Bella was stunned by what more Kol had to say about Alice, it all fit perfectly, apart from her darkened hair, but even for that he had a perfect explanation; she had dipped a little bit too far into the dark magic cauldron that her hair was permanently changed by her transition.
It wasn’t strange for her to hear that other people knew of the Cullens as a family. They were one of the largest coven of Cold Ones, which was one of the primary reasons for the Volturi to keep a close eye on them, but was also why they wanted her either dead or changed just so she wouldn’t reveal their secrets. Judging from Kol’s short stories on their way back to the French Quarter, she could tell that things could have gone differently.
Cold Ones were taught to fear and obey the Volturi, as they were ‘mighty,’ ‘vicious’ and placed themselves at the top of the food chain, but Kol half jokingly said that that was just because they were scared little imps with money.
These vampires, Klaus at least she observed, and others seemingly lived freely without any government over them and abided by their own rules. Even walked among humans in the daylight. The biggest difference she learned was that they didn’t sparkle in the sunlight and literally weren’t able to walk in the sun without combusting as they required protective, spelled jewelry.
Klaus, and his still vampiric siblings, were the known as the Originals, created by magic and were truly immortal, while the humans they sired were not. The origins of the Cold Ones were still a mystery, but once Bella and Kol were in a coffee shop before going to Klaus’ home, Kol explained what he knew, that they pre-dated the Originals but that it didn’t mean they were stronger. The Cold Ones were fragile vampires, their skin wasn’t human skin but more like porcelain and easily broken with force.
Bella found Kol as amusing as he was charming. He was completely different from what she was used to. He was funny and spoke directly. It was as if he didn’t have a filter and that was so refreshing, so uncomplicated. Kol reminded her of Jacob, however, in recent years, Jake had kept more things from her than he should have. Maybe if he had been more open with her and more willing to fight for her, she’d have ended up with him. But she wasn’t entirely sure if Edward and his family would have let the entire wolf pack live for that.
“You keep telling me about how awesome your brother is with his vampirism, but what about you? Are you just a human?” Bella smiled at him as she sipped her coffee.
“You haven’t been paying attention, have you?” Kol shook his head. “I’m a witch. My mother was gracious enough to put me into the body of someone who dabbled in magic already, and I’m loving this new body. It’s very handsome and fetching, don’t you think?”
“Did the accent come with it?” Bella grinned.
“Partially,” he said with a nod, a bit of a smirk ghosting his lips. “Some things just don’t leave after a thousand years. Why? Is it a turn on?”
Bella could feel how her face started to get warm and she was certain that her skin had coloured beet-red by now. She silently cursed herself for agreeing with what he had said about himself, but she had a boyfriend for god’s sake. This wasn’t a good position for her to be in. If Edward would find out that she might be attracted someone else, especially a guy who complimented himself and assisted in a very complicated situation – and quite right too – hell was to be paid.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but enough about me,” Kol said with a surprised expression on his face. “I think you’re holding out on me, Miss Swan.”
“You’re a witch too, aren’t you?”
“I’m not?” She stammered, unsure of what he was talking about. What was he going on about? “Sinceriously, I’m nothing special. I was born in Forks, Washington, moved to Arizona with my mom when she and dad divorced and then moved back for some stability because my mom can be a bit flakey. My dad is a police chief and I’m an average student prone to falling over without reason.”
He tilted his head as he peered at her, leaning against his arm. He didn’t say anything for a few moments but it was clear that there was something on the tip of his tongue. “You’re cute. You know that? Mary Alice pointed out that your shield expanded, remember? Don’t answer that, of course you do. Obviously you’ve been able to thwart other gifts of their kind before you came here but you’ve never been able to block hers as her precognition is derived from her dark magic days. You following me Poppet?”
“I thought it was nice that Edward couldn’t read my mind,” Bella admitted slowly, almost as if she had to think about the words. “But I didn’t think anything of it, to be honest.” Did he just say that she was cute? Was that a throwaway comment or what? “I’m not cute.”
Kol continued on, a spark of excitement in his eyes as he stared at her. “You being here, for whatever reason, made your shield or whatever ability you have grow. Become stronger. Or you simply are something else. The only thing possible that could block a witch would be…” he trailed off waiting for her to catch on, knowing that she was a clever girl. And hoped she was indeed what he suspected her to be.
“I haven’t blocked a witch,” Bella grumbled, suddenly uncomfortable under his attention. “I blocked a Cold One.”
“Who was quite the powerful witch in her time and had clearly retained one of her abilities during her transition,” he pointed out to her. “And I beg to differ on your opinion. However, that is an argument for another time. My brother should be arriving soon. He just might end up compelling some self confidence into you instead of you earning it yourself. Bloody wanker.”
Bella snorted. “Was that what he was trying to do when he tried to interrogate me about my true feelings about the Cullens? It didn’t work.”
Kol frowned slightly, but it was more in a combination of concerned anticipation. “Possibly. I wasn’t there to see but if it failed, then it would be one of two things. That shield of yours, which I doubt against his type of being. My money would honestly be on you being a witch, Dollface.”
“You know, you have a great imagination. You should write a book,” she quipped before gathering her bag. “Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to leave the Cullens for a few days after all.”
“Hey now. You decided to take a risk with us. Now give us the chance to prove ourselves to you,” he protested as he held his hands up in defense. “Maybe there is a way to prove some of what I said? What say you?”
Bella stared at him for a long minute, debating her options. It wasn’t like she had many of them. Letting out a huff, she shook her head and turned away and closed her eyes to tried to temper her emotions. “Fine,” she said as she put her bag back down and looked at him. “But other than that, I’m not interested in talking about me because there’s nothing to talk about.”
Kol rolled his eyes at her objection but nodded in acceptance. “Fine. You win – this time,” he smiled up at her through his eyelashes as he sent a few text messages out to his brother and his witch friend to set up their meeting and find out what was going on with their friend’s new living arrangements.
“So, if it takes longer for Klaus to arrive, how about some food? I’m starving.”
“What you in the mood for Love? This is New Orleans. We got jambalaya, gumbo, creole anything…”
“Anything greasy,” she said with a nod. “I’m tired of salads, rice, and burnt chicken.”
His lip rolled back as he made a face. “Those bloody nits controlling what the hell you decide to eat as well?”
Bella shrugged. “They don’t eat themselves and even though they genuinely try to make me something by watching the cooking channel…”
“No Love. Trust me. That poor excuse for a family know what the hell they are doing. They are trying to control you and have you submit to them. What for? I really want to know. When I tell Niklaus…” Kol trailed off as he looked around for something. “Come on Poppet! There’s a great little deli around the corner from here that has the best po-boys this side of the bayou. You eat meat, right? After all that babble of vegetarian talk, I bloody hope you eat meat…” he said as he eyed her with something more than hunger.
“Are you kidding me?” She smiled widely. “I could kill for a steak,” she moaned.
“‘Nuff said then, yeah? Let’s get you that steak,” he grinned, suggestively wagging his eyebrows.
Bella’s phone vibrated in her pocket and she sighed as she got it out. She knew she had several missed calls already, but now she started to receive texts from Alice.
“Gimme it Doll,” he said as he held out his hand.
“I could just switch it off,” Bella said with half a shrug. “But Charlie might call me.”
“She’ll just keep on harassing you. You don’t deserve that treatment. We’ll get you another way for your daddy to get you when we see Nik but you wanted your freedom from them. The only way you’ll get it is if you take it yourself. They will just keep trying to suck you in until you have nothing left and are completely dependent on them,” he explained gently. “I can help you if want. But only if you let me.”
“I’m not sure if I’m ready for that,” Bella said after a moment of considering Kol’s words. She turned the phone off completely and put it in her bag. She wanted her freedom for a couple of days, yes. Klaus, and now Kol, were willing to give that to her. Which was nice, but she’d have to go back home eventually and she didn’t want to get into more trouble than she was already in. Eating a steak, eating something that hadn’t been approved in general, was going to be the first of many rules she was probably going to break, but she was going to do it anyway.
“Fair enough,” Kol said with a slow nod and helped her up before heading out to the best steaks in New Orleans. “You up for a po-boy too?”
“I have no idea what they are so yes. Definitely.” Bella grinned.
“Good. Perhaps you’re up for some mischief once we got you settled afterwards?” He asked with a glint of excitement in his eyes. “Paint the town?” When he saw the look of agony on her face, he grinned. “Fine, I’ll take you to something historical.”
Kol hadn’t been lying; she had eaten the best steak she’d ever had and was just in the middle of her sandwich when Klaus showed up with a young brunette in tow that was just barely her age. “That’s Davina, she’s Marcel’s chuckaboo.”
Bella raised her eyebrow at that. Who was Marcel and what was a chuckaboo?
“Friend. Mate. Go to witch. Little sister…” Kol said with a shrug and smiled at his brother. “Niklaus! You won’t believe the adventure we have had.”
“I can still see the steak sauce dripping off your chin, Kol,” Klaus keenly observed, a touch of aggravation in his voice. “I take it that all went well then?”
“It was hard to keep a straight face when I saw them wearing gas-pipes,” Kol snickered. “I mean, no offence, gas-pipes are awesome, but their junk just doesn’t work anymore so why show it off?”
Klaus sighed as he rubbed his eyes. “Miss Swan, apologies for my brother’s behaviour, I-”
“There’s no need,” Bella interrupted him with a smile. “I think he’s great.”
“You hear that, Nik?” Kol smirked. “I’m great!”
“I brought Davina. Why did I bring her for this girl?” The older vampire questioned, ignoring his brother for the time being. “No offense, Miss Swan, I think that you are something special for being able to resist my compulsion but…”
“She has a shield,” Kol interrupted, growing serious for the moment. “And it expanded onto me when we were getting her belongings.” He then pointed over to his friend with a smile, who seemed to be staring at Bella with big eyes, as if she was in shock. “Earth to Davina.”
“Right, sorry,” Davina said, shaking her head before making her way over to Bella to shake her hand. “You’re a Higginbotham. Aren’t you?”
“My mother is a Higginbotham,” Bella answered, mildly confused and surprised at the same time. “How did you know?”
Davina looked up to Klaus, glancing around hesitantly. “We can’t talk here, we need to go somewhere private. The cemetery would be best. I’m not saying anything else about this until we get there.”
By the time the group reached the mausoleum, Bella tried not think that it wasn’t eerie at all to be at a cemetery with a pair of supposed witches and a vampire. Nope, not at all. She had her arm looped through Kol’s as if to trying to stop herself from running. Cemeteries were filled with dead people, that was all. Renée would severely disapprove – she was sure.
“Don’t be scared, Love,” Kol said as he gently caressed her arm. “Nothing but good spirits in these grounds. This is sacred land and a source of power for many witches of New Orleans. It’s quite a young cemetery too. Only been in use since 1833.” He then smirked. “That’s some information for your history bit.”
“Oh, gee, thanks,” Bella rolled her eyes at him. “I need more than just a date, you know.”
“I promise you that when you do leave, you’ll have a ten page essay on New Orleans that will guarantee you getting a high mark in school,” Klaus said before looking at Davina. “We’re here. Now what?”
“How much do you two know about my family?” Davina asked the brothers as she leaned against one of the tombs with her arms crossed over her chest. “I mean, the witches here in New Orleans use ancestral magic. I died because of the Harvest… but what else do you know?”
“Oh shit,” Kol said as he rubbed the back of his head. “You know?”
“Oh yes, Kol, you had some fun with my grandmother. That’s not news either.”
“Just spill the beans, Davina, I don’t have all night,” Klaus said impatiently, disregarding his brother who wanted to say something. “And it’s not polite to keep our guest in the dark either if what you want to say pertains to her that you dragged us all the way out to your ancestors’ graves.”
“Alright…” the young witch sighed. “Our magic is passed through our female line. If the women of our family produce a boy, it’s likely he’s not magical at all, or not worthy of being a witch. Yes, this sounds… stupid and ignorant and unfair and all that, but the women in our family are more powerful. In fact, the New Orleans Coven hasn’t known many male witches. At all.”
“Kaleb was a witch,” Kol spoke up.
“Yes, but he’s from out of town, a different line. Different kind of magic, even though ancestral magic is still the strongest in New Orleans. Which is why you need my help with bigger spells,” Davina pointed out. “Even though you’re over a thousand years old.”
“Sorry, what has this to do with my mother?” Bella piped up. While she was intrigued to hear about Davina’s family history, but what was the point?
“It was highly unlikely that women of the coven bear boys. Simply because of the magic. But a few generations ago, a set of twins were born. A girl and a boy. Now, they grew up together within the coven and it was clear that the boy was magically just as strong as the girl, if not stronger. The exact details of this event have faded over the years, but I know that the boy was sent away to England out of France and adopted by a British family with the instruction to keep him safe from the dangers of the world, to keep moving as not to be found out that he was a Claire witch. This to safeguard the Claire lineage incase we’d die out or produce barren children. The Claire family were amongst the first settlers in the New World and we made our home here in New Orleans. Since the happening of the twin birth, only women have been produced.”
“The point, Davina?” Klaus sighed as he sat down on one of the grave borders.
“The boy’s last name was changed to Higginbotham. According to one of the most powerful witches blessed with the sight of the future, his line would only produce boys and his magical ability would fade over time. But there would come a time where a girl was going to be born and the girl was going to be a vault of magic, all the unused magic all bottled up inside of her until she, or her offspring, would produce a girl of their own.”
The Mikaelsons quickly caught onto what she was saying and looked at one another, wide eyed as they struggled to process what they were hearing. The only one to be able to formulate any words was the subject herself. “You’re saying…”
“I am,” Davina smiled at her. “You’re a witch, capable of great things. Even bigger here in New Orleans where most of my – our – family is buried,” she continued. “I could sense it immediately, though I’m surprised Kol hasn’t picked up on it.”
“Who says I haven’t?” He eyed Davina as Bella gripped his arm tightly to hold him back. “She has this shielding ability that expanded onto me earlier, stopping a certain ex-witch from peeking into my head.”
“Seriously?” Davina smiled widely. “That is so cool!”
“It would also explain why the Cold Ones want you so bad, Poppet,” Kol said as he turned to Bella concerned, trying to stop her fingers from digging into him. “Mary-Alice obviously recognized the same in you as Davina just did.”
Klaus’s eyes quickly snapped to Kol. “Mary-Alice?”
“Long story, not for the small ears to hear about.” Kol smirked as he pulled a lighter out of his pocket and handed it to Bella, who was still holding on to him. “You don’t believe any of this, do you?”
“No,” Bella shook her head stubbornly. What she knew of her mother’s side of her family did line up with what the girl told her but she still was having trouble accepting it. “It’s just a coincidence that my mother has the same name as Davina’s family.”
“Put your hand flat, like this,” he said as he held up his hand. “The one with the lighter, you can keep hold of me.”
Bella did as he told her to, feeling stupid. “Now, repeat after me, and keep repeating until you see something happening and don’t panic, the flames won’t hurt you,” he said as he encouragingly smiled at her. “E Loke Gae La lidi.”
Bella watched with fascination as while both she and Kol were saying the words, the silver lighter seemed to be going up in flames – that funny enough didn’t hurt, much – and slowly changed into a gold color.
Kol stopped chanting and smiled widely at Bella. “You did that. Now tell me, are you a witch?”
“I don’t know. I guess I am?” She whispered, still clearly unsure.
“Looks like you have a good subject to begin with for your paper now Love,” Klaus smiled over at her.
Davina wanted to continue all evening, wanting to test Bella and whatnot, but Kol interrupted her from spewing more words. “We do not want to overwhelm Miss Swan,” he said as he protectively put his arm around her shoulders. “Me thinks she should get some rest in. She’s had a busy day.”
Klaus curiously looked at his brother. Kol was looking out for someone else other than himself, was something out of ordinary for him and had him watching suspiciously. “I’ve had them clear a room on the first floor at my place,” he eventually said. “I wanted to put her up at the Plantation but that, of course, isn’t possible and Elijah convinced me that if I want to keep my promise of keeping her safe for the duration of her stay, I needed to keep her close.”
“What about me?”
“What about you, Kol? You have your own place to go.”
“Can’t I stay?”
Davina snickered as she walked away from the brothers and Bella.
“No offense, brother,” Kol said as he shook his head. “The company that you keep might not be so willing to honor your promises or might not have the same restraint as you, Elijah or our darling sister or even Marcel.” He then cocked his head with a smile on his face as he looked at him. “Besides, I think that a family meeting is long overdue.”
The hybrid pursed his lips as he glared at the boy trapped in the human body. He hated that he was right and breathed out his fury through his nose as it was clear that he was in agreement. “Don’t make me regret this,” Klaus told his brother as he started to walk towards the exit of the mausoleum.
Kol grinned at Bella. “See? Underneath all that gruff, he loves me.”
“You really didn’t have to do that, you know,” Bella said as they started to follow Klaus.
“I am not leaving you on your own in that place where you have the chance to become a late night snack for a hungry vampire that he likes to keep around his paranoid self.”
“I’m living in a house with six Cold Ones and I didn’t get snacked upon,” Bella pointed out. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“Those Cold Ones have a hidden agenda, love,” Kol countered. “They know you’re special and they don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Doesn’t that go for you as well then?” She looked up to him with a smile on her face. “You don’t want any harm come to me because I have this shield thing?”
“No, I don’t want any harm come to you because you’ve been hurt enough, which is also Niklaus’ reasoning. He stepped in for ya before he knew about all this, remember Pet? Just because you have something extra makes it a lot more interesting now. What you want to do with it is your own. We’re not going to tell you what to do with the knowledge you have acquired in the last half hour.”
“But…” Bella said as she kept looking at him. “It would be preferable if I’d do something with it?”
“Only if you want to, darling,” he smiled at her. “Only if you want to. Nik promised you a safe couple of days here in New Orleans, what you choose to do with it is all up to you.”
Bella thought for a moment. “So, if I want to find out about how New Orleans came to be tomorrow, you’ll be okay with that?”
“Sure. We could visit all the museums if you’d like. Then, afterwards, you can ask questions to people who actually were there when this was still a colony.”
“How is that possible?” She stammered and then mentally wanted to hit herself. “Never mind. Of course. You and your brother.”
“And our other brother Elijah. He sincerely likes to teach people things. He’s also quite insufferable sometimes seeing as he thinks he’s the wisest and most educated of us all. To be fair, he might give you the most accurate account of the past than me or Niklaus.”
“And why is that?”
“Nik is a pompous ass and I was sidelined for a period of time.” Kol smirked as he once again put his arm around her and continued to walk down the street towards the Abbatoir.