In Klaus’ mind it was a ridiculous practice, one that surely should have been done away with centuries ago, but considering Mikael’s need for expanding his family’s kingdom to a ridiculous length it hadn’t surprised him in the least to learn of it. With five sons (even if one of them was a lowly bastard as Mikael so liked to remind him) that was five opportunities to secure another royal bloodline into the Mikaelson’s name.
He’d seen the results of his older brothers marriages and while Finn had lucked out and seemed to truly love Sage (even if their conversations could put a man to sleep within minutes), Elijah seemed to be arguing with his bride Katerina whenever they bothered to talk to one another. It made for an entertaining piece of people watching whenever he visited his brother but Klaus had no intention of being bogged down in such a contemptuous or boring life.
And now he was to meet his future wife. Caroline Forbes of the Forbes dynasty.
He didn’t know her as the girl didn’t frequent anything that the rest of the royal circle was involved in. She didn’t attend the same prestigious schools as they did, staying instead inside her home country and attending public school, something that was practically unheard of among the royal circuit but a wish of her deceased father. She didn’t attend the fashion shows that Rebekah was always dragging him long to nor had he ever seen her at any of Kol’s elaborate parties.
She was practically an unknown among the royal children, though he knew she was frequently a guest of the Gilbert’s and Bennett’s whenever she did leave her country. Klaus had never seen her at either place though, always arriving just after she’d left and perhaps the mystery surrounding her should have intrigued him and it had for a time.
But then he had seen a portrait of her done by Jeremy Gilbert, something that must have been painted when she was visiting his family, and all of the mystery had disappeared. She was pretty enough but all of the allure had quickly evaporated at the sight of the gangly thirteen year old with braids and pink braces adorning her teeth.
She was a child, three years his junior, and Klaus wanted absolutely nothing to do with her.
He put Caroline out of his mind, intent of ignoring the family traditions for as long as possible but his twenty-first birthday rolled around, alerting him to the princess’ coming eighteenth one and there would be no more running away from his apparent destiny.
Klaus would have simply not attended the princess’ birthday ball if it wasn’t for the threat of Mikael breathing down his neck. A loveless marriage would be far less of a punishment than dealing with that man.
“You ready for this, man?” Marcel asked as the two of them stood in one of the hallways off to the side. The ballroom was already filling with various dignitaries, his family members among them. The one good thing to come out of this would be seeing Henrik again for the first time in months.
“Oh yes. I can’t wait to finally be tied down to a silly little girl who’s never even glimpsed the world,” Klaus muttered, refusing to even act a bit agreeable before he was forced to.
“Better than ones who’ve glimpsed a bit too much of it,” Marcel pointed out and Klaus snorted as Tatia passed by, smiling flirtatiously at the two of them before heading toward the door.
Mikael was heading down the hallway, obviously intent on reminding Klaus of all his responsibilities. Klaus had no intention of listening to another long spiel or being in his father’s presence any longer than required. Enduring the princess would be far better than that.
Klaus headed off into the ballroom, making appropriate small talk as he went before spotting his youngest brother talking to a young woman who had her back to him. The gold dress she was wearing hugged her curves in all the right ways, accentuating legs that seemed to go on for miles. But it was the fact that she was getting his shy brother to actually laugh and talk animatedly back that peaked Klaus’ interest most.
He watched the two for a while before approaching, smile broadening as Henrik’s eyes practically lit up at the sight of him. “Nik!”
Klaus swept the boy up into a tight hug before turning his attention to the young woman.
It was obvious who she was once he got a look at her face. The braces were gone, braids switched out for curls, and the vacant look he’d gotten from the portrait nowhere in sight. Instead they twinkled with amusement in Henrik’s direction before finally looking at him and then all of the mirth seemed to evaporate.
Klaus didn’t like that one bit.
He wanted the smile she had so easily directed toward his little brother turned toward him then. “This is,” Henrik started, ready to introduce the two.
“Caroline of Forbes,” Klaus finished, making sure to accentuate his accent. That usually seemed to do the trick but while there was a flicker of a smile it still wasn’t enough, especially when her lips thinned as she pressed them together.
“And you’re Klaus,” Caroline replied as Henrik was called away from the two of them. “My betrothed.” The distaste that surrounded the word was one that Klaus knew well but was suddenly wishing was no longer there.
The band started up and Caroline sighed, looking off to the side and Klaus didn’t need to turn to know what was happening that way. No doubt her mother and country’s advisers were urging her to dance with him just as he could see his mother and his own advisors waving for him to do.
Klaus held out a hand, thankful that she took it and allowed him to lead her into the first dance of the evening.
Perhaps he held her a bit more intimately than was required, his hand pressing into the small of her back, gliding down her arms as they completed the steps, not quite wanting to let her go. “You’re quite the dancer,” he couldn’t help but tell her and he could see the glimpse of a smile again, the raising of her chin under the bit of praise.
“I have had lessons,” was all she said though and that didn’t surprise him. It would have been more so if she’d never had any.
The song ended much too soon for his liking and she pulled away, obviously intent on leaving his side. Klaus stepped into her path, all charming smile with dimples on display.
“Surely we can have another,” he told her and for a moment he thought she might aqueise. It was the way she looked up at him through her eyelashes, all sweet and innocent like, and that really shouldn’t spur the kinds of thoughts that suddenly went careening through his mind.
But the innocence is quickly replaced by a sharp tongue and narrowed eyes. “I’m sure you can find someone far more acceptable than a, oh what was it? A silly little girl who’s never even glimpsed the world.”
His words from earlier echoed between them and Caroline’s smile was anything but pleasant as she turned and walked away from him.
Klaus watched her go, stunned for a moment before a smirk settled across his lips. Caroline of Forbes had turned out to be much more intriguing than he’d ever believed she could be and he had every intention of having her for his bride.
After all, he always did appreciate a challenge.