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Fic: Your Honor (12/20)

Title: Your Honor
Rating: T
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Category: (drama, romance, adventure, etc)
Summary: Elena leaves Mystic Falls to protect those she loves, goes into hiding, and seeks a way to pay for the damage she's caused.  Two years later, an unexpected visitor walks into Bree's bar and threatens to destroy the fragile peace she's created.  Elena/Elijah, mentions of other ships
Spoilers: Up to and including 3x15
Warnings: Language, violence
Show/Bookverse: Show 'verse, up to and including 3x15
Disclaimer:The Vampire Diaries belongs to its rightful owners and sadly, none of those people or companies are me. I'm only borrowing them, but I promise to return them once I am finished.

Author's Notes: Thanks to [info]midnight_burn. Mistakes are all entirely mine. Title comes from Bon Iver's 'Blood Bank'.

Previous Chapter

They drag the brothers inside, and Elijah directs them towards the basement. Elena does a quick cursory check and sees that their rings are still on their hands, but she barely starts to frown before the Original vampire explains his decision.

"We have no idea what he did to them before the vervain."

She nods, biting her lip, and they continue down the stairs to the basement. It must be a vampire thing, because there are two dimly lit cells and they've clearly been here for centuries. While they can still talk and see one another through the bars, at least they are separated.

For all they know, Klaus has compelled them to try to kill one another once they get their strength back, or they might be combative when they wake up, disoriented. They set them up with blood bags and thank Mr. Krall who, shaken, returns back to his part of the house, his son in tow.

Elena stares at the closed, locked basement door, and turns to find Elijah watching her.

Before he'd left Mystic Falls, she'd still been a bit in love with Stefan, and was starting to admit to the undeniable pull she felt towards the elder Salvatore. She wants to say out loud that it's not like that anymore, but now isn't the time. Two years away from the tug-of-war game she'd been stuck in has allowed her to view the situation with a clearer head and a different perspective. They're always going to be important to her, but two years away from the pressure of being what they wanted her to be has allowed to her figure out who she really is.

"They will be safe," he promises her. "I hesitate to notify Bonnie and Caroline that they are here, but as there are too many secrets in this house, perhaps we should tell them."

"This is everything I tried to stop," she whispers, feeling her composure cracking. What's next? Who else will be pulled into this? She wraps her arms around her own waist and worries her lip and tries not to think about Jeremy, or Alaric, or Tyler being drawn into this.

"They will be safe," he repeats, firmly, and draws one of her hands up to his lips, kissing it. There's no predatory leer in his gaze, as there had been when Klaus had done the same to Maggie.

It's enough to keep her thoughts in one place, to go down one train of it and rationally think of the next step that needs to be taken. Klaus would find it strange if she didn't react soon, but too close to the Salvatores 'delivery' would seem suspicious.

"I'll call him in two hours," she tells him, and he nods.

He sees her to the LaForte's doorway before leaving to go find Caroline and Bonnie to explain to them what has happened.

She knocks on their door, and after a moment, Bree answers it. She looks beyond exhausted, and her eyes are rimmed red.

"Aimee," she murmurs, voice rough from sleeplessness. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay, but I'll feel even better after I check on you two," she explains, and peers over her shoulder to see that Maggie is starting to sit up in bed. "Can I come in?"

"Of course, honey."

Not even twenty four hours ago, she'd walked easily into this room, and now she treads as carefully as she can, feeling like an outsider. "Hey," she says to Maggie, tentatively.

The girl nods, licks her lips nervously and gives a weak smile.

Elena tries not to cry when she realizes that there is fear in her friend's eyes, in the press of her lips. It's painfully similar to what was in her nightmare. She tucks her hair behind her ear and sits on Bree's bed, keeping her distance.

"Do you want to talk abou-"

"You killed someone."

It's said quietly, but it makes Elena wince.

"Yes," she replies, after taking a deep breath. It's strange to hear her own voice, so matter-of-fact.

Maggie turns to face her fully, now on top of the sheets, and Bree perches on the other side of the bed, thumbing through her Grimoire; she appears not to really pay attention to the conversation, but both girls know better. "Did you know you could do that?" the younger woman asks, delicately.

Elena shakes her head. "No. And I hope I don't have to ever do that again."

Maggie bites her lip again, plays with a curl, tries to entangle the young woman in front of her and the choices she's making. "But you would. If you had to." She frowns while processing this.

Just over the girl's shoulder, Bree looks up from the Grimoire and catches Elena's eye, then pointedly looks at Maggie.

Even with everything that has gone on in the past few days, Maggie is still innocent; they've fought to keep her this way. Bree and Lucy want to keep their daughter in this state for as long as possible – Elena does, too. Not irrationally naïve, but safe.

But Elena is not in that same state. Until she came to live with them, she had friends but no parents, people who tried to protect her, but ultimately, decisions were left in her hands. Her choices weren't always easy, and when they were taken out of her hands she tried to fight to get control back, but at the end of the day, she'd chosen to be who she was now.

The magic that is a part of her, that controls her at times, is a part of those choices, and she's had to accept it. Maggie doesn't have to understand her motivations, or empathize; she just has to accept that 'Aimee' is willing to do whatever it takes.

"Yes," she responds. "For you..." she trails off, swallows, and continues, knowing the next two words out of her mouth are going to expose her in a way that no one in Mystic Falls ever saw, "f-for him. For your parents."

"That second part, that's new," Bree comments bluntly, and watches her carefully once more.

Cheeks burning, she says smoothly "It doesn't supersede the other parts."

Maggie sighs deeply and closes her eyes. "This is all a lot to deal with right now," she says, weakly. "Aim, I don't...I get it. Okay, I don't, but I...I need a couple more hours to mope and I'll be good, I think."

Elena nods, a little too enthusiastically, but at the moment she's just happy Maggie hasn't run screaming or something. "Okay. Alright."

"I'll walk you to your room," offers Bree, and Elena knows what's on its way.

As they enter her room, she sees the bartender looking around, and she can't help but roll her eyes. "He's not waiting in my bed, Bree," she quips, but receives a dubious look in response. She motions for the older woman to close the door while she lights the sage before telling her the news. "Klaus had Damon and Stefan delivered here, loaded with vervain, we're guessing as bait."

Bree's eyes harden and her lips thin. "And you didn't think I should know about this before now?"

"I came straight up from helping with them," Elena responds, defensively. Given the chance, even after two years, she thinks Bree would probably take a stake to Damon's chest, so she won't tell the woman where they are.

Bree wastes no time in continuing. "And now that they're here, are you planning to set anyone else on fire?"

It stings.

She takes a deep breath, holds it, and then lets it out before responding as calmly as possible. Acting rashly has only led to problems in the past, and she's going to avoid them at all costs.

"If something had happened to Elijah back there, we would have had a hard time getting Maggie out safely. Even if he'd have been incapacitated momentarily, it could have been enough of a delay for that hybrid to do something to her."

That's what she's rationalized in the short time she's had to think it over.

She continues, feeling it necessary to. "Am I going to try to keep the slaying-by-magical-fire to a minimum? Yes. But Bree? You're exhausted and your nerves are shot, and I think you need to just...just take a nap. Go get some rest. You and Maggie are worried sick over Lucy, I know, but when you wake up, we'll all work on the plans."

Bree seems startled into a softer expression. "You're defensive, but you're not angry right now," she marvels, then humbly adds. "I'm sorry, it's just that I figured you'd be angry with me, and you've got every right to be...I mean, shit, honey, we made you like this."

Elena can't think of anything truly reassuring enough to say, so she settles on hugging the woman, and telling her to go sleep until it was a normal hour of morning, even maybe one with double digits.

Needing a change of scenery, she decides to take a walk around the house (if she finds an Original vampire along the way, she won't complain) but when she passes by Bonnie and Caroline's shared room, she can hear the sobbing and ducks around the corner.

"- your fault, Caroline. You need to stop feeling guilty about this, neither one of them would want that." Bonnie's soothing voice seems at odds with Caroline's.

"I know!" cries the girl, voice hitting high notes. "I know, and that's what's so frustrating, I mean, it's been two years, Bonnie. Two years and I still feel like I'm stealing Elena's boyfriend even if they broke up, and this past month...I'm finally okay with it, and I was thinking 'Hey, if it keeps up like this, I think I'd feel better if I just emailed her about it'."

Elena bites her lip and holds her breath, waiting for the conversation to continue. Stefan and Caroline? That's...it makes sense, sort of. And she knows they've been close since he helped her with her transition, but dating? Tyler was out of the picture, she guessed.

"She's never-"

"I know she doesn't ever respond, but I wanted her to know. And I tell him I love him and then you and I left and the next thing I know, Klaus kidnaps him and tortures him and Elena is going to show up and find out about all of this and-"

"Caroline, you have got to get yourself together!" There's the sound of shifting, and Elena knows Bonnie has probably moved to hug the vampire. "One thing at a time, alright? Elijah said he'll let us see them later, and he promised they'll be okay. Stefan is going to be okay."

There's a loud sniff. "He did give us his word," responds Caroline, mollified. "And that's kind of a big deal for him, I think."

"It is. And as for Elena..." Bonnie sighs. "We'll deal with that when she gets here."

"I seriously thought she'd be with Elijah."

"I did, too."

"I mean, Rebekkah made it sound like they've basically, like, eloped or something."

"I get the feeling Aimee would be a little upset about that," intones Bonnie in a manner that means she's indulging gossip.

"Oh my God!" gasps Caroline, and the tone of delight in her voice lets her know that Bonnie has just employed a sneaky best friend maneuver to distract her. Elena feels her cheeks burn. She really is the last person to have gotten that memo. "You see it, too! Okay, so I know I'm not crazy now."

With that she creeps away as carefully as possible, because hearing your two best friends unknowingly discuss their juicy predictions of your love life can be pretty horrific.

She stays in the wing they're all housed in, but wanders for a bit, studies some of the ancient artifacts that are so casually let around the halls, finally stepping out to the small balcony on the fourth floor to rest for a moment. The small area is sheltered between two of the curved towers, and provides a shaded spot to take a breath of fresh air. She leans against the flagstone railing's gentle curve and takes in the calmness of the landscape.

Winter here in Bulgaria is bitter and cold, but everything seems so still, poised for something. Elena closes her eyes and reaches out, a little, to touch the power that seems to be buzzing in the bare trees, in the movement of the water, in the air around her. Like her, nature seems to be at rest, but coiled and ready.

Feeling and being connected with nature has been one of the benefits of the Petrova Fire; much like a witch, she can sense the earth and the magic it contains underneath her feet, and has found a strange sense of peace in that. It's dull, compared to what the true servants of nature can feel – more infinitesimal when powerful witches like Bonnie and Mags are considered – but it's something to her, and she tries to respect it, remember it.

Caroline and Stefan.

It fits. It really does. They're both people capable of sweetness and genuine good. There were times even back when Elena was dating Stefan where she couldn't drag him out of a brooding mood (alright, she'll admit that was his default emotion), but Caroline would know just what to say to get him to smile, relax, and laugh a little. She remembers thinking that it was some weird coincidence that, for the last two months or so, they were always next to one another in pictures, that their smiles were a little brighter.

While she was initially a little shocked, she looks deep within herself now and can find no sign of jealousy hidden deep. It's just a change, she thinks, like seeing a new color of paint on the Gilbert house (that picture got sent by Matt, along with a picture of Jeremy a little more covered in paint than necessary). A little jarring, but it could be good.

Out of her peripheral vision, she catches movement to her left, and shifts her gaze to see Elijah standing at the paned glass windows of one of the adjacent towers. He is watching the path of some birds that are traveling across the overcast sky, his hands in his pockets, but seems to sense that he is being watched, and turns his head to seek the source. His alert, serious expression seems to dissipate slightly when he sees her.

Her own image reflects in the glass beside him, they give one another small smiles only half a second apart, and she's struck by how differently she reacts to the situation this time, so very different from the time in Spencer's apartment.

She pushes off of the banister and travels the small distance back inside and to the neighboring door, which Elijah is already opening for her. Like gravity, she finds herself needing his company, and while outwardly, he seems as polished and polite as ever, there's a light in his eyes, and as he closes the door he licks his lips and she finds she can't take her eyes off of the movement. She doesn't stray from the door, but finds herself leaning against it as he steps closer.

"I need to make that call," she says, but it's a half-hearted protest.

"Soon..what were you thinking, out there on the balcony?" he asks, voice a quiet caress with a note of amusement. "You looked peaceful, despite your thoughtfulness."

"Initially, I was just...I guess you could say I was um," she seems a little tongue-tied, because his deep brown eyes are growing hungry, he seems to be considering her lips as if they're art or something, and she finds herself unsure of how to phrase this now that she's suddenly hyper aware of her own mouth, "'feeling nature, I guess."

"I have always envied witches that ability."

"It's incredible, but it's a little different for me," she admits. "From what Maggie's told me, they can feel it but I...I feel like it's a part of me, I guess?"

This distracts him, causes him to actually think for a moment. "They're servants of nature, while you are nature, at least its creation," he muses. "From what I've read, the Dop-"

Instinctively, her hand flies to his lips and muffles his mouth before he can finish the word. As soon as her fingers touch his lips, he's caged her hand in is, and presses a kiss to the pads of her fingers before curling them shut. "Forgive me," he whispers, and steps back.

Elena has got to get herself under control. She didn't even notice until now what room she's in. It appears to be a small study; the half-circle that is the tower is entirely made up of glass windows that allow for a view of the river, and the austere writing desk (crammed with books and paper both old and new – and she spies a laptop underneath some of the mess) is positioned so that the person seated at it can take in the view. To her left is a small chaise lounge and stacks of books that haven't made it to the bookshelves on the wall – he's quite the reader, and that similarity in them makes her smile. The last two years have lacked the hectic pace of Mystic Falls so much that she's been able to take up reading for leisure again, and it's a happy coincidence to find a fellow bookworm in Elijah.

"Can we talk in here?" she asks, and only as he looks around at the state of the room does he seem to be embarrassed at its lived-in state. "Is this where you've been sleeping?" she asks, incredulous.

"Vampire or not, even my back would not be able to tolerate that chaise lounge for sleep," he answers, shaking his head. "No, but I have been using the guest room beside this, as it allows for me to easily return to my readings a I wish; I've just been continuing to go through some old translations, to ensure we aren't missing anything."

He gestures for her to proceed him out of the room, and on their way out, he retrieves a small wooden box from a shelf. He directs her to the adjacent door, and they enter.

It's another bedroom, not as sumptuously decorated as the LaFortes, nowhere near as decadent as his actual bedroom, but expenses were not a consideration when setting this room up, either. Despite the early morning light, he flicks on the electric lights and as he walks to the curtains. "There's sage in the box, if you would be so kind," he says over his shoulder as he draws the velvet window hangings.

Sage lit, a fire started in the hearth (both kindled by Elena's magic), they settle on the leather loveseat, closer than necessary.

"You were saying," she prompts, jestingly, and they both cannot help but shyly smile a little, two sets of cheeks flushing.

Even if this is a temporary respite, even if they leave the room shortly and act as if this intimacy, this fondness, has not been demonstrated, she thinks she can handle all of this. She might even come to need it.

"I was starting to say, before you correctly stopped me, that I had read that Doppelgangers are considered to be nature's answer to the need for balance. It's trivial, but I found it suiting...dark and light, gentle and strong..." he trails off as he shifts on the loveseat, draping an arm over the back as he relaxes. "What else is on your mind?"

"I overheard Caroline talking with Bonnie...apparently she's dating Stefan now, and I'm not upset about that at all," she adds quickly. "I'm actually really happy. It explains why your brother finally understood she was serious about turning him down, I guess."

It was like hitting a switch. Despite their physical proximity, there's a sudden distance between them. There's nothing jealous about his reaction, just... respectful?

"Stefan Salvatore has proven that even under my brother's compulsion, he'll try is best to hold his own against an Original if it comes to matters of the heart; I would not count on my brother remembering this if his jealousy flares, but it will be considered." He swallows, and if it weren't for the fact that he's clearly upset, it would be engrossing. He continues solemnly, "As for Damon, if you-"

"Stop," she breathes, closing her eyes even as he instantly obeys her command. "It's not like that at all. Yes, I care about Damon," she says, unafraid of saying the truth, "I care about both of the Salvatores, but I don't care for them."

'Like I care about you' is obvious but not being said. It takes him a moment to find his voice, and when he does, it's a nearly silent thing. "Subtle difference," he observes, and there's relief in his words.

"But an important one...They may have played a part in the events that have made me who I am now, but I don't know if I could have kept trying to be what they wanted; it was different with each of them but it was like they were looking for something from me, without even realizing it, like they wanted me fix them, or something." She sighs. "And seeing them fight like that, when I knew how much they cared about each other...that wasn't a future, and that wasn't right, me stepping between them like that."

As she speaks she can see him relax once more.

"You have no idea what reserve it took, to not say something to you, back then," he says. "It was unfair of either of them to expect you to play savior for the Salvatores, even if it the desire was unintentional."

She moves on the seat to face him, and close the space between them. "Their presence doesn't change this," she promises him. And she means it. Neither are usually careless with their words, but between the two of them, their speech always carries weight. "I may have to say things to your brother on the phone about them, but know that, please."

She's afraid of what will happen when she makes this phone call to Klaus, fearful of what else she will discover he's done to ensure her compliance. She knows Elijah hears the increase of her heart rate, and she feels her eyes sting with tears.

"Elena." She'll never grow tired of the way he says her name; no one else says it the way he does, in the manner he does.

"Will you stay with me, while I do this?" He nods, and she gives him a watery, appreciative smile.

She can't let Maggie know how fearful she is, nor Bree, because they'll see it as weakness, and doubt her. Caroline and Bonnie are off limits as confidantes, and even then, she wouldn't want them to worry. But with Elijah, she allows herself to let go of some of that control a little.

"I'm scared," she whispers, knowing all the while that he understands she means multiple things when she says it.

"You're the strongest woman I know, Elena; courage and compassion go hand in hand, and you have both to spare," he replies back, in a matched, hushed tone. He doesn't try to offer her an out, nor does he offer to take care of everything; he respects her part in all of this and is trying to support her. He wipes at the tear that's started to spill down her cheek. "It's one of the many things I admire in you."

"I'm not brave, I'm petrified of what he could do to the people I care about."

He's solemn, sober, just what she needs. "But will you go through with this?"

She can't help but sniff and balk. "Of course."

"Despite your fears you do what you think is right," he murmurs as he draws closer, and she knows he will kiss her, and she knows she will draw strength from it, the kind she needs to make the call, to bring herself fully into this fight. "That, my lovely Elena, is the true definition of courage."

As she predicted, they kiss, and she tries to drink in the composure that he wears like a shield; as she predicted, she pulls back, and after a moment where she tries to get herself ready, she pulls out the phone, powers it on, and while holding onto Elijah's hand, dials Klaus' number.

He picks up on the first ring.

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