Disclaimer: I don't own the Vampire Diaries, at all. It's property of Simon & Schuster, and probably a it of the CW now. Nor do I own the lyrics used below; The Day The World Went Away by Nine Inch Nails. Otherwise, enjoy!
I'd listen to the words he'd say
but in his voice I heard decay
the plastic face forced to portray
all the insides left cold and gray
there is a place that still remains
it eats the fear it eats the pain
the sweetest price he'll have to pay
the day the whole world went away
We will survive this. We always survive.
The words resounded through her mind for the uncountable time as she sat there, the water growing colder with every passing moment.
Time alone was a rarity for Elena, so when Damon informed her he would be going out on an errand or two, a long, relaxing bath sounded like just the thing to get her mind off.
She could not have been more wrong.
It had been a little over a week since that day, she reasoned, since she left town with Damon some lake side cottage in the middle of nowhere. He refused to tell her where, and after six attempts, she finally stopped asking. Without school or home life to keep her centered, the days tended to blur together.
With Damon finally out of her way for a few hours, though, she finally had the space to do what she had to. Dunking her head under one last time, Elena drained the tub, pausing only to wring out the immense length of her hair before stepping out. She didn't want to do it, not even a little, but it needed to go. It was far too easily recognizable, and if she were going to keep her promise, to survive, she needed to be unrecognizable. Scissors in one hand, thick ponytail in the other, she chopped the length in one fell swoop. It looked even enough, but it felt strange as it tickled her shoulders, and her skin grew colder yet in its absence. She was reaching for the hair dye when the new disposable phone rang.
"Elena, where are you?"
His voice was so tense, she pondered if it could break under the strain. Doubtful, as it hadn't yet, she doubted it ever would.
"I'm in the bath Damon, just drying off now."
He chuckled, and took the bait as she knew he would.
"Oooh, bubbles or not bubbles?"
"That is none of your business, Damon. What's going on? What's wrong?"
"That's none of your concern, Elena."
"Fine. When are you coming…", she choked on the word 'home', "back?"
"I'm on my way now, shouldn't be gone too long. Inside of two hours."
The line had already ended. Three days ago, she would have been concerned. Since then Damon had called Elena, in or out of the cottage, for every incident imaginable. The latest one, occurring 72 hours ago, a brunette age 18 had been killed in a drunk driving accident. She and at least a million other women on planet earth fit that description, but that didn't stop Damon from jumping to conclusions.
"But that's why I'm doing this," she stated resolutely to her new reflection. The black goop felt funny in her hair, and she was glad she had covered the floor and sink in old newspapers found in the basement. Elena had never dyed her hair before, despite Caroline's pleas, and when all was said and done, she questioned if she had gotten more on the floor than her head. Destroying the evidence of it all took the entire process time, and when it was rinsed clear, she wanted to sprint from the bathroom in fear.
"Don't look, don't look, don't look."
She looked. And she had no idea what to make of it.
"It worked," she whispered, a mixture of awe and defeat, "I don't even recognize me anymore."
Dressing in a plain green long-sleeve and a pair of loose jeans, Elena curled up on the faded blue paisley sofa with the only thing that remained the same, her rock, her confidant; her diary.
She hadn't written in it since homecoming. Even then, there was no entry for that night, just the basic details of the evening raised questions too painful to answer. Instead, November 7, 2011, contained but one line:
The day the whole world went away.
Elena still had no plans involving a pen, no, she wanted what the diary already contained. Evidence, memories, proof that it wasn't all a dream.
June 21st, 2009-
The sun came up, and reality set it…
She was careful to skip over the evil-Damon parts. The night where she slapped him, the night of Stefan's one and only football game, still made her laugh, she could never tell why.
Elena wasn't quite sure how much time she spent lost down memory lane, but she was wiping tears from her eyes when the door opened and shut behind her. It wasn't a very large cottage. Damon stopped in his tracks.
"Get up, slowly."
"And tell me what you've done with Elena."
"Damon!" The girl repeated, turning steadily to face him. She was just in time to see his rare look of fear, suppressed with anger, shift to his even rarer look of absolute surprise.
"Elena? What did you do with your hair?" He closed the space between them, holding her tightly, and else while running his fingers through her jet black locks in a mix of shock and wonder.
"I thought I needed a change."
He looked down at her, cold eyes meeting warm brown.
"You never change your hair."
"I've never ran away from home, either."
"Oh please, everyone knows I kidnapped you."
It was Elena's turn to be shocked.
"Damon, why did you tell them that?"
"So you can keep being everyone's perfect little girl; you know blondes have more fun, right?"
"This seemed safer, I didn't want to get orange."
"The black looks good on you. Come on, help me put your human food away," he motioned to the counter space currently buried under grocery bags, "I should just turn you already, the money we'd save on groceries, I'm sure we could buy a nice island somewhere."
Elena glared him down severely.
"Only kidding," he joked, with his best cheeky grin. The rest of the afternoon was spent in companionable silence, until Damon worked up the courage to ask a most important question.
"Diary again, huh? What'd you write about today, hmm? Any words about how you missed my sudden absence today?"
"No, I had a weird dream."
"Lemme guess. Stefan came home and was his perfect little vegetarian self again?" he sneered.
"It was like…it was so vivid, that when I woke up, I couldn't tell if that was reality, if this was the nightmare."
Elena continued sorting the breakfast items when Damon moved the whole four steps into the living room.
"I think we both know the source of this problem, Elena."
He was holding the diary when she looked up, mere inches from the sparks of the crackling flames.
"Damon, no!" the young woman shouted, practically leaping over the sofa to save her precious compendium, "You can't."
"No," he shook his head calmly, handing it to her, "Only you can. But it needs to be done. Remember, you said we would let him go."
"No, you haven't," he growled angrily, but his eyes weren't angry, they were pleading. "As long you're crying over your happy days in that diary of yours, you can't let him go. You won't-"
"I won't, what? Burn my life to ashes?"
And he left her there, alone with the fire, and the memories in ink, once of joy, now threatening to tear her heart apart. She was afraid he had truly left, until the sound of running water began from the bathroom. She wondered how much he missed his bathing palace of grandeur at the Salvatore family home, and in that wondering began to realize all of the things, little but important, Damon was giving up to save her life.
"I will move on," she said clearly, knowing he could hear her well enough. And with pain, heavy in her heart, she ripped the page titled August 28th, 2009, from the little green journal, and threw the torn paper into the welcoming flame.
"One page at a time."
A/N~ I've been shipping Delena for forever it feels like, and yet this is the only time I have sought fit to write a piece about them. I know its not very romantic, but given the trauma they've both been through, Damon losing his "fake girlfriend," and Elena losing Stefan, this is just the "natural" way I see them behaving. This was intended as a one-shot, but I feel a series comin on. If enough people read it (reviews are nice too) I'll do a follow up. Hope you enjoyed!