05: Deceptions

[The Abattoir, French Quarter, New Orleans. January 6th, 2020. 5:45 pm]

Bella hadn’t ever experienced Mardi Gras, and Kol was determined to give her the full experience, so she agreed to spend the winter in New Orleans. It wasn’t that cold; it was bearable and on some days she didn’t even need a coat. On top of that, it felt good to be home again and to be stationary for a couple of months.

She also liked it that Nina, their daughter, was doing so well. She was almost a year and a half old, and she was very easy going. Especially when it came to traveling. She didn’t cry on planes and slept mostly through it all. After Nina was born, the entire family came to Helsinki to meet her while Bella recovered, and Klaus actually cried when she and Kol told him that they named their daughter after him.

Now that they were in New Orleans, Klaus was the doting uncle, giving Bella and Kol some time to themselves. Kol had bought them a matching outfits with gold and white and smirked when he saw Bella dressed in the outfit. While he wore pants, he made sure she was in a skirt, and she didn’t like it at all, the look on her face said everything.

“I hate you.”

“Oh come on, Cuddles, it’s fun! We’re matching now, and you look gorgeous,” he took her hand and kissed it before pulling her out of the room.

“Look, Nina, it’s your mum and dad going out on their date,” Klaus said as he smiled at the toddler and gently took her arm to wave at her parents. “By the time they come back, you’ll be peacefully asleep, but maybe they’ll continue the fun in bed, and you could end up with another sibling.”

Bella looked at Kol and shook her head. “Please tell me that your brother didn’t just say that.”

“He did,” Kol snorted as Bella let go of his hand and walked to Klaus to give their daughter a cuddle before leaving. “Don’t break her, Nik, Bella will break you if you will.”

“I have more experience with small children than you have, Kol. Hope’s doing fine, isn’t she?”

“Uncle Klaus is the best nanny there is,” Bella said as she caressed Nina’s head.

“I’m not a nanny.”

“Yes, you are,” Bella grinned as she ruffled Klaus’ hair. “But seriously, drop her and I will kill you.”

Nina giggled. “Unun trouble.” Unun was the name she had started to use for Klaus, and Klaus had found it the most endearing thing in the whole wide world.

“Go on your date, mum,” Klaus said as he turned Nina away from her. “We’ll be fine.”

Bella let out a slight whine when Kol started to gently pull her away from Klaus and the baby and headed outside. The streets were filled with celebrating people. Kol expertly guided her through the traffic on St. Phillip Street to join similarly dressed revelers to wait for the parade at the end of the street at the Joan of Arc Monument.

“Today marks the first day of the carnival season which leads all the way up to Mardi Gras on February 25th,” Kol said as he handed her a glass of wine. “So for the next couple of weeks, there will be a lot of parades through New Orleans, more parties, balls, and general celebration organized by various krewes or factions in the city. As Niklaus insisted on celebrating our marriage from the day we wed to the day of Mardi Gras, I’m quite confident he’ll arrange a formal ball of some sort or has Rebekah do it.”

Bella groaned upon hearing the words again. ‘Celebrate’ and ‘marriage.’ Yes, she had agreed to marry Kol. There was no doubt that she wanted to marry him because she loved him and wouldn’t want to miss his company. When she and Kol talked to Klaus about it, Klaus’ smile grew wider and wider and for a moment Bella had thought the man had turned into the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Klaus thought he had a great idea. No, not great, a brilliant idea. The wedding itself was going to be on the date that Kol and Bella had picked out for its quirkiness, February 20th, 2020, and the days following would be a celebration of their union. Bella didn’t like the idea very much, mostly because Klaus made it clear that those days leading up to Mardi Gras would be all about her and Kol. But, once it was clear that Klaus’ enthusiasm was genuine, she decided to let it happen to make him happy.

Klaus had various reasons for his idea. One being that the Mikaelson family used to throw balls all the time and the last time they did that was when they were in Mystic Falls, after reuniting with their mother many years ago. The second one being that the Original family were royalty, or at least treated as such because they were the Original vampires. Bella was going to marry a nobleman, and his union needed to be celebrated. Another one being that Bella herself was royalty; witch royalty for that matter and the union of two very powerful witches needed to be honored.

The more he came up with reasons, the more Bella was willing to just let him have those days and play along. Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah and even Kol, had lived for so many years that if a small thing as getting married got them excited, she’d let them have it. On top of that, it meant that she could have her parents in town for a week, and she’d love for them to spend some time with their granddaughter. But she couldn’t remember if she’d ever told them about Nina. She was going to be in so much trouble!

“Today, also marks the birth of Joan of Arc and that’s why we’re at the monument while we wait for the parade in her honor to come and pay their respects.”

“That’s so cool,” she smiled up at him.

“And in the meantime, we listen to some good music, dance a little, drink… have fun,” he said as he kissed her tenderly. “Kiss and maybe have sex in an alley…”

“Oh, no to the sex in an alley.”

Kol eyed her curiously. “I thought you’d say ‘no’ to the dancing.”

“Well, if I’d say no to the dancing, we’d definitely have slunk off to the nearest alley and had sex like we usually do when we’re in a crowd of people, drinking and having fun,” she said as-a-matter-of-factly. “But we’re home now. What if we get caught?”

“The more, the merrier,” Kol grinned, earning him getting elbowed in the chest.

[City of the Dead, LaFayette Cemetery 1, New Orleans. January 12th, 2020. 1:30 pm]

Davina had been a regent to the witches of New Orleans for almost eight years, and it took Bella and Kol that long to hear Klaus complain about how the young girl was handling things. Klaus ranted on about how the witches should never have agreed to have such a young regent, especially Davina, as, according to him, she was power hungry.

She had put up several barriers all over New Orleans to keep the vampires from entering buildings, the most important ones being the brothels and Klaus thought that was utterly indecent of her. His vampires loved visiting a brothel to let some steam off and snack a little without harming the woman they choose to spend their time with and he didn’t like his vampires being antsy. Davina didn’t like Klaus much so she didn’t talk to him, and he had sent Marcel over to keep an eye on her.

Kol remarked that it looked like Klaus had everything under control, but when Klaus gave him the stinkeye, he shrugged and offered that he and Bella would take a look to see what’s going on. Maybe even have Davina meet Nina, and Klaus wasn’t too happy about that. “What if the witch decides to kill her?” That reaction caused Bella to strap herself into the back harness, bundle up the toddler and had Kol help her strap the toddler in. All the while as Bella looked at Klaus, daring him to take away her baby from her.

It was slightly cold when they left the compound and Bella was glad that she had bundled Nina up. She and Kol didn’t really had a use for a stroller as they had been traveling all the time with the baby after a month of rest after her birth. A stroller didn’t really fit into the category of ‘light travel’. Klaus had bought them one for usage in New Orleans, but Bella didn’t like it. Nina was too far away from her or Kol, and it didn’t really feel safe.

Once Nina was going to be able to walk for longer stretches, they were going to allow her to walk a bit more. But for now, their little princess could watch the world from a height and learn more. “What’s that, Nina?” Bella pointed at one of the horses of the horse-drawn carriage that passed them on the way to the cemetery. The toddler responded by mimicking a horse’s whinny, and it was the cutest thing ever.

“No matter what everyone else says,” Kol laughed as he looked at his daughter blowing bubbles with her mouth. “She’s the cutest.”

“Ah, well, you know what they say, beware of the nice ones.”

“I thought that was the silent ones?”

“Both,” she smiled at him and started to jump a little, causing Nina to laugh out loud. “Isn’t that right, Nina?”

“Yeah!” the toddler kept laughing as Bella kept hopping from time to time on their way to the cemetery. On their way, Nina was happily talking to herself as she looked around.

“To be honest, I think Nik is overreacting. If he wants his vampires to be able to visit a brothel, why not start one himself?” Kol said with a shrug as they turned a corner. “I’m sure there are plenty of girls he could compel to work for him.”

“Uhuh. Easy like that.”

Kol was quiet for a moment as he thought about the situation and shrugged. “Then again, if he doesn’t want to face your wrath, Davina has to put those barriers down.”

“We’re just going to check up on her, nothing more. Maybe ask for one accessible brothel to start with, Klaus’ vampires do need a place to let off steam if she doesn’t want any trouble,” Bella said as she looked at Kol. “Surely she didn’t let all that power go to her head?”

He sucked in a breath before sighing. “I don’t know, Cuddles. She did have a tendency for that, a hunger for more power. She might be even willing to take down Nik for being the asshole that he is, but he’s used to having witchy problems by now.”

Bella slowly nodded. She had seen that look on Davina’s face when she ascended to Regent, both she and Kol were present to watch it happen. Davina has made a promise that the witches were eventually going to rule New Orleans and stand against the vampires, but it was much better to keep the peace between all factions. It was going so well, and if Davina decided to go to war, she’d be the cause of many casualties.

“She has a lot to be angry about. The harvest, for one, Nik killing her once… Marcel’s loyalty towards my brother… the death of several of her coven members, her friends…”

“I know.”

“Since we’ll be heading towards the City of the Dead, I want to put a spell on her ancestor’s crypt that you and I have been using and Davina’s able to walk in freely. Surely the both of us are strong enough to remove the original spell and, or, cast a better spell that suits our needs.”

She nodded as there were simply too many powerful objects hidden in that crypt and if Davina was truly on a power trip, she could use it all to her advantage and create a lot of harm. Even Bella was impressed by Kol’s collection, but at least she respected its power, respected her own power, never using her powers to the fullest. “I think that’s a good idea.”

“It might piss her off some, but it’s the most secure place there is for my, our, things. Denying her access to it will be a decent thing to do.”

“I know,” she smiled up at him. “I agree with you, haven’t you noticed?”

“Oh,” he said sheepishly. “No, I haven’t. I thought you and Davina were as thick as thieves.”

Bella huffed. “Hardly. I only put up with her because of you and because she’s a good witch, she taught me a lot. I don’t like her pushiness.”

Upon arrival at the cemetery, they immediately headed towards the crypt. “You know, maybe we should build our own crypt. This one is a Claire crypt, don’t fancy to be buried here,” Kol said as he walked into the building to inspect its contents while Bella stayed outside with Nina. Oddly enough, things looked seemingly untouched since the last time he was in there.

“Yeah, let’s not think about that yet, huh?” Bella said as she handed Nina a piece of breadstick for her to munch on – and probably drool all over her hair, but that’s what it meant being a mom. Being a walking and talking napkin. “So, did you have a spell in mind?”

They cast the spell, and after Kol was sufficiently happy with their protection of his belongings, they continued to walk towards Davina. She had made her place in a different crypt, as Klaus had told them. Nina was entertaining herself by randomly letting out cries, hearing it sometimes echo back to her, and Bella could feel her excitement in the wobbling that she did.

“Easy,” Bella said with a smile in her voice. “Don’t break mommy’s back.”

“Do! Do! Do!” Nina squealed before Kol got her out of her sling and put her down on two feet. “Walk!” She said proudly, grabbing Kol’s fingers and followed them on their way to Davina. “Walk, see?”

“We can see you,” Bella smiled as she looped her arm through Kol’s free one and sighed happily. She hadn’t been happy with her unexpected pregnancy at first, but she found that she was a natural at being a mother. Sure, she would make a mistake sometimes, but her and Kol’s child was a happy one.

“Kol? Bella? Oh my god!” Davina squealed as she ran to them and moved in for a hug with Kol, but bounced back from an invisible shield, which landed her flat on her ass instead. Nina thought that was hilarious and started to giggle as she moved behind Kol’s legs. Davina scowled as she looked up to Bella.

Would Bella have let Davina hug Kol? Sure, why not? But the way she came at him and apparently not minding the toddler, she had to do something. “Use your eyes before you use your impulses, Davina.”

“Yeah well, it’s nice to see you too,” she remarked as she got up, still oblivious to the small child that accompanied her friends. “How long are you in town for?”

“Davina, we’ve been in New Orleans for nearly two months now,” Kol smiled at her as he lifted up Nina.

“Then why didn’t you come to see me sooner?” Davina’s eyes grew big at the sight of the little girl. “You had a baby? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“We did,” Bella said as she eyed the young woman. “We sent you a card and we called you, did you forget?”

“Oh, yeah, of course,” Davina let out a huff. “I’ve been just so busy, you know.”

“Are you alright, Davina?” Kol handed Nina to Bella and much to Bella’s dismay, put an arm around Davina as he started to lead her away from Bella.

Sighing, Bella sat down on the steps and put Nina down on the ground. “Want to play a game while the grown-ups talk?”

“Game!”

Kol and Davina returned after half an hour. Bella’s mood had turned sour and even though she had nothing to be angry about, she felt a pang of jealousy. Kol and Davina used to date even if the love they had once had got erased by the ancestors as a punishment, it didn’t mean it could flare up again. She hated herself for thinking like this. Kol was hers, they were going to get married. She had nothing to worry about.

“Thanks, Davina,” Kol said as he smiled at her. “I’m sure my brother will appreciate the gesture.”

Davina huffed. “I’m not doing this for him, you know. I want to keep the people of New Orleans safe, just like you.”

Nina wrapped her arms around Bella and hugged her tightly before whispering ‘No like’ in her ear. Bella smiled instead as she got to her feet and lifted Nina up. “Nina needs a nap, Kol.”

“Yeah, we’re leaving, Cuddles.” He squeezed Davina’s arm as he kept that fake smile of his plastered across his face. “We’ll be in town for at least another month. If there’s anything we can help you with, you’ll let us know, yeah?”

“Of course,” Davina smiled. “I’m so glad you’re staying.”

“Until Spring, at least.”

“Good,” Davina nodded. “Tell Klaus that his vampires are free to go to any of the brothels by tomorrow, I’ll be dropping the spells later tonight.” She then jumped in excitement as if she remembered something. “We’re hosting a ball next week. We’re parading through the French Quarter first, doing ‘illusions’ and then continue our party in one of the plantation houses owned by a leader of one of the covens. You should come. Should be fun.”

“We’ll think about it, thank you for inviting us.” He walked over to Bella and put an arm around her. “See you around, Davina, don’t be a stranger,” and with that, he started to lead them away from Davina and out of the cemetery.

[Accessing current feeds]

[Highway 60. Richmond, VA to Mystic Falls, VA. January 20th, 2311. 6:01 pm.]

Sam quietly looked over to Bella, who seemed slightly paler than when she left her at the station this morning. She smelled different too, but couldn’t quite put her finger on it what was going on. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Bella said, letting out a breath as she looked out of the window. “Slightly tired, I guess. Surprised by everything that has changed, especially the mentality.”

“I suppose,” she replied as she kept her eyes on the road. Even with the car driving itself, she was still hesitant to completely trust the tech. “But isn’t that always? Things gradually change.”

“Gradually, yes. For me it’s quite the culture shock,” Bella let out a small chuckle. “I caught myself demanding their respect in the same way Klaus does when he’s in a situation where he feels uncomfortable. It was… trippy.”

“How so? The way that I see it, you are allowed to demand respect when people are disrespectful. You’re a Mikaelson. Well, married to one. You’re the reason those witches even exist. They should respect you.”

“Maybe, but that’s not me, really. I only did it because they treated me as if I was their property because they resurrected me, that they should have a say in how I’m going to help them.”

Sam let out a snort. “Yeah, that never goes well and yet everyone keeps making the same mistake. So, what’s in the bag?”

“Everything they know about the spell that was cast over New Orleans to keep you out. All the information was on the chip in their heads, so I had them all write it down while I went running a quick errand with Mandy.”

“Is that the one who found you in the hand-written books?” When Bella nodded, Sam smiled. “She seems nice, a bright one.”

“And honest. At least with her I didn’t get the feeling that she was hiding something from me. The energy coming off my kin, however, was not a pleasant one.”

Sam raised her eyebrow at that as she thought of the words Bella had spoken. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to allow her to go back into New Orleans by herself. Surely they could have lured one of those witches out to Mystic Falls instead? “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know if I completely understand it either. The way that I understood it was that there are two kinds of people, or three or whatever, but, in this case, let’s keep it at two. There are the ones who choose to have a chip implanted in their brains with all the information they need and get regular updates if something new comes, so it’s readily available…”

“I know. It’s like the internet but then in your head and without the social aspect. For a while, Klaus and I thought about getting one ourselves, but it’s technology. Things can go so wrong with technology, it’s scary. Sure, there’s this thing called progress, but technology is fallible. The software can be hacked,” Sam sounded as if she was speaking from experience, so Bella let her talk. “When we really need to know something that can’t be found in old-fashioned books, we have different means to acquire that knowledge without our brains getting turned into goo.”

“Not to mention your long lives, things could change again.”

“Exactly.”

“Well, apparently, somewhere in the last few generations, the Mikaelsons have lost their brains because they gave into the chip. There is, well, was, a dormant one inside my head. Mandy took care of it with an EM pulse. Her family was smart and kept relying on books.”

“Are you sure it’s dormant?”

“Don’t EM pulses do that to technology?”

“Sure, but that was 300 years ago. Can I ask a friend to make sure? She doesn’t even need to see you, she can determine it all on her own.”

Bella had shrugged before she nodded in approval. “The thing that bugs me though, is the way the others reacted when Mandy said what she’d done. That if the chip still worked, they would have been able to control me because there’s not a lot of time. Now that they can’t do that, they’re afraid I won’t be able to help them in time.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Beats me.”

[Mystic Falls, VA. Former Salvatore Boarding House. January 20th, 2311. 9:21 pm.]

Sam had the device in her hand as she watched Kol rejoin them in the living room. Since cellphones were severely out of fashion and video calling was the way to deal with phone calls these days, she carried around a small sized computer for her to communicate with the Machine and the Machine only. “The good news is is that that witch spoke the truth. The chip that’s in her skull doesn’t work and can’t be reactivated.”

In the beginning, Kol had been surprised by where Sam and Klaus got their information from, curious. He even tried to figure it out because the information they received from their ‘friend’ was always accurate, but eventually gave up. Maybe it was best not to know. Some things were better left to be a mystery, and he learned to trust whatever information their friend gave to them.

It saddened him that Bella came back feeling worse for wear, that she wasn’t still quite alright. He remembered that he didn’t have any problem when he woke in Kaleb’s body. Maybe it was because Esther had cast the spell to put him in there instead of a handful of youthful witches who got their spells from quite possibly faulty information inside their heads, and that made him angry. He was going to kill them. Why try pulling off a spell of this magnitude and fail at it?

Scowling, he opened Bella’s bag and started to read in the first notebook. He may be a vampire now, but he had been a witch, and his knowledge was still extensive. He could help her with the spell if needed.

“Have you requested her help with keeping an eye on those witches, Sameen?” Klaus asked his mate as he set a glass of bourbon down next to his brother as he seemed to be trying to stop himself from slaughtering people. “Both sides?”

“Of course, and most of the information the Mikaelson witches had given me was correct. The Bennett witches have driven them out of New Orleans, across the river. The Regent is still in the City of the Dead,” Sam said as she was reading off her screen. “As for the werewolves… they’ve taken most of the French Quarter. By our friend’s instinct, she thinks that the witches will be next.”

“I’m still surprised by the fact that your friend, quite likely a witch, seer, maybe, hasn’t gone on a power trip yet,” Kol remarked as he flipped through the notebook. He was amazed by how much there was in just this one, details on the spell that was created to keep the vampires out. He grabbed another notebook to compare and see if things were being left out.

“Our friend is…” she wanted to say ‘incorruptible’ but would that give too much away? “Let’s just say that she’s proven herself in the past, and I have learned to trust her. Sure, she can make a mistake once or twice, but that rarely happens these days with all of her resources.”

“Does she have the chip?”

“No, but she has access to it.”

“Hmm,” Kol said with a nod, grabbing the next notebook as he sat down on the ground and then decided just to spread them all out. On the surface, it looked as if everything was written the same, but each notebook had tiny details added or missing. This was going to be a headache. He quickly got up and looked for a pen and fresh sheets of paper to start figuring this out. If he could do this for Bella, she’d have a much easier time. “I think we need a bigger army.”

“That can be arranged,” Klaus smirked as he sat back in his chair. “Anything of use in there?”

“I’m not sure yet, Nik, I’ve only started looking but if I’m correct, we need a bigger army. Bella needs to drop the spell, and we need to take back our home, if the wolves are that far into the French Quarter, we need a bigger army. Bella can protect our home once we get her there.”

“I see snacks in the near future,” he replied as he took a sip of his bourbon with an amused smile on his face. This was going to be good, the thrill of a fight was addictive, and this time, Bella was not going to hold them back because they needed the numbers. Oh yes, rebelling sounded quite good right now.

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