November 2016.

She looked up at hearing the laugh of a young couple. They were walking down the sidewalk, holding hands as he kissed her cheek, whispering things against her skin, and she was laughing out loud. It made her turn her stomach and she looked at her lap intently with a blank face, gripping the hem of the fabric of her dress.

"So, what do you think?" Caroline asked, walking down the sidewalk with him at her side. Only that he had his arm around her waist and he kept brushing the tip of his nose against her cheek, smiling.
"About what?" he asked, and pressed his lips against her cheek.
"Stefan…" she rolled her eyes and smiled. "Did you hear anything I said?"
"Yes… Something about Bonnie and…" he kissed her cheek again and then threw his head back to look at her with a frown.
"Wait, Enzo?"

Caroline nodded, excited.

"Haven't you noticed a spark between them? Since Enzo joined our side, they've spent a lot of time together, and the truth is that they could, I don't know, have a date?"
"But… He's Enzo."
"Are you going to help me or not?"
"Don't you think that they're the ones who should-?"
"Ugh" Caroline grabbed his face and gave him a quick peak to not let him talk. "Never mind, I'll manage."

She climbed the steps of the porch of her house and Stefan looked at her, amused.

"Your changes of mood will drive me crazy" he said, climbing the steps. Caroline laughed and turned around to put her arms around his neck.
"Thanks for the walk" she said. Stefan smiled and put his hands on her waist. "And for the dinner, and the ice cream, and-"

Her words vanished in the air, as Stefan pressed his lips against her mouth. Her back hit the door and they both smiled as he parted her lips with his tongue. Caroline looked for the knob of the door with her hand to open it and they headed toward the stairs as they undressed each other.

"Earth to Caroline" Bonnie said, sitting beside her on the bench of the porch.

Caroline looked up with a surprised face, as if she had really forgotten that Bonnie was there. She took the cup of hot chocolate that Bonnie was handing her, noticing how the brunette was examining her, worried, as if she feared for her mental health.

"And… Well, what I was saying is that Enzo's birthday is next week, and Damon and I thought about preparing a birthday party" Bonnie said. Caroline nodded with a blank stare, and took a sip. "Are you coming? Enzo will like having you there, and he wants to see you. And Damon won't stop telling me to force you to go. He says that if you won't, he'll come here to pick you up."

Caroline let out a little laugh of disdain, shaking her head.

"I don't think it's a good idea" she finally said.
"Caroline, I don't want to push you, but it's been five months and-"
"Bonnie, please" she said, looking away towards the end of the street. She heard her friend sigh and realized that the young couple was gone. As they

Bonnie, please he said, looking away towards the end of the street. She heard her friend sighed and realized that the couple was not there anymore. Neither they were.

December 2016.

Caroline closed her eyes and pursed her lips when she heard the blows at the door. She had hoped that his threats were that: simple threats. But no, Damon Salvatore was hitting on the door and shouting like crazy.

"Blondie, I know you're there. So you better open the damn door or I'll tear it down myself."

Caroline pressed pause and rose from the couch to open the door. Damon glared at her.

"So…?"
"Enzo's party starts in 15 minutes. Dress" he said, looking at his wristwatch.
"I'm not going" she said flatly.
"Look, blondie-"
"Will you stop?" she asked suddenly, raising so much the tone of the voice that he got startled. "Stop doing whatever you're doing, stop sticking your nose into my life! If he's the one asking you to check on me, save it, okay?"

They had never got along. But since Damon was playing the babysitter role, fighting had become a habit day in day out.

"Tell him he can stop feeling guilty, okay?" Caroline said, trying to calm down.
"Don't say nonsense" Damon said. "I'm not doing this because he asked me to. I'm not his bitch."

Caroline turned around to head to the couch, not knowing what was worse: Stefan telling him to take care of her, or Stefan not telling him so. Damon stepped forward and sighed.

"You can't be afraid of stepping into a house all your life. It's just a house!" he exclaimed.

Was she so obvious?

"I'm not afraid of your stupid house" she muttered, flopping on the couch.
"Of course not, but you're scared of the memories of it."

Caroline's fingers gripped the remote control without noticing and focused on the hood of the pen that she had left on the table. She had to find the pen.

"You don't know what you're talking about" she mumbled.
"Oh, come on. You're afraid of walking into my house because it reminds you of him. I get it, okay? You don't want to face it after how things ended, but it's stupid not to-"
"Leave, Damon."

Since when did he care for her? And that was not the worst, the worst part were his sermons. She was tired of them and his insistence.

"Well, as you like, Caroline" he said, emphasizing her name.

The last thing she heard was the slam of the door after he left. And then silence overwhelmed her ears and her other senses again. She wondered if she would ever stop hearing the noise that the silence caused.

January 2016.

Bonnie looked at her askance while driving, wondering whether to ask the question or not. She had forgotten a jacket at the Salvatore house last week and, now that they were heading to Mystic Falls after a week at Whitmore, the boarding house was on their way.

"Caroline?" she said almost in a whisper.
"Hm?" Caroline kept looking through the window.
"Do you mind if I…? I left a jacket at Damon's house" she chose not to say his name. "Do you mind if we drop by for a moment so I can take it? It's on our way."

Caroline turned her face to her and looked at her, her eyes staring at Bonnie's intently. For a moment, she thought about compelling her to make her forget what she had just asked and keep going to Mystic Falls. But what kind of friend would she be if she did that to her? Bonnie did not deserve something like that even if she was dying to compel her.

Finally, she chose to shrug and Bonnie took it as a positive response.

When she stopped the car in front of the facade of the house, she saw how Caroline pulled out her phone to focus on it and not look up.

"I'll be right back" Bonnie said as she opened the car door. Caroline nodded without looking at her.

The brunette closed the car door after getting out and everything was silent again. Caroline stared at the screen of her phone without doing anything really. She swallowed hard and turned the radio on with her gaze fixed on the dashboard. But the song that was playing was not enough to distract her. She turned it off, dropped the phone under the seat and pulled her knees to her chest to hug herself and hide her face between her legs. She shut her eyes tightly, trying to think of something else, anything. But it was difficult, especially after her life had become monotone the last half of the year.

Her vamp-hearing caught the shouts of Damon and Bonnie from any room of the house. They were fighting, and for the first time in a long time, she was grateful to listen to them. She relaxed her shoulders and looked up, pushing her hair away from her forehead. Her eyes wandered from her hands to the dashboard until they focused on one of the windows of his bedroom helplessly.

Caroline got out of the car and walked toward the front door, but then she remembered that she had forgotten the bag with Thai food inside of it. She turned around and opened the door of the car to crouch and lean forward to catch it.

"Ahem."

Caroline smiled, reached out and grabbed the bag. When she turned around, she saw Stefan leaning his arms on the frame of the window, watching her with a grin.

"What are you doing there?" she asked, closing the door of the car.
"Waiting for you, and watching you" he said without beating around the bush.

Caroline raised her eyebrows and nodded, trying not to smile.

"Come up" he said, pointing at his bedroom with his head.

Caroline stared blankly at the glass of the window. But suddenly, something caught her attention. She had seen something, someone, walking around the bedroom. Him. Stefan.

She looked for the door handle with a shaking hand and opened it to get out. She vamp sped to the door and thanked that Bonnie had left it half open. She grabbed the banister as she climbed the stairs with her heart beating fast. She opened the door of his bedroom, breathing hard, and with his name on the tip of her tongue.

"Stefan?" she asked in a whisper, looking around.

But there was no answer. There was no one there. No one had been there for months. The books on the shelves were covered with a thin layer of dust. The bed was intact, and the sheets had no wrinkles.

She stepped back and her back hit his desk. She had to grab the edges of the table at believing that she was hearing their laughs that day that they spent in bed. Talking, touching, undressing.

"No, no" she said in a whisper.

The sound of their laughs filled her ears and she dropped to the ground slowly, shutting her eyes, covering her ears with her hands to stop listening.

"Please, please, stop" she begged, feeling the knot in her throat and an intense feeling of pain inside of her.
"If you don't want them to shrink, don't leave your clothes here!" Damon shouted in the hallway.
"You shouldn't have put it into the dryer, why don't you ever read the labels?"
"I don't know, Bonnie! I just took all the clothes and… Blondie?"

Damon walked into Stefan's room fast at seeing her on the floor. Bonnie followed him quickly with a worried face.

"Blondie, hey…" Damon grabbed her arms to help her stand up. Caroline stared at the ground with a defeated face.
"Caroline…" Bonnie cupped her cheek with her hand to try to smooth her.
"Stefan, he… He was…" she looked around. Stefan was not there. She had hallucinated it.
"Come on, let's go to the kitchen" Damon said as he pulled her to the door gently. "I'm sure there'll be something you can take to calm down. Bonnie… maybe Bonnie can make something" he looked at her and Bonnie nodded.
"No, I…" Caroline shook her head and pulled his hands away carefully. "I gotta get out of here."
"Sure, I'll drive you home" Bonnie said. Caroline shook her head again.
"I need to be alone."

Finally, Damon and Bonnie stepped aside and Caroline left the room. Bonnie looked at Damon, who was looking toward the door with a thoughtful expression.

"I shouldn't have brought her here" Bonnie mumbled.
"She has to get over it" Damon said.
"She can't, Damon. It's been months and… I'm worried, I think she needs help but I don't know what to-"
"She has to get over it, Bonnie" he repeated, looking at her this time and with hard voice. "Stefan left. Period. She has to face it."