Title: Wings of a Butterfly
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries (TV series).
Pairing: (eventual) Damon Salvatore/Jeremy Gilbert.
Chapter Rating: Mature for graphic descriptions of violence.
Chapter Content Notes: Graphic description of violence, wounds, American Civil War era battles.
Chapter Word Count: 2900 words.
Summary: A spell gone wrong, and Jeremy finds himself trapped in 1863, on the front lines with a human Damon Salvatore.
Author's Notes: My first multi-chaptered fic in the Vampire Diaries fandom, so wish me luck! As always, reviews are much appreciated. Right now, it looks like it will fall between eight and ten chapters.
[[ … Chapter One: Crashing … ]]
The room was quiet except for the sound of pages turning. Bonnie was stretched out on Jeremy's bed, waiting for Elena to get home. Jeremy had perched on the edge of the bed, and he was glancing at the book Bonnie looked through.
"Oh, what's this one?" Jeremy poked at one of the pages on the book, and he ignored Bonnie's glare as she lightly dusted the page off.
"It looks like some kind of... transportation spell?" She tilted her head, leaned a little closer to the book, and then nodded. "Yeah."
Jeremy sat up a little straighter, looking at her curiously. "That sounds useful."
"What?" Bonnie lifted her head from the book, a frown on her face. "How? I could just move whatever I needed. I don't have to teleport it."
"You're so unimaginative! Like, we could use that to bait traps and such, Bonnie!" Jeremy grinned. "Could you imagine? Setting a trap for ... say a vampire," easiest example to give where Bonnie was concerned. "What if they were looking for Elena? She could stand somewhere and just before they reached her, you could just poof her to... wherever else."
Bonnie bit her bottom lip.
"Or we could just rely on Damon to move Elena in time." Jeremy shrugged. "No difference to me."
She shot him a look, sighing loudly. "Fine. I can practice on that one."
"Well, if you're going to use it for moving people, you should practice moving people." Jeremy stood up and offered her a grin. "Teleport me."
"What? I'm not teleporting you. It's dangerous, Jeremy."
"It has to be me, Bonnie." Jeremy frowned at her, folding his arms over his chest. She was still looking down in the book, and she tapped her finger over the page. He leaned against the edge of his desk, arching an eyebrow. "Would you rather try it with Elena?"
"Well, no." Bonnie fidgeted a little more, sighing. "I don't want to try it at all. And why does it have to be you?" She picked the book up, pulled it into her lap, and glanced up at him.
He lifted one of his hands, arching an eyebrow. "Ring? Protection against death by anything supernatural?" He laughed lightly. "I figure that getting torn apart by a practicing witch counts as supernatural."
Bonnie's face went pale, and Jeremy quickly held up his hands. "Not that I think I'll get torn apart!" He hesitated, then reached back and rubbed the back of his neck. "C'mon, Bonnie. It'll be easy. Just... magic me around the room." He nodded, and when Bonnie finally nodded slowly too, he smiled. "See? It's not gonna be hard. And just think! You'll be more useful than Damon if we end up needing this."
That brought a small smile to her face as well, and she shook out her hands, breathing in deeply. "Okay. I can do this."
She laughed, although Jeremy thought it might sound marginally hysterical. Pushing her was probably not his brightest idea. He rolled his head, popping his neck, and nodded. "Okay, Bonnie. Ready when you are."
She closed her eyes, and Jeremy watched as she held out her hands. They were trembling. He licked his bottom lip, and she started chanting quietly to herself, just under her breath. He couldn't understand her, but it didn't matter; he never had been able to anyway.
The world shifted the moment that she started speaking, and Jeremy blinked rapidly in an attempt to bring it back into focus. It didn't work, because instead of sharpening, everything seemed to only separate further. It was like watching a 3D movie with no glasses, all the outlines and ghost images, and then a pain shot through his forehead.
It was like taking a punch to the face, and Jeremy actually fell back, reaching up blindly. When he could open his eyes again, he saw himself still standing where he had started, only that Jeremy was holding out his hands, and Bonnie— no, two Bonnies. There were two of them sitting on the bed, one still chanting, the other pointing and clearly talking or arguing or something with someone.
Jeremy rubbed his head, pushed himself up, and immediately scrabbled back as he saw that his foot was beginning to dip through the floor. Another dizzying jerk, and he rolled over onto his knees. He could taste a sharp burn in the back of his throat. He locked his jaw, squeezed his eyes closed, and he tried to push himself up to his feet; he needed to get to the bathroom. He was going to be sick. He managed exactly one step before the world jerked again, and when he fell, something brushed against his face.
He didn't care right away, because his stomach clenched and rolled and then he was coughing, spitting out the last of the bile still in his mouth. The sickly sweet smell of the vomit almost made him lose it again, but then he fell back, reaching up an arm to cover his eyes.
He wasn't sure when the room had gotten so bright.
Jeremy had no idea how long he laid there, but he did until the fireworks started. He sat up slowly, his head spinning, and he pushed himself on up to his unsteady legs. He was standing in the middle of a cluster of trees, and he leaned against one. He was breathing hard; he felt like he'd run miles. Screaming and shouting started from somewhere ahead, and he froze, looking up.
He forced himself to focus, to listen, and realized with a slowly growing horror that it probably wasn't fireworks, unless something had gone terribly wrong. One foot in front of the other, and Jeremy clung to the tree, unable to make himself let go. He was going to crash to the ground if he tried.
A slight breeze brought with it the smell of gunpowder, of something sharp that Jeremy wasn't sure he recognized. It brought with it smoke— Jeremy coughed— and then someone burst through the trees just ahead and fell, clutching at his chest, screaming and sobbing and making this gurgling noise. Jeremy rushed forward, lurching from tree to tree until he sank to the ground just beside the man.
Blood poured across the man's chest, and Jeremy pushed his hands onto it, trying to apply pressure— that was the rule, wasn't it? But the blood kept coming, and he kept making that awful noise, and then Jeremy jerked his hands back because suddenly the man was gone. One moment, he'd been breathing and gurgling and struggling and the next he was simply... a thing. A corpse.
Jeremy had no warning before his stomach rebelled once more, and he glanced between the spot that the man had fallen and the treeline. He could still hear gunfire— there was no doubt in his mind now that the sound was gunfire— and when he looked back down, his eyes narrowed. A reenactment gone wrong? The man was wearing a confederate soldier's uniform, although it was far grittier than most of the costumes Jeremy had seen at the reenactments he'd been to. He knelt down, swallowed, and held his breath as he reached up just enough to turn up the man's collar.
No bars or chevrons; the guy had been a private.
Jeremy quickly pushed himself back, unable to stand touching the body for too long. He was shaking, and he made himself look again, really look at the unfortunate soul in front of him. It was only then that he noticed the bag that the man had been clutching. He was a deserter; there was no other explanation for his lack of a weapon and the pack. Jeremy hesitated, but when the gunfire sounded a little closer to him, he reached for the bag and opened it.
It wasn't like the man could mind anymore.
He fought down the wave of nausea that accompanied that thought and he pulled out a change of clothes, both plain clothes and another uniform— this one just as patched together as the one the man had been wearing. Another reach in the bag, and he pulled out a stack of letters. He took just long enough to open a few to check the date, and he fell back to sit on the cold ground.
He had no idea how long he stayed like that, but between the way his stomach kept rolling and the slow realization that it was freezing, Jeremy felt like he couldn't move. He wanted to keep telling himself that it was a reenactment, that the actor had been keeping period things in his bag just for the kick of submitting so fully to the role. But there was something not right, and from all the screams, if it had been a reenactment, it had gone wrong. Tragically so.
Finally, he shook himself, and Jeremy glanced at the clothes that he had pulled from the bag. He didn't hesitate further, just stripped off his own and changed. Rule one of survival— the only rule Alaric and Damon had both agreed on— was to look like you belonged. Everything else was secondary. He stretched and tugged on the clothes; they were just a little too short and a little too loose on his frame, and no amount of adjusting would make them fit properly.
His hands were still shaking as he shoved the letters and his own clothes back into the bag. He licked his lips and started toward the treeline. He stopped only long enough to reach out and close the deserter's eyes with trembling fingertips. Soon as he could, he wiped his fingers off on his shirt and struggled not to throw up again. It wasn't like he had anything else in his stomach. It would just hurt.
He stumbled out into a field, and he held up an arm to keep the sun out of his eyes. He hadn't taken the hat from the body. Jeremy stood still just long enough to locate the nearest group of soldiers, and then he dropped to his knees. He didn't think his stomach could take any more.
There were men everywhere, blood and screaming and shouting, and he could hear a bugle playing, drums tapping. He watched another wave of men being cut down by a volley of musket fire, and he gagged, incapable of stopping himself. Finally, he ducked down a little more, and he felt tears in his eyes, felt the sharp bitterness of simple fear in his mouth.
A hand clapped down on his shoulder, and Jeremy jumped, scrabbling back and tilting his head up. A blond man crouched down in front of him, and he was looking at him intently. "You hit?"
Jeremy shook his head, and the man tugged him on up to his feet. They were running then, as best that Jeremy could run, given the fact that his legs still felt as though they were going to fold under him. The guy pushed him almost face first into a narrow trench, sliding in right behind him. Immediately, someone shoved a musket into his hands, and Jeremy glanced up only briefly before he stared down at the weapon.
"Can you shoot?"
He hesitated, and then he nodded slowly. He had no idea who was asking him, and somehow, in the chaos of the shouting, a handful of paper cartridges ended up in his hands. He loaded the weapon and leaned up over the edge of the trench, risking a glance at the other side. Immediately, he swallowed, and then someone was shouting for him to fire, and so help him, he did.
He had no idea if he actually hit anyone, but somehow, he ended up shooting several more times, scarcely able to breathe each time he squeezed the trigger. By the time it was all over, a couple of the men in the trench with him clapped him on the shoulder, and he could hear them all congratulating one another. He wasn't sure why they were so pleased, when all he could see were the dead and blood, and he could hear them dying.
Jeremy tucked himself into a ball, musket held close against him, staring at the wall of the trench. Someone leaned down beside him, touching his shoulder, and he looked up at them without really seeing them. Vaguely, he realized that the person was speaking, asking him something.
"Boy, you got family?"
He managed a jerky nod, not trusting his voice. The man smiled slowly at him, and all Jeremy could focus on was that mustache. It looked almost like a furry worm stretched out under his nose.
"Where are they?"
"M... Mystic Falls." He coughed, reaching up to wipe his mouth. His throat was tight, aching. Jeremy wasn't sure when that had started.
"Virginia?" The man looked at him a little more closely, and then he twisted around and called, "Get the lieutenant. He'll want to see this one." The call for the lieutenant was taken up and sent down the trench. Jeremy licked his bottom lip, pulling his legs a little closer to himself.
After a moment, there was a shuffling around, and someone new knelt down beside him. Jeremy didn't look up until he felt a hat being placed on top of his head. When he did, his mouth went dry, and his eyes widened.
Damon Salvatore, of all people, was crouched down, staring at him, offering him that same devil-may-care smile. But no, it wasn't the same smile, not quite. He looked less haunted. There wasn't that undertone of self-derision in the expression that Jeremy was so used to seeing.
There was a chuckle among the men in the trench, presumably because Damon, who looked a good sight younger than most of the other men around them, was calling someone else a 'kid.' Jeremy managed a faint smile of his own.
"Mystic Falls, eh? I'm from there. Damon. Damon Salvatore."
Jeremy nodded slightly. "Jeremy Gilbert." He rubbed the side of his arm, feeling some of the hysteria slipping away. No matter how absolutely insane the entire situation was, it couldn't be completely terrible. Damon was still here, and there was really no one else that Jeremy would have preferred to have, given the circumstances.
"A Gilbert? You're related to Johnathan Gilbert?" Damon rocked back to put his weight on his heels, and he lightly flicked his hair from his eyes. It was then that Jeremy noticed the musket sitting across his lap, tucked between his body and the tops of his thighs. For one bizarre moment, Jeremy wanted to sketch it, wanted to capture him like that.
Jeremy licked his bottom lip instead, doing his best to commit the picture to memory, and he ducked his head. He scrabbled to think of Johnathan Gilbert's relations, and finally he said, "Cousin. I'm uh... I'm from Shreveport." He couldn't afford to do anything truly foolish such as trying to explain where he was actually from.
Damon was still human.
"Louisiana." Damon's grin widened. "We don't have too many of you boys up here. Listen, the men here were telling me that you did some pretty good shooting for us." He tilted his head, and Jeremy realized that he must still look panicked. Damon was trying to calm him, trying to settle him.
He bit his bottom lip.
"How old are you?"
Jeremy hesitated for only a second, but even as the word 'eighteen' fell off of his lips, he saw the men exchanging looks.
"Yeah." Damon nodded to himself, exchanging a look with the same guy who had pushed Jeremy into the trenches. Or, Jeremy thought it was the same guy. Everything was so jumbled up in his head— hell, he was still shaking— that he couldn't be sure. "Eighteen. Birthday was last week, wasn't it?"
There was a scattered chuckle.
Jeremy felt his face flush. "Two months. Birthday was two months ago. I enlisted day after." He met Damon's gaze easily, lifting his chin. Damon wasn't as intimidating like this, his hair a little longer, a little curlier, his eyes bare of over a century of anger. Finally, Damon nodded.
"Well. Looks like you just joined our merry band. Welcome." He arched an eyebrow, and Jeremy felt his stomach drop at the sight of a much less threatening expression that Elena had dubbed, 'the eye thing.' It was charming. "We're just glad that you can shoot. Henry still can't." Damon shot a grin toward the man with the mustache, the one who had first tried to talk to Jeremy. There was more laughter, and then the drums started back up.
Damon cast a glance behind him, and then he reached out and squeezed Jeremy's shoulder. "Just stick with us, yeah? You'll be fine."
But Damon wasn't as good at lying yet. Jeremy could see the doubt in his expression. He saw it in all of their faces. He pasted the best smile he could muster up on his face.
"Yeah," he said quietly, reaching up to tug Damon's hat a little lower over his head. He'd manage. Somehow.