Elena sees Katherine for the first time in months at Stefan and Damon's funeral. She is eighteen and a half.
Of those 'in the know' currently in the town of Mystic Falls, Elena is the only one left. For the first time since she's met the brothers, she actually has to go through the appropriate channels to secure their burial for there is no one left to compel a quick and proper burial.
She brings flowers and stands directly between their plots as she cries alone. There is no left to hold her hand or give her a hug. So Elena clasps the jacket in her hands tightly and hugs it to her chest as she rocks on her heels.
There is a part of her that knows she has to leave, that she has to try to make it out of Mystic Falls undetected while she still has a shot, but a part of her doesn't want to leave them. They never really left her; not for long and never completely willingly anyway. But they would both want her to survive—that's what they died for, after all—so she gathers her courage and sets her mind on finishing up.
Elena bends down and picks up the rest of the flowers and distributes them to the other people she's leaving behind. There are so many.
When she looks back to the two new graves, there is another standing there.
"Everything would have been so much different if…" her vampire double says; her voice, for the first time in Elena's memory, filled with emotion.
Elena nods but doesn't speak. The what if's could span over 150 years of choices if she let them.
"Why are you here?" Elena finally asks after giving her doppelganger a few moments.
"You don't believe I'm here to pay my respects?" Katherine asks trying to look hurt but not quite hitting the mark.
"No, I believe you came to pay your respects, but we both know you wouldn't have sought me out just to do so," Elena says wisely.
Katherine gives the younger girl a very small nod. When their eyes meet, Elena sees her own sadness reflected in Katherine's eyes as if she was looking in a mirror.
Elena steps closer to her look-alike and takes her hand in support. She has long since come to terms with the fact that Katherine had a hold on Salvatore brothers hearts just as she herself did.
Katherine's eyes are focused on the graves but she speaks for Elena only. "Your friend Caroline has agreed to run far and fast in order to give Klaus chase. She loves him, but she loves you more so she's leading him away from you so you can make your escape. You won't have long, so we have to hurry. Eventually she'll give in to him and he'll set his sights on finding you to keep her safe."
Elena wonders why Caroline can't just convince her Original hybrid to leave her out of it all together, but Katherine speaks as if knowing her thoughts. "He loves her as well, which is why he'll want her safe and she will never be safe as long as he is out there trying to get at him. He wants his hybrid army for protection and he can't have it if he doesn't have your blood."
"I don't want to leave them behind," Elena whispers, her voice catching at the end.
"They would want you to live and I can help you do so…for as long as you wish."
Elena recognizes that Katherine's offering to turn her eventually but Elena doesn't think she wants to turn. She didn't to begin with but eventually came around to the idea of eventually turning to be with Damon and Stefan. Without them, she doesn't see a point.
Katherine's right, though. They would want her to live, and Katherine can help her stay alive and safe until her death.
She takes a deep breath. "Where do we go first?"