Bella woke up the following morning with the hangover from hell, but managed to take a shower and get dressed before heading to Emily’s. Emily had a fresh pot of coffee ready and she was cleaning the table from breakfast. “The boys already had their breakfast, they’ll be back in a few hours. Do you want something?”
“I could make it myself, really.”
“Nonsense, you look like a truck has hit you,” Emily chuckled as she poured Bella a coffee and lead her to one of the kitchen chairs. “Sit, wake up, I’ll make you some greasy breakfast.”
“Thanks… how bad did I get yesterday?”
“You don’t remember?”
Bella shook her head as she took a sip of her coffee, regretting instantly that she had shaken her head, the midgets had awoken.
“You passed out, it was adorable.”
It was better than bursting out in tears and getting all emotional. Score. Jake didn’t have to know that she had plans to end it all. “That’s good.”
Emily gently squeezed Bella’s shoulder. “You’re not alone, Bella. I don’t know what happened with Jake for him to come clean with you and invite you over, but it’s a good thing that he did. I like hanging out with you.”
“I like hanging out with you too,” Bella smiled at her.
“You know, you could just move to the rez with your dad, seeing as he’s seeing Sue anyway.”
Bella barked out a laugh. “Nah, I think that’s the worst idea. I love you guys, and I’m sure dad does as well, but I’m going to be leaving Forks after I graduate. Why move? Besides, last week Jake didn’t want me anywhere close, who’s to say that won’t happen again? It’s difficult to give him his space if I’d be here all the time.”
Emily shrugged as she put the plate down in front of Bella. “Fried eggs with bacon and a lot of butter on that bread, eat up. I believe the boys have stuff planned for the rest of the day when they come back.”
“Where are they?”
“To see if you were right and if the Mikaelsons want to have a chat to make sure they behave or face the consequences.”
“Big puppies chowing down on vampire bones,” Emily winked at her. “I’m sure they’re tastier than Cold Ones.”
“Likely… these vampires bleed real blood, apparently.”
Bella nodded. “I got frustrated the other day and kicked my truck. Broke something in my foot but the doctor couldn’t do anything about it. One of them confessed that he had put some of his blood in my drink when we went to Port Angeles two days ago and he confessed that their blood heals people,” she explained. “It’s freaky, but my foot feels normal again.”
“Wow, that’s new.”
“However, that also came with a warning, if I’d die with his blood in my body I’d come back as one of them.”
“Well, it takes a few days for the blood to pass through your system so you should be fine, but you’re not thinking about doing some crazy and scary stuff to yourself, are you?”
“Of course not,” Bella lied. “I couldn’t leave Charlie by himself.”
“Good,” Emily smiled. “Eat your breakfast, you’re going to need the energy. Hungover or not, those boys will take you out today.”
Bella wasn’t sure how she felt after the weekend on the Rez, but she went back to school that Monday. And went back to the Rez on the weekend. She did that for a couple of weeks before setting off to Port Angeles by herself to buy Christmas presents. She knew it was far too early for Christmas presents, they weren’t even in November yet, but she wanted to have them. In time. In case.
Her birthday quietly passed by, as she preferred it to do. Charlie did manage to arrange some fancier food than usual for dinner, but she liked it to be nice and quiet. Jake, once again, gave her something she could hang in her room.
Thanksgiving was spent with Sue and Billy and Jacob at the reservation. Bella and her father stayed the weekend and then went home. The idea of ending it all became less and less, she was having fun again, and usually looked forward to the weekends at the rez with Jake and the rest of the wolves, just hanging out. Even in the cold weather, they always made sure she was warm and toasty.
It was the last Friday before Christmas break and when she walked to her truck, she was stopped by Kol who was carrying a gift bag. “I know, I know, you don’t want anything to do with me or my family and I’ve been keeping my distance, but please, hear me out? Just one minute?”
“I need to get home.”
“One minute, Bella, please.”
She threw her bag into the truck and looked at him. “One minute,” she agreed with a slight nod.
“Alright. So, even though you want us to leave you alone, which we have, we wanted to give you this,” he said as he handed her the gift bag. “Our family loves Christmas and each one of us have put something in there for you. We wanted you to have it because you deserve it. We’re not your enemy, Bella. Nor are we anything like them. I hope that with this little gift, it’ll show you that.”
“Take it, please,” he smiled at her as he put his hands in his pocket. “And have a great Christmas holiday. Rebekah and Elijah are going to France for a couple of days after Christmas and Nik, Myriam and I will be staying here. Myriam spotted something online about deep-frying a turkey so we’re going to attempt that while Elijah’s away. Not as our Christmas dinner, of course, but after. You’re more than welcome to join?”
“Uh, no, thanks,” she said softly with a blush. “I didn’t get you anything. But I will! I’ll get someone to drop it off for you.”
“Oh, no, darling, it’s alright,” he smiled widely as he opened the door to her truck for her.
“Just as a precaution… tell Myriam not to fry the turkey close to the house? It can get a bit… temperamental.”
“We’ll be fine, we’re vampires, we heal even if we burn,” Kol grinned as he helped her inside her truck. “Merry Christmas, Bella, I’ll see you after the holiday.”
She had to admit, as she was carefully driving home through the snow, that the Mikaelsons were doing every attempt on being human. She could even see that with Myriam when she was teaching history. They weren’t perfect, just like humans.
Charlie was still at work so Bella stopped by the supermarket to get everything they needed over the weekend and made sure there was plenty of beer in case Billy would drop by. She then continued home and started on making dinner after turning up the heat.
As their meal was cooking in the oven, a nice big and extra rich lasagna, she decided to look into the gift bag that Kol had given her. All items were individually wrapped by someone with no patience and it was easy to get it unwrapped.
The first present was a gift from Klaus. A drawing of a beautiful swan, surrounded by light in a dark place, but there was also a hint of light after the darkness and she had to admit that it was exactly how she felt. She was currently content in her own bubble with Jake and their friends, but even that couldn’t hold the Cold Ones, the darkness, at bay. But once she’d have defeated them, or when they’d killed her, there would be light.
The second present was from Rebekah, a gorgeous charm bracelet with room for more charms to be added. Bella found the can of pepper spray on the bracelet hilarious.
The third was a gift from Myriam. It was a very old book, and upon closer inspection it was more of a journal from the early days of Klaus’ family as a vampire, memories of when they were still human. The book was ancient and most of the words faded, but it was history. The history of the Mikaelsons. Myriam had even put a note with it that she stole the book from Elijah and that it would be their secret. And also how near the end of the journal her own story was told.
The fourth gift was from Elijah. It was a gift card to use at various retailers online and Bella thought that was practical, and liked the idea for that.
The fifth and final gift was from Kol. It was more of a letter with something attached. Dear Bella, I wasn’t sure what to get you for Christmas other than maybe a satchel of herbal tea – which is quite boring. But then I realized that I could give you one of my favourite Christmas traditions that we do almost every year, even when we still were humans. It’s tradition for us to write down wishes for someone or ourselves on a piece of paper and burn them in a fire. So attached to this you’ll find my wish for this year and a blank piece of paper to write down your own. Burn them for me? Merry Christmas, Kol.”
She looked at the little note that Kol had written his wish on. I wish to be more in control over my emotions so that I could be normal. And since I missed a few wishes, I’m going to be incredibly selfish and wish that Bella and I could be friends without her fearing for what I am.
Bella stared at the note for a while before quickly pushing it into her pocket and everything back in the bag as Charlie came home. The gifts, and Kol’s wish, were just other proof that the Mikaelsons weren’t the Cullens. The gifts were thoughtful and personal. They were closer to being a human than even humans themselves.
Bella handed Charlie his beer and asked him about his day as she continued to make the side salad for the lasagna. “I’m on call on Boxing Day, Bells, but for Christmas I’m all yours.”
“Great, so stupid Christmas movies and a ton of snacks?”
“You bet,” Charlie laughed. “You and me, kiddo. There’s no doubt that next year, you’ll be too busy with college to come and visit your old man, so I’m taking all the time I can get.”
“Aw, you’re getting sappy in your old age, dad.”
“Unless you’ve made plans?”
“No,” she smiled as she finished her side salad and put it down on the table and then retrieved the lasagna. “I think it’s perfect. Just you and me.”
Bella felt lucky that her dad was still at home for Boxing Day. Then again, it was Forks. Nothing really happened in Forks. However, during dinner, he got the call. Something was on fire.
“What’s on fire?” Bella asked as she watched her dad grab everything he needed.
“The uh… old Cullen house.”
Bella let out a groan as she got into her boots and pulled on her coat before quickly running upstairs to fetch something. “I’m coming with you.”
“Bells, it’s a fire.”
“Yeah, I know. And I know what caused it too, they tried to deep fry a turkey.”
“Yeah, how do you know?” Charlie laughed.
Bella shrugged. “Two of the kids are at school with me, one of them is a teacher.”
“Oh, so you know the Mikaelsons.”
“Somewhat,” she said as she closed the door behind her and followed her father. “Don’t worry, I’ll stay out of trouble. I know the drill.”
Charlie sighed and nodded. “Get in. If you knew what they were going to do, why didn’t you tell them to do it further away from the house?”
He grunted as he drove the car off the driveway. “Why don’t people listen?”
“They’re likely city folk, dad.”
When they arrived at the house, half of the house was engulfed in flames and the firemen just stood there, watching. “Why aren’t you putting it out?” Charlie asked the fire marshall.
“We don’t have enough water and there’s no source of water close by that our lines can reach,” he replied. “Some of my men are bringing out valuables but that’s all we can do.”
Bella looked over to where she heard arguing and headed over.
“Myriam! You don’t understand, Elijah’s going to be mad!” Klaus ranted at his wife, his hand buried in his hair. “And for fuck’s sake, why can’t I just run in and save my paintings myself? We’ll just compel them all to forget! Why did I agree to this?”
“We weren’t going to compel anyone, Nik.”
Klaus let out a growl and pushed his younger brother against the nearest tree. “Don’t even think for a minute that you’re scot-free, Kol. I know that you egged her on to do this. The coffins might be burning right now, but I do have a dagger on me!”
“It wasn’t me, honest!” he defended himself as he pushed his brother off of him. “But go ahead, Nik, blame me for everything. If that makes you feel better!”
“Hey!” Bella called out. “Are you done?” It was cold outside, despite her thick coat and her boots, but then again, the massive fire made the snow melt and warmed her a little. She just had to stay away from the fire so she wouldn’t get burned.
“Not even close!” Klaus blurted as he slammed his brother against the tree again, causing the tree to move on impact.
“Nik, it wasn’t me,” Kol said, honestly.
“Liar! Only you would think of something this… absurd!”
Bella looked at Myriam. “Aren’t you going to say something?”
“Why would I? I like it when my husband is angry,” Myriam replied, her eyes not leaving Klaus’ angry form. “So sexy.”
“Because you know, I was told this was all your idea, Myriam,” Bella replied and jumped back when Myriam stiffened upon realizing that Klaus was coming for her now. “Kol didn’t do anything but go along with your crazy idea. But hey, for what it’s worth, the town will never doubt you’re not human again. Like ever.”
“What are you even doing here, Bella?”
“My dad is the Sheriff. I didn’t want to be alone, so I came along,” she replied as she looked at Klaus. “Are you going to let him go, or what?”
“Bella, don’t provoke him, darling,” Kol warned her. “It’ll only make things worse.”
“Why? He’ll kill me? He can go right ahead,” she shrugged as she pushed her hands into her pockets. “Ever thought of getting your own home, Kol? I wouldn’t want to live with a bully, why should you?”
Myriam realized that Bella wasn’t going to give up. “Bella’s right, it was my idea,” Myriam admitted. “Stop bullying your brother, you can punish me later.” The moment Klaus let go of Kol she was in his arms. “Yes, punish me, please. It’ll be so much fun…” she purred.
“Love, if you want me to punish you, all you need to do is tell me and not set the bloody house on fire!” Klaus growled. “Where are we going to stay now?”
“You are absolutely insane,” Kol said as he lead Bella away from his brother and his wife. “Why did you do that?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“He could have killed you.”
Bella shrugged. “This wasn’t your idea, so I told him, what’s the problem in that?” She then retrieved Kol’s wish out of her pocket with a smile. “Besides, I wanted you to burn this yourself, you now have a big house that’s on fire.”
He looked at her, looked at the note and back at her. “I told you to burn that for me.”
“Yeah, but Charlie and I don’t do Christmas fires,” she replied with a nod towards the house fire. “You guys apparently do.”
“I’d like to think so,” Bella replied smugly. “You have to find humor in all scenarios, don’t you?”
Kol took his note from her fingers. “Did you read it?”
“I did,” she said as she took her note out of her pocket. “Want to read mine?”
“Sure,” he smiled at her, happy that she trusted him with that, like he trusted his with her. I wish I could trust everyone around me again without any fear of what might happen. “Oh, darling,” he sighed as he felt his heart break a little. “Give it time, you will.”
“Yeah, I might,” Bella smiled at him. “I’m doing a lot better than I was in September.”
“I’m sorry that I-”
“Not you, completely me. I responded to you like I should have done to the Cullens and that was wrong of me, because you’re not them. I… I should have kept an open mind and not let my fear rule my brain,” she then let out a snort. “I spend my weekends with boys who can lose their temper and hurt me and I trust them not to, if I can do it with them, I should be fine with you.”
“You’re a curious little thing, aren’t you?” Kol smiled at her as he took both of her hands with the notes being held by the two of them.
“Maybe,” she replied, her hands warming up in his and she let out a breath. “I just wish I could go back in time to stop you from doing the turkey frying so close to the house, it’s not fair to lose your house during the holidays.”
“Ah, we’ve been through wo-” he blinked when Bella started to glow slightly. “What’s going on?” Kol could feel magic in the air, almost as if it was electricity and all of a sudden she wasn’t holding his hands anymore. In fact, she was gone. “Nik!”