Disclaimer: I don't own the Vampire Diaries or anything affiliated with the Vampire Diaries or really much of anything at all in general. The most depressing disclaimer.

Chapter Soundtrack: The Civil Wars – The Violet Hour


The dread he felt to see her lifeless body crumpled on the rocky ground of the quarry was to be expected.

Sure, they fought all the time, and sure, if asked they would both vehemently subscribe to the idea that the only emotion between them was intense loathing. But over the months of working together, they had come to an understanding, a begrudging mutual respect.

Secretly, on the night that she had faked her death at the decades dance, he had surprised himself and hoped to never see her like that again. So it made sense that he would feel the clench of anguish in his chest for a fallen ally.

But days later, grief still gripped his insides tight.

Having a conversation with Stefan and Elena, he tossed out a snarky comment and caught himself glancing over his shoulder to enjoy her displeased snarl. The ensuing silence was deafening to the vampire, who was disappointed to realize that no one was left to volley him any type of worthwhile resistance.

Weeks later, his turmoil had found an unwelcome inertia, settling in his muscles with a leaden gravity. He still eyed his phone warily each time it buzzed, having grown accustomed to hearing her voice relaying the latest setback in their master plans to save her best friend.

Months went by, and he found no appeasement.

How could he, who had been the first to jump onto the let's-sacrifice-the-judgy-little-witch bandwagon, be the one to miss her presence so much? Even Caroline's tears had finally stemmed as life marched on in the miserable town Bonnie Bennett had saved yet again.

He mulled over the platter of strawberries, selecting only one. Plump and succulent, its sanguine flesh was swathed in a cocoon of dark chocolate. He brought the berry to his lips, and his teeth cracked through the bittersweet chocolate to expose the pocked surface of the fruit to his languid tongue.

He felt her behind him before he saw her.

When he finally turned, he expected to find the witch in her plum cardigan and blouse ensemble, what she had worn the last time he'd attended this same wake at the Lockwood mansion and had this same confrontation with her in their overwrought dining room. Instead, she wore a loose, flowing gown of some soft ivory fabric. Her hair tumbled in waves over her shoulders, framing a silver amulet clasped about her throat.

"Don't you want to know why the Lockwoods were affected by the device?" Her tone, however, remained as it was in his memory.

This was where he was supposed to bring up her role in the Lockwoods being affected by the device, kicking off the chain of events that led to Caroline's admission to the hospital and Papa Lockwood's fiery demise. He was supposed to be piling onto what he'd always known was a powerful guilt building inside her. But somehow the words wouldn't come.

He felt a now-familiar tug in his chest. He missed this, her bravado and earnest righteousness. He missed her green eyes glaring at him, unwavering.

"What do you know about regret, Judgy?" he eventually asked before popping the rest of the strawberry into his mouth.

"What are you talking about? Quit changing the subject, Damon," she demanded.

He shrugged and walked around the table, knowing she would follow close behind. "I mean, have you ever just… let something happen and then wished you could go back and never have done it at all?"

She stopped short, and a small distance fell between them before he too stopped and turned to face her again. Her eyes cast downward, she answered him.

"If you're getting at the fact that I didn't de-spell the device, you'd be wrong." She lifted her head to stare at him directly. "I'm not happy about this, but it was the right thing to do. If I hadn't, all those tomb vampires would still be out there, and they would have killed a lot of people that night."

Her voice barely faltered, and Damon knew it wasn't him she was trying to convince. He shook his head.

"That's not what I was getting at."

Her gown was whipping around her frame now, though he felt no breeze.

She looked down, and he noticed a garish splotch of crimson appear over her chest, seeping into the pale bodice. It spread across the fabric, the bright stain marring the sweetheart neckline and creeping onto the windswept skirt. The heady scent of blood made his nostrils flare. Her breathing became labored, and she looked up at him in shock. He stood before her, helpless.

The disbelief in her eyes was the only thing in his mind when he woke up.

A/N: Super short is allowed for a prologue, right? If you've gotten this far, thank you! I'm going to post the first chapter now too, so click on through :D R&R please, lovelies!