My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Vampire Diaries or Gone with the Wind.
Summary: She didn't know much about 'Gone with the Wind' only that there was a woman; Scarlett, someone called Rhett and something to do with the Civil War, but she knew it was meant to be one of the greatest love stories of all time. Damon/Elena.
A/N: I recently finished 'Gone with the Wind' by Margaret Mitchell, and when reading the love story of Rhett and Scarlett, I could have quite honestly just have been reading Damon and Elena's story. The parallels are incredible. To me Damon is Rhett, and with a few differences Elena is Scarlett. So that's where this piece came from.
"Can I have everyone's attention please?"
Elena sighed, watching sympathetically as the just-out-of-training replacement English teacher stood nervously at the front of the classroom, her voice desperately high as she tried to win the attention of the uninterested class before her.
"Now as today is the last class before the holidays I have here a copy of the book that you'll be studying when we begin again after the summer holiday." Her control over the class disappeared immediately as loud groans echoed around the room. Caroline rolled her eyes and turned to Bonnie to whisper indignantly, "As if we haven't got enough to worry about."
"Quieten down, please!" The teacher's voice called over the noise and it took a few minutes before the room silenced, each student now wearing an annoyed look on their face.
"Now I have a copy for you all, and I'd strongly recommend you begin to read it over the holidays ready for when you start back."
Whilst the students remained silent this time around, Elena smirked as she watched those surrounding her roll their eyes and mime to each other "Not likely."
"So if you'd like to take one and pass them back then we can get started on today's lesson."
A hushed silence followed as the books were passed back and each student looked mortified at the 1000 page novel they held in their hands.
"Are you serious?" She heard Rachel Gibson shriek in shock from behind her. "You seriously expect us to read this?"
"Yes Miss Gibson." Miss Tucker replied, and Elena smiled, warming to the teacher as she saw a triumphant look cross her face. "And if you don't read it, you will fail this class and will not be accepted for college. So I suggest you do so."
Elena looked to her right and grinned as she watched Caroline smirk, pleased that Rachel had been taken down a knotch, then turned to her left to look at Stefan.
She frowned when he returned her smile with a tight one of his own, before his eyebrows furrowed as he looked back to the book in his hands. Elena looked down at hers, and read the bold words thoughtfully.
'Gone with the Wind' by Margaret Mitchell.
"The town will also be showing the film at town square next month, so if you have no intention of reading the book and passing the class, then I suggest you at least go and watch it."
"Have you read 'Gone with the Wind' before?" Elena asked Stefan as she placed the heavy book in her locker, unwilling to carry the hefty load around with her all day.
Thinking back, she vaguely remembered seeing a copy of the book in Damon's room when she'd looked after Rose, how she'd hidden her surprise at finding it when Rose had asked her. At the time she couldn't imagine Damon reading it, it seemed more the sort of thing Stefan would read.
She watched as Stefan bit his lip attempting to hide the annoyance in his eyes, before he nodded shortly.
"It's not a good book." He said finally and Elena's eyes widened surprised.
She didn't know anything much about it, only that there was a woman; Scarlett, someone called Rhett and something to do with the Civil War, but she knew it was meant to be one of the greatest love stories of all time.
"Why not?" Elena asked as she slammed her locker shut and looked at him for clarification. Stefan sighed and took her hand as they began to walk, finally saying;
"Rhett didn't deserve Scarlett."
He didn't explain and Elena didn't ask.
Her book remained shut for the holidays, buried under a pile of paper and clothes in her bedroom as she spent every waking moment looking for any clue of Stefan's whereabouts. It wasn't until Damon's words one night when she was over at the boarding house, grilling him for information about his missing brother and Klaus, that she remembered.
"Elena, don't you have anything better to do than blabber on about Stefan? Don't you have schoolwork or something?" Damon whined, collapsing onto the sofa, Bourbon in hand.
Annoyed at his blatant dismissal of Stefan's disappearance, she crossed her arms in front of her chest and spat back defensively.
"It's the holiday's Damon."
"Oh, so you don't have Summer work then?" he replied, smirking widely as her retort faltered on her lips as she thought for the first time of the large book sitting at home, no doubt in the same place where she'd dropped it at home the day she'd received it in class.
"I don't have time to read Damon. We need to find Stefan." She said finally, pushing the thoughts away.
"What do you have to read?" Damon asked interested, and Elena took a moment to reply, suspicious at his interest, knowing he was just trying to distract her.
"Gone with the Wind." She replied and couldn't help but smile as Damon's face spread into a wide grin, a twinkle in his eye.
"Aaah! Finally they're making you read something good in school." Elena found herself laughing, and she dropped down onto the sofa next to him, crossing her legs as she turned to face him. "I swear I'd make a better teacher than most of those fool teachers teaching literature these days." He mocked but Elena couldn't find it in herself to scold him as she smiled at his enthusiasm.
"Well, I'm sorry we can't all have been alive when the book was written." She teased and Damon gave a smile back.
But as soon as Elena felt a lightness in her heart it immediately disappeared as the guilt overwhelmed her. How could she sit here laughing with his brother when Stefan was God knows where, being forced to do God knows what?
"Well." She said briskly, all their natural banter gone in an instant, as her back stiffened and she looked to the fire place avoiding his gaze. "Maybe you can tell me the story so that I don't have to read it. I won't have time to finish it before school starts again anyway."
She faltered as she quickly looked back to Damon, waiting for his confirmation, only to to find freeze as his ice blue gaze met hers.
"Oh no Elena." He said softly, "That is one book you'll have to read yourself."
Elena started the book that weekend. She sighed as she sat before a clean page of her diary, the words in her heart refusing to flow onto the page through her ballpoint pen, and then, in annoyance, she snapped the book shut and looked around her room for something else to distract her.
The mess that was her room finally caught her attention as she let herself really look around it for the first time since Stefan had left. She cringed as she saw, out of the corner of her eye, her window seat covered by a pile of notes from her last week of school before the holidays, casually abandoned next to her school satchel which remained unemptied and Elena instantly hoped she hadn't left any food in there. Next to it sat a huge pile of dirty clothes which even Elena couldn't defend, guiltily reminding her that Jeremy must be suffering too and that she needed to ask Ric if he knew how to fix the washing machine.
Sighing she made her way over to her seat feeling annoyed at herself for her laziness, and feeling an unwelcome pain hit her heart as she remembered how her father had made the window seat for her specially so she could sit and read and write using the passing world outside as inspiration. But what had she done with it? She'd used it as a dumping ground and not the sacred spaceshe'd once delighted in.
Fighting back tears she head for the seat straight away, grabbing the clothes in her arms and moving them to her laundry basket, not even checking to see whether any of the items could be salvaged for another day's wear.
She next grabbed her notes and methodically filed them away in incredibly bare folders, frowning as she saw the ridiculously poor quality of the notes she'd written throughout the last year, knowing that they'd get her nowhere if she planned on getting through High School and going to college.
Finally she reached for her bag, breathed a sigh of relief as she found it empty of mouldy long forgotten sandwiches, and then froze as she picked out 'Gone with the Wind' and held it thoughtfully in her hand.
Making a quick decision she put the book down, hung up her satchel in her wardrobe and grabbed a blanket and cushion from her bed, before she settled down with a happy sigh and made herself comfortable on her window seat. She smiled as she noticed the young girl Morgan in the house opposite sitting at her own window seat, her tongue between her teeth as she scribbled in a notebook, then looking back down to her book, she opened it curiously and began to read.
"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm..."
The book which had originally started as being a chore she'd said would take her time away from finding Stefan, soon became an escape, something she rushed to eagerly at the end of the day, as she lost herself in Scarlett's story.
When comparing thoughts on the book with Bonnie, she'd realised just how differently they viewed it. Bonnie stated spitefully that Scarlett was a 'bitch who didn't deserve all the good people in her life', and Elena nodded unable to say anything, knowing that her own harsh disagreement would only start an argument she was unwilling to fight.
But inwardly Elena couldn't help but admire Scarlett. Admire her strength, her perseverance, her belief that she deserved the best from life, because even though everyone attempted to show otherwise, wasn't it true that everyone thought they deserved the best?
She read with relish of how Scarlett, in love with a man named Ashley, inwardly loathed his wife Melly and whilst Elena thought her hate a little extreme, she found herself sympathising with the Southern heroine. Wouldn't everybody hate a woman if she was married to the man you were in love with. True she didn't personally think Scarlett and Ashley were meant to be, but doesn't love make you do crazy things? She sighed sadly as Scarlett, in a fit of jealousy, married Melly's half-brother Charles, hoping to taunt Ashley with the knowledge that, through his own fault, he'd lost her forever as she left behind Miss Scarlett O'Hara and became Mrs. Charles Hamilton.
They were half-way to Chicago when, bored with Damon's righteous smirks and cocky one-liners, she reached into her bag and pulled out the book, dying for a reprieve from what had become her life. Driving to Chicago to beg the love of her life to leave a murderous Hybrid Original and come home with her? Even Scarlett would be shocked at that, Elena thought with a smile, already imagining her favourite heroine in such a situation. Scarlett would probably do a better job of it than she was at the moment.
"How far have you got?" Damon asked, as he caught sight of the book out of the corner of his eye.
"Scarlett's husband has died and her and the baby have moved to Atlanta to live with Melly. Scarlett has managed to force Melly and Aunt Pitty to go to the ball even though they're in mourning." Elena recited softly, enjoying the simple conversation which, for once, held no hidden agendas.
Damon smiled, "I think you'll enjoy the next bit." He said thoughtfully and Elena looked to him for a moment before carrying on.
It was about ten minutes later when a shy smile grew on her face as she turned the page.
"I wondered when Rhett was going to come back." She said quietly, pleased as the sarcastic scoundrel Rhett Butler returned to the story, bantering with Scarlett in such an inappropriate manner that it had Elena grinning with amusement as Scarlett fought to keep the upper hand.
"I think you are horrid," she said helplessly, dropping her eyes. He leaned down across the counter until his mouth was near her ear and hissed, in a very creditable imitation of the stage villains who appeared infrequently at the Athanaeum hall: 'Fear not, fair lady! Your guilty secret is safe with me!' 'Oh,' she whispered, feverishly, 'how can you say such things!' 'I only thought to ease your mind. What would you have me say? "Be mine, beautiful female, or I will reveal all"?'
He leaned down across the counter until his mouth was near her ear and hissed, in a very creditable imitation of the stage villains who appeared infrequently at the Athanaeum hall: 'Fear not, fair lady! Your guilty secret is safe with me!'
'Oh,' she whispered, feverishly, 'how can you say such things!'
'I only thought to ease your mind. What would you have me say? "Be mine, beautiful female, or I will reveal all"?'
Damon just smiled as she read, and she didn't notice how he watched her for a moment, tenderness in his every feature, before he looked back to the road as Elena read, an unwilling smile on her face, as Rhett bid for Scarlett to dance with him.
"She saw the doctor lean down from the platform and whisper something to Rhett Butler. Probably telling him she was in mourning and it was impossible for her to appear on the floor. She saw Rhett's shoulders shrug lazily.
"Another one of our belles, perhaps?" questioned the doctor.
"No," said Rhett clearly, his eyes sweeping the crowd carelessly, "Mrs. Hamilton."
"I tell you it is impossible,' said the doctor testily. "Mrs. Hamilton will not-"
Scarlett heard a voice which, at first, she did not recognize as her own.
"Yes, I will!"
And as they danced, Scarlett scolding Rhett for making her conspicuous, yet agreeing to a scandalous second and then third dance, bantering furiously, Elena couldn't help but think of her dance with Damon at the 60's decade dance.
She remembered how Stefan left her for a moment with Damon and she'd fought for a while against his banter, refusing to enjoy herself until he pulled her into his arms and she had giggled delightedly as he spun her around.
A blush immediately coloured her cheeks as she recognised her train of thoughts and she clamped them down.
She was not Scarett O'Hara and Damon Salvatore was certainly not Rhett Butler.
When Stefan refused to come back, Elena spent the next few days in denial. It wasn't until she returned to her book and followed the story of Scarlett who refused to let go of her love for Ashley, certain that he was still in love with her, even when he was married to her sister-in-law, that it finally clicked.
As much as she loved Scarlett, she knew that she shouldn't hold on. Stefan didn't want her, he'd made that perfectly clear. She wasn't going to spend another moment brooding.
Damon came around the next morning and helped her make Chilli, teasing her constantly and making her smile in a way that only Rhett's cocky one-liners had managed to do to her recently.
"I don't know why you're taking Chilli to a potluck. Everybody brings Chilli."
They argued good naturedly for a few minutes and, despite his cheeky comments, she couldn't help but grin and feel glad that he was there with her.
But that night, after the events of the day, she was too furious with him to make any connections with him and Rhett as she continued reading.
"For all his exasperating qualities, she grew to look forward to his calls. There was something exciting about him that she could not analyse, something different from any man she had ever known. There was something breath-taking in the grace of his big body which made his very entrance into a room like an abrupt physical impact, something in the impertinence and bland mockery of his dark eyes that challenged her spirit to subdue him."
As much as she tried to tell herself otherwise, Damon's kiss hadn't come out of nowhere. They'd been growing closer over the past few weeks since Stefan's return, now a true Ripper. She should have known that it was only a matter of time. And she also knew that it wasn't entirely Damon. She'd been just as involved in that kiss, she'd felt the unbelievable tingle down her spine and legs, right down to the tips of her toes. She'd felt her heart speed up as he'd cupped her cheeks and she'd put her own hands on his, revelling in the way they fit so perfectly together.
But she was confused. As furious as she was with Stefan, love didn't just disappear. She still loved him more than she could say, and it hurt to think she may have betrayed that love.
As a distraction she turned again to 'Gone with the Wind', but as she attempted to push away thoughts of Damon, she couldn't help but realise that her worries about Jeremy were melding into the story.
Damon had been so good with him tonight he'd known just what to say, and although she knew Jeremy would never admit it, Damon had started to grow on him, almost in the way an annoying cocky older brother would do.
"Rhett Butler lounged in the shadows, his long legs in their elegant boots crossed negligently, his dark face an unreadable mask. In his arms Wade slept contentedly, a cleanly picked wishbone in his small hand. Scarlett always permitted Wade to sit up late when Rhett called because the shy child was fond of him, and Rhett oddly enough seemed to be fond of Wade."
As Elena drifted off to sleep, she thought sleepily for a moment that despite all his faults, Damon would make a good father.
"Elena!" She heard Damon shout anxiously as he swung out of his car and, leaving the engine running, rushed towards her immediately, holding her as she fell into his arms and sobbed harshly as she buried her face into his jacket and clung to him desperately.
"Oh, thank God." She heard Damon mutter and she clutched harder, feeling so safe in his arms, that familiar smell of bourbon rolling off him, and she knew he'd take her away from here, away from the pain and the torment.
"Take me home. Please take me home." She sobbed and Damon spoke softly into her hair.
"Maybe you should come to the boarding house?" he suggested, "I don't trust Stefan not to do anything again. I want to make sure you're safe."
"NO!" she screamed desperately. "I want to go home! I need to see Jeremy, I want to go home. Please take me home!"
"Shhh!" he whispered comfortingly, touching his chin to her hair softly as he hugged her tight. "It's alright, I'll take you home. I promise."
She calmed down as he drove her home and, by the time they arrived, she was dry-eyed and collected saying "Thank you for bringing me home" so calmly, as though he hadn't just witnessed her having a nervous breakdown not twenty minutes ago.
She couldn't help but feel conflicted as he placed a hand to her chin and looked at her in that unexplainable, beautiful way which she still had trouble connecting with Damon, remembering him from when he'd first arrived in Mystic Falls.
"You can't kiss me again!" she said softly, almost desperately. As confused as she was about Stefan, unable to understand what was going through the mind of the boy she loved, she knew she wouldn't be able to fight it if Damon kissed her again. She wouldn't want to fight it.
That night she shut herself in her room, holding her breath when she heard anyone pass her door, wanting to be alone. She curled up in her usual position on her window seat and reached for her book, removing the bookmark and reading on.
She gasped in anguish as the Yankees invaded Atlanta, the Confederate Army burning down the warehouses as the town was evacuated with only Scarlett and a slave left to deliver Melly's baby, and the town beginning to burn around them. She cried as she read on, clutching at her chest as the sobs ripped through her chest, Scarlett's words to Rhett painfully familiar as she begged him to take her home.
"I will go home!" she cried, and her voice broke and rose to a scream. "I will go home! You can't stop me! I will go home! I want my mother! I'll kill you if you try and stop me! I will go home!"
Tears of fright and hysteria streamed down her face as she finally gave way under the long strain. She beat on his chest with her fists and screamed again: "I will! I will! If I have to walk every step of the way!"
Suddenly she was in his arms, her wet cheek against the starched ruffle of his shirt, her beating hands stilled against him. His hands caressed her tumbled hair gently, soothingly, and his voice was gentle too. So gentle, so quiet, so devoid of mockery, it did not seem Rhett Butler's voice at all but the voice of some kind strong stranger who smelled of brandy and tobacco and horses...
"There, there darling," he said softly. "Don't cry. You shall go home, my brave little girl. You shall go home. Don't cry."
That night, Elena cried herself to sleep after she read how Rhett drove Scarlett a little way then left her to make her own way home as he returned to fight with the army.
And she cried because she realised how lucky she was to have Damon, who hadn't left her on that bridge to make her own way home.
As time went on, despite everything that was going on, including her conflicted feelings for Damon and her unbreakable love for Stefan, no matter what he did to push her away, Elena still made time for the book. Even when she had too many other things on her mind, she read on.
She heartbrokenly read of the devastation left by the Yankees in the South, how Scarlett's mother died leaving her father broken and making her the head of the family responsible for feeding everyone despite the lack of supplies.
She read sadly, thinking "Oh, Scarlett!" when the war ended and Ashley returned home, and how she begged him to run away with her only for him to refuse to leave his wife, despite his love for her.
She smiled as Scarlett returned to Atlanta, grinned as she tried to trick Rhett into proposing from his jail cell, then rolled her eyes as she hooked her sisters fiancé Frank, and they married making her Mrs. Frank Kennedy.
It wasn't until Scarlett's husband dies and Scarlett marries Rhett, after a typical Rhett Butler style proposal, that Elena finds herself uneasy. But she didn't know why until that night.
She entered the Mikaelson's ball room and, for a minute, she could pretend she was Scarlett arriving at some lavish Atlanta event, everyone's eyes on her.
But then she had to ask Stefan to help her with Damon and everything broke down.
"Sorry for trying to keep you alive. Clearly Stefan doesn't give a crap anymore."
"What now you're mad at me for including Stefan?" She knew it. He was jealous, and that annoyed her more than it should. She had too much to worry about without Damon's jealousy.
"No I'm mad at you because I love you!"
It was so Damon-like, so beautiful yet dangerous at the same time and the intensity scared her and she blurted out;
"Well, maybe that's the problem."
She hated that she said it, she tried to take it back but, for once, she didn't know what to say to make it better. His love confused her, she still loved Stefan and she knew that her feelings of friendship for him were gradually crossing the line she wasn't willing to cross.
"It can not have escaped your notice that for some time past the friendship I have had in my heart for you has ripened into a deeper feeling, a feeling more beautiful, more pure, more sacred. Dare I name it you? Ah! It is love which makes me so bold!"
"Do get up," she entreated. "You look such a fool..."
She must have read another two hundred pages that night. Her heart heavy with thoughts of Stefan and his refusal to love her, and thoughts of Damon. She read furiously, almost as though Scarlett would have the answer to her troubles.
It was the next morning that she suddenly realised that she was turning into a modern day Scarlett. It was in this moment that she forced herself to choose.
She loved Scarlett, she envied Scarlett, but no matter how much she wished she could be as brave as her, so unafraid of other people's opinions, she wasn't her.
So she decided to focus on Stefan. He needed her. Damon would forgive her eventually, but Stefan was at his most vulnerable, and as much as he denied wanting her help, she knew that she couldn't stop now, not when he was so close.
She put herself to the test, grabbed her phone and ignoring the strange feeling she felt when she passed Damon's name on her contact list she continued on to Stefan and rang him first. Next she rang Damon and finally putting whatever was between them to rest, she told him "to get over it". And she meant it.
That was until she went to the boarding house. Then her plans faltered, and the burning, searing pain of jealousy tore through her chest.
Rebekah and Damon.
"What's wrong with you? She tried to kill me less than forty-eight hours ago." Elena said furiously. Yes she was jealous, but he couldn't know that. Better he think she's just angry that it was Rebekah over another girl, after what she'd done to her.
"Can we just move past that, Elena?" Damon said cheerfully, not a glimpse of guilt, only a cheery, extremely pleased expression on his face. Elena gulped, forcing away her tears.
"So is that how it's going to be now?" she asked, unable to mask her hurt as her voice croaked slightly on her words as her throat constricted. "I hurt your feelings and this is how you lash out at me?"
"Well, maybe, for once, something I did had nothing to do with you."
The words hurt more than she'd ever admit.
"You have tired of me, haven't you? Well, men tire more easily than woman. Keep your sanctity, Scarlett. It will work no hardship on me. It doesn't matter." He shrugged and grinned. "Fortunately the world is full of beds – and most of the beds are full of women."
"You mean you'd actually be so-"
"My dear innocent! But, of course. It's a wonder I haven't strayed long ere this. I never held fidelity to be a virtue."
As Elena read on that night, she grew furious at Rhett. Although deep down she knew it was Scarlett's fault, for refusing to share Rhett's bed any longer because she loved Ashley, she blamed Rhett. It was easier that way. Why hadn't he fought? If he cared that much about her, he should have fought for her, not run off with a slut the minute things got bad. Did his feelings for her mean so little that he could just jump in bed with another woman, even if she had said something cruel to him?
At this point, she couldn't tell whether she was thinking about Rhett and Scarlett, or her and Damon.
"Her vanity was sore and she was mortified at the thought that Rhett had taken it all so lightly, that he didn't want her, that he put her on the level of other women in other beds."
And as Elena lay in bed that night, she felt tears trickle down her face and she wiped them away furiously, telling herself it was because of Bonnie refusing to talk to her, Elijah apologising so sincerely, Stefan resisting her love. Anything but Damon. It was not him. She wasn't upset that they'd never get back what they had before, the banter, the laughter, the comfort in each other's presence.
"She would miss the long amusing conversations in bed with Rhett when the ember of his cigar glowed in the dark. She would miss the comfort of his arms when she woke terrified from dreams that she was running through cold mist."
Elena wiped at the tears again, furious at herself when her thoughts returned to him again and, after trying to force him out of her mind, she finally lay her head on her arm and allowed herself to sob into her pillow.
"Suddenly she felt very unhappy and, leaning her head on the arm of the chair, she cried."
It was before another intervention with Klaus, when her and Damon, barely on speaking terms, finally exploded screaming at each other insanely.
"Why the hell can't you just let me do this?" Elena yelled at him, following him out of the library.
"For God's sake Elena." Damon snapped. "Why can't you just accept the fact that you're not always right."
"Well, maybe I am!" She snapped back furious.
"Elena. Stop thinking that just because you're the precious Doppleganger that we all have to do what you say."
"You think I want to be like this?" she asked incredulously, "You think I want to be a human blood bag? Do you think I want to have a life with Vampire's and Werewolves and Hybrids? Do you think I want to wake up every morning wondering if that day might be my last?"
"Cheer up," he said, disregarding her every word and turning from her as he started up the stairs, "Maybe you'll just let Stefan feed you his blood and you'll get turned. Then you won't have to be a human blood bag anymore."
"Cheer up," Rhett said, turning from her and starting up the stairs, "maybe you'll have a miscarriage."
And for a moment her heart broke at his indifference before she felt fury rise within her at his cruel words.
He knew how little she wanted to turn. Knew that she'd rather die than become a Vampire. And here he mocked her as though she was nothing.
Furious, she charged up the stairs behind him and lunging her fists clenched as she went to pummel him. He moved aside amused and she screamed in fury and turned to storm down the stairs. But in a second, she tripped on the loose carpeting and lost her balance, falling backwards as though in slow motion before she collapsed onto the stairs and rolled down the remaining flight, before hitting the bottom with a sickening thud, already unconscious.
"She lunged at him, swift as a cat, but with a light startled movement, he sidestepped, throwing up his arm to ward her off. She was standing on the edge of the freshly waxed top step, and as her arm, with the whole weight of her body behind it, stuck his out-thrust arm, she lost her balance. She made a wild clutch for the newel-post and missed it. She went down the stairs backwards, feeling a sickening dart of pain in her ribs as she landed. And, too dazed to catch herself, she rolled, over and over to the bottom of the flight.
When she woke, she didn't feel any pain apart from in the pounding in her head, which she immediately knew was from somebody feeding her their blood. She sighed as she looked around, slightly disappointed to find herself in Stefan's room until she looked to the bed side table to find the clock and saw a tattered copy of 'Gone with the Wind' sat next to a glass of water and some aspirin. Reaching for the book first, she opened the cover and felt tears grow in her eyes.
"This book is property of Damon Guisseppe Salvatore."
She read for hours, until the group Caroline liked to refer to as the 'Scooby Gang' returned, exhausted and bruised, telling her that it was over. Klaus, Rebekah and Kol were dead and Elijah had left, promising his services should they ever need him again.
And Elena burst into tears, unthinkingly letting Stefan pull her into his arms and shush her with comforting words.
Little did they know that she wasn't crying with relief. 'Gone with the Wind' sat before her closed, finished not ten minutes before, and she sobbed from a broken heart because Rhett had left Scarlett.
"Elena, could you stay for a moment, please?" Miss Tucker asked her quietly as Elena rushed for the door. Elena nodded meekly and walked back to the desk waiting for the rest of the class to leave.
"Elena, I've noticed you've missed a lot of classes since we've come back." She said softly, gesturing for Elena to sit in the spare chair at her desk and Elena gulped.
"I know, I'm sorry-" Elena started, but Miss Tucker just shook her head cutting her off.
"No Elena. Don't apologise. I understand you've got a lot going on. The principal explained that you've lost your family and I understand that you decided your brother Jeremy should stay away for a while. It must be hard."
Elena felt tears sting her eyes at the lady's sweet nature as she smiled at her sympathetically. She didn't understand how Miss Tucker could be so nice to her.
"But despite your absence, you seem to have really connected with the material."
It took a moment before Elena realised that she meant 'Gone with the Wind' and she clenched tightly at the book in her hands, holding it to her like you would a comfort blanket.
"I really love it." Elena admitted, and the teacher smiled happily.
"How far have you gotten through it?" Miss Tucker asked.
"I've finished." Elena answered, unable to stop the small smile on her face as her teachers eyes widened, proud of her student.
"Well done!" Miss Tucker said enthusiastically. "That's brilliant! How did you like the end?"
And, for the first time since she'd read it, Elena allowed herself to think back to Scarlett begging Rhett to give her another chance only for him to refuse her love, which had come too late, and leave her.
"I cried." Elena said with a laugh and Miss Tucker grinned guiltily leaning forward and saying softly. "So did I."
They laughed together and, for the first time in a long while, Elena smiled with no reservations as she and Miss Tucker discussed the book, talking well into the lunch period of Rhett and Scarlett's doomed but true love, their trials and tribulations at the death of their daughter, how they blamed each other, and ending with Scarlett's realisation that she didn't love Ashley and that it had been Rhett all along.
"What took you so long?" Bonnie asked as Elena finally made her way to their lunch table, a tray in hand, taking a seat beside Stefan who looked to her with a smile which she barely returned.
"Miss Tucker just wanted to talk to me about how far I'd gotten with the book." Elena said happily, feeling a great amount of respect for the teacher who just before she'd left had told her that if she did miss anymore classes, she should come in one lunch time to have a chat with her about the book, just to make sure she was up to date with what they'd talked through in class.
Bonnie and Caroline just snorted in disgust.
"I don't see why we have to read it!" Caroline whined, "I mean I've seen the film, isn't that enough?"
Elena and Bonnie laughed, before Bonnie continued on the rampant.
"I mean, racism aside," Bonnie said with a smile to show that she didn't take the book's crude, offensive descriptions of the slaves race personally, "It was pretty awful anyway. I mean, I just don't see what's so romantic about a love story between two of the world's most selfish, arrogant, undeserving people."
Caroline laughed and Stefan smiled, nodding in agreement, but Elena's smile dropped suddenly and her face hardened at Bonnie's criticism of the girl whose story had saved her over the past months.
"You can't help who you fall in love with Bonnie!" Elena said harshly, and ignoring the sudden silence that fell over their table, and the shocked looks on her friend's faces, she abandoned her lunch and ran outside desperate for some fresh air.
She let out a deep, pained breath as she leant on the oak tree at the front of the school before she let her legs collapse beneath her and she sat, leaning against the towering tree, enjoying the feeling of protection and seclusion it leant her.
Letting out a shuddering sigh she reached for her bag and grabbed her book, hurriedly opening it to the page she'd quoted by heart, and read, trying to calm her painfully beating heart.
"It was so obvious that we were meant for each other. So obvious that I was the only man of your acquaintance who could love you after knowing you as you really are – hard and greedy and unscrupulous, like me. I loved you and I took the chance."
"Stefan! What are you doing here?" Elena shrieked as she entered her room to find Stefan sat at her window seat. She couldn't help but feel annoyed as she saw him sitting in her reading space. Almost as though he'd broken into it without permission.
"I wondered if we could talk?" Stefan asked quietly and Elena sighed and nodded.
"I want to apologise for everything Elena-" he started but Elena cut him off with a soft smile.
"Stefan, you've already said all of this." She reminded him softly.
"I know. But I don't know what else to do, Elena. I need to do more. I need us to be like we were."
Elena's eyes widened and she found it difficult to speak for a moment.
"No!" Stefan said desperately, making his way off of her window seat and moving close to her. "Elena please. It's just you. All I want is you, I can't keep from running to you. And I know you still want me too!"
"I was wanting you," Ashley said, "I was going to run and find you – run like a child wanting comfort..."
"Elena are you OK?" Stefan asked concerned, moving to put a hand on her arm, but she pulled it away delirously as the words she'd read week's ago hit her, finally having the desired impact and she gasped aloud, clutching her chest as a pain struck through her.
"He never really existed at all, except in my imagination," she thought wearily. "I love something I made up...I made a pretty suit of clothes and fell in love with it. And when Ashley came riding along, so handsome, so different, I put that suit on him and made him wear it whether it fitted him or not. And I wouldn't see what he really was. I kept on loving the pretty clothes – and not him at all."
And suddenly it all made sense. Such sense that it brought tears to her eyes as she thought about how stupid she had been. She looked up at Stefan who was watching her concerned with his green eyes. The wrong eyes. Eyes that told of a character that didn't exist, that had blinded her from the truth.
She'd seen him as a saviour for as long as she could remember. First he brought her out of the depression that swamped her as she returned to school after her parents death. He brought her excitement and mystery, something that Matt hadn't been able to do. And then she'd found out he'd saved her from the car crash that killed her parents. She'd seen him as her saviour, painted him out to be a hero, the good guy. Even when she discovered he was a Vampire, he'd promised he was different and she'd believed him. Believed that the face he showed her was his true face, and not the face he wore to try and convince himself he was good. Human.
She'd ignored it this year, when he'd returned with Klaus, a shadow of his former self, a ripper, harsh and cruel, delighting in torment for no other reason that for enjoying it. The way he'd said he didn't want to feel, as all it would bring him was pain.
And she couldn't even be furious as it now occurred to her that that meant he didn't think she was worth the pain. That didn't matter. She'd been blind, and now she could see more clearly than she'd ever been able to and that both excited and terrified her.
"No, Stefan." She said stonily as he reached for her again and she took a step back from him, desperate for the distance. "This isn't right."
His eyes flashed dangerously but she didn't notice it as Damon's words to her all those weeks ago flashed to the front of her mind.
"It's right...just not right now."
"Elena." Stefan said softly and she suddenly noticed his hands clench into fists as he fought to regain his control, something that he still found difficult since reverting to animal blood. "I know I don't deserve you after everything that I did, but..."
Elena just shook her head, bringing his words to an abrupt stop, and she looked into his face. The beautiful face that she'd once believed was home.
"We've been fooling ourselves Stefan." She said shaking her head hard, her words still tinged with disbelief as it occurred to her how long it had taken for her to realise this. "We've been fooling ourselves all this time."
"No Elena." Stefan pleaded desperately, moving forward in a quick movement and clasping her hand tight in his as he begged. "I'm sorry for everything I did, but I wasn't myself. I know that's no excuse, but I'm back now. We can go back to the way we were."
Elena just shook her head again sadly.
"But that's just the thing Stefan. This isn't you. It never has been. You were so desperate to hide who you were from everyone, you even managed to hide it from yourself."
"But you loved me Elena." Stefan argued, his face pained, so pained that it killed her to see it, and she felt tears grow in her eyes and gently fall down her cheeks.
"The man I loved never existed Stefan." She said brokenly, her voice catching in her throat. "You tried so hard to be him, I tried so hard to believe you were him. But you're not. You were using that man as a mask to hide your true self."
But as she looked up and finally let her eyes connect with his she grew frightened at the hurt in his eyes, the fury, the disbelief and she tried to move back but he held on tighter and kept her in place.
"Oh so it's alright for Damon to be the bad guy. I don't see you complaining about him?" he spat furiously and Elena's guard dropped as she rushed to defend his brother.
"This has got nothing to do with Damon." She threw back, "And it seems you've forgotten the last two years where I always took your side, ignoring Damon, pushing him away. How I spent the last two years loving you."
She watched as the anger disappeared almost immediately, a guilty look in his eyes and Elena sighed with relief as he released her wrist and took a step back. But before she could say anything else Stefan's eyes fixed on a point over her shoulder and grew dark again, and before she knew it, he'd pushed past her and reached for the lone object on her window seat.
"So this is why?" he said calmly, holding the book up to her sight and she frowned.
"You don't know what you want Elena." Stefan said furiously, "You've been living someone else's life through a story in a book!"
"I have not!" Elena argued back, "This has got nothing to do with that. Just because you hate the book Stefan doesn't mean-"
"You are not Scarlett!" he yelled furiously, chucking the book across the room where it slammed hard into the wall, cracking down the spine causing a few pages to fall loose and fall to the floor softly. She remembered Stefan's words at school "Rhett didn't deserve Scarlett" and she snapped.
"Well, you as sure as hell aren't my Rhett!" she screamed, and in a second Stefan stormed from her room and it wasn't until she heard the front door slam that she broke.
She whimpered clutching her hair with her hands, pulling it at the roots as Scarlett's story flashed before her eyes.
"Rhett did not fear her and, she often thought, did not respect her very much either. What he wanted to do, he did, and if she did not like it, he laughed at her."
"No!" she sobbed, and she knew she was going mad. Everything around her spun and she clutched at her chest clawing at her heart beneath her breast and, in a second, she lunged for her car keys and ran from the house, jumping in her car and speeding away.
She didn't know where she was going. Didn't know what she was looking for. The rain lashed dangerously against the windscreen, the wipers protesting at the upheaval as they moved up the screen, fighting against the strong wind.
She was half-way to nowhere when the car gave up, slowing to a stop at the side of the road next to the edge of Mystic Falls Woods and Elena screamed "NO!" beating the steering wheel with her fists as the car failed her.
"I'm going crazy." She mumbled to herself, then, without another thought, she jumped from the car and ran into the woods. She ran and ran, wanting to escape, not knowing what she was hiding from, not knowing where she was going.
"Oh, Rhett, I just run and run and hunt and I can't ever find what it is I'm hunting for. It's always hidden in the mist. I kow if I could find it, I'd be safe for ever and ever and never be cold or hungry again."
Elena sobbed, remembering Damon's words;
"I promise you. I will never leave you again."
"Scarlett. I want you to say to yourself every morning when you wake up: "I can't ever be hungry again and nothing can ever touch me as long as Rhett is here...""
And she ran terrified, not knowing where her legs were taking her, only that they ran controlled by complete fear, a deep, unsettling, bone chilling terror within her that pushed her forwards as she ran for safety.
"And she began to run. As she had run a hundred times in her dreams, she ran now, flying blindly she knew not where, driven by a nameless dread, seeking in the grey mist for the safety that lay somewhere."
Elena sobbed brokenly as the rain lashed at her face, the cold water stinging her cheeks as the wind roared around her unmercilessly. Where was she going? Was she was heading for safety?
Suddenly she tripped full bodied over a root sticking cruelly from the soaked leaf covered ground and, unbidden, she cried out;
"Whenever Scarlett opened her eyes, she said 'Melly?' and the voice answered. And usually she started to whisper: 'Rhett – I want Rhett' and remembered, as from a dream, that Rhett didn't want her..."
As her voice called out it hit her suddenly, a giant whoosh as she gasped air into her lungs as she knelt clutching the soaked leaves of the forest's floor in her clenched fists.
It was Damon she was running to. Damon who had always been there. Damon she loved. Not Stefan. Damon.
As though in a trance, Elena pushed herself to her feet, ignoring the sting in her knees, the throbbing in her toe, and stumbled forward desperately. She had to get there. Had to get to him...to Damon.
"Home! That was where she wanted to go. That was where she was running. Home to Rhett!"
She didn't know how she'd made it. Her body was stiff with chill and her face devoid of all colour as her life's blood trickled down her leg, staining her rain soaked jeans. But she burst through the front door of the boarding house, barely able to stand a moment longer and she saw him, Bourbon in hand, looking up from the fireplace, his face empty.
"Damon!" She gasped, and he frowned at her, raising an eyebrow at her appearance.
"Elena. What an unexpected surprise." He smirked, yet no amusement shone through. "I would have thought you'd be busy reuniting with my brooding saint of a brother."
Her heart thudded uncomfortably in her chest and she swallowed hard.
He cut her off with a laugh, and it was so cold, so unforgiving that she couldn't speak for a moment.
"I've been so blind." She whispered finally, "You've been here all along and I never even noticed. I never even noticed I loved you all along."
"Oh Rhett, I love you so, darling! I must have loved you for years and I was such a fool I didn't know it. Rhett, you must believed me!"
"And now it's too late." Damon jeered, and Elena felt her heart stop for a moment, her blood freeze and her mouth fall open as her lips formed silent words. Words of confusion. Words of denial.
"It's too late, Elena." He said quiety, yet his tone allowing no room for argument. It was always going to be Stefan. You made your choice and now you'll have to live with it." He cast her a hard look and she felt her mind go blank as he opened his mouth, delivering the fatal blow.
"Scarlett, did it ever occur to you that even the most deathless love could wear out?...Mine wore out, against Ashley Wilkes and your insane obstinancy that makes you hold on like a bulldog to anything you think you want...Mine wore out."
"No Damon. No. Please!" Elena begged, rushing forwards on shaky legs, her arms wrapping around his middle, soaking his shirt as she clung to him, even as he gave no move to return the embrace. And she could feel herself breaking. Not her heart, it was more than that. It was her soul. Damon wasn't her soul's mate. He was her soul.
"But Rhett is my soul and I'm losing him. And if I lose him, nothing else matters!"
"It's too late, Elena." He said again, hard. "I don't care if you go back to Stefan. I don't even care any more. I'm not staying here to mend the broken pieces of you."
"Scarlett, I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new."
"I love you!" Elena sobbed violently, her hands clutching at his shirt desperately as she looked at the shirt in her hands. Bright blue. Just like his eyes. They one's she couldn't meet, wouldn't meet for fear that they would always haunt her. The look in his eyes the moment her soul left. "I love you so much!"
Damon drew a short breat, and she knew what was coming as he opened his mouth and spoke softly.
"My dear, I don't give a damn."
Her soul screamed, but she screamed louder, a gut wrenching scream of agony.
"No!" she screamed devastated. "I'm not her. You can't do this to me. I won't be her!"
Maybe he thought she meant Katherine, but she didn't care, didn't care to correct him. She wasn't Scarlett, he couldn't leave her. She wouldn't let him leave.
"You can't leave me. I'm not her!" She screamed again, pummelling his chest with her fists. "I love you so much! You can't leave me!"
"Elena." Damon said hoarsely, and looking up, her eyes bloodshot with tears, she finally could see the emotion he'd long hidden at the front of his eyes. The pain and the torment she was feeling reflected on his own face and, desperate to win him back, she leaned forward and pressed a hard kiss to his lips.
She could taste tears, whether they were hers or his she couldn't tell and when she finally broke away, the taste of bourbon permeating her lips, she rest her head on his chest and sobbed desperately into his shirt;
"Please don't leave me. You promised you'd never leave me."
It might have been a minute, it might have been an hour, but finally Damon dropped the glass in his hand, letting it fall with a smash to the floor, the bourbon spilling onto his treasured carpet and their legs as his arms encircled her, pulling her hard against his chest.
"Elena." He murmured and Elena sobbed in relief as she felt him press a kiss to her sopping hair.
"I'm so sorry." She cried and Damon replied with a calming, "Shh! It's OK!"
She looked up, her eyes connecting with his and then he leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss to her lips which she returned with vigour, her hands still clutching hard at his shirt as though terrified that he would leave, and as they broke apart, she sagged forward, her legs no longer able to support her and in one swift movement, Damon lifted her into his arms and left the library, starting up the stairs.
And as they desperately made love that night, she finally understood the sensations Scarlett described during her passionate love-making with Rhett.
"Suddenly she had a wild thrill such as she had never known: joy, fear, madness, excitement, surrender to arms that were too strong, lips too bruising, fate that moved too fast...and they were going up, up into the darkness again, a darkness that was soft and swirling and all-enveloping."
Elena woke the next morning feeling complete. She kept her eyes shut and smiled softly as she revelled in the feel of Damon's soft sheets tangled around her naked body. Taking a moment to revel in the comfort of Damon's bed, she finally turned onto her side and opened her eyes.
Panic filled her immediately at the sight of the empty space beside her and she cried out, a hand moving to her mouth as she saw that in Damon's space there only sat his copy of 'Gone with the Wind'.
"No!" She cried out, sitting up like a shot and holding a hand to the sheet to keep it up. "No!"
He'd left. Just like Rhett! He was gone in the morning.
"When she awoke the next morning, he was gone and had it not been for the rumpled pillow beside her-"
Scarlett's monologue inside her mind eased to a halt as Damon's door opened and Elena stared terrified at Damon who stood shirtless, wearing only a pair of worn grey sweats to cover his modesty, and holding a cup of coffee in each hand.
"Coffee?" He asked softly, and Elena nodded, tears coming to her eyes as he made his way back to the bed and put the cups on the side-table. Seeing her shining gaze, he pushed the book out of his way and sat himself down on the mattress beside her, reaching for her and cupping her cheeks with his hands softly as he moved closer.
"I love you." He whispered before giving her a soft kiss. "I'm right here."
She nodded, and smiled at him warmly as he looked at her. It was a moment before they looked back to the book laying on the sheets.
"Looks like we made our own ending." He said with a smile and Elena laughed relieved, as he picked it up in his hands and passed it to her. "Told you you'd have to read it yourself."
"Well," She said with a smirk, "It still would have been easier if you'd just told me the story. Although my English teacher was very impressed. I think I'm the only one in class whose read it."
Damon laughed, and pulled her to him, and she rest her head on his chest with a soft sigh enjoying the way his hand played with the tips of her hair. She looked at the book in her hands and then attempting to move it to the bed beside her, laughed 'whoops' as the book fell over the edge of the bed and landed on the wooden floor with a loud thud.
"Hey, careful. That's a first edition." She heard Damon tease as she sat up to reach it. Rolling her eyes, she changed her mind and manouvered herself onto his lap, kissing him. She giggled against his lips as he growled and wrapped his arms around her waist, his hand softly stroking her bare back where the sheet had fallen.
Elena changed the ending. She was Scarlett O'Hara and Damon was her Rhett Butler, but in her story Rhett would never leave her.
A/N: I hope you all got to the end! If anyone is interested, I also have a few outtakes from this fic which I so wanted to put in but just didn't fit with where Damon and Elena are in their relationship and I feared it would make it too Out of Character. If anybody would like to read them, I'll put them up under a second chapter. So let me know.
Please review. I'd love to hear your thoughts. And constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated. I've been working really hard on improving my grammar so if you have any tips to drop some tips, I'd be grateful.
Here's my new writing blog if anyone's interested – .com