death of innocence When she was young she spent hours lying in the grass, head resting in her mother's lap and relishing in the warmth of the sunlight on her face. Often joined by her mother's friend, Ayanna, the three of them would search for patterns in the clouds, give names to the birds, and weave flowers into homemade crowns she would wear proudly. She prized their special days spent beneath the shade of the white oak, catching butterflies and always, always, setting them free, watching with delight as they fluttered off into the sky, their tiny wings gleaming as they caught the light. Her mother would take her face in her hands, covering her cheeks with the gentle tickle of butterfly kisses and she would shriek and squirm, making half-hearted, giggling attempts to get away. She tried this trick on her brothers- while most of them good-naturedly sent her on her way, Elijah tolerated her antics with amusement, and little Henrik always gave chase, laughing and taunting you'll have to catch me first!, though she always did. Though her brothers had never shown any signs, the older women seemed certain that she would inherit her mother's abilities, and happily entertained her fascination with the world. It's important work we do, Ayanna used to tell her, to uphold Mother Nature's balance. She always envisioned Mother Nature as a great and beautiful angel, with a dress made of grasses and leaves, jewelry made of only the most precious stones, great wings of only the softest downy feathers, and a crown of roses resting in her hair, and told Ayanna and her mother so. They laughed easily in response, and her mother stroked her hair while they taught her what they knew. Those untroubled days proved to be short-lived. Henrik's death changed everything. The absence of his devilish grin and squealing laughter, though it pained her, turned out to be the least of it. Ayanna grew distant and cold, sullen expressions clung to everyone's faces, and even the skies seemed to grow darker. Life as she knew it all but unravelled entirely, and now- now she is changed. She ceases to take pleasure in leisurely days spent lying in the grass, watching the delicate flight of the butterfly, listening to the cheerful melodies of the birds. Instead, their songs stir an anger that sits deep in her stomach. The world she once knew is no more, replaced by one she doesn't recognize, a world intensified and elevated by her sharpened senses- the flowers are more fragrant, their colors more vibrant, their petals softer against her skin. And yet, while this world should seem more alive by all accounts, she feels betrayed, and the only word that comes to mind is death. Her connection to the world is lost. She no longer feels the steady hum of alive in her blood, no longer feels the enormity of the earth beneath her feet, no longer feels the delicate life of a blossom held between her fingers- instead, she feels only a void, and something deep inside her aches desperately for the loss. When she was young, she had approached the world with passionate appreciation, and it had responded in kind. Now, the sun is angry and punishing against her skin, the precious flowers she once used to weave into crowns now painfully sear her fingers at even the slightest touch. Where she once reveled in nature's delights, she now looks on them bitterly as an outcast. She distantly recalls scraps of Ayanna's words, her voice rough with anger, or perhaps fear; you are an abomination, a monster nature never intended, the spirits have turned on you, and she hates her with such intensity she surprises herself. She remembers begging for Ayanna's help, but no, you should not be, there must be balance. Always balance. It's important work, after all, to uphold Mother Nature's balance, she remembers bitterly. This world considers her a curse, and so she curses it in return- she never asked for this, this was not her choice!, and so she screams accusations at the sky, scarring the ground with her fists and feet, her body trembling with rage. When she was young, she had loved, simply and without condition. Now, she seethes with an anger that spreads like wildfire, that feeds on her despair, her sense of betrayal, her sense of loss. Time settles her anger, but does nothing to diminish it. Elijah once called her a time bomb, and she supposes he's right. Niklaus just smiles, quiet, and in that small gesture she hears everything he doesn't say aloud. Dear Elijah keeps himself grounded somehow and she admires, even envies, him that- but she and Nik survive, thrive, even, on their anger, their resentment, harnessing it as a weapon against the world in payment for its cruel injustice. She's been angry for so long, it has changed her. Gone is the girl who loved so freely and easily, a girl she now writes off as naive and foolish. She has seen more than enough now to almost- almost- be grateful of the change in herself, because she learned early on that the world shows little kindness, and the lovers are the first to be beaten down. She thinks of her past in only two terms; when she was young, and vampire, and leaves it at that, because really, there's no sense in digging any deeper, right? When she was young she would yell at the boys that ripped the wings of the butterflies, they didn't do anything to you they're innocent stop it stop it!, but now she just stands and watches, and there might be something like a smile peeking out at the edges of her lips. Because kids will be kids, right? And what gives the butterfly the right to fly, anyways?