Fandom: The Vampire Diaries, AU future!fic
Pairings: Klaus/Bonnie/Stefan, Stefan/Bonnie, Damon/Bonnie, Damon/Elena, Stefan/Elena, Matt/Caroline/Tyler, some vague Katherine/Elijah, Katherine/Damon and hints of Jeremy/Bonnie.
Disclaimers: Don’t own The Vampire Diaries, nor any recognizable characters.
It’s been 3 years since Bonnie Bennett has put the town of Mystic Falls in her rear-view mirror, vowing never to return. A history major at BC by day and a witch-for-hire by night, Bonnie pays the bills by selling the tricks of her trade, though she vows to never again involve herself in the affairs of vampires. But when she receives phone calls from two individuals she never wants to see again, she is thrust unwillingly back into the world she so desperately tried to leave behind. As she races against the clock to uncover the killer bent on raising nothing short of hell, Bonnie must put aside her wants and discover the strength she needs in order to prevent the world from destruction. Along the way, she must make a pact with her sworn enemies to take down the biggest threat to humankind the world has ever seen, or soon the world may ring with the sound of silence.
It’s her destiny. It may also be her doom.
He had been in town for less than twenty-four hours and already he was bored out of his fucking mind. What had he ever seen in this place, that he would have called it home? Sometimes, he didn't have a clue.
No. That was wrong. He did know why, exactly why.
He just didn't give a shit anymore.
Stefan paced. Outside, the sky bled faint oranges and bruise-like purples as the sun made its faithful trek above the horizon, one degree at a time. Dawn had come quickly after the rather unanticipated events of earlier that morning, and with it came the dewy scents of grass and leaves, which he could smell even from his vantage inside her room. The faint beginnings of sunshine filtered into the small bedroom almost furtively, dodging the shadows and flecking the hardwood floor with amber stripes trained through the slats of the half-drawn blinds. Dust motes glittered as they fell lazily through the air, and outside the mockingbirds began calling to each other in throaty chirps. From beyond closed doors, life continued.
And still Stefan paced. The floorboards beneath his boots creaked as he passed over them, and yet she did not stir. It could be awhile, he figured. Each person was different.
She had been half-dead by the time he was through with her. It had been so long… he had forgotten that she was just as fragile as the rest of them, despite the awesome power her body housed within. As it were, he wasn't sorry for what he did, even though he had probably overreacted a bit. She did stake him, though, and ruined one of his favorite shirts in the process. That smarted a bit, naturally, and the urge to hurt her back, hurt her more was something that overrode any initial orders he had been given.
His temper was not something he bothered to hold in check anymore.
And he enjoyed it. Oh, he enjoyed making her hurt.
Stefan forced out a sharp stream of air through his nose and pursed his lips, stopping mid-stride to allow a glance at the witch who had been forcibly re-integrated back into his life—against either of their wills, it would seem. She was sprawled across the quilted counterpane of the bed where he had unceremoniously dumped her limp body only hours earlier, having forced the lifeblood that animated his own body past her unresponsive lips. Now she lay there, almost serenely, as if she had simply been sleeping all this time. Her hair, dark and longer than he remembered, fanned out in a wavy halo about her face and shoulders. Her forehead was still matted with blood, but the gash had sealed long ago. Her eyes were closed and no longer sunken, long lashes dusting her high cheekbones like feathers. Some of her pallor had lessened, and her pulse was stronger. Stefan could hear it acutely, like a drumbeat just under the warm, soft expanse of her skin.
Her internal injuries were taking longer to heal. Spine, ribs, damaged brain, organ failure… the works. And, unfortunately, vampire blood only worked so fast. Luckily, Stefan had over a century to learn to be patient.
He flinched when his phone rang, shattering the silence with a tinny jingle that set his teeth on edge. Across from him, Bonnie's breathing steepened into a more rapid pace, but she still did not wake. Breaking his gaze from Bonnie's prone form, Stefan cast an annoyed glance around the room, isolating the source of the sound and moving towards it. The phone was in the left pocket of his leather jacket, which he had cast aside onto the old-fashioned armchair in the corner of the room upon entering it. Feeling around inside the coat, Stefan retrieved the phone and read the caller I.D.: BLOCKED.
Stefan rolled his eyes and hit accept. "What?" He snapped, gripping the phone tightly between his fingers as he held it to his ear.
"Oh, you know bloody well what, Salvatore," Kol retorted sharply, accent elongating his vowels as he spoke. "It's been thirty-six hours. You do realize my brother doesn't like to be kept waiting, or are you just as thick as you make out to be?"
Stefan cast one last dark look at Bonnie's sleeping form and walked over to the bathroom, shutting the door with a smart snap and locking it behind him. He didn't need the light to see, but he turned the switch on regardless. Force of habit. The harsh fluorescent lighting set a gaunt cast across his visage, which he stared at for a few moments in the mirror before leaning against the sink and running an aggravated hand down his face.
"What's taking you so long?" Kol pressed. There was an edge to his voice beyond the regular animosity that he held for Stefan, something that indicated an urgency which wasn't there before. "Do you have the witch or not?" The way he said it made him sound like a petulant child. Stefan bit back a snort.
"Yes. I have her," Stefan acknowledged with decided disinterest. "I tried talking with her. She wasn't amenable."
There was an impatient sigh on the other end of the line. "Well, be more persuasive, then," the Original replied, sounding like he was gritting his teeth. "Oh, don't tell me Stefan Salvatore has lost all of his charm?"
"Don't be snide, Kol, it'll give you wrinkles on that baby face of yours," Stefan rejoined icily. "Tell him I'll be there with the witch in due time, and to prepare for our arrival. Oh, and Kol?"
"Tell your brother that next time, he should get another lackey, or do his own dirty work himself. I'm not a courier service," Stefan smiled darkly into the phone and then disconnected the call, not bothering to wait for Kol's reply.
She stirred, head swiveling instinctively away from the noise. She knew she did not like that voice, or its owner, whoever it was. God, she just wanted to sleep forever, there in the dark.
"Bonnie," the voice insisted.
It was murmured low and hushed, almost amused, the voice familiar enough that the emotions she felt upon hearing it made her pulse jump start, adrenaline flooding her system. Something soft and cool traced along the contours of her face, a fleeting sensation so quick that she was sure she had imagined it, if not for the way her skin reacted to the touch: an instant flare of heat that spread to her neck and chest like molten lead.
Her eyes flicked open, pupils contracting painfully as they were met with the now bright sunlight filtering in through the filmy sheers of the window curtains.
"There she is," Stefan smirked in satisfaction, patting her forehead twice as one would a dog. He then sat back, crossing his arms and watching her, unblinking, with his glittering grey eyes.
It took her a few moments for her to realize who, exactly, was sitting at the foot of her bed. Then Stefan's face swam into focus and with it, all the memories from last night. With a horrified gasp, she shot up out of bed, scrambling up against the wooden headboard while simultaneously swiping her right hand across her body with a snap of motion. In response, the lamp sitting on the nightstand flew off and whipped towards Stefan with force, cord sparking as it was yanked viciously from the wall socket. Stefan calmly raised his arm to block his face, and the lamp collided with him, the glass base shattering and showering them both with shards of colored glass.
Bonnie was moving. She hurled herself off the bed and stumbled to a stand, but as she staggered forward a wave of nausea and dizziness made her double over, tripping over her own feet and falling to her knees, wheezing and trying not to retch. She crouched there, panting and blinking desperately, trying to clear her vision. She crawled slowly towards the door; with a wave of her hand, the latch unlocked and the door swung open with such momentum that the doorknob embedded with a crunch into the wall behind it. Her magic was haywire, all over the place; she couldn't get a good grasp on it, and the pounding in her head only got worse the more she tried. Her vision swam in and out of focus even as she blinked furiously to correct it. She tried to call out, but she barely had energy enough to draw breath, let alone speak.
Stefan watched with indifference as Bonnie struggled to pull herself to her feet. He lazily began plucking pieces of glass off of his shirt and pants, flicking them to the floor with distaste as he waited for her to tire herself out. By the time she made it to the doorframe, he had finished brushing the leftover bits of lamp out of his hair. He cracked his knuckles and stood languidly. And then, with barely a whisper of wind to betray his presence, he appeared at Bonnie's back. She froze, chest heaving, facing the open doorway—her freedom—as Stefan slowly smoothed one hand over the nape of her neck and squeezed once, gently. A warning.
Stefan frowned as a niggling itch grew at the back of his brain. It took him a few seconds to realize that Bonnie was trying to give him one of her aneurysms. He blinked in surprise at the sensation, so different from before, and a broad smile graced his lips in response. He let out a low chuckle and was pleased to feel Bonnie quiver beneath him, some intoxicating combination of exhaustion and fear that he could practically taste like an aphrodisiacal elixir on his tongue. Leaning over Bonnie's slight frame, Stefan tugged on the door, which came free in a shower of drywall. Dragging Bonnie back by her neck, he kicked the door shut and pulled her backwards further into the room, pushing her into the armchair with a little more force than was necessary. Bonnie toppled, headfirst, into the cushioning.
Stefan towered over her, crossing his arms over his chest, muscles rippling beneath the black cotton of his shirt. Bonnie righted herself in the armchair and fixed him with a simmering glare that made her green eyes crackle with unbridled fury. Stefan fixed her with a dark, hungry smile that carved into his handsome features like a wound. Bonnie met his gaze. There was nothing, absolutely nothing behind those eyes of his. The realization, like so many she had recently witnessed in this new Stefan, made her blood run cold.
"Sorry about the bends," Stefan began, tone making it clear he was anything but. "I know you're probably feeling sick right now… With your body in the state that it's in, your powers are not going to work properly. You were banged up pretty badly; it took a lot of my blood to heal you." Stefan cocked an eyebrow and inclined his head towards hers slightly. "You're welcome, by the way. If it weren't for me, you'd be a paraplegic vegetable right about now."
Bonnie's face contorted into rage, cursing her body for feeling so weak, and her powers for seemingly having no effect on him. "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have needed any blood in the first place!"
Without warning, Stefan's hand whipped out and smacked her across the face with a crack that echoed throughout the room. Bonnie couldn't help it; she let out a cry as her face exploded in a blaze of pain. The entire left side of her head felt numb, and her ears were ringing as her eyes welled with tears. The salty taste of blood coated her tongue and she knew her lip was split.
"Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie," Stefan sang, leaning down on his haunches to face her and reaching out to cup the cheek he had just slapped. Bonnie knocked his hand away. The empty grin slid off his face with alarming speed, replaced again by the emotionless mask that was somehow even more unsettling. "From now on, be a good little witch and don't speak out of turn." He said the word witch as if it were something filthy. "That was a warning. We clear?"
Bonnie growled, feeling along her lip and cheek tenderly with her fingers, but otherwise stayed silent. Stefan tapped her nose with his finger and stood to full height once more. "Good girl."
Suddenly, there came a quiet knock from the door, and both Stefan and Bonnie turned to face it. Stefan gave Bonnie a look that clearly said stay. Bonnie bristled. She did not like being treated like some sort of unruly pet under control of Stefan's leash. She was tempted to set him on fire, just for the hell of it, but unfortunately her powers were still not rejuvenated, and forcibly calling upon them took energy that she did not yet possess. She couldn't risk using them right now. It seemed, for the time being, she was trapped.
Stefan turned and strode over to the doorway in efficient, decisive movements. He opened the door and smiled when he saw the frail old Mrs. Jackson, owner of the Mystic Falls Bed and Breakfast, clutching a tray filled to overflowing with continental-style breakfast food. Her wispy white hair framed her lined face, giving her a frumpy, yet grandmotherly, appearance. She was so tiny that she couldn't have weighed more than 90 pounds soaking wet.
"Oh, there you are, dear," Mrs. Jackson blinked up absentmindedly at him, thick glasses slipping down her nose. "I see you found your runaway fiancée. Oh, I do hope you two made up. I brought you both some breakfast since you missed the buffet brunch."
"Thank you so much, Miss Jackson. That was very thoughtful of you. And may I say that you look positively glowing this morning," Stefan smiled charmingly down at her. Mrs. Jackson tittered and shook her head as if to say, oh, stop.
At the sound of Mrs. Jackson's voice, Bonnie craned her neck around Stefan to try and get a better look at her.
"Mrs. Jackson? Help me! Please!" Bonnie cried out. She stood up from the chair, ignoring Stefan's threats, and waved to get her attention. "Run! Get the police!"
Mrs. Jackson just smiled blandly at her and held the tray of food out to Stefan, who took it with a gleaming white smile. She then stood there, eyes wide and blank for a few moments, before closing her mouth and pressing a wrinkled hand to her forehead. "Oh, goodness," she said apologetically, frowning at Stefan. "I almost forgot." She reached slowly into the folds of her apron and pulled out a large, sharp-looking butcher's knife, the blade easily as long as her forearm. The knife gleamed wickedly in the light of the sun streaming in through the bedroom window. When she spoke, her words were directed towards Stefan, but her eyes were fixed on Bonnie's. "Would you like me to do it now, dear?"
Bonnie's heart leapt to her throat and her eyes darted in between the elderly woman and Stefan frantically.
Stefan calmly stepped more fully into the room and placed the food tray down on the wrinkled bedspread before replying. "Not now, Miss Jackson. But, would you be so kind as to hold on for a moment? My fiancée and I have some matters to discuss." He managed to tell the lie beautifully; his tone was airy and light when he spoke and he even tossed an affectionate look at Bonnie for good measure.
Mrs. Jackson simply nodded, smiling blandly, and stood there at the doorway with the knife held by her side in her slightly tremulous grip.
Bonnie turned her horrified expression to Stefan. "What's going, on, Stefan? Tell me now, or I swear—"
"You swear what, exactly?" Stefan cut in, eyebrows rising in earnest. "Please, do tell. Were you going to run? Or are you going to try and give me an aneurysm? Because that worked out so well." He was satisfied to see frustration creep into Bonnie's expression at the mention of her latest failed magic attempt. "Or perhaps you were hoping to stake me again?" Stefan reached into the waistband of his jeans and pulled out Harker's stake, which he twirled between his long fingers tauntingly. Shaking with anger, Bonnie bit the inside of her cheek to prevent her from doing anything stupid, like punching Stefan in the face just out of sheer spite.
Instead, Bonnie thrust her chin in Mrs. Jackson's direction. "How long has she been under your influence? Last night? This week?"
"Two years," Stefan smirked around his words, watching with satisfaction as the color drained from Bonnie' face.
"Wh—what?" Bonnie sputtered, shock and confusion roiling around inside of her. She clutched her stomach, feeling queasy again. "Why would—? That makes no sense!"
"It makes perfect sense," Stefan replied, shaking his head like she was being purposefully obtuse. "Dharma here—and may I call you Dharma, Miss Jackson?" He cast a glance over at the frail B&B owner, who turned and nodded blankly at him, all expression gone from her face now that she was no longer being engaged in conversation. "Anyway, Dharma here is one of our several eyes and ears in this town. She and a few others help us keep an eye on the situation here in Mystic Falls, and give us updates from time to time, that kind of thing. When she got wind of a certain prodigal daughter making an appearance in town once more, well…" Stefan trailed off and winked at Mrs. Jackson. "She called me up right away. Lucky for me."
"Lucky for you," Bonnie repeated hollowly, reaching behind her, feeling for the armchair. She sank slowly into it, staring out into space and processing. She clenched and flexed her fists repeatedly. "You said you had 'several eyes and ears' here. Who else? And who's working with you?"
Stefan tsked and waved a finger at her. "Not relevant, Bonnie. I need you to focus, because this is important. I need you to come with me. Now. We're going to take a little road trip." He bent over the food tray and plucked a few strawberries from the fruit dish, pressing one to his lips and sinking his teeth into it slowly. Bonnie tore her gaze from his mouth and shook her head, slowly at first, but then more firmly.
"Absolutely not. No. A thousand times, no," Bonnie crossed her arms. "What the hell, Stefan? What part about 'over my dead body' don't you understand?"
Stefan swallowed and licked his lower lip, catching the sweet juice from the strawberry with a flick of his tongue. He tossed the stem carelessly onto the tray and leveled a hard gaze on her.
"Firstly, I don't think you understand how applicable that poor choice of words could be right now. And secondly, my employer has upped the timetable. I was willing to let you think you had come up with the idea of accompanying me all by yourself, but I don't really have the patience to play mind games. So," he finished the last strawberry and clapped his hands together, "You have a choice. Pack your witchy effects and hit the road with me now, or watch as the lovely Dharma here goes through each and every room in this house and kills every single guest at the Mystic Falls Bed and Breakfast while I make you watch."
Bonnie's mouth dropped open. Her eyes fell on Mrs. Jackson, who brandished the knife at Bonnie with a sweet little smile still plastered to her aged face.
"No," she breathed.
"Yes," Stefan reminded her, now eyeing the pineapple slices in the fruit dish with interest.
"Well," Bonnie's voice trembled and she cleared her throat, "What makes you think I care?"
Stefan snorted and gave her a look that clearly indicated what he thought of that remark. Running a hand through his unruly hair, he stretched and sighed, cracking the vertebrae in his back as he did so. Pointing a finger at Bonnie's half-opened luggage, he said, "You have half an hour to eat, dress, and pack. I'm going to take a shower."
Bonnie opened her mouth to argue. Stefan's eyes blackened and veins traced along his cheekbones and brow. In barely the blink of an eye, he was upon her. For the second time, his hand closed tightly around her neck, her pulse skittering along his palm. He ran his thumb along it instinctively, tracing the pathway that housed her blood. Her skin was hot, almost feverish to the touch, warming his hand upon contact. He leaned in towards her, snarl hovering somewhere around his lips.
"Don't try anything characteristically valiant and stupid, Bonnie," he reminded her, speaking around his fangs. His breath fanned out across her face, sweet-smelling and utterly unlike the foul words he uttered. "Or Miss Jackson will start with the family of four in the suite right next door to your own. Nice family. A little boy and girl. Couldn't be older than ten years, each. You will never be able to erase their screams from your mind."
The hysterical laugh that escaped Bonnie's lips sounded more like a sob. "You're a monster," she choked out.
Stefan blinked, and for a moment something flashed through his eyes. Bonnie glared stonily up at him, but there was no amount of fury she could put in her expression that could match that which she felt in her heart for the man—no, the animal—standing before her. The air grew thick and hot between them, palpably so, and she struggled to breathe with his viselike grip around her throat. But then the moment passed, and Stefan's face slowly relaxed. Stefan gave her a small shake and then released her.
"That's the idea," he murmured, turning away from her and heading towards the bathroom, which shut with a slam.
Bonnie sank back into the armchair, shaking, not trusting herself to do anything but breathe.
She had lost track of time.
That, of course, was long before she had lost track of reality. Sense and sight had no meaning to her, not when they could be manipulated so cruelly. She had screamed her throat raw hours, maybe years, ago, screamed until all that escaped her lips was a low, uneven whine that broke forth from her cracked and bleeding lips like a death rattle each time she drew breath.
She had known pain throughout her life, and she had endured it. But nothing in her entire existence on this earth had prepared her for this. This was more than just corporeal punishment for her sins, she knew—it was a spiritual comeuppance, a flaying of the soul that could bleed and feel just like the rest of her spent body.
She had long ago given up hope of finding mercy in death. She had called upon every deity and devil she knew, called out to her mother and her father, her enemies and her friends, had broken down and cried out in broken Bulgarian and incoherent babbling until her voice went and her lungs failed her. Every sensation was a new torture to be met: the weight of the shackles around her wrists and ankles, cutting raw into her skin and binding her to the damp stone floor; the putrid smell of charred flesh—her flesh—that hung heavy and gagging in the noxious air she breathed; the sound of dripping, dripping, dripping, the source of which lay maddeningly just beyond her sight.
Faintly, she could make out the sound of footsteps clicking back and forth outside her cell. Her ears perked and she listened, straining, but the woman's aura was very powerful. The words that she did make out came to her scrambled, impossible to understand somehow, even though she knew that she was hearing them exactly as they were spoken.
"So you're absolutely sure you found her? Good. Mhm. Excellent work," the woman's voice rang smooth and clear as glass, and the prisoner shuddered to hear it. Groaning, she shifted her position on the floor so that one ear was turned towards the cell door. A tangled, matted curl fell across her face but she ignored it, listening, trying to make sense of the words that were being spoken. It was extremely difficult; the magic warped and reversed them in her sluggish brain, leaving it up to her to decipher what was truly being said.
The woman spoke quickly. "Well done. I want you to tail them." The heels went click click click across the stone floor, echoing loudly as she paced outside. The woman's tone took on a sharp edge that made the prisoner flinch away from it instinctively. "Do not lose them. Have I made myself clear? I—"
The pacing stopped.
The moments ticked by achingly slowly in the ringing silence and the prisoner's breathing began to quicken. Dread pooled slow and acidic in her belly.
The woman on the other side of the door chuckled. It was a low, insidious thing, and it echoed in the prisoner's mind long after the woman stopped giving voice to it. "It seems my guest is lucid once more," she said, her elation clearly apparent even through her magically-garbled words. "Call me as soon as they arrive. I expect a full report. You know the consequences should you fail me."
There was a curious snap of plastic on plastic, and the prisoner knew that the woman had ended the call. The footsteps neared the door and the hinges protested loudly as the great oaken thing was pushed open.
The woman strode into the chamber, looking slightly flushed, a small smile making her thin red lips stretch taut across her cheeks like a bow. The woman fixed the prisoner with a delighted expression, rubbing her hands together.
"So, Miss Katerina, where were we?" Her voice was music to behold. "I do apologize for that rude interruption. I had some business to conduct, as you probably overheard."
The woman snapped her fingers, and the sconces within the chamber sprang to life once, flames licking the thin air tentatively. Katherine winced at the sudden brightness. The light illuminated the woman's features, allowing Katherine to see her full beauty in the warm glow of torchlight. For she was, truly, beautiful—the kind of beauty that did not truly exist in nature. It was impossible to tell her age; sometimes she seemed a youth, other times as old as time, but for all the wisdom in her eyes she might have passed for scarce a year over thirty. Her hair was some profane shade of crimson, so red that fire itself paled in comparison to its lusty hue. It spilled in heavy silken ropes over her ivory shoulders, falling just short of her waist and emphasizing, in turn, the pale column of her regal throat. She was tall and waiflike, easily a head or so above Katherine herself, but her slim form contradicted the strength in her limbs, which Kat was foolish enough to underestimate in the beginning. The woman's face was angular, and something in it was too striking to be mere human in its design; no, her looks were otherworldly, as harrowing and awe-inducing as the power she wielded with so grave a sense of duty.
Somehow, the sight of the beautiful woman was enough to trigger memories of the past several hours, the painful torture she had undergone under this woman's administrations. Katherine bit back a shuddery gasp and writhed in her chains from her position on the dirty stone floor of the cell.
"Please," Katherine whispered to her tormentor, fresh tears spilling down her dirty cheeks as she begged. "Please, don't kill me! I've answered everything you asked! Please!" Her last words were choked out in a sob.
The woman turned her appraising stare upon the quivering vampire once more, lost in thought.
"Anything, I promise. I'll do anything," Katherine swore, looking up at the woman with plaintive brown orbs. She closed her eyes as the woman neared, fat tears squeezing out from under her eyelids and dripping down her face to mingle with the dust and the grime of the chamber floor.
"You will deliver a message for me," the woman decided, tapping a perfectly manicured nail on her cherry lips. "Do this, and I will free you completely."
Katherine wept gratefully, body sagging in relief at these words.
"As it were, I have business that will keep me here for a few more days. You will go in my stead. Do not stray from your path, or I shall sense it," the woman promised, black eyes glittering beneath her stern brow.
"I won't, I promise. Thank you," Katherine whispered to the beautiful woman. She wasn't sure she remembered how to smile, but she tried anyway, looking up in adoration at her merciful Mother. Her tears still fell, but they were tears of joy. They tasted the same as they coated her lips.
The woman closed her eyes and raised her arms to the heavens. She whispered a few words that Katherine did not catch, but they were clearly words of power, for the air sparked with it, raising the hair on Katherine's arms. The flames flickered madly in their sconces and the air pressure in the chamber dropped sharply as smoke began rising from the flickering torches on the wall. Great trails of it, dark and sooty, wafted towards the woman's outstretched palms, coalescing into a tight black ball above her head. The woman reached into the smoke and spoke a few more words, then pulled out something glinting and sharp. The smoke evaporated and the torch flames stilled, spell complete.
The woman turned towards Katherine, who sat there on the floor, mouth agape at the display. In the woman's hand, a long knife shone. It glowed in the dark, giving off a faint orange hue, as if it were a hot poker recently removed from the fire. Katherine shrank instinctively away from it as the woman approached.
"This will hurt you," the woman promised, beautiful mouth turned down in sorrow at the thought. She rolled the hilt around in her grip as she spoke. "But it will ensure that you are victorious in your efforts."
"Please, no more." Katherine could barely get the words past her swollen lips. More tears leaked out unbidden at the thought of more pain at this woman's hand, and it took her a few moments to realize that those pathetic, mewling whimpers she heard were coming from her own throat.
"I'm so sorry, my child, but it is a necessary thing to be done," the woman apologized sympathetically, red hair shining like blood in the harsh torchlight. She reached out a pale arm and pressed a cool hand to Katherine's cheek, a gentle, soothing sensation that the vampire could not help but lean into. The woman's touch even seemed to draw some of her pain out of her body, like poison being drawn from a wound. Katherine sighed and gazed up through wet lashes in appreciation at her Mother, whose kind smile radiated down to her like the warmth of the sun.
And then knife descended, and Katherine found that she could, in fact, still scream.