Happy Birthday, Meeko!
She had always known that Bella would come to her for help, but never known when. Only that when she needed help, she’d find her. And in all honesty, Ann wished that she hadn’t.
She had carved the symbol that Bella had made disappear back into the door and had closed for the day while she rearranged her herbs and ready made teas just to clear her mind. The encounter with Bella and her viking had given her a headache.
Ann had been unable to filter whatever she said, often not realizing what she told the girl and was trying to recount the conversation, because it had been a very heated one. Had she really told a complete stranger to flap her wings and to fly off? The idea alone made her laugh out loud. That was so stupid.
She turned on the radio on full blast and burned some sage to cleanse the shop like she always did. It was a practise that she had learned from her grandparents, she wasn’t sure if it worked and why, maybe it was superstition or whatever, but the sage at least smelled nice. And after today, the shop could really use a good cleanse.
Sweeping the floors with a broom, she loudly sang along to the songs playing on the radio and cleared her mind as she inhaled the sage. Why was she so sure that Bella’s friend, Elijah, was a viking? Surely she’d imagined the runes appearing on his forehead. Bella didn’t seem to see anything.
On top of that, while her grandparents had taught her how to read runes, she wasn’t that well versed in it – but they still appeared on the guy’s forehead! She had seen it with her own two eyes. Well, four, considering she was wearing glasses.
Ann had always been slightly peculiar, and she had been teased in school because of it, but she always came out on top, ignoring the bullies. Her grandparents had been a great support to her and thanks to them, she was now the owner of their old tea shop. Ann went to study herbology and mixology and changed the teas they were selling in the shop – expanding on her knowledge of herbs and what went well together.
She’d travelled the world for six months with a group of wiccans, and learned more about the healing properties of herbs, which made her teas better. They’d become so much better and while she often got outlandish looking types into her shop to get some of the rarer herbs that she was selling for teas, she always felt safe.
Ann thought of herself as a modern day hippie when it came to her teas. And how she lived her life. Grounded. She meditated in the morning, and whenever she felt like it to calm herself, and she liked to tend to her garden in the backyard, where most of her herbs were growing. She liked going for walks in the Bayou for other ingredients and she made everything herself. Well, apart from all the pottery and bags stuff. She had to order those.
She knew Bella didn’t like her, she made it abundantly clear that she didn’t like seers. Ann wasn’t one, but if the girl thought she was, then sure. She was a seer. But she knew that the girl would be back one day. Or at least some of her friends.
There was a knock on the door when she was nearly done cleaning. “I’m closed!” She called out. “Come back tomorrow!”
“I need your help!” the voice called back from the other side of the door. “They’re chasing me and I have no idea where else to run!”
Ann sighed. Sometimes, just sometimes, even regular people found her shop when they were in trouble. And had it been a woman’s voice, she would have opened the door immediately and pulled her in, but this was a man’s voice. “Don’t you have a phone you can use to call the cops?”
“Please, please allow me in,” the man sounded panicked.
It was still daylight, so what could possibly go wrong? She was simply acting like this because the conversation with Bella had rattled her. She needed more tea. She put the kettle on the stove and moved to the door to open it, revealing a young man with a big, bright smile on his face. “You’re not in trouble, are you?”
“I am if I don’t look after you,” he replied and extended his hand. “Kol Mikaelson, pleasure to meet you.”
She stared at him for a moment and shook her head. “You’re not a Mikaelson.”
“I am and if you allow me inside your lovely little shop, despite you being closed at this hour, I shall tell you everything you wish to know,” he replied.
Ann sighed. How could she resist such a kind, friendly and handsome face? “You better not be a serial killer,” she said as she took a step back to allow him in. “I was just in the process of making tea, would you like some?”
“Please and thank you.”
He was tall. She had to look up to him as he passed her so she could close the door again. He was gorgeous and she had to remind herself that he was a stranger and she couldn’t simply jump his bones, although she expected that sex would be the only thing to relax her right now. Not even meditation could shake off the feeling of being this confused and worked up about something. She didn’t even like sex.
She moved towards her counter and finished making her tea, a calming, relaxing one with Chamomile and Lily of the valley, and one for her guest; Violet, to protect her from any harm and to create an open atmosphere, and Lavender to render whatever wrong energy there was in his system a little useless.
She brought the cups to the table where he had already taken a seat and placed his tea in front of him. “You can remove the bag in a moment, it needs to steep.”
“Violet and Lavender, how adorable,” he grinned at her. “Trust me, I mean you no harm.”
His British accent was to die for. “Then tell me, Kol Mikaelson, why are you here?” She sat down in a chair opposite of him and watched him. “You’re not here for my tea.”
“Like I said; I came to see if you were alright,” he replied. “My brother told me about the little adventure he and his new girlfriend had with you.”
She added some sugar to her hot tea and sighed. “No, you came to see if I was going to give you and your family trouble after that encounter.”
“Hold on, darling,” Kol snorted. “Let’s get one thing straight; I didn’t come. I was sent. Mostly because my brother’s new girlfriend doesn’t like me and they want me out of their way. Also because I’m a witch and have a lot of experience with witches.”
“I’m not a witch.”
“Sure you’re not,” he huffed. “I’ve did some asking around before I came here, you’re quite known in the witch community for your teas, your extensive collection of herbs, ones that normal artisan tea shops don’t work with.” He pointed at the tea in front of him. “You didn’t give me a Violet and Lavender tea because you thought I would like it, you gave it to me to be truthful and open to you. Make sure that there’s no deception coming out of me.”
She watched as he forced the water through the little tea bag with a little push of magic so that the tea was thoroughly steeped, before removing the bag and downed the tea in one go.
“And I don’t care,” he said as he set down the tea. “Although next time, I should add some sugar. I mean, even though the Violet is sweet, sweeter than I’ve ever tasted, it still doesn’t really cut the extreme Lavender flavor.”
“Whatever, I’m still not a witch,” Ann replied, hiding how impressed she was by his action. How forthcoming he was and not afraid. “I can assure you that I’m not going to be a burden to your family, I like my little corner and I don’t like conflict,” she added. “However, I do hear a lot of stories coming from people like yourself, and the stories about your family don’t jive with what I’m seeing in front of me. You’re not a vampire so you can’t be a Mikaelson.”
“Oh, don’t let my sister Freya hear that,” he said with a slight chuckle. “You’re right, this is not my Original body. I was killed as a vampire and my wretched mother brought me back into this body. It belongs to a bloke called Kaleb Westphall.”
“Why did your mother bring you back?”
“Oh, to do some nasty things that I didn’t really felt like doing, it’s a long story but everything’s fine now,” he replied casually. “So, your turn. Why were you and Bella fighting?”
“We weren’t,” Ann replied, shaking her head. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I knew she would come here,” she removed the bag from her cup and placed it on the saucer before stirring in the sugar. “I knew who she was and that she would come. I’ve known for quite a while now, so when it actually happened, I wasn’t prepared for this… I don’t know… pull? Connection? It was as if she was in my head and I was in hers. It was very freaky.” She took a sip of her tea. “Might have said some weird shit.”
“Interesting, has it happened before?”
“What? That I saw stuff coming?” When Kol nodded, she shrugged. “I guess. It happens every once in awhile, but I never really stopped to think about it. It just happens. Deja vu feeling and all that.”
“You’re a witch, stop denying it.”
“I’m not. I studied herbology and mixology and got my degree in that. I travelled with some wiccans to learn more. I worked for my knowledge. And I suppose the books that my grandparents had helped a lot too. I know what I mix and how to mix it and it just happens that my teas do what they’re supposed to do.”
“Fine, then go through the encounter you had with Bella with me. Tell me everything and don’t leave anything out.”
“Because I happen to like witches and I only want to help.”
“But I’m not a witch!” She said angrily.
“Drink some more of your tea, darling, and tell me the entire story.” When she was done talking, he was quiet for a moment. “You are a witch. Whether you like it or not. You don’t seem to possess any magic like I do, telekinesis and all that, but the evidence is right here in this shop. Give someone else all the herbs you have here and they’d brew godawful teas and they wouldn’t do anything where they would work with you. You knew Bella was coming through the power of premonition.”
“Yeah, that’s bullshit, sorry,” she said as she got up and cleared the table. “Would you like some more tea?”
“Is it going to turn me into a frog?”
Ann huffed. “No,” she rinsed the cups and prepared new bags while she allowed the water to come back to a boil. “This won’t do anything, just tastes nice. Well, it’s supposed to give you protection.”
Kol made his way over to her counter and looked at the herbs, intrigued in its variety and all the species. For some, she even had the subspecies as they’d have another effect, and he was in awe. “So witches come here to get some of your herbs?”
“Yeah, some of these are hard to get, but I grow them myself, so I don’t care.”
“You must earn a lot of money, then.”
“I don’t do this for the money, I do this to help people,” she poured the water over the tea bags and looked at him. “My grandfather used to say that money corrupts. It’s only there to aid you so you can feed yourself, but if you’re doing things for the sake of money, your heart will be corrupted. Your head. I only ask for the bare minimum when people come and buy my tea or herbs. It’s enough to cover the time spent making sure that I have everything in stock and to buy new seeds when need to.”
“How do you feed yourself?”
“By going to the grocery store and buy my food like any other normal person. I lunch at the Sjomannskirke down the road on Saturday where they serve rice porridge. I’ve been doing that ever since I was little, going with my grandparents and all. The church also sells some food, so I get some things there. And no, I’m not religious, it’s merely a force of habit.”
“You’re Norwegian then?”
Ann shrugged. “Grandfather told me that our family can be traced back all the way to the 10th century where a family travelled from the Old World to the New World. We’ve never left this country since their arrival.”
“Where are your parents?”
“They died on a holiday to Norway. Mom had been the first to leave the States since our arrival all these centuries ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” she smiled at him as she pulled the tea bags out of the cups. “I was very young, I hardly remember them anyway. Besides, grandfather always said we were meant to be here, and not to leave. Just in case. I don’t know why. Maybe we just have a bad case of bad luck,” she handed Kol a cup of tea. “Licorice and Myrtle.”
“Are you sure you’re not trying to seduce me, Ann?” He winked at her. “Commanding the Myrtle for fertility?”
“Actually, the intention was once again protection and healing. I usually give out tea made with Rose, orange blossoms and Rosemary for seducing purposes,” she replied with a grin on her face. “Why? Are you offering?”
Kol was taken aback for a moment. Why not? He had gotten yet again a chance of a new life and he hadn’t had sex in ages, so why not? “Would you like it to be an offer?”
Ann swallowed hard and didn’t know where to look. “I uhm… I…” she blushed furiously as she reached for the sugar pot and put a lot of sugar in her tea.
“It’s alright, darling, I know I have a handsome face and a great body. You’re not so bad looking yourself. Why not? We’re both adults,” he teased her as he set down the cup and walked towards her. She skittishly backed up until she couldn’t go any further and he didn’t stop advancing until he was nose to nose to her. “How about dinner after?”
Oh, she was torn. What had started as a joke, because he was easy on the eyes and he seemed nice, was now turning into something serious. But she didn’t do one night stands. She hated them, because it was always awkward afterwards. But she needed a release that meditation couldn’t give her, so she was very tempted. “Not today,” she squeaked, ducking underneath his arms to get away from him. “But you could stay for dinner, if you want to.”
She reached for her tea and kept her eyes on Kol, who was now looking at her in a different light and it made her feel all tingly on the inside in a good way. And dammit, there was a spark, wasn’t there? “So uhm, are you staying? For dinner? We could order in?”
“Sure,” he said with a nod. “Then you can show me one of your grandfather’s books, if you’d like. I’m keen to know more about how you work, what makes you tick.”
“Still not convinced I’m no threat to your family, huh?”
“Oh, you’re not,” he huffed as he took a sip of his tea. “I’m more interested in you now.”
Ann wasn’t too sure about inviting him upstairs to her home, so she brought some of the books downstairs for him to look through while they ate some Chinese food. She had never met anyone who was genuinely interested in what she had to say, that what she had learned from her grandfather wasn’t strange at all. That, in fact, he had been teaching her to protect herself and others with magic.
Maybe she was a witch, after all.
She watched Kol in fascination as he got excited over the books. She knew that they were more like diaries and Kol told her that they were basically a witch’s toolbox; recipes and spells written down for future generations. Ann admitted that she used some of those recipes as a base for her teas. She felt slightly silly for that, but it had truly helped with her teas. Kol assured her that it wasn’t silly at all, that it was amazing how she picked it up and was doing well with it.
It was getting late, and she had retrieved a bottle of wine from her home to share with Kol, as the both of them were sick of tea and she didn’t have anything else in her fridge. He thought it was only fair of him to share a bit of his story as she had shared hers, and she was intrigued. She felt so sad for him, a genuine sadness, knowing fully well what it felt like not to be accepted fully into a group of people and in his case, family.
When he came round to telling her about how Bella cured him of a curse, she sighed and nodded. “She has a shield thingy. I don’t know, I always see her carrying around some big ass shield of metal as if she’s a warrior princess or something. It’s quite possible that due to that shield, she managed to lift your curse.”
“Warrior princess? Really?”
Ann laughed. “I know, it’s completely ridiculous, but yeah.”
“Clad in leather?”
“Kol, I doubt your brother would appreciate you envisioning her in leather like Xena, warrior princess,” she snorted as she took a sip of her wine. “Or she might even kill you for merely thinking about thinking about it. She does have a temper.”
“She doesn’t like me.”
“Another thing we have in common.”
“Ha! True!” Kol was quiet for a moment and then looked at her, with the biggest, goofiest smile on his face as if he was a deranged person. “The smell of your herbs is getting to me, can we take this elsewhere?”
“I don’t know, your home?”
“Nice try,” she laughed as she pushed his head away from her face. The physical touch caused her to see something about his future. Well, not his, but someone close to him. “Uhm… is your mom a person of color?”
“She’s inhabiting one now, yes.”
“She’s going to get killed by a witch, I think. I don’t know. Something will happen to her. Would you like to bring her to safety?”
“No,” Kol said angrily. “She deserves to die. She created us with a spell that made us immortal; vampires. She’s been hellbent on destroying every single one of us for years now. That was why I was brought back, to help her with helping my siblings see reason.”
“Are you going to kill her?”
“Me? No. I’m a powerful witch, but even I know not to go against my mother. I’m staying well clear of her after I aligned myself with my brother Niklaus,” he replied as he downed his glass of wine in one go. “It’s much safer this way. Let her be killed. I don’t care.”
“Okay. It’s your choice.”
“Yes it is. Wait, you really saw that?”
“It’s a bit unclear, otherwise I would have given you a description of the person who will be the bringer of your mom’s demise, but yeah, I saw that. As I said, these things happen all the time,” she then cocked her head, almost as if she was finally realizing something. “There’s a third reason why you’re here. Not because you were sent. Not because you’re curious about me, even though you are, but because you need a safe place. You don’t feel safe anywhere, do you?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” he said sheepishly.
“No, I think you know exactly what I mean,” she countered, as it was suddenly as clear as day. “You’ve chosen the side of your brother, but you don’t feel safe with him. You’re afraid that he’ll end up killing you, which is easier now, because you’re human. You can’t go back to your mother even if you wanted to because she’s a scary bitch and you betrayed her. You have no place to go, do you?”
“Ann… Don’t go there, please.”
“It’s alright,” she smiled and gently squeezed his hand. “I have a guest room you can use. You can stay for as long as you need.”
“I thought you said I wasn’t allowed in your home?”
“It’s not in my home, silly. It’s my old bedroom in the shop’s basement. As long as I can trust you not to rob me blind, you’re welcome to stay.”
“I don’t want to bring my troubles on to you, Ann, you’re nice. You don’t deserve that,” he said, looking like a lost puppy. “I can take care of myself.”
“The shop is well protected against any sort of intrusion, apart from human intrusions, but you’re safe here. Vampires can’t come in. I know what your mother looks like now so I can refuse her access during the day. Magic can’t find you here. It’s untraceable. Something my grandfather did when he was younger.” She got up from her seat and pulled him up before guiding him behind the counter and down a flight of stairs. “I used to love it down here. I mainly use this for storage now, but the bed’s still there. There’s a closet if you need to put some stuff away and it’s not much but…”
Before she knew it, she was pushed against a wall and felt Kol’s lips on hers. If she were a candle, she was now melting. There had been some tension between them for quite a couple of hours now and she had tried to ignore it, but now that he was kissing her, and she allowed him to, she could feel how he was drawing her in, almost like a magnet.
He parted her lips with his tongue and she allowed him access and before they both knew it, they were half naked. “No,” she said with a moan and pushed him away. “No. No. Kissing is fine. But…” she quickly grabbed her shirt and pulled it back over her head. “No. This isn’t me. Goodnight.”
She ran up the stairs, and took another to enter her home and let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding after closing the door. That had been the single most amazing kiss she’d ever experienced! Oh, she wanted more, she longed for more, even now, she could feel an invisible pull towards him in the basement, but she wasn’t allowed. No. Not today.