this tragedy is paving the way to my heart

.

and so they say lord, for everything a reason
for every ending, a new beginning

- for everything a reason, carina round


PART ONE.


The morning of the worst day of Damon Salvatore's life starts out like any other.

A light fall drizzle of rain, the scent of the forest surrounding the house he shared with his younger brother in the air, sun peaking up over a thin shroud of clouds. Waking up that morning, he had mentally declared it a good day. The shower he jumped into after waking up five minutes early was warm and calmed his sleep jitters. The bowl of Lucky Charms he scarfed down had extra marshmallows. When he slipped into his leather jacket the perfume his girlfriend, Caroline Forbes, wore and the smell of her skin filled his nose and added another shot to his good mood.

His brother Stefan waves as he goes to pick up his girlfriend Elena, and Damon climbs into his own car, already picking up his phone and dialing Caroline's number. Five minutes later, she slides into his car, pulling her bed head into a sloppy bun, cheerleading uniform on, piece of cinnamon toast (her favorite breakfast food) caught between her teeth. She speaks around the toast, "I'd kiss you, but I'm eating," it comes out as gibberish, but he gets the gist of it. He just grins, flicks the dial of his heater up, and pulls out of her driveway.

The drive to school is filled with Caroline's mindless chatter and Top 40 blasting from the radio station she'd chosen. She's saying something about making up a test after school and not being able to make it to the movie night they've had planned with Stefan, Elena, Bonnie, and Jeremy. To be honest, he could care less about that. He knows she'll crawl into his window after her mom (he takes great joy in knowing he's pulling the wool over Sheriff Forbes' head) is asleep, and they'll lay in his bed, not talking about anything in particular, but just being. Those nights are his favorite. They'll fall asleep with their legs tangled together, Caroline wearing one of his t-shirts and nothing else, her head on his chest or sharing his pillow. He's totally whipped and he knows it. But so what? He's a seventeen year old kid with a smoking hot girlfriend (who is also a cheerleader), who, if he's gonna be honest, he's kind of in love with. He hadn't actually intended to like her for more than anything other than the sex, but she set up shop in his heart with her cute little smile and the swing of her hips, and he's pretty okay with that. So, he shrugs, says it's no big deal, reaches for her hand, and pulls into the parking lot of the school.

Damon pulls into the space beside Stefan, who's leaning against the driver side door of his own car, Elena tucked into his side. Elena waves as Damon steps out, walking around the front of his black Honda and opening Caroline's door. She steps out like a princess, as usual, and flounces towards Elena, cheerleading skirt bouncing around her thighs. He watches the girls walk away, and jumps slightly when Stefan claps him on the back and says, "Focus. You can think about that little skirt later."

Damon grabs him around the neck, rubbing his knuckles into his little brother's head until their classmates are pointing and laughing and Stefan is squealing like a girl, crying, "Uncle, uncle!" over and over.

Life is good.

Scratch that, life is great.

For many years to come, Damon will look back on this day, and will wonder what he could have done to stop it from happening. The truth is, he couldn't have done anything. And he thinks that the cold hard truth might be the saddest thing of all.

Later that day, Damon's standing beside Caroline's locker, hands in the pocket of his jeans. She comes out of her fourth period class, smiling widely when she sees him. "Hi!" she cries cheerfully, bouncing towards him and kissing his cheek. She spins around immediately, pulling her hair out of its bun, "Can you fix it? You do it best."

Damon rolls his eyes, but gathers her hair in his hands, running his fingers through the strands, sorting through the tangles. He takes the hair-tie from her waiting hand and pulls it around her hair, gently knotting it in place. She turns back around when he's done, and surges forward, arms wrapping around his waist. Without thinking, his arms wrap around her shoulders, and he kisses the top of her head. "What's this for?" he asks into her hair.

Her little shoulders shrug up and down, "I don't know. I just love you." she looks up at him, tilting her head and smiling. She stands on her tiptoes, kissing him before he has the chance to say it back. Completely forgetting that they're in a hallway surrounded by other students, he lets go of her shoulders and slides one of his hands into her hair, securing her against him. The other hand travels down her spine, resting on the small of her back. She smiles against his lips, giggling a little when he lowers his hand and slips it under the edge of her skirt. A quick succession of pecks all over her face, and she's full blown laughing against his mouth, squealing when he tickles her outer thigh. She pulls away after a moment, resting her hands on his shoulders.

"I love you, too." Damon says gently, pulling a hand through his messy hair. She smiles in answer, tucks her hand into his, and drags him to the cafeteria.

When they get there, they sit at their usual table with Stefan and the others. Caroline plops a salad onto the table, picks up a spork, and goes to town on the leafy greens. Damon watches her in amusement as she makes a face, swallowing. He knows she's on a diet (with the exception of her cinnamon roast) for cheer, and he also knows she hates salad. He gets up, jumps in line, and comes back with a mound of junk food. When he sits back down, she stares at his food. She swallows another bite of salad and points to a bag of chips. "You gonna eat that?" she asks.

Damon smiles, shakes his head, and says, "No, but you are." before handing it to her.

Caroline grins happily and rips the bag open, stuffing her hand into the bag and shoveling the chips down her throat. He watches her for a moment, smiling at her junk food quirk.

"God, you guys are so cutesy it's disgusting." Bonnie says, wrinkling her nose. "I'm going to get cavities from all of the sugary sweet feelings you two are putting out." Caroline shrugs while Damon looks mildly offended. Bonnie sticks her tongue out at him, and he considers stabbing her with Caroline's salad spork.

"Jealous?" Caroline quips, reaching out and wrapping an arm around Damon's middle.

Bonnie pretends to look mildly disgusted, and the rest of their lunch continues as it usually does. Damon and Bonnie tease the hell out of each other. Stefan and Elena sext. Caroline munches on Damon's food and complains about the test she has to take after school. Jeremy makes eyes at Bonnie. It's not perfect by any means, and sometimes he wants to kill them, but he's content in knowing that things will be like this for another year. He's not stupid enough to believe that they'll stay together as a group after high school. But hell, he's only a junior, he's got another year to figure things out. It doesn't matter if their group loses touch because he'll have Caroline. He's already decided he's going to marry the girl.


The last hour of the day rolls around, and Damon snags his girl just as she's about to walk into her last class. She's a few steps ahead of him, and he lengthens his stride to catch up, eyes on her bouncing ponytail and swinging skirt. He catches her off guard, wrapping his arms around her from behind, "Skip with me." he murmurs in her ear.

Caroline turns in his arms, hands resting on his chest. She lifts an eyebrow, "You're corrupting me." she accuses, a smile lighting her face.

Damon takes that as a yes, and drags her out of the building before any teachers can see them. "Race you!" she cries as they hit the parking lot, dropping his hand and shooting towards his car. He lets her win, and by the time he makes it to the car, she's leaning against it, pouting. "You always let me win." she whines as he comes towards her.

Damon ticks an eyebrow up, "Would you prefer to lose?" he asks, opening the driver's door and tossing his bag inside.

"Well, I wanna win by myself once!" Caroline pouts, stomping her foot. He rolls his eyes, shutting the driver's door in one second, and pressing her against the side of the car in another. She smiles up at him, and he grins back because she's adorable. He leans down, leisurely pressing his mouth against hers. She nips at his lips, wrapping her hands around the base of his neck. She reaches behind her with one hand, opening the door to the backseat.

Knowing what happens next, a grin lights Damon's face, and he pushes Caroline into the backseat, pouncing on her. She squeals, her hair coming loose and fanning out around her. He pushes it away from her face, peppering her cheeks and lips with kisses. "Stop it!" she giggles, wiggling around, wrapping her legs loosely around his waist.

"Don't do that," Damon groans when she wiggles a little too forcefully, and Caroline grins mischievously. She sits up, kissing him soundly, slowly, softly. Coming up for air, she pulls him down on top of her.

"We'll always be together, right?" Caroline asks, tilting her head.

"As long as you'll have me." Damon murmurs, nuzzling her cheek.

"So, forever then?" Caroline smiles.

"Mhm." Damon agrees, bunching up the fabric of her cheer shirt in his hand, pushing it up her stomach. He presses a kiss to her navel, looking up at her from underneath his lashes. "Forever sounds nice." Damon will replay this particular moment over and over again in the coming months. He should have begged her to take that stupid test later. He should have offered to pick her up instead of letting her walk. Should've, could've, would've. He blames himself, really. (It's not his fault, but that doesn't change anything.) In the span of a day, he'll lose everything that he's come to love and cherish. He will be emotionally devastated for years after this day. But for now, he's content, wrapped up in Caroline. He doesn't know that in less than four hours, his whole world will come crashing down.

For now, though, it's just them in the backseat of his car, and that's enough. The ending of the school day comes sooner than Damon would have wanted it to, but soon students are filing out of the building and Caroline's pushing him off of her and wiggling back into her skirt. She kisses him goodbye and waves over her shoulder at him as she goes back into the building to take her test.


(This is the last time he'll see her alive.)


Stefan and Elena meet him then, Elena rambling to him about her day even though he never asked, and Stefan pretending to listen intently.

They hang around the boarding house for awhile, watching TV until Bonnie comes over with the movies. Damon waits impatiently for his phone to vibrate, but a text from Caroline never comes. It's unusual, but perhaps her teacher had taken her phone. She was always getting the damn thing taken away because she was caught using it in class. So he watches the movies with Stefan, Bonnie, Elena, and Jeremy, and waits and waits and waits.

When the doorbell rings, Damon expects it to be Caroline. He gets up, swinging the door open, smile on his face. But it's not Caroline. It's a tired looking middle aged man with a receding hair line. Black suit, black thick rimmed glasses. He's holding a pad of paper. "Damon Salvatore?" the man asks, looking up from his little pad of paper.

Damon nods, "What's going on?" he asks. He feels something in the world shift when he looks at this black suit clad man. It settles into his bones and he realizes that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

"I'm Detective Black, and I'm afraid I have some bad news. You're Caroline Forbes' boyfriend, correct?" Detective Black squints at him from under his glasses.

"Yeah, is she alright?" Damon asks, suddenly anxious.

Detective Black licks his lips, eyes growing sad. He slips his glasses off, and says, "Son, I'm sorry I have to be the one to tell you this, but we found Caroline's body in the school parking lot an hour ago. It looks like a mugging gone wrong..." his voice fades out, and Damon grows stock still, disbelieving.

"No, Caroline's fine. We're having a movie night, and-and..." Damon runs a hand through his hair, unsure. "She's not-she's not dead."

Detective Black puts his glasses back on, reaching out and putting a hand on Damon's shoulder. "I'm so sorry, son. But she's gone. Her mom's down at the station, she asked me to come get you personally."


The next few hours pass in a blur. Bonnie, Jeremy, and Elena are still at the boarding house with Stefan, and they're hanging on to Damon's infrequent updates. Damon sits at the police station, holding Liz Forbes' hand and keeping her together, while simultaneously trying to keep himself together. He refuses to help identify her body. When Liz is in the morgue, he hears two policeman who had responded to the scene talking. "Her head was bashed into the ground," the blonde with the thin eyebrows is saying, making a bashing motion with his hands. Damon winces and sinks into his seat. "Guess is was all just for a couple of bucks, too. A homeless guy saw her getting some stuff out of her purse and mugged her. Girl only had a ten, chump change. She didn't go down without a fight, though. The guy's got scratches all over his face. Poor girl. She was pretty. He did a number on her skull." the other policeman notices Damon, and elbows his friend. They grow quiet and solemn, returning to their paperwork.

Damon keeps his head down, staring at the ugly tiled floor, counting the specks on black and grey against the white backdrop. When Liz comes back, he looks up. She's wringing her hands together, "It was her, wasn't it?" he asks, though he already knows the answer.

Liz nods, and whispers, "I'm so sorry, baby boy." her voice cracking. She sways on the spot.

Damon jumps up, catching her as she collapses. He's never seen the Sheriff lose control like this. Never. Not even when she was fighting with Caroline and dishes were being thrown. Liz sinks to the ground, bringing Damon with her. Hearing her sobs, he lets his own resolve crack, and soon, it's just the two of them and their harsh spine breaking sobs.


Damon doesn't remember much of the next week, only that he gets up every morning and goes to school and expects her to be there, standing beside his locker, smiling, and whispering, "April Fool's!"

It's not April.

Elena doesn't come to school for the next four days. Jeremy sticks with his sister. Stefan locks himself in his room. Bonnie shows up, but doesn't say a word to anyone. The world seems darker now. He walks the halls, goes to the classes they used to have together. It's strange. Everyone around him gives him worried glances. Some tell them they're sorry for his loss.

The funeral happens that Saturday, five days after her death. He sits beside Liz the entire time, holding her hand, letting her cry on his shoulder. The church part passes in a blur, and he doesn't really pay attention because he's not really religious, but Caroline believed in heaven and all of that, so he supposes it's worth it. The next part is the hard part. They're at the cemetery where Elena's parents are buried, but nobody pays them any attention now. He watches her casket get lowered into the ground. It was closed for the church ceremony. He doesn't want to think of her wrapped up in her prettiest dress, makeup done, hair done, but skin cold and lifeless. Liz urges him forward when the casket hits the ground, and stuffs a bouquet of Caroline's favorite flowers into his hand. She wipes her eyes, and whispers, "Do her proud."

Oh, this is the part where he makes a speech. Tells the world how much he misses her, tells god how much he hates him for taking her away. The day they skipped school and whispered forever seems so long ago.

"She hated roses." Damon says, looking down at the white daisies in his hand, "Said they were too cliche. She liked little flowers, the ones little kids pick and bring to their moms. She was weird like that." he pauses, dropping the daisies into the hole. He looks back up just in time to see Elena wiping away a few stray tears. She nods at him, encouraging him to go on. "I-I loved her. I love her. I was gonna marry her, you know? And we were gonna have a house and a dog and two cats. And she was gonna be the mother of my children, and-and-" his voice cracks, and without warning, a tear slips down his cheek, "and we were gonna grow old together." he looks down into the hole, sees the white daisies piled on her casket, and winces. "But now none of that's going to happen, and I don't know what to do with myself."

Damon wipes his eyes then sticks his hands into the pockets of his slacks, "I just hope that what everyone says about heaven is true, because if anyone deserves that kind of a place, it's Caroline. And-and I hope that when I die, maybe I can meet her there." he steps away from the hole, walks past Liz who reaches out to him, past Stefan, past Elena, past Caroline's family, past the other graves, past the cars, past the houses. He walks and walks until he reaches Caroline's house. There's a key hidden in a hollowed out rock in their garden. Caroline used to swear it was a great hiding place, but any idiot with working eyes could see it. He takes the key out, sticks it into the lock, and walks in. He hasn't been here since the night before Caroline died.

Damon walks up the stairs, towards her room. He closes the door behind him, and looks around. Clothes are tossed everywhere, her text books are lying open on the ground, shoes litter the floor, her makeup is scattered on every surface in the room. He kicks his shoes off, takes off his jacket, and climbs into her bed, pulling the covers up over his chin. He's met with her perfume and the smell of her skin. He presses his nose into her pillow, wishing she would appear beside him and wrap her arms around him, whispering, "I'm here, it was a dream."

She doesn't come, and Damon falls asleep alone.

Funny, because he doesn't wake up alone.


A/N: Edited and re-uploaded.