Rebekah had ulterior motives, alright. Claiming to have done the same to Myriam, she was actively trying to push Bella’s buttons by pulling her brothers down, to see what Bella’s reaction would be, trying to see if her brother had been right about her other brother’s girlfriend and Bella wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not that Rebekah felt let down.
Bella hadn’t taken the bait. While she had been comfortable enough to flatter Rebekah and pay attention to her, she didn’t like what the youngest Mikaelson was doing. Granted, she was only looking out for her siblings due to their history of messing things up, but things were good now. Bella pointed out that Myriam does a great job with Klaus and that Rebekah didn’t have to worry about Kol, either. That it was alright for Rebekah to take Matt for a trip around the world, to find her own slice of happiness.
In turn, Rebekah didn’t like it that Bella had yet again turned the conversation around and at that point she demanded to go back home, noting that by now her brothers would have been done arguing. Bella believed that Rebekah was bored with her now, now that she wasn’t who she used to be.
“You’re quiet,” Kol found her in the library where she was trying to continue her practise of reading. “Something happen between you and my sister?”
Bella smiled up at him. “Why would there be?”
“Because she seems to be quite pissy after your return from the Mystic Grill,” he snorted as he sat down next to her. “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I think she was trying to get me to lash out at her or defend what you and I have but…”
“That’s not you,” Kol tucked a strand of Bella’s blonde hair behind her ear. “I, for one, am happy that you decided to stick with me,” he softly kissed her lips. “And should you ever decide to leave me, I won’t be angry with you for doing so.”
Bella let out a giggle. “I won’t leave unless you tell me to.”
“Well, that’s the best deal ever, isn’t it?” Kol smirked and kissed her hard, as he took the book out of her hands and threw it across the room. The sofa was going to get lucky; two hot people on it making out. Possibly going to have sex should there be no interruptions. Bella needed to feel better, he wanted to cheer her up and he needed some release after bickering with his brother. Sometimes Nik could be extremely annoying.
It took another two full weeks of planning, fighting, arrival of allies and discussing things for everyone to be on the same page. Klaus had managed to turn another handful of hybrids successfully and Bella had been quiet and observing all that time. She had mixed feelings about all of this. Granted, she answered any question that arose and she could answer, but mainly the questions were directed to Jasper, who had arrived with Selene as he knew more of the possible security issues that could be encountered should they attack the Cullens.
Yes, she was grateful that the Mikaelsons and everyone else who gathered at the house were willing to take down something that was bad and evil, but the Cullens had been her family, her home, for over 150 years. They deserved to live, despite their not-so-nice side. Or did they? Bella wasn’t even sure how she’d react if she’d see them again, there was still this tiny pull towards them, back into their arms.
But they would hurt her again. They would mess with her brain and she’d forget all about Kol and Jasper while she was going to get pregnant and poop out babies. Going back to the Cullens was not an option and she was glad that they were going to be ended.
Time was pressing, everyone was walking around making the last preparations of their journey to DeLand, Florida to the Cullens and Bella had retreated to the stables to get away from the mass of emotions. She hadn’t been to the stables in the last two weeks, mainly because she didn’t want to get used to silence, Bella wanted to power through everything because she wasn’t weak. She wasn’t a quitter and the first edition of Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson was a fun read so the library was where she spent most of her time.
She was shocked, however, to find the stables occupied. The Salvatore brothers, who had been put away somewhere by Klaus, but nobody had told her why or where. The few times she’d been in town with Rebekah or Kol, the question was always the same; ‘what have you done with our friends?’. Stefan and Damon were in separate stables, looking out of it. Starved, but not to the point of desiccation. Compelled. Why?
“Don’t open the box, blondie,” Damon’s voice sounded pained and gravelly. “Because I will suck you dry and then get my revenge on Klaus.”
“But you’re compelled.”
“To not open the box,” Damon replied. “And it’s stupid because the damn lever is right there!”
“I’ll open it.”
“No!” He slammed against the bars. “If you do that, I will come out and I will kill you. Hurry along now, little girl, run away as far as possible from these vampires before they will ruin your life.”
“You could open mine,” Stefan’s velvety voice sounded and Bella flinched. She never had any trouble with past clients before, but that was because she didn’t have to deal with them or those feelings. She’d been trained not to react or not to remember, or both. Now that she had been living in the ‘real world’ for a while and slowly getting to know what scared her, she had to admit that Stefan Salvatore scared her. The memory of what he’d done to her was still lingering in her mind.
She knew that Stefan was a vegetarian vampire, that human blood made him a ripper, but she questioned his control. He didn’t sound sane. Bella kept her eyes fixed on Damon. “I’ll fix this. I’m going to talk to Kol and he’ll release you.”
“No, he won’t. Run as far as you can, Blondie. The Mikaelsons are the worst of the worst.”
“No, they’re not,” Bella said as she turned around and headed back inside the house in an attempt to find Kol, who she eventually found talking to Jasper and Klaus.
“Something’s bothering her,” Jasper pointed out, to which all three men turned to her and looked at Bella. “And now she’s embarrassed.”
“Stop it,” Bella scowled, looking to the floor to see if a hole was going to open up to swallow her whole. “Can we talk?” She muttered.
“Of course,” Kol replied as he pulled her into his arms and kissed the top of her head. “About what?”
“About what’s in the stables.”
“Oh! You found my little side project!” Klaus beamed from ear to ear. “What do you think, Bella? Aren’t they right where they’re supposed to be?”
“Even for you, I think this is cruel,” Bella replied, looking over her shoulder to look at Klaus. “You’re treating them like animals and they’re starving.”
“I told Nik you wouldn’t like it,” Kol slowly caressed her back. “But he wouldn’t listen.”
“Love, they’ve been the bane of our existence for years and Stefan hurt you. Of course I felt the need to take proper action. In fact, I wanted to serve their final punishment today.”
“Damon doesn’t deserve to be punished.”
A delightful smile appeared on Klaus’ face. “So you agree that Stefan does?”
“No!” Bella cried out. “You can’t blame my former clients for hurting me, Klaus. It was my job. It was my job to take their abuse if they felt like they needed an outlet. My abilities encouraged that behaviour, drew their deepest, darkest urges out of them so I could manipulate them or not.” When Klaus opened his mouth to say something, Bella spoke up again. “I’m not finished. Now that I’m aware of what I’ve been through and what clients did to me or didn’t do to me, doesn’t take away the fact that it wasn’t them. It was all on me. Me and the Cullens for allowing things to go that far. If anyone should be punished for what Stefan did to me, it’s me.”
As a victim of abuse himself, he knew where she was coming from. Klaus always felt like he should be punished for being a monster, the monster created by his own mother and his fear of his father, the vampire hunter. Whenever his siblings were in peril, it was Klaus who dealt with the fall out. He sacrificed himself because he was even less fragile than his siblings and he deserved the pain. However, Bella was a victim of circumstance. She was an innocent bystander in all of this, manipulated by the Cullens to do despicable things. “Bella, love,” Klaus said gently. “Will you also blame yourself for me daggering our brother Finn and drop his coffin in the deepest of oceans for facilitating Stefan and Elijah for hurting you?”
“You did what!” Bella said panicked. “No, you… there’s no blame for him!”
“Well, to be honest, Finn had it coming,” Kol deadpanned. “He called the Cullens which brought you here. He wanted you to make us fall under your spell to distract us from what he and Mother were up to.”
“And it was Katherine who alerted us to what he was doing, remember that? Without you, all of us would have been dead. So dropping Finn in the ocean is a mercy. We could have daggered him with the White Oak Stake, but we didn’t. Which is why Damon and Stefan are still alive. Uncomfortable, but alive.”
She pulled away from Kol, she felt as if she was going to explode. “You’re hurting people because of me! Because of what I did!”
“No, because of what the Cullens did, it’s not your fault, Bella,” Klaus replied. “Believe me, if it weren’t for you, I would have killed them, just like Kol has killed Marcel.”
“What!” Bella squeaked and looked at Kol, fearful of him now. “No, please…”
Kol scratched himself on the head. “Uh… Nik? I thought we agreed on not mentioning that in front or to Bella?”
“I don’t care, Kol. It happened. You killed Marcel because he was insulting family.”
“But he never hurt me!” Bella squeaked. Were they going to kill anyone who ever laid a finger on her? The list was endless! It then dawned on her that they probably had this list due to Carlisle’s meticulous record keeping. Who was close to Mystic Falls? She thought hard, because she usually didn’t know where she was when Emmett and Jasper took her out.
Bill! No, they weren’t allowed to kill Bill. Bill had only wanted company and someone to listen to him when he spoke. Bill took her out hunting with a big rifle that he didn’t trust her to shoot with due to her size and the gun’s kickback. Bill treated her like… almost like a father from the things she read in the books. He certainly had the big beard to be a father! No, if they’d kill him… or had Klaus already killed him? Maybe she made the wrong decision of wanting to stay with the Mikaelsons. The Cullens never killed anyone, only if they broke the rules.
“She’s going to bolt,” Jasper said the moment Bella ran out of the room, wanting some space. “Let her go, she’ll be back,” he said quietly, putting his hand on Kol’s arm to stop him from going after Bella. “This is a breakthrough.”
“Let me go.” Kol yanked on his arm to free himself, but the Cold One’s grip was tough to break without breaking something himself.
“She doesn’t need you right now,” Jasper nodded towards the door where Myriam could be seen rushing past in the direction Bella had gone. “It’ll be alright.”
“How do you know?”
Jasper snickered. “She realised she felt a new emotion.”
“Which one is that?”
“Guilt and remorse with a thin layer of non acceptance,” Jasper explained, shrugging. “It’s a very complicated emotion, but an emotion nonetheless.”
“Then why the hell is Myriam going after her?”
“Myriam helped me, too,” Klaus replied as he handed his brother a tumbler of bourbon. “Let’s continue our conversation, shall we?”
Bella ran until she reached the gates that were closed. She wanted to leave the property but knew that she wouldn’t be able to cope or she’d get lost so she instead opted to just create as much distance as she possibly could. She didn’t understand why her former clients were going to pay for what she had did to them.
Stefan and Damon were in the stables, Marcel was dead and it didn’t look like it was going to end there. Punishing the Cullens wasn’t enough, she needed to be punished too. Maybe Circe hadn’t thrown away all the chemicals that Carlisle had used on her and the other girls. There must be something in there that could hurt her.
“You look like you could use a drink,” Myriam’s voice sounded from behind her. Bella had been just about ready to kick against the wall that held one of the gates to see if it would break something for her own punishment.
“I don’t drink,” Bella quickly shoved her hands in her pockets and sighed.
Myriam hummed as she put her arm around Bella and lead her out of the gate. “Now is a good time to start, huh?” She smiled at her. “Growing up sucks, doesn’t it?”
“I’m already grown up,” Bella replied with a sulk. “It’s the reasoning behind things that I don’t understand.”
“Must there always be a reason?”
“There’s always a reason,” Bella nodded. “I was always told the reason behind something.”
“Aren’t you confusing reason with logic?” When Bella stayed quiet, Myriam continued. “For example, you think it’s logical that you should be the one who should be punished along with the Cullens for what happened to you, is that right?”
“I made people do some horrible things most of the time. I can’t remember a lot of it, but some. I know that the Cullens need to be punished for what they’ve done to numerous of girls, but to go after the clients? I think that’s not right.”
Myriam nodded as she continued to steer Bella down the road to the nearest watering hole. “In your reasoning, all the girls who were in the grasp of the Cullens should be punished.”
“You make it sound like it, cherie. Now, if they don’t deserve punishment, then why do you? Because you were one of the first? That Carlisle’s successes with you prompted to getting more girls? Because you were the Princess?”
Myriam shrugged. “Fair enough. Then tell me, Bella, did you go with Carlisle willingly all these years ago or were you taken?”
“Kol read the journal to me. He said I was taken.”
“Then aren’t you a victim yourself?” When Bella kept quiet again, Myriam continued. “Now, you might not see the connection, but I see a lot of similarities between you and the Mikaelsons, especially Klaus. You all suffered a great tragedy, or multiple tragedies and you blame yourself for the hurt that other people did onto you or how other people made you hurt them. You think you’re as much to blame as everyone else, but Bella, you are not. The Cullens are to blame and everyone who hired you because they should have known better.”
“They wouldn’t have known.”
“Believe me, Bella, tailor-made girls for pleasure is a dream and usually only done by some serious compelling which makes it not right in most cases. Quite frankly, you were raped over and over again despite you seemingly being the instigator. You didn’t know any better. You were a puppet. And that’s hard to accept, I know. For the first time in a very long time you’re becoming aware of everyone and everything around you and you see the true faces of hurt.” Myriam pulled her into the bar and ordered two tequilas before throwing one back and handed the other to Bella. “Drink up.”
“Drink up. We’ll deal with the fall out later.”
Bella reluctantly downed the shot and could feel it burn down her throat.
“Good girl. So we’re clear on the fact that no blame is onto you?”
“I guess…” she replied as she watched the bartender refill their glasses. “But not everyone deserves punishment.”
“Sure they do. Like I said; they should have known better. If something looks too good to be true, it’s usually magic or compulsion in these parts,” Myriam said, throwing back another shot and waited for Bella to do the same. “Now, as for the thing that made you storm out… What kind of emotions did you feel in that room when Klaus admitted to what he was doing to Stefan and Damon?”
“A warm blanket with sharp teeth,” Bella replied as she looked at the confused look of Myriam. “I don’t know how else to put it!”
“Fair enough,” Myriam nodded as she retrieved the blocking amulet from her pocket and put it on the bar. “You can read me now. Is anything what you’re picking up what you felt in that room?”
“Myriam…” Bella knew that Myriam didn’t like to be read, but she couldn’t not pick up on the same feelings. “Yes?”
She smiled at that as she threw back another shot of tequila. “That warm blanket is nothing but love for you, Bella. You surprised us all by how quickly we took to you. Even Klaus admitted to me that outside his family and myself, he wouldn’t be able to feel something like that anymore. You see, if you’ve lived as long as they have, it gets harder to hold onto your humanity, after all, we started off as being human beings, so to feel something as strong as love for an outsider is remarkable. You made all of our moral compasses align together, you even managed to reunite a family in a way nobody believed was possible.”
Bella blinked at that. “Finn is on the bottom of some ocean and Elijah is in a coffin, how is that reuniting a family?”
Laughing, Myriam took another shot and pushed one towards Bella. “Prior to the Mikaelson ball, Finn had been in his coffin for nearly 900 years for being a mommy’s boy and against being a vampire. Even as a human, he was loyal to a fault to Esther and would often tell on his unruly siblings. None of the siblings like him, even Elijah. As far as Elijah’s nap, well… there’s too much going on to tell you but let’s just say he deserves it. They are out of commission because they’re disruptive to the rest of the family and it has nothing to do with you.”
“Then why’s Finn in the ocean and not with Elijah?”
“Because he would have brought death upon the family. But family isn’t just blood, Bella. It’s who you surround yourselves with. The moment you walked into the lives of the Mikaelsons, you became family and they would do anything for family. Like yourself, they’ve been through some scary times and they have dealt with it the only way they knew how; taking their revenge on those who wronged them. Why wouldn’t they do the same for you?”
“Is that the teeth part?”
“Absolutely. You’re a part of the family as much as I am. Perhaps even more because compared to us, you’re helpless. Immortal, but not quite able to take your own revenge. Going after everyone who has ever hired you, touched you, raped you, and those who have created you, is getting revenge and justice for you because you deserve that. No one is ever going to hurt you again or pay the price for doing so.”
“But the Cullens didn’t feel like a warm blanket with teeth. If a warm blanket is love, then why did they tell me they loved me while they felt like cold feet?”
“They were using you. You were an experiment, a means to an end, their prized possession. There was no love there, only obsession.”
Bella thought for a moment and slowly nodded. “I understand. But the Mikaelsons kill people.”
“We’re vampires, darling. We need blood to survive and why not use bad people for that? It beats using innocents, doesn’t it?”
“You can feed without killing.”
“Hey, we need some fun too!” Myriam laughed as she watched Bella down another shot glass. “Fun is great. It’s so good to let loose sometimes. Fun isn’t just having sex. It’s doing something you enjoy. Like reading or dancing or killing. And tonight, I’m going to make you positively drunk, because that’s fun too.” She picked her amulet from the bar and put it back in her pocket. “If I have to compel everyone in this bar to stop feeling things, then I will. I want to see you out of control.”
Bella snorted. “That’s not going to happen.”
“Yeah, it is. You’re slurring your words on your third tequila. Good job!” She motioned to the bartender for more. “Drink up!”
“Kol will kill me.”
“You can’t be killed, so… boohoo to him and stop making excuses. Start living to the fullest.”