July 2018: I originally took this story down when it Amazon made a deal with the TVD copyright holder to allow fanfic writers to legally publish books of their TVD fanfic under the Kindle Worlds program. They assured us the program would soon expand from the USA to the international market, and despite the over 100 emails I harassed the Kindle Worlds department with, that never happened. This month, Kindle Worlds closed its doors and the rights to my stories came back to me, and now I'm happy to be able to share these stories with my international readers again, sex scenes and all.
Thank you to all the amazing readers who bought the books from Kindle Worlds and helped support the thousands of hours I put into crafting these stories. It's been a wonderful ride and I'm so grateful to all of you. That foray into publishing helped launch my original fiction career, and now I have original fiction books up for sale! If you'd like to see any of those, check out michellehazenbooks dot com. Either way, enjoy this and all my other fanfic stories that will soon be back up on the site (Desperate Love trilogy (S4 retelling), Happily Ever After: Salvatore Style (book length epilogue/prank war following Desperate Love), In Time We Trust trilogy (S5 retelling), and Sanguine Veritas.)
This story is set in the original universe of the CW television show "The Vampire Diaries." It begins during Season 4, after episode 04x06 "We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes" and includes some elements of 04x07 "My Brother's Keeper" though most scenes and the plotline are fundamentally different.
It gives us all a peek at what might have been in Season 4 without sire bonds, Jeremy's death or Elena turning off her humanity switch.
A note on vampire physiology, according to the author, extrapolated from CW's version of vampire mythology: they breath only out of habit, but they still get out of breath from the same things as they did as humans, if they don't consciously resist. Their heartbeat is faint but still there (otherwise, how would their blood circulate, and how would certain [ah-hem] male reactions happen?) but their hearts still speed when they get excited, out of habit. That is why Elena can still blush. Also, they don't need to sleep, but they miss it after a while- it is tiring not being able to turn your brain off.
Chapter 1: Verity
I'm elbow-deep in the Ford Pinto of grandfather clocks when my phone buzzes from the back pocket of my jeans. I wince with irritation because if I let go of this wire now, I'm going to have to start all over.
Leave it to my father to buy a Schwegler clock during a six-month fad that's now into its second century of pissing me off. Fucking thing keeps time like a lamp.
I pull the phone out of my pocket with my free hand and check the screen. Elena. Considering the last time she gave into her suicidal nature was um, yesterday, it's probably not a great idea to ignore her call. I hold the pliers in my right hand absolutely steady, hitting the button for speaker phone and setting the device on the side table.
"Undead sex god speaking."
There's a pause.
"Very funny, Damon," Elena's voice says through the speaker. "What are you doing?"
"Pillaging, plundering. Despoiling the innocent. The usual, why do you ask?"
"Um, actually I was curious if you were busy tomorrow."
She sounds nervous. Wonder who she needs me to kill.
"About the same to-do list except I might start trying to hunt down some Buffy wanna-be's. What do you need?"
I gradually increase the tension on the wire, then reach into the body of the clock with a tiny eyeglass screwdriver and start working it between the teeth of a poorly aligned gear.
The sound of heavier breathing comes through the phone, as if she might be pacing.
"Well, Miss Mystic Falls is tomorrow and since I'm the first runner-up, I have to help out. Giving out awards, doing the dance exhibition, hosting, the whole thing."
"And this concerns me how?"
"I sort of have to have an escort."
I give the phone a skeptical look and switch out the screwdriver for a wrench. The gears get loose and then they start to slip teeth. But if you over-tighten them, the time goes short instead of long.
"This is the suicide prevention hotline, remember? Not dial-a-date."
"Please, Damon? I sort of skipped all the rehearsals, and you know the dance already. Plus, unlike any guy born in the last forty years, you actually know how to lead so you can keep me from making an ass of myself."
"Couldn't talk little brother into dancing in public, could you?" I ask knowingly.
A long pause. I glance at the phone. They can't still be fighting, can they? I told her the big secret about Klaus and the cure. They should have been picking out china patterns at Nordstrom's by this afternoon.
"Something like that. And if you're with me, I won't, you know…try to eat anyone."
I finish the last gear adjustment and toss down the pliers and the wrench, taking an extra second to carefully close the face of the clock before I pick up the phone.
Vampire sensei, I can do. It was the prom date scenario that made me itchy under the collar.
"Wear something hot and you've got yourself a deal, Gilbert."
"Thank you, Damon," she sounds relieved. "I owe you big."
"What else is new?" I ask easily. "See you tomorrow."
The squeak of a shoe on hardwood catches my attention as I slip the phone back in my pocket. I grin. No point in wasting an opportunity this good.
"Your girlfriend just called me for a date," I say as my brother comes around the corner, shooting him a cocky smile as I gather my tools. "Told you that learning to dance gets you chicks."
For someone who's been dancing for a century and a half, Stefan sure is a pussy about it.
He doesn't even crack a smile. Instead, he presses his lips together and glances away. "Actually, Elena and I broke up."
I freeze, not sure if my perfect hearing has finally glitched. That can't be right. I told Elena about the cure. What else can they possibly have to fight about?
I try to think about everything this might mean, but the look on my brother's face leaves my mind the loudest kind of empty.
"Oh," is all I can think to say.
# # #
Five more minutes and one more botched floral arrangement, and I am going to eat someone.
I mean, seriously? Could I have just one person on the pageant committee that is useful? Tyler can't help because we're pretend broken up and Elena's no help because she's actually going through a breakup and I know I'm supposed to be supportive, but right now I just need fourteen round tablecloths instead of twelve round and two square.
Maybe if I put the square ones next to each other on the two rear tables…or even the two front tables so it looks like a transitional design.
And what the hell kind of a caterer doesn't pack silverware? Come on, is this a caveman convention or a beauty pageant? Mrs. Lockwood somehow put off picking judges until Tuesday and now we don't even have real pageant judges, we have random community members that are particularly sensitive to guilt trips. Which would be great, if we were judging chili.
I attempt to speed-walk on my toes so my heels won't sink into the lawn of the Lockwood mansion, wishing I would have brought flats to wear for all the hours before the event actually starts. I need to remember to check if someone thought to decorate the edges of the dance floor on the terrace so the spectators won't stand too close.
"Caroline," a familiar aristocratic voice calls. I stop and close my eyes for a second. Do I have to do this now? Or ever? Oh, God, he's going to be wearing a suit.
I steel myself and turn around because it's no concern of mine what Klaus the King of Evil wears to our sell-your-soul date.
"Yes?" I ask him coldly.
He caught up to me while I was mentally cursing him and now he's close enough for me to see that the knot in his tie is just the tiniest bit loose, in the confident European style instead of the business-like American fashion. Why is that so hot?
"As the reigning Miss Mystic Falls, you take part in the formal dance exhibition, and the presenting of the awards, correct?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but I did everything but mow the lawn," I tell him testily.
I've been up since four A.M. and just because I don't get tired anymore doesn't mean I'm a morning person. I sweep an arm at the tables and vans and workers crowding the lawn because dang it, somebody should appreciate my efforts.
"I did the decorations, the itinerary, approved the choreography and the menu, and chose the band. And yes, I'll be presiding over the entire pageant." I fold my arms and smile tightly. "I'll be very busy today. Very busy."
"I was just wondering, as your escort, what you might be expecting of me?" Klaus asks with a polite smile.
How about fourteen centerpieces that aren't made with last week's roses?
"I'll need you for the dance," I snap. I don't have time for this. "Other than that, mostly you need to stand around and try not to talk. Like I said, I've got a lot of things to take care of."
Klaus brightens. "A cotillion? Lovely." He steps forward. "Perhaps a waltz? They were once considered quite risqué, you know. So...suggestive."
"Not a cotillion," I say quickly, though to be honest, I have no idea what the dance is called. I just know it's traditional without being boring and sexy without being skanky. Way too sexy for me to be doing it with Klaus's eyes all over me. Why, why did I agree to do the date I owed him at a black tie event? I should have insisted on paintball.
"We're doing the same dance we did at the last pageant. Very little touching."
Klaus moves even closer. "How disappointing. However, I'm certain that almost touching you will still be far more interesting than waltzing with any of a hundred other women."
"Yeah, in case I didn't make it clear before, we're on a date. We are not dating," I enunciate.
Just because he let Jeremy kill one of his precious hybrids for this date doesn't mean that he gets to flirt with me. Being charming was not in the contract.
"True enough," Klaus says. "But you're making a lot of other things clear as well." His gaze travels down my throat, lingering on my collarbone before rising again.
"Like what?" I scoff. "My immense dislike of you and your amoral lifestyle?"
Klaus's smile only widens. "You haven't been a vampire long, Caroline. Your body hasn't yet lost its human habits."
He bends his head toward mine, his breath touching my lips as if he intends to kiss me. My eyes go wide but there's no way I'm retreating. That's what he wants. He won't really try to kiss me anyway.
"Your heart rate still accelerates when you're excited," he whispers, a bare inch between our lips. "So struggle as much as you please, Caroline, because your heart is telling me the truth. You may not want to like me, but you can't deny that you're interested."
# # #
I head for the ladies dressing room because that way, Klaus can't follow me. Elena's already there, sitting on a padded bench in front of the vanity.
I toss my clipboard carelessly on a side table. "God, I hate that man."
Elena glances up and I realize she wasn't getting ready. She was just sitting motionless in front of the mirror. After a beat too long she asks, "Klaus? Why did you invite him?"
I make a growling sound of frustration. "I owe him a favor. And I'm beginning to think it wasn't worth putting up with him for a day."
Crap, I shouldn't have said that. I don't know if anybody's told Elena how we broke the hunter's curse. And of course it was worth it. Klaus may make me feel like I'm losing my mind, but Elena actually was losing hers.
I paste on a sympathetic smile. "It doesn't matter. How are you doing? Did Stefan find you earlier?"
"Yes," she says, looking down at her hands.
That must have been awkward. They're all wrapped up in this hunter and vampire cure stuff together, so they can't exactly avoid each other. "It's bound to be hard for a while," I tell her. "It'll get easier. You guys are still going to be friends. You've been through too much not to be."
"It's not that, actually," Elena says. "It's Damon."
"Why, what did he do?" I will definitely make time in my schedule to slap him around if I need to.
"Nothing, Caroline. He's been nothing but supportive of me lately, even when I've been a total bitch about everything. It's just that ever since I turned, my feelings for Damon have become…more intense."
I sit down next to her on the bench, wondering what I should say. Is that the only reason she broke up with Stefan? Because she didn't get his sex-fiend of a brother out of her system in Denver?
"I've been telling myself that it's just because everything is heightened right now, so I've been trying not to do anything I might regret," she tells me, squeezing her hands together in her lap.
"Except if your feelings for Damon have gotten stronger," I say slowly, trying to be fair, "your feelings for Stefan should have done the same."
Elena looks down. "Yeah."
I sigh. I wish I thought she could just sleep with him once or twice and be done with it, but Elena Gilbert doesn't exactly fall in lust. Still, there's no way she could have anything with Damon like she had with Stefan. And even if she can't, at this point I think she's going to have to figure that out for herself.
She and Damon can't keep their hands off each other, and that's been coming between her and Stefan for a long time. Maybe it's going to take letting Damon break her heart before she can see that Stefan is absolutely her happily ever after.
"Have you talked to Damon?" I ask gently.
If I leave it alone, she won't do anything, as usual, and everyone will be miserable. She needs to rip off the Band Aid and let it bleed so she can get to the healing, the make-up sex and then the honeymoon. If we're lucky, she can have this wrapped up by graduation. Maybe even Christmas.
She shakes her head. "Stefan and I just broke up. It's too soon."
"Look, Elena, Stefan's my friend, and I was really hoping things would work out between the two of you." I put a hand on her shoulder and soften my voice. "But they didn't. And you're not doing anyone any favors by leaving things just hanging. Talk to Damon. Move forward."
I get up, retrieving my clipboard because the dance floor isn't going to decorate itself any more than Elena's romantic situation is going to magically resolve by tonight. And I've seen the damage her indecision can do.
"If you don't," I remind her, "life has a way of moving on without your permission, and you may not like the results."
# # #
"May I present our deputy Miss Mystic Falls, Miss Elena Gilbert, escorted by Mr. Damon Salvatore," the announcer's voice says over the sound system.
I take a deep breath and begin to descend the spiraling staircase. The last time I did this my boyfriend was missing and though I didn't know that I'd find him in the woods with a bloodied girl, I knew it wasn't going to be good. Still, I think I'm even more nervous this time around.
Damon waits at the bottom of the staircase, impossibly handsome in his tailored suit, his eyes locking onto mine as soon as we're within sight of each other.
I falter, my ankle wobbling dangerously in my heels and Damon takes a long stride up the last two steps and steadies me. I forget all about walking and just drink him in.
Does he know? Did Stefan tell him?
Damon lets go of my elbow, my skin tingling brightly in his wake. Without saying a word, he offers his arm and I take it.
Together we descend the stairs and line up on the patio across from each other. He still hasn't smiled, or said a single word. I can't take my eyes off him. He must know. He's never looked at me this way for more than a split second without a smirk or a joke to ease the taut space separating us.
The music starts and we step forward. I sink into a curtsey and Damon bows, his head tilting down an extra inch in respectful salute and something inside of me quivers at the significance he lends to the simple movement.
We raise our hands, almost but not quite touching, the air alive between our palms.
We're supposed to stay in step with the other dancers but I don't even know if there are other dancers. I follow Damon's lead and it's surprisingly easy because his rhythm is exactly mine. We switch directions in perfect synch and circle again. As we step back from each other, my lungs struggle against the weight of my breastbone. It feels like the air is so laden with other things that it's no longer suitable for breathing.
We move toward each other and all I can feel is his warm hand settling into the curve of my waist. I remember belatedly to raise my other hand and he catches it, smoothing my instinctive grab into something more graceful as he draws me into the first step of the waltz portion.
"I see you took my advice," Damon says, his lips curving slightly for the first time. It makes my chest lighter so that suddenly, there is room for my lungs again.
I glance down at my dress, blushing. "Hey, you're not that hard to please."
"Au contraire, my lady." Damon's eyes twinkle. "Salvatores don't settle. I'm still pissed that we got runner-upped last year. Any chance of redemption?"
I feel dizzy, but his hands balance me as we step in sweeping circles, Damon leading subtly but powerfully.
"Last year was supposed to be my only shot," I murmur. "I think the contest is over for me."
When I look up at him, he cuts a dark silhouette against a whole sky the color of his eyes.
Damon smiles knowingly. "It's not over 'till it's over, Elena. Maybe the results will surprise you."