Klaus walked through the woods that he still knew like the back of his hand, even after all these years. His fingers intertwined with his loves as they both made their way through the forest that used to be their home towards the falls where they had first met. Neither of them spoke a single word, both knowing that silence was best for this particular trip. Glancing over he saw that her mind was as far away as his own, he knew she was most likely thinking of the same time as he was. The time that had started everything that they had finally finished a few hours before. The curse his mother had placed upon them both was finally laid to rest and standing here in the woods where it was first laid upon them he couldn’t help but remember that day anew, as though it were yesterday rather than a thousand years ago.
He could still see his mother’s hate filled eyes as she spewed her venom. Her words echoing in his memory as it had every day of the last thousand years. Hopefully now that the curse had been lifted it would finally stop.
“She loved your wolf so much – I figured – she should have one of her own. For only a monster can truly love a monster. Every full moon she will shift, in agony, this is my gift to you both.” The word gift was filled with such vile hatred it was clear what she meant, curse.
“Ahhhh!” Pulling his hand free turning from the vile woman who was his mother he raced across the room to be at his loves side. He could see the pain etched on her face, it was unbearable.
This could not be happening. This was not how their lives together were meant to be. They were going to get married, they were going to leave, move far away from this place and never look back. They were going to be happy.
“Caroline love, look at me.”
“Nik?” Her voice was weak and her eyes unfocused, unseeing. He could hear her bones as they began to break one by one, and his own heart broke with each sound.
“I will fix this love, I swear it, I will not allow your fate to mirror my own.”
“Hahaha, what is it you think you could possibly do Niklaus? You are a weak pathetic excuse for a man, you can not save anyone from anything, Henrik is proof enough of that. The only way you would even come close to helping her would be to die so that at least she will be spared the agony of knowing that she had fallen in love with such a creature as you.” He could feel the heat of fire against his back and he knew he should turn to see what Ester was doing but he could not tear his eyes away from Caroline.
“Nik-” Caroline’s voice was small and raspy as though she had been screaming for hours and her eyes wide with fright as she looked beyond him to where his mother stood. He knew that whatever his mother was doing it would likely kill him, but he could not bring himself to care, all he cared about was Caroline. Just as he was bracing for the impact of whatever spell was about to be hurled at his back he felt his beloved tense in his embrace just before he was holding nothing but air. Caroline was gone!
Turning around frantically looking for her, he found her easily, standing before his mother with her now clawed hand wrapped tightly around the witches throat.
“She won’t hurt you, hurt us, anymore. I won’t allow it.” Without pause she pulled her hand back as she dug her nails into the flesh, effectively ripping out his mothers throat. He watched without so much as a twinge of sorrow as his mothers body fell lifelessly to the floor, it was only after Caroline began to crumble herself, her body giving out that he moved at all.
Rising from the floor with her firmly in his arms he raced towards his village at top speeds, towards the one woman who might have a chance at helping them. Ayana.
Stumbling into the village he had once called home moments later he found it ablaze. Homes were alight and the villagers, his neighbors and friends, were strewn across the grounds. Dead.
What had done this? Had the wolves attacked? Why weren’t they in the caves safe from this madness?
He ran towards Ayana’s hut hoping that he would still find her there. She had never taken refuge with them from the wolves in the past, he only prayed that she still remained now when he needed her most.
“Ayana!” He knew he must look like a wild man standing there clutching Caroline close to his chest, his hands still coated in his mothers blood.
“Niklaus? Caroline? What has happened?” Even in his frantic state he noticed that Ayana did not step across the threshold of her home, and he had a fairly good idea as to why. She knew, what he had become, she knew.
“Mother, she has cursed Caroline, she has made her into a wolf. Please you must help her, she has already begun to shift, this was never meant to be her fate.”
“Come inside child, quickly, lest your family return.” The relief he felt at the invitation was beyond any emotion he had ever felt before, it nearly took his legs out from under him.
“My family?” What had his family to do with this carnage?
He watched as his mothers old friend sent his beloved into a deep sleep, as she used her magic to help ease her suffering. His own racing heart began to slow at her obvious relief.
“It is they who have done this great evil you see. Once they were all transformed their bloodlust took hold of them, and their need for vengeance gripped them tight. They were headed towards the village of the wolves when the people of this village were just beginning to return from the caves. It was all too much for them. They began to attack anything and anyone within their reach. I was soon able to send them towards the wolves and away from here, but as you can see for yourself it was not nearly soon enough. I only pray they stay away.” Even as she spoke the words he could hear it both in her words, and in the unsteady beat of her heart, that she did not believe them. They would return, and it would be soon.
“I don’t understand. What has been done to us?” What demon had gripped his family so that they would so easily turn on their friends and neighbors?
“After your brother died your parents became terrified that the same fate would befall the rest of you. They became consumed with the need to make you stronger, faster, more equal to the wolves that they feared would one day hunt you. They came to me and asked for my aid in making that happen, I did everything in my power to try and dissuade them, but it was not to be. I helped them to achieve this thinking that if I had refused them they would simply attempt it all on their own and the result would be disastrous. Even I did not realize the terrible price we would all pay regardless of who had cast the spell.”
His parents had done this to them all, on purpose. What madness could have possibly befallen them to make them believe even for a moment that this course could end in anything but tragedy?
“Why would they do this? What could they have possibly thought to gain?” It truly was madness.
“It does not matter any longer. For what they thought to gain was far from what has actually come to pass. Ester is my friend and I love her dearly, but this thing should never have been done. Quickly tell me where is your mother? We may need her help to undo this thing she has brought down on young Caroline.”
He looked down at his bloody hands unable to look her in the eye as he spoke his lie. Ayana loved Ester as she said, if she knew that Caroline was responsible for her death, she might refuse to help them, and they needed her aide badly.
“She is dead, I ripped her throat out in my rage. She was talking of killing both me and Caroline, she never wanted anyone to know of what I have become.”
“A creature like your siblings?” He could tell from her cautious words and guarded eyes that she already knew, that she had always known the circumstances of his birth.
“A werewolf. The change took hold of me after my blood lust rose and I killed one of the wolves in the forest. Of all of us I am truly more monster than man now.” Even knowing that, he would not, could not be ashamed. Being such a monster is all that gave him the strength he needed to protect himself and Caroline when he truly needed to.
“Oh, Niklaus, you poor boy. No one should ever have to endure what you have, I am truly sorry. As for Caroline, while I can’t truly undo what your mother has done, I may be able to help in another way. I can lock this new wolf side of hers away, deep within herself, make it dormant in a way. There will be consequences however.”
“Anything.” There was nothing he would not do for his love, nothing he would not endure.
“First of all in order to do this thing I would have to bind her wolf to another. For me to seal away her wolf I would have to seal away yours as well. You will never be able to shift again until the curse is truly broken. Only then will the both of you be freed. Second, I can not completely suppress the curse your mother has created. She was a very talented witch, with great power, but I can lessen it some. Caroline will still be forced to shift into her wolf form once a year on the last full moon of that year. However, since she is not a true wolf, one born to this curse, her transformations will be slower and far more painful than that of a normal wolf. She will need your help Niklaus.” His love would still suffer? Fate was truly cruel, but he would make sure she never suffered alone, he would be there for her every step of the way, until this curse was broken and they were forever free.
“I shall remain by her side always. She and I shall spend the rest of our lives together.” Just as they had planned, before this terrible night.
“That is another problem Niklaus.”
“What?” What more could there possibly be?
“After your family lost themselves to their baser natures I spent some time looking into the consequences of the spell that we had cast. I spoke with the spirits and it would seem that when we did this thing, we were not as cautious as we should have been. Your parents wanted to protect their children forever and that is exactly what has been granted to them. Forever. Your siblings and yourself shall not age from this day forward. You shall live for centuries past where you should have died.”
“We are immortal?” How could he be expected to live for an eternity when he did not even wish to live for the remainder of this night?
“Not exactly, you can be killed, though not easily, no you have been granted longevity. You will live possibly for thousands of years. Caroline on the other hand is not as you are.”
“There must be a way to keep her with me, to make her as I am, as we are.” Live forever without Caroline? Impossible. He would not do it.
“If she had still been a normal human girl I would have said there was, however, she is now a werewolf and one other-worldly being can not be so easily turned into another.”
“But I -”
“You were human when the spell turned you, your werewolf side had not yet been brought out in you, Caroline has already begun her first shift. It is not so simple for her.”
“Then make it simple! I can not lose her. She is the only person who has ever genuinely loved me without reservation. I need her Ayana, without her I am nothing.” He turned from her not wanting anyone to see his anguish so plainly in his eyes. Looking out into the destruction of his home he tried to imagine an eternity without his beloved by his side. An eternity alone.
No! It would be unbearable. He knew then and there that should Caroline ever die, should she ever so completely be taken from his side, he would follow her to whatever fate awaited them in the next life. Surely it would be far kinder than what they had already been forced to endure in this one.
“There may be a way for you to share your own long life with her. Be warned young wolf, if you do this thing there will be no un-doing it. Your life would be hers and in exchange her life yours. If either of you were to die the other would follow them to their eternal rest before the coming dawn. She would be weaker than you, more vulnerable to harm, do you truly wish to bind your fate to one who could be so easily harmed. To one so weak?”
“She is not weak. She never has been, no matter her limitations she will always be the strongest person I have ever known and I will proudly stand beside her for all of my days. Bind us Ayana, please help me stay by her side. Forever and always.”
Looking out at the falls where he had first seen her, his siren, he tried to shake the thoughts of that time free. It would do him no good at all to dwell on it now, it was long past and long done. Ayana had bound them together as he had asked, and for the last thousand years they had walked this world hand in hand.
Now, they were truly free!
“What do you want to do now love?”
“I think it is time we reunite the family don’t you. We are free now, they should be as well. Let’s leave this cursed place and never return.”
“Anything for you love, let’s go wake the others then shall we.”