, Elijah getting away was a little irritating, but at least he’s not the Original who wants to sacrifice Elena in a creepy blood ritual.”

“Right,” Stefan agreed.

Damon frowned at his brother. His attempts to look on the bright side didn’t seem to be working. There was something that Stefan wasn’t saying, he was sure of that. He had that deep broody look that meant he was thinking too hard about things, rather than saying whatever it was that troubled him out loud. Before Damon could ask, however, they entered the parlour and were greeted by none other than Katherine.

She waved a bottle at them, grinning. “Surprise!” Contrary to their sombre disposition, Katherine looked positively perky. Even her curls looked bouncier than usual.

Meanwhile, Stefan’s sigh was even wearier. “Katherine.”

“Wow, you look glum. Did Elena fall into a ditch and die on the way home?”

The looks they gave her were answer enough.

“Well, then. Come on, smile. Have a drink with me.”

Damon glanced at his brother before they both approached her. “What’s the occasion?”

“Klaus is dead and we’re alive. I think that calls for a celebration.” She raised the bottle again. Vintage, Damon noticed, stolen from their cellar. Well, he’d expect nothing less. “I didn’t have time to make ‘Klaus is dead’ celebration banners, so champagne will have to do. Isobel sends her love, by the way.”

“I’m sure she does,” said Damon dryly.

“You’re awfully chirpy,” Stefan added. “You are aware that Elijah survived, aren’t you, Katherine? Last I checked he still wants you dead.”

Katherine poured them a glass of bubbly. They’d failed to wipe the smile off her face. “Oh, I’m not worried about Elijah. We made up. We’ll be besties in no time.”

She was lying. He was fairly sure she was lying. Damon shrugged. Right now, he didn’t care. Katherine was right: Klaus was dead. And as far as he was concerned, no one important had died. This was cause for a celebration.

He accepted the glass, and raised a toast. “To outliving Klaus.”

Stefan and Katherine joined him, glasses clinking together. “To outliving Klaus!”

Katherine leaned against the mantelpiece, the fire burning low in the grate, and sipped her champagne. Her eyes glinted; she was wearing a triumphant expression that Damon normally associated with losing out yet again to her machinations, but this time felt different. This time, they were sharing in the same victory.

“And to freedom,” Katherine added.

“To freedom,” Damon echoed, raising his glass to her.

Stefan followed a moment later. “To freedom.” He nodded at Katherine. “You saved our lives out there.”

“You’re welcome.”

“It’s funny,” Stefan went on. “Before you turned up at the sacrifice ritual, we thought you were safely locked up in a Mystic Falls prison cell. Caroline was watching over you. You didn’t hurt her, did you?”

Damon blinked. Oh. He hadn’t thought of that. They’d found Alaric and Jeremy safe and well at the Gilbert house, which pretty much accounted for everyone. He’d assumed that Caroline would be fine, given that she wasn’t even involved in the sacrifice ritual.

Katherine shrugged. “No. I just threw her and her mom in the prison cell instead.”

Well, there was an answer. He rolled his eyes. Yet again Caroline had managed to mess things up. Granted, he was okay with it this time since if Katherine hadn’t escaped, they would probably all be dead, but he was still going to mentally add it as a black mark on her track record.

Stefan sighed.

“Don’t look at me,” said Damon. “I bailed her out of the last two emergency situations she got herself into. I think it’s your turn.”

His brother paused a moment before leaving his champagne flute on the mantelpiece. “I’ll... go make sure she’s okay.”

He glanced at Damon, who understood the silent question in his eyes. Would he be okay dealing with Katherine? Damon gave a quick nod.

“See you later,” Stefan added, and departed.

Damon took a moment to adjust, pouring himself more champagne, taking a sip and looking around the room – looking anywhere but at Katherine. True to form, she had already sidled a step closer to him. She tilted her head, liquid eyes looking up at him from beneath her eyelashes, dark curls spilling over her shoulders. He had to give it to her: she had sultry down to an art form.

“Katherine,” he said.

She smiled. “What?”

He sucked in a breath through his teeth. “You know what...”

She raised her eyebrows, but he didn’t complete the sentence. Instead, he took the glass from her hand, and set it aside along with his. His fingers curled around hers, caressing her skin. Katherine didn’t blink. They were caught together, gazes locked on each other for a split second where both knew what was about to happen – and then Damon moved, Katherine lifted her chin, lips parted; he fell into her, her mouth, her hands, her body lithe and sinuous; and she gasped into his mouth, yes

The bottle of champagne fell to the floor, forgotten.

*

Home. Elena hadn’t thought that she would ever see it again. Jeremy and Alaric had been waiting for her, and Jeremy had pulled her into an embrace so tight, she thought she might choke.

She was exhausted. All her joints ached. It only took a few minutes for Jenna to insist that she go to bed already, and Elena didn’t protest.

She washed, changed, and sat down on her bed, remembering to text Caroline to make sure that she was okay. Caroline didn’t keep her waiting; a reply flashed up less than a minute later.

So happy you’re ok. Talk tmrrow.

Elena rubbed her eyes, sighing. Tomorrow she would have to tell Caroline about Tyler and Matt. She didn’t know if she could face that. She didn’t want to think about any of it. She stared at her phone screen, wondering if she should just get rid of Tyler and Matt’s numbers already. Get it over with. She even scrolled down her contact list to find them, but a different name made her pause.

Elijah.

Had he gone too? She had brought him back to life twice over, but he had achieved his mission in Mystic Falls. He had killed Klaus, and he had said himself that he had no reason to remain in town after that. She might never see him again.

Although of course, she did have his number... Elena bit her lip. She very nearly pressed the call button before she came to her senses, shaking her head. She was too emotionally drained to speak to anyone tonight.

She climbed into bed, buried her face under the covers, and slept.

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