R E D E M P T I O N
Katherine Pierce was a monster. She found that the only way to survive in a cruel world was to become cruel herself. So that's exactly what she became. She never once found any shame in this fact; only cold, arrogant pride (because she was always prideful) and a grudging acceptance that she hid from the world. She lied and killed and cheated, because self-preservation and her own personal gain was always going to be her first instinct. If she had to run and hide and manipulate, then she had no qualms against it because all the little insignificant pawns that she used in her game of survival meant nothing to her in the long run.
They were all a means to an end, and she did not care which ones got hurt or killed in the process. She was no longer Katerina Petrova, the weak girl unbearably weighed down by her overwhelming sense of humanity. She was no longer the naive human whom, five hundred years before, was convinced that the only way to survive in such a cruel world was to love. This fantasy was quickly righted, however, when the one person she truly loved betrayed her in the worst possible way. She decided then that she would never be used again, and she would always save herself, because that was always going to be the most important thing.
Or so she thought.
Katherine tried to hold back her gasping intake of breath at the sight before her. Elijah Mikaelson. Notoriously the eldest of the Original family, and the first man to ever squirm his way into her heart and effectively harden it into something alike stone. He was also the man who had been hunting her down for the past five hundred years. Fear clutched her heart in a familiar grasp, and her first instinct was to flee as she stared helplessly
at the man before her. "Elijah."Elijah resisted the urge to close his eyes and sigh in bliss at the sound of his name on her lips. Even in fear, her voice was unmistakably glorious, and it had been so long since he last heard her voice. "Good evening, Katerina. Thank you for having the good sense to be frightened." Elijah was genuinely surprised that he was able to stop his voice from faltering as her given name escaped his lips and wrapped around his tongue. The black lace she was clothed in was bunched unceremoniously around the tops of her thighs, and he found it difficult not to
rake his eyes shamelessly down her form. Effectively tearing his eyes from her, Elijah turned to the younger Salvatore.
"Your release has been requested." He watched the trepidation pass Katerina's face and the way Stefan's eyes flashed swiftly to her with a quick turn of his head.
"What? By who?" Elijah held back the urge to chuckle at the confusion on the man's face. Who else would possibly be granting his freedom?
"The lovely Elena drives a hard bargain. However, we reached a peaceful agreement; she and I." He watched Katerina's expression visibly darken at his words as Stefan looked on in disbelief and cautiousness, as he was already resigned to the fact that he would not be leaving the tomb for a long while.
After a few more moments of idle convincing, the stubborn Salvatore brother began to inch his way towards the opening. Elijah looked on patiently, but his gaze was not on Stefan, instead it rested upon his dear Katerina. As he knew that the moment the younger Salvatore was free that she would attempt to escape. And he just could not allow that.
Before she was able to speed out of the tomb, Elijah was already before her, pupils dilating as he compelled her to do his bidding. Forcing her to remain inside the dank, unforgiving setting until he told her otherwise. She blinked in resignation as her eyes refocused in an attempt to glimpse him one last time after the compulsion. He lingered only a second, his gaze unwavering and unfeeling, but she thought she recognized something in his coffee-colored irises before he abruptly turned away and left the woman behind. Not once sparing a backwards glance.
The feeling that encased her in that moment was foreign at best, long-forgotten and trivial, and she tried her hardest to keep it caged. She soon realized that the effort was futile; however, and she allowed one lone tear to leave a distinguished track down her face before hurriedly wiping away the evidence of its existence.
His sudden appearance had caught her off guard once, and the sight of him hurt, but Katherine Pierce was not about to be bested a second time. A cold, unforgiving smirk marred her pretty features as she slid the mask back into place. You are not Katerina anymore, she reminded herself. You are stronger than this.
Though a part of her couldn't help but imagine a time when she did not have to scramble for a slight indication of the emotion in Elijah's eyes, she banished the thought just as quickly. Those were the thoughts of Katerina, a girl long lost in favor of the monster she had now become. She was Katherine Pierce. And Katherine Pierce didn't have such thoughts.
Her stilettos' relentless tap against the hardwood floor was what first indicated her presence as she strode in between the tables of the crowded bar. Some attempted to steal a second glance, but only found their eyes met with a pair of swinging hips uninterested in their leering stares. She was not here to entertain her meal. She had a greater purpose, and her plan ran through her head on a continued loop that told her exactly what it was that she needed to do. She needed to speak with him, because Katherine could not carry on not knowing what was in his head, and she knew this curiosity was a weakness that she should not indulge in, but she convinced herself that this was what Katherine Pierce wanted because perhaps she could use it to her gain. She did not bother to think of what a useless excuse that was, and his Katerina mocked her with a voice too similar to her own. She appraised the room with a cool collectiveness that greatly rivaled the anxiousness and apprehension that simmered in her core. She flicked her curls over her shoulder when her eyes finally rested on the individual she had been looking for, and she confidently strode over to him.
"Stefan Salvatore," she purred as she came up to him from behind, dark eyes glittering with mirth as she drew a long finger between his shoulder blades before laying her palm flat against his shoulder; allowing her hand to tease over his chest lightly before he shifted Katherine’s hand away, unamused. "What a pleasant surprise seeing youhere," she giggled as she spun him around to face her. He stared at her reproachfully for a moment before speaking.
"You and I both know it’s not a surprise to you, isn’t that right, Katherine?" His voice dropping off in a brooding sigh of defeat before he turned his head back to the bar to down his glass of bourbon. She looked at him innocently from under her lashes before giggling again then stopping abruptly at his emotionless stare. Pouting, she conceded to his earlier statement.
"Of course it's not. I always know where you are, Stefan." She answered with a knowing look that already had the lines in Stefan’s forehead deepening further into his skin. She pursed her lips slightly, already boring of the meaningless chit chat. “Where’s Elijah? I need to speak with him.”
Stefan’s eyebrows rose in unadulterated surprise. The last he’d seen of him, Elijah was whisking a weakened Klaus away after the sacrifice that in turn made his brother the only vampire-werewolf hybrid on the face of the earth. Stefan now had no desire to find out where he actually was, but he assumed that they had left town in favor of a place where less people were planning to kill them. But what did Katherine want with the most moral of all the Originals? And how had she escaped her imprisonment to Klaus? He looked at her oddly for a moment, effectively conveying his confusion as she sighed rather dramatically, awaiting his response.“He and Klaus have probably left town by now, Katherine. They have no reason to stay.” She visibly flinched at his words and his brows furrowed in further confusion as he continued. “What do you want with him anyway?” She was scarcely paying any attention to him now, though. Her brain was already working a mile a minute as she attempted to decipher where he could possibly be, because surely he wouldn’t have left without saying goodbye. But then again, he didn’t owe her a goodbye. Though it was very unlike him not to do so, moral and polite
as he was. His behavior did prove to be extremely unlike his usual course of action, though, so she would not put it past him to just up and leave her. Perhaps leaving her there to ponder his words, and leave her seared with the taste of his lips and the feel of his hands in order to cause her near-madness over the next few centuries, before he came back and messed with her head all over again.
“I just need to find him,” she murmured, her voice borderline desperate. She had no idea what was going through the man’s head, and if he had the audacity to leave after such a stunt, and not expect her to come after him, then he was sorely mistaken. She turned back towards the entrance, leaving as swiftly as she came, and uncertain of where she was going next but determined to find him all the same.
She found him four days later, in a mansion of undeniable splendor and wealth, and she did not bother knocking before she descended upon the door; knocking it off its hinges and storming into the house. Obviously no human resided here, and she only sensed one other heartbeat in the house. An undead one and a heartbeat that she had long since memorized. “Elijah,” she called into the open space, giving him the option of coming to her rather than going after him. He was before her in an instant, and she was pressed against the wall a second later, his hand around her throat and his lips at her ear.
“What are you doing here, Katerina?” He purred her name sinfully, and his breath at her ear had her trembling. She narrowed her eyes in a deadly glare before shoving him off her and flinging him into the room across from them, the surprise of her attack effectively giving her the upper hand. He growled in a predatory manner before launching himself at her at a speed not even she could rival. She was on the floor in a matter of seconds, every line of his body pressed against hers as he wrapped his hand around her throat again, cutting off the air supply that she did not need.
“I will ask you again, Katerina, what are you doing here?” There was something akin to fear in his voice, and she wondered why that was. She cocked her head as much as she could under his grip, staring into his eyes and letting her honesty shine through her words. “I’m just here to talk, 'Lijah."
He visibly stiffened at the nickname before loosening his grip on her neck, removing himself from her, and rising to his feet. She followed soon after and trailed after his retreating form and into the sitting room where he was already seated.
Standing above him and with an air of confidence she did not truly possess, she ground out viciously, “How dare you kiss me, order me to leave before Klaus returns ---which he wouldn’t be doing, anyway as Caroline had him perfectly preoccupied---, then give me some bullshit nonsense of looking for ‘your Katerina’ and having the audacity and utter nerve to leave without saying goodbye?” She was practically shaking with rage at this point as she bent down so she could be eye level with the man whose voice and touch had been eating away at her thoughts for the past week. “And you better have a damn good explanation or I won’t be held accountable for my actions,” she hissed through gritted teeth as she clenched her fists into tight balls of unforgiving frustration.
Elijah merely looked on in self-satisfaction and amusement at his furious Katerina. “I was simply ensuring your safety, Katerina. Nothing more.” He appraised her with teasing eyes and the same emotion she recognized from the tomb simmering in his dark gaze. She leaned in closer, her curls brushing his cheek as she invaded his personal space. Katherine turned her head slightly so she could better gauge his true reaction to her words. His face, though, seemed to give away nothing. She huffed in frustration before biting the inside of her cheek and spitting out viciously, “Uh huh, right. Can you gift me with the truth now, Elijah?”
The sense of teasing she had once seen in his gaze was now replaced by a hardened hostility and determination that had her taken aback and wary of what he would do next; involuntarily, she took a step back. This seemed to finally spur him into action, as he shot up and stood, leaning in so closely that only a millimeter of space separated his breath from hers. One hand reached out to caress her cheek, and his thumb stroked small circles on the skin there. His words were nothing more than a soft murmur as he spoke. “I needed you to leave, because I couldn’t let you die. I kissed you because I have been looking for my Katerina beneath this Katherine façade, and I find myself scrambling for her at times because I can still see her there. She is right beneath the surface of the monster you insist upon cloaking yourself in.”
He drew in an unsteady breath and the sweet smell of her invaded his nose. “You are so much more than just a manipulative survivor, Katerina. And my curse, my disease is that I am insistent upon loving you and trusting you only to be betrayed time and time again, because you can’t bring yourself to look at her, but you know she’s there. And I see her, Katerina, I see the girl who believed in love, and I know she can love again.”
He looked into her eyes and she saw the pure honesty that shone there. Her mouth opened then closed as she clenched her jaw. Did he actually believe what he was saying? Did he honestly expect her to? She ignored the voice deep within her that agreed wholeheartedly, and spoke with vicious intent. “Your Katerina? What do you mean by your Katerina?! She is long dead, Elijah. And you are the cause of that.” His eyes widened at the pure venom lacing her voice, and he nearly flinched at the pain he knew she meant to inflict with her words. “A weak, human thing would not have survived five hundred years of pursuit and cruelty. Your Katerina would have crumpled under the weight of all she had lost when she chose to save herself all those years ago. And you did nothing to aid her pain, for you and your familial loyalty was what caused it. You were going to leave me to die, Elijah. I had no choice but to run and become what I am now, because Katerina was weak. Her humanity was weak, and humanity is a vampire’s greatest weakness. And the weak do not survive in favor of the cruel, surely you know that.” Already, she was turning away from him, unable to look him in the eye as she felt what was left of her heart ripping itself to pieces and falling in shattered remains to the floor.
“I was going to save you, Katerina. If only you had stayed to be saved rather than taking a path that would only carve the road to my brother’s vengeance.” She scoffed in disbelief.
“You never would’ve succeeded, Elijah! Don’t you understand that? Klaus never would have allowed you to save me, so I had to take it upon myself, because it was the only true means to my survival! I know I manipulate! I know I betray! But it is what keeps me alive, Elijah. And I do not regret a single moment of it.” Her words rang with confidence, so much so that she was even beginning to fool herself of the lies that were spilling from her lips. She did what she had to, yes, but she was lying when she said that she didn’t regret it. There was still that small part of her that cared despite all she had been through. And that part of her was Elijah’s beloved, humanity-filled Katerina that she just couldn’t risk letting resurface because her disguise was the only thing she had left that was solid. Her drive for survival was the only thing that she could truly count on. She could not let Elijah’s love in, as she knew that it would wear down her defensive walls of Katherine Pierce quicker than she would have liked to admit. And his love would have been like a siren call to his Katerina that was buried so far beneath her Katherine Pierce persona, and she knew it would shatter to pieces in a matter of seconds, as her own love called back out to him.
Elijah said nothing, and when she turned to look at him, his gaze was unwavering and steady, prepared to meet her own. Her words did not tear him down ruthlessly as she intended them to, and there was a flicker in her armor as she realized that. He took slow steps towards her, though she hadn’t made it that far since she separated herself from him, and it didn’t take long for his mouth to be so close to hers that she could taste his breath on her lips. Belatedly, she realized that Katherine Pierce would be chucking and walking towards the door, her eyes cold as she bit out one last sarcastic remark as she walked out of his life again and out of the country a few hours later. It was easy for Elijah to see then, that it was not Katherine Pierce locked in his gaze.
It was Katerina Petrova, because the emotion he saw in her eyes was not something associated with Katherine Pierce. For Katherine Pierce did not love, she did not know how to. She did not know how to do anything but look out for herself and her own needs, because she was solely built on self-preservation and not feeling. The soft grin that spread across his features seemed to pull the beginning threads of locking Katerina back up for good, but he could see her calling out to him with her eyes, and he would do anything to save her this time. He moved his hand back to her cheek and sighed quietly, pulling her face to his in a searing kiss, breathing against her mouth that his Katerina would be redeemed, and that he would be the one to save her this time.Suddenly, she was pulling away from him with a gasped, “Elijah—“ which only caused him to purr her name in a tone that had her melting against him as he captured her lips once more. When he finally pulled away as if he were still human and needed to breathe, she spoke. “You believe it is redemption that I came here for, Elijah? Because it’s not, I came to see what in
the hell has been running through your mind to think such far-fetched thoughts and— “
He covered her mouth with his hand to muffle the words that she tried in vain to let escape and reach his ears. “It may not be what Katherine wants,” he breathed in a voice so soft her heightened hearing sense had to strain to catch it, “but it is what Katerina needs.
“It is what I need, Katherine,” he said in defeat, his mocha eyes dissolving into twin pools of sadness.
Her face was impassive for a long moment before the first tear fell down her face, followed by the rest as a stream of apologies rose from her throat, cries of, “No, no… that’s not my name, it’s not!” Her silent tears soon turned to body-wracking sobs, and when she finally pushed back the hiccupping cries and the pain of allowing herself to feel again to the back of her mind for now —there would be plenty of time for that later— she gasped out into the side of his neck, “Elijah, I-I-I…”
Her sobs had returned and she couldn’t quite bring herself to finish her sentence, so she contented herself in gripping him tight and attempting to even her breathing into his neck as he rubbed gentle circles in to her back. She knew that Katherine Pierce was a cold, unforgiving monster who didn’t allow herself to feel because she was afraid of what such a weakness could do to her, but perhaps this new Katerina that she could now feel bubbling to the surface could be her salvation, if only she let it. Let him.
Sixty four years later, Katerina Petrova grabbed her husband by the lapels of his expensive Armani suit and laid her forehead against his. Finally, she was able to admit to herself what she had always known, and so she admitted it to him too. “I love you, Elijah.”
The smile that broke upon his face was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and this one moment, with her name on his lips, the most beautiful thing she had ever heard.
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