Author's Note

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.

Author's Note

This story is a full-length Season 5 re-write, in which I take the characters and some elements of the show and use them to spin new plots and conflicts so that we end up in a far different place than Season 5 left us. This story begins directly after episode 05x02, True Lies, after Silas tried to mind control Elena to kill Damon but before Stefan was found in the safe.

After that, any similarities to the way things canonically occurred on the show are accidental, with the exception of the Augustine Society. I borrowed the basic idea of the Augustine Society from the show, but changed most of the story surrounding it and the details of the society itself to create a new story with exciting and fresh characters and plot. Also, any reveals that happened after episode 05x02 are not incorporated into this story (for example Nadia is not a vampire in this story, and she is also not Katherine's daughter). I hope you enjoy this alternative universe version of Season 5!

Prologue: An Iron Diary

It should be funny.

Damon would laugh, because he always dredges up a laugh for good irony, even when it comes out poisoned with bitterness. He would be going crazy in here, trying to break the screws apart with his fingernails, testing his strength over and over against the steel because he has never known when it was past time to give up. Has never known how to be still.

That's my department. Brooding in dark rooms, endlessly writing but otherwise barely moving at all, denying myself the things I want most. Especially blood. Always blood. This coffin should be my heaven, my brother would say, the sardonic twist to his mouth so implied that I can see it even in the unrelieved black of the water that torments me.

It should be just this side of hilarious that I am not content. This grave has given me an eternity of free rein to do exactly what I would have been doing anyway: secluding myself in a penance with no absolution. But now I can finally accept that it, that this, is nothing that I want to be.

And yet I gave in. I lay quiet and I write, just as everyone would have expected. I breathe, though the heavy water chokes me every time I forget. It's a tiny world built of ironies and contradictions that I inhabit now.

I'm dead, but buried alive.

I'm slowly desiccating, but surrounded on all sides by water.

I'm blind but yet I write, tracing words on the wrong side of the safe door, their shapes a comfort even as the repetition wears the skin from my fingertips and they heal, over and over again. I can't stop but I begin to learn gentleness with myself because I know the time is coming when my body will crave blood too much to be able to hoard its own. I barely tickle the lining of the safe when I write now. It is a soft, blood-red velour, the color taunting me even though in the place where I exist now, everything is invisible.

I don't sleep, because I refuse to give up another ounce of my senses past what has already been stolen from me.

I screamed at first, gagging heedlessly as I kicked and pounded and fought. I nearly broke my cell phone in half, texting Damon over and over with trembling fingers while the No Service icon taunted me with the accusation of its steadily glowing eye, until the water killed it too. Sick to the core of myself over the final loss of Elena, maybe I would have fallen slack earlier if I didn't know that Silas was out there, stalking my loved ones freely, using my own face as his key to all their houses.

The way I once tormented them, without a shred of the guilt that Damon thinks I can't live without.

I wonder which of us is worse behind our identical eyes, which of us will prove to be the most deeply, selfishly evil. The most destructive. God knows I've shown my worst to this town, to my friends, more than once.

It's not their names I write on the ceiling of my universe now, though. It is his name (mine? ) that I write, as if the curve of the indiscernible letters will reveal his nature. If he is truly my dark side, or if I was created to be his.

I didn't understand, from his smug soliloquy, what sort of creature he truly was and he didn't exactly wait around for me to satisfy my curiosity. He didn't kill me, though, and I doubt it was only for a more symmetrical kind of revenge. (Against me? Against fate?) If he thinks my life has been a gift that he was denied, he didn't do much research.

No one in Mystic Falls ever pulls the punches on their revenge plots unless they have to. No, Silas didn't kill me because something about that would harm him too, or because he needs me for something else. But even as I trace the words, I know no one will ever read them, and there's not a thing I can do about him from here.

Author's Note: Oh hell, it's great to be back! I so missed all of you! Next chapter up is a delightfully snarky Damon POV, so don't underuse your follow button, people.

Thanks to Goldnox, for a title of superlative, psychic brilliance and a summary to match, for 376 gorgeous Delena shots for possible covers, for beta'ing like nobody else in this wide, beautiful world, for texted pillow fights and socks and oh I just give up. lol!

Until next chapter, goodnight, good luck, and sweet Damon-y dreams to all of you!