TITLE: THE TRIBUTE (or, alternatively, SIREN)
Fandom(s): Twilight and Vampire Diaries
Secondary Pairing(s):(one sided) Bella/Damon, Elena/Stefan, past Elijah/Katerina
Summary: Edward left her and she was changing. First it was her eyes. Then she began to sing to the waves. Then her hair turned gold. Then the Volturi kings and the Original Elijah took notice…
Warnings: Creature Genes, Torture, Murder, Seduction
Bella didn’t know why she did it. She had finally let Edward go. When she jumped off of the cliff for the first time, her voice escaping her throat, the water surrounding her like the warmth of a lover, she had realized she was home.
Then Alice had come and said that Edward was going to expose himself to the Volturi as he thought that she was dead.
He had only seen her first jump. Edward hadn’t seen her subsequent jumps—he had been too far away from Alice. She wondered if he had seen her break into the Cullen house and play on his piano, singing to the waves, if he had witnessed her driving her truck to La Push in the middle of the night when she knew the Pack wouldn’t exactly know she was there and wade into the water and just sing in high tones she didn’t know she possessed and low notes that resembled the tides.
Her eyes had turned purple like the coral that she sat on. Bella had told Charlie she had gotten color contacts. “I want to be my own person,” she said. He’d bought it as she no longer had nightmares.
She became more lithe. All she ate was fish and fruit salad. When Bella tried to eat the pizza her father ordered when he invited Billy over for the games, she was sick in the bathroom.
At first Jake held her hair back, but then he and the pack would shy away from her.
Bella didn’t understand. How could she?
Then the strangest thing happened. Her hair had been a deep brown. At first there were strands of gold, like her mother’s hair which was pure gold. Next there were large swaths. She convinced Charlie she was going for a new look.
“You don’t need to look like Renée,” he tried to tell her.
“I know,” she insisted. “I just—I don’t want to be plain Bella Swan anymore. I don’t want to be the girl who almost died of exposure in the woods.”
“Right,” he answered over his morning coffee, leaving for his job.
Fortunately, when the final change happened, he was fishing with Billy and Harry Clearwater over the weekend. Bella hadn’t noticed at first. She woke up, her hair in a ponytail, and got in the shower.
Her hair seemed a little lighter than it usually was when she got out, but her hair was still dark with water.
Then she blow-dried it.
She screamed when she looked in the mirror. Purple eyes. She was used to that. Now her hair was as gold as her mother’s. What the fuck?
Grabbing a hoodie and putting her hair up so it wouldn’t escape, she went and bought a cheap full length mirror and put it up on the back of her door. She stripped and looked at herself. She was leaner from only eating fish every once in awhile. Her breasts, however, were just as full. Legs toned from jumping also met her gaze. Her eyes were haunting and she had the golden hair of her mother.
What had happened?
“You look different,” Alice said on the plane.
“I decided to take a different turn in my life after Edward left,” Bella lied. Why was she here again? “I’m going to Julliard next year.” Her new found talent for music had gotten their attention. “I’m really excited.”
“Julliard?” Alice asked. “You’re not remotely artistic.”
Alice hadn’t seen then. How strange.
Bella ran through the square, her hair tied up and brown contacts in her eyes, but Edward had still exposed himself and she was led to the throne room of the Volturi kings.
Aro was a handsome man with long brown hair. For some reason, Bella felt his equal. She wouldn’t allow Edward to hide her behind him, and stepped out from behind him and stood directly in front of this Volturi king.
“Contacts,” Aro said in curiosity. “Why hide, il mia piccola?”
She leaned closer. “Elsewhere,” she murmured, offering her hand.
He took it and looked at her in question, a shiver running up her spine. “Jane,” he ordered.
Bella felt a shudder and immediately held up her hand toward the source and a young girl screamed and fell in pain. “Don’t play games with me, Lord Aro.”
“Bella?” Edward asked in confusion, only to have the girl sit up and Edward writhe in pain on the floor. Bella looked at him and then back at Aro, eyebrow raised.
Aro lifted his hand and the torture stopped. “Enough, Jane, my dear. It seems we have an honored guest among us.”
He left Bella’s side for a moment and touched another king’s hand briefly. It was already raised, the bored face hinting at a sliver of curiosity.
“Interesting. Original,” he whispered to a dark corner, “you may perhaps like to join us.—The two prisoners will be restrained.”
He stretched out his arm toward the door and Bella, after a moment of glancing toward a pained looking Edward who was hissing obscenities and a confused Alice, both restrained by several large guards, walked from the room. The three kings followed along with a calm looking man in a business suit.
They entered a lush suite and Bella looked around.
“Stop hiding,” Aro commanded. “Edward Cullen believes you to be human. He asked for death when he believed that your life had ended, but clearly that is not the case. What are you?”
“Water nymph?” she offered. “I honestly have no idea.”
“Your eyes,” the blond vampire asked, coming up to her and gazing into her contacts. “You’re hiding at a most fundamental level. I would remind you that you are under Volturi custody.”
She inclined her head and asked for two glasses of water, which were produced for her. Taking out her contacts, she showed her violet eyes, looking about. Next, she removed her hoodie to show her lithe frame and her golden hair, which she took down. “It used to be dark brown. I’m sure you know this, Aro, from Edward’s memories. I’ve heard of your talent.”
“Yes, you used to be thin, but not like this.”
“No,” she agreed. “Not like this.”
“What else has changed?” This was from the man in the suit, who leaned in and breathed the scent at her neck. “What do you eat?”
“Fish,” she answered cautiously. “Fruit. Everything else makes me sick.”
“And you are eighteen.”
“Yes,” she answered.
The bored looking man took a knife from somewhere and lifted up the sleeve of her shirt, cutting her. She whimpered in pain, but she was determined that she should not appear weak before these dangerous vampires. Blood dripped from the wound for several moments, making Bella feel slightly faint, before it sealed up. The three vampires and the man glanced at each other.
“I understand,” Aro said carefully as he paced around her, “that you jumped from a cliff which led our young friend to believe that you had committed suicide. Why would you do such a thing?”
“I,” she swallowed. “I wished to sing to the waves. I sing now. I play the piano as well. I taught myself. I think I play better than Edward and he’s had a hundred years of practice.”
“And how long have boys been fighting over you?” This was the man in the suit again.
“For a year—as soon as I came to Forks and met Edward. It was strange, really. I was just seventeen and it just—happened. Why?”
“Textbook,” the bored vampire said. “I take it you are pure.”
Bella looked at him curiously.
“You are waiting for the ideal lover,” the blond vampire said. “You sing for him among the waves.”
Her eyes widened in recognition.
“You perhaps thought it was Mr. Cullen, or he thought he was the one,” the blond vampire continued. “You let him go, however. Why did you come?”
“I—I’ll sound horrible.” She lifted her chin however and for some reason looked at the man in the suit who had been quiet for awhile. “Why are you with the kings?”
“I am a king,” he answered, “of the nightwalkers. We are a different breed of vampire.”
“I see,” she replied. “I’m Bella Swan.”
“Elijah Mikhaelson.” He came up to her and kissed the knuckles of her hand.
The bored looking vampire reached his hand out to Aro again who smiled in glee. The blond vampire looked at them and Aro murmured something in his ear. Elijah glanced at them quickly as if he had heard, his hand still holding Bella’s, as if he did not wish to let go, but she did not mind.
“Why did you come?” the blond vampire asked again. “This is important and then we have one more test.”
“I had not determined,” she swallowed, looking at Elijah and then glancing away. “I had not determined that he should die yet.”
“And you determine this?” the blond one asked.
“It is within my power,” she answered. “I prefer they die on the rocks in the sea.” She shrugged. “I do not know why.”
“Hmm.” He left the room and Elijah led her to a seat, taking the one opposite her.
Elijah looked at her carefully and then whispered something to Aro, who inclined his head.
Loud enough for Bella to hear, Aro stated, “That was exactly our thought.—Ah, Caius,” he said when the blond returned. He had a full bottle of whiskey.
Caius set it down with a tumbler. “You have one hour.”
“I’ve never had even a beer—“
“No matter,” Elijah said. “You have one hour. I shall keep you company and you may tell me of your life and I shall tell you of my family.”
He poured her a glass and encouraged her to drink. She took a sip and it burned. Glancing around, thinking this was very silly, she stated, “Just don’t rape me when I’m drunk. My dad’s a cop. I know how it is.” She downed the glass and set it on the table. Another was poured for her. She felt like she had a gun to her head. She was surrounded by four vampire kings, after all.
“I must see to the Cullens,” Aro said. “They shall be offered a three hundred year contract in our guard, while the rest of the coven… well, we shall see. They did bring this enchanting creature after all, albeit by accident.”
Bella took the glass and drank half of it, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “Tell Jasper I forgive him, if you would. I know you’re not a messenger, but since you interrogated me I would appreciate it.”
“Of course, Lady Isabella,” Aro said, inclining his head.
The three kings then swept from the room.
“I have a sister,” Elijah began. “Had a sister. She was sixteen when we were turned. She had blonde hair, not as golden as yours. We were Vikings, you see, that came to the New World to escape the plague.”
“My mother’s Italian,” she stated. “No idea why we have blonde hair.”
“You’re sirens,” Elijah explained. “Well, you’re a siren. She carries the gene. The last siren must have died for you to have come into your inheritance.”
Bella stared at him and drank the rest of the glass. “Hit me.”
Elijah smirked and poured her another glass. “Tell me, siren, I understand you are graduating from high school soon. What are your plans?”
“I’m going to Julliard,” she explained. “There’s water and music.”
“An excellent choice,” he complimented. “I look forward to hearing you play and sing. A love song perhaps.”
“I don’t sing love songs,” she explained. “I thought I was in love with Edward, but I was mistaken.”
“I’ve thought I was in love,” Elijah mused as he poured her another tumbler. “The last time was five hundred years ago.”
“Five hundred years is a long time,” Bella commented. She was wondering why her words weren’t slurring. Perhaps she was drinking too quickly. It might hit her later. “What was her name?”
“A beautiful name,” Bella mused. “But you were telling me of your sister.”
He leaned back and smiled, and they stayed together as she drank the entire bottle of whiskey.
“Why is my head clear?” she asked as she finished the last drop.
“You are a siren,” he answered simply. “Do you feel happy?”
“Extremely. I want to dance and sing, but I feel like I could go learn Latin.” She gave a small smile. “How odd.”
“I’m sure we can indulge both desires if you so wish,” Elijah said standing. He held out his hand and offered it to her. “I take it you have found yourself more graceful since the changes began.”
“How did you know? I used to trip over thin air.”
“A lucky guess.” He all but smirked. Elijah pulled her into his arms and whispered, “a simple waltz,” and then they were dancing across the chamber.
“There’s no music,” she breathed.
“Then sing, siren,” he murmured, his hands playing with her golden hair and she nodded, singing about the loss of love. It was sad, haunting, but they danced through that song and others until the three kings returned.
“She has coordination,” Caius observed. “I think it’s safe to say that the alcohol did not affect her.”
“No,” Elijah responded, releasing Bella. “She has the desire to learn Latin at this moment.”
“Curious.—Sirens have no court, as there is only ever one living, but she is under our jurisdiction as she was human when our secret was revealed to her. Lord Elijah of the Originals, I offer her as tribute to the nightwalkers per our treaty.”
Bella stared at him. “I—what?”
“Would you rather be killed?”
“You cannot be killed,” Elijah informed her quietly. “You are protected, but I accept. A moment with Bella.”
“I will not be your pet!” she snapped as soon as the other three were gone. “I’m almost certain I was Alice’s pet and I will not go through that again!”
“The Volturi cannot develop your talents,” he told her. “If anyone can, it would be either myself or my brother, and he is a selfish creature who would use you. I would not wish that fate upon you. I offer you a position as my equal and my companion. If you wish to go to Julliard, then you may go. However, you must cease contact with your family within the next few years. You will not age past the day your eyes turned violet and you will live until the end of time unless you are either murdered, die from the loss of your love, or commit suicide. I will not hold you to me when you are ready to go on your own or find the one your soul cries to.”
Bella narrowed her eyes at him. “What were the kings whispering about?”
“Lord Marcus can see bonds between people. When he reached toward Aro, he was showing him bonds between yourself and others. At the end, he was communicating the bond that had formed between us. I should warn you, our bond means that your siren song will not work on me.”
She looked at him curiously. “You are hiding something.”
“You are not ready,” he told her honestly. “This is all new and frightening for you. Come, let us return to the throne room. Leave that horrible hoodie. With your permission, I would prefer you dress like a Mikhaelson.”
“Alice bought me a whole new wardrobe,” she sighed, “I hated it.”
“We will therefore not be employing it.”
“Thank the drowned god,” she murmured.
He looked at her in wonder and then nodded, leading her out of the suite.
Edward and Alice were standing before the kings and Bella noticed that two new thrones had been set to the side. Elijah led her to them and she took her place, realizing that Edward and Alice were in Volturi robes. It seemed that they were joining the guard.
They stayed in the castle for a week. Bella remained in the same suite as Elijah, in a separate room. Gianna and Elijah took her shopping where she picked up black skinny jeans, heeled ankle boots and sandals, loose tops that hinted at her thinness and leather jackets.
“You look sophisticated and yet casual,” Elijah complimented her. “Very adult.”
“Thank you,” she murmured. “I didn’t really ever think of such clothing.”
She would sometimes pass Edward or Alice in the hallways and they would bow to her, sadness in their eyes. Edward had tried to speak to her, but she shook her head and continued on her path.
The small gifts were a surprise. Elijah had commissioned a signet ring for her, which signified that she was a member of the Original Coven. He also gave her coral studs for her ears, saying that they were traditionally the stone of the sea. She never took them off and when she was worried she would reach for them.
Then there was the necklace, made of a leather thong, with a sand dollar at the end of it.
“You spoil me,” she told him.
“Perhaps,” he replied. “But it’s my right.”
“Your right?” she asked. It was their last day there, although neither was aware of that fact, and he was looking at her intently. They were at a little café where she could eat fish.
“My right,” he answered, reaching out and trailing his knuckles down her cheek. “I knew since the minute I saw you,” he confessed. “Marcus Volturi saw it, too.”
Her heart clenched. “I’m not ready,” she whispered.
“I know, siren. You have new powers to play with. More men to call and smash against the rocks. You will always have that. I understand. You can no more deny that than I can deny my thirst for blood.”
A glass of wine appeared before her.
“Was that on purpose?” he questioned, noticing a swarthy yet handsome man looking toward Bella.
“I’ve been trying all night,” she confessed. “It seems it was badly timed.”
He smiled at her. “Enjoy your wine. Go and talk to him. Smash him against a wall if you so choose.”
“Perhaps not that. He has a little girl with him.” She lifted the glass toward the stranger and smiled before taking a sip. “I like the Volturi wine better.”
“They add blood so they can digest it.”
“Really?” she said, slightly disgusted. “Please tell me you have some.”
“I have the recipe.”
“Well, that’s something. I like Caius’s blend best.”
“O negative,” Elijah told her. “As soon as we get back to the States I will start making some.”
She leaned back. “I suppose the Cullens will be there.”
He shook his head. “They’re flying in tonight. I wanted you to have some time to get used to the idea and get a good meal into you before you had to see them.”
“You’re too good for me,” she murmured. “I’ll wear that purple gown I purchased when I see them in the throne room.”
“I must say, Isabella, you do look ravishing in that gown.” His eyes twinkled at her, something she thought would be completely opposed to his calm demeanor.
“That’s rather the point,” she told him. “Hopefully I look a little intimidating as well.”
“Like a queen.”
“Well, I am the only siren on the planet. I suppose that makes me queen.”
“Yes,” Elijah agreed. “I suppose it does.” He took her hand and kissed it across the table.
Bella, in the end, couldn’t watch the trial of the Cullens. She managed to sit for a full two minutes, placed her hand against Elijah’s and mouthed “Stay,” before rising and leaving the room. She realized that every single eye was upon her, but she didn’t really care. She just needed to get out as quickly as possible.
Immediately she began packing. Elijah found her two hours later. “Bella?”
“I need to go home. I just—I can’t—there’s no water.”
“All right,” he told her. “We’ll go back to Forks.”
Bella looked at him. “And what are you going to tell everyone? I assumed you were going to stay wherever you were staying and then join me in New York.”
“Hardly, not with some of the Cullens wandering around. Carlisle is still living and has his freedom as does a Rosalie.”
“Perfect,” she muttered. “He’s my doctor.” She stood. “Well, you can’t be my new best friend because you’re too old.”
“I’ll compel your father into thinking I’m your cousin, Elijah Swan.”
“How old is your body?” Bella looked at him closely.
“I believe twenty-seven. We didn’t quite keep track a thousand years ago.”
“Great. Just great,” Bella moaned, taking her suitcase off the bed. He quickly grabbed it for her. “People are going to think we’re pervy.”
“Hardly. If we’re cousins, it’s completely natural that we hang out and live together and—“
She grabbed him by the shirt cuffs and gently kissed him. “I’m not ready—yet,” she murmured. “I just feel this tug.”
He smiled at her and ran his fingers through her golden hair. “Then I will obey this tug you feel and nothing else,” he whispered, “though it would be best if your father did not see us.”
She grinned at him. “True. He is the police chief. He’d definitely shoot you.”
“I’m surprised, Bells,” Charlie said. “It’s been three weeks and you haven’t busted anything at all.”
Bella was in the kitchen making fish stir fry, Elijah helping her, and she just looked over. “Well, I guess I’m just lucky.” She looked at Elijah and murmured, “Do you think I should fake something?”
“Do you want me to break your finger?” He didn’t look happy at the idea.
“Sprain it,” she murmured. “And you’re taking me in. Carlisle will be afraid of you.”
They were at the house in Bella’s room when it happened. “Fuck!” she screamed and he kissed her finger as he brushed his fingers lightly across it.
“I’m sorry, darling. Your father was getting too suspicious.”
“I know, I know. At least it’s the left hand so I can take my exams next week. I slammed it into my car door?”
“Yes,” Elijah agreed. “I’ll heal it tonight and then we can go cliff diving to celebrate.”
“The great king of the nightwalkers, cliff diving,” Bella joked as they headed to his car. It was modest to go along with his cover, but she absolutely loved it. They had wrapped her hand in ice and were soon seeing Dr. Cullen.
“You slammed your hand in a car door?” he asked, looking at Elijah wearily. “You do realize it’s already healed.”
Elijah swore. “Not just deep cuts then. Fake the records. Charlie has to be convinced.”
Bella looked down at her finger. The skin was a perfect peach. She groaned. “I went through all that pain for nothing?”
“We tried,” Elijah placated. He looked at Carlisle. “You have to make sure it looks like she sprained it. We need a clumsy Isabella Swan, not a majestic queen.”
Neither of them denied it. There really was no point. Carlisle was already staring at her signet ring.
Carlisle sighed and stretched out his hand for the uninjured finger. “Well, we have plenty of scans that I can just copy. I just have to put it in the records, tape it up, and Bella will be injured. You can take this off in two weeks. Keep it dry.”
“It’s getting wet as soon as we leave here,” Bella told him. “Cliff diving.”
He sighed. “Try to make it look dry, Bella. We’re trying to fake an injury.”
“I don’t suppose you can just give her sugar pills?” Elijah asked. “For show.”
“I’m going to lose my license,” Carlisle mumbled.
“You’ll get another one,” Elijah replied darkly. They all knew it was true. Carlisle was five hundred years old. He’d done this enough in his life.
They left the hospital half an hour after that. “This is ridiculous,” Bella said. “Just how far does this healing ability go?”
“My siblings and I found out the hard way. We just got injured severely to the point of death and were healed. Let’s not try that.”
“No,” Bella agreed. “Let’s not.”
“I have to stop him, siren,” Elijah said from her bed. They had taken to talking in her room when her father was out. Elijah was in this small room where he barely had enough room to put his suitcase what with the thing that could barely be called a bed. Also, Bella’s room was just far more inviting. “I know he’s my brother, but if he’s allowed to break the curse…”
“Well, exams finish in two days. We can go during break—unless you’d rather I stay here,” Bella said uncertainly. “I know we’re technically not together.” She shrugged, looking away.
“Only because you want time,” Elijah placated. “I’m as bound to you as I could be, Bella. You’re the one who is free to choose.”
“Then let’s wait a few days. We could go as brother and sister? I’m sure there are apartments to rent.”
“Mystic Falls isn’t the largest place. The one I’ve found that’s available immediately has only one bedroom.” His voice was slow and steady, but his eyes showed worry.
She shrugged. “Then we’ll share a bed. I shared one enough times with Edward.—idiot that he was. We can have a blow up mattress in the living room for appearances.”
He kissed her forehead. “I’ll compel Charlie tonight.”
“I’ll pack after my last exam,” she promised. “Now, out! I have Calculus to study for. I may already be accepted to Julliard, but I would like to do well, and you’re a distraction—in your suits and ties.”
She noticed the satisfied gleam in his eyes as he bowed out of her room. “Of course, cousin. At least we won’t have to fake injure you anymore.”
“That’s a blessing,” she sighed, opening up her textbook.
They were Elijah and Bella Starling. He was an author who was writing about the town and she was his kid sister who was about to go off to college. It was easy to get into the doppleganger’s house. Her ridiculous Aunt Jenna let them in.
“Hi,” Bella said, holding out her hand, using her fake British accent she had perfected from watching Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. She had taken the bandage off her finger as soon as they had gotten on the plane headed to Virginia. “I’m Bella.”
The doppleganger just looked at her. “Elena.”
Bella shrugged and smiled. “My brother Elijah’s writing about Mystic Falls and your aunt, I think, is giving him some files. I’m manual labor, naturally.” She rolled her eyes for effect.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Bella, you wanted to get out of the apartment!” Elijah teased, Elena going tense at the sound of his voice.
Bella leaned in. “He’s right, of course, but don’t tell him that.”
“Are you here for the summer?” Elena pushed some hair behind her ear nervously.
This really was too easy. “Yes. Off to college in September. Lijah’s following, of course. He should have his research done by then. We’re a bit inseparable, I’m afraid.”
“It’s what happens,” Elijah said as he came down the stairs with a box, his eyes not betraying that he had ever seen Elena before, “when you practically raise your baby sister when you’re just eighteen.” He kissed the top of Bella’s head. “The courts almost didn’t let me keep her because I was so young.”
He handed her the box.
“Let me help,” Elena said, grabbing it. “Is that your car outside?”
“Yes,” Bella said, accepting another box. “Just make sure I have room to sit. It would be awkward if I have to hang off the roof. Then again, I could always make Lijah walk back to the apartment.”
Jenna’s boyfriend then arrived and Bella instantly stopped and looked at him. Cocking her head to the side, she said, “You’re wearing more than colored contacts to hide.”
“Oh, Bella, this is Alaric.”
The man looked at her strangely but offered his hand. She pulled him close to look into his eyes, urging him forward but finding nothing. “Vampire,” she mouthed before releasing him.
She then turned back to Elena. “Is there a fish market in town?”
“We’re too far inland.”
“Lijah!” she called. “There’s no fish! You brought me to a place with NO FISH! Did you plan on starving me? In Italy we had fish!”
“Aro flew it in for you,” he reminded her, handing her a box. “Actually, Marcus did.”
Elena looked confused. Alaric was watching closely.
“The silent one who kept on offering his hand to Aro.”
“Oh. I never caught his name. I rather liked Caius out of the three except for when he made me drink that entire bottle. I think that was a bit excessive.”
“Bottle?” Alaric asked. His voice sounded off almost, but Bella just tried to come up with a lie.
“Of Diet Coke. He didn’t know what to do with a teenage British girl. It was actually quite funny.” She headed back toward the car with Elijah. “He’s a vampire,” she whispered, “wearing someone else’s body. It smells off.” She stuck to the British accent because it was difficult to switch back and forth. Bella also didn’t want to be caught by accident.
“Klaus,” he murmured.
Quickly, a dinner invitation was dispatched, including Alaric, and Bella was at her wits end, trying to figure out what to serve. She decided on lasagna in the end and managed to get her hands on some fruit so she wouldn’t end up being sick all night.
Bella watched Alaric like a hawk, while trying to pay attention to Elena.
“So your boyfriend. He’s named Stefan. What an interesting name!” More interesting than Edward, anyway.
“I really like it. It made him more mysterious when he first arrived,” she confessed. “His brother is also named Damon. I think their parents were trying to torture them.”
“I think my parents were trying to torture me. Isabella? How much worse can it get?”
Her phone went off. She looked down and moaned.
“Who is it?” Elijah asked.
“Tyler. He won’t take a hint even though I’ve moved away!” She shut her phone off, and looked back at Elena. “He calls me at least three times a day. I’m thinking of blocking his number.”
“So, no guy in your life?”
“I kind of do,” she admitted, noticing that Klaus was definitely listening. “We’re taking it slow. Very slow.”
“What’s his name?”
Bella smiled impishly, mainly for Elena, but also for Klaus and Elijah. “Secret. You won’t find him in my list of contacts, though, if you steal my phone.”
“Bella,” Elena said later when they were hiding in the kitchen from the adults. “You know Elijah kidnapped me about half a week ago. And now he’s with you, a human. Do you need help escaping?”
Looking over at her, Bella shook her head. “No. No help needed. Thank you, though.—I understand you ruined my favorite suit when you actually escaped from him in some abandoned house. Or your boyfriends did.”
“Favorite suit?” She looked appalled.
“You have your vampires,” Bella explained. “I have mine. We just seem to travel about a bit more than you and the Salvatores.”
Elena looked shocked.
“You want Klaus stopped. Elijah wants Klaus stopped. Everyone’s just going about it in different ways. I just want fish, which seems to be an impossibility. Aren’t there Catholics in this town who need something other than meat on Fridays?”
There was a chuckle from the next room. Clearly someone was listening in.
“You should come meet Stefan and Damon. See what ‘good’ vampires are like.”
“What?” Bella asked in shock. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m entirely serious. I’ll take you to the Grill, and you can meet Caroline as well. We grew up together and she was changed by Katherine.”
“Katherine,” Bella stated in confusion. She’d never heard of this woman before although it seemed as if she should.
“Katherine Pierce—Katerina Petrova. One of the dopplegangers.”
Bella stared at her for several long moments before calling out, “Elijah!”
He came in, looking like he already knew what she was going to say. “Yes,” he instantly replied.
“And you didn’t think to tell me before?”
Elijah cupped her cheek and looked into her eyes. “He has no idea.”
She breathed in deeply. So he had kept this from Klaus. Of course he had. Klaus had wanted Katerina, most likely, for this stupid ritual, just like he wanted Elena now. But here she was standing with Elena, the exact copy of the woman he had fallen in love with. And Bella looked nothing like Elena.
Her legs gave way as panic overtook her.
“What did I say?” Elena asked desperately.
“She knows Katerina by reputation,” Elijah explained quietly. “Get that bottle of wine from the shelf. The one labeled ‘O negative’ and pour a glass.” He took it from her and pressed it to Bella’s lips and she slowly drank. “All is well,” he murmured. “All is well.”
Jenna and Alaric came into the kitchen and looked at Bella who was now sitting against the wall and slowly drinking the wine.
“I’m afraid my sister’s had a bit of a shock and we’ll have to cut our evening short. Would you mind seeing yourselves out?” Elijah asked, barely glancing over his shoulder.
“Poor dear. What happened?” Jenna asked.
“Gold,” was all Bella could whisper, her British accent slightly slipping. “It turned gold.” A tear slid down her cheek and Elijah immediately had her in his arms.
He carried her into the bedroom and lay her down on the bed. Bella heard everyone as they let themselves out. Elijah’s hand came to run itself through her hair and he kissed her forehead tenderly.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “Katerina was so linked in my mind to being the doppleganger that I didn’t think that you didn’t know—“
“I look nothing like her,” Bella said desperately. “We couldn’t be more different.”
“And that is a good thing,” Elijah pressed. “I wouldn’t want you to be a copy of her. How could you think that? You’re your own, beautiful, enchanting woman, Isabella Swan.”
“But there’s Elena, right in front of you and—“
He kissed her, soft and slow. When he released her, he leaned his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry. I know we should only act when you feel the tug, but—“
She leaned up and kissed him passionately, pulling at his tie. “I just want to feel a little,” she begged. “Just a little.”
“A little,” he promised, unbuttoning his shirt so she could slide her hands up his chest, his other hand on her neck. His lips captured hers again. “A little,” he swore. When she fell asleep in his arms, the two of them still fully dressed though a little rumpled, he smiled into her hair. Jealousy and fear had led them to this step, but he knew Bella. There would be no turning back from that. She was a siren. Once she had a taste, she wouldn’t want to let go.
“Are you feeling better?” Elena asked as they drove to the Mystic Grill.
“Much,” Bella replied, her British accent in place. “I really am sorry about the other night. I don’t know what came over me. I’d just heard about Katerina and something clicked into place and it was just a little too much—“
“You should know that Katherine made Stefan and Damon fall in love with her when they were human and played them off each other. She’s the reason they’re vampires now.”
“Oh. OH.” Bella thought. “It’s not weird that they’re your protectors now?”
Elena shrugged. “We’re so different, personality wise, that I don’t really think on it.” She seemed a little unsure of herself, however. “I should warn you, Damon can be an ass but he kind of has a thing for me.”
“Two brothers,” Bella murmured as they walked into the bar. “How troublesome.” A thought occurred to her. “Which one is your favorite?”
“Favorite?” So, she didn’t even know. How disgusting.
Bella began to hum under her breath and she noticed happily when several men looked up when they entered the Grill. This should prove interesting. A vampire would particularly be a challenge. She would only take one away.
“Ah, Stefan!” Elena said, going up to a boy and kissing him softly.
Bella didn’t particularly want him. He wasn’t handsome in the least. She looked beyond him to where he had been seated in a booth. There was a tall dark one dressed in black and two girls—one with pale blonde curls, a vampire, and the other one African-American. There was something about her Bella couldn’t quite place.
“This is Stefan,” Elena was saying before leading her to the table. “His brother Damon, Caroline, and Bonnie. This is Bella Starling. Elijah seems to be carrying her around.”
“We carry each other around,” Bella corrected. “He’s following me to college in September. He followed me home after we came back from Europe. I just took my final exam a week and a half ago.”
Everyone stared at her. “You’ve tamed the feared Elijah?” Damon asked in awe.
“I doubt anyone could tame him,” Bella lied. “Is there fish on the menu?”
Elena laughed. “No. But there’s fruit salad.”
“Small blessings,” Bella murmured. “I really need to live by the sea.” She sighed. Then she looked at everyone. “So. Convert me.” Now she was looking at Damon. “And I’ll take a whiskey. Neat. Something Scottish if they have it.”
His blue eyes looked into hers and then he nodded once. “Of course, princess.”
“I’m acknowledged as a queen,” she told him. “I have sat on a throne. Lives hang in the balance of my wishes.”
Bonnie gasped. “You’re not human.”
“Not for awhile now,” she admitted. “Life got so much more complicated when I stopped.—Damon, darling, you forgot my drink.”
He snapped out of staring at her and headed to the bar. Oh, yes, she had him. When everyone started to drone on around her, she kept her eyes on him and noticed that whenever he could, he was staring back at her.
“Is that?” Bella asked and everyone stopped. Jenna was giving Elijah a tour of Mystic Falls and Bella and Elena were tagging along. “It is!”
Elijah looked over. “I never forget a face. That’s your Edward’s sister. The one that was acquitted.”
“Her name is Rosalie,” Bella said. “And he’s not my Edward. I let him go. And he broke up with me in a forest where I almost died of exposure.”
Elena snapped her head around. “He sounds horrible.”
“He’s a self-obsessed forever teenager,” Elijah accused. “Though apparently he can play the piano quite well.” He beckoned Rosalie forward.
She looked between Elena and Jenna before turning to Bella and Elijah. “Forgive me for not addressing you formally, but given the company…”
“Why are you here, Rosalie?” Bella asked, telling her with her eyes not to question her accent. “You hate me.” She was utterly confused.
“You’re more beautiful than I am. I thought so at the trial, but now, up close. It’s truly amazing.” She shook her head and put her hands in her pockets. “I never thought that Edward deserved you and thought that with his—selfishness—he was dividing the family. Little did we know how divided we would become. However, I beg you to go to Volterra. Edward, he’s angered Lord Marcus.”
“How?” Elijah asked darkly.
Rosalie bit her lip. “He told him who killed Didyme. Now Marcus wants to kill him for lying and Aro wants to kill him for speaking the truth.”
“Who are these people?” Jenna asked in confusion.
“Our mother is an Italian Countess,” Elijah explained to Jenna. “We’re speaking of some other nobility we know.—What does Caius think?”
Bella paused. “I will go if Niklaus escorts me,” she decided. “None of this cloak and dagger.”
Elijah turned to her in shock.
“And you, of course, dear brother. You know I could never be without you for long. But, no, I think Niklaus should get away for awhile. Clear his head. I think the intrigue might do him good.”
“Niklaus will cause more havoc than is entirely necessary.”
“Why don’t we just ask?” she said, looking between Rosalie and Elijah. “I’m sure Elena will be immensely relieved if he’s gone for a few days. I’ll have Damon mention it to him. Damon adores me.”
Elijah smiled at her. “And the lack of water has not depressed you.”
“That made no sense,” Elena replied. “But it is unreal. Damon does adore her.”
Jenna was gaping. Elijah sighed and compelled her to leave. That left the two vampires, the siren, and the doppleganger.
“I still don’t see what I can do even with Niklaus,” Bella said as they walked along. “Edward was stupid. I suppose I should have just let him die last time we were in Italy. I had the right to demand it. I’ll call Caius tonight. He doesn’t sleep after all.”
“And Niklaus?” Elena asked.
“I’ll have Damon slip the message. He won’t know that’s what he’s doing, but he’ll do it nonetheless.” She smiled to herself.
There were footsteps along the hallway and Bella continued to drink her wine. With a soft knock at the door, Elijah stood from his position beside her on the couch and answered it. The accent was familiar and yet fuller than she remembered.
“I understand a Bella Starling wishes me to visit the Volturi with the two of you, brother.”
“Niklaus,” Elijah said. “I honestly didn’t think that you would come.”
There were more steps and Bella just continued to drink her O negative. “I’ve seen what your supposed sister can do. Damon Salvatore has been head over heels in love with the doppleganger and suddenly he only has eyes for Bella. It’s unnatural.”
“I would call it supernatural,” Bella whispered, knowing that the two vampires could hear her. “He’s an amusement.” She stood when they entered the room. “Lord Niklaus Mikhaelson in the flesh. Lady Isabella Swan.”
He took her hand and kissed it. “You are beautiful, love. I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before, most likely from my brother.”
She let the comment slide and the three resumed their seats while a glass of wine was poured for Klaus.
“What are you?”
“Don’t you want to hear about Volterra instead?” Elijah asked. “For the life of me, I still cannot fathom why Bella wants you there.”
“Excitement. This town is boring. He’ll end up harassing people who shouldn’t be harassed and, let’s be honest, Edward deserves to be harassed before I have him killed or do the honors myself. Can a cold one drown? They don’t breathe.”
Klaus shook his head.
“The Volturi will have to kill him then. Why am I only limited to killing humans when I just want to murder him?”
“You’re young yet,” Elijah soothed. “You’ll find many a human life that hangs in the balance that you will choose to sever.”
“Fascinating,” Niklaus said, looking at them. “You’re in love. You really should have come as husband and wife instead of brother and sister.”
“Not yet,” Bella answered. “Volterra. Edward’s a mind reader and discovered that Aro killed Didyme and told Marcus. Marcus thinks he lied and wants him dead and Aro wants him dead for speaking the truth. Rosalie, a former coven mate of Edward’s, wants us to ‘do something.’”
“And by do something you mean…?”
“Yell at him, torture him, get him to apologize and admit he was lying, torture him some more, and then have him executed,” Bella stated, holding Klaus’s gaze. “Do you think you’ll be able to have children if you become a Hybrid?”
The two brothers looked startled by the question.
“I hadn’t—I’ll be half-vampire—“
She shrugged. “Just a passing thought.—Oh, and officially I’m tribute from the Volturi to the nightwalkers. Unofficially, they were trying to save their asses from the fact that they almost executed a protected species.”
Klaus drank his wine. “Well, Alaric is sick with the measles in the hospital and can’t see anyone for at least a week. When do we leave?”
“We’re packed,” Elijah stated. “We just need to book the flight.”
“Then book,” Klaus stated. “I’ll keep this goddess company. I see she wears one of our rings.”
“I’ll call Caius,” Bella said, glancing between the brothers, seeing the cool anger behind Elijah’s features. “I’ll need a flight, though, to tell him when to have us picked up. I can handle Alaric, Lijah.”
Still Elijah brought out his laptop to the sitting room.
“Is Elena anything like Katerina or Tatia?” she asked Klaus. “You’ve been around her often enough.” Of course, it was her jealousy speaking, and she wanted to get a second opinion.
“She’s nothing like Katerina. Katerina was manipulative. She would pretend to be innocent and perfect while knowing she had a black, twisted heart underneath. She would play men against each other for amusement. Tatia is much like Elena. Both are innocent, believe themselves to be truly in love with multiple people, and can’t figure out what to do about it, making everyone miserable. They also seem to lead people on. I’ve seen Elena with Damon before you arrived. It was quite disgusting actually. Now he has you to break his heart.” His blue eyes glistened.
“Maybe I’ll just let him go quietly then. I’ve freed him from Elena with no promises, after all.—Brothers. Dopplegangers and brothers.” She glanced between the two of them. “I wonder if it’s part of the DNA or something.”
“Like your hair and eyes,” Elijah mused, “and your need to kill innocent men.”
“Exactly! And they’re lustful, not innocent.”
“You incite them to lust,” he teased.
“It’s already there. I just play with it.”
Elijah looked at her. “Unfortunately, you’re most likely right. We’re all booked. We leave in half an hour. I’ll load the car.”
“I’ll call Caius. I’ll have him get that single malt for us and I can drink it more slowly this time,” she said happily. “It really was quite good.”
“I left my suitcase outside the door in case we happened to be leaving tonight,” Klaus said. “Now really, you must tell me how you met the only siren on the planet, Elijah, and how she seems to have chosen you as her mate.”
“Edward,” Bella said carefully in the dungeons of the Volturi castle. He was chained up to a damp wall in a cell in a peasant shirt and trousers. It was all rather bizarre. “Edward, I know you’re awake. Look at me.”
“I loved you,” he claimed.
“You left me,” she reminded him, “and you wouldn’t want a siren as a wife anyway. I would have made you miserable.”
“How did you—?”
“You were born in 1901 and have stayed in 1918, the year you died. You were thinking about marriage, Edward Masen. Now, Rosalie asked me to come.”
“Of course she did,” he sighed. “What do you want?”
Bella looked over her shoulder at Klaus and Elijah. “You need to apologize,” Klaus said, bored. “Say that you were jealous that Bella left with the Nightwalker King and so caused strife among the ranks. Aro will verify your story. Then the two of us are going to have a little chat.”
Edward just stared at him. “I am not afraid of you, Nightwalker.”
“Lord Niklaus,” Elijah said. “He is a king.”
“As you are a king and my Bella is somehow a queen,” he spat. “Why did you jump off that cliff?”
“Jacob Black is my best friend,” she reasoned. “The kids on the Reservation like to cliff dive. It’s fun, Edward.” Of course, that was a complete lie, but he didn’t need to know that. Hopefully, he wouldn’t get anything out of Elijah’s mind on the subject. She had already warned both Elijah and Niklaus to be wary of their thoughts around him.
“The blond one wants to fuck—and I mean fuck—you, Bella,” Edward told her, his voice hoarse.
Bella could just imagine the smirk on Klaus’s lips. “I honestly don’t care. The entire male population on this planet does. Also, I know he never would. Always and Forever, eh, Niklaus?”
She could hear him stiffen behind her. That got his attention.
“So,” she said standing, “are you going to do it?”
“Make me,” he argued.
She sighed. Leaning down, she tilted up his chin. “Edward, please,” she mock-begged. “It would make me happy. I saved your life, now you can save the happiness of my friends.”
His lips parted and he leaned up to kiss her. She placed a finger against his mouth. Shaking her head, she murmured, “No, Edward. You broke my heart. But please do this for me.”
He stared at her with his black eyes for several long moments before nodding.
Bella released him and made a signal that the guards should be called in.
It was comical, the way Edward apologized. He didn’t even look at Marcus or Aro, but instead stared at Bella, who sat ramrod straight on her throne, next to Elijah. For show, Aro took his hand and nodded to Marcus. “He tells the truth.”
“Death then,” Caius murmured.
“Forgive me, but I promised Lord Niklaus some time alone with him first,” Bella stated quietly. “He hasn’t had the pleasure of torturing a cold one in quite some time.”
“Then by all means,” Aro said. “He may have the rest of the week, if he so chooses, and then Edward Cullen will be put to death. The three of you are, of course, our honored guests during this time.”
“We thank you, Aro,” Elijah said with a nod of his head.
Edward looked at Bella with slight fear before turning to Alice and it seemed Jasper, both of whom were in the guard. It was out of Bella’s hands now. She had done as Rosalie had asked.
“And I ask another favor. I wish that his body parts be severed with a sharp rock from the ocean. If I cannot smash him against the rocks myself, then I would like to get as close to it as possible, Aro, Marcus, Caius.” She bowed her head.
“You have given us this happy outcome,” Marcus said quietly. “We can give you yours.”
Bella nodded and watched as Edward was dragged from the room. Niklaus then smirked at her and prowled after them.
She turned her gaze toward the guard and saw Alice and Jasper there. Her eyes softened slightly before she turned to Elijah. “I feel like I could learn Latin,” she teased.
“I’m certain we could remedy that,” he told her, nodding to the kings and leading her from the room.
Bella was sitting at the piano in the Salvatore boarding house, quietly playing as the dinner party went on in the next room. She didn’t really care for what was going on. Something was happening, but Elijah could handle himself. She was certain of it.
“I didn’t know you could play,” Damon said, setting down a tumbler of bourbon for her as he drank from his own.
“Thank you,” she murmured. “I’m actually going to Julliard in September. Elijah and I will hopefully be finished here by then. I’d rather not go alone, if I’m entirely honest.”
She felt his blue eyes on her and offered him a small smile. “Did you go to college?”
“For a year. I dropped out and joined the Confederate Army. That was a bust, too.”
“Hmm,” she sighed. “I can’t imagine you waving a Confederate Flag if I’m at all—“
Then she felt it, the tug. Except something was horribly wrong. She instantly stood and the tumbler fell to the ground, smashing.
“Bella,” she heard Damon say in confusion, but she quickly whipped out of the room. Although not as fast as vampires, she was still pretty quick for a “human,” and she came into the living room just as a silver dagger was being aimed at Elijah’s heart.
She pushed him out of the way and cried out in agony as it pierced through her arm and into her chest.
“Bella!” Elijah cried as he grabbed her as she fell. “Sweetheart.”
“Fuck this hurts,” she said in an American accent. “What is this thing?”
He carefully pulled it out. “A dagger with white oak ash. It’s meant to cripple an Original,” he told her, and she quickly grabbed it and used the bottom of her dress to clean off the blood and whatever ash was left on it.
“Harmless,” she said as she checked her wounds. “It seems I heal from puncture wounds. No vital organs to check, thank the drowned god.”
Everyone was staring at her. But that didn’t matter. All that mattered were those brown eyes that were staring into hers. He had almost been hurt. Her Elijah had almost been hurt.
“I’m ready now,” she murmured, cupping his cheek, the dagger still in her hand. “I just don’t know how to do anything properly, that stupid, one hundred year old virgin was stuck in the Victorian—“
Elijah seized her lips and she felt whole, the tug bursting and twining them instantly together. She let the dagger fall between them and twisted her arms around his neck, letting the feel of his lips and tongue guide her.
“Better than that horrible vampire whose name I shall not mention in company?” she joked as she pulled away.
He smiled down at her. “She was a bit more experienced.” He played with her hair. “But she never loved me.”
“Well,” she sighed, “we can fix the first.” Kissing him lightly she teased, “I think this makes you a prince consort. I’ve demoted you!”
“I’m still a king in my own right, Queen Isabella. I wouldn’t dare call you Queen consort. The Volturi would have my head despite our treaties.”
“Let’s go to a Navy Shipyard and smash some heads against the rocks,” she whispered devilishly. “A life spared, a life taken.”
“You’re not British,” Elena said stupidly, interrupting them.
Bella blushed. “That’s what you’re focusing on? Really?—I need O negative. It always calms me down.” She allowed Elijah to help her stand and grabbed her purse, putting the dagger inside it.
A blood bag was offered to her by a concerned looking Damon.
“Thank you,” she said. “I drink it in wine, though. Special recipe.” Bella looked at Elena. “I think I won’t be going to the Grill tomorrow after everything that’s happened.”
“Bella, we meant to kill—“
“Elijah? How did you think I would react?” she whispered harshly, aware of the two humans in the other room. “I’m calling Caius. He’s strangely my best friend even if he is a king.”
She walked out of the room, only to hear Damon ask quietly, “Caius Volturi?”
Elijah was right behind her, his arm wrapped around her waist.
The tug was still pulling. “To hell with it!” Bella declared near the door, and she grabbed Elijah and pulled him into yet another kiss. She felt the softness of his lips and moaned when he pulled her closer.
Something shattered and she pulled away, only to see that reporter Damon was dating. It seemed like she had dropped a pie that was now splattered on the floor.
“You’re—she’s—aren’t you—brother and sister?”
“They’re step-brother and sister,” Klaus as Alaric said, having been magically released from the hospital the day before. “They’re not related.”
“I thought your mother was an Italian Countess!” Jenna squeaked.
It was Bella who answered this time. “My biological mother,” she answered. “She helped raise Elijah, though.” Her British accent was back on, thankfully.
Elijah nodded to everyone, calm face implacable as he led her out the door. Frankly, Bella didn’t care what gossip they would start. Someone had tried to kill Elijah, and Damon damn well knew about it, if she wasn’t mistaken.
It seemed like she could control Edward but not a nightwalker.
Bella felt Elijah move as there was the sound of knocking at the door. He kissed her bare shoulder and she curled into herself more deeply. A chuckle met her ears, but she didn’t mind. The bedroom door opened and then closed.
It wasn’t until she heard Klaus’s voice that she slowly sat up and rubbed sleep from her eyes.
She looked down at herself. Well, she was wearing a tank top and pajama bottoms. Klaus was technically her kin. How did he get out of Alaric’s body yet again and what was he thinking?
“Don’t say you didn’t want to blow your cover,” she said by way of greeting as she entered the kitchen.
It seemed Elijah was making them all tea.
“Because of you I was stabbed, Alaric,” Bella groused.
“John did the stabbing.”
“Yes,” Elijah growled. “The doppleganger’s biological father. How lovely.”
“How are you, Bella?” Niklaus thoughtfully asked. “I know it’s early, but I wanted to check up on you myself.”
“It’s not that early,” Elijah said. “It’s half past eleven.”
“After you’ve been daggered, it’s early. I also had to stay at Jenna’s last night. The stupid woman wouldn’t stop crying about siblings and incest. I can’t compel in that sack of meat so I ended up just trying to think of all the glorious naked women I’ve seen and comparing them to what I think Bella would look like.”
“She must have had fun with your—enthusiasm for romantic pursuits,” Bella quipped as she accepted her tea.
“The bitch honestly didn’t notice.”
Bella laughed outright. “Oh, I needed that. However, if I may say so, Niklaus, Alaric is not nearly as handsome as you are. Or young. Are all Mikhalelsons as good looking as the two of you?”
“Finn isn’t,” Klaus immediately said, which brought a quirk to Elijah’s lips.
“I’m afraid all we can offer you is kippers and fruit,” he told Klaus, “that is if you’re staying.”
“Yes, fish. Of course. Sit, sit. I’m imposing. I’ll cook.”
It was then that Bella took in what Elijah was wearing. He was still in his suit trousers and a silk robe. She had been so desperate to just feel his smooth chest against her fingers last night that his shirt had been utterly discarded. Bella had only changed into her pajamas herself because her dress was ruined from that horrible dagger.
She eyed Elijah up and down and tilted her head toward the bedroom, offering him a way out. He just shook his head. He and Niklaus were brothers, after all.
Halfway through breakfast/lunch—brunch—whatever it was—there was another knock at the door.
“Cover story,” Bella whispered.
“Best friend who flew out called Nik,” Elijah offered.
“Or I could just be Klaus since it smells like Elena on the other side of the door,” he offered. “We could throw her through a loop.”
“These bizarre twentieth and twenty-first century American phrases,” Elijah sighed. “Sometimes living with the times can be so difficult.”
“I think Elijah will shock her if he opens the door,” Bella muttered, getting up herself. “I really didn’t want to see her today.”
But there she was with a handful of sunflowers. “Elena—now’s not a good time.”
“I know,” she said quickly. “It’s just, you weren’t supposed to come last night and deal with everything. Jenna invited you at the last minute because I was dragged along—and then you got daggered and healed and—“
“I need more tea,” was all Bella could utter, “and your father-uncle still tried to stake my vampire.”
Elena stepped in after her, although she technically hadn’t been invited in, and Bella walked toward the kitchen. “Niklaus, Elena. You hate each other by default. Have a seat, Elena,” she said without looking up.
Elena just stared at the three of them.
“Welcome to the Mikhaelson family,” Klaus ground out. “I believe you tried to stake my brother and ended up injuring my sister-in-law, love. Tsk, tsk.”
“I—sister-in-what? I thought that the two of you,” she pointed between Bella and Elijah, “were friends—friendly—but—what?”
“Mating rituals are complicated,” Bella answered. “At least for me.—Have some tea.”
Elena just sat there, staring between the three of them. “I—Bella—how are you feeling?”
“Tired,” she answered truthfully. “I was up late last night calling Caius and complaining about the dress—his brother actually bought it for me—and then Elijah and I stayed up for awhile.”
“I bet you did,” Klaus murmured, smirking.
“Show some respect,” Elijah growled. “She’s not even nineteen.”
“Little Miss Doppleganger is hardly pure and she’s younger,” Klaus argued. “So is our dear sister and she’s technically even younger.”
“She didn’t become sexually active until the late eighteen hundreds,” Elijah argued. “Also, both young women in question were either human or vampire. Bella is neither.”
Klaus was about to say something but there was another knock at the door.
“I’m not getting it,” Bella groused as she served herself more kippers. “We’ll also need an extra chair.”
“I’ll stand,” Klaus said, getting up. “I’ll also see who it is.”
“Ten dollars,” Elijah bet, his eyes connecting with Bella’s. He obviously thought it was going to be Damon.
“We both know you’ll be right, so I won’t take that bet,” she stated. “Plus we share a bank account.”
“That’s only because your mother refuses to give you any money and your father barely earns enough to buy you a pair of jeans,” he said, sighing.
Unfortunately, it was only too true.
Damon walked in holding two cups of coffee and looked at the assembled party. “Elena, I thought you’d be at your house with Stefan and, Elijah, I thought you’d be researching.” The distaste in his voice was obvious. He turned to Niklaus again. “Who are you again?”
“My brother-in-law,” Bella stated. “He came to check up on the two of us. It seems to be rather a theme this morning. He even cooked.” She sighed. “Is that from the Grill?” she asked, nodding toward the cup.
“Yes. Your favorite.”
“Thank you,” she said, taking the cup. “Nik is vacating his seat for you.”
“So,” Elijah said. “How did the whole incest question go down after we left?”
Niklaus burst out laughing. “By the Allfather!” he all but wheezed.
Damon looked at him in confusion. “Andy was upset, naturally. Apparently it’s rather unnatural even though you did declare yourself stepsiblings. Also, you’re too old for Bella, but that was a minor point.”
“Well, you are too old for her,” Niklaus agreed. “You’re too old for pretty much anybody.”
“In a thousand years I’ll be half of his age,” Bella reasoned. “I have no intention of being murdered or committing suicide. I just need to keep him alive that long and he’s managed to do a pretty good job himself so far.”
“You’re immortal,” Elena stated, shocked.
“Yes,” Bella said. “Still quite young, though. I tend to hang with an older crowd, though. If we discount the humans, Damon would probably be the youngest.”
“Don’t forget Edward,” Elijah put in darkly.
“He’s dead. He doesn’t count.” She took a long sip of her coffee. “And Carlisle was five hundred.”
“He was the supposed father,” Elijah said back evenly. “You can’t count your ex-boyfriend’s maker and coven leader as someone you hang out with.”
“I can try,” she said, taking a sip of her coffee. She turned to Damon and Elena, “So. Why did you try to kill Elijah?”
“How did you even know what was happening in the next room?” Damon asked, bewildered.
She shrugged. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“He’s a danger to Elena’s safety,” Damon answered.
“Of course. Brown hair and brown eyes. How could I forget?”
Niklaus looked confused. “I don’t quite follow.”
“Tatia and Katerina looked identical. Also, Bella used to have brown hair and brown eyes until very recently. She could have passed as my sister easily with her BBC accent.”
Niklaus chuckled. “She’s far more beautiful than Tatia ever was,” he stated firmly. “Katerina was a spoiled brat who pretended to be meek and the perfect fifteenth-century woman.—I swear, even Lord Marcus with his devotion to his dearly departed wife was half in love with you, Bella, when we were in Italy, and it wasn’t just because of what you are, it was because of your beauty and who you are as a person, Isabella.”
“Marcus?” she asked in astonishment.
“Marcus,” Elijah confirmed. “I overheard him speaking to Caius on the subject. Fortunately, you were already spoken for and not under Volturi jurisdiction.”
“I don’t understand,” Damon said carefully. “What do the dopplegangers have to do with what Bella looks like?”
“Bella’s had a difficult time adjusting from her former appearance to her new one,” was all Elijah would say, taking her hand and squeezing it. “You have to admit, it would be a shock for any young lady.”
“I screamed when I first saw my hair,” she admitted to no one in particular.
“I’m surprised you didn’t try to dye in back,” Niklaus commented.
“I didn’t have the money,” she admitted. “I still had Edward’s credit card, but I was afraid it would be declined.”
“Well, I know I’m Italian and should care for dark beauties,” Damon said, “but you look enchanting, Bella. Flawless. I would compare you to Helen of Troy, strangely enough.”
“Let’s not start a war,” Bella said with a small smile, “although there seems to be one heading our way. Brother-in-law,” she said, turning to Niklaus, “can we change your mind?”
“Elijah can’t make me. Why do you think you’ll have any luck?”
“I let you torture Edward for a week,” she wheedled. “Family is family. Think of the status I bring.”
“Bella,” Elijah warned. “You don’t want to be a pawn.”
“And I shan’t. If he wants me to kill his enemies, he’s going to have to follow me up and down the coasts of the world and see if I judge them worthy of a watery death. If he wants someone seduced, I’m going to have to find them attractive first or just be plain bored at the time. I’m his sister-in-law, not his minion.”
“Who are you?” Damon asked, looking at Niklaus. “None of that made any sense!”
“He’s Klaus, in the flesh,” Elena whispered.
Damon immediately sat up straighter and Niklaus looked over at him coolly.
“Think of the status I’ll bring, sister-in-law. I’ll be the only living hybrid, coupled with the only living siren, with the great Elijah of the Originals. Think of it. We could take back New Orleans where there is plenty of water and more music than you can imagine.”
“She’s going to Julliard,” Elijah put in. “Who says I want to be around a Hybrid? Your ego grows too large, Niklaus.”
“You may be a king, but you are also the consort of a queen, who finds me amusing at the very least. We are also related by marriage, which is entirely your fault. You accepted her as tribute.”
Elena and Damon exchanged a glance.
“And leave her in Italy among Cold Ones? I think not, Brother.”
“Why don’t we find a way to complete the ritual while keeping our resident human doppleganger alive?” Bella suggested sweetly. “Then I can kill Katerina Petrova.” When Niklaus looked like he was about to object, she said, “I insist. She is mine. She has grossly offended me.”
“What has she ever done to you, love?” Niklaus asked.
“She attempted to be a human and then a vampire siren. I take great offense,” she lied, her eyes not once straying to Elijah.
“Do we have an accord?” Elijah asked Damon and Elena. “You remain alive after the ritual and we will not return to Mystic Falls during your human lifespan?”
“New York and New Orleans remain ours, however,” Niklaus put in. “They’re close to music and water.”
“We’d have to discuss it,” Damon said. “With the others.”
“I’ll add a caveat,” Bella said. “I’ll release you, Damon. You will no longer be under my siren song, nor will you ever be again. You will never be attracted to another doppleganger and will only find your heart turn towards those who will return your love. I will give you the gift of the siren. No longer will you be emotionally tortured by the ‘innocent’ betrayals of Katerina or Elena.”
His eyes went wide. “That’s what you were doing.”
“You’re welcome,” was all she said, standing from the table. “I need water. The bath is as close as I can get without leaving the apartment. I’ll leave you to discuss the specifics.”
She turned around and winked at Elijah, who stood up and kissed her sweetly. “You have everyone under your spell,” he murmured. “Even Elena.”
“I do have a good teacher,” she whispered back before leaving the room.