Disclaimer: I don't own the Vampire Diaries. I don't claim to own The Vampire Diaries. The Vampire Diaries belongs to LJ Smith and the CW. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.

Elena Pierce sat primly in her seat, wincing as the carriage hit yet another bump along the rocky side road the driver had recently taken to avoid the traffic of Mystic Falls' town square. It was early Saturday morning which was a busy time for the off the map town of Virginia.

Elena's eyes were glued to the window, doing their best to take everything in. She had never been to Mystic Falls, although her recently deceased parents talked of it often.

It was a beautiful town, just like her parents had said. It was full of vivid flowers and sprawling gardens just as impressive as the houses that they belonged to. Trees were full of fragrant blossoms and sometimes their branches sank heavily with the weight of dramatic vines and singing birds.

The carriage jostled over another bump, causing Elena to bounce in her seat and bump heads with her twin sister, Katherine.

Katherine let out an audible sigh of discomfort, raising two fingers to massage her temple. She closed her eyes and took on an expression of absolute calm before she said, "Daydreaming, dear sister?"

Elena heard the slight edge to Katherine's words. They may have been twins, but they were far from alike, even if they shared a lot of characteristics.

"I'm thinking," Elena said as she shifted uncomfortably in her corset.

"Aren't you always?"

Elena wasn't entirely sure if Katherine meant it to be as condescending as it sounded. Sometimes it was hard to tell if Katherine intended the malice Elena often heard in her words. She attributed it to Katherine's way of speaking, which was always sharp.

"This is terribly boring," she complained bouncing lightly in her seat. They had been in the carriage for hours, which was tight and not nearly big enough to contain both girls in their full bodied gowns. It was so crowded that their handmaid, Emily, had to sit outside the carriage with the driver.

"We'll be there soon, I'm sure," Elena said as she peered out the window and surveyed the landscape.

"Why couldn't we go somewhere interesting?" Katherine continued. "This town is so much smaller than Atlanta."

"You know why," Elena murmured softly. "This is what Mother and Father would have wanted. The Salvatores were their dear friends. They would have wanted us to stay with someone they trusted."

Katherine continued as though she hadn't heard Elena at all. "We're stuck here. I'm sure there's nothing to do. We'll probably be stuck inside all day, taking lessons and learning French."

Katherine's lip jutted into a pout as she settled back against her seat.

Elena rolled her eyes but kept them trained on the window. "You'll find something to do, Katherine. I'm sure of it. You always do."

"Maybe we'll have suitors," she began with new found excitement. "Surely I'll be the prettiest girl in town."

Elena didn't bother to correct her and remind her that they were identical. When it came to men, Katherine was even worse to deal with. When a man was around, it didn't matter if he was betrothed, wedded, or otherwise. She was territorial and preferred to forget Elena existed.

Looks hardly benefitted Elena anyway. There was no denying that she and Katherine were beautiful with their wide brown eyes framed by thick dark lashes and pink lips that settled into the perfect pout. They both had the same flawless complexion and dark brown glossy hair, but Elena knew that if it came down to the two of them, the man in question would always pick Katherine. Always. Her personality was captivating. Katherine's liveliness was visible and instantly something people found themselves drawn too. Elena was full of quiet life. The wheels in her head were always turning and it just took conversation to uncover that.

But what men were looking for in Katherine was not conversation.

"I'll have a date every night," she said with a bright smile.

Elena wasn't surprised by the prospect of men giving Katherine a sudden spring in her step. Katherine liked men and men liked Katherine. It was a simple as that. She could easily wrap them around her finger and play with them like dolls.

"Maybe there will be someone for you too, Elena."

Elena decided it was best to ignore her words and focus on the time that lay ahead of her. She had no idea how long she would be with the Salvatores and she had to admit she was nervous. She hardly knew anything about them, just that they were strong Confederate supporters. Elena hadn't paid much attention to what her Mother and Father had said about them, which she now regretted.

After a few more short minutes of slowly making their way down the road, Elena found herself staring at a large white house sitting on a sprawling green lawn. She gasped involuntarily, taken aback by the size of the estate. A small dirt road led from where their carriage was to the front door of the house, their long awaited destination.

"Katherine," she breathed. "Look."

Katherine was instantly craning her neck to see the estate. She shifted impatiently, doing her best to make room to lean forward. "I can't see. Is it big?"

Elena nodded.

Frustrated, Katherine dropped back down in her seat, making Elena bounce from the sudden weight. Katherine crossed her arms. "It's so hot. I need to get out of this dress."

Elena's mouth gaped open. "Katherine!"

"Do you think the Salvatores would mind?" She asked with a devilish smile.

Katherine leaned over Elena to see out her window, trying to get a better view. The carriage was approaching the house at the same dragging speed, but with each step the horses took, the house came closer into their line of sight. "Do you think they're as wealthy as Mother and Father?"

"They seem…well to do," Elena murmured.

With the same wicked grin, Katherine said, "This is going to be fun."

The carriage began to turn, pulling up beside the boarding house before coming to a complete stop. Elena could feel her heart racing in her chest. She couldn't fathom why she was so nervous. The prospect of spending the foreseeable future with this family made her anxious. She knew nothing about them.

Emily began to step down from the carriage and make her way to open the door for Katherine and Elena. She opened the door smoothly, revealing a tall elegantly dressed man in a waistcoat standing on the porch, no doubt waiting to greet them.

He didn't look much older than the twins. Seventeen at most, making him only a year older than them. His hair was dark blonde, maybe even a light brown, with darker pieces blended throughout. Even from a distance, Elena could see his features were strong. His jaw line was well defined, his cheekbones perfect. She knew Katherine would be pleased.

Emily offered her hand to Katherine, which she took by placing her gloved hand delicately in Emily's open palm. Katherine tipped her head gracefully as she gathered her skirts and stepped down from the carriage.

She was the picture of beauty. Her dark brown hair was curled and tucked into an up do, leaving a few pieces free to frame her face. She was dressed in a full bodied cream and green colored chiffon and silk gown that fight tight in the bodice to reveal her slim waist. Her jewelry matched perfectly and it was obvious that she would be the talk of the town by the time anyone caught sight of her.

She released Emily's hand, immediately making her way to the man ahead of her. She climbed the steps with an effortless gait and offered her hand, giving him a serene smile. He took it, leaning down and pressing a kiss to the white silk of her gloves.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Pierce," he said, smiling as he rose up from her hand which was still in his.

She smiled and stuck her chin out confidently. "Please, call me Katherine."

He couldn't stop beaming. He hadn't even met Elena yet and she already knew he had a favorite. She couldn't blame him. Katherine was not easily forgotten.

"And you are?" She began with a questioning look.

"Oh, forgive me," he spoke in a rush as though he'd forgotten his name. There was a light in his eyes that wasn't there before. "I'm Stefan Salvatore."

"It's lovely to meet you, Mr. Salvatore," she said with a coy smile as she withdrew her hand.

Emily reached inside the carriage for Elena's hand, which she took in a tight grip. Emily helped her from the carriage the same way she had helped Katherine before Elena made her way to the steps, doing her best to appear as poised as her sister.

She didn't miss the look Stefan and Katherine shared before she glanced sideways as though suddenly realizing Elena was still there. She giggled to herself and then took a few small steps backward. Even in the background, Katherine was still center spotlight.

Elena mustered a smile as she offered her hand to Stefan.

"Welcome to my home, Miss Pierce," he said, pressing as kiss to Elena's gloved hand as he had Katherine. "I'm Stefan Salvatore."

"It's a pleasure, Mr. Salvatore. I'm Elena Pierce," she said, suddenly realizing his eyes were the deepest green she had ever seen. They were bright with light.

"I hope you both enjoy your stay," he said with a seemingly genuine smile as he released Elena's hand. He straightened up, clasping his hands behind his back. "I'll send a valet to bring your bags to your rooms. Won't you both come in?"

"We would be delighted," Katherine said, shooting Elena a smile over her shoulder as she followed Stefan into the house. Elena followed behind her with Emily trailing after her.

"You'll have to forgive my brother, Damon," Stefan began, sounding regretful. "He was supposed to be here to greet you but he must have had…other engagements."

Stefan led them deeper into the house. Every room was full of polished vases and carpets in the latest fashion. Floral arrangements appeared in various rooms, making it even more obvious that the Salvatores were well-to-do.

Stefan led them through several different rooms in silence, peering into each of them briefly before leading them in a new direction.

Katherine, no doubt getting impatient, spoke up. "Who are you looking for, Mr. Salvatore?"

Stefan smiled, looking embarrassed. "Please, call me Stefan."

"Stefan," she repeated with a flirtatious smile.

"I'm looking for my father. He too seems to have disappeared. Perhaps he's with Damon," he explained. His eyes had grown dark with unspoken thoughts. Elena wondered if Stefan suspected some sort of trouble.

"You needn't worry about them for our sake," Katherine said. "My sister and I are quite capable of taking care of ourselves."

"You'll have to forgive them. They should be here greeting their guests. I don't know where their Southern Hospitality is," he said with a laugh. "Would you like me to show you to your rooms?"

"Yes, thank you." Katherine's eyes lingered hungrily on Stefan as he led them up the stairs. She could barely tear her eyes away from his tailor made clothes that hung elegantly on his leanly muscled frame. Elena had seen that look before. Katherine had found a new play thing.

Stefan gestured to the second door on the left before opening it. Elena peered in curiously from behind Katherine. The wooden bed was large with white sheets, a floral arrangement on the bed stand beside it. Fresh white curtains hung from the open windows, billowing in the gentle breeze. Elena's eyes scanned the room curiously. If they had gone to so much work to make their guests feel welcome, why hadn't the other two Salvatores bothered to make an appearance?

"Would this be suitable for you, Miss Katherine?" He asked, turning to seek her approval.

She smiled, eyeing her bags that were already on the floor beside her bed. Katherine's eyes were bright with excitement. "I think it will be just fine."

Stefan led them a few steps down the hall to the next room on the left. "And for you, Miss Elena."

Elena took a few timid steps inside, only to discover her room was almost identical in furniture to Katherine's. Everything looked polished and new, ready for her to make herself at home.

"Does this suit your needs?"

Elena nodded. "Yes, thank you."

Stefan cleared his throat, turning so he could address both Katherine and Elena. "I suppose I'll leave you to unpack. I have some business in town I need to take care of for my father." He paused. "Would either of you like to accompany me? I can show you the best shops in Mystic Falls."

"No, thank you," Elena began but she was immediately cut off by Katherine's excited voice.

"I would love to go to town," she said happily.

"I'll have the stable boy ready the carriage, then," Stefan said, offering his arm to Katherine. She linked her arm with his just as Stefan turned to Elena. "Are you sure you'll be alright here by yourself?"

Elena mustered a good natured smile. "I have Emily here with me."

"You're sure you don't want to come, Elena?" Katherine asked with wide, innocent eyes. But Elena knew her sister and she knew that it was Katherine's way of looking like the good, well meaning twin.

"No, thank you," Elena said with an equally charming smile directed at Katherine.

"I'll look out for her, Mr. Salvatore. You best be careful," Emily warned from behind Elena.

"I'll take good care of her," Stefan assured. Katherine giggled, arm in arm with Stefan as he led her down the stairs.

Elena stayed at the top of the stairs, watching them until she saw them shut the door behind them. She gave a heavy sigh, already exhausted.

"Don't feel too bad, Miss Elena," Emily began. "Them boys always be after Miss Katherine and they get what they deserve. If they were good boys, they'd be after you."

"I don't mind, Emily," Elena said, slipping into her room to unpack.

As Emily walked away, she was still muttering about 'Miss Katherine's escapades.'