Kol slowly walked into the breakfast room, whistling and a spring in his step as he was followed by Jeri with an equally large smile on her face. Klaus blinked at them. “I see that my sofa sleeps well?”
“Oh, no, it’s horrible, but I’ve taken my revenge on Jessica now that the vervain is out of her system,” he grinned as he sat down in his chair and pointed to the courtyard through the open doors. “Any minute now.”
“Come on, Jessica, let’s go and get breakfast,” Elijah sighed as he tiredly rubbed his eyes. “We can have a nap afterward.”
‘Nap?’ Klaus mouthed to Kol, who shrugged in return. “I guess she wore him out, quite a feisty one.”
“No!” Jessica whined. “Elijah, don’t take me across the courtyard, the floor is lava!”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is!” She screeched as he tried to pull her with him. “No! The floor is lava, and the demons will get us, look!” she pointed at her shadow. “Look! Elijah!”
“Oh for the love of God, what has gotten into you?”
Klaus snickered as he looked at his brother. “Well done, Kol.”
“I did nothing, brother,” Kol said innocently. “Apart from taking care of our entertainment this morning. Speaking of entertainment, where is our little Bella?”
“She’s sleeping in; I didn’t have the heart to wake her this morning,” Klaus said as he kept watching the scene before them. Elijah was trying to get Jessica across the courtyard, and she kept resisting. He was wondering how long it would take for Elijah to only snap her neck or take the other corridor instead of the short cut. “She hasn’t been herself lately; I think I shall stay home today instead of going after those who have hurt her.”
“I know what we could do,” Kol reached for a piece of toast and, like Klaus kept his eyes on Elijah and Jessica. This was a real life cartoon, and it was fantastic. “Show her a little bit of childhood fun.”
“Kol, we’re too old for that.”
“No, we’re not, brother. Fun. Like… do you remember us making little wooden huts in the woods where we played or hid from Father? How about we make a blanket fort for Bella, and serve her tea in it. I’m almost certain she’s never done that before.”
“Oh,” Jeri smiled widely. “I’m so up for that!”
“Come on, Nik, let your inner child out and have some fun,” Kol teased him before grabbing another piece of toast to nibble on.
“I don’t think she’s feeling well Kol, why do you believe that something silly as a blanket fort will lift her spirits?”
“Well, I don’t know Nik, short of feeding her your blood again, we can’t actually get a doctor in here to check her over now can we?” Kol shot at him. “Get her out of her head. Do something unexpected and silly!”
Klaus sighed as he turned his gaze away from the courtyard as Elijah had decided to snap Jessica’s neck for the time being. He took a sip of his tea and ran his hand through his hair. “Very well, a blanket fort it is.”
“Great! Just get her down for lunch, and let us handle the rest,” he smiled widely at his brother before turning around too and continued his breakfast. When Elijah finally got to the table, he watched him drop Jessica to the floor. “Trouble in paradise, brother?” He smirked.
“Whatever you’ve done, reverse it now!” Elijah hissed as he sat down.
“What? Now? But she’s got her neck snapped! By you!”
“Fine,” he said with a shrug. “We’re going to make a blanket fort anyway.”
The next day, Klaus went back to hunting. It wasn’t as if he needed to do it, but he wanted to. Every single bastard who ever laid a finger upon his Bella was going to suffer a long, painful death. Or from a single heart extraction, he wasn’t quite sure about it yet. It did mean that he had to leave Bella alone for a night or two. He had to go to Los Angeles where it was rumored one was hiding out and a handful in Seattle, but he’d be done after that. He could go home, and prepare for the moment the Cullens would come and try and take her away.
Kol was accompanying him, itching to cause some mischief, and Elijah and Rebekah would remain behind. Rebekah was going to tend to Bella, which was fine by Klaus as Bella preferred her over his brother anyway. Of course, Elijah had to comment on how rare it was for him to leave his home to hunt things down in a different city.
It wasn’t uncommon. Klaus simply never had enough reasons to step outside his comfort zone. Even while on the run from Michael, he never ventured further out than necessary. But he’d do anything for Bella, and to make sure that those vampires would never hurt her again was one thing. A mere thirst for revenge on her behalf. And a sport.
And yes, he felt a little funny while he was away from Bella, but he decided to use that feeling to hurry things along to get back to her. If he continued to be a slave of the magical bond between her and him, he wouldn’t be going anywhere without her until the sad day that she might perish. The knowledge that she was now safe with his siblings and a powerful witch in his absence was enough – for now. They all cared for her deeply to defend her from anyone, including from him, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.
Bella realized that this would be the first nights without Klaus in the building since he had taken her in. She felt quite strange about it, she couldn’t describe it, it was as if a hole in her heart was forming the second he stepped outside as she knew he’d be gone for at least 36 hours. Two nights. Two whole nights.
She wasn’t a whole lot unsafer; Rebekah and Elijah were still around, and so was Jeri. After Klaus had left, Bella had taken up a spot outside the room Jeri was in, and occasionally she could hear her cry out in frustration. Bella wondered what frustrated her so much, what was she doing? Was Elijah annoying her?
Bella blinked at her next thought. What if they were having sex, and she was listening in? Oh, that would be horrendous! Pale as a sheet, she moved away from the room and headed to her own. Without Klaus, she didn’t want to be in his study. The thought of Elijah having sex with Jeri was unbelievable, Jeri would never do that to Kol, would she? She wasn’t too sure about Elijah. Despite him always being dressed up, she suspected that he had a naughty side, even if he was having endless fun with Jessica in the evening.
Oh, that was so gross. Bella shuddered as she sat on her bed and wrapped her blanket around her. If she’d go to sleep, would Klaus come home sooner? Probably not, who was she fooling?
As she had figured for herself a week ago; she needed to find herself a hobby to keep herself occupied. Could sleeping be a hobby? Because she had felt tired for a few days now, and it was getting harder and harder to pretend she wasn’t tired. Or dizzy. She didn’t understand why, though, she was eating healthily, and she slept quite long hours and yet, she still felt off.
Falling on her bed, she stared up at the ceiling and shivered. It felt as if someone was using a doctor’s knife to slice her chest cavity. She knew the feeling because Carlisle often did it when he wanted to play with her insides, see if the introduction of foreign elements would have an effect on them on the outside. He was crazy like that.
More and more, she came to realize that what everyone had been saying about her life before the Mikaelsons was true. The Cullens had been very wrong when it came to treating her, and they were insane. Klaus and his family had been nothing but kind to her, understanding and patient, even if Bella didn’t deserve it. It was unbelievable as she made a lot of mistakes over the months she’d been at their house. They treated her as an equal, nothing less. In fact, they treated her better than an equal, and that was terrifying, she didn’t deserve it. All she was doing was to be. Existing. Breathing air. No one deserved to be treated better for that.
She had landed from hell straight in heaven, and it was the best. She felt guilty for not being a productive member of the family. If she even was a member of the family. She was with Klaus, his unofficial girlfriend as he’d never asked her, and it simply happened but was she truly a part of them? A weak human?
The sudden feel of nausea overwhelmed her, and she barely made it to the bathroom to throw up. This had happened before, a couple of days earlier when Klaus had gone for the first time. He’d just been in New Orleans as a handful of vampires he was hunting was in town, and this sucked. Even when there was nothing for her to throw up, she kept going until she felt exhausted.
This had to stop.
She rinsed her mouth, and while she was hugging her blanket, she made her way back to Jeri’s room and knocked on the door. “Jeri?”
“Go away, Bella,” Jeri’s voice sounded. She seemed agitated.
“Jeri.” Bella knocked on the door again.
“No!” she yelled.
“Go away, Bella before I… I swear to God… fucking… just leave!”
Bella sighed. “Fine. I just wanted to offer you some of my blood,” she muttered and turned around to walk away again. “Good luck.”
“Wait, what?” The door opened, and Jeri almost pulled Bella into the room. “Seriously? Can I have fresh blood to play with? That would help so much! The grimoire is great, and I think that I’ve narrowed it all down, but the point is to test it, isn’t it? And since I only have an old sample of your blood…”
“I think you’ve had enough coffee,” Bella replied calmly as she pushed her arm through the opening of the blanket and nodded towards the empty cups on the table.
“No, I could use more,” Jeri said as she grabbed a clean syringe, only then noticing that Bella looked like a sheet, and she was wearing a blanket. “Are you okay? You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine,” Bella said with a wince when the stabby thing pierced her skin. “Typical ‘Klaus leaves the building’ symptoms. Nothing to worry about.”
“Are you sure?”
“Okay, if you’re sure,” Jeri slapped a band-aid on Bella’s arm. “There, all done. Thank you for volunteering your blood.”
Bella slowly nodded. “Have you figured out how the bonding thing works, between Klaus and me? I mean, not that I’m complaining, but if I feel like this every time he leaves…”
“It’s not a bond between mates. Or you know, soul mates linked together through blood,” she explained as she shook the vial and placed it on the table. “Or werewolf mates. You won’t die if he does.”
“I think it’s the other way around,” she said with a slight smile on her face.
“Let’s just say, at a hormonal level, you’re not bonded. It’s likely one of the spells that have been used to create that potion you took. I haven’t figured that out yet; the powers aren’t actually cooperating and without Kol, I have less magic to draw from.”
“You could ask Rebekah or Elijah to sit with you?” Bella offered.
“Ugh, no thanks, I don’t particularly like them.”
“Do you like anybody else other than Kol?”
“Sure I do,” Jeri said with a shrug. “I don’t know. I really like you right now because you brought me some fresh blood to work with?”
A sense of pride swelled inside of her. Jeri was pleased with her. “If you need more, I’m in my room,” Bella smiled at her, deciding to swing by the kitchen first to get herself a cup of tea, although she was confident that the people working in the kitchen would kick her out. Because they would bring her the cup if she wanted one.
It was frustrating that they had destroyed her faucet from turning too hot to burn her because all she wanted was to draw herself a hot bath and warm her bones. Was she getting sick? Like the flu that she had seen on the shows that Kol and Rebekah had shown her?
She shuffled to Klaus’ study and his bathroom but found his faucet having been sabotaged as well. Letting out a snort, she decided to stop finding one that still worked correctly and headed back to her room so she could soak. She’d just have to refill her bath with the water whenever it cooled down, not a problem.
She could ask Rebekah, but she’d say that her own bathroom was perfectly fine. And it was. The water was warm, just perfect for her, but Bella needed something hotter. She didn’t want to scald herself because Klaus wouldn’t like it, but she needed heat. Would she dare to ask Jeri? Surely she’d be okay with it, considering Bella had given her blood earlier that day?
Making her way over to Kol and Jeri’s room, Bella was surprised to see the door open, and when she peeked around the corner, she saw Jeri lounge on the couch and watch television. “Jeri?” Bella asked with a knock on the door.
“Hey! You want to join? I’m watching Toe The Line, so cheesy, but such great entertainment!”
Bella slowly entered into her and Kol’s domain. “I was actually wondering if you still have full control over the faucet in your bathroom, you know, the one that comes with the bath?”
“Of course I do, why wouldn’t I?”
She smiled at that. “Because I have a habit of sometimes still punishing myself and stuff, they fixed mine and Klaus’ to an average temperature that can’t get any hotter than a particular temperature… but I’m freaking cold. I just want a soak in a hot steamy bath.”
“Oh, I gotcha, come on,” Jeri got off the couch and led Bella into the bathroom. “Those Mikaelsons mean well,” she said as she plugged the bath and opened the faucet. “Granted, I don’t want you to scorch yourself, but make it as hot as you think you can handle and I’ll check and see if it’s not too hot, alright?”
Bella smiled gratefully. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“No worries,” Jeri smiled at her. “They forget that occasionally, we mere mortals do need our hot baths and that you have a strong will. I’m sure you would be able to handle mixing your water by now and not abuse it.”
She nodded as she felt the temperature of the water. She opened the hot one a little further and was then satisfied. “I won’t open it any further.”
“Good. Now, enjoy, use whatever product of mine that you want,” Jeri closed the bathroom door when she left.
Bella stripped out of her clothes and let the blanket fall on the floor as well before getting in and letting out a sigh of relief. This was good. This was warm and heaven. She let the water heat her bones for a few moments before reaching for one of the bottles that said ‘lavender’ and poured a few drops in. While she had used a bar of soap at the Cullens if she was allowed to wash without any supervision, she had quickly gotten used to using the products that Rebekah and Camille had bought her. She liked to smell nice.
When the water started to cool, she added some more hot water and closed her eyes. Could she stay in this warmth forever? She wanted to.
“Will it die?”
Bella looked up to the never aging Edward and Carlisle before looking down at her hands that were strapped to something. She couldn’t move her legs either, but she was focused on her hands. They were small.
When the contraption she was on started to lower her into god-knows-what, she felt how she begun to panic. She knew exactly what was going on. Carlisle and Edward being cruel; this didn’t serve a purpose other than to have Bella end up in agony. And she wasn’t allowed to respond. The mini version of her wasn’t permitted to answer as the water slowly engulfed her body, cold.
Bella shivered as she tried to break free, but she couldn’t move. It was a miracle that she could shiver at all. She attempted to open her mouth to scream, even though she was taught not to. She didn’t want to go through this again. Not again.
She managed to open her mouth and only breathed in water, only her nose was above the water now, and as she panicked, she started to swallow it. Cold, cold water, chilling her body even further now that it was inside.
“No, we need her cold, that’s all,” Carlisle’s voice sounded. “She’s getting there.”
Her body shivered and started to tingle. If she weren’t continuously breathing in water in her panicked state, it would have been a nice sort of tingle. She couldn’t close her mouth anymore, her body made it impossible for her to do so as it was submerged, and she needed more air than what was coming through her nose; which, despite it being above the water, was also mostly water.
Her lungs were starting to burn.
“Look, she’s already paler than when we’ve first started.”
Feeling cold wasn’t new to her, she walked around without clothes and on bare feet. She slept on the floor. She was being touched by cold hands every single day. The only time she felt some heat on her skin was when she was sitting in front of the window. She was fortunate that she hadn’t reached the age for Edward yet.
She couldn’t think anymore. The longer she stayed in the water, the more difficult it became for her to think. She couldn’t move anymore, and she had given up on breathing. The only thing she could wish for now was death.
“That’s enough, get her out of there.”
The contraption lifted her out of the bath she was in, but other than that, she didn’t move. The bright lights were hurting her eyes and the last thing she remembered before passing out was that Carlisle had his doctor’s knife in his hand.
Bella remembered the first thing she noticed when she woke up; a huge scar across her side and stomach sutured up. It was curious how it wasn’t on her body now that she was older. I’m dreaming, she thought. I’m having a nightmare, and I’m in a bath!
“Easy,” Jeri’s voice sounded as Bella was being pulled out of the bath, coughing up water and a towel wrapped around her. “Just breathe.”
Bella put her head between her legs as she coughed and hated herself for getting a nightmare in the bath with Jeri in the other room.
“That was some bad dream, huh?” she crooned as she rubbed Bella’s back. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to you sooner, I should have run to you as soon as I felt the disturbance.”
“Thanks,” Bella breathed as she wrapped the towel closer around her. “I’m sorry.”
“Stop saying you’re sorry when things happen beyond your control,” Jeri chastised her, causing Bella to wince slightly. “You dozed off in the bath, that could have happened to anyone. Sucks to be you when a nightmare comes along.”
Bella shivered and nodded. “Thank you,” she shakily got to her feet, unable to shake her nightmare off and gathered her clothes. “I’ll go to my room now.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Okay,” she pulled the plug on the bath and followed Bella as she slowly walked to the door. Something wasn’t right, but if the girl was going to be stubborn about it, she wasn’t going to push. “You know where to find me.”
Bella nodded again and went back to her room. She dug through her closet to find the comfiest and warmest clothes and layered up before crawling into bed, tugging the covers tightly. She was just sick. There was no need to cause for alarm. The nightmare had only made it worse because she now felt colder than ever.
Maybe it was a good thing that Klaus wasn’t home; he didn’t have to see her sick. Coughing up some remaining water, she sat back up again. She never got sick at the Cullens. Well, she did, but she usually got better fast, the moment she became ill. Because it was usually from one of Carlisle’s experiments. She wasn’t being experimented on now, was she? No, Jeri had only withdrawn some blood, and that’s it. Nothing else. And she’d been nice to her for the bath.
“Stop being so paranoid,” she told herself as she laid back down and closed her eyes. She was going to be fine without Klaus home. She’d be better before he returned. “And that’s an order,” she muttered sleepily as she shivered. “Go to sleep.”