Thumbing through the small pile of mail on the hallway table (seriously, even the mighty Originals received junk mail, bills - which she still didn’t know if they paid or not - and letters), Caroline gasped as she came across the long-awaited cream envelope addressed to her.
Dropping the rest of the mail back onto the table, she stared at her letter for a moment before turning on her heel and making her way to the living room of their New Orleans home where she knew the hybrid she was after would be.
“Its here! Klaus!” she all but squealed, hurried steps taking her to where he sat lazily in the corner of a couch with a book in hand and a glass of blood from breakfast in the other. “Klaus, its here!”
He looked up with a confused frown, brows puckering as she waved the envelope in the air. “What’s here, love?”
“The letter from Tulane!” Caroline clarified, a grin pulling on her mouth as she settled onto the couch next to him and turning so she was facing him. Flipping the letter around in her hands, she bit her bottom lip when she glanced back at up him with a hint of apprehension in her eyes. His confusion had dissolved into an amused understanding, nodding and putting his glass to the side and his book facedown in his lap to give her his complete attention. “I’m nervous. This is worse than Whitmore. At least then I had a backup, and a backup to the backup, and then the final, I-don’t-really-want-to-go-here-but-I’ll-apply-just-in-case-I-need-it backup.”
Klaus chuckled silently at her typical nervous act of babbling. “Right,” he said dryly, licking his lips to keep his smirk at bay when she reached out and lightly slapped him on the chest.
“Don’t laugh. You know how neurotic I was back then,” she scowled, huffing when he merely chuckled out loud this time.
“‘Back then’?” he asked skeptically, but Caroline ignored him this time with a light smile, noticing he had unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally; with Klaus, she never knew) calmed her down to the point where she had forgotten all about her nerves.
It had been a few years since she had graduated from Whitmore, majoring in drama. After travelling by herself for just over a year, she had found herself on Klaus’ doorstep in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and had never left since (with the exception of the frequent getaways they took to wherever caught their fancy). However, the need to settle down for a little while had called recently, and after discussing it with Klaus, she had decided to go back to college.
Slipping a nail under the lip of the envelope, she slid it across the glued paper to open it up and pull out the letter she had been waiting on for months. Unfolding it, she scanned it once, twice, before realising she wasn’t taking any of it in. Inhaling deeping, she took a second before starting at the top and reading out loud slowly.
“‘Dear Ms. Forbes. Thank you for your interest in Tulane University. After careful consideration of your application, I am sorry to inform you that we are unable to offer you a place in the class of 2022.’” Caroline paused in slight shock, swallowing and keeping her eyes fixed onto the letter as she allowed the news to wash over her. She could hear Klaus’ breathing change, indicating he was about to speak (she had learnt a lot about him over the years after spending so much time together), but she carried on at a rapid pace before he could talk. “‘This year’s application pool was the strongest in the school’s history, and we are unable to offer admission to every student who met our standards. We greatly appreciate your interest in Tulane, and we offer our best wishes of success as you pursue your educational goals.’”
The letter was signed by the Dean of admissions, but she could barely make out the name through the disappointment that ran through her. She could hear her blood pumping in her ears, and her vision clouding momentarily until Klaus’ voice broke through her haze.
“I’m sorry, Caroline,” he apologised softly, rubbing her shoulder comfortingly.
Folding the letter back up, she tucked it into the envelope carefully. “I guess that’s that, then,” she sighed before lifting up her head and gazing at him. Sympathy was written clearly on his face as he raised his hand to cup her cheek. Shaking her head, she forced a watery smile and a steady voice as she tried to assure him, “No, its fine. It was stupid to think I’d get in on merit alone.”
“You have great merit, love. They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Klaus told her matter-of-factly, stroking her cheek tenderly, and she could tell that he actually believed what he had told her. Unfortunately, in this instance, his faith in her simply wasn’t enough for her to do what she wanted.
Placing a hand on his, she lifted it off her face and pressed a kiss to his palm before dropping it onto the couch. “I need to go tell my mom. She’s been waiting to hear for days,” she muttered, pushing herself onto her feet.
“Sweetheart-” he tried, raising his hand in attempt to grasp onto her arm, but she moved out of his grip before he could.
“Its fine, Klaus. Seriously,” Caroline insisted, offering him one final timid smile as she headed for the stairs and leaving him behind in the front room by himself.
Stomping down the stairs a couple of hours later, Caroline was a woman on a mission as she headed for the garage. Walking with a purpose, she kept her chin held up high and strode with determined steps past every room on her way, ignoring the footsteps she heard approaching from behind on of the doors.
“Caroline?” Klaus called out, but she refused to stop in fear of losing her confidence in the plan she had conjured up whilst in their bedroom. “Love! Where are you going?”
“To Tulane,” she replied sharply, taking the short flight of stairs that led to the lower level of the house.
“Ok…” he muttered, catching up with her easily and falling into step with her as they made their way to the garage. “Why, if I may ask?”
“Because I need to know why they rejected me,” Caroline told him harshly, and she could see him purse his lips from the corner of her eyes before nodding hesitantly.
“Perhaps you should email them first,” he suggested even as he opened the door to the garage for her gallantly.
“I have, and then I called my mom and she asked why they rejected me. I didn’t have an answer so after hanging up with her, I called the admissions office,” she informed him, strolling past the vast collection of cars the Mikaelson had (because having one car each was never enough) and towards her trusty green Beetle she had bought when first moving to the city. “They put me on hold for over an hour, and do you know what they told me?” she asked rhetorically, twirling around abruptly to face him and causing Klaus to stop immediately lest he bumped straight into her.
“What?” he prompted carefully, watching as the indifferent mask she had tried to keep up in anger began to slip and melt into hints of upset and hurt.
“That my application was strong, and had there been less applicants, I would have gotten it,” Caroline explained with a scoff, throwing her hands up and tilting her head up towards the ceiling with an unamused laugh. “It was a lottery, Klaus! In the end, they chose who got in based on luck! How stupid is that?”
Pausing, he waited until she allowed her arms to fall to her sides in defeat before softly saying, “Its ridiculous. Absolutely abysmal.”
“I just really thought I’d get in,” Caroline admitted, lowering her head to look at him again with glistening eyes and trembling lips. “I really wanted to go to Tulane.”
Sighing despondently at the sight of her tears, Klaus pulled her gently into his arms until she was pressed up against him with her face tucked into the crook of his neck. “I know, love. I know,” he murmured comfortingly, running a hand soothingly over her hair as he kept the other around her waist to hold her tightly.
He could feel the warm tears make contact with his bare skin slowly, ceasing completely within a few minutes, yet the pull in his heart still ate at him to try and fix it for her. It was a feeling he was still getting use to; putting someone else’s happiness before his. Caring about someone else’s happiness was a new feeling he had quickly come to terms with (it was easy to want Caroline happy simply because of the light she radiated), but he had never before gone out of his way to make it happen.
“Are you sure you’re completely against compulsion on getting in?” Caroline nodded against his shoulder, and he let out a petulant breath before another, more human, idea came to him. “How about a generous donation?”
Caroline stilled against him. “How generous are we talking about?” she asked slowly, words muffled against his shirt but his supernatural hearing picked it up easily.
“Enough to have a lecture theatre named after you,” he reasoned, a smile curving onto his lips when he felt her shake in quiet laughter in his arms.
Pulling back, she looked up at him with a forced pout. “I’d prefer an auditorium.”
“That’s possible, too,” he assured her, quickly enough that Caroline had to wonder whether he was taking her joking far too seriously. He had a habit of remembering her offhanded comments about something she wanted, or wished for, or simply thought was lovely, and doing whatever was needed so she could have it.
“Maybe next time,” she shrugged, watching him as he watched her with a determined look and gently wipe away any tears clinging to her lashes with a swipe of a thumb.
“No. Next time, you’ll get in. And if you don’t, you’ll try again. Because that’s who you are,” he told her. Tilting her head to the side, she smiled at him lovingly and nodded, because they both knew that was exactly what she would do. “Until then, how about I take you out to lunch and we can discuss what to do with your free year?”
“Sounds like a plan,” she agreed, allowing herself to be guided to his sleek black sports car with a hand on her back and a weight off her shoulders.