Disclaimer: The characters and other things from The Vampire Diaries don't belong to me. Credit goes to the rightful owners.

In my world, weakness inevitably leads to failure, to loss and ultimately death. These are things I was not built to accept and have avoided successful for the most part of a thousand years and I intend to keep it that way. I have survived wars, plagues and my own father, the man responsible for driving me to become a monster. I have overcome my own mother's binding on my birthright to immortality and power. I have my army borne of blood and pain. I should be content. I should be happy.

And yet as I watched the flames engulf the image on the scrap of parchment, something inside me burns with it. I remember the mornings plagued by the face of the doppelganger and all her incarnations, a most bitter reminder of something irreparable between Elijah and I. My mind is gripped by bitterness, consumed by love that was withheld from me by so many people, and my own denial that above all, it is the only thing I truly desire.

I slammed my fist on the mantle, releasing a fraction of the frustration that was threatening to unravel me. Caroline was supposed to be insignificant, a mere pawn at best. She was supposed to die by her own beloved's doing, a poetic message for her friends who seemed wholly intent on defying me.

Yet as that night wore on I realized could not let her go. I convinced myself that by Katerina's impulsive behavior she unleashed the true beauty of that girl and it would be a waste for her to fade away in such a fashion. No, she had to be part of the game and her role will be mine to decide. But seeing her face lined with pain, the infected bite slowly wasting away her body, the truth was I had no other agenda than wanting to see her smile.

Upon first glance, people decide she fits the stereotype of the overachieving little miss sunshine, mostly harmless and definitely destined to live out her days in this small, suffocating town. But her light is a fire. She burns with a passion to truly live, pulling those around her from whatever depths they've resigned themselves to, pushing them to smile and find something to be thankful for. Someone useful, I was sure, and it would be best to let her story play out to its rightful conclusion, and if that meant a thousand more birthdays, so be it. She deserved a chance to see the world in all it's glory and all the beauty that was hidden from her view. And as she drank my blood, I began to want to be next to her when that happened.

Oh, if only she knew I would have whisked her away and left this wretched town had she said the word. Paris, Rome…that would just be the beginning. I'd take her to places she had never even dreamed off. I'd have given her the best this world has to offer. I would forget Mystic Falls ever existed. I would leave behind the family I had just gotten back. I would have played the fool for her. I'd have taken a chance on her because for the first time in a thousand years, my world has something more than darkness. And that maybe, she could be the one to save me….the only one, the first one to truly understand me.

She was right. I deluded myself into believing that no one could ever truly love me, or accept me because of what I am. How could I not think that way when even my own family could not accept me? Companionship was something I had to force out of those around me and for ages it protected me from pain and rejection because I always had control. All that vanished when I decided to let her in my life. I've been reduced to a man who pays compliments and almost gets run over by a car in a fit of distraction. For a few moments there, I was not the mythical evil that I see in the mirror everyday but someone who just wanted to impress a girl. And something in me wanted to be that man and nothing else.

But reality has reminded me falling for someone is a luxury I cannot afford. With my murderous mother at large, siblings who have lost sight of our family and the threat of the white oak tree, I have to become the monster once more. There is too much at stake and I still value my life above all else. I cannot risk that on the hope that someday Caroline might look at me without hatred or disgust.

I stare at the flames as they flicker out and only ashes are left. She is but a dream now, something I will soon forget. I guess I was never meant to be anything other than someone to be feared. This time I will be more calculating, there is no room for mistakes and I will box away the part of me that hopes for a different ending to all of this, the one that knows he could have fallen in love with her and the one dying because she will never know.