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I'll be good (for all of the light that I shut out)

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On any given night, Elijah could count on finding his brother Niklaus engaged in one depravity or another. Whether it was feeding in the darkness with Kol or Lucien, or spending the night secluded with the lady Aurora—who still begged him to make her like them—Niklaus spent his nights trying to numb his mind.

Any night, that is, save the full moon. Those nights were Niklaus's, and his alone.

Elijah would find him tucked away in a darkened corner, or in the sacristy, or any place that guaranteed him privacy. Many cycles passed before he found his way to the roof, where he would watch the moon peak, full and round.

It mocks me, Niklaus had told him the first time Elijah had stumbled across his vigil. Look at it, laughing in the face of my desire.

Cruel thing, Elijah had mused. He knew the torment Niklaus suffered each moon, the pain of his body longing, needing to turn. The spell their mother had performed on him in her last days bound his body, crushing its ability to transform into a beast.

(If Elijah had not seen it with his own eyes, he would not believe that his brother could possibly possess that ability in the first place.)

Elijah could no longer place blame on Esther, could no longer feel any bitterness or spite toward her for her part in his brother’s torment. Not since Niklaus had come informing them, in a shaking voice, that Mikael's rage had ended her life.

There had been a splash of blood on his cheek, still fresh, still warm.

So much had happened in those few intervening years. They were an ocean away from home, plagued by a hunger no food or drink could satiate, confined to shadow and subterfuge out of fear of their father. And now there was blood, always blood, blood everywhere.

Like the blood that decorated the front of Niklaus's tunic tonight. He sat on the edge of the roof, legs dangling precariously into space. Wind blew his hair in every direction. His head turned as he sensed Elijah's approach.

Their eyes met. Elijah took in the lost, haunted look on his brother’s face, in his eyes. The grief there, mourning what had been taken from him.

An unspeakable sadness. Inescapable.

Niklaus opened his mouth as though he were about to speak, but words seemed to evade him. He mouthed silently, looking up at Elijah with glassy eyes.

There were a million instances Elijah could recall that precise, helpless expression on Niklaus. Coming upon him at five years old, a bruise forming across one cheek after he had angered their father. Catching him carving with Father’s knife, even after doing so had earned him a brutal beating. His inability to respond to Elijah’s question: Do you love her, brother? Do you love Tatia?

And most recently, as he helped Rebekah bury their mother. He’d stared up at Elijah in wordless misery. His anger for her part in the curse would be his last memory between them.

I wish… 

He hadn’t been able to finish.

It was much the same now, Elijah supposed, following his brother’s gaze to the bright, round moon. Niklaus would be doomed, for the rest of his lifetime, to wish for something he could not have.

One more thing Elijah could not give him.

He knelt behind his brother on the rooftop, taking in the sprawl of land below them, the endless sky above.

The helpless silence was excruciating. “I know what you’re thinking, brother, but you are not alone. You never have been.”

Niklaus shuddered as he turned his head halfway toward Elijah. “I am the only one of my kind,” he whispered. “I could not be more alone.”

Elijah could not bear this maudlin self-pity. Did his brother not remember? Had he forgotten that bloodstained morning in the forest, the touch of Elijah’s forehead against his? Had he forgotten their hands clasped together, warm and covered in grave dirt? Had he forgotten every day since, with Elijah by his side?

“No. We swore to one another, Niklaus. And while we may not be alike in nature, we are bound by the blood we share. Our mother’s blood.”

Niklaus flinched, as he often did at the mention of her. “She…I…” Elijah could hear his heart begin to race beneath his bloodied tunic. “Brother, I—my anger. Before she…”

Elijah shook his head. He would not let his brother dive into that pit of guilt in his heart. “She did what she did to help you. She may have been misguided, but she loved you. As she knew you loved her. You could not know what Father would do to her.”

“No,” Niklaus breathed. “I could not.” His shiver, Elijah knew, had nothing to do with the chill wind sweeping over them.

Niklaus never spoke of that day on his own. Though he pretended to be unbothered by their past, Elijah knew their mother’s death haunted him. As he looked upward now in a furious attempt to contain his tears, Elijah was suddenly afraid Niklaus would fling himself from the roof.

(Not that it would kill him. But Elijah had seen his brother’s body break in unimaginable ways once before, and he had no desire to see it again.)

Elijah stretched one hand forward, tentative and uncertain, to grasp Niklaus’s shoulder.

Holding him in place. Anchoring him.

Niklaus gasped at the unexpected contact. Elijah felt the taut muscles of his neck and shoulder tighten, then relax. He let out a long shaky sigh and leaned, ever so lightly, into Elijah’s hand.

In that touch, and Niklaus’s acceptance of it, was baked all the words they didn’t say.

Their need for each other ran deeper still than their hunger for blood.

“Tell me. Do you think…” Niklaus wet his lips. “Do you think she wanted me?”

“You mean Mother?”

“She loved me. I know. But was I not her greatest shame? Proof of her worst mistake? Her own ab…” His voice trembled once again. “Her own abom…”

He did not finish, but Elijah knew. He knew how the sentence would have ended.

Abomination. The word had crossed Mikael’s lips countless times. Regarding the wolves, then regarding Niklaus.

Elijah tightened his hold on his brother’s shoulder. “No one is a mistake, Niklaus. Mother loved you. As she did all of us.”

As we love you. As I do.

“Now, Father is an ocean away. Do not let his words infect you. You are not an abomination. Not for your birth, and not for your wants.”

The moon winked at them from behind a passing wisp of cloud.

Niklaus said nothing. Above them, the moon continued to shine, oblivious to their plight.

After a time, so gently Elijah almost thought he imagined it, Niklaus’s hand snaked up his shoulder to cover Elijah’s fingers.

Their needs for each other ran deep indeed.