“How’s work Liz? Business going slow? Lack of dead bodies filling up your in tray?”
“KLAUS!” Caroline’s voice boomed from upstairs and filled up his ears and head, his grin grew wider.
“Yes well now that the resident bad boy has been tamed, I suppose there has been a lack of blood shed and vampires to point fingers at and the like ..”
Caroline rushed down the stairs in a harassed, frenzied blur, lip gloss freshly applied and purse in hand, her black cocktail dress swirling around her thighs and thin straps falling from her bare shoulders.
She came to her a halt in front of her smirking boyfriend, who was leaning up casually against the fireplace mantle in her living room, looking devilishly handsome as always.
He was wearing dark grey slacks and a black, long sleeved, v-neck Henley that was rolled up to his elbows. His hair was its usual gorgeous, controlled mess that matched his light, fuzzy jaw-line, and the smile that greeted her as she entered the room and he literally devoured her with his wide, mischievous twinkling eyes, lit up the room.
In his hands he held two bottles of vintage champagne, probably from way back god knows when, and his head tilted to the side in a relaxed yet playful manner.
Caroline loved how calm and easy his presence had grown to be over the past few months in her home and with her mom. She quickly glanced at the latter who was sitting comfortably on the couch, sinking back into the cushions, her legs were tucked up beneath her and she held a mug in her hands which were resting on her knees. She had a cocky, playful smile on her lips and her eyes narrowed, staring at Klaus, daring him to continue his good-mannered banter.
There were no malice, or tension between the two, this is how it was with them now, Klaus liked to push Liz’s buttons, much like she thought he would with his own mother if he had been able to have a normal relationship with her, and Liz knocked him back into place like any mother let alone Sheriff of the town would do.
“Klaus cut it out, and mom, don’t give him something to bite back to.” Caroline said with her best scolding interpretation whilst glancing between the two and fought to hide her small grin. She liked to pretend that she had to help control the situation of her bickering two favourite people, even though inside her heart ached with the happiness and domesticity of it all.
It was something so boringly normal and yet still so perfect, something all those months ago when she got the tell tale signs of the itching and tickling and black ink seeping into her skin, she never dreamed of happening, especially with him, her love, her life.
Caroline’s eyes caught her moms then swiftly glanced behind her on the couch where a beautiful ruby red graduation gown was draped neatly over the back with the matching cap sitting on top.
“Mom you’re not really going to them frame them are you? Let me just hang them up in my clos..”
“Oh Caroline it’s not even up for discussion,” Liz scoffed with a humoured huff and waved a hand in the air, “my baby graduated high school today, and I want a reminder of the proudest moment of my life so far, up on my wall so that when she’s off gallivanting and exploring and moving on with her life,” She pointedly looked at Klaus at that moment and some unspoken agreement was passed as the man crinkled his eyes and nodded warmly and subtly, from one protector to another, a keeper of her heart to the next, more permanent and more capable of love in so many more ways.
Liz swallowed the dry lump in her throat and continued hoarsely, “well lets just to say I’ll always have something here, something of yours, from this very important time in your life.” She lifted her mug to her lips and took a large gulp, cutting herself off from revealing too much or getting too emotional. Watching her daughter up on that stage earlier that day accepting her scroll and joining her friends, kids she’d seen grow with Caroline for the best part of 14 years, with Klaus sitting by her side, with a smile that smugly matched her own, was a moment she would never forget easily anyway.
The truth was, she knew, she knew Caroline was in good, safe hands now, better than her own, somebody more than capable to provide for her daughter, support but also help her strive and grow and get to where she wants to be in her life. Liz also secretly loved the fact that Caroline had met her match in Klaus, a lot of people automatically assumed that Caroline would have her hands full and tied with the Hybrid, and rightly so for the most part, but Liz knew her daughter, and she was no walk in the park either.
Klaus most certainly would have a job on his hands with his soul mate, Caroline at times needed authority, a steady hand, a voice of reason, somebody to her reign her in and watch over, and Klaus was more than capable for that role, Liz was sure of it.
“M-mom I, you’ll always have me here, a part of me, o-of course you will..”
“Oh hush now, enough of this, you’ve got your ‘no grown ups allowed’ party to get right, which I’m sure your man here and the Salvatore’s didn’t get the memo for,” She laughed and sent Klaus a cheeky wink who returned it with one of his own, “anyway I’m sure the valedictorian is not supposed to be late, fashionably so or not.” Liz hopped up from the couch and set her mug down, she brushed her thumbs under Caroline’s eyes, wiping away any defiant tears so they wouldn’t smudge her make-up and pulled her into a tight hug. She pulled back after a moment and gently pushed her daughter backwards into Klaus’s waiting embrace, his hand slid down to her waist and squeezed affectionately before dropping to her hand and entwining his fingers with his as she started to pull them towards the door, with his free hand he gripped the tops of the two champagne bottles.
Liz all but ushered them out of the door out, as she followed behind them, her hands pushing at thin air in a ‘shooing’ motion.
“I won’t wait up, I’m actually on a double early shift so there may not be any point in you returning home tonight” Caroline turned around facing her mom before she stepped over the threshold, her face a look of elated, surprise and eyes that said ‘really?’
Liz chuckled and nodded and didn’t miss the similar low chuckle and small rise and fall from Klaus’s shoulders, and even though his back was still turned she knew he had a victorious, toothy smile on his face.
Liz had stuck to her word from earlier in the year and rarely gave permission for Caroline to sleep at Klaus’s house, especially on school nights, and Klaus was never ever permitted to sleep under their roof whilst she was present. That being said just because permission was not given that did not mean that rules were always strictly followed, Liz was certainly not a dense woman, but she still like to lay some ground rules, and what she didn’t know whilst she was on full night shifts or away on business, didn’t hurt in the slightest.
As the couple made their way down the garden path, hand in hand, into the warm, early evening Liz couldn’t help one more comment before closing the door.
“Klaus although not tonight I still expect my daughter to be returned to this house as perfect as she is currently leaving it in tomorrow.”
“Of course Liz, and I still expect that gun freshly polished with my name on it.” He called back over his shoulder with a wink. Caroline just laughed at his side, leaning her head on his shoulder as they stepped onto the side walk in sync.
Liz could have sworn that as they rounded the corner Klaus turned to look at her over his shoulder and mouthed ‘Always’. Sometimes just one word spoke volumes, and meant a thousand things.
At Caroline’s assistance they left the cars and casually strolled hand in hand, through the local neighbourhood to the direction of the Salvatore residence where the party was being held, the sky was light blues and reds and the air warm a with a slight, gentle and welcoming cooling breeze. No matter how late they arrived the party would still continue on until the small hours of the next morning, not that they planned on sharing each other with everyone for that long.
As valedictorian and resident planner of every thing, Caroline was chosen to host this year’s Annual Senior’s Graduation After-party, it was a tradition that was started by seniors a few years back who wanted to celebrate and say so long and farewell to their fellow students and friends and dates without the observant eyes of faculty and guardians. So after graduation and the typical after party held by the school the students would go home, get changed then head to the chosen venue.
Caroline wanted to choose somewhere of value and meaning, somewhere not too big and not too small, so when Elena suggested her second home and Damon and Stefan were all to happy to oblige Caroline jumped at the chance.
As they turned a corner onto another street the slight rush of wind blew lightly onto Caroline’s bare shoulders and she let out involuntary shudder, Klaus instinctively dropped her hand and wrapped an arm tightly around her, pulling her in close, his fingers rubbing gently into her skin. Caroline adored times like this together with Klaus, much like just before at her house, it was normal, domestic bliss, something as easy as walking in comfortable silence, passing neighbours and friends and being able to hold her soul mate’s hand tightly in her own and not giving a crap what people thought, it made her stomach swoop and flutter excitedly.
The past few months had gone by so fast, it still felt like yesterday she woken up to Klaus’s name tickling her skin and realising that the rest of her life was either going to be a living hell or amazingly perfect, luckily for her it seemed like it was going to be the latter, she always had every hope that it would be.
Once the initial shock of the paring had sunken in and everybody had time to get used to it, life became a hell of a lot easier for the pair. School went back to its normal drag and only the odd few comments were passed occasionally to Caroline’s over sensitive ears, ironically they were always heard from girls, girls who liked to pass judgements on anybody who seemed to have a more exciting life than themselves, Caroline easily marked them as jealous and never gave them another passing thought. School became the normal drag that it once was but with Caroline busy getting ready for graduation and throwing herself head first into all kinds of preparation she hardly noticed, it also helped that she had a strong pair of hands and arms to ease away the tension at the end of the school day.
Like Klaus had suggested, they started their relationship on a fresh note on their 10th day of being established soul mates and after their unwanted but yet much needed disagreement to air things out. They courted and acted like any other young couple insanely in love to their best of their ability. Caroline would sometimes return from school to find bouquets of flowers and text messages of love and longing, she’d tease him about not having anything better to do and then spend the next couple hours literally eating her own words, as he distracted her in the best way he knew how from her studies and such. There were typical disagreements, moments of Caroline having to cool down her hot headed soul mate, like when he genuinely couldn’t understand why it wasn’t ok for him to growl at the waiter at the little restaurant they found and loved out of town, when he simply complimented Caroline’s on the choice of food she’d made.
The final straw came, on a beautiful Sunday a few weeks back when they took a long drive out to the coast and Caroline had to actually put herself in front of the young man who was selling single, hand picked orchids of a variety of vivid colours from a woven basket, he only offered her a free aquamarine tipped one to match her eyes when he found himself almost thrown into the freezing water.
Klaus understood at that point the meaning of boundaries, and added it to his ‘ground rules list’ that they had jokingly made for each other.
Klaus wouldn’t change his ways all together, and Caroline knew that, but he was getting better, more tolerable and accepting and she loved him more everyday.
There were also times when Klaus would leave for a day or two, almost never longer, he could never stand to be apart from Caroline for much longer than 48 hours. He’d got to places like New Orleans and such, where he explained to her he was ‘doing business’ or visiting old friends which Caroline knew all too well was code for ‘Original Hybrid petty crap’. She’d put up a fight about it and eventually she’d be swooned into submission and wave him off begrudgingly with the full knowledge that he would behave and not put himself into direct, unnecessary danger, or she would feel it and he’d have her to answer to when he returned.
Elijah and Rebekah had started the very welcomed ritual of only staying in the house a few nights a week, sometimes they were gone whole weekends, sometimes longer, and eventually it became weeks at a time. Caroline knew the Mikaelson family came from wealth and probably had property in every state and in more than one country, so she wasn’t surprised when they started using the Mystic Falls house like a hotel, and she couldn’t say that she wasn’t elated.
Over the past week leading up to Caroline’s impending graduation, Klaus was starting to drop not so subtle hints about Caroline’s living situation. They’d discussed Caroline’s further education and colleges she was thinking about and had already applied and been accepted to earlier in the year. There was also the very tempting possibility of taking a year out to travel, nothing was set in stone, they had the summer to plan and finalise things but one thing that was certain was that Klaus would never be far from her side.
She wouldn’t be surprised if in a minimum of 3 days he would be packing her bags and physically moving her himself into his home, she also had a very strange feeling that her mom was ready to accept the idea and help move the process along swiftly.
As they reached the entry of the Salvatore’s driveway, dozens of cars lined the grassy edges and the heavy beat of music and tell tale cheers poured out from the open patio doors and windows. The street lamps were strewn with twinkling fairy lights that lead them all the way up to the outside of the main entrance, which was decorated with banners and balloons.
With their hands still firmly grasped together, thumbs and fingers brushing, Klaus leaned in and brushed his lips against Caroline’s temple.
“Tell me, how does one manage to decorate and supervise a graduation after- party at somebody else’s house without actually being present?”
“Oh ye of little faith, surely you should know your mate by now, I always have my ways, and you would do well to remember that.” She quipped back with a bright a smile then nodded over to a small group of students, with clip boards and pens and boxes, armfuls of red solo cups and bags of ice.
“Ah you have minions, I’ve taught you well I see..” She hit him across the chest as he laughed and rubbed at the spot pretending that it actually hurt,
“They’re on the council and they offered to set up and take care of things until I got here..”
“And they’re doing a fine job, so what makes you think you’re gonna do anything but drink and relax and party with you’re friends?” Caroline’s eyes swung over to the main entrance where Elena was coming towards them flanked by Stefan and Damon, of course. As it turned out, nothing much had changed in terms of soul marks and bonds for those three, it seems Destiny wasn’t ready to make a decision and although Elena struggled with it at first she was now glad that she wasn’t forced into being with one or the other, the brothers as usual were happy to be by her side as friends or more until their soulful fate was decided.
“Ok, ok I promise no work, no bossy Caroline tonight.” The two friends giggled and hugged whilst Stefan gave Caroline a light pat on the shoulder and Damon took the champagne bottles from Klaus’s hands with a teasing smirk.
“You joining the chaperone list?” He looked down at the label on the bottles, “Oh good year, well you would know, you probably made it but give me a holler when you want some good stuff.” And with that he took off into the house. Elena started tugging Caroline’s hand towards the house as Stefan fell into step alongside Klaus who had his hands dug into his pockets. Caroline loved how carefree he was with her friends now too, like an old man who just needed to be reminded that he had a sense of humour and a life worth living.
Bonnie, Jeremy and Matt came up the driveway behind the group and passed their hugs and greetings around as they all approached the entrance together. Caroline took another moment to appreciate how truly happy she was, all of her friends and boyfriend here together, accepting each other and moving on with the next stages of their lives, well all accept one, but now was not the time to think about that.
“You know Damon’s not wrong about the good stuff,” Stefan muttered to Klaus, “he’ll no doubt have a bottle waiting for you at the old man’s club, somewhere in the house later tonight?” Stefan smirked and lay a gentle hand on Elena’s shoulder, leading her back into the house with Bonnie, Jeremy and Matt all in tow. Caroline giggled but stopped just before entering the house and turned to look at Klaus with an eyebrow raised, and a look of sudden uncertainty on her face.
Klaus knew that look now like the back of his hand.
“I’ll be on my best behaviour I promise.” He smiled and pulled her in for a chaste, promising, reassuring kiss. She knew she could trust him, he wouldn’t do anything to intentionally hurt her or her friends but she couldn’t help but make sure he remembered how strongly she felt about him causing a scene so publically. He put a hand on the small of her back, a gesture that showed, protection and dominance and just before he manoeuvred them both into the sea of excited, drunken, dancing teenagers, he picked up a familiar, highly unwanted scent, then another not so familiar scent.
Caroline froze on the spot, her blood ran cold and her heart rate sped up as her brain connected with her ears and she recognised the voice from behind them. She turned around slowly and gripped at Klaus’s arm so tight, her nails were sure to be digging in his skin underneath the thin layer of fabric. Not that it would stop him.
Tyler slowly stepped closer towards the couple, with a shy smile, his eyes were glued to Klaus’s but it was a look of apology, regret and submission. He visibly swallowed hard as he moved forward and ducked his head slightly, this was him bowing down, surrendering, he looked back at Klaus with soft, sorry eyes as if asking permission, and at Klaus’s nod he turned to Caroline and offered a small, awkward wave.
“Hi Caroline, I, I um, Sorry for just turning up, I just couldn’t miss seeing my friends on graduation even though I missed my own.” He looked away for a second guiltily then back at the couple, making a point to take turns looking at both of them. “Y-you uh must know how so very sorry I am, I was an asshole, a complete jack-ass, and I, I see now how meant for each other you are, and you may not want to hear it but, I’m happy for, for you both and I wish you many more years of happiness.” Caroline let go of the breath she didn’t realise she was holding as Tyler looked pointedly at Klaus and smiled.
“I, I know now, what you meant, what you said to me.” Tyler took a step back and turned his head behind him, and that’s when she seen it, Tyler’s mark showing full and proud on the side of his neck, Hayley. And then she noticed the figure that had been hanging back a few steps behind Tyler, a pretty brunette with mossy coloured eyes, she slowly made her way forward as Tyler smiled back at her and motioned with his head for her to join them.
Caroline couldn’t help but smile at the sight and nodded in kind greeting, she was relieved and happy for Tyler and proud, of Tyler for proving to be the man she knew he could be and even more so proud of the man that stood by her side, holding her tightly by the waist. She dared to glance up at him and her smile grew wider at the sight, Klaus was simply staring at the couple in front of them with kind eyes and a small soft smile, he nodded his head slightly then moved himself and Caroline to the side to let Tyler and his, Hayley, into the house.
That was it, no awkward conversation, no argument, no dirty looks or testosterone fuelled growling, just pure non-judgemental, understanding and acceptance. Caroline couldn’t have been prouder or happier in that moment as she watched the couple disappear into the house while Klaus held on to her side and lightly squeezed, holding her back for a second. He turned to face her, and rested his forehead against hers, his eyes smothered with warmth and victory and wolfish grin threatening to break free.
“I told you I’d behave,” she smiled and kissed his cheek, “and I told you that you have my trust,” She kissed his nose and nodded, “and I told you that you have my heart” her breath hitched, no matter how many times she heard it her stomach still dropped and danced excitingly. He picked up both of her hands in his and placed them on his chest after kissing each wrist, each knuckle then palm before spreading her fingers hard against his broad chest.
“I’ve never admitted this, but I was a coward, I was fool of being frightened enough to be betrayed, scared of being tore apart and left alone, but not since you, you have my heart and for as long as you have it, I will forever be safe and unashamed, un-frightened and lonely.” A single tear dropped down Caroline’s cheek as she listened, their nosed gently nuzzling each other and eyes boring into the others. This was his final declaration, she knew it, there would be no more speeches or admittances, he was baring his soul to her in this moment because she would be the only one he have the opportunity to do it with.
“My Destiny is not your name appearing on my skin, or mine on yours, it’s not the feel of you in my blood and veins, or the sight of you in my bedding, my Destiny is just you, just you, my Caroline, you for the next one, two, three, one thousand hundred years, and I am yours, yours to love forever more.”
She simply stares at him for a second longer, too choked up to speak, trying to catch her breath, It’s always been you, who’s had my love, I’ve always been yours.
With a hitched breath and voice just a pitch louder than a hoarse whisper, she rasps in his ear.
“You know I believe Destiny comes with a purpose too, you wanna know what mine is?” He smiles and nods as his arms wrap around her body and his hand glides up to her collar bone, his mark brushing against hers, like its natural habitat, as she breathes into his ear.
“To be yours, just yours!”
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