The Mourning After

The Mourning After The Mourning After

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

A Fanfic set after Midnight.

Summary

A Fanfic set after Midnight.

Content

Submitted: June 28, 2011

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: June 28, 2011

A A A

A A A


The Mourning After

By E.F.G.

“Can we go upstairs?”Bonnie whispered to Elena, as soon as Elena came out of Mrs. Flowers’s first floor bedroom. Elena didn’t need to ask why Bonnie wanted a quick conference.The younger girl had seen her taking Mrs. Flowers aside.She must have at least guessed at the subject that was being discussed behind the closed door, and she certainly must have noticed Elena’s freshly reddened eyes and the tremor in her hands afterward.

No getting away from it.Elena excused herself to the “powder room”—and if there was any face powder in this damned boardinghouse, she swore, she was going to find it and use it.She’d more or less given up wearing makeup after becoming a vampire, but now she was certain that both she and Bonnie were going to need it.Their noses would be lit up like Rudolph’s from crying if they spoke about Damon now.

Once Bonnie was in the room she shared with Meredith, she got straight to the point.“You talked to Mrs. Flowers about him,” she said shakily. “I know you did.Did she ask Mama?Did Grandmama say anything?”

Elena had had time on the stairs to come up with her position, and now, even looking into Bonnie’s clear brown eyes, she was determined to stick to it.Tell a girl like Bonnie that Grandmama had said that there might be the slightest chance that Damon’s soul was not be lost irretrievably and all you’d do was give her false hope.No, you’d do worse.Elena knew Bonnie.Inside that finally-filling-out-chest, a dandelion of hope would snowball, until it ended up as a boulder the size of a trailer, and made of diamond to boot.It was kinder to crush the dandelion now, to let Elena do the worrying and the planning and sweating, and—perhaps—somehow, someday she could open a door to let in a young man who would say casually, “Hullo, Redbird.”

So her thoughts ran, but she hadn’t taken into consideration the change in the balance of power since the Celestial Court had worked their righteous magic.Bonnie was clutching Elena’s ice cold hand in a chilly grip of her own, and an instant after Elena had begun, “Bonnie, I’m sorry—” she caroled:

“Oh my God!I knew it!I knew he wasn’t just gone.And if his soul is out there we can find him a body!Don’t look at me that way; I don’t mean just any body, but a body that—Sage!He could find a body.Or maybe Damon’s body is wherever his soul is.Who knows?We can’t just cry; we have to plan.They took away the Master Keys.But—we know there’s another way to get into the Dark Dimension.I don’t mind being a slave again, do you?Especially to Stefan.He’s the one to take us back into there, don’t you think?”

Elena broke away, turning toward the window automatically.Things had changed.It used to be that she could talk to Bonnie as an equal, telepathically—maybe even as a superior.Now, she couldn’t even interrupt Bonnie’s flow of words with a single unspoken Wait.Bonnie had taken all that Mrs. Flowers had said from Elena’s mind, but Elena hadn’t heard a single thought of Bonnie’s.They really were back to the way they had been before—no, Bonnie had come out a far stronger telepath than ever.

And that’s good, Elena was desperately counseling herself, when the first tears began to fall.She couldn’t control them.Her head was down and she didn’t know what to do about it.And then she heard Bonnie’s breath catch on a sob and she knew what to do.She put her arms around Bonnie’s small, shuddering frame and held on.

“I can’t talk to you that way anymore,” she gasped, face buried in soft, light strawberry curls.“You can’t hear me.”

“I can hear you perf’ly well.” Bonnie’s tone was staunch, despite a hiccup in the middle of a word.

“You can read my mind.That’s different!I can’t hold a conversation.Bonnie”—soberly.“I can’t hear you.”

“Well—I always say—what I think— out loud—anyway,” Bonnie said, and the sobs stopped shaking her little bird bones suddenly.“That’s what everyone tells me.So what difference does it make?”Maybe by accident, her arms stayed around Elena neck, rubbing Elena’s shoulder blades, where magnificent, insubstantial wings had once appeared.Elena was sore there.She would never forget the pain and humiliation of being held down in the Celestial Court as each pair of wings was clipped off.

“Elena?Why didn’t you want to tell me?You weren’t—shouting that part in your mind—and I didn’t quite get it.”

No point in trying to put spilled milk back in a carton.No point in hurting Bonnie.“I was afraid to hope, myself.And doubly afraid to pass on misinformation.”

“But you didn’t!Grandmama only said there was a chance.”

“A tiny, tiny hope for a chance,” Elena whispered miserably, knowing that Bonnie, in her golden haze of joy, didn’t hear a word she was saying.“The ghost of a chance.And she didn’t know where or how or if we would ever see him again.”

Clearly still inside her golden chrysalis, Bonnie nodded.“But I don’t care if we see him, do you?As long as he’s okay.”

Elena was dumbfounded.

She’d wondered the same thing once before, when Bonnie had forgiven Damon for drugging her, getting information out of her, stashing her in a prisonlike inn in the Dark Dimension, and then putting the blame on her when she’d gone across the street and had gotten kidnapped by slavers.Back then, Elena had wondered if Bonnie was more of true woman than she was.Now she knew it.If Bonnie was so gracious as to be happy that Damon (in her mind) was far away but all right and probably cheating at cards with some ogres right now—well, she definitely got the Nobility Award.

But Elena wanted to see Damon.See him smiling a rare genuine little smile at her, wry, just one corner of his mouth up.She wanted to look into his eyes, gone soft and velvety just for her.She wanted to be held by him, feeling him trying to calculate how hard he could hold her before she was in danger of broken ribs, then losing the ability to figure out anything so complicated and winging it, reckoning she knew how to scream.

She’d screamed at him for other things, but never for holding her breathless.Had Bonnie ever screamed at him?Ever?

“I promised myself I wouldn’t scream when Shinichi was going to throw me out of the window, you know.And I didn’t—even when Damon rescued me,” Bonnie said casually and mysteriously, as if Elena had spoken her thoughts aloud, and Bonnie was continuing somewhat obliquely on the point.Then Bonnie pulled away, trying to see into Elena’s face, as Elena tried to hide under her hair.“You’re still . . . sad,” she said, with a little shrug that meant there were longer and more colorful words and phrases, like “devastated,” “overcome,” or “ heartbroken and shattered,” that might sound better, but, well, what was the point of using them when they both knew what this kind of “sad” meant?

“I guess,” Elena said.And then simply, “Yes. I’m . . . in mourning.”

“But . . . Stefan didn’t die.” Bonnie was looking earnestly up at her.She knew—because of the telepathy—how Elena felt about Stefan.Stefan was like air and light and water to Elena.He was her place to live and grow.He was necessary to her survival on the most basic level imaginable.

“No, Stefan didn’t die, and Fell’s Church was saved,” Elena said steadily.She’d stopped crying and her voice was fairly level as she added, “Bonnie, what if aliens came to this world and they were really nice and they looked like us and had families and everything, and we came to love them, but then they revealed that in their world the . . . the most sacred unchangeable law said that you could only love one of your parents.Not both.Just one.And they thought that we were . . . selfish and even—perverted, demented, sick— because they realized that lots of us loved both of our parents”

Bonnie was definitely looking sick now.She didn’t say anything, but Elena guessed that that her imagination had taken the ball and run with it, run off ahead of her into distant places where she could see dim figures.And that she didn’t want to see them close-up.

Elena still pushed at her.“Which one do you pick, Bonnie?Which one, to love forever and only see the other one every few years, maybe while they’re walking around with your sister Mary?Because of course, she can’t pick the same as yours.That would be an abomination!What if she picked your father?”

And then Elena knew that despite herself, Bonnie had caught up to the dim figures.They were in color now, her mother and father and sister Mary. But—perhaps just as she reached them, her father and Mary disappeared, going into the darkness, laughing as they went.Laughing.

“Daddy . . . !” Bonnie kept the scream to whisper level, but when she opened her eyes, Elena knew she’d made her point.

“But it’s not something true, is it?” Bonnie demanded of her.“You didn’t see a place like that when you were a spirit or anything.Did you?”

“No.I saw one world: this one, that leaves you to be free in loving two or more of anything: parents—real or adopted—cats, friends, dogs, careers, movies, kinds of ice cream, types of cars, sorts of food, brands of clothes and jewelry. Everything is in multiples—except who you marry.And then it’s sacred.”

“But voting,” Bonnie said faintly, and looking surprised herself at the quickness of her repartee.“You could—I don’t know, promise the Democrats things if they’ll vote for you, and then do the same thing with the Republicans. That would be bad.”

Elena held out a hand to her and said, “Very bad.And it’s done all the time.All the time.Or you can even make yourself act ditzy on most subjects but be a genius on some others.Welcome to death, taxes, and politics, the only realities in the universe.”

Bonnie had her head in her hands, with her fingers clawed as if trying to pull out her strawberry curls.“I forgot,” she said.“You can cheat.Like I did on Raymond, going out with that other guy who lived in Leesburg.That was bad, too.”

“Maybe.Ohhh . . . little Bonnie.What even happened to Raymond?When things got rough, he ran out.Besides”—with a sudden flash of fire—“who cheats the most, guys or girls?Really, Bonnie.Don’t look inside, look outside.”

“Why, guys,” Bonnie said, as if she had just come to this surprising conclusion.“You’re always hearing about it.They do it in parking lots; and then they have ‘love children’.”

“And you only hear about it if they’re famous.And then what do the ‘good boys’ do?They pick a girl and marry her and keep her for just long enough for their kids to become teenagers and get really obnoxious.Then they scat!Like rats off a burning ship.And it’s on to the next ‘gal’.And on. And on.They keep doing it until they die—”

“In their bed,” Bonnie said, with a weary smile.

“It’s a whole different standard for women.The double standard.You know about it; you’ve heard about it all your life.Anyway,” Elena went on, still on fire, “We don’t even look at Raymonds anymore.We look at demons and demi-gods; we deal with the Celestial Court and the Dark Dimension.You do know I’m going back there someday.Not to the Court.To the other place, where all the slaves are.They think some kind of deliverer is coming.I think whatever they think has to come true.”

She stopped.Just recently Bonnie had really been a slave, not a glamorous “personal assistant” of Damon’s, wearing ball gowns and dripping with gems.Bonnie had seen what genuine slavery was, and she hadn’t been sure whether she would be delivered, or if she would die, or worse.

“You know that there is a worse,” Bonnie marveled.Telepathy was old news to her.Elena’s attitude was surprising.

“I’ve been in Stefan’s dreams.I don’t tell him.I don’t think he knows.”

“If you don’t want him to, he won’t.You’re a strong projector.I can’t block you.But I bet Stefan can.”

“He can; he does.But to know he has to block, he has to know there’s some pretty crappy stuff behind what he’s blocking.”Elena sighed.“He cried so hard for Damon last night. I didn’t realize how much he loved him.Did you ever hear anything about their childhood, when they were still human? Stefan told me there had always been ill will between them—but last night he remembered a time before that.When he was younger, Stefan used to follow Damon around and Damon and his friends would use him to get into conversations with girls.The girls were all so taken by Stefan: ‘look isn’t he cute; can he sing?Can he play the lute?’He was a lot shorter then—just a kid while Damon was a—hem! active teen.And the girl’s chaperones were all so charmed by Stefan’s looks and perfect manners that they hardly paid attention to what Damon was saying to the girls they were supposed to be protecting.”

Bonnie’s brow knotted.“It sounds like he was using Stefan to me.”

“Well, yes, yes of course—there’s that.But Stefan idolized his big brother, and was happy to be part of Damon’s crowd—”Elena was about to go on, to get back to the main subject, when Bonnie suddenly hugged her hard.

“What’s that for?”

“For being you.Just—you.You’re the most selfish person I’ve ever known, and the most selfless.At the same time!”

“Huh—?“ Elena needed air.At the same time, being pressed this close to Bonnie—for this long—she was realizing something subconsciously.Bonnie might be all bird bones everywhere else but she had definitely developed a soft front.She really was becoming a young woman.

But Elena’s conscious mind had snagged on Bonnie’s staggering phrase.“The most selfish.”That dropped down and felt true in her bones.She was Elena Gilbert.It was her blessing and also her curse.She could never stop being Elena Gilbert.

“You wanted Damon, and you’d have got Damon,” Bonnie said steadily, with only a tremor at the end.Elena wanted to interrupt her, to tell her “never at the cost of losing Stefan!” but she was practicing not-being-Elena-Gilbert-whenever-she-felt-like-it and she kept her mouth closed.

“You will get him—if you want him.This is a prophecy I’m making. But instead you’ll die being Disciplined for trying to save the slaves in the Dark Dimension.”Bonnie rubbed her fragile wrists as if she could still fell the slave bracelets on them, tight, so you knew they weren’t jewelry.Free people in the Dark Dimension didn’t wear bracelets as jewelry, anyway.It would be like wearing a ball and chain at a white tie affair.

“It’s you, Elena.What did Sage call you?He said your name meant Light, and how it conquers all Darkness.You love everyone who deserves it.And the doom you’re under makes sure everyone loves you back.”

Suddenly Elena did feel light—both weightless and full of clarity.“But can’t you see it, then, Bonnie?” she asked. “Damon coming back after our last adventure, a soldier weary from the wars.You can see him kneeling beside you, in that special confiding way he had—he has.Particularly—we might as well be realistic about it—after a few glasses of Black Magic.”

Elena herself could see, and feel Bonnie see, how alone he’d been.How the child in his soul didn’t really want long canines or fountains spilling blood, or even hunting and tracking.He’d wanted what every toddler wants.Somewhere inside the tough, angry, universally streetwise, half-a- millennium-old Damon Salvatore was an unheld child.A kid, just weaned, being pushed away from his mother’s breast so that another child could suckle. A kid who’d felt he had to give up his mother entirely when she’d mysteriously and unkindly made a new baby.And then, just two years later, still a kid, who had been brought in the middle of the night to see his mother lying in her chamber.She’d been white and worn to a shadow when she’d kissed his cheek then, and by morning he was motherless.

Bonnie moved back from the hug.Tears were streaming down her face, but she was trying to smile, and succeeding, because for her it was a certainty that Damon was alive and that she would be able to find him and hug him and hug him.At the same time, her brown eyes flickered up at Elena’s mischievously.

“It is pretty nice,” she said, looking down at her burgeoning bosom with a keen eye.“I mean, they’re kind of soft to bump into.You’ve got a lot more to bump with,” she added wistfully.

“Don’t worry; they’ll come.You’ll probably end up looking like a miniature showgirl.And Meredith will always be lithe and elegant.”Elena stared sightlessly at a space partway between Bonnie and herself—a space where Meredith belonged, and in an instant her heart was flooded with loneliness.She saw that Bonnie was feeling the same thing.

We both rely on Meredith so much—would we even be alive without her?

Of course not.She should be here now.

Elena forced herself back into the wind, back onto the main track of the subject. “I was telling you your future,” she said and went on, even though Bonnie’s tears flowed faster. “He settles beside you.He makes a few generally obnoxious remarks, probably about Matt . . . “

“Oooh.”Bonnie had clenched small fists.“When they were both human and Matt hit him right in the nose—“

“You’re not listening to the story, Bonnie.Just hear me out.Maybe he has a few more cups of Black Magic than he should.You’re crying because you think he hates all humans.And then . . .”

Elena could see it all. Damon’s belated discovery of the tears, and then the production of a black silk handkerchief.And finally Damon sitting on the floor, and the words coming, hesitantly at first, then faster when he felt Bonnie’s pulse racing beneath his fingers.

“ ‘I’ve had enough of adventure, little Redbird.I want to come home.But where does a creature like me find a real home?Even Stefan has only put up with me because Elena made him give his sacred word.Don’t speak.I know you’d give me a home and you’d stay without promises.But I’m a vampire, Bonnie McCullough.And fifty years would seem to be next week, and how could I stand to—’”

“To watch me age and wither and wrinkle and die,” Bonnie breathed in horror, cutting Elena’s words off.“Elena, after you died—even you—when Klaus made Stefan see you that way—“She was sobbing in good earnest now.

“Stop that!” Elena said sharply, and Bonnie choked and stopped, her lips parted in surprise.

“Because that’s not what you’ll say,” Elena went on, when she was sure she had the other girl’s full attention.“You’ll say to him, ‘Don’t be afraid.I won’t age and wither and wrinkle and die like other humans.Because without even meaning to, Elena stole a half-full bottle of the Water of the Fountain of Youth from the Gateway of the Seven Kitsune Treasures.She had it in a plastic Arrowhead bottle, and no one ever asked her about it and she was unconscious when we all left—probably the only way she could have sneaked it by the guards.So I can pick an age and then take my medicine.Now I can make you a home—forever.’”

Bonnie was frozen, cowering . . . unbelieving.No, believing.Her lips were still parted in astonishment.For a moment Elena thought she would faint, but then she gathered herself and Elena’s arms were full of delicacy and softness.

“Young forever?” Bonnie gasped, and then suddenly slithered out of Elena’s grasp and fell back, barely catching herself with her hands on the bed behind her.“Oh, what’s a good age?Not until I’m a B-cup at least.”

“Listen, Bonnie,” Elena said seriously—she spent no time in contemplating how Bonnie could leap from immortality to bra size in one bound—“what I’ve told you is a deep, dark secret.The Guardians of the Celestial Court don’t know it.They’ve got no reason to be suspicious, right now,They’ve made it easy for us to come back and fit in as if we’d never discovered the supernatural—”

“Easy?”Bonnie was semi-hysterical.“When I’m going to be afraid every morning of wearing an outfit I’ve ‘said’ should be given to charity—and I’m the only one who doesn’t knows I’ve ‘said’ it?”

“I don’t think they gave people those kind of memories,” Elena said thoughtfully.“People have vague memories of us going to dances and things, but nothing too specific.”She sighed.Bonnie’s face had color: her eyes were bright, and Elena had achieved what she had set out to do.No one needed to know how difficult the last half hour had been on Elena.

But Bonnie’s expression changed suddenly, now, her eyebrows coming together and her lips pressed tightly.“You see what I mean?” she said.“Why everyone loves you?Without your Fountain of Youth potion I could hardly dream about being together with Damon.But you didn’t have to share that story.You could have just let me think that . . . even—even . . . caring for him—”

“As a ‘personal assistant’—”

“Would be pointless, and so I should forget all about it.But you couldn’t do that, any more than you’d have lied about what Grandmama said.You love everyone and you want to give them all your best stuff, even if it hurts you.”

“Didn’t Ms. Hopewell teach us that in charm school?”Elena could hear the sudden tinny false note in her own voice.

“Right, and she also told us one that good turn deserves another.”Bonnie sucked in a deep breath, as if steadying herself.“I’ll tell you a bedtime story, Elena.Mine starts—oh, it doesn’t matter where it starts.I suck at making things up.But it happens one day when you slay a dragon or a griffith”—she paused.“We had a teacher called Mr. Griffith, didn’t we?Aren’t they godawful hellacious monsters?”

Elena managed to keep a straight face.“There are griffins.And wyverns.Or are there?—I don’t know which godawful hellacious monsters are real and which aren’t, to tell the truth.I’ll have to ask Stefan.“

“Don’t ask Stefan.Save it and someday you’ll be able to ask Damon.We have to keep the faith.”

Elena shut her eyes and then opened them.“Yes.We have to believe or we’ll never rescue him.”

“Anyway, you’re standing over the body of this giant godawful putrid corpse and you look at him.That’s all you need to do.That was what you’d always do in the Dark Dimension—look at each other and then the next minute you guys were hugging.And he looks at you and says, ‘Elena, I’ve had enough darkness for the rest of my life.I’m not going to ask you to be my Princess of the Night anymore.I know you’ll never agree.But I want to make a life with you, a home.Forever or for whatever time you’re willing to give me.’Now look me in the face and tell me the truth.Which . . . scenario, thanks . . . do you think is more likely?Him saying that to you or me?You don’t have to say it out loud.I can hear you.I can hear you hearing him—”Bonnie’s voice broke.

Elena turned away.Bonnie was pushing her buttons.That was the problem with having a friend you’d known since kindergarten who was also a master telepath.Bonnie knew exactly which buttons to push, and now images were rushing at her.The first time she’d met Damon; how he’d appeared out of the half-light while she was alone in the high school gym, as if darkness itself had coalesced to form his figure; how he had frightened the life out of her—and how she had almost let him kiss her, a complete stranger, in that great dim room.

“I came here looking for someone,” he’d said, teasing her, tantalizing her; his eyes like no others she’d ever seen.And then as he left, disappearing back into the darkness, his voice soft but serious, with no trace of amusement: "Perhaps I've already found her—Elena."

She hadn’t even known his name.

That wasn’t the worst of it, either.From the time that he had appeared, until the time she’d almost yielded herself to his kiss, she had forgotten about the passion and joy and serenity that she had only just found with Stefan.She had been unable to remember Stefan’s existence.Bonnie was right.Damon could do that to her.It wasn’t Influence—she had learned enough about telepathy afterward to know that he hadn’t used any vampire Power on her.It was . . . himself.It was herself.It was something that neither of them could control.Fire meeting fire.

It had been like that recently, too, when they had been in the Dark Dimension.She had literally been his slave there, and quite legally he could have done anything he liked to her.He had never been so reserved, so polite, so—distant.Until somehow the fire had burned though the wax of his distance and they had, again and again, found themselves locked in an embrace.They had danced, and the dance had been like a dream.Somewhere, forever, they would always be dancing.She had learned that when he was dying—having sacrificed his life for Bonnie’s.

How dare she love him and Stefan both?How dare she?Who was she to try to take both of the two most eligible young men she’d ever met?Especially when Bonnie wanted one of them herself?She really was evil, just like Katherine.She could feel her heart begin to accelerate.Not simply selfish.She was evil . . .

“Stop it!”Bonnie had her hands pressed to her temples.“You’re not!You can’t be; don’t you see?You’ve already chosen your stand.You could have been evil when you were a vampire, but you refused.You’ve chosen at every crossroads, and you’ve never chosen evil.You never will.”

Won’t I? Elena thought helplessly.Does that mean I have to give Damon up?

No.Suddenly it was as if she heard another voice in her mind, not hers, not Bonnie’s.You don’t need to give anything up right now.You only have to be willing to give it up.Just be willing, that’s all.No decision yet.Right now you don’t have to promise anything.

Elena’s breath caught in her throat.But her mind was already assessing, answering.

I’m willing.I might not have to give him up, but I might.I might never see him again, but I might.That’s all I have to promise.Someday I’ll stand at another crossroads.I’ll just have to wait and see what happens then.

She found that she had shut her eyes, and she opened them.Bonnie was watching her, brown eyes wide.

“I heard that, too!Someone else in your mind!But who?”

“I don’t know,” Elena whispered.

Bonnie’s lashes swept down as she shut her own eyes for a moment.Then she opened them again and smiled shakily.“I made the same promise.To whoever is out there.I might not ever see him again—but I might.I might not have to give him up . . . but I might.I’m willing.And we’re both going to search for him.”

“Together,” Elena said.“To the crossroads . . .and beyond it.”

“Together,” Bonnie promised, holding out her hand.

They were still holding hands as they went out the door to find Meredith and the others.Elena forgot about finding face powder.She was already trying to formulate Plan A for finding Damon.And plan B.And plan C and D and E, F, and G . . .

The Beginning . . .


© Copyright 2018 EFG. All rights reserved.

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