“The Cullens didn’t like children,” Cami said as they all sat in Klaus’ study. “In fact, all the human women in his cult were made barren so that there wouldn’t be any accidents. From an early age, Bella was taught not to make any noise as not to disturb the rest of the family. They had a rocky start. Babies simply don’t understand, but eventually they had found a way to keep her quiet.”
“Well that’s just harsh,” Rebekah said disgustedly. “Children are noisy; that’s the fun part about them.”
“There’s a mention where they taught her self-regulation. That if she broke the strict rules they had set for her, she’d either offer herself to the nearest person around to punish her or she’d do it in private. We saw a little bit of that during breakfast. Who knows what else she’s ever done to herself?”
“I’m more afraid of what they have done to her,” Elijah muttered, leaning against the mantle of the fireplace.
“There’s also an entry about thinking of things for her to learn to make her more obedient and willing. She used to be quite feisty, anger issues. Seems like they got that under control.”
“Oh, not entirely but it’s bubbling back to the surface,” Kol muttered, but a sense of pleasure hidden under his tone. “Sometimes you can just see the fire blaze in those eyes of hers. She just doesn’t act upon it.”
“It probably has something to do with the rules and enforcing them. Self-enforcing them. He even had a date marked where it said that it was the last time Bella had cried.”
Klaus had remained silent as everything was said, moving to look out the window. “They had never used compulsion on her?”
“Well, the supernatural aspect is more your cup of tea. But according to a witch I spoke, Cold Ones can’t compel, and the ones who could influence her in some way were locked up for treason.”
He frowned as he turned to eye her. “That doesn’t mean they had no allies of our kind. Nevermind that. Did you find anything else of importance in the journal that may help us now?”
“Bella started out as being a nuisance, a trade off with another group that had massive debts with Carlisle; then he turned her into a science project. With his ties to the medical community and somewhat in the supernatural, especially in Louisiana, he managed to acquire some rare blood.”
Kol let out a breath as he leaned back in his chair. “Why am I not liking the sound of where this is leading?”
“It turns out that indeed, Carlisle has made some vampire friends who weren’t Cold Ones, and he was afraid that upon them visiting, they’d turn her. With a little help from a witch, he managed to make her blood safe, to his standards,” Cami replied reluctantly. “I don’t know more; that was all in the journal when it comes to that particular kind of blood with great magical properties.”
“The only one that I can think of would come close would be Niklaus, but he hasn’t been in close contact with the Cullens himself in a very long time,” Elijah said thoughtfully.
“No, but about fifteen years ago I donated some of my blood to some witches for information about the curse,” Klaus said bitterly.
“Nik!” Rebekah sighed.
“What? How was I supposed to know that they’d pass it on to others!”
Elijah sighed as he moved to stand between the two, blocking their view of one another. “Enough. If this is true, then we need to find out just how they used the blood on the girl and how you two are linked.”
“Oh, I think we are all aware just how I am linked to her,” Klaus scoffed as he threw his hands up. “Question should be is how do we fix this?”
“The question is, can it be fixed?” Elijah pointed out. “Usually when your blood comes into play, things are irreversible, and-.”
“This is problematic,” Kol sighed as he got up from his chair and started to pace. “This is very problematic.”
Klaus growled under his breath as he turned his eyes to his brother. Recalling breakfast, he curled his fingers into a fist as he fought the urge to attack him. “Yes. Please elaborate on why you feel that way, Brother. And while you are at it, would you mind explaining what that display was at the table earlier?”
“I wouldn’t know how or where to start. I still think it’s best if you’d figure it out on your own.”
“Well pardon me but as we just discovered, it is likely I have been used and involved without my knowledge in whatever they have done to Bella! So talk!”
“Okay, here’s the problem. You have a strong connection to Bella. Whether or not she notices, I do not know. With your strong connection comes certain urges, do they not? I’ve heard you wank more often than you used to.”
“Oh bloody hell,” Klaus propelled himself towards him, ready to attack. “I’ll shove you in your box again-”
“Niklaus,” Elijah pulled his brother away from their younger brother and threw him back in his chair. “You wanted to hear it, let him speak.”
Shrugging his shoulders, he moved to pace the far length of the room, away from Camille and the others. “Hurry it up.”
“I can’t hurry things along without proper explaining, Nik,” Kol spat. “Because if I leave one thing out, you’ll jump to even more conclusions. As I said, I’m telling this under protest, yeah? It’s not my story to tell, but hers.”
“And she isn’t speaking! What makes you think if she were even capable, that she would admit what happened to her? Just tell me already,” Klaus said exhausted as he stared at him.
“The Cullens had their hierarchy, Daddy Cullen was the King, the favourite son was the prince, the strong son was the enforcer – and Bella’s father. Then there was the Royal Guard, their protectors, and everyone else working at the main building were vampires too. From what I heard, Bella was gifted to Edward when she was eighteen. Fully trained to please Edward in any way possible. When she said that she hadn’t been ready for you for the length of time she’d been here, I snapped.” Kol said with a growl.
“Me? What? Why?” Klaus sputtered out.
“She bloody thinks that we’re like them and that she’s yours. She looked nice today because she gave in to the fact that she can’t go home and that you are her new leader. Her prince. The one who can do everything he wants with her and she has to be ready at all times. Now, this is problematic in itself, but with the connection that you and her share, this is going to be even more so.”
The hybrid stood there speechless and shook his head, unable to form any words. “I…but…I didn’t…”
“This also explains why she was so tense at the table because she must have thought that we were merely workers, working for you. That’s what she knows, Klaus. We’ve spent so much time with her that she started to think of us as somewhat equal; I’m not entirely sure to what level. Leaders don’t show themselves often.”
Turning and covering his face with his hands, he tried to think of how to rectify the situation. To let her see that they were nothing that she had come to believe. “This is beyond anything I could have anticipated,” he admitted as he looked around the room in a daze.
Cami nodded slowly in agreement. “I thought we were simply dealing with a brainwashed cult member, not-”
“Obviously this must be one of the reasons why Jacob insisted on sending her with you,” Klaus commented as he looked to Kol briefly. “I’m going to rip that wolf’s intestines out of his belly the next time I see him.”
“What else should he have done? Let her get absorbed by everything and die of a heart attack because everything is scary?”
“Of course not!” he screamed, growing defensive again. Blinking, he took a deep breath and faced the courtyard. “Have her spend her days down here if you can. I can stay in the study, close enough that she can see that I am around the family just as much if what you said is true.”
“Can I say something?” Cami spoke up. “I think we should deal with one problem at a time. Of course, she’s traumatized and has been raised differently. If we manage to change her mindset about how she should live her life, then maybe we can deprogram her from the other… issue. I’ve been talking to an expert who deals primarily with ex-cult members, and he gave me some pointers to work with to help things along. It’s going to be hard, because it’s all she knows. All her responses come from her being raised abnormally, which, to her, was perfectly normal.”
“And what are we supposed to do? Make her feel bad all the time for failing at life?” Rebekah shot at Cami, slightly agitated. This all brought back memories of the time where there were slaves who were treated the same way, and she hadn’t liked it then either.
“You continue doing what you’ve been doing, it certainly works, I mean, you got her out of her room, that’s a big deal,” Cami said with a shrug. “If I find something else that might work, I’ll tell you. We’re all out of our depths here.”
“We’re appreciative of your help, Camille,” Elijah smiled at her while keeping an eye on his brother, who seemed to be more and more like a caged animal. “Your insights are valued.”
They had given Bella some space after the breakfast for the rest of the day, and when Rebekah came into her room the day after, all the food had remained untouched. Sighing, she looked around the room and found Bella curled up underneath the bed. “What are you doing there?” Rebekah asked as she lowered herself to the ground and peeked underneath the bed, making eye contact with her. “Have you been here the entire time?”
When Bella nodded, she reached for her and pulled her out with ease. “Come on, let’s get you outside. The sun shines, and you and I are going to bask in the heat for a while… although, with your complexion, we might not stay out in the sun for too long, don’t want you to burn all over.”
When Bella was resisting her, Rebekah stopped tugging on her and leveled her gaze on her. “Either you walk out here on your own, or I will throw you over my shoulder and carry you downstairs myself. Nik may bloody put a dagger in me again, but it would be worth it this time. You have nothing to fear.”
‘This one is-.’
“Nope, not hearing it,” she grinned. “Get it? Not hearing you? You don’t have a voice!”
“Rebekah!” Klaus’ voice could be heard coming from down the hall.
“Oh, get a life, Nik! It’s my turn!”
Bella winced at the tone of voice Rebekah used on her brother, the King. Wasn’t his word rule and didn’t Rebekah imply that she was breaking a rule?
In a blink, Klaus was standing in the doorway, his arms held behind him, as he eyed his sister. “What are you thinking?” he questioned her calmly.
“Trust me, Nik, I’m going to try something. Elijah and Kol had their ways; I have another. I won’t harm her,” she replied simply.
He turned his eyes down to Bella, and they softened. “If she does something that you dislike Bella, tell me. Otherwise – enjoy your ladies’ day,” he smiled with a slight bow, growling under his breath at his sister before he walked away.
So there were consequences for Rebekah for talking to him like that? Bella was confused, why would Klaus be concerned if Bella was harmed? If Rebekah wanted to harm her, then she should, shouldn’t she?
Rebekah grinned as she looked at Bella. “You heard him. He’s fine with it, are you walking or am I carrying you?”
Bella sighed in resignation and dropped her head, following Rebekah out the room, her stomach letting out a growl as she passed the food. It had been making noise all night, but she had been ignoring it. She was getting more flesh on her body, and she needed to be perfect. She was no longer perfect.
“I suppose a nice brunch would be in order first,” the blond smirked as she led her through the building to the large living area where a table had been set up. “Come now. Eat. You are much too thin; we need to get you healthy. Hmm…” she trailed off thoughtfully.
Bella eyed the table, there wasn’t anything hot on there, presumingly because they didn’t like it when she punished herself the day before. She reluctantly reached for the glass of orange juice. She could have that. She had to admit, her throat was still sore, but it was good. A reminder to keep in line.
Rebekah silently picked up one of the pastries that her brother tried to get the girl to eat, nibbling on a piece. “Have something solid. This is delicious,” she pushed the plate forward an inch.
Bella knew that if she’d refuse, Rebekah would only keep pushing, and she didn’t want to aggravate her. She had ways to get it out if needed. She reached for one of the smaller pastries and took a bite, looking at Rebekah as she did.
She smiled back at her, pleased, and turned as she continued to eat her own as she walked around the area. “I’ve always enjoyed these. It’s quite delicious, is it not, Bella?” she asked.
Bella nodded. She liked the sweet taste of the pastry, much like pancakes. She liked pancakes. But sweetness was going to be bad for her teeth and body, maybe, if she dared, she could beg Klaus for normal food again?
“I didn’t hear you. What did you say?” Rebekah asked as she was across the room, sorting through several magazines left out.
‘Yes,’ she mouthed, looking at Rebekah as she took another nibble of her pastry. Half was enough. She put it down on an empty plate and took another sip of her orange juice.
Klaus had been watching the exchange from his study and sighed. Shaking his head he left the doors open as he turned back to set up a blank canvas to start a new painting. “She’s not playing your game Rebekah,” he muttered.
“She will,” she whispered, playfully, but with a devious tone in her voice, before turning to Bella. “Have you ever spoken, at all? Or how about when you make noise, you feel your throat hum, right?”
Bella nodded. She didn’t like the feeling if she had to be honest. King Carlisle had told her that she was an abomination as she shouldn’t have been born with something called chords; she didn’t deserve them. When she got older, he had wanted to remove them, but Bella had already been taught to keep quiet, so he didn’t have to do it anymore.
“Well, that’s what happens when you use your voice. If you use it, words come out of your mouth, and we can actually hear you.”
‘This one doesn’t need to talk. Only to please.’
“Well, it would please all of us if you started to use your voice.”
Bella blinked at that as she considered her words. It would please them if she’d make a sound? They had said so on multiple occasions, but Bella thought it was merely said in jest. ‘This one doesn’t know how.’
“Oh, all you have to do is to identify how to use them, it has a lot to do with breathing. If you want, I could give you a little nudge in the right direction?” Rebekah closed the magazine and looked at Bella, her face suddenly had a determined look on her face, as if she was willing to learn. “Watch this, brother,” Rebekah whispered as she saw Bella nod.
Rebekah turned around so Bella couldn’t see her face, and within a second, she was in front of Bella, vamp face out, causing Bella to jump backward and scream out loud. Bella kept screaming as she backed away from Rebekah and right into a wall, despite Rebekah’s face having changed back.
Klaus left his study in a rush and pushed his sister back, away from the frightened girl. “Have you gone mad?!” he hollered at her as he stood protectively between the two.
“No, I have not!” Rebekah shot at her brother. “For her to start using her voice is to get used to the feeling!”
“Not at the cost of Bella being frightened of us! Elijah is probably higher up in her favor than you now. I can’t say I disagree with that judgment! We’ll find some other way for her to learn to speak,” he glared at her. Even though he wasn’t touching Bella, he could feel her body’s vibrations through the air. His sister was close to meeting a dagger.
“Well, I think Kol would agree with me in this case. A little bit of tough love works wonders.”
He scowled as he shook his head. “Kol is a bloody idiot as well if he feels the same. Either of you try something like this again; I won’t hesitate. I’ll put you back in your boxes for another century.”
Rebekah huffed as she picked up a dinner roll and stormed out of the room. “I didn’t hurt her!”
“No. Not this time, but I can feel her fear,” he said evenly as his body shook with his own emotions. “That is enough for me.”
Bella was forcing herself to get herself together; her king was visibly upset, and that was wrong. She had seen a vampire’s face before, but Rebekah’s was different. Scarier, with the lines visible on her face and it had taken her by surprise. The noise had hurt her throat more too. She took a step closer to Klaus and gently took his hand and squeezed it as she looked up to him with a reassuring smile. He needed that. He was upset.
Klaus turned as he looked at Bella with hesitation. He couldn’t help but smile back. “Come. You can sit with me for the day if you wish,” he murmured. “Though it would be rather boring.”
She nodded as she looked at him with a hopeful look on her face. Her king finally wanted her to be close to him; she wasn’t a complete waste of time to him. She’d do everything he pleased, he needed to feel better. Bella gently pulled him with her as she started towards the stairs, leading him back to his study.
He followed silently as he kept an eye on her. Once inside, he led her to the couch and sat down. “Bella… I think we should talk about what just happened downstairs,” he started, trying to figure out the best way to approach her.
She took a deep breath and shook her head. “No,” her voice sounded soft, raw, but it was there. She realized what she had done and beamed at him. Did it please him?
Hearing her voice, as low as it was, made him look to her in surprise. “Well – perhaps I shall be lenient this time on Rebekah,” he said, a smile forming at the corner of his lips. “She was correct when she told you that we all would love to hear you speak, to voice yourself.”
She felt how her body responded to him being pleased with her. She did something right, and it was oddly satisfying. Maybe she could remember how she used to speak when she was small, in secret with Rosalie, before Carlisle found out. It was such a long time ago, though. It was going to be difficult, but anything to please Klaus. She nodded slowly as she tried to get the shock of her loud noise out of her system. Seeing Rebekah’s vampire face without warning had been scary. ‘This one knows you’re-‘ “V-v-vampyres.”
Klaus nodded slowly, pursing his lips at what she had started to say. “Yes. We are, just not like the Cullens. Bella – why do you not say I or me? This one? You are not just something. Someone. You are someone. Do you understand?”
‘This one exists for obedience and pleasure for others. This one should be invisible and only seen when needed. Kept secret.’
“No Bella. They were wrong, but I won’t argue the subject now. I only hope in time you come to realize the truth,” he admitted sadly. Reaching out, he tucked her hair behind her ear. “You are a beautiful girl and should never be hidden from the world. Just remember that. Now…would you like to read while I paint? Or do you wish to do something else?”
She blinked at the questions, why was he asking her what she wanted? She didn’t want for anything. ‘What would you -‘ “like?”
“Personally, I would love to leave and hunt down some witches and Cullen’s for many reasons, but I find myself desiring to stay back more often than not.”
“Why?” she shuffled a little closer to him and gently put her hand on his leg. “Hunt?” She cocked her head, to make sure it sounded like a question.
“The Cullens? For ruining you and robbing you of a normal life,” Klaus said bitterly, carefully eying her hand on his leg. His body was betraying him once again by responding to her nearness. “And a long time ago, I made a trade with a witch for information. The price was some of my blood.”
‘This one- I – don’t understand.’
He thought for a moment and let out a breath. “Very well, let me start at the beginning,” he got to his feet, leaving Bella on the couch, her eyes following him to his easel. “I hope you don’t mind, but I find it’s easier to talk about this when I’m painting.”
“No,” she whispered, not minding at all that he wanted to paint. It was his wish, his will. Who was she to stop him? She had closely observed the paintings in her room and loved the details he had put in them. To see him work on a new creation, was only an honor.
Klaus told her about the origins of his family that they were the product of a Viking warrior and a human witch. Elijah, Finn and their older sister Freya were born in the old world and him, Kol, Rebekah and their baby brother Henrik were born in a town they now called Mystic Falls. Bella marveled in the details he told her, almost as if it happened yesterday, almost as if she could see it happen before her eyes. While she could follow most of the story, the part about witchcraft was still a blur to her, making the story a little hard to grasp.
He turned around to see the look on her face when he mentioned his Aunt Dahlia taking his big sister Freya, but could see that Bella had had enough for today. “Enough history for today, how about I shall tell you more tomorrow?”
‘If you wish,’ Bella replied, hoping that this wouldn’t be the end of their time together. Watching him paint was intriguing, she never had such a pull to something before, she wasn’t allowed to, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“I’m parched, how about -”
Bella quickly got off the sofa and looked around to find something for him to drink. She found some liquor bottles and headed to them, but he stopped her.
“No, you’re not going to get me anything,” he said sweetly. “We have servants for that.”
Confused, Bella thought about the vampires Carlisle had come to visit often. While the Cullens didn’t drink from her, many vampires had had a taste of her, would Klaus drink from her? She lifted her wrist to offer it to him. “Drink?”
He let out a low growl, not wanting to scare Bella off, but he wanted to take a sip so bad. “As I said, we have servants for that, love,” he said gently and took her arm and lowered it back to her body. “Have you met vampires like us before?” It was likely Bella hadn’t encountered them if Carlisle wanted to keep her hidden.
Bella nodded as she watched him pour an alcoholic drink for himself. “Yes,” she eventually managed to say. It was still weird to try and speak. It had been so long, but it felt so natural. And unnatural at the same time. When Klaus turned to her again, she continued. ‘Edward offered this one – me – to them, to drink. I had to drink from them too.’
Klaus fought the urge to throw his glass through the room, and he had to keep his strength in check in case the glass would shatter. He now realized what it meant when Cami said that Bella’s blood was made safe with his blood. No other vampire would be able to turn her, it would make her safe around them. Pretty smart, he had to hand it to the man. A walking, no-talking blood bag to keep the vampires happy while discussing business and they couldn’t turn her and take her away.
Anger rose in him again when he realized that Bella must have come close to death many times.
Bella noticed his tension again and smiled at him, caressing his arm. ‘You can drink from me. I will be fine.’
While he applauded her use of the first person, he was this close to indeed take a bite out of her and drink from her to comfort him. “I think it’s best if you’d leave now, Bella,” he managed to say kindly. “We shall continue our talk tomorrow.”
Dropping her arms to her side, she bowed slightly and quietly made her way out of his study. He listened to see where she was going, and it seemed like her bedroom. When he heard the door quietly close, he let out a roar and threw his glass through the room.
Someone was going to die.