Meanwhile in my head
I'm underdoing open-hearted surgery
Anne Sexton, Red Riding Hood
September 7, 2009
It's still early enough in the day that the sun is timidly peaking from the horizon, painting the sky in a lovely pink color. It's one of those scenery photographers would go crazy for.
Sarah would appreciate it more if Tyler wasn't panting loudly a few meters behind her.
In the last couple of months her brother has decided to follow her morning routine, (wake at five, run an hour) since he is finally convinced it would do wonders for his anger issues. He's right of course, Sarah has been telling him to join her for a run in the morning since the boy turned fifteen.
The less adrenaline in his body, the calmer he feels. She knows he can't help his temper, he's an untriggered wolf and his nature is telling him he would feel much better if he ripped apart that bastard, who's been getting on his last nerve.
Tyler hasn't killed anyone yet. But the fact that his sister has already activated her curse isn't helping him. He may not realize it consciously, but his wolf knows and he wants to come out and fight her. Sarah is the only werewolf in the family, therefore she has no competition for the title of alpha. Tyler's wolf hasn't had a chance to test her yet and he's restless.
Instinctively, he obeys her, but he's not happy about it. When he turns, Sarah will have to show him his place, only then he'll be at rest.
"Ok, but what am I supposed to tell her?" he's asking, slowing down to a jog when she does the same.
He's speaking about Elena. Elena, who she has not seen since July, who is mourning her parents but doesn't want people to pity her. Elena, who tried to smile at her friends after her parents' funeral.
Elena is strong, stronger than anyone believes. Today she'll get up and go to school and pretend everything is alright, and then one day soon, everything will really be alright.
Sarah wants to believe that.
"You know Elena doesn't need your words." She shrugs, as she finally goes from a light jog to a simple walk. "You aren't really the talkative, supporting guy."
She makes a compelling argument – Tyler suffers from the famous foot-in-the-mouth syndrome, he's, generally speaking, useless at any kind of social exchange. That is why he usually comes across as arrogant and smug, at best, and a complete dick, at worst. He's not even good at pretending – God knows their mother had tried to instill in him a degree of social awareness.
Tyler has always been like that, when they were young it was almost endearing, how clueless he is, but now it's just embarrassing.
"I could try!" he barks, offended. "I would, for Elena, jeez, have some faith in me!"
Sarah grins, "I know, Ty," she shakes her head, "I'm just saying, you just have to be there for her – you don't have to say anything. It's Elena, she knows how awkward you are about this kind of things. She knows you care, ok?"
Her brother snorts, unimpressed at her words-choice about him, but relents, "Yeah, yeah. Fine. It's just – crazy, you know? Her parents are dead. It blows my mind every time I remember it."
It is crazy. But not as crazy as knowing that they would die and still do nothing to avoid that outcome. Who would do something like that?
"If we only look at the bad we'll never see the positive side. Elena is alive, she survived, that's all we need to think about now." She forces herself to say. After what she has done, or not done, she owes it to them, to keep Elena safe. It's no hardship, she would do so anyway.
Tyler sighs, then narrows his eyes, looking around. They are still on Lockwood's grounds, walking the narrow path that overlooks one of the slave sheds that used to house the poor people that belonged to their ancestors. He hates those buildings. When they were children they used to invite their friends to play hide-and-seek since they had a lot of space, but then their father, one day, took them aside and ordered them not to go play with the other children where the old house was.
Tyler had asked why, he always hid there because the other children said that there were ghosts there and didn't want to go anywhere near it, so he always won. Their father had no choice but to explain to him. Tyler was six. They never said another word about that, and Tyler never invited anyone else to play there.
"Where is Klaus? He was here just now."
Sarah looks around with attentive eyes, then sighs, "You probably scared him away with your constant nagging."
Tyler ignores her and puts the tips of thumb and index in his mouth to whistle twice, and yells, "Klaus! Come here, boy!"
A second passes, then two, then a bark answers them and Sarah cant help but smile broadly. A grey wolfdog trots towards them, tail swinging happily, as he gets out from his hiding place. While the siblings run, the dog likes to chase after small animals like squirrels, never really catching them. Tyler gives him his hand to sniffle as Klaus reaches them and receives a big, wet doggy-kiss and a throaty sound that probably means hello. It's adorable.
"Ugh, how many times must I tell you I don't want your drool?" grumbles Tyler, playfully glaring at Klaus. He makes a move like he's about to grab him and Klaus crouches on his front paws, ready to attack, tongue lolling out as he pants.
Pups, Sarah thinks.
"Klaus," she calls the dog instead. He stands on his paws immediately and stares at her. "Let's go home now."
The smallest member of her pack understands and soon enough he's guiding them back home, stopping every few meters to watch behind him and making sure they are following him. He takes his duty very seriously.
Klaus has been with them for years, since she was eleven and Tyler ten. He had been one of the best Christmas present their father ever got them. Given to them on the day of Santa Claus, what other name could he have? Also, Sarah finds it poetic, having a half-wolf named Klaus – she can't wait for Niklaus to come to town and discover there is already a Klaus in town, and he is much cuter.
She named her dog Klaus when she was eleven, she could not know about Klaus the vampire yet. It's just a coincidence. There, that's her excuse.
Really, she's just being smart. Half-wolf. Klaus. It makes her smirk everytime she thinks about it
When they get back home, they take a shower and then have breakfast with their parents. They are already sitting at the table with Rosalind, their maid, serving them their vervain tea when they enter the living room.
Their father has a dark look on his face, and their mother looks worried as she reads the Mystic Falls Daily, the town newspaper.
"You two, sit down," the man says, waving his hands to point at the remaining two seats.
Sarah and Tyler frown, looking questioningly at each other. As they sit, Sarah inquires uneasy, "Dad, what's wrong?"
Their mother is still silent. "There was an animal attack, a man and a woman are dead. The police found the bodies in the woods." Their father answers eventually, with a serious look in his eyes.
Tyler seats up straight on his chair, staring with wide eyes at their father.
Sarah mouths to herself animal attack and thinks vampire. No, she thinks Damon. Is this how it begins?
She closes her eyes, her heart pumping blood in her veins quicker than normal. Her wolf is stirring under her skin – hunt, she has a prey to hunt.
"Do you think it was a vampire?" murmurs Tyler, still shaken. It feels like an empty question – her already knows the answer, his father's eyes say it all.
Their mother seems to come alive at that, she set the newspaper down and closes her hands in fists over it. "Sheriff Forbes seems sure it was." She tightens her lips. "Until we have dealt with it I want you two to go everywhere together and be home early, is that clear?"
Sarah nods and Tyler cross his arms over his chest in acceptance.
"You have your stakes with you, right?" queries their father.
"Whatever happens, protect each other."
As they drink their tea, Sarah takes the newspaper from their mother.
ANIMAL ATTACK IN MYSTIC FALLS!
Darren Malloy: 24
Brooke Fenton: 22
They were so young, she thinks, looking at their pictures, but then she blinks and their names are forgotten.
This life is different from the ones she has lived before. For the longest time Sarah has struggled to differentiate what is fiction and what is real – what is the plot, what she can do with this knowledge she has.
Is there a plot to follow if this is real life? Or better yet, is this real life if the world she is born into is governed by a plot?
Mystic Falls is a fictional town created and built by the mind of an author, the streets, the lake, the forest – scenography from a CW show she once watched.
Her parents are secondary, if not tertiary, characters – they don't have importance to the plot therefore they are expendable.
Tyler is a side character at best, and an annoying one at that.
Matt and Vicky – useless, and she is being nice.
Bonnie is the plot device worst used in the history of tv shows. She is the ace in the hole of Elena Gilbert, nothing else.
Caroline is a better person as a vampire and that makes zero sense. The producers just wanted another vampire in Elena's pocket.
Elena is the center of the universe; everything happens in relation to her. She is the kind of protagonist that at the beginning is a real sweetheart and then slowly falls from grace. In her defense, a lot of the choices she makes she is forced to by the circumstances. When someone is threatening your life there are only so many things you can do. But Sarah knows that everything that went wrong with Elena can be narrowed down to two causes: Stefan and Damon.
In real life love triangles are fairly common, but how many of those triangles are composed by two siblings?
In real life, brothers and sisters that fall for the same person are forever tainted. Whatever trust and love they have for each other is simply gone.
What she hates of the original plot is that, when Damon and Stefan were at each others' throat for Katherine they went and done the same thing all over again with another woman – who happens to share Katherine's face!
How dumb can men be, to fall in the same toxic relationships over and over again? To covet what they erroneously think belong to their brother?
A woman is not an object to be contended, she is not a prey to be hunted, she is not a small thing too weak to protect herself.
A woman is not made to relieve a man's pain.
Elena is not for anyone to take and use.
Elena, whose face launched a thousand-year-old conflict.
Sarah lives the first eleven years of her life like she is playing a video game. Nothing is real, they are all characters, it's all scenography. She floats for the longest time in a sea of apathy. What she does, she does because it is required for the masks she is wearing (beloved daughter, older sister, precious friend, talented athlete, excellent student). But it is not real; she's just Sarah and she is not the protagonist of her own life – because there is a plot to follow and the protagonist of this flow of events is Elena, not Sarah. Sarah doesn't even exist!
Everything comes clear when she activates the so-called werewolf curse. Suddenly she is alive. She is born again when she feels the wolf shifting under her skin. She screams when she turns but not because of the pain.
It settles suddenly in her mind – her parents are real, Tyler is real. Caroline, Bonnie, Elena, even insipid Matt and Vicky. They are not characters, they are not fictional.
She realizes that there is no plot, only life. She is not a non-existing character; she is the protagonist of her life.
Because she is alive.
Sarah Lockwood is a werewolf. This particular occurrence should be counted as the beginning and turning point of her existence. Explaining what it feels like to be a werewolf is problematic, but it can be summarized in one word: wild.
There is a reason dogs are tamed and wolves are not. Wolves are not meant to obey commands, they reject authority and are free spirits.
You can't tame a wolf, but the wolf can tame you. Sarah knows this from experience.
This brave, new world belongs to her and she begins changing the rules.
Knowledge is her leverage, but she also knows that knowledge is power and the more you know the safer you are.
Wolves protect their own, and her family and friends are pack now.
When she is sixteen her parents share with her the family's business – the secret of the founding families, the Council, the role they play as protectors of the town. She should be too young to know, but she is their pride and joy, their golden heiress and she has pressed them for months about her desire to have a more active role in the town's activities.
A year later she convinces them to share the truth with Tyler as well. Around the same time the siblings are given a wooden stake each and instructions about how to use them.
Tyler enter high-school and join the football team; Sarah is a sophomore, she is already in the soccer team but she quits to join softball and the cheerleading squad. Next to their school activities, Sarah enrolls both of them in a self-defense class.
"I know how to punch someone!" grumbles Tyler.
"I want you to learn how to protect yourself from vampire attacks, not for you to punch them in the face." Is her simple answer.
"It doesn't matter. They are stronger than humans, how can I defend myself?"
He makes a point, but then again, he doesn't know that he's already stronger than the average human, thanks to his werewolf gene, and that Sarah is as strong as a newborn vampire, being a werewolf with a moonlight amulet. She is stronger than a vampire when the moon is full.
"They won't expect you to, and you'll surprise them enough to make a run for it if you don't have a weapon on you."
Tyler accepts all her proposals after a nagging or two, partly because Sarah is very convincing and partly because he unconsciously recognizes her authority over him as alpha. When he turns and she officially becomes his alpha, he won't even thinking about questioning her, he'll just obey.
Sarah has been boxing since she was ten, to please her father who boxed when he was younger. It's a great way to train your muscles and Sarah's body shows it, she is not tall, being 5 feet and 5 inches, but her whole body is compact, lean and wiry, with toned arms and muscular legs. She is not necessarily bulky, but she looks solid and powerful.
As a result, Sarah is not classically beautiful and dainty, she comes across as intimidating to some of the guys in school, mostly because she's strong enough to throw them. But to others she's fascinating exactly because she has this tough look – and also because she is a cheerleader.
Sarah will never walk into a room and attract the attention of the male gaze the way Elena used to, nor does she want to, but she turns heads nonetheless. She looks like her mother the same way Tyler looks like their father, but she has Richard's dark eyes and a slightly fairer skin color.
Beauty is not important, it's useful, it's a tool more than a quality – Sarah is too old to think otherwise but Caroline is not.
Ever since she was a child, Caroline has suffered from a sort of complex of inferiority. She isn't as pretty as Elena, she isn't as funny nor witty, her parents don't love her the way Elena's parents love her.
Sarah puts a stop to this nonsense when she is fifteen, and the girls are fourteen. It's not easy, because the girl is so young and stubborn but she can't help but listen when Sarah explains how unhealthy it is for her to compete with Elena, and not because she keeps losing, but because she's sabotaging herself. She's making herself unhappy for no reason. She is pretty and funny and witty and there isn't nor should there be a meter of paragon. There is no good or bad way to be a girl, you just make yourself the girl you want to be and no one, not even yourself, has the right to belittle you.
Certainly not a guy.
Sarah manages to build Caroline's self esteem year after year. And the girl grows up to be a confident young woman.
In this life Caroline is the one to date Matt, not Elena. And the relationships between the girls, without any resentment, is stronger than ever.
Elena shares her first kiss with Tyler, to Sarah's horror, when they are sixteen but it doesn't feel right to them to enter in a relationship and they break it off quickly. They stay friends and everything is alright for a while.
Until Elena's parents die.
As per their parents' wish they go to school together, with Sarah's car, only splitting off when they arrive at school. Tyler gets out from the car quickly while Sarah is still parking. She reckons dryly that he is too old and cool to be carted around by his big sister. At least he mumbles a stiff 'bye' before darting off.
She's nearly by the entrance, after saying various hellos and how are yous, when she is attacked by the resident blonde queen bee of Mystic Fall High School. Joy.
"Oh my God, Sarah! How are you? I haven't seen you in forever!" Caroline whisper-yells in her left ear as she embraces her. Really, Sarah loves this girl but she can't stomach her bubbliness before eleven in the morning. She can't help but fold her lips in a warm smile nonetheless – is she getting soft?
"Caroline, good morning." She replies dutifully but argues calmly, "We've seen each other yesterday, remember? We discussed the cheerleading program for this year."
Caroline giggles, she is in a good spirit, even more so than usual, "I know, but that was practically work! It's been so long since we had a funny night together!"
Sarah smiles a bit sad to herself, "Sorry, you know how it is. Elena is – not in a girl night mood and it feels weird having a sleepover without her. But," she tilts her chin up to grin at the other girl, "tonight we definitely are going to the bonfire thing." It's a sweet thought, the three of them and Bonnie spending a happy night together but suddenly a foul stench catches by surprise, making her stop dead in the middle of the school corridor. She has never smelt something like this before – like blood and iron and frost and, underneath it all, peppermint.
"Of course we are! I cant wait! It's gonna be amazing and maybe it will Elena will feel better too!" Caroline chirps but her face drops when she notices Sarah freezing in the hallway, her eyes wide. "Sarah," she calls her hesitantly.
It's a peculiar odour, unpleasant and acrid, which alerts the werewolf immediately. Vampire.
"I'm fine," she gives Caroline a crocked grin, "just thinking about something."
Not just any vampire, Stefan Salvatore. Great.
Caroline accepts the answer easily and together they speed through the corridor to reach their lockers.
More people, more empty smiles and fake hellos. It's exhausting being socially active, especially if you don't really care about other people, but at least Caroline enjoys herself. She loves this, showing off her queen bee persona.
When they see Elena and Bonnie standing across the hall, Caroline is the first to rush to them. There's people staring at them, at Elena, with eyes full of sympathy and horror. No one says anything to her, Sarah has spent the first part of summer making sure people knew not to give her grief.
"Hi girls. Elena, my god, how are you?" she throws her arms around said girl, holding her tight for a good two seconds. "It's so good to see you."
The first thing Sarah notices is her bare face, Elena hasn't done anything to hide her skin. For a moment she is proud of her then she realizes Elena has the same look on her face that Sarah remembers from her parents' funeral. It's like a punch to her stomach. She answers like she has been rehearsing, "Thanks, Caroline, I'm fine." Her warm, acorn eyes flick to Sarah. "Hey, Sarah."
The werewolf comes over to peck her on the check, right where her scar is, without saying a word, there have already been enough this morning. Then she nods at the other girl, "Bonnie."
Bonnie, if anything, is amused by her too-tired-to-deal-with-people attitude and quips back entertained, "'Lo Sarah."
Elena doesn't know what to do with Sarah's knowing eyes on her so she busies herself with her locker.
Caroline and Bonnie look at each other and then from Elena to Sarah and then back to each other. Sarah wants to snort, they don't know the definition of subtle. Caroline says aloud, "Well, we're going ahead. See you guys later, ok?" She winks at Sarah. Oh my God, Caroline. "Elena, remember we have Tanner now. See you there!"
Bonnie whisper something to Elena and then slips off with Caroline, but not before glancing meaningfully at Sarah.
When the girls disappear Sarah sighs. Elena looks at her. "I'm really fine, Sarah." Why does she keep saying that?
Sarah retorts sharply, "Stop it ok?" She exhales, "We've known each other forever. You don't have to lie to me."
Elena has the decency to look away. "I'm sorry." She says in a hushed tone, holding her school bag tight. "It's just automatic, you know."
Sarah knows perfectly well that Elena's first instinct is denying her pain. She's been aware for months. "People can grieve for a very long time, Elena. Some people grieve their loved ones forever." She states. "And it's only been four months."
Elena understands her point but she knows it's not that simple. "The world doesn't stop just because I lost my parents. People won't always remember that I'm the girl whose parents are dead. They are gonna stop giving me breaks. I have to move on. They are not – " her voice wavers for a second before she recomposes herself. "They are not coming back."
It's extremely hard, looking at her. Elena Gilbert is a wounded girl, inside and out. Her face used to be utter perfection – Sarah doesn't say this lightly, she is aware that all that is related to man and man's creations is faulty at best. Only nature is perfect. Elena's face though, was blessed; it's not anymore.
When her parents drove off Wickery Bridge Elena was on the on the backseat, as such she didn't bear most of the impact, like her mother did, who died on the spot, but windowframe next to her shattered. Most shards only scratched her superficially – except one, that plunged into her right cheek, only narrowly missing her eye socket.
The result is a jagged wound, still a vivid angry pink, on the right side of her face, a reminder to her that Miranda and Grayson didn't make it. And she did.
Sarah shakes her head. All she can think about now is the life Elena is about to enter – vampires and werewolves and a curse that can be broken only with her blood. The people she will lose.
Elena, this broken girl, doesn't need any of that shit. She needs a therapist, a recovery period that doesn't end just because she is too busy falling in love with a vampire.
"You have the right to grieve your parents, Elena." She puts her hands on Elena's shoulders. She's bonier than she remembers, which makes her hold the girl tighter. "The world can stuff it. They can't expect you to just go back to your happy-go-lucky persona. You simply are not that person anymore. And that's fine." She wants her to know this. "Pain changes us. And death even more so."
They are cut off by the ringing of the bell. Part of her is frustrated, but she knows that Elena needs time to think about what she has said.
Elena swallows the lump in her throat, she doesn't shed a tear. Sarah has never seen her cry. "Ok, enough emo talk." They both laugh. "Thanks." She whispers as she quickly squeezes her hand.
"Ok, you got Tanner. I have Bradley." Sarah swings her bag on her shoulder, "See you at the cheerleading tryouts?" At the girl's nod of assent, she smiles, "And Elena? If you're still visiting your parents this afternoon, I can come with you."
Elena stutters at that, as if she has been caught in the act, then she grins sheepishly at the older girl.
They wave at each other, before splitting.
Sarah walks towards the first class of her last year in high school absentmindedly. Can she convince Elena to see a therapist? She could, but the moment vampires enter her life it'd be pretty much useless. She can't talk with a doctor about vampires – there's crazy and then there's crazy.
She's so lost in her thoughts that she almost misses him. Thankfully, her nose can pick up literally any single smell in the room. And this one is not human. Iron and blood and frost.
He's walking nonchalantly, ignoring the people commenting about the new kid and looking at him sideways. He's a gloriously beautiful young man, with soft brown hair, like the bark of an oak tree, and lovely green eyes. Chiseled profile, elegant and ageless.
This man is painfully out of place in this environment. He looks seventeen or eighteen, but he doesn't move like a teenager. His gait reminds her of her own. Straight back, calm attitude, simply moving on like nothing can faze him. He's an old soul, trapped in a young body.
His eyes flicker briefly towards her – before dismissing her. He doesn't notice anything out of place in her.
She recognized his scent immediately, but he doesn't. Uh.
Naturally he's the talk of the school. Sarah almost pities him.
After class Caroline finds her and snatches her up. "Did you see the new student?" she demands frantically, smirking. "He's so handsome!"
He's a serial killer, Caroline. And an addict.
"Not my type," dutifully answers Sarah. Even if he wasn't Elena's soon-to-be epic love, the saintly and hypocritical vampire really is not her cup of tea.
Caroline huffs, rolling her eyes frustrated, "No one is ever your type – you are friggin asexual!"
Sarah carefully holds back that she has had more sex and sexual partners than Caroline can ever dream of, it comes with being practically immortal, and shoots back instead, "Why so interested anyway? You have a boyfriend, remember Matt? Tall, blue eyes, loves you very much?"
Caroline's answer is quick and witty, as always, "Just because I'm taken doesn't mean I don't have eyes!"
"Has anyone said anything to Elena?" she inquires instead. She has no doubt that some must have gawked at her but if someone dared giving her shit Sarah doesn't know what she would do. Murder isn't an option yet.
"About her parents or – ?" Caroline is uncomfortable with the topic of Elena's disfigurement, she can't believe that the girl she envied so much during childhood has been dealt such a low blow from fate. When they first saw her, after the incident, Caroline cried.
Elena didn't, not for her parents, not for her face, on the contrary, she looked bizarrely calm about her scar. Sarah hadn't understood at the time, had believed Elena was slipping into a deep depression, so she had confronted her. Elena's comeback had shattered something in her.
"I just look the way I feel."
For the first time since she had been reborn in Mystic Falls, Sarah had cried. Full-blown sobbed. That must have awaken something in Elena, too.
"Both, I guess," Sarah shrugs.
"A couple of people offered her condolences, but no one would look her in the eye, too busy staring at her face." Caroline's lips disappear in her mouth as she seems to be trying to calm down. She is fuming.
Sarah grabs her arm and stops walking. Caroline quirks an eyebrow at her, pretending to be nonchalant. "We knew this would happen. It's going to be fine, as long as one of us is always with her."
With a nod from the blonde they resume walking. They still have to catch up with Bonnie and Elena.
They exit the school building to approach the football field, where the tryouts for the cheerleaders are to be held. There are pale and anxious freshmen everywhere. They meet Elena and Bonnie on the way there, the latter bouncing in excitement. The beautiful, green-eyed girl gleefully inquires, "Have you seen the – "
"The new hot kid, yes, yes we did," Sarah interrupts her, dry as the Sahara Desert. Elena curiously blushes and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. With the sunlight her scar looks even more evident. Sarah thinks with a thrill that she still manages to look pretty.
Caroline notices the girl's reaction and pipes up, "His name is Stefan Salvatore. He lives with his great-uncle in the old Salvatore Boarding House. He hasn't lived here since he was a kid. Military family. They traveled a lot. He's a Gemini and his favorite color is blue."
Sarah blinks, trying to conjure up some surprise but failing. She has tried one too many times to explain to Caroline that stalking is a crime.
Bonnie is not surprised either, glancing meaningfully at Elena. Then jokingly quipping at Caroline, "You got all that in one day?" To which she gets a startingly quick retort, "I got all that in between bells after third period."
Elena smiles, "You have a future in the CIA, Caroline."
The perky blonde smirks proudly. "Sooo, how do you like the new guy, Elena?" She demands just as they near the field, where cheerleaders are warming up and the football team is running drills.
Elena stops, carefully ignoring Caroline's and Bonnie's gaze and meets Sarah's eyes instead. "You know what, guys? I'm gonna skip out."
Caroline gasps and even Bonnies is startled "What do you mean? It's Freshman tryouts."
Sarah shrugs, "Great idea, Lena, I'm with you."
"You can't leave, you are the captain, Sarah!"
The werewolf wants to laugh at Caroline's indignation, but her face is a mask of placidity, "I'm leaving you in charge. Let's go, Elena."
Sarah quickly grasp Elena's arm and they make a run for it. When they are far enough away from Caroline's fury, they stop to look at each other and then burst out laughing – it almost feels like Elena is back.