A/N: well. It's been a while, hasn't it? Unfortunately, life got in the way (and I also seem to have commitment issues where I keep having ideas for new stories and never finishing them). Hopefully my writer's block will evaporate and I'll be able to get back to work on my three existing stories soon.

Luckily for you guys, this one is almost completely finished, save a few final adjustments and additions. So here we go! This story is loosely based on my personal experience, adding a bit of drama and chemistry to make it vaguely interesting and less pathetic (hopefully). So if anything seems a little OOC, it's probably because my characters have been inspired by actual people.

I may not have been writing but I've been doing a little bit of beta-reading for the lovely Ina (Dreamspheres), who is a brilliant writer and beautiful person, so you should definitely check out her work. I've also had the wonderful privilege of meeting DE fanfiction royalty, Michelle (LoveEpicLove), in person for lunch and coffee today, after getting to work with (see: relentlessly harass) her all week on her latest chapter of Kiss Me, Break My Heart. You should definitely be reading these talented authors' stories if you're not already.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who helped with this story - my pre-readers: Ina, Nadia, Jess and Maryam; Cher (Cher Sue), for her endless encouragement and support; and Jess and Lucy, for being my 'smut consultants' ;)

Without further ado, here is the first chapter of All I'll Ever Be!

Disclaimer: I don't own TVD or its characters; all rights to their respective owners.

November 2007

"Wow, Kat. You look amazing."

My sister applies a final coat of lip gloss and flashes a perfect smile at me in the mirror, flicking her shiny dark brown curls over one shoulder.

"Thanks, midge. Do you want me to straighten your hair for you?"

I nod shyly. I'm only thirteen, and it's the first time I'm ever going to a real, 'grown-up' party and I want to look the part. Katherine stands before me in sky-high pumps and a short, tight strapless dress that shows off her delicate collarbone and killer legs, looking every bit the eighteen-year-old princess she is.

And me?

I'm just little Elena Gilbert. Long, flat brown hair, black-rimmed glasses with little flowers on the side and shiny silver braces, meaning I avoid smiling as much as possible. Katherine likes to call me 'titanium-teeth', and I loathe it. My dress is simple – cornflower blue with a white belt at the waist, flaring out slightly to just above my knee. Aunt Jenna picked it out for me; there's no way my mother would have agreed to it, nor would she have agreed to the white slingback heels: only two inches high, mind you, but still very much against my mother's 'dress appropriately' policy.

Katherine pulls the elastic out of my hair and begins to section off chunks of hair before smoothing them out with the straightener. The one thing I like about my appearance is my hair – Katherine's got the whole effortless, natural waves thing going on, but I've always been proud of my straight waist-length tresses. She finishes her work and then whips out her makeup bag with a conspiratorial wink.

"Mom says no makeup."

"She'll never know; she's out of the country, remember?"

Katherine takes her bottom lip in her teeth as she carefully applies the finishing touches to my makeover.

"There. You look great."

I gaze at myself in astonishment in the mirror. I look like a completely different person, just as long as I keep my lips firmly closed.

My little pink flip phone buzzes and I glance at it.

"Caroline's nearly here. Are you ready to go?"

Katherine nodded, ducking out of the bathroom we shared into her adjacent bedroom to grab her clutch purse.

The ride to the party is short. Jenna and her husband Ric have been preparing Katherine's birthday celebration all day, so my best friend's mother had offered us a ride. Caroline is invited to the party to keep me company, as I'm painfully shy and don't know many of Katherine's friends.

We jump out of the car outside the hotel.

"Thanks, Liz," I smile at my surrogate mother. Caroline and I have known each other for so long that we're a part of each other's families.

"You look beautiful, Elena. Your dad would be proud."

I push away the tears that threaten my eyes and follow Caroline to the entrance. Katherine flounces inside and is greeted by a cacophony of voices, all eager to wish her a happy birthday. I still fail to see how she ended up with the popular gene while I'm the complete polar opposite, avoiding social interaction unless it's absolutely necessary.

The party is great. Caroline looks gorgeous as usual. She's already starting to grow up in more ways than one; I swear she shot up four feet last summer and in her silver stilettos she's almost as tall as my sister. She has also started wearing a push-up bra, gossiping about boys whenever she can and dressing in plunging necklines and short skirts. Tonight, she's wearing a dark red bodycon dress with the sides cut out, and her hair is swept up off her long neck. She fits right in with Katherine's crowd and I can see her sharp blue eyes assessing every male in the room as he passes, but I wouldn't have her any other way.

The food is delicious too, although I run to the bathroom frequently to ensure there's nothing trapped in my train tracks. The cake is Katherine's and my mutual favorite – chocolate marble with hazelnut ganâche.

Then it gets to the speeches. Our elder stepbrother Jeremy and I stand next to a long line of Katherine's friends. Lexi, Katherine's best friend, starts the ball rolling with tales of underage drunken escapades and blatant rule-breaking, things my mother would no doubt frown upon if she'd been here; Jenna just grins because Katherine is exactly like her. Then it's our turn; Jeremy shares a few embarrassing stories about Katherine's childhood and I wrap it up with a timid, sweet speech about my sister and I not always seeing eye to eye, but always being there for each other in times of need. Katherine by this time has consumed copious amounts of alcohol, so she gives me a big hug and a kiss on the forehead.

Finally, Katherine's friends from work begin to speak, led by her latest boyfriend, Elijah, and one guy in particular catches my eye. He smiles and laughs with the others, his piercing blue eyes sparkling with mirth as an older blonde girl recounts the time Katherine slapped a sleazy old customer who'd tried to cop a feel. He looks about sixteen with his tousled raven hair and pale blue shirt with the top two buttons undone, and I'm completely distracted as everyone toasts my sister and throws back the last of their drinks before the music starts up again.

Caroline, eagle-eyed and intuitive, instantly drags me to the gray couch in the corner of the room.

"What was that, Elena Marie Gilbert?" She demands, stressing every syllable of my name.

"What was what?" I deadpan, but she's having none of it.

"Oh, I don't know, just my best friend practically drooling over an unnamed, ridiculously attractive stranger when she's never shown the slightest bit of interest in any guy before now?" Caroline's voice rises in pitch to equal her obvious excitement.

"Shut up, Care. I wasn't drooling over anybody."

She gives me a thin-lipped, I-know-everything type look but doesn't push the issue any further. The night is nearing a close, at least for the two younger guests at this party, and she pulls me onto the dance floor to fit in another song or two before her mom picks us up.

It's now ten minutes to midnight, and Caroline's disappeared to the bathroom to freshen up. She's sneakily had a drink or six from the punchbowl throughout the evening and doesn't need to provide her police officer mother with another reason to keep her home on a Saturday night.

I'm attempting to blend into the couch when blue-eyes glances my way, smirks, and saunters over, sitting down next to me.

"So you're Katherine's sister. You look older than thirteen."

I blush tomato-red under his gaze, unable to think of a witty reply.

"She loves you a lot, you know. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but she really has a soft spot for you, especially when your mom's not around."

"Does she talk about our family a lot?"

The stranger shakes his head. "I've known her a while now, and she gets pretty tense around the topic. She talks about you but otherwise it's like pulling teeth. I didn't even know she had a stepbrother until tonight."

I nod slowly. "It's not Jeremy, it's his dad that she doesn't like mentioning."

"Family's complicated for you Gilberts, huh? I know that feeling."

I nod in response and then stare at my hands awkwardly, not knowing what to say.

"Where's your friend?"

"Bathroom. We're leaving soon."

"Damn. Have you had fun?"

I smile properly for the first time all night. "Yeah, it's been great."

"That's good. You know, you should smile more often. You have a really pretty smile."

"Thanks," I stammer shyly. I can feel my cheeks burning with embarrassment, and I'm thoroughly relieved when Caroline returns, makeup reapplied, hair redone, looking demure and collected as ever.

"Ready to go?" She enquires, lifting one perfectly shaped eyebrow at me. I nod hastily and jump to my feet.

"It was fun talking to you…" I trail off, not knowing my handsome stranger's name.

"Damon," he supplies with a smile.

"Damon," I repeat. "I'm Elena. Have fun at the rest of the party."

"See you around, Elena."

Thanks for reading! ~ Kim