A/N: I'm back! ;)


Elena rolled the name off her tongue experimentally.

Katerina Petrova.

Funny that such a beautiful name could belong to such a twisted, evil, manipulative…bitch.

Elena flopped down on her bed, burying her face in her pillow. Over the recent months, she had been slowly conditioned into hating Katherine with every fiber of her being—but after their little chat in the tomb, Elena couldn't help but feel a tiny ounce of pity for Katerina.

After all, she had been just a teenager when her baby was taken away from her. She had been just a teenager when she had killed herself to become a vampire. She had been just a teenager when her entire family had been killed in cold blood.

It could've been me, Elena reminded herself. All of those things could have happened to me

For one terrifying second, Elena thought about the parallels between her life and Katherine's. Yes, her parents were dead…but her birth parents were still alive. She still had an aunt (no thanks to Katherine, who had already tried to have Jenna stab herself to death), and she still had Jeremy (though no thanks to Damon, who had almost permanently caused her brother to become one of the undead…or just plain dead).

"Hey Elena, are you in there?"

"Yeah, come in," she called back, her voice muffled through the pillow.

Her bedroom door opened, and Jeremy walked in. He gave her a small smile and sat down at the edge of her bed. "What's wrong?"

"What makes you think something is wrong?"

"You've been moping in here all day. Jenna thinks you're sick."

Elena groaned, picking up her pillow to cover her face, "I feel sick." She heard the bed springs creak as Jeremy reached over to pull the pillow out of her hands. She half-heartedly tried to pull it back, but he held it out of her reach.

"What's really going on here, Elena? Did you break up with Stefan again?"

Elena pushed herself into a sitting position and leaned back against her headboard. "We never got back together. We're still broken up."

"Okay," Jeremy said slowly, "So what? Did you have a fight with him?"

Elena regarded her brother for a second. "Tell me something," she said suddenly, "Do you think I'm anything like Katherine?"

"What? Why would you even think that?" he demanded, his brow furrowing with concern. "Did Stefan say that to you?"

"No," Elena sighed. "I was just thinking…I have a lot more in common with her than I want myself to believe."

"Last time I checked, you didn't go around killing people for sport."

"But what if I was a vampire?" Elena insisted, "Who's to say that I wouldn't act exactly like her?"

Jeremy gaped at her, incredulity filling his expression. "What the hell are you talking about? You want to be a vampire now?"

"No!" Elena rubbed her hands over her eyes, "You know what…just forget it. You wouldn't understand."

"Now who's being the emo misunderstood teenager?" Jeremy scowled. "I'm trying to understand, Elena. Try me."

"Just…" Elena took a deep breath, "Everyone wants to protect me."


"That's just it!" she exclaimed, pointing to Jeremy. "You don't see anything wrong with that! And I do!"

"There's nothing wrong with protecting someone you love," Jeremy said fiercely. "Tell me you wouldn't do the same if one of us was in danger."

"That's not the point," Elena muttered sullenly. "You, Stefan, Damon, Bonnie, Caroline…even Alaric, would do anything to stand between me and Katherine."

"Yeah, we would," Jeremy glared at her. "You better not be thinking of doing something stupid, Elena."

"Like what?"

"Oh I don't know," Jeremy mused in mock puzzlement. "Maybe something like turning yourself into a vampire so that you can't be used as the Petrova doppelganger anymore?"

Elena didn't say anything for a minute before she answered carefully, "I would never do that, Jeremy. Katerina did that because she was alone. She was scared…If I was in her position, I might have done the same."

"So, you admit that the thought crossed your mind?" Jeremy demanded, standing up to face her. "Listen to me, Elena. You can't sit here and feel sorry for Katherine. When it comes down to it, she was only looking out for herself! You say she was alone? What about Trevor? He was willing to help her, and look where that got him!"

"That's my point," Elena leaned forward earnestly. "Trevor, Stefan, Damon, Mason…they all trusted Katherine. They all tried to help her. And none of them are any better off for it. Trevor spent years running, Stefan and Damon died, and Mason…well, you know what happened to him."

Jeremy crossed his arms, "What's your point?"

"Look what happened to everyone who tried to help Katherine," Elena clutched her knees to her chest. "They all put their lives on the line for her. I don't want to be that person, Jeremy. I don't want anyone to do that for me."

"Well, too bad," Jeremy slammed the door on his way out.

Elena stared after him in consternation before flopping back down on her bed. If she knew him, he was probably headed straight to his cell phone to inform Stefan or Damon about what Elena had just told him. She sighed, and reached over to switch off her lamp. In the darkness, she pulled the covers up to her chin and snuggled into her pillow. She hadn't really expected Jeremy to understand…the truth was, no one would understand. Except maybe Katherine, a nagging voice said in her head.

Elena swallowed, feeling slightly nervous that her mind was always trying to find some deeper connection with Katherine. She lifted her hand to her neck, fingering the vervain necklace around her throat. She checked every night, just to make sure that no one could invade her dreams…compel her.

As she drifted off into a troubled sleep, she briefly wondered exactly how she had gotten the necklace back. She had thought it was lost forever…but then, quite suddenly, it had been hanging around her neck again.

Stefan never mentioned it…and she had never brought it up. But, sometimes, she still wondered…