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Katherine von Swartzchild is a German vampire from the late 15th century. She has golden blonde hair and blue eyes. Her vampire forms are that of a little white kitten with the same blue eyes, a white owl with gold underneath her wings and a fierce white tiger with gold stripes.
Katherine was born in Germany in the late 15th century to the Baron von Swartzchild. She was very shy, innocent and reserved. In her late teens, she became very sick and had to be bedridden. Her maid, Gudren, sought out Klaus, who the villagers called the Devil himself, to help her. Klaus turned her into a vampire, and Gudren used her connections to get a golden ring with a spelled lapis lazuli stone to protect Katherine from the sunlight. Her father thought a vacation would do her good while recovering from her illness, so he sent her to Italy to live with Giuseppe Salvatore, whom he knew. It was there that she met his son, Stefan, and they fell in love. However, when Stefan's brother Damon came back from university, she also fell in love with him, and the brothers kept asking her to choose between them.
Stefan explains in The Awakening that one night, Katherine visited both of them in their beds and exchanged blood with them. She revealed this to them in the morning and gave them silver rings with spelled lapis lazuli that Gudren had obtained, but they became enraged that she still could not make up her mind between them. Upset, she fled in tears. Later, the boys discovered her ring near a pile of ashes in her dress, with a note explaining that she had killed herself because she had upset them. The brothers blamed one another for her death and fought with their swords until Damon stabbed Stefan in the heart. With his last effort, Stefan reached up from the ground and stabbed Damon through the heart as well. They woke up as vampires in the family crypt due to the presence of Katherine's blood in their systems, with Katherine's ring in Stefan's possession.
At the end of The Fury, Katherine reveals herself to Elena, Stefan and Damon, whom she has chained up in Honoria Fell's crypt. She explains that she had faked her death, using ashes from the fireplace, mixing them with fat to smell like human ashes and getting a new lapis lazuli necklace from Gudren, hoping that it would cause the brothers to reconcile and wish they had been okay with her decision. Instead, when they killed each other, she ran back to Klaus, not knowing what to do. Over the years, Klaus made her truly insane. Due to her naiivety, he easily shaped her into a sadistic, vengeful, true Ripper of a vampire, even more bloodthirsty than himself. They remained friends for the next 500 years as Katherine stayed a monster away from society. When she saw Elena (most likely in the summer of 1991 when Elena vacationed to France), she had Klaus lure Stefan and Damon to Fell's Church, in hopes that they would see her, be reminded of Katherine and reconcile. Once again, though, the brothers defied her expectations and fell in love with Elena.
Katherine was responsible for most of the bad things the group had attributed to Damon (redeeming him in their eyes), such as chasing Elena, Bonnie and Meredith through the cemetery until they crossed Wickery Bridge in The Awakening (as well as hurting the homeless man who lived beneath the bridge), toying with Vickie Bennett, Influencing Elena to think she was falling into Honoria Fell's crypt, killing Bonnie's dog Yangtze in The Awakening, putting Stefan in the well at the end of The Awakening, and even killing Elena by manipulating the weather into a storm (in the form of an owl that Elena saw silhouetted behind the clouds chasing her) and forcing her to drive into Wickery Creek. This was after she had witnessed Elena telling Aunt Judith that she and Stefan were engaged and had seen her ring on Elena's finger, which made her completely enraged. Prior to that in The Struggle, she had taken the form of a little white kitten and Influenced Margaret to adopt her, whom she called Snowball. This was so that she could spy on Elena from inside her house (hence Honoria Fell telling Elena through Bonnie that her death was in the house, which she thought meant Damon). Elena picked up Snowball and thrust him at Damon to prove a point to him (as animals sense the predatory nature of vampires and avoid them) and she ran away. Of course, this was because she was really Katherine and was not ready to be around him yet. In The Fury, when she began to Influence the town's animals to attack their owners in a mad attempt to destroy the town out of the sheer fact that she wasn't getting what she wanted, Elena made Margaret get rid of Snowball, removing her from the house. She continued to spy on Elena as a white owl with gold underneath her wings (much like her dress of 500 years earlier that she still wore) in Mrs. Flowers' shed where Elena lived as a vampire.
At the end of The Fury, the ghost of Honoria Fell reveals to everyone that she had been disturbed and possessing Bonnie because someone was invading her crypt. That person was Katherine who, having become so powerful over the centuries due to drinking so much human and vampire blood, could not cross running water (one of the weaknesses of the most powerful vampires) and as such, had to cross Wickery Bridge by going through Honoria's tomb, which ran under it. She had lead the group there through Bonnie, at which point Katherine attacked them in the form of a ferocious white tiger with golden stripes. The rest of the group left and Katherine knocked the remaining three unconcious until she had chained them up, removed their rings and appeared to them as a human, explaining everything to them.
Katherine said that she had killed many humans and vampires over the years, including Klaus (something which he told her to say). When she tortures Stefan, Damon and Elena and drinks their blood, she even gnaws on their flesh and makes animalistic sounds. She also confesses that she always loved Stefan more than Damon. As she begins to ponder out loud how she will kill them, drinking Stefan almost dry and then making him watch as she slowly kills Elena, Elena breaks free of her bonds and forcefully pushes Katherine into the patch of sunlight from the opening of the crypt, hearing her skull crack. She quickly tears off her necklace and throws it to the side, causing Katherine to burst into flames. Her hair catches fire and her face develops fissures, as if she was made of dying earth. However, Elena simply dies from the sunlight but does not burn. Stefan later tells Bonnie that he should have realized that her "death" was odd when he found out that early vampires, like she was back then, simply die rather than burn up, but memories of her were too painful to revisit.
The Hunters: Destiny RisingEdit
In the fall of 2009, Klaus performs a spell to ressurect Katherine. Her death and rebirth cured her of her insanity and returned her to being a normal girl (but still a vampire). She also retained information she had learned on the other side - that she and Elena were sisters, as their mother was a principal Guardian who decided to abandon her position and live a human life 500 years earlier. Knowing that the Guardians would eventually come to take Katherine, her mother left her early on so that neither of them would have to suffer the loss. However, she still kept watch on her and learned that she could have stayed with her, anyway, as Katherine had been a sick child and the Guardians did not think she would live long enough to develop her powers, and therefore did not want her.
Katherine at first pretended to work for Klaus, but then showed Damon that she was somewhat normal again. After Klaus' defeat, Katherine left town.