Ah, when to the heart of man was it ever less than a treason
to go with the drift of things, to yield with grace to reason,
and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?
robert frost

He'd whispered a secret that night. A tiny one, inhaled into her hair, pleading with her to understand. Each breath was a shattered prayer; each word stuck like a thorn in his throat. Yet he managed to whisper her a secret, a lie, the truth. He whispered it and she would never understand but at least he tried.

His brother viewed him much like a monster. His father had viewed him that way, too; an unstoppable force, defying the laws of nature and killing in the depths of the night. He was the picture of disdain and evil to his family.

It had started long before he was turned, and it was never going to end.

That night, he'd whispered something, a promise, into Elena's hair, breathing in her lavender scent, elusive and familiar all at once. It hadn't been Katherine's signature perfume - she wore something like cinnamon and cloves - but it brought something akin to longing to his stomach, tugging at the heart he wasn't sure he had.

"I'll never hurt you." Such a tiny phrase, and frivolous, too; it meant nothing to her at the time, though she would go on to say she trusted him. He would never hurt her, never snap her neck or force her to live a life of the damned, such as he was destined to for the rest of eternity. He couldn't. Stefan didn't believe it; Stefan didn't believe his brother could ever carry the slightest hint of humanity, of actual care.

With the whispered words, he set her free, allowing her to tumble helplessly into Stefan's waiting arms. There was no regret. There was no guilt. He simply stared down at the spellbook, his salvation from the cruel world of Stefan.

He would be free of Stefan and never see Elena again. He would have Katherine again.

In the days to come, he would find that his heart no longer tugged the same way when he thought of Katherine and her abandonment. He would find that his eyes were not so dull at the mention of her accursed name. He would find that he wanted to be near Elena at times it was unnecessary.

And perhaps, he never could've left Elena regardless.