these bloody days have broken our hearts » the vampire diaries. caroline/elena. pg-13. 3,767 words.
They kill Klaus, but at a cost. Caroline tries to help Elena through her transition. warnings: character death, blood/mild gore, blood drinking, consent issues around transitioning, themes of death.
Elena has a plan: she is going to die.
Elena will die and they will kill Klaus and Elijah’s elixir will bring Elena back to life and they will all live (happily ever after).
But that doesn’t happen.
Damon forces his blood down Elena’s throat and Klaus drives a stake through Stefan’s heart in the sacrifice and Elena has already crumpled to the ground, broken broken broken, when Klaus reaches her to drain her dry.
Caroline pulls Elena to safety when all is clear, rests her friend’s head in her lap, and when Elena next opens her eyes she is in transition.
Jeremy is with them, standing above and shaking, and he thrusts his wrist at Elena.
“No—” she starts to choke in horrified realisation. “No.”
And Jeremy grabs her shoulder, says “Elena-” and Caroline wraps her fingers around his wrist and presses it against Elena’s mouth and says “Yes.”
Elena breathes heavy, a long shudder rippling through her, and shakes her head. “No—n—just—just let me—”
And Caroline could. Caroline could pull Jeremy away and say, let her go, Caroline could finally grant Elena this. She feels so small in her lap, unbearably light, and there are still tearstains marring her cheeks. She smells like salt and blood and grief.
Caroline could grant Elena this, but instead she says “No,” and holds Elena in place as Jeremy presses his wrist to her mouth with more insistence and Elena shudders again and she cannot help it. Her head snaps forward when she buries her teeth in her brother’s wrist and even as she drinks desperate with hunger, they can both hear how she is still sobbing.
“I never wanted this either, you know,” Caroline tells her, back at the Gilbert house. Only Elena and Jeremy’s house now, and Caroline wonders if sadness can seep into wood, if it’s possible that it could linger in the walls and the floor, because she feels it.
Elena won’t look at her.
“I didn’t even know,” Caroline continues, “about—about any of this, really. And it’s horrible. And you don’t just get used to it. But—you can still adapt. You can take however long you need—” she’s pleading now, her guilt obvious. She sucks in a deep breath – old habit.
“You’re going to be okay,” she says softly. The words are useless, but she wants to (has to) believe them. You’re going to be okay, like everyone told Elena at her parents’ funeral. You’re going to be okay, even though Stefan is gone and Damon is as good as, no one knows where, and they’re alone in a house that’s too empty.
Elena makes a small noise, like she’s having trouble getting the sound out.
Caroline takes a step forward.
“I’m dead,” Elena says quietly, like a whisper makes it less true, like she is breaking under the weight of this one fact—
—and Caroline bites her tongue to keep inside “Isn’t that what you wanted?”
Later, on the roof outside Elena’s window, where they used to climb as little girls and never tell their parents—
“Me too,” Caroline tells her, wraps an arm around her shoulder.
Twelve years since they met in a sandbox, and now they’re just two dead girls sitting on a roof, and neither of them get to worry about if Elena’s parents are going to come upstairs and find them.
Elena cries and Caroline runs fingers soft through her hair and says Shhh, shhh, like she’s comforting her over your average boy troubles, teenage heartbreak, not this—this everything too big for either of them to grasp, sacrifice and death and loss and lives ripped apart and they are monsters now and forever.
She passes Elena a blood bag when the tears have started to dry, and they sit in silence and sip, and they never did this before either. Caroline laughs, sudden and short, and Elena frowns, and Caroline gestures at the bags, and says, “Remember when we used to sneak tequila up here?”
And Elena laughs too, quiet and shaky, but it’s a start and Caroline is hit hot in the gut with a wave of affection, like we can do this and you’re really going to be okay.
They sleep curled up in Elena’s bed, because Caroline can’t bring herself to go home, even if Jeremy’s here too, biting his lip in the background.
She thinks Elena’s asleep until she hears the soft “Where is he?”
And – she doesn’t know if Elena means Stefan – what happens when you die, what happens when you die if you were already dead – or Damon, who has disappeared like his own ghost, who has lost his brother of a century and a half and realized it was the one thing he never prepared for, the only thing to truly rip him apart.
Caroline doesn’t know where Damon is, if he is even still alive. Caroline doesn’t know what to say about Stefan, doesn’t have words that will make this better because she doesn’t think those words exist.
She finds Elena’s hand under the duvet and squeezes it, shifting closer on the mattress and hearing the hitch in Elena’s throat, that almost-sound again.
She can’t tell her where either Salvatore is, so she only says “I’m here,” and I won’t leave.
Elena’s control slips when they are walking down the main street in town. It’s night time, because Elena needs fresh air and outside of that house, but day time with too many people everywhere is dangerous. The streetlights glow soft and the moon is a mere crescent above them, slashed into the sky, and then there is a boy who comes around the corner and almost bumps into them, and Elena tenses and gasps and her eyes are cracking, red red red.
“Hey—” Caroline interjects quickly, grabbing her arm, tugging her away as the boy stops.
“Are you okay?” he calls out, squinting, and Caroline smiles and tosses a quick “Yep!” over her shoulder even as she pulls Elena into around the side of the store and away.
“God,” Elena is shaking, “I need—” She had blood before they left, Caroline ever-so-careful, but that can’t prepare for close contact so unexpectedly and her eyes are still dark.
She’s twitching, like it’s taking everything she has not to bolt, not to run that boy down and rip out his throat, and Caroline grips her forearms tightly, and pins her back against the wall.
“Calm down,” she instructs, grits her teeth. She remembers the feeling, of course she remembers the feeling, but she also remembers the guilt after acting it and she won’t allow Elena that. Any more guilt or grief on her conscience and Elena will snap in half, or retreat deeper within herself and maybe there won’t be any getting her back at all.
Caroline shudders, and edges closer, the nearest motion to an embrace while she’s still holding Elena against the brick, just in case. She tips her head against Elena’s, and repeats herself, “Calm down,” and Elena gasps and nods and slowly, slowly, her eyes return to normal.
“See?” Caroline doesn’t loosen her grip on Elena but she tries to smile. “You can do this.”
Elena shakes her head, mouths “No,” over and over, and crumples into Caroline. She is shaking but there is a stillness within her, like her heart has been strangled by her ribcage – silent now and all that’s left are brittle bones to hold her up.
Caroline clings to her until the sun starts to come up.
Elena locks herself in her bedroom when they go home, and Caroline phones Bonnie.
"I think she needs a ring," she says, even though this isn't how it's supposed to go, even though Elena nearly attacked someone and they were going to wait until things were safe. She's ready to babble on about how good it will be for Elena to get used to being out, how much it helped her when she was the one going through this, but Bonnie doesn't even protest.
"Okay." The grit of her teeth makes it through the phone connection. "I'll be there later." She is weary and worn-down and overwhelmed, caught up in the same confusion they're all stuck with, because this was the one thing that wasn't supposed to happen. How could winning—they killed Klaus, after all, that was the goal, but—
How could winning look anything like this?
"I'm going to be gone for a bit," Bonnie adds, quiet and guilty and Caroline just wants to hold her close and smooth her hair. She can hear how Bonnie has to take a breath before she continues. "Elijah is going to bury Klaus' body and I'm-- I have to go with him, I'm going to make sure it's done right and place spells so no one will ever find his corpse, just in--" Just in case. It's too much to imagine that anything else could go wrong.
"He's dead though, right? Really dead?" Caroline's squeezing the phone so tight the plastic casing cracks, though the line remains steady.
"Yeah." There is nothing ecstatic in Bonnie's voice, nothing they had thought they would feel when they could finally say these words. "He's really dead."
We won, Caroline thinks—doesn't say out loud.
"You should go with Bonnie," she tells Jeremy. They're sitting on the couch with the television playing static noise, some show neither of them are paying attention to. Elena is upstairs, and the only thing either of them are devoting attention to is waiting for the sound of movement.
Jeremy stares. His fingers are clenched tight into the couch, nails scraping the leather at a frequency that scrapes her ears. "I'm not leaving Elena," Jeremy says, on perfect cue, like a line she could have read out from a script.
"I'm here with Elena. Do you really want Bonnie going off alone with one of them?" Jeremy has never glared at her like he does then, shaking his head, but she doesn't flinch. She knows it's a low blow, knows how both Gilberts will always refuse to choose between the people they love.
"Don't ask me to--" Jeremy starts to say, right on cue again.
"It'll be easier for Elena." That makes him stop, and maybe this is an even lower blow but at least it's not a lie. "She's craving you right now. Your blood."
Jeremy does flinch then, and Caroline wets her lip, listens to the thump of his heart pushing blood through his veins and remembers the initial ache, the glory of a strange man's blood seeping down her throat and still not satisfying her. "Go with Bonnie."
Jeremy gets up and leaves the room without a word. It's not an argument, though. He'll go.
Oh, this house, how it empties and empties.
Caroline finds Elena on the roof in the morning, twisting the silver ring on her finger around and around and around, shivering in the sunlight.
“They left,” Elena says, without turning her head. Of course she can hear Caroline’s approach now, doesn’t have to look to hear her shoe scuffing the roof tile and smell the whiff of her perfume as she sits down beside her, crossing her legs.
Caroline can hear the stutter of Elena gulping out of reflex, can smell the blood she was drinking earlier that’s left a smudge under her pinkie fingernail.
“I couldn’t really say goodbye,” Elena says quietly—there’s no need to speak any louder. “I don’t even know when they’ll be back—” and Caroline notices the slightest pause, hears Elena’s mind trip over if instead of when, “—and I couldn’t even be in the same room for more than a few minutes without wanting to—”
She doesn’t finish the sentence.
Caroline curls their fingers together, like they could still be little kids lining up in the playground, or timidly crossing the street in pairs.
Everyone is leaving Elena, everyone is dying or running away, and Caroline feels a dull stab of guilt (she’s too tired to feel anything in ranges outside of dull these days, too washed-out and overcome and defeated, even though they won) for making Jeremy go too, but it wasn’t safe.
She’s the one who can be here for Elena now, because her heart hasn’t beat in months, because her blood is cold and holds no appeal, because Elena can bury her face into Caroline’s shoulder now and sob without an ache in her teeth to rip into Caroline’s veins.
Caroline holds her tightly and doesn’t say anything, but she pushes the guilt away, thinks that she’d much rather comfort an Elena crying over Jeremy having to leave them than an Elena crying because she tore her brother’s life out through his throat and drained him dry.
(It could be worse, she reminds herself. This is the aftermath of victory.)
“Tell me about the man you killed.”
Elena sleeps with her body curled up facing inwards, so Caroline does the same, watching her, and she would swear her dead heart jumps into her throat when Elena speaks, her eyes still closed.
Which one? Caroline could say. The man at the carnival, when it was all so new and she needed blood like she’d never imagined she could need anything, or her mother’s deputies, to save Stefan and Damon?
Stefan and Damon are gone anyway, for all the good she did, and Caroline knows that Elena means the first man, the first kill.
“He was kind,” she says. “I was crying, and he asked if I was okay, but he was bleeding and I couldn’t—” It feels like a horrible excuse, couldn’t, when she’s trying to tell Elena every day that she can control it.
“I said I was sorry,” Caroline whispers, and her voice feels choked like her throat is full of his blood even still. “I said I was sorry and I ripped his throat open and drank his blood until he stopped moving. And then I kept drinking.”
Elena is silent, but she trembles. And then: “I want that.” Her mouth twists unpleasantly as her eyes slowly water. “With the man on the road, I wanted that, I could have done that too, if I was alone.” She reaches out with one finger, touches the centre of Caroline’s throat, light like a spark, and trails her finger across. “It was all I wanted.”
Caroline edges closer almost on instinct alone, her body arching closer into Elena’s light touch and forcing it into a harder press.
“Tell me it goes away,” Elena whispers. “Tell me you don’t feel it anymore.”
Caroline wants to, even if it’s a lie. Instead, what comes out is, “You could do it, now. If you wanted, it wouldn’t hurt me.” Elena’s finger twitches, a light scrape of nail against her throat before she’s pressing again, harder.
“I would let you,” Caroline says, and she tips her head back.
There is the longest pause. And then:
It hurts more than she would expect, in the sudden flare of Elena’s teeth sinking into her skin, slicing into her. Elena moves so quickly, like Caroline’s permission has broken a dam inside her, smashed apart every wall and effort, and it terrifies Caroline for a second that maybe this is Elena finally snapping like she was trying so hard to prevent.
But if Elena’s breaking over anyone Caroline’s glad it’s her, when she’s here to hold her tight, fingers splaying over her back as Elena moves over her, body twisting down to drink from the wound.
Her teeth scrape and tear at the skin, and her tongue licks over it, warm and pressing firm, licking away the blood as it pools. Elena shivers, a slow current from head to toe, and then her mouth is pressing harder, and she sucks at the wound in helpless, uneven pulls.
Caroline feels the pulse of blood leaving her, screws her eyes shut and bites at her lip, one of her legs kicking out instinctively and her toes curling, heels pushing into the mattress. She shudders, tips her head back further to expose her neck and pushes her hair out of her face, gold splayed over the pillow and Elena’s dark hair falling over her chest.
Elena’s hardly holding herself up, draped over Caroline, but she lifts her head with a gasp.
Caroline’s blood is streaked down her chin, and Caroline’s throat is throbbing from Elena’s teeth, and Elena’s eyes are half-shut, heavy with ecstasy. Caroline feels around on the mattress until her hand nudges Elena’s, curled into a tight ball, and she grabs it, forces it open and twists their fingers together as she feels the wound in her neck start to heal over already.
She can still feel the ghost of Elena’s teeth in her, and Elena’s mouth on her, and her head is dizzy from it, slow waves of pleasure seeping away.
Elena looks to be the same, a slow startle in her eyes as she licks blood from her lips. She pushes herself up, sitting carefully over Caroline’s waist. Her eyes are widening, her pupils shrinking to normal, and she looks like she can’t believe what she’s done.
“It’s okay,” Caroline says finally, and she doesn’t know if she’s referring to Elena drinking from her, or the fact that Elena indulged at all, or the sudden shift between them, the way her body was taut with pressure and the way Elena gasped.
Elena rolls off her, and curls up tight on her side of the bed, though she still faces Caroline. “Thank you,” she says, and when Caroline nods she can’t help wondering what it would feel like to be the one saying thank you, to tear into Elena with her own teeth and taste her friend’s blood sliding down her throat.
She doesn’t fall asleep for hours, kept awake terrified with new wanting, how much she aches for it.
Caroline wakes up in an empty bed.
She stretches out as she takes in the noise of utensils being shuffled in the kitchen and the smell of fresh coffee. It could almost be an ordinary day, when life was still ordinary, and she remembers, like a sudden pang, how Mr. Gilbert used to make pancakes when she slept over.
She takes a few minutes before she gets up, and when she comes downstairs it’s just as Elena’s spiking her mug with Bailey’s cream. Caroline almost stumbles over another pang, because it’s just so teenage.
“The free pass to be a lush is probably the best part of all this,” she announces as she sweeps into the room, and Elena turns her head with a laugh over her shoulder. She laughs, even if the sound is small, and Caroline grins, wonders if this morning is reminding Elena of so many others too.
Elena tips the bottle over the second mug with a raised eyebrow, and Caroline nods, “Of course!” and relaxes against the counter. Elena pours and hands it over, and they fall into silence as they drink.
Jeremy is gone and Bonnie is gone and Klaus is dead and Caroline doesn’t know what they’re supposed to do with their days anymore. Elena can’t go to school, not yet, and Caroline isn’t leaving her in this empty house.
“Last night,” Elena says quickly, setting her coffee down on the counter. “You let me—bite you. Drink, from you.” She runs a hand through her hair, her other hand gripping the counter with white fingers. “Did you think—would you want, like—” She extends her wrist, and Caroline can’t look away as the realization hits her, what this is.
“—the favour returned?”
“Elena,” she says softly, tries to make it a warning, because she won’t do this just to make things even, doesn’t want Elena thinking she owes her anything. Elena is the one getting used to this, Elena is the one who doesn’t know how to handle the urges for blood, and Caroline was just trying to help her friend, not expecting to get the same offer back.
“I’m not just asking because you let me,” Elena says quietly. “I—want it. I want you to do it, Caroline,” she says, and her voice is dropping lower and her wrist is shaking where it’s suspended in the air between them, and Caroline gets it, Elena wanting to know what she felt too.
She puts her coffee down, and takes her time moving closer to Elena. She wraps her fingers around Elena’s wrist, and she still moves closer, pinning her against the counter and watching the way her throat jumps before lifting her wrist and piercing her fangs into the startlingly blue veins.
Elena shudders as Caroline drinks in a heady flow of blood. Elena arches her back and squirms, her legs rubbing against Caroline’s until Caroline slots a leg between her thighs and pushes harder against her. She drinks with her eyes open, watches as Elena’s own eyes darken and her mouth gasps open, craving. Caroline pulls away for a moment, only to say “You can, again, too, if you want.”
She tears into Elena’s wrist again, a new bite slightly higher, and she’s expecting it then, Elena ducking her head in to sink her teeth into Caroline’s throat, the opposite side from last night. Caroline whines, her mouth sliding over torn skin and teeth dragging messily in Elena’s blood. Elena’s got a hand curled around her neck, pushing her hair back as she drinks in greedily.
It’s not the same as drinking from a human, not as warm, not as naturally satisfying, but there’s something to be said for the way Elena arches into it and the way Elena’s blood in her mouth makes Caroline’s head spin.
By the time they finally pull away from each other, their coffee has gone cold.
Elena stares at her with wide eyes, wets her bloodied lips as she strokes her hand down Caroline’s face. Caroline closes her eyes for a second, steadies herself with her hand gripping tight at Elena’s waist.
“Hey,” Elena says, and Caroline opens her eye.
“Hi,” she says, and Elena smiles, slow and careful.
“I’m going to be okay, aren’t I?” Elena asks, and it’s words that she’s said a thousand times before, words that she’s lied through her teeth, but it’s question now, like she trusts Caroline to tell her, like she believes Caroline will really get her through this.
“Yes,” Caroline nods, and means it.
She reaches for Elena’s hand and they twist their fingers together.