When Bella hung up on her – Charlie, and walked back inside the room, she found herself being amused by Rebekah the owl, flying circles over the heads of her brothers, occasionally pecking at their skulls while she happily hooted away. “Someone’s enjoying herself,” Bella mused as she leaned against the doorpost. “Maybe we should keep her like this indefinitely.”
“She’ll hurt herself or worse,” Klaus said, his face saying he was pissed off but his voice had a hint of amusement in it. While he had gotten used to Bella turning people into temporary animals, it was still astonishing and scary that she could. “Is he still here?”
Bella looked around and found Henrik near the bookcase. “Yep, he’s at the bookcase if you wish to talk to him. I’m going to the kitchen and make myself a sandwich.” Before she left the room, she turned Elijah and Rebekah back into their normal selves so the siblings could continue to squabble while she was out the room.
Bella was slightly fed up with Henrik. With having to deal with Silas. With everything, really. She wanted to leave and spend more time with Kol. They had so much fun before they had to return to Mystic Falls and frankly, as strange as it may sound, the time with Kol had made her feel normal after the discovery of who, what, she was.
She was getting too involved in things that she should have stayed out of, again. But it was because of the people she’d chosen to surround herself with that she chose to help out. If she hadn’t, Silas would have done a significant amount of damage to not just Klaus, but also to the Salvatores – and it was still odd to call them relatives. Damon was still Damon and Stefan was still a jerk.
There were times that she hated everything she had learned in the past and wished that everything returned to normal; but she was well aware that if things hadn’t changed, she’d never have met Kol and wow, was that a deal breaker! She loved writing about bad boys, dangerous boys, who had a heart of gold when it came to those they loved, always doing right by them and whatnot, and never in a million years she believed they were actually real. That she’d manage to fall in love with one and him falling in love with her.
She hopped on the counter as she munched on her sandwich and thought about what she and Kol were going to do next; likely Disney or to Los Angeles and soak up the sun. Or maybe, finally introduce him to her parents. Formally. Like… “This is my boyfriend,” or something like that. Charlie knew, but still.
“So, Nik wants us to go to New Orleans with him,” Kol said as he walked into the kitchen, an excited puppy look on his face. “It’s been so long since I’ve been there and I’m pretty sure you’re going to like it as well. The witch community is extensive there and they always liked me.”
Kol had told her about how his family shaped New Orleans, helped building it from the ground up and that they had spend hundreds of years doing so. She was well aware of how much the family liked the city, but she only saw one problem with it. “Haven’t we been avoiding cemeteries?”
“You’ll be fine,” Kol laughed as he put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. “Granted, they have more cemeteries than any other city we’ve visited, but-”
“I don’t know. 15?”
“You’re wrong,” Bella snorted as she took another bite of her sandwich, motioning for Kol to keep thinking.
He looked at her, not sure what she wanted of him as their eyes met. “Sixteen and I’m not wrong about that!”
A cheeky smile appeared on her face as she swallowed her bite. “You’re still wrong,” she sang softly as she wrapped her legs around his waist to keep him in place. “Have you forgotten the bloody history of New Orleans? Like… how many dead people aren’t buried in the cemeteries? The wars that have been fought, the serial killers, the duels, the people that have been left for dead in the swamps, the people killed due to natural disasters and never found, the -”
Kol shut her up with a kiss. “It will be alright, darling,” he assured her. “We’ve been to many cities where there are more bodies buried than New Orleans and you were alright there. You’re panicking over nothing. New Orleans will be a blast.”
“Kol, New Orleans is one big cemetery.”
He reassuringly smiled at her as he ran a hand through her hair. “You have nothing to worry about, trust me. If anything, the ancestors might be a little bit pissy for bringing someone who’s more powerful than they are into the city but that’ll all work out in the end, I promise.”
“But what if?”
“Well, if you do get into trouble, then that’s a pity. We’ll return to New Orleans once you’ve got that part of your gifts under control,” he said while he started to bounce on the balls of his feet. “But please, let’s not not go just because you’re afraid.”
Bella huffed as she ruffled his hair. “I’m not afraid. I’m worried that I might do irreparable damage or that I’ll be taken away and not allowed to return to you.”
“I won’t ever let that happen, I know where your grandfather lives and I’ll huff and puff against that door until he lets me in and get you back.” He kissed her again until a loud knock could be heard coming from the front door. “I think our guest has arrived.”
Bella sighed and nodded, but didn’t make any attempt of moving. Instead, she finished eating her sandwich while she heard Klaus walk to the door to open it. She hadn’t met Hades yet. From what she had learned from Greek Mythology was that Hades was one of the few who battled with the Titan Gods to end their rule, and when the kingdom was freed, he and his other two brothers divided their rule. He drew the short stick and became ruler of the underworld. She feared that Hades might not like her for that reason; she was the daughter of Circe, after all. And yet, Helios had managed to get Hades to the surface to help her out which made her believe he wasn’t that bad.
Kol unwrapped her legs from around him and pulled her off the counter as soon as she finished chewing the last bit of her sandwich. “Come on, chicken,” he said playfully. “It’s for you.”
Bella was surprised at the sight before her when they entered the hallway; she had imagined Hades to be an older man, much like Helios, but Hades looked like a young man in his late twenties. Dark and unruly hair, quite a lot of it too, dark eyes and a handsome face. If she hadn’t known any better, she’d have thought he was one of those emo punk kids terribly into bands such as Green Day. “Hi.”
“Helios wasn’t kidding when you said you were gorgeous,” Hades smiled at her. “I believe he was quite mild about that description, if I have to be honest!”
“Taken, sorry,” Bella muttered. “Nice to meet you, Hades.”
“Nice to finally meet you too,” he replied, a warm smile dancing on his lips as he walked towards her with an extended hand for her to shake. “I don’t get out of the Underworld much, but I’m hearing nothing but good things about you. Now, what did you need me for?”
“Is seeing and interacting with dead people normal for people like me?” It was out before she knew it. She didn’t mind her other powers, but this one was a big hurdle for her. “Or you know, helping them find peace and leave mortal world?”
“With a lineage like yourself, one of the cleanest of the bunch, I’d say, yes. It’s normal, but nothing you can’t handle, right? Otherwise Helios would have eased it a little bit for you?”
“It’s annoying,” Bella replied with half a shrug. “Sometimes Kol and I get wrapped up in… private things, and then we get interrupted. Or rather, I get interrupted.”
“Well, at least you’ve got it more under control now, you don’t send entire cemeteries to me anymore.”
“You did,” Hades laughed. “And that’s okay. The Mystic Falls cemetery didn’t hold that many wayward spirits so I could deal with them on my own and didn’t have to awaken my staff.” He put an arm around her and walked with her to the sitting area, completely ignoring the vampires around him. “You see, the Underworld used to be such a busy place, with me having a lot of people to help me out when Charon brought the dead to me. Lots of different areas to store souls as well. The Elysian Fields or places for punishment… Heaven or Hell, is what you know it as now, I believe, but there were at least seven places to direct souls to. It was quite the work! Whenever you send someone to me, I either keep them and store them away, or, when they’re religious, I send them to the heaven of their choice. My life hasn’t been this exciting for centuries!”
“But I don’t-”
“Yes, you do like that warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you’ve helped a spirit cross over. It’s a sense of pride and ability, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he zeroed in on Henrik and let out a breath. “Oh, I see. You need my help with that one, right?”
Bella nodded and looked over her shoulder to see Kol and Klaus behind them, warily looking at Hades, who still had his arm around Bella, before she clocked Elijah and Rebekah, sitting in the chairs near the fire. “Henrik is their baby brother, he died over a thousand years ago and all he wants to do is protect his family of vampires. There’s no off switch on him and he doesn’t want to leave on his own.”
“Yeah, I see the problem,” Hades said as he looked around, finally acknowledging the vampires. “They hold too much guilt for him to move on, to be loosened from this Earth for you to ‘turn that off switch’ for him. I sense that they do know it’s best for all and him if he gets what he deserves, but they still feel that guilt and the little one is feeding off from that. He’s stuck in his beliefs that he does need to protect his siblings from outside forces like yourself and nothing can shake him out of it. It’s a good thing you’ve asked Helios for my help, if you’d have left this boy to roam for longer, he could have gotten so bad to the point where he could take out this entire village. You could imagine him becoming a supernova and blow up; taking everything with him.”
“How’s that possible?”
“It’s not the boy’s fault, not at all, it’s your vampire friends. Their magic. Their guilt. Their emotional ties to this boy. It’s the price you pay for immortality and emotional instability; vampires aren’t known for their emotional stability.”
Bella held up a hand when someone wanted to protest out of principle. She was well aware of the emotional fluency of vampires, and Hades was merely stating facts. It didn’t surprise her that they made it hard for Henrik to be free. She was surprised by how quiet the boy was, though. Normally he’d have thrown a fit or whatever, but he just stood there. Doing nothing but looking at them. “But what of their enemies though?”
“No emotional bond, it’s different,” Hades said as he grabbed the boy with his free hand. “I’ll be taking him back with me and give him the proper care that he needs.” Hades then let out a snort. “Hel and I are due for a cup of tea.”
“No, Hel. As in the Norse Goddess Hel. She has a realm called Niflheim where those go who did not die a heroic death or haven’t made any difference in their lives. Don’t worry, it’s not fire and brimstone or torture. I’m sure that she’ll appreciate you returning this young viking boy.”
“We weren’t really practitioners once we arrived in the New World,” Elijah finally spoke. “I doubt that Goddess Hel would want our brother.”
“He’s viking adjacent, much like yourselves. Hel will love the company,” Hades countered before looking at Bella. “You behave yourself, young lady. Although I have a feeling that I will see you around quite soon.”
“What?” Bella stammered, but Hades merely winked at her before transforming into yellow energy and swooping himself and Henrik out of the house.
“Is that it, then?” Rebekah said in barely a whisper. “He’s gone?”
Letting out a breath, Bella nodded.
“Well then,” Klaus smiled widely. “Nothing for us here anymore, let’s prepare ourselves for our journey to New Orleans.”
Bella walked over to Kol and let his arms pull her in. “Can we go home for the night?”
“We are home.”
“No, my home,” she said as she looked up at him. “At the boarding house. Just you and me.”
“Bella, the bed here is far more superior.”
“Then I’ll go by myself.”
Kol realized that Bella wanted to leave, she felt crowded or overwhelmed and her little house on the Salvatore property was her way of leaving it all behind, where she felt more comfortable as she’s spent so many years there by herself. “Okay, we’ll go.”
“Great! I’ll go pack our bags,” she said as she ran up the stairs, leaving the siblings once again, alone to squabble, as she realized that Elijah wasn’t far off of having steam coming out of his ears.
“She,” Elijah pointed out the door. “Had no right!”
“Wow,” Kol said stunned. “You meet an actual Olympic God and the only thing you can say is that she had no right?”
“Haven’t you been listening, Elijah?” Rebekah asked from her position in her chair. “Henrik could have ended up destroying Mystic Falls.”
“Oh, that’s complete and utter nonsense, Rebekah, and you know it. Henrik was a gentle soul and now he’s been taken to Hell where he’ll burn for all eternity.”
“Correction,” Klaus piped up. “Hades is taking our brother to the Norse Goddess Hel to be looked after; he didn’t say anything about actual hell. Correct me if I’m wrong, brother, but whereas Valhalla is the place where slain, distinguished warriors go, Folkvangar is where the regular warriors go and Niflheim or Helheim is where those go who have not been notable in life or death. The Norse didn’t believe in actual Hell, that’s a Christian invention and they borrowed the name from the Norse Goddess. I’m fairly certain that Henrik will be alright and in a better place.”
“Yes, now, stop being such a prick, Elijah,” Rebekah said, finally getting up from her chair and walking over to the nearest alcohol bottle. “Henrik would have destroyed your precious Mystic Falls eventually. Now, onto different matters, Nik. Are you really going to make me go back to New Orleans?”
“If it helps, I hear that Myriam has already taken care of your worries, dear sister,” he replied kindly. “While I wasn’t a fan of the idea, Marcel has been taken out of the equation. He’s not dead, merely… incapacitated.”
“I’m still not going back.”
“You, Bella and Myriam could start something of your own, outside of family business. A pet rescue center, perhaps?” Klaus said amused. “Or a perhaps a brothel?”
“With you as the main attraction, sister,” Kol laughed.
“To be fair,” Bella’s voice sounded from behind them. “I think that Myriam would totally rock being a madam of a brothel. Maybe we could do both! A brothel and next to it a pet rescue center!”
“You lot have the worst ideas,” Rebekah said as she knocked back her drink. “I will think about it!”
Bella liked being in her old home for a little bit. Stefan and Damon weren’t home so they weren’t going to bother her and Kol and after the last couple of days of having had to deal with Henrik and Silas, she welcomed the peace and quiet. Not that she and Kol got that much sleep that night. They quietly talked between make out sessions and the occasional sex to release the stress from both their bodies.
Kol told her all about New Orleans and the witches there. How they performed Ancestral Magic and how different it was from what Bonnie practised. How the Ancestors still wanted sacrifices in order to give their witches more power. He told her about the werewolves and the vampires in New Orleans as well, that, during the time that the Mikaelsons were there, that there was peace between the three supernatural species and how the humans were kept out of the loop. How humans were the most important thing for the city to thrive. And thrive it did.
Kol was all giddy to embrace New Orleans as his home again and not just because of the witches or atmosphere; it was a city that never slept, much like New York, but so much more exciting. Bella loved it that he was so passionate about a city, but it didn’t make her worry disappear all together. She wanted to be with him in New Orleans, but if it would prove to be difficult, she’d have to settle to stay somewhere where there were less bodies in the ground, much like the places they had been visiting on their travels.
However, she could be wrong about New Orleans as she’d been wrong about Salem as well. She and Kol visited Salem for the sake of history and it had been pretty quiet for such an infamous place and, for most of the journey to New Orleans, she held on to the fact that she could be wrong.
They were traveling in two separate cars; Elijah, Klaus and Rebekah in one car, and Kol and Bella in the other, as they had less space in the car. Despite everything, every vampire was opposed to getting a mini van to transport them all together. Kol was fine without the sleep, but Bella couldn’t help but to fall asleep for a couple of hours before she told Kol that she wanted to drive for a little while so that he could relax, much like how they’d do on their own road trips.
Kol took over again when they stopped in Birmingham, Alabama for some food and petrol. Bella had bags underneath her eyes and he was going to force her to take a proper nap on the backseat, he wanted her to experience New Orleans to the fullest once they’d get there. First impression was always the best.
He woke her up from what seemed to be a nightmare in Slidell, just outside New Orleans. All they needed to do was to drive a little bit further over the I-10, cross the bridge and they’d be home. Maybe it was better if she was awake for this. Bella would love the view over the water.
Bella grumpily chatted with what seemed to be a ghost, helping that person out, while they were having a coffee to wake her properly, but it didn’t end there. At some point it appeared that she was talking to at least ten of them before she got fed up, pulled Kol up and dragged him off to the car and told him to drive. Visiting Slidell was not in the cards any longer.
“Look at that view!” Kol said impressed as they were on the bridge into New Orleans. “Isn’t it astonishing?” He looked over to her, but she had her eyes firmly shut and her ears covered with her hands. “Bella?” He gently touched her shoulder but the reaction that she gave him wasn’t expected.
“Don’t touch me!” She cried out, wincing as she hugged her knees to her chest and started rocking back and forth. “Shut up… shut up… leave me alone…”
Kol slammed on the breaks and quickly turned the car around before putting his foot down so he could get off the bridge as fast as he could. He nearly lost control over the car when Bella cried out in pain, loudly, with an ear piercing cry before he could feel an energy emit from her followed by a yellow light taking her once again, away from him.