A/N: HAPPY LABOR DAY EVERYONE!
Bella slept all day and most of the night. When she awoke, she was surprised to find the other side of the bed unslept in. She then realized her mistake; her new King had probably been observing her since the day she’d been taken. She still thought that being sold didn’t sound as bad or implausible – and he had seen that she hadn’t been making herself available, ready, for him.
She nearly tripped over her own feet in her haste to get to the bathroom to prepare. Rebekah had kindly donated a bag of toiletries with everything a woman needed and a handful of implements she didn’t know what they were for. Bella had been saving the blade – there was no doubt that it was blunt, for this occasion. She needed to be able to properly thank Klaus for everything. He was powerful; and so far he was good and kind. Kol spoke highly of him, as did Elijah, but not as flattering as Kol had done.
Bella opened the faucet of the shower, turning it to hot, and waited for it to be ready. It was the proper way of taking a shower. Hot to open the pores. Medium to shave, wash and rinse. Then cold for a good five minutes to finish. Bella always completed ten minutes, because she was a good girl. She grabbed the showerhead and started to spray the hot water all over her body, in every roll of fat on her body, underneath her breasts and inside her ‘hole’. Her anticipation had caused her body to turn sensitive so when she sprayed herself, she accidentally let out a vocal yelp.
Disgusted and angry with herself that she dared to make a sound, Bella opened the faucet even further, and hotter water came out of the showerhead. She had to pay for what she’d done. She would be very lucky if nobody heard her. She took a few big gulps of water, careful in not allowing it to sit on her tongue for too long and felt how the water burnt her throat. Good, she thought as she turned the water to mild. Despite her error, she still needed to get ready. She hooked the showerhead in place and started to take care of her hair. Once that was properly washed, she grabbed the bottle of shampoo again and put suds all over her legs and started shaving.
She had not expected the blade to be anything other than blunt and for a moment, she stared at her leg as the plasma mixed itself with the soap, only to snap her head up when she heard someone come in and then that same person letting out a gasp.
“Your leg!” Rebekah cried out as she pulled Bella from underneath the lukewarm shower and sat her down on the toilet to assess the damage. Cursing underneath her breath, Rebekah looked up to Bella, who had her eyes closed and bit her own finger to apply her blood directly to Bella’s wound. When it started to heal, she let out a relieved sigh. “There, all better,” she said as she helped Bella back underneath the shower. “It was just a tiny cut. Those blades are sharp. Please be careful when you use them, okay?”
A stunned Bella was nodding. Rebekah just smiled at her. “I think it’s progress that you’re finally using the contents of that bag. Good job. Keep it up.” Bella nodded again, and Rebekah excused herself from the bathroom so Bella could continue her routine. However, now that the cycle had been broken and that she had been touched before completion, she had to start all over again.
She had let herself go in the last two weeks. Sure, she had showered, but not as thorough as she had before. She had been in ‘vacation mode’ and had not taken any proper steps. She knew she should punish herself for that, but as her throat was still burning and she determined breakfast was going to be her punishment. She untangled her hair before drying it and doing it all over again. Satisfied by her cleanliness all over her body, she got into her clothes. She was supposed to make the rest of her body presentable for him as well, but she deserved more punishment, and some liked it when her hole was tight.
She had to admit, it was a little strange to wear clothes that fit her and were super comfortable. She almost looked like a normal person, on even ground with everyone else. It wasn’t even fair that other people were bringing her food, and she had let that happen. Now that Kol had shown her that there was nothing wrong or scary about the building, maybe she had to go and explore some. If this was to be her new home, she’d better know every corner, every room.
The Cullens never slept, but she couldn’t hear anything, so maybe these vampires did sleep. She was well aware that Kol was one, and it was likely that Rebekah was one as well. Different from her king – her former king – and his family. The biggest revelation had come when Kol introduced himself to her all these months ago; his touch has been warm.
She quietly opened the door and checked to see if she was truly the only one awake and stepped outside her room. She’d been afraid that alarms would have gone off, but nothing happened. To avoid waking anyone, she decided to explore downstairs first, because she knew the way down and knew what to expect.
She walked around the stairs when she came down to the bottom and listened on top of the stairs to the lower level. It was likely that the kitchen was there, and she could hear people laugh. It was best not to go there, she decided. What if someone would spot her? Wouldn’t be too bad but she didn’t know who might be around. What if she wasn’t supposed to be down there? She walked out toward the courtyard and breathed in the night air. It was close to sunrise; she could tell. When she looked up, she was surprised to see the moon shining down on her.
Smiling, she continued down one of the corridors. Bella didn’t bother with closed doors, but when there was an open door, she peeked inside. She tried to figure out how many people were in the building, how many workers there were and maybe more of the royalty. Or whatever the higher hierarchy might be calling themselves. There was certainly room for more. Did they just start or didn’t they need a lot of people to exist.
When the sun started to rise, she went back to her room. Elijah would come soon to bring her breakfast. It had been early for the last two weeks. What would have changed now? She’d ask him to show her the kitchens so she could make her own breakfast. If she was here permanently, she had to do everything herself. She wasn’t physically challenged or otherwise incapacitated and the more she did on her own, the more she could regulate things to be the best she could be.
Yes, she was her best if people would let her be.
She was on the stairs when the building shook, followed by some yelling and laughter coming up the stairs from the basement and she didn’t know how fast she had to get to her room. If they were part of the guard, she likely wasn’t off limits but her body was his to use first. Not that she would able to stop anyone from trying. It was what she was there for. But not before he had her first – unless his instructions would be something else.
She closed the door and sat down on the bed, trying to calm herself down from the excitement and waiting for Elijah to come. Her throat wasn’t hurting as much, maybe Elijah would bring her some tea, that would work too.
It wasn’t for several more hours that Rebekah came to the room, gently knocking before entering with a big smile on her face. “Good morning!” she greeted Bella, who simply stared back before smiling a little. “Let’s have breakfast. You, me, Elijah, Kol… Would you like that? To see us all together?”
Bella shrugged. She didn’t particularly liked to eat with other people, but she was famished after her rigorous cleaning routine and her skulking around. ‘Sorry for this morning,’ she mouthed to the vampire, who shrugged it off.
“I should have said it was a sharp one. Are you ready? You look great, Bella. I like your hair.”
Bella smiled shyly at Rebekah before following her out. Wasn’t she supposed to have breakfast with Klaus? Didn’t he say something like that yesterday? Maybe he had second thoughts; he hadn’t joined her in bed either. Was she supposed to have gone to his bed? That would be a good idea too. She pinched herself, hard, for thinking that even if she has her own room, it didn’t mean that she had to be in there for most of the time. She had to be in his. She’d been stupid.
Too scared to function, but that was going to change.
“Now, the table is too high for you to sit on your knees so you’re going to sit on a chair, just like the rest of us,” Rebekah said as they walked down the stairs. “And whatever happens, just stay seated, no harm will come to you.”
Bella felt slightly curious now. Where was Rebekah taking her? It appeared to be the room with the large table that she had seen that night; a dining room fit for a king and it was all dressed up for breakfast, smelling delicious. Her stomach betrayed her by letting out a noise. Another noise? She was slipping. She was going to drink hot tea and leave the good smelling food to be where it was. But surely, they wouldn’t have dinner there? Wouldn’t it in the kitchens?
“No, through here,” Rebekah said kindly as she gently nudged Bella’s back to get her to walk into the room. “We reserved you a seat right here,” she said, pointing at the chair at the end of the table. “That way you can see everything and it’s closest to the door should you want to hide, but please, don’t.”
Bella nodded. She wasn’t going to run; she wasn’t afraid, and she was going to have breakfast with Rebekah, Kol, and Elijah. No big deal. It was in a fancy room, but it was no big deal. She was allowed to be here because Rebekah took her. If she was going to be sent away, it was Rebekah’s fault. Not hers. But she still thought this was a bad idea.
She sat down on the chair and pulled her legs underneath her to get more comfortable, she didn’t like chairs much, not being used to using them.
“Oh, brilliant,” Kol’s voice sounded before she could see him. “Good morning, sister and good morning to you, Bella. Did you have a fun time skulking around the building this morning?”
Bella felt how the color drained from her face as she looked at him as if she was a deer caught in headlights.
“Don’t worry about it, I assume Elijah told you that you are allowed to walk through the building, and we encourage it,” he smiled at her and sat down next to her. “You look great, Bella. Those clothes look good on you. Much better than the clothes my sister had donated so generously.”
Rebekah huffed as she sat down opposite of her brother. “I have good taste, but Bella’s just so fragile, she could use a bit more meat on her bones! Those wretched Cullens kept her so unhealthy. She’s blossoming already.”
Bella blinked at what Rebekah was saying. Was she disrespecting her family? She narrowed her eyes on Rebekah and crossed her arms over her chest.
“See. She even has some attitude to her. I like her,” Rebekah smiled and winked.
‘They were good to this one,’ Bella mouthed. ‘Family. And you stole this one. They will come for this one.’
“And we will fight to keep you in ours. You’ll be stronger here, independent on your own, if I have anything to say about it. We girls have to stick together.”
‘This one is that. She’ll make her own food, She promises. This one can make you clothes.’
“Nonsense. You are part of our family now. We want you to share meals with us. Though I do wish, you would learn to use your voice. Us Mikaelsons are anything but meek and quiet. You are strong inside. You will fit in, in time.”
Bella was quiet for a moment as she thought about the words Rebekah had spoken. The family. Kol and Rebekah were part of the same family as Elijah. And they called each other brothers and sisters. Of course. She managed to grab hold of a piece of her skin and twisted it, not flinching at the impact. She was so stupid. So stupid. How could she be a good girl when she was stupid? They were all a family.
They had their hierarchy, and she had thought that Kol was like her, and that wasn’t the case. She treated him with so much disrespect! She pinched herself again. Now she had to drink two hot teas to burn her throat; previous punishments were still standing and not absolved.
Kol didn’t like the silence. Granted, Bella was silent, but her face had gone from animated to stone cold, silent. Even though she had seemed like a mindless drone sometimes back with the Cullens, he had learned to distinguish her facial expressions quite well. And this one was the one she put up whenever she had to deal with a beating or being forced to hurt herself while Edward watched.
Kol peered over the table and saw that she was twisting the little bit of skin on her leg. “Don’t,” he said kindly, putting his hand over hers. “Whatever you did, I’m sure it’s no big deal.”
She quickly withdrew her hands and folded them in her lap and looked at them. She was in so much trouble now.
“I liked hearing you yelp in the shower. What did you do this morning?” Kol smiled at her. “It was such a cute yelp.”
‘The water was hotter than expected. This one’s sorry.’
“No reason to apologize,” he said as he raised an eyebrow at her. “You want to yell and scream. By all means. Won’t be anything new around here.”
‘This one’s not allowed to make noise,’ she said, still looking at her hands. ‘She won’t make noise, even if you tell her she can because this one can’t.’
Rebekah huffed as she shook her head. “Well, that isn’t so here. I will figure out a way to get you to actually talk to us. I’m sure you have a lovely voice. Keeping silent is dandy but voicing yourself will make you stronger. Don’t let these boys railroad you into something you don’t want to do. Especially this troublemaker.”
Kol kept her eyes on her as Elijah walked in. She was currently distracted by Rebekah, but not for long. ‘This one doesn’t want anything,’ Bella mouthed.
Kol sighed, “You should.”
“Good morning,” Elijah said brightly. “How nice of you to join us, Bella,” he said as he sat down next to his brother. “You look stunning.”
Her body tensed and there it was again, a tiny hitch in her breath. Kol could see that she was forcing herself to stay. After all, that’s what Rebekah had told her to do but he was afraid that she’d hurt herself again.
“Niklaus will be with us shortly. He is waiting for Camille to arrive,” Elijah informed them.
At the mention of Klaus and Cami, Bella went rigid. She sat up straighter and her hands moved back to her thighs, ready to grab a piece of skin and pinch it. Kol put his hand over hers again and gently squeezed it, causing her eyes to flash up to meet his. “You’re okay,” he told her. “You’re safe.”
“Camille just wants to have some breakfast and see how you’re doing,” Elijah replied. “She’s a friend of the family, and she’s just as concerned about you as we are.”
She should be on the floor. If she was going to eat with the ones on top of the chain, she had to be on the floor. She shouldn’t be on even standing with them. Sure, she could see that the table was a bit higher off the floor than others, but she wouldn’t mind to settle for scraps. Or no food at all. Bella wiggled in her seat as she tried to unfold her legs from underneath her, ready to slide down the chair and onto the floor.
“Bella,” Kol murmured, shaking his head slightly. “You will share breakfast with us. At the table. Seated.”
Her breath caught in her chest as she gripped the arms of the chair tightly before relaxing somewhat. Kol had given her an order; it sounded the same as Rebekah’s. She was going to have breakfast, sitting on a chair with the Royals. She wasn’t sure she could do it, but she had to. She’d be on her best behavior, and that had to start now. It would start with not freaking out about what she’s been taught all her life, but adjust to the way her new leaders wanted her to be. She didn’t have to feel comfortable; she had to do what she was told.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be raised to be so passive and afraid of everything. And not being included!” Rebekah said as she poured Bella some tea. “You’re not less than us, Bella.”
That had Bella lunging for the tea, and she gulped it down in a fluid movement. She could feel it burn her throat, just like she wanted it to. Just like she had wanted the hot water to do for her, but it had worn off. She carefully placed the cup back down and looked at the three at the table. Were they shocked? Why?
“Oh my god, Bella!” Camille ran into the room and started to check her over. “Are you alright? Are you hurt?”
Bella just blankly blinked at her and when Cami didn’t let go of her chin, she shook her head. Why would she care? It was her punishment; Cami didn’t have anything to do with it.
“You will not do that to yourself again,” Rebekah said angrily, slicing open her hand with a knife and wanted to drop some blood in a cup for the girl to drink, but Klaus caught her hand and shook his head.
As much as he wanted Rebekah’s blood to repair the damage the tea must have caused, it had been either a compulsion or Bella’s own decision to down it as she had. It broke his heart, truly it did. He hurt for her, even when she didn’t show she was hurt.
Moving to kneel beside her chair, his eyes flickered over her form as he tried to detect any sense of injury on her. “Why did you drink that when it was still too hot?” He questioned gently.
‘This one was bad, many times over the course of the morning and the past weeks,’ she mouthed, looking down to her hands again, shivering under Klaus’ gaze. His eyes were warm, not cold, and it confused her.
He pursed his lips and tilted his head slightly. “And why would you say you were bad?” He asked curiously.
She took a deep breath and shook her head. She didn’t want to tell him, afraid that he’d be mad at her, but on the other hand, he didn’t appear to be angered, and he seemed to radiate warmth and acceptance. ‘This one wasn’t prepared for you for the length this one has been here. This one accidentally vocalized her pain at the hot shower this morning. This one’s stomach makes noise,’ she said, taking another deep breath before startling when Kol angrily shoved his chair out of the way and stormed out of the room. ‘This one angered Kol.’
Was it all bad, though, she wondered? They were acting as if all the things she had been taught, grown up with, was wrong. That things could be easier, but she didn’t dare to give in to her curiosity to try, because if that worked; it meant her whole life had been a lie.
‘I- this one should be punished?’ she cocked her head as she looked at Klaus, confusion written all over her face.
“If you desire a punishment for whatever reason, go to Elijah. I am sure he will take pleasure in lecturing you to death,” he smiled.
‘This one thinks you’ve made a mistake by stealing her. It doesn’t fit. I- feel bad.’ She winced when she could hear Kol smash something. ‘He should respect property, take it out on this one.’
“We don’t care for material things, Bella,” Klaus spoke kindly and gently squeezed her arm. “And change is hard, and I imagine it’s harder on you than we can ever imagine, but please, do not harm yourself when you think you’ve made a mistake. Let us enjoy breakfast. Kol informed me you liked the sugary breakfasts. Have you had a beignet before? It is usually a dessert, but they are very good for breakfasts as well.” He reached for the plate with the pastries and set them down on top of Bella’s empty plate.
Klaus got up and went to sit down in his chair when Kol breezed back in and sat down in his. He was still angry, but Klaus was certain that once breakfast was over, and Bella out of earshot, that he would tell him what was going on. Cami looked deep in thought as she was quietly buttering her toast. He liked taking his time with his victims to break them down and pull them apart but he found himself fascinated with discovering new, fragmented sides of Bella and an attempt to try and glue her back together. And with each new thing they learned, his desire for hunting this other faction of vampires down grew. They could not have disappeared like that, not in thin air, and he was going to rip them apart, limb from limb and use their appendages for kindle.
Of course, the girl wasn’t eating, but Klaus felt grateful that she at least drank the glass of orange juice that Kol set down in front of her. All Klaus wanted, was to compel her and erase all the years of bad instruction; because that’s what it was. They didn’t raise her, they instructed her. Cami had told him so; she had found snippets of her ‘behavioral therapy’ in the journal Kol had nicked a few days earlier. She had more to say, but then she ran into the room to make sure Bella was alright after drinking the hot tea without flinching.
He was going to make sure Bella would receive those pastries after breakfast. They were simply a delight and too good to pass up on, but for now, he enjoyed having her at his table. It made the food taste better, and she brightened up the room.
The thought stopped him cold as he held his glass to his lips. He sure as hell hoped that Cami found a reason for him to be so infatuated with her. This was getting ridiculous.