A/N: Okay, here goes. This is my first real AU story and I'm really excited about it. I would really, really appreciate any feedback through reviews. I really want to hear your thoughts.

The most important thing to remember is that this story will switch between present time and flashbacks. We will begin in present time, and then go back THREE YEARS to get it going!

Thanks, happy reading!

An Unconventional Family

PROLOGUE:

"I love you, Damon," she pled. "Please, don't do this, don't walk away. Not now,"

He stood in front of her, pinching his temples together, the way he always did when he didn't know what to say. He silently took a deep breath, hoping she wouldn't see how hard it was for him to keep it together in that moment.

"You should've told me, Elena. How could you keep that from me? You held my entire life in your hands, you held my heart in your hands, every day, and you knew the whole time! You knew!"

"I'm sorry," she cried. "I was afraid. I wanted to be certain. I wanted to get to know you, I …"

"You wanted what you wanted, Elena. You didn't think of what this would do to me. To her!" His guts were empty, he felt as if he could vomit at any moment.

"Look at her!" she cried. "Honestly, look at her and tell me you don't see it. You mean to tell me you've never, for one second, thought maybe?"

He had. If he was being honest, the impossible thought had crossed his mind. But he forced it out of his mind.

"She looks like Katherine," he bit back, the tears gleaming in his eyes. He knew she really didn't. The only similarity was the brown hair. He knew she couldn't look like Katherine…

"And so if I would've walked in here and told you right off the bat who I was, what I was to you, you would've opened your family to me?"

"I don't know. And I'll never know, because you didn't give me that option. So now I'm not giving you an option. I don't want you in my life, not after this,"

"But you loved me, Damon. You really loved me," she tried to touch his arm, but he pulled away.

"I've only ever loved Katherine," he bit back the words, they were lies he was telling himself, telling her to make it easier. She would go then, she would be hurt and leave. He had to, he couldn't do this. He couldn't fall in love with her. He couldn't fall in love, period. Not like this, not ever again. He was upset with her, yes, but he was more afraid of what he was feeling for her. Perhaps he should've felt more angry about the situation than he did. Instead, he felt like he was betraying Katherine by feeling something for someone else.

"You may not want me, but she needs me,"she pled. He felt his heart clench as he saw tears falling from her eyes.

"Elena, please. Just give it time, okay? I'm not saying you can't see her …. I don't have that right … I'm just saying …."

"I'm going home," he breath caught quickly at the words. She swallowed, dryly.

"But your stuff's all …. I mean you live …." he didn't want to sound weak. He didn't want to accidentally spew out how much she was breaking his heart right now.

"I'm going to my parents, Damon," she bit her lip nervously. "I'll call you in a few days when we've cooled off. Don't worry, I won't bother you anymore. I love you, and I hope you can forgive me for what I withheld from you, but please don't punish Sophie for this."

She closed the door behind her and Damon pressed his back up against the door, sliding down to the floor. He pushed the palms of his hands into his eyes and wept, as his little three year old daughter came down the stairs.

"Where'd Elena go?" She asked and wiped her tired, beautiful, brown eyes.


THREE YEARS EARLIER...

Damon Salvatore's eyes were swollen and dry; he didn't think he had any tears left to cry, even if he wanted to. His strong face was worn and weathered, as if he'd aged 15 years in the last four hours.

Four hours. Two-hundred and forty minutes ago he had had it made. His life was a Hallmark card. 14,400 seconds ago, he had been kissing his beautiful wife, the love of his life. But now, now every second was painful. Every minute that passed he was reminded that he'd just lost half of what made his life so perfect. The other half rest sleeping, peacefully oblivious in his arms.

He had to be strong for her. She was only six months old. She didn't even know what life was yet, let alone death. She wouldn't ever really know her mother. She wouldn't know the strong woman Katherine Salvatore was, how hard she'd fought to get the great life she had. She wouldn't remember the sweet way her mother sang her to sleep, rocked her in her arms and kissed her temples before laying her down in her crib. She'd never see the way her Dad looked at her mom, as if she was the single most beautiful woman on the planet.

His insides were raw from twisting at the thought of the lifeless body lying in a neighboring room now; the body that used to complete him. He was certain, he'd never love again. How could he? How could he do that to her, to his daughter? He would spend the rest of his life remembering her, raising their daughter. He would do it alone.

It was his fault, anyway. At least that's how he saw it. Katherine was supposed to stay home that night, but at the last minute, he'd asked her to bring his briefcase to his office. If she hadn't been driving, she'd never have died.

"Mr. Salvatore," a soothing, male voice said. "It's probably best for you and your little one to go home and get some rest."

"I can't leave her, you must understand," he ran a free hand through his dark hair, then moved to squeeze his forehead in tension. He managed to find a few more tears that must have been locked inside. "If I go … then it's real."

The doctor took a seat next to him silently. A few moments passed, and Damon understood what the doctor was doing. He had been the one to nearly save her. He had been the one who called for the paddles when she'd coded. Damon couldn't imagine being a doctor, having to tell countless people's loved ones that their life was about to be forever changed.

"Katherine would want you to go on, Damon. She wouldn't want you to run yourself ragged, thinking of the what if's. Yes, you will always wonder, but I'll tell you something, son," the older man looked into Damon's eyes, willing him the courage. "Your daughter, she needs her daddy. She lost her mom, but you can help keep her spirit alive. Don't give up on yourself. You owe it to your little one."

Damon knew the doctor was right. He had responsibilities. He had a home to go back to, things to do. But now, instead of looking forward to seeing his wife, he'd be stuck with silence. It would be a constant reminder of what he'd lost.

What Dr. Pilsner didn't know was what they'd gone through to get where they were, a mere four hours ago. He didn't understand that their little girl, with her big, beautiful chocolate brown eyes was the center of his universe. She was an angel, the impossible dream. She was a true miracle.

Katherine hadn't been able to get pregnant naturally. After years of trying, they'd sought help with fertility. And though it worked at first, she'd been unable to carry a child to term. They'd lost a son at 4 months. Devastated, Katherine had gone off to some agency, pleading with doctors to help her. And they had – they'd been given a surrogate mother, but instead of Katherine's eggs, they'd used the surrogate's. The child would be half Damon, half some other woman's, but Katherine didn't care. She wanted more than anything in the world to have a family with her husband, and adoption just kept falling through.

They'd never met the surrogate. She never wanted to meet the woman who would truly be having a child with her husband. It wasn't like that, they'd said. It's still your baby, they'd said. But deep down, she knew if she met her, she'd simply break.

Sophie was born and delivered to them in a separate room moments later. As for the surrogate, she'd never been heard from again.

And so there she lay, the little sleeping angel who would never know her mother. Katherine was her mother, always would be.

And now she was gone.

Elena Gilbert hung her work uniform over the chair and sat down, booting up her computer. She scanned through the news articles as she sipped on her coffee. She scrolled through quickly until she came to one standalone photo that made her breath catch in her chest.


INK Co., CEO, Damon Salvatore, 28, cradles daughter, Sophie, while he mourns his wife, Katherine, 26. New York City – Katherine P. Salvatore, died Wednesday, after her car slid off the road into the river. She was pulled from the car, but died in the hospital shortly after. She is survived by her husband, Damon, daughter, Sophie, six months, and sister, Caroline, 24.

But it wasn't the sad look in the man's eyes that stopped Elena's heart. It was the big, brown eyes of the baby girl. She'd seen those eyes before, even if just briefly. She'd never forget them, never. They'd been familiar to her the day she'd first seen them, as if looking in the mirror at her own reflection.

She touched her stomach briefly before shaking her head. No, it couldn't be. Yes, the timing was right, and she looked like her, but the odds . . .

She never knew the family she was carrying the child for, she'd never wanted to. It made it easier that way. But that was her baby. That little girl that she'd carried was half her. She was also, it seemed, half Damon Salvatore.

She slammed her computer shut quickly, throwing her now cold coffee down the sink and curled up on the couch to see if any news stories were running on CNN. Damon was a big name, surely this news was important enough to be on the news ticker.

Was she crazy? She was actually trying to find coverage of the death of Katherine Salvatore? If only to catch a glimpse of that sweet baby again. Maybe then she'd see that it wasn't, that it couldn't be the little peanut she'd grown quickly attached to while she carried her.

The truth was, her heart broke when they took that little girl from her arms only 5 minutes after she was born. She thought she could do it without the emotions. After all, she never wanted a child. But she was wrong. She'd spent the last six months missing that baby.

But when the baby flashed up on the screen again, and Damon was asked a question by a news reporter, his eyes swollen and red, she forced herself to listen to his words.

"The passing of my wife comes as a life changing tragedy. Surely, my daughter and I will forever miss her. Everytime I look at Sophie, it's as if I'm looking right at my wife. She's the spitting image of her."

He always told himself that, it was simply easier that way. It wasn't as complicated.

Her heart sank. "Stupid, Elena. Of course that's not her," she clicked off the tv and went upstairs to take a shower.

*****Thanks for reading! Again, please let me know what you think! I look forward to updating!