Chapter: 23 – New Beginnings [Featured Characters: Caroline, Matt, Bonnie, Jeremy, Stefan, Rebekah, Damon and Elena]
Author: JenniferH (Arabian)
Rating: M (For future chapters/language, sex, violence)
Summary: Post 3.22 -- Elena grapples with who she is as a vampire, struggling for control as she tries to find herself and accept who she loves (spoiler: it's Damon!) while her friends and enemies grapple with their own choices in this new world.
Word Count: 5,046
Disclaimer: The Vampire Diaries, and all her characters as presented, belong to Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, the CW, etc., etc., so on and so forth. ;)
Notes: Thank you to my group of wonderful beta-readers who made this fic a ton better than it would have been otherwise. Following canon here, so there will be Stefan/Elena and as portrayed on the show, but fear not, this is very definitely a Damon/Elena story (with other pairings referenced, and some featured (Matt/Rebekah, Stefan/Caroline, Bonnie/Jeremy).
Heads-Up: I will be participating in an upcoming fanfiction auction. Would you like to as well? It will support the development of TumblCon USA (a fan convention to be held in Chicago Summer of 2014), particularly the Vampire Diaries event? You will be able to either auction off your own writing talent, or bid on an other writer to write a story for you. If you are interested in signing up for TumblCon's FanFiction auction for Vampire Diaries, then drop an ask in the tvdtumblcon blog on tumblr (or pm Fanfiction.net user xallowspuffybuff) with your name, email, and that you are interested in the auction. You can ask them for any additional information. Follow them and stay up to date to know where and when bidding will start!
PREVIOUS CHAPTERS - 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22
Chapter 23: New Beginnings
Caroline let out a sigh as she shut the door behind her. Leaning against it, she banged her head and then stared up at the ceiling. As blank as she tried to keep her mind, thoughts of the evening kept exploding in her brain. Notably two things, OK, notably two kisses. One from Klaus. And it was… nice, she admitted to herself. OK, really nice. But if her socks were blown it was more from the surprise rather than the kiss itself. Of that she was totally, totally sure. Besides, even if it was nice, she hated herself for not hating the kiss. Despite this *thing* between them, he was still Klaus. And he had plenty of redemptive fires to walk through before she could seriously allow herself to even consider any possibility of a them. She let out a huff of laughter. But hey, if Damon can change, then I suppose anything is possible.
Giving herself a stern shake, Caroline straightened up and headed to her bedroom, grateful that her mom was at work. Dropping her purse, she lowered herself onto her bed and squeezed her eyes shut, unable to block out that second, more worrying kiss. She shook her head, still in a state of semi-disbelief. Stefan, really? Really?! Her eyes still closed, she couldn’t help but relive every moment of that kiss. And unlike Klaus, there was no self-loathing along with her enjoyment.
There was no guilt either. Sure for the longest time Stefan had come with a “property of Elena” stamp on his furrowed forehead, but it had been a month since they broke up, and after tonight? The way Caroline had seen her friend with Damon, any idea that Elena would reunite with Stefan had been pretty much destroyed. And that whole hooking up with a friend's ex being off-limits? Hah! I had Damon first, so Elena started the guy-swapping! Caroline paused, reconsidering since she had technically started it with Matt. Still... She rolled her eyes. Whatever, been there, done that, water under the bridge. The key was that Stefan was totally available, absolutely free for the taking and Caroline refused to feel guilty because *he* had kissed *her* after all.
So nope, no way, it wasn’t guilt that was getting her all worked up, it was anger. She was furious with Stefan for putting her in this position because it wasn’t just anger at play. There was an undeniable, infuriating bubble of elation that would not go away. She so did not want to get in the middle of this. Whatever “this” is. Caroline shook her head. If there even is a “this.”
She threw herself back on her bed, grabbing her pillow and pressing it against her face to scream. She was already dealing with Tyler. Even if he was gone, her heart still ached at the thought of him. There was Klaus and whatever the hell *that* was! And on top of those two, seeing Matt with Rebekah had definitely rubbed her the wrong way. And now… Stefan. Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. “My love life is ridiculous.” She informed herself, deciding honesty was the best policy. Might as well go for broke. “And stupid. Really, really stupid.” God! Stefan, why did you go there!?
She laid still for a moment not moving, enjoying the silence in her room and in her head before it all came swirling back. His hands, his lips, the way he had made her feel when he kissed her. She should not be feeling this way. Stefan was her friend. Just a friend. Throwing her pillow to the side, Caroline sat up, pouting. “Yeah, a friend who just happens to be a really, really good kisser who kissed me! Ugh!”
There was a sudden knock at the door and Caroline froze, wondering if it was Stefan. Or Klaus? Maybe Tyler was still here?
Or Matt. Caroline sighed and rose to her feet, heading to the front door. It could be worse, she thought, figuring that of the four he was the least of her frustrations.
“Hey.” He looked anxious. “Can I come in? Is it a bad time?”
She shook her head and stepped back, allowing him to enter. Looking him over, she couldn’t help but smile. “You look good. All nice and dressed up.”
A slight red flushed his face and he rolled his eyes with a smile. “Thanks. You look pretty.” He laughed lightly. “You always look pretty.”
Caroline shut the door behind her and leaned against it. “What’s up, Matt? I figured you’d be with Rebekah.”
He frowned. “We need to talk.”
Nodding, he looked away and moved to the sofa, sitting down. “The thing is… I like Rebekah.” He put his hands up as if to ward off her disgust, and it so was coming, yeah. “I know you don’t like hearing that. I get that. I just—I do. Right or wrong, I like her. She makes me laugh. She makes me smile and I haven’t had much of that in a long time, Caroline.”
Feeling a little guilty for intending to bash Rebekah when he was absolutely right, Caroline sank down next to him and kept quiet. Considering the fact that she’d let Klaus kiss her and had, even guiltily, enjoyed it, she had no business giving Matt a hard time because he liked Klaus’ less evil sibling. She forced an understanding smile his way.
“But then there’s you,” he began and then stopped, looking away from her.
“What do you mean?” But she knew. It was why despite her love for Tyler, her feelings for Klaus… and, yes, Stefan, damn him and his kissable lips!, there was still Matt in her heart.
“It’s like Elena all over again. We didn’t let go—“ He broke off again and sighed, but quickly continued. “I didn’t let go of us for a very long time.” He looked at Caroline, his blue eyes so sincere and still filled with that youthful innocence that had gone missing from the rest of them with their supernatural change. “And I realized tonight, when I saw you and Klaus, and you and Stefan—what’s up with that?”
“Matt, you’re not here to talk to me about Stefan.” She pierced him with a warning gaze.
He opened his mouth to speak, hesitated, clearly re-thinking and got the hint. “No, I’m not. It’s us. We never stopped being an us. We just fell apart because of the lies and the whole vampire thing and we just kinda faded, but there was, you know, no closure.”
“We never said goodbye to us.” Caroline looked down, a sad smile lifting her lips. He’s right.
“I know we’re over, Care. I know that we’ve both moved on, but we haven’t let go of the us. It’s like we’re each other’s back-ups in case… whatever. I did that with Elena. I kept thinking that things wouldn’t work with Stefan and I would be there waiting.” He ducked his head, flushing a slight red again. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair to you.”
Caroline was quiet. She had known that. She had always known that when they were together, Elena was still there in the back of his mind. To hear him actually voice that, well, it hurt, but it was a good hurt. A healing hurt. She knew for sure now that it wasn’t paranoia. It was a truth and so she could get over it now.
“But then she talked about Damon and I realized, even if things didn’t last with Stefan, someone else had captured her heart. We were done. And I let go. But I had you still in my back pocket. I knew Tyler, I figured he’d screw up and I could maybe pick up the pieces there. Tonight, I knew he was gone, you told me and it shouldn't have mattered. I was with Rebekah. And, Caroline, I wanted to be with her. But I saw you and there was no Tyler and for a moment I looked at you and thought… maybe. You know?”
She nodded. “I know.”
“And that was wrong. Because a thousand years old or not, crazy-psycho or… no, she’s pretty much just crazy-psycho, but Rebekah looks at me like Elena looked at Damon tonight, the way I saw you look at Tyler. She makes me feel good. She makes me feel good enough. I like that. I like her. I really like her and I might have completely ruined it tonight.”
“She saw me looking at you, saw everything I’ve been telling you. I was still holding on. And, you, Caroline, you were looking at me too.” Matt leaned forward slightly and took her hand. “We have to let it go. We have to move on, give it all and not hold back.” He shook his head. “Look, I'm not saying that you and Tyler broke up because of me. I know that’s not it. I just—God, I don’t know what I’m saying.”
“I do.” Her voice was quiet. “I was thinking the same thing earlier. Well, sorta. I was thinking of Klaus—I know, I know, but if you don’t want me to call you crazy over Rebekah, respect my own brand of crazy.”
Matt laughed. “Oh, I respect it. I'm very familiar with it.”
Grinning, she shoved against him. “Shush.” She grew serious again. “I was thinking of Klaus, and Tyler, and, yes there’s some weird, new thing with Stefan but I’m not going there right now so don't even ask, and I was thinking of you and you're right. I didn’t like seeing you with Rebekah because I guess a part of me still thinks of you as mine.”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“But we are over. I really don’t even see you that way anymore. I just didn’t want to see you not as a possibility, I guess? And that's not fair to you or me or anyone we're with. We do need closure. We need to say goodbye to Matt and Caroline.” She gave a firm nod. “So, I hate Rebekah.”
“Hear me out. I hate Rebekah and she is crazy and evil, but if her liking you is why she's been kinda sane and less, well, evil recently, then that’s a very good thing. I just worry about you, but it’s your life, and your heart and if she ever hurts you, Elena, me and Bonnie will join together and destroy her. Somehow. We will avenge you. Because we all love you. I love you.”
She reached out and squeezed his hands. “As a friend.” She pulled back and smiled at him. “And as your friend I want you to be happy, and if Rebekah makes you happy then I will be happy for you.”
“Yes, really. Go for it. I mean, love can change anyone, right? Look at Damon. Elena was practically glowing tonight because of him.” She laughed incredulously. “Damon!?” Sighing, she leaned back against the sofa. “Seriously, Damon Salvatore gets his happy ending.” She looked at Matt. “What about me? I want my happy ending. I want someone who loves me... because of my crazy and who I can love without feeling like I’m betraying everyone." Caroline rolled her eyes. "Yes, I’m talking about Klaus." She rushed on. "Not that I love him, because I don’t, it's just—”
“You feel something.”
She sighed and nodded dejectedly. “But I don’t want him. I want my good guy. I want a hero, that shining knight. I don’t want to fix someone, make them better. I want the good guy, Matt.” She sighed and reached out to hug him, wrapping her arms tightly around him. He squeezed back and she knew he was smiling. “You were my good guy, Matt.”
“I wasn’t that good,” he whispered. “Not to you, not how you deserved.” He pulled back and looked at her, capturing her gaze. “But you will find him. You will be happy. You will get that hero who deserves you. OK?”
She brushed a sudden tear away and smiled. “OK.” She stood up. “You should go and find Rebekah.”
Matt nodded and rose as well. “I will. Right now.”
Reaching out, Caroline pulled him into another quick hug. “Pull out one of your grand, romantic gestures. You’re good at those.”
He laughed. “What about you?”
Quiet for a moment, she sat back down and lightly bit her lip, thinking. Then a bright smile spread across her face. She looked up at him, her smile radiant.
“What do you think is happening at the dance?” Bonnie turned to Jeremy as he switched the TV off.
He paused, considering. “Definitely some jealousy. Probably some fighting, bloodshed. A few snapped necks, a few stakings maybe. Possibly a flood.”
Bonnie shook her head. “Nah, flood was Homecoming.”
“Right, thank God I missed that. Ric and I watched some college football. Popcorn, soda, not a vampire in sight. It was great.” He reached over and lightly caressed her face. “But this dance? It’s the best one I ever missed.”
Bonnie smiled and looked down with a slight nod of her head. Raising her eyes, she met his gaze, determination in hers. “I’m really glad we stayed in.” Her voice was soft and looking into her eyes, Jeremy couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Or rather what he *wasn’t* seeing. That thread of hurt, the betrayal that had lingered in her gaze whenever it was just the two of them, alone, like this… it was gone.
“Bonnie?” He managed and he wanted to lean forward. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to tell her that he was still in love with her, crazy in love and way more than he ever was before. But he didn’t want to rush her or make the wrong move.
Or any move. Jeremy had to follow her lead, he owed her that and so much more.
She nodded faintly. And then she laughed. “I feel kinda silly.”
He laughed too. “Why?” And he couldn’t help it despite his best intentions, he moved in just a little bit closer.
“Because I want to kiss you,” she admitted, and he did a mental victory dance that was pretty awesome. “But it feels…” And there went the awesome. Don’t say wrong, don’t say wrong. Please, please don’t say wrong. “It feels like… I’m nervous, Jeremy!” She shook her head, but she was smiling, that big, gorgeous smile that he loved. “It’s like it’s our first kiss.”
“Well,” he began, his brow furrowed. “When we did that whole Klaus heart-stop thing, I died, so it’s kinda a first kiss. Sorta?”
“No. No, it’s not. Jeremy, no,” she laughed, and reached out to lightly hit him on the arm. “At the rate you’re going, we’d have a lot of first kisses.”
He smiled, his voice quiet and very sincere. “I’m OK with that.” Jeremy paused, rethinking his words. “I mean, the ‘a lot of kisses’ part, not the whole… you know.”
“I know.” She exhaled and met his gaze. “So?”
“So?” It’s her move, it’s her move, Jere.
“Are you gonna give me that second first kiss anytime soon?”
He grinned. “I can do that.” He laughed. “I can definitely do that.” Taking her face in his hands, Jeremy leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. A heaviness that had sat atop him so long that he had gotten used to it lifted like a breeze. Pulling back, Jeremy looked at her, her beautiful face, her shining eyes. “I’m crazy about you, Bonnie Bennett. And I will never, ever hurt you again. I promise.”
She was quiet for a moment, and her smile faded a bit as she took in his words, but the light in her eyes remained bright. Leaning up, she gave him the sweetest, softest kiss.
“I believe you.”
Stefan remembered the taste of her. It was different than when he had kissed her in Chicago just a handful of months ago. Then he had been playing her, trying to throw her off of his deception. This kiss almost tasted like the ones from ninety years ago. But it was just a kiss. The magic was gone.
Rebekah pulled back, her gaze met his and her eyes were soft. “Nostalgia can only carry one so far, I suppose.” She sighed, and leaned back. “You’re still a great kisser. I just…” She shrugged.
“The magic is gone.” He said.
“Exactly.” Rebekah sighed again. “I should have kissed Matt when he picked me up tonight. Before our stupid fight. His fault.”
“Of course.” Stefan rolled his eyes.
She sat forward indignantly. “No, really, it was. All moony-eyed over Caroline Forbes of all people. Honestly.”
At the mention of Caroline’s name, Stefan straightened up, clearing his throat. He wiped at his lips, acutely remembering the other blonde he’d kissed tonight and the magic he had definitely felt then.
“What’s that?” She asked suspiciously.
“What’s what?” He cleared his throat again and strove for an easy expression.
Rebekah narrowed her eyes as she looked at him. “I saw you two dancing. You and Caroline. Hmm, I for one do think she’s much better suited for you than your precious Elena.”
The false easiness faded like that and Stefan grimaced. “She’s not my precious Elena.”
“Well, that’s for sure,” Rebekah replied flippantly.
Shaking his head, he looked at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, I wouldn’t want to burst your little bubble since I’m not mad at you anymore, Stefan.” She rose to her feet. “I’m going home.”
He stood up as well. “No, burst my bubble. What did you mean?”
Rebekah sighed and flopped back down, managing to look graceful even as she did so. She looked up at him. “It’s just that… well, I’ve read your diary you know.” She grinned. “Quite amusing, but that’s neither here nor there." She waved her hair airily. "Stefan, I’ve heard you talk about her and I am sorry, but this Elena you talk of is not the girl I know.”
“Well, you don’t know her.”
“No, I actually do, Stefan. We had quite a few heart-to-hearts.” She smiled prettily and then patted the seat next to her. “I don’t want to look up at up you, sit.”
He sat, slightly perplexed at her words. And then he understood. Of course. Smiling, he met Rebekah’s amused gaze. “Elena is different now since she turned. Come on, she’s with Damon.”
The older vampire was quiet for a moment and then gave a slow shake of head. “No, that’s not it. I’m talking about when Elena was still a human. She pretended to be my friend and then literally stabbed me in the back. The sweet girl you speak of could never have done that. Oh, and the lusting for your brother, tsk, tsk.”
“No, you’re wrong.” He insisted.
“No, I’m not. Stefan, look, I don’t know what she was like before I met her when you two had your epic love, but obviously things changed when you took off with Nik. I don’t know, maybe she just grew up. But she changed. The Elena I met—the *human* Elena—was not the girl you went on and on and on about in your little journal. I promise you that.”
“No, I—“ he began, but broke off, not wanting to believe her, not wanting to see that because if she was right-- But, she’s not. She can’t be.
“Stefan, I think it’s a good thing.” He shook his head, not wanting to meet her gaze. “Stefan, it’s good for you that she’s moved on. Think of it… Stefan, look at me.”
Reluctantly, he turned to face her. “With Elena, you’re always trying to be the good brother to Damon’s bad instead of just who you are without the contrast. Besides, did you see her tonight with your brother? Trust me, she’s moved on.” Rebekah reached out and placed a hand on his arm. “I’m not saying this to hurt you. I think you should take a page out of her book. You need to move on too. I am sure that there is someone else out there. Someone for you.”
He laughed drily. “Really? I don't suppose I met her in the 20's in a white dress?"
With a roll of her eyes, Rebekah shook her head. “The magic is gone, remember? But…” she began with a speculative gleam. “I have seen you with someone else and you’re more fun with her, more at ease. A lot like when we were together, but without the… ripping.” She grinned.
Stefan looked away in distaste.
“Really, Stefan, you’re not so brooding and serious.” Rebekah smiled and smacked his arm, getting him to look at her again. “I’m talking about the afore-mentioned Caroline.”
He forced a cool laugh. “Right, and that has nothing to do with you wanting Matt?”
Leaning back, Rebekah let out a measured sigh. “Maybe,” and then a wicked grin lit her face. “But it’s mostly due to the fact that you've got her lipstick on your collar.”
Stefan’s hand instinctively rose to his white shirt, and his eyes shut briefly on a sigh. “Fine, we kissed. It didn’t mean—“ he broke off because he knew it would be a lie. He didn’t know what it meant, but he kissed Caroline and he felt it. It meant something.
“You know what your problem is?” Rebekah asked, ignoring his abrupt stop. “Never mind, don’t answer. I’ll tell you.” Sitting up straight, she met his gaze. “You think that a man can’t be friends with his lover and a lover with his friend.”
“That’s not—that’s not true.”
“No, no, it is. You and I, we weren’t friends. And you and Elena were never friends—“
“We are. We are friends now.”
“Oh, I see and those looks that could kill you were throwing at her and your brother tonight, those were friendly?” He didn’t reply. She prodded at his knee with her own. “Hmm, Stefan, I’m waiting.”
“Fine, OK, look Elena is friends with me. I’m…”
“A work in progress?”
He rose to his feet and ran a hand through his hair. “Something like that,” he spat out.
“Look, I’ve been watching you and Elena this last month—“
“Why?” He turned to her, truly bemused as to why she would do so.
“It was entertaining.”
Stefan nodded. “Nice. Real nice, Rebekah.”
“I watched you two and anyone with eyes could see that, yes, she was your friend but you thought it was more.” She grinned. “Really, it was quite entertaining what with my residual anger towards you.”
“You can leave.”
Rising to her feet, Rebekah stood before him, her smile fading. “I’m trying to help you. Look, you kissed Caroline and it meant something obviously, and you care about her. So, take a chance. That’s all I’m saying. Stefan, I've seen you two together and I think she makes you better. No, not better, just… you, I suppose.”
He scoffed and rolled his eyes. “What’s that’s supposed to even mean?”
"You're not trying so hard. Trying to be Saint Stefan. Caroline actually brings out the best parts of you, the good in the saint and the fun in the sinner, or rather, Ripper." She smiled and it appeared genuine. The look in her eyes felt real and he found himself taking in what she was saying instead of just dismissing it out of hand.
“Rebekah—” he began, but her phone rang.
She held up a finger. “Yes?”
"Hey, Rebekah.” Stefan could hear Matt over the line. “Can you meet me at the grill? I need to talk to you.”
Rebekah was still, not responding, and that vulnerability that she wore so easily fell over her. Paired with the inevitable longing. Stefan smiled.
“Go to him.” She looked at him and he nodded. “Go.”
“Does it include an apology?” She asked of Matt.
“Yes.” Her eyes closed for a swift moment and then with a glimmer of a smile, she swept them open.
“Fine. I’ll be there when I get there.” She hung up. “I won’t let him break my heart.”
“Of course you won’t. You’re stronger than that.” Stefan grinned. “You got over me.”
Rolling her eyes, Rebekah let out a bark of laughter. “That I did.” She slipped her phone in her purse and gazed at him. “What are you going to do?”
He shook his head. “Don’t know.”
She smiled. “You should figure it out.”
He laughed lightly as she left. Silence filled the empty house once she was gone and he sighed. “What am I gonna do?” Stefan looked down and shook his head, thinking, thinking. Caroline. I need to make things right with Caroline. Switching the light off, he stepped out into the foyer when the front door suddenly opened. Damon and Elena walked in, their eyes on each other, neither even seeing him standing there. She was giggling and it would take a blind man not to see how happy she was with his brother.
And his brother… Stefan looked at Damon and froze. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen that open smile on Damon’s face, such ease and happiness a stranger to his brother this last century and a half. Damon turned slightly and saw Stefan. That smile died and the guarded look that Stefan thought was Damon’s natural state as a vampire returned. The smile was replaced with a smirk. “To state the obvious, you’re home.”
“I was just leaving.”
But he didn’t move and neither did they. Stefan looked back to Elena and that joy that had been flowing from her only moments ago was gone. She looked suddenly drained and Stefan felt an uncomfortable ball of guilt in his stomach. He had done that. He gave a quick shake of his head. No more. It’s time to move on. Time for all of us.
“Elena, could you give me a moment?”
She sighed and looked to Damon before returning to meet Stefan’s gaze. “Can we just save it for tomorrow?”
He almost agreed, but he didn’t want this hanging over the three of them one more moment. He didn’t want the words left unsaid ringing in his mind. “It won't take long.” He paused, a pleading look in his eyes. “Please?”
Damon released Elena’s hand and took a step around her. “I'll be upstairs.” His tone was slightly bitter and Stefan knew that Damon no longer expected his night to end as he’d clearly anticipated. Stefan looked at Elena who was looking after Damon, frustration on her face, mingled with such palpable love that he wondered how he could have so blinded himself to that reality before.
She was still for a moment, watching until Damon’s figure was out of sight. Finally, she turned to him. “I don’t want to fight.”
Stefan shook his head again. “That’s not—I know the answer, I do, but I have to ask… do you love him?”
Looking down, Elena sighed. “Stefan, don’t.”
“Elena…” She was quiet a moment longer and then finally she nodded. He nodded in turn. “He makes you happy. I saw that at the dance.” Shaking his head, he laughed wryly. “It pissed me off.”
His laughter faded and he took a step closer. “I know that’s not good. Your happiness should come first, and he makes you happy.” Stefan shook his head. “I don't.” She didn’t say anything. He looked up with a light shake of his head, another wry laugh. “But you don't really make me happy either anymore.” Her eyes widened. Stefan nodded again. “It's gone, isn't it?”
Despite everything, Elena looked confused. Probably more that he was the one saying this and not her. “What we had? It's gone.” She was still for a moment and then gave another small nod. “I do love you, Elena.” He told her and he meant it completely.
A glimmer of wet shone in her eyes. “I love you too, Stefan, I just—“
He interrupted before she could say the words. Instead he said them for her. “You're just not in love with me. I know. You're in love with my brother.”
“Stefan, I’m sor—“
“No, you were right.” He spread out his arms out. “In this very room, you were right. We don't work, not anymore.” Stefan shook his head. “I don’t know, maybe things could have been different if I hadn't left, if Damon hadn't ever come to town. Who knows?” He took another step closer. “But things happened... as they did. And we are done.”
Stefan nodded with a sigh, but it was one of peace, rather than frustration. “OK, then.”
Elena offered a small smile. It was a sad one and a tear fell down her cheek, but there was relief in her eyes also. “Goodnight, Stefan.” She turned towards the stairs, but he stopped her because he was unable to get Damon's smile, he'd just looked so damned happy!, out of his head.
She looked back towards him, wariness in her gaze.
“I love him too you know.”
She caught her breath, her eyes wide and Stefan felt an ache of sadness that she was surprised to hear him say that. That he’d so discounted all his brother meant to him in an effort to keep Elena from seeing all that his brother was just so that he could keep her to himself.
“You have the power to destroy him.” He held her gaze. “Don't.”
Tilting her head slightly, she appeared to take in the full measure of his words and her voice was strong when she responded. “I won’t.” She nodded, her eyes locked on his, and he could see the promise she was making there. Elena would keep her word and protect his brother’s heart.
Stefan watched her walk up the stairs to Damon's room. He heaved a heavy sigh. It hurt. It did, but it was a dull pain, the regret of letting go of a cherished memory. He had made his peace with Elena. Stefan turned and headed to the door, opening it with determination.
Now, he needed to make it right with Caroline.
TO BE CONTINUED