Chapter 1. Three Weeks Later

("Reminder" by Mumford & Sons)

Empty and hollow.

Life was in constant slow motion. Her body was functioning, but her mind was dead. She was weightless and heavy at the same time. Tucked away in a special pocket of her heart the pain came creeping back. The ugly reminders of what she had been through were fresh and the white bandage that covered the fateful wound on her neck didn't make it any easier.

His face was everywhere she looked. His name was on the tip of her tongue. No matter how hard she tried to push herself away, she couldn't fully. Unfinished business was left between them, but she couldn't face it. Her heart had been torn into a million tiny pieces. The trust she had gained and the sympathy she carried for him had gone on vacation and she wasn't sure if it would ever come back.

Damon had hurt her in more ways than one.

She never pictured her as the girl to crumble because of a man. She had promised herself to never be that girl, but now as she faced the truth of what it felt like to be heartbroken she could not hide her devastation.

Rubbing her tired eyes, Elena stared at the bright screen of her monitor. Her work ethic was struggling and suffering due to her lack of sleep and all over deterioration. The days after consisted of waking up groggy, going to work, then going back to bed. Even though she devoted most of her time to sorrowing on a bed or a couch, she never slept straight through. Nightmares rummaged through her head. Flashbacks of happier times were destroyed by the new fear of truth.

She wondered if she would ever move on, but the closure she needed, the closure required meant being with him. The thought of sharing the same room or exchanging words with Damon were still heart wrenching. She couldn't do it.

"Miss Gilbert." The voice cleared and crawled upon her skin. She turned to see her goofy smiling boss, Mr. Klaus Mikaelsen.

"I just sent the draft sir." She answered knowing why he was hovering over her cubicle.

His daily check ups were expected and yet every time he let that smug expression cover his face, she still did not feel comfortable around him. From day one when he expressed his attitude toward Damon and how she landed the internship made her feel like she did not belong. This opportunity was a hand out and she was counting down the days until she could find a new place to continue her work. A place she would get all on her own and without having the supervision of Damon lingering somewhere.

"Thank you." Mr. Mikaelsen said nodding his head in his thick accent. "Please if you don't mind me being brash, but you look awful Miss Gilbert."

Elena touched her hollow cheek and tried to appear lively. She knew she looked tired and worn out. She hoped it wouldn't be too noticeable. Evidently it was.

"Does this have something to do with Mr. Salvatore?" He asked bluntly.

Her heart skipped a beat at his name. His cocky nature to be addressing her personal life was none of his business. She glance up at him under furrow brows and shook her head. "I'm just sick." She lied.

A soft, menacing chuckle came from him and he stepped inside her cubicle. He never passed the threshold, until now.

"I hate to see a woman in distress Miss Gilbert. If you would like to chat my office is always open." Mr. Mikaelsen offered in the most unwelcoming way. She nodded her head to show she understood him and he carried on. The bile in her empty stomach was rising up and she felt as if she were going to be sick. The mention of his name and the overall creepy factor that emanated from her boss made her ill. Mostly though, it was the fact that she had heard his name out loud for the first time in three weeks.

The clock struck six and she gathered her things. She checked out with Ms. Mikaelsen and made her way to the elevators. Her phone buzzed in her bag and she was nervous to see who it was. To her relief it was only Caroline.

"Elena, please tell me you're coming home tonight." Her voice was pleading. "I'm worried about you."

"Not tonight Care." She said and Elena pressed her fingers to her temple. It was beginning to throb.

"Look I know Da…" Caroline began.

"Caroline, don't." She hissed into the phone.

A short pause followed before Caroline said anything. "Sorry. I just haven't seen you and all I know it that you're completely devastated by whatever that bastard did to you. I just want to be there for you in a time of need."

The tears were forming in her eyes. Caroline was her best friend and she hated that she couldn't turn to her after everything, but she wouldn't understand. Even dating a vampire herself, Elena was left in the dark to know whether Caroline was aware of what Stefan was and that Damon shared the same qualities. Going beyond that Damon had his own issues that she couldn't bear to explain to her. Everything was just so fucked up.

Another reason why she had been avoiding Caroline was because the bite on her neck was still visible. A simple scarf could hide her wound now and leave the conversation starter to a minimum, but nothing got pass her friend. She would find out and how do you explain anyway that your boyfriend attacked you during near sex and wanted to rip your throat out? You can't. Some things had to be left unsaid.

"I know." Elena sighed and elevator doors slid open. She was now on ground level. "I promise I'll come home soon. Right now I'm just trying to figure things out. I'll call you."

"Okay." She responded not sounding hopeful. "Love you."

"Love you too."

The sky was a perfect shade of different colors. She could see the sun setting and another night falling upon Mystic Falls quickly. Soon she would sleep and wake up to reality again. She was in a funk that she could not get out of.

The double doors opened and she looked back down at her phone. She searched through her contacts and found the name she was looking for. As her thumb hovered over it, she became startled.

"Elena." His voice was like a thousand pins and needles piercing her skin. Her chest tightened and air stopped. She trembled at the sight of him wearing his business suit and hair slicked back. His hands were pushed into the pockets of his dress slacks and he stood straight next to his car.

She wasn't oblivious knowing he was attempting to find his way back in and apologize for his actions. However, this was the first time she had seen him in almost three weeks. The space he had given her she was thankful for, but it was all too good to be true. Eventually he would want to talk, to see her again. Now she faced that moment.

Speechless and in a state of shock, she didn't move. Damon remained by his car as he stared at her with his intense blue eyes. Sadness filled them with a glimmer of hope. She heard her name echo from him repeatedly.

For an instance, her eyes played tricks on her. His vampire form was there and in the flesh. The fangs hung from his wide mouth and the wrinkled red eyes were pulsing at the sight of her. She blinked hard knowing she was seeing things and when she reopened them he was back to normal.

"I…" He softly stated and took one step toward her. Every muscle on her body tensed.

"Elena." Another voice called out to her and she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Alaric. Damon stopped in his tracks looking ashamed and angered. His lips drew into a line and the intense gaze fell from her to him. Alaric squeezed her frail shoulder and said lowly, "Come on. Lets go."

She gazed at Damon for one last minute before she followed Alaric. His eyes burned into the back of her head as she walked away. She knew he was frustrated, angry, sad, and everything else. However, she had to go and leave him standing there because otherwise she would lose it.

Getting into Alaric's beat up car and going back with him to his small apartment had become a routine. He was the first person she ran to after Damon had attacked her and after she had discovered the truth about Katherine. Her reason for doing so was because he was the only one who would understand. He was the only other soul in Mystic Falls that knew what Damon was capable of.

The stench of his apartment was still unsettling. Old beer bottles and Chinese take out boxes littered the tables. It was a one-room apartment and the couch had become her new place of sleep. Alaric insisted on giving up his bed for her, but she wouldn't accept it. He was already letting her crash at his place and letting her fall apart every five seconds, she couldn't take more away from him then she already had.

In a small corner of the room sat a desk with a corkboard above it. Clippings from newspapers were pinned to it and whenever Ric was gone, she stole a glance at it. Death reports and bizarre animal attacks were all the headlines. He clearly was tracking the unusual behavior that belonged to vampire killings.

A drawer was dedicated to more vampire stuff with lists of names that had to belong to vampires he had killed, knew about, or whatever purpose they served. It astonished her to know how many vampires were around, maybe not in Mystic Falls, but in general. It made her think twice about every soul she ran into. Were they human or were they a vampire? She knew better than to let her get wrapped up in the idea. She already had enough to worry about.

"What did he say to you?" Alaric asked bringing out plates from the cupboard and setting the table. She took a seat and shook her head.

"Nothing, but my name." She told him.

He didn't say anything as he removed food from tin containers and slopped them on to the plates. Pushing one in front of her, he demanded, "Eat."

Tiny bites were all she could take. Her mind was still wrapped around seeing Damon outside her work. He seemed to be holding it together, but she knew he wasn't. What he had done was eating him alive much like it was doing to her.

"Damn it Elena. Eat!" Alaric broke her from her thoughts. He threw his napkin on the table and leaned forward. The fork in her hand shook and then she set it down.

"I'm not very hungry." She replied hearing her stomach growl.

"Look what he doing to you." He spat. "You have barely finished a full meal in three weeks. You have been tossing and turning every night moaning. I'm trying to help you here, but you need to help yourself."

Everything he said was true. She did need to help herself. Her appearance probably confirmed to Damon how much of a great loss he was to her.

"I'm serious. I'll pull the whole you can't leave the table thing until you finish your meal if that's what it takes to get you healthy again." Alaric pleaded seeming desperate. He was trying so hard with her and all she was doing was making it worse. Picking up her fork again, she scooped up a hefty amount and shoved it in her mouth.

"Happy?" She mumbled.

"Once that plate is clear I will be." He replied.

It must have taken an hour for her to finish every last bite. Her stomach was satisfied and she did feel better with more energy. Ric had patiently waited reading the newspaper from across the table. Once her plate was clear, he took it from her and ran it under the faucet.

"If my eating habits and my erratic sleeping really bother you, I can leave." She suggested as he washed up after dinner.

The thud of the faucet turning off made her jump. He turned around slowly and leaned up against the counter with his arms crossed. The stubble on his face was growing into a full beard. His eyes were tired and he looked upset by her offer.

"I just want you to get better. I don't want you to leave." Alaric stated flatly. "I want you to either move on or figure out what you want from him. I don't want you hurting yourself or denying what happened."

"I don't know what I want." She uttered and fidgeted with her hands.

"I told him that if he ever hurt you I would kill him and yet the moment I found out the horror of what he did, you begged me not to go hunt him down with a stake." He growled and even laughed a little. "Why?"

"He may be a monster, but I don't believe what he did was entirely his fault." She spoke hesitantly.

"Then why are you beating yourself over this?" Alaric asked.

She hated talking about him and everything, but Alaric wasn't letting her back out of this one. The talk about him was inevitable. She was surprised it had been this long before he had demanded her to speak and get it all out in the open. All he knew was her sobbing complaints of what happened that night.

"Because I pushed him too far. I let him get too close." Elena exclaimed. "I let him feed on me willingly. I let him do things to me that I'm not about to share out loud. I think mixing the two made him lose it."

"And?" He waited for her to continue.

"And it was awful. The pain, the blood. He couldn't stop." She felt the tears coming up. "It's in his nature, I know that, but I trusted him not to. He broke that trust and I don't know if I can ever trust him again."

"And?" Alaric taunted her with getting out every last detail of the matter.

"And he lied to me about her. The one person that did this to him." Elena's voice cracked. "Why didn't he tell me? Why didn't you tell me, Ric? Why do I look like her?"

He moved from the counter to the seat he had occupied for dinner. His head was shaking and she knew he didn't have the answer she was looking for.

"I don't know." He admitted. "And I wanted to tell you. Hell, I tried to warn you that he would do something like this. I just…He deserves to die. Elena, he is a vampire. What he did there is no excuse. He has to pay for what he did."

"No! No!" She shouted and got up from the table pacing the room.

"Look this isn't any easier for me than it is for you. I actually like the guy." Alaric said through his teeth.

"You can't kill him Alaric. Promise me you won't." She begged of him.

"Give me one reason I shouldn't stake the son of a bitch. One good reason." He asked rolling his eyes.

There was a reason and whether he found it a good one or not, she knew it was a reason enough for her. She bit her tongue and covered her mouth. The tears streamed down her cheek and the pain came rushing back.

"After everything, after all the hurt and the lies." She spoke trembling. "I still love him."

**The sequel is here! What did you guys think of the first chapter so far? Please leave me a review with your thoughts. Thank you again so much for making this story into something when I thought it wouldn't be. You guys are the best! Remember to follow me on Twitter at mystfallsfanfic. I update more frequently and post things on there that I don't usually on here or on my Tumblr.

Also, if you didn't notice I changed my pen name on here from "smileheartlove" to "mysticfalls fanfiction". I did this because all my other fanfic sites have this name and I want to keep it consistent.**