“You’re not giving Klaus the dagger?” Damon said surprised.
“I’ll give it to Kol when he earned it,” she replied with a shrug. The further she was from the hotel room, the calmer she felt and, as she stood outside, she cursed loudly. “Those freaking witches know where I was the entire time and spelled the freaking room.”
“Time to move?” Damon laughed. “Seriously, now you’re back, you should go and live with them in their compound.”
“Hell no,” Bella shook her head. “Not until this is over and not until I’ve earned my place back. Despite everything, I did leave for two years and it hurt them. I’ll just have to move hotels.”
“Damon,” she replied as she tried to ignore them being looked at. At least that hadn’t changed in the last week. “Maybe everything that happened was a sign or something. Kol and I moved way too fast – he’s been with Davina longer than he has been with me! And sure, it felt good, great, even, but what if I was only drawn to him because of his extensive knowledge of things and everything else was just a result of excitement and hormones?”
“That’s a load of crap and you know it, Bella,” Damon chided her. “You love being with Kol and travel around. You love the Mikaelsons and consider them family, as they do you.”
She stopped walking and turned around to face him. “I do. I care for all of them, deeply. Well, maybe Elijah can go to hell, but yeah, I care for them deeply. And what happens when I care deeply? I can get so scarily angry that I lose control over myself. Last week I was this close to kill someone in order for the Ancestors to stop what they’re doing.”
“That’s only natural.”
“Yeah, it is. But I am too young to spend the rest of eternity not on Earth. I have one more chance, Damon. If I go out of line again because I’m unable to control myself, then it’s no more Bella. If this means I’ll have to surround myself with people I don’t care this much about, then so be it. The Mikaelsons will move on without me, they’ve already proven that they can. Especially Kol,” she sighed as she continued to walk towards the best pastry shop that she knew of. “It’s better to leave them now than to be ripped out of their lives because I fucked up again.”
“I thought Hades taught you control?”
“Yes, he did.”
“Then you have nothing to worry about, Bella.”
Bella pushed the door to the shop open. “Easy for you to say,” she muttered before ordering some pastries and then headed to the liquor store where she bought her favourite bottle of wine and the next stop was a chocolaterie to get some nice chocolates. She bought a beautiful basket from the market and put her gifts in there before she continued her way to the regent.
“All I’m saying is they’re big boys and girls and if they didn’t want you back into their lives, they wouldn’t have gone as far as they have in the last week,” Damon was puzzled as to why Bella bought all these goodies and didn’t taste some herself. He seriously thought she would go on a food binge after not having had anything to eat for the last week and he’d been wrong. “Shouldn’t you have like a sandwich?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I’ll be fine, now what was that what you said back at the hotel? You’d shut up,” she countered before picking up the pace. “The sooner this is over, the sooner you can go back to Mystic Falls.”
“What if I don’t want to go back?”
“And leave Stefan?”
“Yeah well, I might stay here. I’ve always liked New Orleans,” Damon mused as he put his hands in his pockets. “Did I ever tell you about Charlotte?”
“You’re still talking.” She hopped onto a train cart and Damon followed her. Through her initial observations she had found the home of the Regent somewhere in the Garden District; which made sense as Josephine LaRue was originally a Garden District witch and Elder of that coven. She had a pretty snazzy house, too.
Josephine LaRue knew Bella was coming. That was the sole purpose of Bella not turning invisible once she stepped outside the hotel. Bella made sure she didn’t do anything out of anger or malice, which was easier once she was away from the hotel room; it was freaking spelled and it sucked; she had liked that hotel room. Bella was going to approach this as if she was going to make an acquaintance with a new neighbor. And then demand her to back the fuck off.
Damon followed her silently as they got off the cart, and after a few minutes, they arrived at the house. She wasn’t surprised by the gaggle of witches in the yard, it was likely there were a couple of them inside as well; Bella was still perceived as a threat. “No vampires allowed.”
“Good, then you won’t mind him because he’s my uncle.”
“He’s a vampire.”
“Or, I could turn him into a big, cuddly St. Bernard if you wish. He’s with me,” Bella said determined as she pulled Damon with her towards the door. They were reluctantly shown to the library, where the regent was waiting for them, nervously. Damon stayed near the door as Bella continued to walk in. “Madame LaRue, such an honor to finally meet you,” Bella smiled at her as she held out her basket filled with goodies. “This is for you.”
This gesture seemed to surprise the woman as she reluctantly took it and set it aside, likely to inspect its contents on poison later. The woman pointed to an empty chair. “Please, sit,” she eventually said and Bella obeyed. “What can I do for you, Ms. Swan?”
“Oh, you know the answer to that,” she replied with a smile. “But I didn’t come here for just that, I’m here to ease your worries and your fears. To offer my condolences because you’ve lost a very powerful witch recently.”
“I’m not afraid,” the woman huffed.
“Of course not,” Bella replied calmly. “Just like the Ancestors aren’t afraid. I’m being watched all day, every step I do gets documented. You’ve spelled my family against me and now that you know where I’ve been hiding, you’ve been spelling my room. And I completely understand why you did all that.”
This baffled the old witch.
“When I crossed the bridge over the lake two years ago, I wasn’t in control over my powers and I think that event must have scared you and your Ancestors deeply. If I could do that to regular spirits, then I could certainly take out the Ancestors and remove a large portion of the power of the New Orleans witches, am I correct?” When the witch remained quiet, Bella continued. “You’re afraid with my presence here, the balance of power will be disrupted, or tilted in favor of the vampires or whomever I pledge my allegiance to. So in order to try to get me out of New Orleans, you’ve decided to spell my family to work against me. Have your witch Davina dig her claws deep into my now ex-boyfriend and just make the overall experience of being in New Orleans be as much of a pain as possible for me so I’d leave.”
“I’m not denying that, no.”
“The first thing I did after I was released from my punishment for sending so many ghosts to Hades was to remove the power surge that the werewolves were having. Hadn’t it been for me, and the Mikaelsons, the supernatural community of New Orleans would now be under werewolf law. By doing this, I preserved your precious balance and yet, that wasn’t good enough.”
“You did it to save Niklaus Mikaelson, to restore his power.”
“So he could fight the werewolves,” Bella pointed out. “I don’t fight. To be honest with you, when I crossed all of those spirits over to the realm of Hades, it freaked me out. I had him dial that ability way down because I want to experience this city the way it’s supposed to be experienced, and not to be overwhelmed by dead people. I know I hold more power than any of you and, yes, I could mean the end of Ancestral magic. You’ve certainly given me more than enough reason to do so. But I won’t. Because that’s not who I am. All I ask is that you leave me and my family alone. Remove the spells and the influences so we can all go back to living our lives.”
“And what will we get in return?”
“A not-pissed off Demi-Goddess whom you might need to ask a favor of in the future when something so bad comes to New Orleans you can’t fix on your own,” Bella replied swiftly, half shrugging. “I don’t want to be the big bad. The new threat in town. I just want to live. The Mikaelsons came back to New Orleans to live their lives. They have their own businesses, they’re working, doing good for the community. You and the Ancestors are hampering them in their daily routines and you’re stopping me from living my life with my family. Again, if you don’t accept my proposal, I will have to end this myself and that would mean you and your witches won’t have access to Ancestral Magic anymore.”
“Your proposal is absurd,” Madame LaRue said angrily. “You’d still be here.”
“Yes, and as I said, I’d owe you a favor.” Bella countered. “How about this? You and the Ancestors drop everything you’re doing right now to disrupt me and my family and allow us to live our lives in peace. The moment I step out of line, you can do whatever you want. However, should a wolf or a witch come after my family, I will protect them and that does not count towards this deal because after all, we’re all still part human and there’s laws that allow self defense. Give me time to prove we’re not a threat. That I’m not a threat. Allow us to remain having a dialogue about this and not do things out of precaution or out of fear.”
“What of Kol Mikaelson? He still needs to be punished for killing Davina Claire.”
“Her death is on you,” Bella countered again. “You had her insert herself into the family and manipulate them from the inside, you should have seen it coming that she’d end up getting herself killed. You can’t blame Kol for wanting revenge for what she’s done; ruining the relationship between two people who were madly in love with each other without hurting anyone. Destroying a happiness for him that he hadn’t known in a very long time.”
“Even if Bella hadn’t returned, Davina would have ended up dead for it,” Damon pointed out. “You decided to poke the proverbial bear. If not for Kol, it would have been Klaus because you had a damn hard time to keep him under your spell. Believe me, I’ve been dealing with the Mikaelsons for a very long time and while they’re not my bestest friends, I do appreciate how the Mikaelsons protect each other; family above all, no hesitation.”
“And you are?”
“Damon Salvatore,” he replied. “Bella’s great great great uncle or something. My half-brother started the line where she’s descendant of, which is still kinda creepy because I wanted to get into her pants.”
Bella wanted to stay respectful in this house, as a woman as old and gifted as the Regent would demand it and deserved it, and there he went, throwing that all out of the window. “Damon!”
Josephine smiled then. “That’s alright, Ms. Swan, I appreciate that at least one of you doesn’t pretend to be someone else.”
Bella narrowed her eyes on the woman. “Who says I was pretending? I’m merely treating you with the respect you deserve as a woman in your position, as I was taught to do by my parents. I doubt you would have wanted to speak with me if I walked in in anger, disrespecting you and your witches but I’m not. Because I do have a brain and common sense, something he severely lacks.”
“Hey!” Damon said hurt. “You know I have a problem with authority figures.”
Josephine LaRue sighed. “Very well, I shall take your proposal under consideration and discuss it with the Ancestors.”
“No,” Bella said as she got to her feet. “You end this now. By the time I get back to the hotel, I want all the spells and everything related to that lifted. If not, I will come back and I won’t be as respectful as I am now.”
“Very well,” the woman said, defeated. Likely because she was scared, still. Bella didn’t care. Enough was enough. “Does your proposal still stand then?”
“It does. I always keep my word if I can help it, just like the Mikaelsons, and just like Damon here.”
“Then I shall start lifting the spells immediately. Thank you for stopping by, Ms. Swan, Mr. Salvatore. It has been… enlightening.”
The first thing she noticed as they walked down the street was that everybody had stopped looking at her and Bella felt so relieved. She took a deep breath and smiled at Damon. “Elijah’s so going to be pissed that I did something he couldn’t.”
“Still early days, Bella,” Damon chuckled and shook his head. “So, what’s next?”
The need to move to another hotel was gone now that she seemingly resolved the issue with the Regent and Ancestors. However, she knew that if she wanted to get a handle back on her own life and create a little distance between her and the Mikaelsons, Kol in particular, she’d have to have an apartment or a privately owned home much like the guest house on the Salvatore property in Mystic Falls. Hotels were public property and vampires wouldn’t need invitations to walk in.
Bella hadn’t spent her invisible time to just watch the comings of goings of everyone involved in this mess; she had also taken the opportunity to look at some realtor listings for apartments for rent. Granted, this would make it a little harder for her to make her home fully vampire proof because she wouldn’t actually own her little thing, but there were ways around that, wouldn’t there? She had enough in her bank account still to make a small deposit on something to buy, a mortgage, and maybe she could go back to waitressing to pay for the rest.
She had seen a few in her price range.
“I’m going to grab a bite to eat, why won’t you go back to the hotel and tell everyone what happened?” Bella suggested as they hopped on the street car. “I’ll follow you in a bit.”
“Are you sure? I could come with you?”
Bella let out a breath and shook her head. “Bella needs her alone time for just a little bit, Damon. She hasn’t been able to be alone for quite some time and she’ll be fine.”
“Okay,” Damon shrugged. “Bring me back a beignet.”
“Do find yourself some vervain before you go back? I don’t want them to take advantage out of you.”
“Good idea, I’ll stop by a witch shop.”
“There’s a teashop in the Seamen’s Quarter near the old church run by a girl named Ann. Just go there, she’s less likely to show you the door.” Bella watched as Damon walked off and waited for a good ten minutes before she headed on her own journey. She bought herself the biggest sandwich she could find and munched on it as she headed to the realtor’s office through a back alley.
She nearly dropped her sandwich when she was hit in the head by something and blinked when she saw a large brown envelope on the ground behind her with her name on it. Curious, she picked up the envelope and walked to the nearest bench, just outside the alley, to put her sandwich down on and investigate the contents of the envelope.
My dearest Bella,
My sincere apologies for what Hades has put you through, tearing you away from your friends like that for nearly two whole years? I hope you don’t mind, but I took a peek into your life like I usually do, have done in the past, and it’s a mess. That’s on Hades. Not on you.
Our Olympian cousins are jerks and uptight. Don’t worry, I managed to get you out of the ‘one more fuck up’ kinda deal he had with you; you’ve only just recently started to get some control and he helped you to get rid of the ones that were bugging you so much. You deserve a life, Bella.
Now, I wouldn’t be your magical grandfather if I didn’t have something up my sleeve. I noticed you wanted some private space from your vampire friends like in Mystic Falls. If I’m wrong, then let this be me telling you that you need some space from your vampire friends.
In this envelope there are the keys to an apartment I purchased for you in your name. You own it and therefor, no vampire can cross your threshold unless you want them to. I’ve been told it’s quite a cute little place above a shop which you can access through a door next to it. Get up the stairs and you’ll be in the living area and kitchen. There’s a spiral stairs leading to the next floor where the bedroom and bathroom is. I’m fairly certain you’re going to like it.
Call your mother. She hasn’t heard from you in years. Now, granted, you couldn’t help the last two years, but she misses you. Invite her over to New Orleans, perhaps?
I’ll be out of this plane of existence for a bit but I’ll call you when I get back.
I love you.
“God damnit, this is too much,” she muttered with a smile on her face. At least it would save her the hassle of figuring things out for an apartment, but it was really too much. But maybe Helios was right in needing to sincerely apologize for what she’d been through. There was a deed to the apartment in her name, with the keys and she could feel the color drain from her face. How could she get some distance from the Mikaelsons when the new apartment was across the street from their Compound? They could easily leap out the window and into her apartment or look into her apartment from the room that looked out over it.
She then realized that this could also be quite devious on her part; they couldn’t enter the house. Bella could tease Kol mercilessly if his room was indeed looking right into hers. Bella let out a snort as she put the important papers into her bag and checked to see if all the important things to her, such as her laptop, were inside before making the decision not to go to the hotel but straight to her new home. Fuck all those vampires.
Turning invisible, she went to her new apartment and finished her sandwich before she opened the door and climbed the stairs. She found the place fully furnished and it looked a lot like the wood paneling she had at the guest house in Mystic Falls. Bella giggled madly as she explored the house, the kitchen was amazing and so was the upstairs bedroom and bathroom. It had a big bathtub where she could just float around in.
Her grandfather H always spoiled her rotten and made her feel like a princess but now he had really outdone himself. Bella was now a real life princess in her own little castle. Feeling all giddy, she left her bag on the couch and only pocketed some money and her keys and went out to get some groceries. And fairy lights. The only thing the apartment was missing was a lot of fairy lights but that was easily fixed.
When she returned home a few hours later, her phone had exploded with messages and missed calls from Kol, Klaus and Myriam, asking her where she was and if she was alright and when she was coming back. Opening a bag of popcorn and throwing a handful into her mouth, she made a group chat and replied: Damon can have the hotel room for as long as he wishes to stay in New Orleans. I’m good. X
Bella opened her laptop and started to play some music the loudest her laptop could go at without it being too obnoxious for her own ears and started to put away the things she bought. She felt a sense of freedom she hadn’t felt for a very long time, she had nothing to worry about, nothing to think about, just to be. And party. Oh boy, was she going to party, but likely first just to pass out for the night.
It had been a long day. It had been a long week even though she’d spent most of it unconscious. It still infuriated her she’d been rendered unconscious by the people she trusted and she could feel that anger bubble inside of her. She needed to find a way to deal with that, something other than having great sex with Kol. If she’d do that, she’d betray herself and signal to him that it’s alright to look at other girls and have sex with them and… oh, she felt disgusted then. Davina and Kol had had sex. Kol’s mouth had been on Davina’s. They had kissed. They-
Bella shuddered as she took her popcorn and a bottle of beer with her to the bathroom. Thinking of how Kol would have expertly disrobed Davina was the stuff of nightmares. Maybe Bella could use this experience in one of her stories, to try to make sense of it all. In all honesty, Bella didn’t feel like it should affect her this much. She’d been with Kol for just over six months before she fucked up and had to join Hades.
Granted, their relationship had been intense in every sense, but still, she felt that it shouldn’t affect her this much. It hurt. Kol’s whimsical nature and following his dick hurt, even though she should have anticipated that. Vampires sucked even if she believed they had changed for the better.
Now that the whole ordeal with the Ancestors was over and her family rid of all the spells that were thrown at them, Bella could relax. She had her own place now and nobody could disturb her. She didn’t have to be strong. She didn’t quite like the beer, but downed it on one go anyway before getting into the bath tub filled with water and an artisan orange bath bomb smelling like tangerines, bergamot and something other kind of citrussy. It smelled amazing and she should have felt energized by it, but instead she felt tired and so incredibly sad.
She was allowed one pity party, right?
“This is unacceptable,” Kol fumed as he paced across the courtyard. After Bella’s text, they all realized she wasn’t coming back and there was no telling where she was. She could have gone back to Mystic Falls or been taken by Hades. “She goes through all this trouble to help us and herself and then disappears?”
Klaus just watched his brother pace around like a maniac while Klaus enjoyed the peace and quiet as he nursed a glass of bourbon. For the first time in a very long time, home felt like home again and he wasn’t allowing anything, not even his ranting brother, to spoil that. The werewolves were taken care of. The Ancestors off their backs. Life was good.
“What about me, Nik? What am I going to do now? I thought she’d come back to me.”
“You really haven’t paid attention to everything, have you, dear brother?” Rebekah said as she took a seat on the sofa and joined Nik in having a glass of alcohol. “The girl is hurt and she needs some time.”
“She’s hurt? I understand that she feels that way because of Davina, but it wasn’t as if I could do anything about it!”
“Rebekah,” Klaus interrupted her before she could explain what was happening. “He needs to figure it out on his own. We can’t very well keep telling him what to do and what to think. It’s not what she’d want.”
“It would be a lot easier if she hadn’t skipped town,” Rebekah muttered.
“Who says she did? For all we know she’s staying in New Orleans. With her ability to change into someone else or even turn invisible, we’d never know,” Klaus took a sip of his glass. “Like you said, she needs some time. She’ll send us a message when she’s good and ready.”
“We’ll need some code word or something to prove that we are who we say we are,” Rebekah said after a moment of silence, causing both brothers to look at her. “She can be whomever she wants to be, what if she’ll pose as one of us? As Myriam? Just to keep an eye on us?”
“I doubt she’ll do that and if she does wants to keep an eye on us, she’ll be invisible,” Klaus mused. “Mainly because if she’s Myriam, I’ll find out the moment she and I are alone.”
“Or, she could be posing as one of us right now!” Rebekah said shocked. “Oh, this is going to be a nightmare. I’d rather know where she is than to live in uncertainty.”
“Are we still talking about this girl?” Elijah sighed tiredly as he walked onto the courtyard. “We’re home. It’s time to look forward.”
Rebekah narrowed her eyes on her brother. “This girl is called Bella and she’s one of us, Elijah. I thought the spell was lifted?”
“It has,” Elijah replied, pouring himself a drink before rolling his eyes at his youngest brother, who was still pacing around. “For God’s Sake, Kol, find something better to do than to damage the floor tiles.”
“Or what? You’ll dagger me?”
Reminded of his brother’s need for attention, Klaus sighed as he took another sip of his drink. “Elijah’s never liked Bella, so there’s no change there,” he said as he got to his feet. “Come on, Kol, let’s have some fun with the locals.”
Elijah’s eyes grew wide. “Brothers, I implore you, do not kill the locals!”
“Not to worry, brother,” Klaus replied playfully. “If and when we decide to eat our way through an apartment complex, you’ll be the first to know.”
One of the best things about New Orleans, or the state of Louisiana in general, was that the temperatures were nice enough for her to have her window open at all times or the front balcony with the French doors open wide without it causing her home to get really cold.
She hadn’t mustered the confidence just yet to sit on her balcony in sight of the Mikaelsons, but once she would have, she was definitely sit on that balcony and read a book while sipping on a glass of wine. That just seemed pretty damn epic to her. Apart from the occasional fighting she heard coming from the room of the Mikaelsons across the street. At some point during the middle of the night when she was asleep and the roads not that busy, she could feel the earth tremble because someone got smashed into a wall. Bella tried not to worry.
No, in the last three weeks since she’d dealt with the Ancestors, Bella had truly been hiding from her family by going out the door looking like someone she’d seen on the streets and with that, she could live a pretty undisturbed life. After spending a week in the hotel, Damon had gone back to Mystic Falls to help his brother. Bella caught up with her stories, left messages on her website about her life in New Orleans – granted, she left out the part where she lived just in case. She knew Myriam frequented the website and no doubt she’d relay whatever bit of information she could scrape up with the rest of the family and caught up on movies and TV shows. Books. Oh, definitely the books.
New Orleans had so many cute and very cool book shops, like one in the French Quarter; it specialized in rare, antique and out of print books and she felt all nerdy when she found a book on torture. The book was quite explicit, but it was going to help with the new story she was writing.
There was also a shop like that for kitchen books. Bella had rediscovered her love for cooking and had bought a cooking book or two to try out some of the local cuisine herself, but found she still needed a lot of improvement cooking wise, local cuisine was best tasted from a local chef or person, not from someone trying to copy them.
Life. Live. And she was loving it.
However, no matter how much she had gotten her life back on track over the last few weeks, she missed being around the Mikaelsons. Around Kol. Myriam. Now she didn’t have to fear to be taken away from them if she’d screw up royally again, she felt a little safer to rebuild her social life. She’d hold herself accountable and she’d punish herself, but at least she’d be able to stick around on Earth. Bella wondered what Helios had to give up himself to get this deal going and she feared that he gave up his own existence on Earth so she could be free.
She didn’t have issues with Klaus and Myriam. Their friendship wasn’t in any danger because it had always been there – and Bella was grateful for the space they were giving her.
But she was so torn about Kol. He was her first real boyfriend. Her first real relationship. Sure, there had been Moritz, but that was high school stuff. Kol… so wasn’t high school. It had been an intense six months and it felt like they’d been together for longer. They did so much together, so many experiences, and she missed him. She was aware of his attention span and yes, she did leave and opened the door for Davina and the witches to manipulate him and the rest of his family.
Bella shouldn’t fault him for falling for Davina. Or at least be mildly interested in her to start with. He had no way of knowing when Bella would return – if she’d return. Bella knew this and she had taken her revenge by briefly daggering Kol and not talking to him for a few weeks. But he had still used a Dark Object on her to ‘subdue’ her. Asshole.
Maybe it was time to start mending what they had, to reach out to him. To talk things over and hopefully have him live with her at her apartment.
She smiled at that, then. While she had loved being with all the Mikaelsons in one place, it was simply too crowded, too much. Too… unhealthy, in a way. The months she and Kol spent traveling together had been amazing and Kol had been so likeable – she felt that with them staying with the rest of his family he was getting undermined a lot and that wasn’t fair.
While it was easy to just go across the street and talk to Kol, she wasn’t sure if she was quite ready for that yet, either. What if he didn’t feel the same anymore? What if the space that Klaus and Myriam were giving her was something other than space? What if she wasn’t good enough anymore? But then again, she wouldn’t have anything to worry about because Klaus had always been in her corner. Bella wasn’t too sure about Myriam and that was going to be a problem because Bella had been a shitty friend.
She really needed to think about all of this some more.