A/N: So, this took me longer than I thought it would! I got a bit stuck, wanting this chapter to be just perfect, and I didn't like anything I wrote. But, I finished finally, and I am pleased with the result, and I hope you are too! I want to thank you all for coming on this journey with me, I have been overwhelmed by all the reviews I have gotten for this story. You know what I would love? I would absolutely love it if everybody who has story alerted this would leave me a review, just a little one, to tell me what you thought of the story as a whole? Even if it's just a one word one, it would really mean so much to me!
Anyway, I'll shut up now, and let you read. So here it is, the final installment of The Missing Piece of Me:
"So dear I love him, that with him all deaths I could endure, without him live no life." – John Milton.
"If our two loves be one, or thou and I/Love so alike, that none doe slacken, none can die." – John Donne.
"Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too,/ So I stayed in the darkness with you." – Florence and the Machine, Cosmic Love.
I hate the dark. Actually, that's not true. I love the dark, because usually that means that whatever human I am chasing can't see anywhere near as well as I can, which makes the chase just that little bit more amusing. To me, anyway. What I don't like, is pitch black, because then even I can't see, and that makes me nervous. And I don't do nervous. Yes, even vampires need a little bit of light in order to see anything.
I feel like I have been stuck somewhere dark for weeks. I can feel panic clawing at my throat. I feel as though I have been drowning, and am currently fighting my way to the surface, even though I can tell I'm not moving.
I really don't like this feeling.
I need a drink.
With a gasp I finally manage to wrench open my eyes, blinking furiously as I struggle to work out where I am, my mind trying to sense out any danger that I might be in. I launch upwards into a sitting position, my eyes darting around the room, my heartbeat slowly returning to normal as I take in the familiar surroundings of my own room.
The house is deathly quiet, the only sound my own ragged breathing, as I sit here trying to get my mind to focus. It's a lot more difficult to do than it usually is. Maybe that damned werewolf bite did some permanent damage to my concentration abilities.
My head shoots up. Now I remember. I've been bitten. Maybe this is just a rare lucid moment between bouts of hallucinations and general insanity. I pull up the sleeve of my left arm, frowning as I notice I am dressed in a black suit. Did someone think I was sweating too much and decide to dress me up like I'm off to the theatre? I leave that thought where it is for the moment, and look down at the crook of my elbow, cringing as I ready myself for how bad the bite has gotten. It's gone. I smooth my hand over the area, disbelief raising my eyebrows.
How the hell..?
But then I remember. Stefan had said something about trying to find a cure. Had there really been one to find? And then... what? Had everyone just left me here to recover all by myself? Typical. I roll my eyes. How could I think anything different? They were probably all gathered together right now, wondering whether saving me had been the right thing to do, discussing it all like the good little white hats they are. But still, I can't stop myself from straining my ears to see if I can hear movement downstairs. There's nothing. Of course. Why should it matter to any of them if I recover or not?
I swing my legs over the side of the bed I'm closest to, wincing as my feet touch the ground. Why in fucking hell would they put these shoes on me? I look down at the polished black leather in horror. I hate shoes. I only ever wear boots. I have one pair of shoes that I wear when I absolutely have to dress up, and these aren't even them. Someone must have really had to root around in my closet to find these things. Scowling at the invasion of privacy – and yes, for some reason this annoys me even more than someone else fucking dressing me, which is just weird in and of its own damned self – I toe off the shoes, flicking them across the room, and stand up.
My body shakes a bit when I let go of the bed, like all my muscles have seized up and are protesting about being used again. I guess this cure will take a while before it gets me back up to full strength. I shrug off my jacket – seriously, why the hell would anyone dress me up like this? – and take a few steps forward, testing the strength of my legs.
It's not good, apparently, because my legs buckle beneath me, and suddenly I'm on all fours, my cheek pressed against the cold wooden floor. Dust flies up around me and I sneeze, then slowly pull my head up from the floor. Why is there dust? I straighten my arms carefully, my elbows shaking with the pressure of holding up my weight, and I start panting from the exertion. Okay, this is going to get very old, very fast. Gritting my teeth, I slowly start crawling towards the wardrobe, incredibly grateful that I have actually been left alone at this point, because the embarrassment factor of being seen like this would just be the mouldy icing on top of this very bad cake. It feels like it takes forever for me to get there, and when I do, I have to roll on my side to catch my breath for a minute.
As I'm lying there, my eyes snag on a piece of blue cloth, hiding just out of sight beneath the plinth of the wardrobe. I inch my fingers towards it, and I frown in confusion as I pull out a length of dark blue ribbon. I don't know how that got there. I sit up slowly, blowing out a breath in relief as my movements seem to be easing up slightly. I reach up from the floor, still not willing to test my legs again, and pull open the doors, shuffling out of the way as I pull them wide. From my vantage point, the first thing I see is the base of the wardrobe, and my eyes narrow as I realise that someone has moved all my things around. My gaze falls on an upended bag shoved in the corner, and my eyes widen as I drop my head to look at the piece of ribbon still clutched between my fingers.
As I look from the piece of ribbon to the empty bag, the only surviving remnants of the presents I had carefully hidden away, thoughts of her flood my mind. She had said she wasn't leaving. She told me she was staying until the very end. She told me she liked me, just the way I am. She kissed me. But she had left, hadn't she? Surely, the very end would have been when I finally woke up from whatever cure they had given me, but she isn't here, is she? Or is she? I strain my ears again, hoping to hear something from somewhere within the depths of the house. But still there is nothing nothing but the sound of my own heartbeat.
Wait. Heartbeat? Since when do I have one of those?
I look down at my chest, and slowly raise my hand to press it against my breastbone. Sure enough, the telltale thump thump, thump thump, of a heart long since silent, reverberates through the thin material of my shirt and into my palm. My breathing ratchets up a notch at this discovery, and then again as I realise that I am honest to fucking God breathing! I'm actually breathing, and through necessity, not just an unforgettable habit. I look down at the shaft of sunlight in which I am currently sitting, and then I look at the ring on my finger. Slowly, carefully, I slide the ring down my finger, my muscles tensed and ready to roll me in the direction of the shadows at the first sign of burning. The ring slips out of my trembling fingers and bounces on the wooden floor, rolling to a stop a few feet from me, knocking against something on the floor. I wince, waiting for the feeling of being on fire, holding my breath with my eyes screwed up, wincing in advance of the agony I will surely feel at any moment. But there is nothing. I open my eyes slowly, disbelief making my head spin. Oh no, wait, that's the lack of oxygen. I exhale and suck in another breath quickly, chuckling slightly at the bizarrely natural feel of it.
How the hell did that happen?
I glance over to where the ring that I no longer need to wear has come to a stop, and that's when I notice it. The tip of a brown boot is just visible on the other side of the bed. Her boot.
Time freezes as I stare at it, my brain refusing to acknowledge what it signifies. Because that cannot be possible.
Suddenly, without conscious thought, I lurch to my feet, stumbling over to the other side of the bed. As I look down at the crumpled body lying on my bedroom floor, I hear a strange keening sound, like a wounded animal. I fall to my knees beside her, and I realise the noise is coming from me.
"Elena?" I try to say, but my throat is dry and cracked from disuse, and her name falls from my lips in a raspy whisper. I reach my hands out to her hesitantly, placing them on her shoulders, shaking her slightly.
"Elena, wake up!" I rasp out, panic and pain seizing my chest, my breath coming in short gasps. "No! Elena!" I shout, shaking her more violently as she doesn't respond.
My finger tips flutter around her neck, looking for a bite wound, or an injury, or a pulse. But there is nothing.
I don't understand. She would look just like she is sleeping, if it wasn't for the way her legs are bent in an uncomfortable position, or that her skin wasn't so pale, or her lips weren't tinged with blue. My hands travel down the rest of her body, checking her ribs, her spine, her stomach. But there is nothing. No sign of anything happening to her. She looks like she just fell where she stood.
As my fingers continue their feverish exploration of her lifeless body, I encounter something around her left wrist. I lift her arm, and to my shock, I see the bracelet that I had wrapped, intending to give it to her as a birthday present. As my eyes fall on the piece of blue ribbon I had discarded as I fell beside her, a synapse fires in my brain, and I plunge into a memory.
"You're not really here, are you?" She whispers, her eyes clenched tightly shut.
"No, I'm not," I say, rubbing my hand down her arm. It feels so natural, me touching her, comforting her. "I wish I was."
"Then why does this feel so real?" Tears leak out from between her lashes, and I think my heart might actually break from witnessing her pain.
"I think you have to figure that out by yourself." I pick her up smoothly from the floor beside my wardrobe, and carry her over to the bed, laying her down gently. I start to remove my hands, but her arm shoots out, her fingers latching on to me.
"Can you just... Can you just stay here with me? Just for a little while?"
"I will do whatever you need me to do, Elena." I always have. I always will. I lay my jacket over her, and lay down beside her, wrapping my arm around her waist. I hold her tightly, listening to her breathing as she falls asleep, listening to the sound of her heartbeat as it thumps against my ribs. As her breathing evens out, the room around me darkens, and I fade into nothingness.
The memory falls away and I find myself back in my room, one hand clutching her wrist, the other gently smoothing her wavy hair away from her face. I frown down at the bracelet, unable to understand what the hell is going on. I don't remember that happening before I was bitten, and it sure as hell hadn't happened since I woke up. So the why does it feel so real?
My gaze trips down to her face, and my frown morphs into a grimace of pain as the facts hit me. What does it matter where that memory comes from? What does any of it matter anymore? Elena is dead, and everything that had ever meant anything to me is now gone.
Slowly, I slide my arms under her, pulling her with me as I stand up. She's heavier than I remember, but then I realise that it's because I'm human now, without my vampire strength. Funny how that used to be my ultimate dream. Now it seems pointless, useless. I stumble over to the bed and lay her down gently, resting her head against the pillow. As I look down at her, at her wavy hair fanned out around her face, another memory forces its way into my mind.
We are sitting on a blanket on a deserted beach, the setting sun like a fiery halo around her hair. I hold out a grape, but instead of reaching out with her hand, Elena leans forward and bites into the soft flesh, her teeth grazing my finger. As the juice spills onto my hand, her tongue flicks out, sliding up my thumb. Her eyes stare boldly into mine the entire time, and the sight is so erotic it is all I can do to keep my hands to myself. I hear her stomach rumbling, so I pull my hand back and pull out boxes of her favourite things.
We eat in silence, our legs entwined together in the soft sand, letting the dying sun slowly dry our bodies, the salt from the water giving her skin an unearthly glow. When she has eaten her fill, I pack the boxes away. I hear her giggle slightly, and I turn back to find her sitting closer to me than before.
"What's so funny?" I ask, the sound of her laugh making my heart soar. It's the laugh she only ever uses around me.
"Just how human you look right now," she says, and she runs a finger tip slowly up my arm. I swallow, trying to hold back the involuntary shudder that goes through me at her touch. I smile slightly, to cover my nerves. "What?" She asks, the laughter still in her voice.
"It can't last, you know," I say, and I know the words have more than the one meaning I'm thinking of.
She looks at me for a moment, and then her finger tip moves up my arm to my face, gently tracing my lower lip. Before I can say anything, she leans in and presses her lips to mine.
I freeze for a moment, desire and caution at war with each other. But I have wanted this for far too long to let the fear of rejection stop me from enjoying this moment, and I reach for her, a small moan of longing escaping me. She pulls me down on top of her as she lays back against the blanket, her hair wavy from our time spent in the water. My hand is at the back of her neck, and I pull on the strings of her bikini top, sliding my lips down her jaw to her neck, pulling the material away and flinging it over my shoulder. She arches into me, biting her lip, and as my hand closes over her bare breast, I think I might explode with desire. I stare up at her face, and the world around me starts to dim, and I know the moment is over.
"It's time for me to go," I say, although I have never wanted anything less.
"What? No! Don't leave me!" She cries, opening her eyes, pinning me with her chocolate brown orbs.
"Elena," I whisper, drinking in the sight of her, spread out beneath me, even as the world around me darkens. "You'll have to take it back soon, you know."
I can feel myself starting to fade, and I lean down to capture her lips with my own one more time. As the nothingness swallows me once more, I hear her voice on the wind, calling my name.
I pull out of the memory that isn't my own and climb onto the bed beside her. I know there are things I should be doing, people I should be calling, but I'm not ready for that yet. I'm not ready for others to mourn her, because I haven't even started yet. I know that when I do, the pain will be like nothing I have ever felt before. At the moment I'm just numb, like I was when my switch was turned off. I move my feet, and my toes brush against something hard lying on the end of the bed. I look down, and see a book. I reach down and pick it up, and I realise that it is the journal I had wrapped up for her. There is a piece of the blue ribbon marking a page, and I open it, my heart clenching as I see her personal messy hand writing.
If you are reading this, then my plan didn't work. I am so sorry. I never meant to hurt you like this, but I need you to understand. I couldn't live without him. Ever since he died, there has been a piece of me missing, I feel empty, hollow. I need you to know that I didn't do this on a whim. There was a chance that I would make it through this, and I would never have left you alone if there wasn't. I did know that there was also a chance that this wouldn't work, but I needed to take it. He deserves that from me. I hope in time you will understand why I did this, and I hope you will learn to forgive me for leaving you. And please don't blame Damon, either. If he had known what to do, he would have done it, because he loves me.
And I love you Jeremy. Please don't ever forget that. And I will always be here with you, if you look hard enough.
"Elena, what did you do?" I breathe out, and I turn back the pages, desperately searching for the last entry. Finally I find it, and I scan the page, words and phrases jumping out at me. She had dreamed about the original doppelganger, and I read her account of it, my heart tripping over as my horror grows. And then I realise. It's not my heart, it's hers. She had given it to me.
I drop the book down on the bed and turn to her, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her again. "Elena!" I shout, panic rising in my chest as I realise that I don't know what to do. "Elena, you have to wake up! I don't know what to do, I don't know how to fix this!" As I utter the last phrase, another memory bursts into my conscious.
I am standing in the parlour of my home, staring across at Elena in irritation. "I can't do this anymore," I say, running my hands through my hair in agitation. "I can't just be here anymore. You have to fix this, Elena!"
"Fix what?" She shouts back at me, and I can tell by her bewildered expression that she doesn't understand. I'm not sure I do either, but the words burst out of me, as though I have no control.
"Whatever it is that you did! You need to fix it!"
"I can't fix something if I don't know what I did!"
"Then you need to let me go," I say, walking closer to her and gripping her arms. "Let me go."
"I can't!" She cries, tears spilling over her cheeks, and I cringe inwardly, hating the fact that I have made her cry. Again.
"Why not?" I ask, forcing my voice to become quieter, softer.
"Because... because..." She stumbles, seemingly unable to find the right words.
But I've had enough of this. It's time for her to tell me where I stand. "Tell me, Elena. Why can't you let me go?"
"Because I love you!"
The words fall out of her mouth, and I can tell that they surprise her. I wait for her to take it back, to tell me she didn't mean it, that she meant it in the way she loves her friends or her brother, and as her lips part, I hold my breath, waiting to hear the words that will crush me like they did before. It will always be Stefan...
"I do, I love you Damon..."
She carries on speaking, but I no longer hear the words. I love you Damon. She had actually said it! The need to have her in my arms becomes unbearable, and I pull her towards me, crashing my lips against hers. Heat explodes between us, and suddenly she is backed up against the wall, her body moulded against mine as she pulls me closer, closer. I lift her up, and she wraps her legs around me, and I think I might lose it right now.
"I'll fix it," she mumbles, her hands in my hair, her hips grinding against mine. "I promise, I'll try harder."
I shush her; I really don't want to talk right now. As she pulls my lips back to hers, she falls back, and together we fall through the wall, somehow landing on my bed. I would think this was strange, but my brain is far too preoccupied with the fact that this is Elena writhing beneath me, this is Elena pulling at my t shirt. I try to take it slowly, wanting to savour the moment, but she won't let me, her tiny hands fumbling to open my jeans. I try to stretch it out, but it's not long before we are both completely naked. As I hold myself above her, I wait for her to change her mind, to realise that this isn't what she wants. Instead, she wraps her legs around my waist, guiding me closer, hissing out my name as I slide inside her. Right where I belong.
We move together slowly, and the feeling is so right and natural, like we've done this hundreds of times before. I think maybe we should have. Our need for each other builds quickly between us, and our movements get faster, more desperate. As I reach for her hand, I feel the tension building inside me, and I know I won't last much longer. I look down at her, and she smiles at me.
"I love you, Damon," she whispers, and her words push me over the edge, her name falling from my lips as I crash into her.
We slump together onto the bed, with me still inside her. As I lift my hand to smooth her hair away from her face, all I can think is that I feel like I've finally come home.
I look down at the still girl lying beside me, the memory that felt so real slowly fading from my mind. "Did that really happen?" I whisper to her, knowing she won't answer. "Did you mean it?"
I lie down next to her, and another memory surfaces, one I actually remember happening. I remember her whispering that she likes me now, just the way I am. I remember the soft feel of her lips against mine, as I slipped further into the darkness.
And I remember the darkness, pressing in all around me. I remember seeing a bright light coming towards me, and wondering what hell will be like, because I certainly wouldn't be going to heaven. And then I remember hearing a heartbeat in the darkness, a sound so familiar to me that it sounded like a song, calling to me, pulling me further into the pitch blackness, away from the light. And then I remember not caring whether or not I would be going to hell, because as long as I could hear that heartbeat, I wouldn't be going anywhere.
The darkness was suffocating, but it didn't matter, because she was breathing for me, I could feel it, feel my lungs expanding in time with hers, as somewhere far, far above me, she lay in my arms. As I waited there, in the nothingness, the heartbeat that kept me tethered to her came closer, until I could feel it as well as hear it, beating against my ribs.
Just like I can still feel it now. I pull her body into my arms and hold her tight, tears leaking out and soaking her hair.
"Please," I whisper against her, "please, don't leave me. I need you. Please. I love you."
Pain washes over me as the truth starts to sink in, crippling me. As I try to hold in the sobs building in my chest, I hear a soft moan. In my newly humanized state, I can't tell where the noise has come from, and I hesitantly turn to look behind me. But the room is empty. Maybe I made the noise, I think, as I turn back to look at the girl lying in my arms, her chocolate brown eyes staring back at me.
"Elena?" I mouth, shock taking my voice.
She smiles at me. "I knew you'd find me."
"What... How..." I can't form any sentences, I'm in too much shock.
"I told you I'd fix it," she says, her hand coming up to stroke my face.
I had been frozen, teetering between disbelief and elation, and this simple touch brings me back to life. I pull her hard against me, holding her close, as if by this action I can be sure that she'll never leave me again. She shushes me, and as I release my hold slightly, she pulls her face up to mine, and presses her lips against me.
"I fixed it, Damon. I got you back. Promise me you won't ever leave me again." Her kisses are as feverish as my own, the salt from our tears mingling together on our lips.
"I'll promise you if you promise me," I murmur, wiping her face dry with my palm.
She looks up at me, her chocolate brown eyes staring into mine. "I promise. I love you, Damon."
"And I promise I will never leave you again. I love you, Elena."
We stare into each other for a long moment, neither of us moving, just revelling in the fact that we are both here, now. All around us is silent, the only sound our heartbeats, thumping in tandem with each other.
If you are reading this journal, then it means that you are a doppelganger, and that I have somehow found a way to get this to you, just as Charlotte reached out to me. You are probably looking for advice, so this is what I will tell you: When you find love, as scary and all consuming as it may be, don't ever let it go. If you can push aside the fear long enough, you will find a world such as you have never imagined. If you find someone who loves you as much as my Damon loves me, you will be the second luckiest girl to have ever lived. Take it, take the opportunity with both hands, hold on to it as if your life depended on it, because it does. Because you haven't truly lived until you have experienced something as deep and passionate as this love. I hope that my story helps you, and helps you realise that regret is not an easy thing to live with. It buries you, smothers you, until you can no longer live with the weight of it on your shoulders. Live, my ancestor, live. Live with passion, tenderness, and above all live with love in your heart. If you give your heart completely to someone who loves you more than life itself, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest imaginations.
Elena Gilbert, 2010.
A/N: So yeah, you never really know what happens with that spell, so I guess you'll just have to believe in the power of magic! ;) I hope you liked it!