TITLE : Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore

DISCLAIMER : I don't own any of the recognizable characters. They belong to L.J. Smith, Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, Caroline Dries, et al.,and CW Network.

SUMMARY : How long are you supposed to mourn a lost love? Elena's been asking herself that question for quite some time. After a brave decision and a bold move, she takes the step towards healing. But can she really move on with her life, when a love that once consumed her is just around the corner waiting to be found. [Takes place a couple of years after season 5 finale.]

PAIRING(S) : Delena, Beremy...well, kinda. It's complicated.

RATING : T (just to be on the safe side) for the time being. Rating may be raised to M in later chapters.

AUTHOR'S NOTE : What can I say? I hate hiatuses. This has been brewing inside my head for a while now. I just had to see if it translates well on paper, so to speak. Not a professional writer (all done for fun) and this is self-beta'd, so pardon the grammatical errors, if any. The length of chapters may vary. It's all entirely dependent on the muses and the plot bunnies. Not really sure how long this will be. I'd consider myself fortunate if I finish it before season 6 premieres. That being said, certain aspects of this fic may or may not be compliant to the continuity of TVD storyline. I may claim licencia poetica every now and then, so it's canon until it's not.

CHAPTER ONE – Begin Again

Dear Diary,

Today will be different. It has to be. I will smile, and it will be believable. My smile will say "I'm fine, thank you." "Yes, I feel much better." I will no longer be the sad little girl who lost her parents. I will start fresh, be someone new. It's the only way I'll make it through.

Elena woke up startled to the sound of a soft yet sharp ding, only to see a light turn on that signaled to fasten your seat belts. It took a moment for her head to clear, and her surroundings to register. She was on board a plane. A plane that was taking her to a brand new life. A new beginning.

Her mind drifts back to that young girl with pin-straight brown hair from her dream. That's not her anymore. That sad little girl who lost her parents grew up. The pin-straight hair was replaced with a more naturally wavy one, with scattered flecks of blonde frosting at the tips. She still writes, but no longer hangs out on cemeteries. She's lost not one, but two sets of parents. Lost two of her best friends, one to death, the other one to anger. She was still sad, but not lonely. No longer human, but struggling to keep her soul. Constantly in search for a reason to go on. Waiting, with hope that her heart would beat once again.

Her heart did beat before. It beat excitedly, thrilled at that idea of first love blossoming from a friendship that started when they shared a crib. Her heart beat enthusiastically, over a love that gave her hope again. Hope that she can risk loving someone, and not worry about the pain of losing him. It was epic. But then the sun came up, and reality set in.

But then, her heart did beat again, this time very passionately, once she found the one love that consumed her. The one love that gave her passion, adventure, and a whole lot of danger. That one love that, even in death, made her feel more alive. That one love who promised to never leave her again. That he will find his way back to her. She likes to let people believe that she's moved on, but the truth is that deep inside, she's still waiting for him to fulfill that promise.

Damon. You lied to me. Why did you lie to me?

Another one of the questions that filled her head, when she's alone at night and nobody can see her cry herself to sleep. She misses him. The man she was supposed to spend the rest of eternity with was gone. It's been years, but the pain still remained fresh.

For quite some time, she had been filled with anger. Angry at Caroline and even angrier with Stefan. It's not their fault, she knew that much. It was Damon's decision to bring his brother back from the dead, and it was also his decision to not let Caroline's mom die. It wasn't anyone's fault. Last time she heard, Stefan and Caroline were together, and she wishes them well. She's just not a big enough person to tell them that to their faces.

She knew better than letting her anger control her. She needed to focus on more important matters. She sighed and looked to her the left, where her brother sat, then at their 'guardian' who sat at the seat in front of her. Bonnie was wrong when she said that she doesn't need to be there for everybody. She does need to be here, if not for everyone, at least for the family that she had left. Everyone else can find their own way.

Jeremy. Her brother was all grown up now. For a while, in his grief, he pushed her away, plagued by the same demons that haunted him after their parents' death. Sad, but mostly angry. His anger directed towards himself for failing to save the woman whose love and sacrifice brought him back from the dead. But that's all in the past now. He found his way back to his family. Her brother's clean and recently rehabilitated. He's managed to pull himself together, something she admired and wished for herself.

She was so happy when Jeremy broke the news to her and Alaric. He got accepted at two art schools. One in Orlando, Florida, and a scholarship at New York Academy. Personally, she was glad that he chose the latter. Orlando didn't appeal much to her. It implies fun and amusement, which she's been highly allergic to lately, and Florida means beaches, which means swimming. Little tip...vampires hate to swim.

New York City, on the other hand, was a place she had a history with. Albeit, there were reminders of a dark point in her life, but all the memories she cared to remember were the ones that she shared with Damon. She had always wanted to return there, and make better memories. She can still do that, only not with him.

She then looked at the snoring figure sitting in front of her. Even Alaric was doing slightly better. Apparently, him having Enhanced Original vampire settings allow him to do compulsion over the phone. He has compelled himself a job as a Professor of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He still drinks enough Bourbon for both him and Damon, but he's always been there whenever he's needed. His own way of honoring Damon's memory was 'taking care of the children', whatever that meant.

Alaric, much like the rest of them, had a long journey to healing. He had his share of struggles, coping with being a vampire at first. She tried to help him as much as she could, but things would have gone a lot smoother if it were Damon who helped him. Damon was a much better teacher, albeit some of his methods weren't exactly conventional. But Damon wasn't there, and they all just had to make do.

Not to say that Alaric was now in full control of his vampirism, far from it. If he were in control, Elena wouldn't have had to compel them first-class seats on the plane, just to make sure that they were as far away from the crowd as they possibly could. If he were in control, then Elena wouldn't have to hold on to her purse just to make sure that she had a vervain dart handy every time she sees him fidget in his sleep.

No wonder Damon had always preferred a road trip over a plane ride. Vampire cravings were a lot worse when you're stuck inside a flying box full of potential blood donors for hours. It doesn't take much to make them blood-thirsty.

Elena wasn't the one to complain about her life though. She was fine with looking after of Jeremy, and being Alaric's vampire mentor. She needed something to focus on, otherwise, she would've gone insane a long time ago. Having her brother and their guardian back in her life gave her a purpose. They gave her a reason to go on.

She did try to continue her studies at Whitmore. She was surprised that it lasted a little over a year. It didn't make her happy. It didn't take her mind off of things. She then realized that, as much as she wanted to make Dr. Grayson Gilbert proud, being a pre-Med student just was not in the stars for her. Besides, being a still relatively young vampire, resisting the blood that came with the territory of being a doctor would have eventually become a bit of a problem. So when she heard Jeremy's news, she made a decision and sent samples of her work to NYU and surprisingly enough, she got accepted to their creative writing program.

Everyone gets a second chance, even her. A new dawn. A new beginning. A clean slate. No one in New York City knew of their life stories. No one there to judge them. A new place that they can call home, where they can just BE. And she hoped that wherever they are, Damon and Bonnie are rooting for them as well.

She heard the pilot's announcement that they'd be landing in a few minutes. Both Alaric and ]Jeremy woke up from their slumber. Not long after that, and they were disembarking. They collected their luggage and stepped out of the airport, and into the city.

This is it. No turning back now. A new life. A fresh start.

She smiled when she saw a crow that was perched on top of the street light.

"Hello, Damon," she whispered, before getting inside the taxicab that that will drive them around foggy streets of New York City.

Everything will be alright. She needed to tell herself that over and over. Maybe someday, she'll finally believe it. Until then, she will smile, and it will be believable.


*A/N 2 :

-Where's Damon, you ask? That question will be answered in a later chapter. As much as I'd love to keep this strictly Delena, I'm afraid that that the muses have other plans.

-This takes place a couple of years after the season 5 finale, which, in my mind, I think would make Elena 21 years old and Jeremy (turning) 20.

-Song Suggestions : Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore by Bon Jovi and LeAnn Rimes ; Begin Again by Taylor Swift

-Hope you liked what I've written so far, and that I've kept you intrigued enough to stick around for the next chapter. Reviews are not mandatory, but it is encouraged. Your comments serve as food for the muses. I welcome your opinions, but easy on the flames, please.