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Fic: Your Honor (14/20)

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

The basement has a lingering chill; it gradually clings to them as they start to descend the old stone steps. The overhead, harsh lighting is the kind found more often in garages and seems at odds with the ancient foundations of the manor, and their entrance is announced by the sound of their feet scraping along the steps.

She feels like an intruder when she sees Caroline and Stefan; they're pressed as close as the bars will allow, and Elena can see Stefan's daylight ring in Caroline's opened palm. Her cheeks are tear-stained but the devotion and fear in her eyes...it's mirrored in Stefan's. While Caroline turns her face away from Elena's view, Stefan looks up at the two strangers.

"I'm sorry, we didn't mean to interrupt," says Elena with an embarrassed expression, "we were just-"

"Oh no, come on down. These two have had no regard for the fact that I'm in here, too. The more the merrier." Damon's voice is loud and facetiously cheerful.

Bonnie, seated on the bottom step, sighs heavily.

Damon is seated in the far corner of his cell, as far away from Stefan and Caroline as he can be in the small cell, his back in the corner on the narrow cot. Elena feels herself starting to be riled by his mood – she'd learned to prepare herself for this sort of behavior, because it took a quick tongue and a tougher skin to handle him – but tries not to let it show.

"We can come back later," she addresses Stefan and Caroline, apologetic, distant, and polite; the blond vampire has sniffed and wiped at her face with failed discretion and has now pasted a smile on.

"It's...it's okay, guys," she says. "Bonnie and I were just um, just leaving. Hope those blood bags are okay guys."

What follows are probably the most awkward and strained introductions made. Ever. Caroline picks herself off of the ground afterward, but it's still obvious she doesn't want to hold onto Stefan's ring. He picks up on the same thing.

Crossing his arms, and jutting his chin in its direction, he says, vaguely to Caroline (but still so tender and kind – there's so much care between them it makes her marvel): "Just please hold onto that for now, Care."

She nods, a little too vehemently, and when she goes to kiss the younger Salvatore brother, Damon loudly scoffs in his cell.

Caroline blurs past them, Bonnie following behind, and suddenly the four left in the basement are all shifting around, nervous, unsure.

"Maggie and I wanted to ask some questions of you," Elena explains. "And then we'll leave you be."

"Not sure how much we can tell you. We may have been compelled before the vervain," warns Stefan.

"It's worth a shot," Elena responds.

"Did you hear my brother? Compulsion?" There's rustling to their left and Damon appears at the bars of his cell. "That means we-"

"-I know what it means," snaps Elena, unable to stop the defensive retort. "And I also know what it looks and sounds like when a vampire tries to answer questions they've been compelled to not answer; the fact that you could tell me you were possibly compelled is a good sign you weren't."

She's now aware of the fact that her arms are crossed and her hip is jutted: typical 'Deal with Damon' stance for Elena Gilbert. She can't get caught up in that; it's usually more destructive than anything else, and she can't let on to them who she is. Particularly Damon.

She lets herself back down from a defiant glaring contest with Damon, tucks her hair behind her ear nervously, and bumps Maggie's shoulder with her own. "Go for it, Mags."

The Bennett girl, emboldened after a quick, reassuring look over at her friend, starts to ask them questions. Simple ones about her mother, about a woman who looks like her mother...any way she can think to ask them about Lucy.

Elena takes a stab at it but both brothers are drawing blanks. Elena and Maggie settle on the dirt floor between the two cells as it continues. Neither brother shows signs of being compelled to not talk about something, which is a good sign, but they won't know for certain until Elijah tries to break through the compulsion with his own questions.

Stefan explains that they were both overpowered by hybrids ('fuckin hybrids' enthuses Damon) in their home, and that it was Tyler, clearly compelled by Klaus, who had transported them to Europe. From there, they weren't sure of much, as that was when Klaus had them injected with vervain, but that's all they can remember.

They were disoriented, but they think they were kept in a bar (probably the Twilight fiasco, Elena thinks) in a basement, judging from the noise overhead, and the next thing they can fully remember was waking here in the basement.

As the conversation continues, Elena does pick up on something that bothers her though, and it's that Damon is restless; that's never a good thing. She can practically hear the gears clicking in his head as he tries to think of a plan to keep her safe – Bonnie's presence in the house is probably now known to him from conversation with Caroline. It will only be a matter of time before he's scheming away and risking his life and that of anyone else he thinks might help save her.

He'd always choose her, and that's the problem. There could be times where that isn't the right choice.

When it's obvious that Maggie has grown frustrated by their lack of help, and there's a glimmer of impish light in Damon's eyes that signals he only has to push a few buttons to possibly trigger a reaction from the witch (a way to test her and her power, she knows), Elena says that it's time to head back up.

She has Maggie proceed ahead of her. Damon likes to have the last word, and she'd rather be the one to hear it; knowing her luck, he'd ask Maggie to turn herself over to Klaus in exchange for Elena's safety.

"Aimee," he calls, and she turns back around, still on the stairs. Stefan is shooting his brother a admonitory look, which he ignores.

"Experience or not, this is Klaus we're talking about. The hybrid Original. He's not your farm variety vampire, alright? Bennett or not, if he wants your friend, he'll take her."

"I'm sure she knows his intentions, Damon," Stefan says quickly, trying to mediate.

"Whether she knows it or not, she's a kid. Caroline said she can't really control her powers unless it comes to setting people on fire – fun trick, by the way – but he's smarter than you, and he's more evil than you could possibly imagine."

Elena walks back down the few steps she'd previously climbed. She knows why he's doing this; he's trying to plant that seed of doubt in their minds, possibly to help to overturn their confidence that they can win against Klaus. Struggling but failing in a fight against Klaus or any of those he employs to take Maggie would be the perfect distraction to allow for Damon to try to do something to save her.

"Whose side are you on?" she asks, exasperated.

"Elena's," he responds quickly.

"Well, I'm on Maggie's side and really, at the end of the day, we're all against Klaus," she counters. "Whether you have faith in my ability to protect Maggie or not doesn't really matter."

She gives Stefan a small wave and a little smile; when he's not a ripper he's fairly evenly tempered, and she can appreciate that right now. "I think Elijah said he'd be down to check on you two later. Enjoy your lunch."

She's almost to the top step when Damon shouts "You're out of your depth!" after her.

No, she thinks, as she closes the door with a little more force than necessary, I'm finally back in it, and better equipped this time around.

Lunch won't be served for another hour or so, and a quick check of the rooms reveals that they're both empty. Maggie left a note on Elena's door stating that she was visiting on the Krall's side to help with lunch (Mr. Krall's son is in his early 20s and studies archeology at a local university – the fact that he's well-built probably didn't escape Maggie's eye either). Bree is not in her room (they need those wipe erase boards people use in college, Elena thinks), but when she passes the library, she finds her nose-deep in old books, and her laptop beside her where she sits on the floor.

She returns to her room, thinking that going through her weapons bag will be a good way to deal with the leftover frustration from her interactions in the basement. Making sure they are ready for later, when she plans on showing Maggie how to use some of them seems like a great idea (she totally knows she lying to herself – they're pristine and in perfectly working order, save for the tricky safety on the one crossbow).

Her familiarity with the weapons should be upsetting – truth be told, until being taught by Alaric how to handle vampire hunting weapons, hunting equipment had always bothered her. Matt's father had left a great deal of hunting gear (old, battered, and broken things) behind, but when Matt was in his early teens, he took it upon himself to start fixing them up. It bothered her, when he started to excitedly talk about going into the woods with his mother's current boyfriend to practice shooting, but Mystic Fall's heavily established hunting community was something they'd all been exposed to from an early age. In their early days of dating, he'd invited her out into the woods with him, too. The deer's sudden collapse after being shot, and its stare, glassy-eyed, triggered Elena turning to the side and getting sick, and Matt never asked her to go hunting with him again. He continued to go, and was a good shot, she knew, but she never went again.

Elena removes a few telling items from the bag that Bonnie or Caroline might recognize, and stores them in the closet, hidden in the bottom of a cabinet. The rest she leaves in the duffel and places it beside the door. Really, worrying about them seeing the items isn't necessary; they're kind of on house arrest until this is over. Should Klaus or any of his lackeys see them at Elijah's, there would be suspicion.

With nothing else to do, she throws herself on the bed in a fit of immature pique and decides that it's time to think over what happened. Elijah probably heard that whole conversation in the basement, she knows. The fact that he wasn't waiting at the top of the stairs, or didn't intervene, is actually something she appreciates. Just because she's admitted to having feelings for him doesn't mean she suddenly can't handle things like this on her own.

When she left two years ago, she finally got to grieve the loss of her parents – all of them – and Jenna. While the three women had thought she was still just adjusting to being in their home, she'd really been allowing herself to cry, to be angry, to be sad...all the things she didn't have a chance to do before. At the end of all of it she felt better, felt a little healed, and had gained a better perspective.

What she went through, and what she had accomplished with that time, was something only she could do for herself. There were a few times at first where she wanted to just call Damon, or Stefan, or any of her friends – make them help her, take over and let her stay in that state of numb. Sorrow was something easy to drink in and drown.

One for sorrow...it reminds her of Damon and the crow that she'd seen when he first came back to Mystic Falls. To spend 145 years grieving seemed the worst sort of torture imaginable, now. He was miserable, but he wanted to be better...maybe that was what he saw in her. But now, more than ever, she knew she could not be the one to fix him, to save him. Maybe when this is done, she'd be able to talk to him about it.

She wasn't a savior for the Salvatores.

Elena's head hurts; thinking about this is complicated and necessary but she doesn't need to dwell, and it's time enough for lunch.

Maggie comes out of the kitchen, bright-eyed and flushed, and when Elena quips an eyebrow she mutters something about the oven being pretty hot, Elena can't help but roll her eyes and laugh. The girl is in high spirits and she's excited about working with Bonnie after lunch and Elena's work with her. Caroline is still slightly sullen, worried about her boyfriend in the basement, and quickly dismisses herself to go check on him.

A quick change into athletic clothes, and she and Maggie go out to the side of the garden on the inside of the fence; against a shed are some bales of hay. A quick search reveals some watering cans, and Elena stacks the bales and cans to resemble a very rectangular, very oddly-shaped, trio of people-like...things. Not her best work but she's got limited supplies for the moment.

When Elena announces that she wants to teach Maggie how to use the weapons that she's placed on a weather-worn patio table that was scrounged up by Mr. Krall, the Bennett witch looks at the equipment with the same anxiety Elena remembers feeling upon seeing Matt's restored gear. The only difference here is that Maggie already knows what type of damage she's capable of, so this shouldn't change her opinion of her too much.

The truth is, Elena is worried that if something happens to her, neither Lucy nor Bree will ever truly allow their daughter to learn how to protect herself. She needs to make sure Maggie knows how to use these weapons – things she's never touched before – in case something happens that keeps her from using her magic.

The decision to start with the crossbow is an easy one; it's one of the more hands-off pieces of equipment they have, and keeps Maggie at a safe distance away from an attacker. The knife and the vervain grenade can come later. It's all kind of going behind Bree and Lucy's backs, but they asked for their daughter to be protected, and this is a way of ensuring it.

The tutorial is quick, but thorough. Elena stresses that the safety stays on, until the last moment; while she never knew of one of her friends accidentally getting shot with one of the slender wooden stakes they use, it doesn't hurt to be cautious.

When Maggie starts to bring the crossbow up and drop her head to use the sight, Elena stops her. It's important she have a good sense of aim when seconds count, and when focusing on using the cross-hairs in the sight could cause her to be less than aware of her surroundings.

The uncertainty that Maggie is feeling is obvious in the drawn tension of her shoulders, every-so-slowly starting to creep upwards, and the lip that's being pulled between her teeth with increasing frequency. Elena sees the visible clouds of exhalation from her friend at intervals too far apart, and she realizes she needs to intervene.

"It's going to take time to learn, but you'll get it," Elena promises her. She takes the bow from the girl and demonstrates a good shot with barely a moment to account for wind.

"But your magic protects me," Maggie says, awkwardly as she watches; they never refer to it by its proper name around her, in case she gets curious enough to research it. "If I've got that, why would I need to know this?"

Elena pauses in the middle of trying to hand her the crossbow, her mouth open. "I'd feel better if you knew how to, okay? And I don't think my magic would protect your parents as well."

It feels manipulative, playing that card, but it's the truth and Maggie's so quick to react to the potentiality of harm to her parents that she forgets about her friend's suddenly apparent anxiety about the future. Eagerly, she takes the crossbow. Elena watches the girl's arms drop with the unfamiliar weight, and feels guilt, quick and clenching in her gut, as she understands what's she's teaching the girl.

She pushes it aside as they focus on the hay bales.

Maggie fires all of the stake-like arrows that they have into the hay bales, adjusting to the feel of the crossbow. By the end of the twelve or so shots, she's getting better, gaining some confidence. Despite Elena telling her otherwise, she keeps her arms locked, muscles far too tense, so that way she doesn't drop the proper angle she's finally achieved.

"Good!" Elena praises her, and jogs over to the target. The last four have sunk into the bales quite nicely. She turns to Maggie to show her this, Vanna White-style.

Maggie starts to give her an accomplished smile, but the sound of the kitchen door being opened draws her attention back to the house, her head turning with a jerk.

At that moment Elena realizes she's given Maggie the wrong crossbow, but then the arrow is already lodged in her abdomen before she can caution her to lower the thing.

The pain is delayed; shock at being shot, and also at being able to be shot, fortunately creates a numbness in her.

Again, and horribly, she hears the sound of Maggie's scream.

Elijah is suddenly in front of her, filling her vision, but she struggles to see around him to Maggie.

"She's fine," he says and the world is shifting.

"No, no she's not," she argues. If she can get shot, then Maggie can get shot...what happened to the Petrova Fire? She can't see around Elijah.

It's only evident that she's on the ground and leaning against a hay bale when she starts to puzzle out how he's leaning over to the degree that he is. He's on his knees, and he's got her sitting up with an arm braced around her back.

"Please?" he asks her, his eyes not leaving hers, but sounding breathless and she frowns for a second before understanding and nodding. The blood. His blood. He knows her thoughts on this but she's pretty sure she'll live as long as she's healed.

"Margaret, I need your help, quickly please," he calls, and Maggie stumbles over, her face the very image of horror.

"Aims, Aims I didn't mean to, I didn't listen-"

"After I start to feed her my blood, you need to pull the arrow out," he instructs. "Before that and she might bleed out. Do you understand, Margaret?"

"Y-yes. Yeah." Margaret forces herself to tear her eyes away from Elijah, stuck on what he was about to do, and pays attention to her job.

He bites neatly into his wrist and offers it to Elena, and for the first time in two years she tastes blood, thick and coppery and dark. The pain of the arrow being removed from her stomach is overpowered by just how quickly his blood heals – it must have something to do with how old he is.

Dropping the stake, Maggie's bloody hands wrap around one of Elena's and it's a sort of tether when for a brief second she's lightheaded. With her eyes closed, she follows the vampire's gentle instructions to breath, and does so slowly.

Only then does fear flood her system. If she can get shot, then the Petrova Fire might not be working...what if she exhausted it protecting Elijah? What if Maggie sits beside her now, exposed?

Despite his well-intentioned murmurs to relax, relaxation is the last thing on her mind.

The second she can, she's on her way to Bree to look for answers.

Next Chapter