A couple of weeks later, Bella really hoped that TrashPanda was around to talk to her, mainly because she did live in a rich environment of the Supernatural and she wanted to check on a story that Damon had told her about the Sun and Moon curse. Surely there would be an answer in New Orleans?
Bella stayed out of Mystic Falls trouble, she merely wanted to make sure that the curse was what it was and nothing special. Nothing that could harm the Salvatores, after all, Zach Salvatore may have started with her protection, it was his nephews – or uncles – that carried on, without even knowing what she was.
Hell, even Bella didn’t know what she was, but her research told her that she wasn’t a medium but some sort of necromancer and that was dangerous. She was dangerous. If she could raise the dead, she had to be careful. Maybe that was why she wanted to make sure that the curse wouldn’t have an effect on her, either.
CeilingCat: You here?
CeilingCat: What do you know about the Sun and Moon curse in relation to vampires?
CeilingCat: Totally. History teacher has moved on to the Aztecs now. Seeing as you’re in the big city and all… maybe you could help me write this paper?
Bella didn’t like the silence. TrashPanda wasn’t talking for a long time while she was online so to kill some time, and not to sound too pushy, Bella made herself something to eat.
TrashPanda: Okay, so legend tells us that vampires and werewolves are real – but they’re not buuuut let’s assume that they are. Long time ago, the vampires and werewolves were fighting and were killing innocent lives while doing so. So the Aztecs created a curse that would allow the vampires to walk only at night and the wolves to only transform at full moon.
CeilingCat: I know that. I mean, I got as far as that. Vampires are the werewolves’ natural prey. Their bite can kill.
TrashPanda: Right! So that’s the curse. However, rumor goes that the curse is fake. It appeared out of nowhere in many cultures at the same time and some people say that it was merely a scary horror story to tell.
CeilingCat: You’re saying a bunch of guys wanted to fuck with believer’s heads?
TrashPanda: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, you can break the curse, or so they say, with a Moonstone, a vampire and a werewolf sacrifice and the blood of a doppelganger. Seriously, for a tiny curse like that? Something else might be at play. Something bigger. More dangerous.
CeilingCat: Like what?
TrashPanda: I don’t know. A hybrid, maybe? They’re extremely rare in lore, so maybe it’s all connected. I don’t know. Nobody is telling me anything here, because it’s not real. I only know what I know because I like connecting the dots, just like you.
CeilingCat: A hybrid? Okay, so for arguments sake and to make my paper even better (and me teacher’s pet for making it exciting!); let’s assume that everything’s real because my teacher likes that, and let’s assume that everything needed is available in one town but the hybrid. What’s the worse that could happen?
TrashPanda: The hybrid breaking his curse and to be able to make more hybrids? I don’t know. He could become more powerful because both of his sides are free. You’re a writer. Use your imagination and good luck on that paper. Let me know what your teacher thinks, this is certainly out of the box thinking, well done!
TrashPanda: Oh, and I did a paper on Doppelgangers last semester. The research I did was that they’re always hell bent on destroying the other’s lives by manipulation and nasty things. So if you need to see it as real; make them the bad guy in all of it.
CeilingCat: LOL. Thanks! I’ll have this paper written in no-time now! Back to the books!
TrashPanda: Back to the book cave! Xx
Bella continued to live her life after the chat with TrashPanda. She went to school, listened intently when her teacher Saltzman spoke, observed the rest of the gang, but the funny thing was that they weren’t spending that much time in school anymore, and it wasn’t raising any eyebrows from the faculty.
And wow, did she want to stab Moritz’ eyes out with a blunt object. He had gone from being a dork to being Mr. Popular and she suspected that he was on something. Or maybe turned. Damon and Stefan hadn’t turned anyone – to her knowledge, Caroline was an accident – so was this Katherine’s fault? Why would she allow him to walk in daylight? No, vampire was out of the question. Maybe he was a werewolf, an accidental bite from Tyler or his uncle. Moritz was a pig.
Bella followed him out of school, she didn’t even know why, really. She and Moritz hadn’t been dating for long and they had separated for even longer, but she hated his guts. There was a fire, a rage, inside of her and he needed to pay for his sluttiness. For his inability to treat women like royalty, like the goddesses they are. He was a pig. A pig!
“Bella! Hey, focus on me,” Damon’s voice suddenly sounded as he grabbed her tightly, turning her around and making her focus on him.
Where did he come from. “What?”
“You can’t just turn people into animals, Bella,” he said as he spun her around again and pointed at the pig, Moritz’ clothes were hanging loosely around him. “No matter how much you hate them, you can’t do this.”
“I didn’t do that!”
“Yes, you did. I saw it with my own eyes. You’re lucky nobody else did,” Damon scolded her as he let go of her and helped the pig out of the clothes before throwing them into the bin. “Now he’s just a pig.”
“He is,” she replied stunned. “I did that?”
“Yep. Let’s get you home. You’re done for the day,” Damon put his arm around her and started to lead her to his car. “You have to be careful, Bella. Wasn’t that what Zach had said? Elijah is in town. He’s a very old vampire and he has a nose for special things like you. Do you want a big target painted on your back?”
“What if he’s the one who can tell me what I am?”
“Trust me, he’s not. He’s a prick,” he opened the passenger door for her so she could get in and drove her home in silence, his mind obviously preoccupied with other things.
“You know, how am I supposed to learn and observe when you don’t want me in on things?”
“Katherine. The Tomb. The werewolves. The curse. Elijah.”
Damon only smirked as he stopped the car in front of the boarding house. “How am I supposed to keep you safe while I’m busy dealing with the other stuff?”
Bella grumbled as she slammed the door closed. “What if the curse isn’t for breaking the werewolf curse? What if it’s used for other things?”
“More dangerous things, I don’t know.”
“You’re right, you don’t know. I do. Now, go home before you turn me into a pig.”
“You’re already a pig,” Bella rolled her eyes at him before she walked over to her home.
“So, in my previous class, I was told we’d been covering the sixties because of the upcoming Decade dance,” Mr. Saltzman announced as he started to teach the class. Bella thought he looked different, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. “It made me want to fail myself. I did so poorly! Now, what were we discussing in this class?”
“You were supposed to hand us our papers back, Mr. Saltzman,” Jeri piped up with a giggle. “Props to you for finally becoming the absentminded professor!”
“Right, of course,” Saltzman said, furiously blushing as he pretended to rummage through the drawers and the papers on the desk. “Ah! Found them!” He handed the first few ones to the ones in the first row before his eye fell on something. “A paper on the Sun and Moon curse?”
“Aztec,” Bella replied, cocking her head. “Don’t you remember? I wanted to write about something other than the builders of modern society and tackle their beliefs. You said to go for it?”
A fake smile of recognition appeared on his face. “Of course. I uh… I haven’t managed to grade it yet so once everyone has their papers and their grades, you can all do something fun for the rest of the hour while I discuss this with you.”
“Teacher’s pet,” Jessica coughed as she clutched her paper and walked out of class.
More was said, but Bella decided to ignore it. As always. Saltzman would never have announced this so publicly. He was definitely wrong. And she was alone. Luckily he was more intrigued with the words in her paper, so maybe she could disappear. Getting up from her chair, she started to make her way to the door, slowly.
“Isabella, please,” he said as he pointed to a chair. “You have quite the imagination,” he smiled at her, leaning against the desk. “Do you think this could be true?”
“Of course not,” Bella huffed. “You and I both know that the Aztecs weren’t that superstitious. It’s just a fairytale.”
“Quite,” he said amused. “I love it. I’ll give you an A, but I suppose that doesn’t come as a surprise to you.”
“Can I go now?”
“Can I run a theory by you? Since we know the same people?”
“Damon and Stefan? I saw you get out of Damon’s car this morning when he dropped you off. You and I both know they’re vampires and that they’ve been after this curse for quite some time trying to save Elena. Don’t play dumb with me, Isabella.”
“I’m not. I’m not involved in any of that.”
“Then why the extensive research on a curse, that according to you, doesn’t exist?”
“Because I do that. I tell stories.”
“What if it were real? There is no Sun and Moon curse, only one curse, meant to bind something much more powerful than your ordinary vampire or werewolf?”
Definitely not Saltzman. Bella sighed as she tiredly ran a hand through her hair. “I don’t care. Damon told me about the Original, Klaus, yesterday and for all I care it’s his curse to break. I’m not involved in their problems.”
“But what if Klaus kills them?”
“Kinda their own fault, isn’t it? For finding Elena? For getting to know her and setting things in motion?” Bella chuckled darkly. “I mean, I’ve warned Damon countless of times to just walk away, but he can’t. Because Elena looks like Katherine and Katherine is a bitch. For all I care Klaus kills Stefan because Stefan is barely hanging on by a thread and please, a vampire that feeds on animals? What kind of vampire is that? You know as well as I do how Stefan was when he was drinking human blood a few months ago. He’s a danger.”
Alaric smirked then. “What of Damon?”
“Damon’s nice. He pretends he’s an asshole who doesn’t care but he’s nice. Kind. Warm. I feel privileged to see that side of him that he rarely shows others.” She couldn’t remember if she told Rick about herself, probably not. Damon, and in a way Stefan, were the only ones who knew that she was something but what was still a mystery to all of them. “Damon’s a victim of Stefan’s bullying and the sole reason he’s a vampire in the first place. If it were up to me, Stefan would have been dead a long time ago but hey, I’m a mere mortal and you’re too much of a wuss to kill him.”
“He’s the brother of my best friend.”
“Is Damon your best friend, though?” Bella said as she got up from her chair and walked over to Alaric, staring him right in the face. “Because I don’t think you’re Alaric Saltzman.”
“Your aura. Good day,” Bella said as she snatched her paper out of Not Rick’s hands and walked out of the classroom before turning around and peeking her head around the door. “And for your information, this wasn’t my paper; this was research for Rick,” she said before turning around and heading out of school. She could feel her heart rate return back to normal before she burst out in a fit of laughter. She had sounded just like her mother. What was the world coming to?
No, but seriously, there was a dark shimmer or muddled colors around Saltzman that had alerted her, something she hadn’t seen before. Was she now going to have to read up on auras?
She stopped by the groceries store as she walked home from school; not wanting to bother Damon in having to pick her up. She wasn’t even sure why he dropped her off in the first place; Bella could have easily taken her own car.
Mystic Falls still felt different; something was coming and nothing would be the same again. Then again, she turned Moritz into a pig, what the fuck was up with that? She still couldn’t wrap her head around it. Bella had done some digging on the internet, googling for transformations from a human into an animal but all she got was shapeshifting; like werewolves, dream interpretations and anime and that wasn’t it, was it? She’d forced the shapeshifting upon someone else.
What freaked her out the most was that she was intrigued by it, and didn’t feel any remorse. At all.
When she arrived at her house, she was well aware of the amount of crows that were following her the moment she crossed the driveway of the boarding house. “Overkill much, Damon?” She muttered under her breath and stopped in her tracks when she saw this guy standing at her front door. He was immaculately dressed and looking around, curiously. “Can I help you? The Salvatores live in the big house!”
“Oh, I’m well aware of that, thank you,” the man turned to face her, a pleasant smile on his face. “Do you live here?”
“I do, but I don’t remember ordering something and it usually arrives at the big house so…” Bella readjusted the bag in her hand so she could use it as a weapon if needed and pushed past the man, opening her door and getting in. If this guy was a vampire, and he likely was, then she was safer inside. “Again, can I help you?”
“I’m curious,” the man replied. “I’m an historian and I was merely looking around on the Salvatore property as it’s old and perhaps I could find something of interest. This guest house isn’t on any document.”
“You’re not an historian,” Bella flicked on her computer. If TrashPanda was on, she could type help or something. Bella’s phone was dead and couldn’t send a text to Damon. “I know you’re a vampire and if you’re wondering why two vampires allow a human to live on their land, well, you got me there. I have no idea, but the rent is great.”
The man chuckled at that. “You remind me of someone I’ve met a while back, her name was…” the man paused, as if he was trying to remember. “Renée Higginbotham. Using sarcasm as a defense.”
“You know my mom?”
“Ah! You must be her daughter, Isabella.”
Bella narrowed her eyes on him. “Bella and how do you know my name?”
“My family and I have been keeping an eye on yours for a very long time. What a coincidence that I happened to run into you, in Mystic Falls of all places.”
“Why have you been keeping an eye on my family?”
“I have my suspicions about your family after an encounter with your mother and your father,” the man replied simply. “The male line of the Higginbothams is quite fascinating and nothing is known of your father’s side of the family. Tell me, is your grandfather still alive?”
“Grandpa Nate died when I was 18.”
“You’re creeping me out.”
“Oh, not to worry, Isabella. I mean you no harm.”
Bella snorted. “Yeah, no offense, buddy, but one of my landlords said the same and he tried to take a bite out of me too.”
The man’s lip curled in disdain. “The Salvatores have been nothing but a thorn in my side since my arrival here in Mystic Falls. Was it Damon?”
“You’re going to stay away from Damon or…”
“Or what?” the man took a step closer to the door, but Bella was fairly certain he wouldn’t be able to enter. “Instead of listening to me, they do the complete opposite of what I have said. They’re making things harder for themselves, and, for myself. My patience is wearing thin. I’d rather spend my time with more intellectual beings than them, but alas. I shall punish Stefan then. You will have nothing to fear.”
“I don’t want you to do anything,” Bella shot at him. “I’m quite capable of taking care of myself.”
“Yes,” she replied as she pointed that the pig that had come to join them on Bella’s porch. She had to stifle a grin as someone, likely Damon, had dressed it up in an ugly sweater. “That used to be a boy. Unless you want to turn into what he is, I suggest you’ll leave me alone. I’ve had enough to deal with today and I’m tired.”
“You’re a witch.”
“Sure, whatever,” Bella shrugged. “I want you to stop nosing around my family, too. It’s creepy that there are beings as old as yourself stalking regular human beings. Life is hard enough without having to think about the supernatural aspect of it all. Leave me alone,” she then took a deep breath to calm herself. “Go stalk Elena or something. She’s the doppelganger. Far more interesting.”
“Elena and I have an understanding, it’s just that her protectors are idiots.”
“Not my problem. That’s theirs,” she countered. “Should I see you again, in front of my house, leering, I will alert my landlords and I will have you forcibly removed.”
He smirked then. “I’d love to see them try. Have a nice day, Miss Bella. Thank you for the entertainment that I needed today.”
Bella rolled her eyes and slammed the door shut before starting to unpack her bag of groceries. She then put her phone on the charger and called Damon, telling him about some stalker on their property and in front of her home, seemingly knowing a lot about her family.
“You didn’t antagonize him, did you?”
“I was my usual cheery self.”
“Damnit, Bella, that was Elijah. He doesn’t like to be insulted.”
“I didn’t insult him! Jeez!”
“Did you disrespect him?”
“He disrespected me first by showing up here and started to ask questions. I guess we’re even. Now, just a head’s up, I don’t think Alaric is Alaric.”
“No, he’s Klaus.”
Bella groaned as she sat down on her couch. “What are you up to? Do you need my help?”
“Nope, just stay where you are. When it’s all over, I’ll come to you.”
“Not up for discussion, Bella. I promise we’ll be fine. And, if not, the deed to our house is in the study. All you have to do is sign it and it’s yours. It’ll keep you safe until you figure things out. But don’t worry, I promise we won’t die or anything. That would just be stupid.”
TrashPanda wasn’t around that night and Bella had to admit that she was a little scared when she could smell smoke coming out of the woods. For some reason, she felt the need to sit on her porch all night with tea and hot chocolate and just watch. Listen to the sounds around her. Listen to human screams in the distance until they died out. Some foxes had burrowed underneath the porch, Bella could hear them whimper in fear. Other than feeling slightly uneasy, Bella felt at peace; it was a beautiful full moon out and she could feel the weirdness of the day roll straight off her back.
When morning came, she was still awake and was fascinated by a wolf approaching her on the porch. There was fresh blood around his muzzle and Bella tried to remain calm; she wasn’t an idiot. Full moons meant werewolves but the sun was up now so if this was a real werewolf, he’d have turned already. No, this was a real wolf and it was beautiful.
“Hello,” she greeted the wolf calmly. “Aren’t you gorgeous?” She slid off her chair to lower herself to the ground and held out her hand to the wolf. “I mean you no harm. It’s okay.”
The wolf touched her hand with his nose and breathed in her scent before coming in closer, laying down next to her and put its face in her lap. “Alright, you can take a nap,” Bella said quietly as she scratched the wolf between his ears.
Weren’t wolves vicious in the wild? Even in zoos? What was she, really? Snow White? Dr. Doolittle? Either way, she was amazed and allowed herself to bask in the specialness of it all.