put down your sword and crown

you're going away and i'm feeling the same thing day after day

On Saturday, with T-minus 22 days until the next fool moon, Elena finds herself at school, of all places, folding up silver and white construction paper and halfheartedly listening to Caroline's lectures of "You're folding it wrong!" and "Stop eating the glue, Matt" and "Every snowflake is an individual snowflake".

Remind me again, she says to Bonnie while the witch perches on a ladder in front of the cafeteria doors, why we're sticking up snowflakes and ice glaciers around the school when winter is so clearly over?

The two of them look over their shoulders at Caroline, who's berating Stefan for having the audacity to not know which colour swatch to choose.

"How can you not know the difference between Thistle Gray and Slate Gray?" Caroline demands shrilly, making Damon-eyes at him. She shakes the colour swathes under his nose again. "Do you not care about prom? Is that it, Stefan? Are you intentionally trying to ruin me? Are you, Stefan? Are you?"

"Now that I think about it," Bonnie says quickly, "snowflakes are great."

Elena nods, hurriedly turning away from the Save me and I will give you all the puppies in the world look Stefan's throwing at her. "Yeah, no complaints here."

There's a silence as Elena passes the paper snowflakes to Bonnie, who sticks them artfully above the cafeteria doors. Grazing the floor with the toe of her sneaker, Elena asks, "How's… How's your mom?"

Bonnie looks at her from the corner of her eye. "She's a vampire. Pass me a silver one, would you?"

Elena tries to think of something witty to say, like 'Hey, these two snowflakes are alike! Unforgivable.' a la Caroline, but it just won't make it past her lips. Instead, she stands on her tiptoes to reach Bonnie, thinking school can't end faster enough.

On Saturday evening, T-minus 22 days until the next full moon, Caroline doesn't go home immediately after Rebekah's driving lesson—which consisted of her chaining Kol to the back of Ole Betsey and driving at high speeds, ignoring Klaus when he berates her about the bumper and rolling her eyes when Stefan says Kol might, just a hunch here, feelslightly uncomfortable bumping along the tarmac?—but lingers in the kitchen of the Original Mansion with Stefan.

"You're still here," he notes, helping himself to Rebekah's stash of cranberry juice.

She mumbles something along the lines of, "Too quiet at home", but Stefan's got that stupid knowing look in his eyes again.

"He's upstairs," he says, so totally casual and so totally smirking.

She wants to so totally slam the glass bottle he's sipping from up his so totally stupid face, but he leans forward over the counter towards her. With his serious vampire face on and his eyes locked on hers, he raises his hand—

and so totally flicks her nose with his forefinger.

"What th—that was uncalled for!" she splutters, drawing back. "What the hell, Stefanita?"

He just shakes his head, finishing off the rest of his drink and if Caroline hadn't watched Grease for just about 67 times, she couldn't have recognized him swaggering out the door. She would have gaped, but she wouldn't have taken it as lightly as she's taking it now.


"Carpe diem, Forbes," he calls over his shoulder.

On Saturday night, T-minus 22 days until the next full moon, Stefan leans back against Rebekah's door frame and raises his eyes to the vaulted ceiling, to her delicate lace curtains, to her king-sized canopy bed with the soft white draping. Fit for a princess, he smiles.

The sound of running water from her bathroom stops and she steps out, hair done up in pigtails and face free of make-up. Stefan decides he likes her this way, especially in her sheep print pajamas (the fact that she even owns a pair never ceases to surprise him) and soft bare feet.

"Stefan." She blinks, hands reaching up to fluff her hair self-consciously. "I thought you'd left."

"And I thought," he says as he pushes himself away from her door, "you'd like to try driving at night." He jingles Klaus' much coveted car keys and Rebekah lets a smirk grow on her lips.

"How'd you get those? Nik doesn't ever let it get out of his sight."

Stefan shrugs easily. "Found them on the floor somewhere."

"Liar," she retorts with glee and pulls him out of the room with her. She doesn't bother to change out of her pajamas and Stefan doesn't tell her how amazed he is about that.

On Sunday at midnight, T-minus 21 days until the next full moon, and Caroline's trudging across the lawn of Maison de Mort—the name's stuck, alright?—to where her car is parked, hands in her pockets and curses (of which are directed to Stefan) falling from her lips.

Carpe diem, she scoffs, kicking at a dried leaf. If anyone's got any diem to carpe, it's him. With his stupid freshly-shaved chin and his carting of Rebekah around in that stupid old car. That stupid old car that looks like it's been to hell and back in the span of just 9 days. That stupid old car that Kol's determined to stain with his Cosmopolitans—

(Kol drinks Cosmos? she wonders absently)

—that stupid old car that has her wrapped up in nerves and tearing at the seams. That stupid old car that smells reminiscently like…

"I'd greet you in kind, but that's a lot of profanity for a nighttime walk."


Her feet stops mid-stride and her lips stop mid-fuck you and your squirrel fetish. "What are you doing here?" she asks, almost snidely. It's not every day she's caught with her foot lodged in her mouth, alright?

Klaus doesn't skip a beat. "I live here."

"Oh." Open your mouth wider, Caroline. Shove your foot further in. "How dandy."

Klaus shakes his head and unfolds himself from the foot of the tree he'd been leaning against, ever-present sketchpad in hand.

"What is there to draw in the dark?" she blurts out. "You can't see anything."

"I see you." He tucks his sketchbook in the crook of his elbow and turns around, back to his house. "Have a nice walk, Caroline."


And he does, even when she just stares at him, not saying anything. She bites her bottom lip, almost wants to cry in the incoherency of the moment, almost wants to tell him to not go, just wait, just wait until she gathers her wits and lets out a sentence that doesn't make him retreat back into his shell—

Klaus steps closer, his eyes locking onto hers. Their breath comes up in great plumes around their faces and the crickets sing.

Caroline feels like the next thing to come out of her mouth would either make or break the moment. She parts her lips. "Do you—"

"I'd love to."

On Sunday, just a little past midnight; T-minus 21 days until the next full moon, Elena sits on the ledge of her window, a mug of hot chocolate in her hand. She could have stayed at the Salvatore boardinghouse again, she knows, since her living room's basically looks like a drunk Jack Sparrow had blasted it apart looking for rum, but she figures she's imposed on them enough.

She swings her feet, watching her toes catch the moonlight, and nearly drops her hot chocolate when a gust of wind suddenly brings Elijah before her.

It's amazing, she marvels, how warm he smells on such a cold night. Like cinnamon and sandalwood. Cedar and chocolate spice and the crunch of dried leaves. Like the forest on a late autumn day.

"Careful now," he says, a smile on his face as she scooches aside to let him into her room. "You could fall."

"I'm not worried," she says, and slides her window closed. "You'll just catch me."

Elijah places her macaroons on her bed and goes to her bookshelf, as he always does. It occurs to her that autumn's always been her favourite season.

They walk. She talks. He listens.

It's 12:34am.

"Steven moved to Nice," she tells him, letting her feet crunch down on the damp grass, listening to her voice echoing across the vast lawn. "I miss him a lot, but he said that's what they'd always wanted. Him and dad. Rear some geese, maybe build a stable…" she trails off, eyes fogging over. "Grow old. Die young."

"I wanted to visit them in the winter and eat grapes in the summer and sneak off with some wine in the fall," Caroline says.

"That was a hope," she says.

"Steven said they'd been planning on adopting a baby girl, tiny and beautiful. He'd shown me pictures. I was going to be a big sister." She lowers her eyes, down to her fingers getting tangled up in the long sleeves of her coat.

"That was a dream," she says.

They walk on. Down the road, past the Grille, hovering at the mouth of the cemetery before moving on to the park. She sits down at one of the swings, looking up at him. "Well?" she says expectantly.

Klaus heaves a sigh of resignation and settles down in the swing next to her. It creaks when he toes the ground with his shoe, swaying lightly to and fro. His sketchbook lies between them, the Pandora's Box of sketchbooks, the bane of her existence.

She wants to peek into it so bad, she realizes.

"And—everything you want in life?" Klaus finally asks, his voice gruff from the night air. (At least, that's what he tells himself.)

Caroline looks at him. He looks back.

"I don't know yet," she says, and he believes her.

They drive. He teaches. She takes it in.

It's 12:55am.

Rebekah makes a U-turn without taking down a tree. Stefan nods in encouragement.

Rebekah veers the car into an empty spot, mindful of the dark shadows obscuring her view. Stefan smiles.

A squirrel scampers across the road on their way home and she grips the steering wheel, eyes widening. She almost glances at Stefan—almost—but takes a deep breath, palms the hand brake, eases her foot down on the clutch and steps on the brake lightly.

The car stops without a hitch. He kisses her then, and it's blind and reckless and all-consuming and all Rebekah. When she pulls away, her eyes are glassy and his hair is tousled from her wandering fingers.

"What now?" she asks, and despite everything, despite knowing she has nothing left to lose, she's still afraid of the answer.

"You drive," he says simply.

They read. He makes funny sounds without realizing it. She laughs.

It's 1:27am.

Elena makes him mint tea and Elijah smiles knowingly over the rim of his teacup and she shakes her head—their very own inside joke.

Elena sticks her head around the corner and breathes a sigh of relief when she sees the hallways clear of students. She hurries past the lockers, the sound of her sneakers (which she'd forgotten to lace up in her hurry to escape the locker room) thudding loudly on the floor, bouncing against the sounds of the pep rally coming from the gym.

She's almost at the door—her fingers can practically feel the smooth metal of the handle—just ten more steps, seven, three—

"Look who's skipping the pep rally!"

An inhuman shriek rips from her throat and she trips over her untied shoelaces, crashing painfully to the linoleum floor. Her pompoms fly out of her unzipped bag and her megaphone rolls away as Caroline smiles down triumphantly at her.

"I was… getting my spare pompoms from my car?" Elena tries, but Caroline just rolls her eyes and helps tug her to her feet.

"Didn't Matt drive you today?" Caroline asks, eyebrow cocked. "And I put the ban on spare pompoms when Damon started stealing them to make little outfits for his precious crow. Remember?"

Elena grips the strap of her bag, looking defeated. "Fine. I was bailing, I'm a horrible person, et cetera et cetera," she says gloomily. "Now can I go?"

Caroline thins her lips and tilts her head to the side. "You're sneaking off to see Elijah, aren't you?"

Elena opens her mouth to answer, but no sound comes out. It's then she realizes that she's about to shoot off another excuse, another misbegotten fact on why she'd rather be spending time with a dying man than cheer on their football team, who they all know is just going to tank at the next game anyway.

Why she'd rather do useless things like watch Jersey Shore with Elijah and cook too much chilli that Elijah ends up finishing as to not hurt her feelings.

Why she'd rather bail on Bonnie's much-scrutinized box-motion one-foot-flip side-kick routine to watch Elijah get that serene look on his face just as she's about to fall asleep.

But then she looks at the careless way Caroline's swept her hair— a far cry from the rigid, so-much-hairspray-global-warming's-coming-ten-minutes-earlier high ponytail—and lets her eyes trail downwards—

and gasps.

"You're not wearing socks," Elena gapes, and squints up at her best friend. "You're wearing shoes without socks. You're wearing your cheer shoes. Without socks."

The blonde curls her lip. "Guilty."

Elena says (almost suspiciously), "You were planning on bailing too, weren't you?"

Caroline laughs, a carefree tinkle, and taps Elena's button nose. "Guilty!" she says again and twirls her car keys around her forefinger. "Come on, I'll drive. Matt told me the last time you did, you backed into an Original."

"This town's too damn dark," Elena grumbles, tossing her bag over her shoulder.

They push through the double doors of Mystic Falls High School and the late morning sun engulfs them completely.

Stefan's scanning the field and squinting his eyes up at the bleachers, but one look at Bonnie frantically putting together a last-minute-routine just about confirms his suspicions. He groans out a curse and yanks his helmet off, tossing it to Matt.

"Your game," he calls, and runs off before Matt can stop him.

"Ahah!" Damon all but kicks the kitchen door open, pointing a triumphant finger at the vampires (and and doppelganger) sitting around the table. "Playing hookey, are we now?"

("Hookey?" Rebekah repeats blankly. "What is that? It sounds like the name of a call girl."

"You would know, Bek," Kol snickers.)

Elena raises an eyebrow. "Why are you here, Damon?"

He strolls over to where they're sitting and helps himself to a croissant. "Stefan told me what naughty kids you've been. He's off looking for you at your house." He adds smugly, "I got to check here 'cause I beat him in rock, paper, scissors. I keep telling him: always go for the rock."

"Really, what are you nattering on about?" Rebekah snaps.

"I heard you're a bona fide driver now, Beks." Damon grins down at her. "So I made t-shirts out of some pompoms I… conveniently found."

"I knew it!" Caroline exclaims as she steps into the kitchen. She folds her arms over her chest, glaring. "Do you know how hard it is to find red and navy pompoms around here? I had to custom-order it online, Damon."

"I know naught of these navy pompoms you speak of," Damon says with dignity. He turns to Kol and nods. "Go get them."

The amount of glee in Kol's bouncing step is enough to launch Rebekah off her stool and in Damon's face. "What have you and my nuisance of a brother been up to?"

"Just celebrating you and your driving skills," Damon says genially. "Can I come, by the way?"

"No," everyone snaps simultaneously (Klaus being the loudest).

"I don't want you anywhere near my car," Klaus growls.

Speaking of which, Elijah speaks up. "I'd like to see for myself how Rebekah drives."

"Sure," Caroline enthuses, popping a raspberry into her mouth.

Klaus stretches in his seat. "It's a bit of a bind, but I'm sure you'd fit right in."

"You should see me park!" Rebekah grins, clapping her hands together.

(Damon smacks the refrigerator. "Seriously?")

"This also means," Rebekah continues with great pleasure, "Kol won't be coming along with us today."

"I won't be the one to break the news to him," Klaus smirks.

They hear Kol bounding down the hallway, and Damon's eyes widen. Oh shit.

"Bekah!" he calls out, something red and sparkly and his hands. "Look what we—"

Everyone stares as Damon roundhouse tackles him to the ground and tears the shirt out of his hands. He tries to smuggle it behind his back, but Rebekah's too fast for him—she's already wrestling it from his grip and smacking her palm into his face when he tries to bite her hands.

"Let go," she snarls.

"Not in a million years," he bites back, but the shirt slips from his hands and Rebekah waves it in the air in triumph—until she sees the words gracing the front of the shirt. Her lips move wordlessly as Elena hides her laughing face.

"'DANGER: STRUMPET DRIVING'," Caroline blurts out. "'MAY RESULT IN: DEATH'."

"We were trying to go for irony?" Damon tries as Rebekah rounds on him, eyes on fire.

"It was my idea!" Kol says with pride. "I thought we'd all wear it today. Bags on the passenger seat."

There's a pause. Rebekah smirks, Elena smiles and looks away, Elijah just looks on in interest, and Klaus leans forward in anticipation. Caroline looks at Damon pointedly.

The Salvabro clears his throat and puts a hand on Kol's shoulder. "Sorry, Kol. You've been voted off the island."

"I beg your pardon?" Kol frowns.

"There are five photos in my hands," Damon says with a straight face, "and these photos represent the people still in the running to become Rebekah's next defiled passengers."

(Elijah has to hold onto Rebekah's wrist to stop her from lunging at Damon.)

"What are you talking about?" Kol blithers. "I see no photographs—"

Damon tries again. "You're fired."


"For the love of—" Klaus rolls his eyes heavenward and shoulders Damon on his way out the kitchen. "Elijah's coming with us. You aren't."

"But—what is this—I don't—" Kol looks at them in turn, a look of deep betrayal etched on his face as he splutters: "But I made t-shirts!"

"Wow," Elena says.

Elijah turns to her, lips quirked. "What is it?"

"Nothing, it's just…" She makes her way behind him, looking at him through the reflection of his mirror. "I don't think I've ever seen you without your suit. In sweatpants, no less."

"Klaus says this can get quite brutal," Elijah says, rolling his tie up and tucking it into his drawer. "And besides," he says with an inaudible sniff, "these pants are Armani."

("Figures," Elena mutters.)

He turns abruptly, something Elena isn't prepared for, and she finds her face buries in his chest. If she turns her head just so, she ventures, her ear would be right where his heart is. She swallows, looking up at Elijah through her lashes.

Elijah doesn't step back. Neither does she.

"Elena," he says softly, and it's almost like a song. "How do I look?"

It takes her a while, and she crinkles her eyebrow in thought. Finally, she settles on: "Human."

Elijah looks delighted.

"Why did you insist on coming," Caroline asks as she ducks under a branch that hangs low, "if you were just going to bail in the end?"

Klaus nudges her slightly and overtakes her, picking his way expertly past the roots poking out of the ground. "Kol's been getting his way too much. Keep up, won't you?"

Caroline rolls her eyes and picks up her pace to run past him (making sure to kick at his legs in the process) and pretty soon she loses sight of him through the thicket. When she reaches the stream (the same one on Rebekah's second day of her driving lessons), she kicks off her shoes and gathers the wild flowers in her hands, casting the weeds aside and braiding the daisies into her hair—a neat trick Rebekah had taught her. She's on her third daisy when Klaus finally appears, sketchbook hanging loosely from his hand.

Of course, she thinks.

What she says is: "Took you long enough."

Klaus just shakes his head, an odd look crossing his face. "I feel tired today." He settles down against a fallen tree and flips his sketchbook open, and the trouble in his eyes is chased away by one of—dare she say it?—serenity.

She looks at him, the sun casting halos around the crown of daisies she's woven into her golden hair, a pretty little picture set against the silver sound of the running stream. Klaus swallows—it aches to look at her sometimes.

"What do you draw in there?" she asks tentatively, eyes on the flowers she's arranging on the ground. When she looks up, Klaus is already holding out the book to her and she flicks her eyes to his before taking it. She hadn't expected such an abrupt answer.

The first page. She squints at it, tries to make out the differences in the shading and the coarse lines along the edges of the paper. "It's… the tunnels Elena was telling me about?"

Klaus. "The very one that runs under our feet." He watches her with guarded eyes.

She flips to the next page and sees the Maison de Mort—but there's something different about it. Even in the brightest of daylights, the Mansion usually has an air of stillness to it, of lonely days and dark nights. In Klaus' sketch, it looks vibrant and full of life. "It feels like home," she says softly.

Klaus presses his lips together.

She turns the page and sees water crashing down on moss-covered rocks—the waterfall daddy would bring her to on lost weekends years ago. Mom would pack them a cold breakfast, always flapjacks filled with raspberry jelly, and send them off with a kiss. She'd laugh the whole hike, and squeal when daddy tosses her playfully into the water.

She turns the page. She doesn't really want to think about that right now. It's funny, she thinks as she turns page after page after page, how much beauty Klaus brings to his drawings. There's the clearing in the woods where the sun hits the dappled leaves just right; an arrow stuck in the bark of a tree. Every few pages she'd see Rebekah biting into an apple, her eyes wide and waiting—or Kol sleeping with his mouth wide open. Most pages it's things that's never struck her that he would draw: simple things, like rain splatters across a window or the sky at first light.

"What are these?" she asks, running a hand across unfathomable eyes glowing against a stark black charcoal background—wolf's eyes, she realizes.

Klaus seems hesitant to answer, but he does anyway. "It's how I want to remember things." He looks up at the sky and tosses a pebble straight into the sun. Caroline waits for the sound of it coming down, but it never does.

"How I hope to remember things, anyway," Klaus continues. "It's the things I'd like to dream about—if the fate Esther's bestowed upon us is kind enough to allow that."

Caroline blinks down at the pages and it all comes together. "Everything you want in life." She reaches the end of the book. "I'm not in any of them," she says (like it's a surprise) before she can stop herself, and she thinks she feels disappointed—she's not sure.

Klaus looks at her then, really looks at her. "Would you like to be?"

"How am I doing?" Rebekah asks, a smile on her face and wind in her hair. She glances at her older brother and almost pouts—she misses his old hair, which would have swayed along with hers in the late afternoon breeze.

"Wonderfully," Elijah says, rolling the windows down. "I was expecting you to hit a fire hydrant."

("I wasn't," Stefan says from the backseat. "She's already hit every single one in town.")

Rebekah picks up the speed and turns up the music—she'd made Stefan burn her a CD filled with Gene Austin and Al Johnson, a far cry from "walking down the street in my new lafreak, yeah"—and taps her gloved fingers on the steering wheel, the tires gliding smoothly along the tarmac and Stefan looking relaxed in the backseat, until—

"Rebekah!" Elijah warns, but Kol's already hurtling his way towards the car, the look on his face reminiscent to the look he'd given Klaus as he watches Finn stab a dagger through his palm shortly after his undaggering.

Rebekah tries to swerve but it's too late—she car collides with Kol with a crash and a bang.

"Kol fucking Mikaelson!" She wants to scream murder at her brother and tear that brilliantly smug look off of his face, until she realizes he's not grinning anymore.

"This is taking for-ever!" Champion whiner Caroline Forbes exclaims, throwing her arms up.

"You're the one who insisted I draw you, love," Klaus says patiently, eyes flicking to her neck, (and her eyes and her hair—all over) every so often. "Now lay still."

She wrinkles her nose at him but does as she's told, leaning back casually against the fallen tree. Her knees are crossed and her skin looks kissed by the late spring sun, and she channels Cleopatra in her sultry smile.

"Stop doing that thing with your lips," Klaus says after a while. "It's distracting."

Caroline frowns. "What thing?"

"That," he gestures painstakingly, rolling his eyes.

Caroline wipes her face clean of any seductive smirks and rolls her eyes. "I'm not doing anything."

"Yes you are."

She crosses her arms over her chest indignantly, and gone is the careless lounge she'd so carefully constructed of her limbs for a whole half an hour. "This is how I always look."

He puts his book aside. "I can't finish this."

"Jerk move," Caroline gripes, getting to her feet. "What was the point of making me bend and twist all sorts of different positions if you're just going to go all half-assed about it?"

"At least now we know you're flexible," he says, a quirk to his lips, but Caroline shoves her hands against his chest and smirks triumphantly when he stumbles back. He glares at her and moves to get up, but she pushes her hands against his chest again, and this time he trips on a root and tries regain his footing, but crashes into the stream instead, the jagged rocks tearing into his hands and the water soaking his jeans.

How silly, a part of her brain whispers and she giggles manically to herself.

"Mature of you, sweetheart," he grouses, and brushes himself off. His blood leaves a light smudging on his jacket and he glares at her again. "These is - was - my favourite jacket."

"Sorry," she says, and refrains from smiling. She takes his hands in her own and inspects the wound. "That looks bad."

"It'll heal," he says, rolling his eyes. He bends down to pick up his discarded sketchbook and makes his way out of the clearing, not bothering to wait for her.

"Bek," Kol says, looking up from the road. There's blood running down his forehead and he blinks rapidly, trying to differentiate between the two Elijahs that are suddenly swimming before his eyes. "My head hurts."

"Serves you right," she says, but there's no venom in her voice. "What were you thinking, running into the car—bloody idiot."

"Whatever," Kol snaps, lowering his head onto his knees. "I don't like being left behind. And there's no need to stomp so loud, Stefan."

Stefan exchanges a look with Elijah. "No one's stomping."

"Hey—Klaus." She traipses after him, and nudges his shoulder with her own. "I said I was sorry."

"I appreciate the gravity of the gesture, sweetheart—I really do," he says drily, "but I've never drawn something I didn't get a chance to finish."

He would have storm off after saying that—how typical of you, Nik, he can hear his sister say—but Caroline's in his path, a pout to her lips. "Then finish it," she insists, and takes his hand again, guiding him out of the trees and back to the stream. She offers a toothy smile and flutters her eyelashes as she says, "I promise not to move around so much this time—I'll even, like, I don't know, let you do what you want with me."

Klaus blinks. "Do what I want with you?" He takes a step closer, and she gulps—oh shit.

"Kay, so that might have been taken out of context," she starts to say, but the words aren't coming out anymore because his lips are blocking them, his hands cupping her face. Caroline almost steps back in surprise, but his hands have already moved to the back of her neck, pushing her sleek curls away from her shoulder, running a warm finger down her neck. She can't help it—she shivers. His other hand moves down the small of her back, pressing her closer, and she coils her arms around his neck, her lips moving against his in a way that makes her wonder exactly why she hadn't done this yet. Kiss him, she means. All those opportunities, all those moments being stuck together in tight enclosed spa… the thought is cut short by Klaus running his tongue across her lower lip and her knees almost give way.

"You're horrible," she groans, because it's all she can think of at the moment. In retaliation, she bites down on his lip, hard enough to draw blood.

Klaus pulls away, smirking. "You didn't seem to mind."

She pushes away from him, but he's already seen the smile on her face. "Like I said—you're horrible." Still, she reaches out a finger to wipe away the blood from his lips—and keeps her eyes on his when she slowly, tantalizingly runs a tongue across her forefinger for a taste and she lets out a low moan, her eyes sparkling. "But you taste good."

Klaus swallows. "If I weren't already dying," he says unapologetically, "I'd say you were going to be the death of me."

She's about to shoot off with something witty, but frowns at the blood beading on his lower lip. "Your lip—"

"It'll heal," Klaus says again. "Like my hands, remember?" He raises them, but Caroline isn't reassured, not one bit—

because the gash in his hands is still there.

"Klaus—" she starts to say, but he's already whipping his head around, ducking around trees and past bushes while she trips after him, her still heart stuttering every so often. He finds what he's looking for—a fluffy white bunny, and absolutely tears into it with his teeth, but promptly gags. He spits the blood out onto the forest ground, wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Disgusting," Klaus says, and Caroline nearly passes out.

Stefan's head is spinning. His eyes are darkening around the edges and he can feel his fangs extending as a worried Rebekah helps Kol up. Elijah's asking him questions, questions upon useless questions, like What colour are my eyes? (brown) and How many fingers am I holding up? (three) What did you do this morning? (put bleach into Rebekah's shampoo).

Elijah turns to Stefan, wants to ask Stefan if Kol looks alright, but he's one second too late—Stefan's lunging towards Kol, his eyes dark and feral, his fangs bared.

"Stefan—" Elijah grunts, trying to push him off but to no avail.

"Stefan, no!" Rebekah wants to swallow her scream, but it pushes past her lips anyway when Stefan sinks his teeth into Kol's neck.

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