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Elena'sDiary

A photo from L. J. Smith's Myspace.

Elena Gilbert keeps a dark blue velvet diary with a golden lock on it in the series. It is stolen in The Awakening on October 18 by Caroline Forbes, and she writes in a separate diary until she gets it back at the end of The Struggle. Both diaries are put in the library at the end of The Fury, and so Elena keeps a computer log in Nightfall and eventually gets a new diary. The first two diaries are returned to her in The Hunters and she goes back to using the original one (or the "velvet covered" one).

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September 4

Dear Diary,

Something awful is going to happen today.

I don't know why I wrote that. It's crazy. There's no reason for me to be upset and every reason for me to be happy, but...

But here I am 5:30 in the morning, awake and scared. I keep telling myself that I'm all messed up from the time difference between France and here. But that doesn't explain why I feel so scared. So lost.

The day before yesterday, while Aunt Judith and Margaret and I were driving back from the airport, I had such a strange feeling. When we turned onto our street I suddenly thought, "Mom and Dad are waiting for us at home. I bet they'll be on the front porch or in the living room looking out the window. They must have missed me so much."

I know. That sounds totally crazy.

But even when I saw the house and the empty front porch I still felt that way. I ran up the steps and tried the door and knocked with the knocker. And when Aunt Judith unlocked the door I burst inside and just stood in the hallway listening, expecting to hear Mom coming the stairs or Dad calling from the den.

Just then Aunt Judith let a suitcase crash down on the floor behind me and sighed a huge sigh and said "We're home". And Margaret laughed. And the most horrible I've ever felt in my life came over me. I've never felt so utterly and completely lost.

Home. I'm home. Why does that sound like a lie?

I was born here in Fell's Church. I've always lived in this house, always. This is my same bedroom, with the scorch mark on the floorboards where Caroline and I tried to sneak cigarettes in 5th grade and nearly choked ourselves. I can look out the window and see the big quince tree Matt and the guys climbed up to crash my birthday slumber party two years ago. This is my bed, my chair, my dresser.

But right now everything looks strange to me, as if I don't belong here. It's me that's out of place. And the worst thing is that I feel there's somewhere I do belong, but I just can't find it.

I was too tired yesterday to go to Orientation. Meredith picked up my schedule for me, but I didn't feel like talking to her on the phone. Aunt Judith told everyone who called that I had jet lag and was sleeping, but she watched me at dinner with a funny look on her face.

I've got to see the crowd today, though. We're supposed to meet in the parking lot before school. Is that why I'm scared? Am I frightened of them?

___________________________________________________________________________________________

September 5 (actually early September 6 - about 1:00 a.m.)

Dear Diary,

I should go back to bed soon. Just a few minutes ago I woke up thinking someone was shouting, but now the house is quiet. So many strange things have happened tonight that my nerves are shot, I guess.

At least I woke up knowing exactly what I'm going to do about Stefan. The whole thing just sort of sprang into my mind. Plan B, Phase One, begins tomorrow.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

September 26

Dear Diary,

I'm sorry it's been so long, and I can't really explain why I haven't written - except that there are so many things I feel frightened to talk about, even to you.

First, the most terrible thing happened. The day that Bonnie and Meredith and I were at the cemetery, an old man was attacked there, and almost killed. The police still haven't found the person who did it. People think the old man was crazy, because when he woke up he started raving about "eyes in the dark" and oak trees and things. But I remember what happened to us that night, and I wonder. It scares me.

Everyone was scared for a while, and all the kids had to stay inside after dark or go out in groups. But it's been about three weeks now, and no more attacks, so the excitement is dying down. Aunt Judith says it must have been another vagrant that did it. Tyler Smallwood's father even suggested that the old man would have done it to himself - though I would like to see somebody bite himself in the throat.

But mostly what I've been busy with is Plan B. As far as it goes, it's been going quite well. I've gotten several letters and a bouquet of red roses from "Jean-Claude" (Meredith's uncle is a florist), and everybody seems to have forgotten that I was ever interested in Stefan. So my social position's secure. Even Caroline hasn't been making any trouble.

In fact, I don't know what Caroline is doing these days, and I don't care. I never see her at lunch or after school anymore; she seems to have drawn away from her old crowd completely.

There's only one thing I do care about right now. Stefan.

Even Bonnie and Meredith don't realize how important he is to me. I'm afraid to tell them; I'm afraid they'll think I'm crazy. At school I wear a mask of calm and control, but on the inside - well, every day it just gets worse.

Aunt Judith has started to worry about me. She says I don't eat enough these days, and she's right. I can't concentrate on my classes, or even anything fun like the Haunted House fundraiser. I can't concentrate on anything but him. And I don't even understand why.

He hasn't spoken to me since that horrible afternoon. But I'll tell you something strange. Last week in history class, I glanced up and caught him looking at me. We were sitting a few seats apart, and he was turned completely sideways in his desk, just looking. For a moment I felt almost frightened, and my heart started pounding, and we just stared at each other - and then he looked away. But since then it's happened twice more, and each time I felt his eyes on me before I saw them. This is the literal truth. I know it's not my imagination.

He isn't like any boy I've ever known.

He seems so isolated, so lonely. Even though it's his own choice. He's made quite a hit on the football team. but he doesn't hang around with any of the guys, except maybe Matt. Matt's the only one he talks to. He doesn't hang around with any girls, either; that I can see, so maybe the rumor is doing some good. But it's more like he's avoiding other people than they're avoiding him. He disappears between classes and after football practice, and I've never once seen him in the cafeteria. He's never invited anybody to his room at the boarding house. He never visits the coffee shop after school.

So how can I ever get him someplace where he can't run from me? This is the real problem with Plan B. Bonnie says, "Why not get stuck in a thunderstorm with him, so you have to huddle together to conserve body warmth?" And Meredith suggested that my car could break down in front of the boarding house. But neither of those ideas is practical, and I'm going insane trying to come up with something better.

Every day it's getting worse for me. I feel as if I were a clock or something, winding up tighter and tighter. If I don't find something to do soon, I'll -

I was going to say "die".

___________________________________________________________________________________________

October 7, about. 8:00 a.m.

Dear diary,

I'm writing this during trig class, and I just hope Ms. Halpern doesn't see me.

I didn't have time to write last night, even though I wanted to. Yesterday was a crazy, mixed-up day, just like the night of the Homecoming dance. Sitting here in school this morning I almost feel like everything that happened this weekend was a dream. The bad things were so bad, but the good things were so very, very good.

I'm not going to press criminal charges against Tyler. He's suspended from school, though, and off the football team. So's Dick, for being drunk at the dance. Nobody is saying so, but I think a lot of people think he was responsible for what happened to Vickie. Bonnie's sister saw Tyler at the clinic yesterday, and she said he had two black eyes and his whole face was purple. I can't help worrying about what's going to happen when he and Dick get back to school. They have more reason to than ever to hate Stefan now.

Which brings me to Stefan. When I woke up this morning I panicked, thinking "What if it all isn't true? What if it never happened, or if he's changed his mind?" And Aunt Judith was worried at breakfast because I couldn't eat again. But then when I got to school I saw him in the corridor by the office, and we just looked at each other. And I knew. Just before he turned away, he smiled, sort of wryly. And I unerstood that, too, and he was right, it was better not to go up to each other in a public hallway, not unless we want to give the secretaries a thrill.

We are very definitely together. Now I just have to find a way to explan all this to Jean-Claude. Ha-ha.

What I don't understand is why Stefan isn't as happy about it as I am. When we're with each other I can feel how he feels, and I know how much he wants me, how much he cares. There's an almost desperate hunger inside him when he kisses me, as if he wants to pull the soul out of my body. Like a black hole that

Still October 7, now about 2:00 p.m.

Well, a little break there because Miss Halpern caught me. She even started to read what I'd written out loud, but then I think the subject matter steamed her glasses up and she stopped. She was Not Amused. I'm too happy to care about minor things like flunking trigonometry.

Stefan and I had lunch together, or at least we went off into a corner of the field and sat down with my lunch. He didn't even bother to bring anything, and of course as it turned out I couldn't eat either. We didn't touch each other much - we didn't - but we talked and looked at each other a lot. I want to touch him. More than any boy I've ever known. And I know he wants it, too, but he's holding back on me.

That's what I can't understand, why he's fighting this, why he's holding back. Yesterday in his room I found proof positive that he's been watching me from the beginning. You remembe how I told that on the second day of school Bonnie and Meredith and I were in the cemetery? Well, yesterday in Stefan's room I found the apricot ribbon I was wearing that day. I remember it falling out of my hand while I was running, and he must have picked it up and kept it. I haven't told him I know, because he obviously wants to keep it a secret, but that shows, doesn't it, that he cares about me?

I'll tell you someone else who is Not Amused. Caroline. Apparently she's been dragging him off into the photography room for lunch ever day, and when he didn't show up today she went searching until she found us. Poor Stefan, he'd forgotten about her completely, and he was shocked at himself. Once she left - a nasty unhealthy shade of green, I might add - he told me how she'd attached herself to him the first week of school. she said she's noticed he didn't really eat at lunch and she didn't either since she was on a diet, and why didn't they go someplace quiet and relax? He wouldn't really say anything bad about her (which I think is his idea of manners again, a gentleman doesn't do that), but he did say there was nothing at all between them. And for Caroline I think being forgotten was worse than if he'd thrown rocks at her.

I wonder why Stefan hasn't been eating lunch, though. It's strange in a football player.

Uh-oh. Mr. Tanner just walked by and I slammed my note pad over this diary just in time. Bonnie is snickering behind her history boook, I can see her shoulders shaking. And Stefan, who's in front of me, looks as tense as if he's going to leap out of his chair any minute. Matt is giving me "you nut" looks and Caroline is glaring. I am being very, very innocent, writing with my eyes fixed on Tanner up front. So if this is a bit wobbly and messy, you'll understand why.

For the last month, I haven't really been myself. I haven't been able to think clearly or concentrate on anything but Stefan. There is so much I've left undone that I'm almost scared. I'm supposed to be in charge of decorations for the Haunted House and I haven't done one thing about it yet. Now I've got exactly three and a half weeks to get it organized - and I want to be with Stefan.

I could quit the committee. But that would leave Bonnie and Meredith holding the bag. And I keep remembering what Matt said when I asked him to get Stefan to come to the dance: "You want everybody and everything revolving around Elena Gilbert."

That isn't true. Or at least, if it has been in the past, I'm not going to let it be anymore. I want - oh, this is going to sound completely stupid, but I want to be worthy of Stefan. I know he wouldn't let the guy on the team down just to suit his own convenience. I want him to be proud of me.

I want him to love me as much as I love him.

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October 17

Dear Diary,

I feel awful tonight. And I have to share it with someone.

Something is going wrong with Stefan and me. There is this terrible sadness inside him that I can't reach, and it's driving us apart. I don't know what to do.

I can't bear the thought of losing him. But he's so very unhappy about something, and if he won't tell me what it is, if he won't trust me that much, I don't see any hope for us.

Yesterday when he was holding me I felt something smooth and round underneath his shirt, something on a chain. I asked him, teasingly, if it was a gift from Caroline. And he just froze and wouldn't talk anymore. It was as if he were suddenly a thousand miles away, and his eyes...there was so much pain in his eyes that I could hardly stand it. I feel as if someone has hurt him terribly in the past and he's never gotten over it. But I also think there's something he's afraid of, some secret he's afraid I'll find out. If I only knew what that was, I could prove to him that he can trust me. That he can trust me no matter what happens, to the end.

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December 5 - I don't know what time, probably early afternoon.

Dear diary,

Damon got you back for me this morning. Stefan said he didn't want me going into Alaric's attic again. This is Stefan's pen I'm using. I don't own anything anymore, or at least I can't get at any of my own things, and most of them Aunt Judith would miss if I took them. I'm sitting right now in a barn behind the boardinghouse. I can't go where people sleep, you know, unless I've been invited in. I guess animals don't count, because there are some rats sleeping here under the hay and an owl in the rafters. At the moment, we're ignoring each other.

I'm trying very hard not to have hysterics.

I thought writing might help. Something normal, something familiar. Except that nothing in my life is normal anymore.

Damon says I'll get used to it faster if I throw my old life away and embrace the new one. He seems to think it's inevitable that I turn out like him. He says I was born to be a hunter and there's no point in doing things halfway.

I hunted a deer last night. A stag, because it was making the most noise, clashing its antlers against tree branches, challenging other males. I drank its blood.

When I look over this diary, all I can see is that I was searching for something, for someplace to belong. But this isn't it. This new life isn't it. I'm afraid of what I'll become if I do start to belong here.

Oh, God, I'm frightened.

The barn owl is almost pure white, especially when it spreads its wings so you can see the underside. From the back it looks more gold. It has just a little gold around the face. It's staring at me right now because I'm making noises, trying not to cry.

It's funny that I can still cry. I guess it's witches that can't.

It's started snowing outside. I'm pulling my cloak up around me.

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December 12, Thursday morning

Dear Diary,

So after a week of work, what have we accomplished?

Well, between us we've managed to follow our three suspects just about continuously for the last six or seven days. Results: reports on Robert's movements for the last week, which he spent acting like any normal business. Reports on Alaric, who hasn't been doing anything unusual for a history teacher. Reports on Mrs. Flowers, who apparently spends most of her time in the basement. But we haven't really learned anything.

Stefan says that Alaric met with the prinicpal a couple times, but he couldn't get close enough to hear what they were talking about.

Meredith and Bonnie spread the news about other pets besides dogs being dangerous. They didn't need to work very hard at it; it seems as if everybody in town is on the verge of hysteria already. Since then there've been several other animal attacks reported, but it's hard to know which ones to take seriously. Some kids were teasing a squirrel and it bit them. The Massases' pet rabbit scratched their littlest boy. Old Mrs. Coomber saw copperhead snakes in her yard, when all the snakes should be hibernating.

The only one I'm sure about is the attack on the vet who was keeping the dogs in quarantine. A bunch of them bit him and most of them escaped from the holding pens. After that they just disappeared. People are saying good riddance and hoping they'll starve in the woods, but I wonder.

And it's been snowing all the time. Not storming but not stopping, either. I've never seen so much snow.

Stefan's worried about the dance tomorrow night.

Which brings us back to: what have we learned so far? What do we know? None of our suspects were anywhere near the Massases' or Mrs. Coomber's or the vet's when the attacks happened. We're no closer to finding the Other Power than we were when we started.

Alaric's little get-together is tonight. Meredith thinks we should go to it. I don't know what else there is to do.

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December 13, Friday

Dear Diary,

Tonight's the night.

I know I've written that before, or thought it at least. But tonight is the night, the big one, when everything is going to happen. This is it.

Stefan feels it, too. He came back from school today to tell me that the dance is still on - Mr. Newcastle didn't want to cause a panic by canceling it or something. What they're going to do is have "secuirty" outside, which means the police, I guess. And maybe Mr. Smallwood and some of his friends with rifles. Whatever's going to happen, I don't think they can stop it.

I don't know if we can, either.

It's been snowing all day. The pass is blocked, which means nothing gets in or out of town on wheels. Until the snowplow gets up there, which won't be until morning, which will be too late.

And the air has a funny feeling to it. Not just now. It's as if something even colder than that is waiting. It's pulled back the way the ocean pulls back before a tidal wave. When it lets go...

I thought about my other diary today, the one under the floorboards of my bedroom closet. If I own anything anymore, I own that diary. I thought about getting it out, but I don't want to go home again. I don't think I could cope, and I know Aunt Judith couldn't if she saw me.

I'm surprised anybody's been able to cope. Meredith, Bonnie - especially Bonnie. Well, Meredith, too, considering what her family has been through. Matt.

They're good and loyal friends. It's funny, I used to think that without a whole galaxy of friends and admirers I wouldn't survive. Now I'm perfectly fine with three, thank you. Because they're real friends.

I didn't know how much I cared about them before. Or about Margaret, or Aunt Judith even. And everybody at school...I know a few weeks ago I was saying that I didn't care if the entire population of Robert E. Lee dropped dead, but that isn't true. Tonight I'm going to do my best to protect them.

I know I'm jumping from subject to subject, but I'm just talking about things that are important to me. Kind of gathering them together in my mind. Just in case.

Well, it's time. Stefan is waiting. I'm going to finish this last line and then go.

I think we're going to win. I hope so.

We're going to try.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

December 16, Monday

Stefan gave this to me. He's given most of the things in his room away. I said I didn't want it at first, because I didn't know what to do with it. But now I think I have an idea.

People are starting to forget already. They're getting the details wrong, and adding things they just imagined. And, most of all, they're making up explanations. Why it wasn't really supernatural, why there's a rational reason for this or that. It's just silly, but there's no way to stop them, especially the adults.

They're the worst. They're saying the dogs were hydrophobic or something. The vet's come up with a new name for it, some kind of rabies that's spread by bats. Meredith says that's ironic. I think it's just stupid.

The kids are a little better, especially the ones who were at the dance. There are some I think we can rely on, like Sue Carson and Vickie. Vickie's changed so much in the last two days that it's like a miracle. She's not the way she's been for the last two and a half months, but she's not the way she used to be, either. She used to be pretty much of a bimbo, running aruond with the tough crowd. But now I think she's okay.

Even Caroline wasn't so bad today. She didn't talk at the other service, but she talked at this one. She said Elena was the real snow queen, which was kind of cribbing off of Sue's speech from before, but probably the best Caroline could do. It was a nice gesture.

Elena looked so peaceful. Not like a wax doll, but as if she were sleeping. I know everybody says that, but it's true. This time, it really is true.

But afterward people were talking about "her remarkable escape from drowning" and stuff like that. And saying she died of an embolism or something. Which is absolutely ridiculous. But that's what gave me the idea.

I'm going to get her other diary out of her closet.

And then I'm going to ask Mrs. Grimesby to put them in the library, not in a case like Honoria Fell's, but there people can pick them up and read them. Because the truth is in here. This is where the real story is. And I don't want anybody to forget it.

I think maybe the kids will remember.

I suppose I should put what happened to the rest of the people around here; Elena would want that. Aunt Judith is okay, although she's one of the adults who can't deal with the truth. She needs a rational explanation. She and Roberth are going to get married at Christmas. That should be good for Margaret.

Margaret's got the right idea. She told me at the service that she's going to go see Elena and her parents someday, but not now, because there were a lot of things she still had to do right here. I don't know what put that idea into her head. She's smart for a four-year-old.

Alaric and Meredith are also okay, of course. When they saw each other that horrible morning, after everything had quieted down and we were picking up the pieces, they practically fell into each other's arms. I think there's something going on there. Meredith says she'll discuss it when she's eightteen and she graduates.

Typical, absolutely typical. Everybody else gets the guys. I'm thinking of trying one of my grandmother's rituals, just to see if I'll ever get married at all. There isn't even anybody I want to marry around here.

Well, there's Matt. Matt's nice. But right now he's only got one girl on his mind. I don't know if that will ever change.

He punched Tyler in the nose after the service today, because Tyler said something off-color about her. Tyler is one person I know will never change, no matter what. He'll always be the mean, obnoxious jerk he is now.

But Matt - well, Matt's eyes are awfully blue. And he's got a terrific right hook.

Stefan couldn't hit Tyler because he wasn't there. There are still plenty of people in town who think he killed Elena. He must have, they say, because there was nobody else there. Katherine's ashes were scattered all over by the time the rescuers got to the crypt. Stefan says it's because she was so old that she flamed up like that. He says he should have realized the first time, when Katherine pretended to burn, that a young vampire wouldn't turn to ashes that way. She'd just die, like Elena. Only the old ones crumble.

Some people - especially Mr. Smallwood and his friends - would probably blame Damon if they could get hold of him. But they can't. He wasn't there when they reached the tomb, because Stefan helped him get away. Stefan won't say where, but I think to someplace in the woods. Vampires must heal fast because today when I met him after the service, Stefan said that Damon had left Fell's Church. He wasn't happy about it; I think Damon didn't tell him. Now the question seems to be: What is Damon doing? Out biting innocent girls? Or being reformed? I wouldn't lay bets on it either way. Damon was a strange guy.

But gorgeous. Definitely gorgeous.

Stefan won't say where he's going, either. But I have a sneaking suspicion Damon may get a surprise if he looks behind him. Apparently, Elena made Stefan promise to watch out for him or something. And Stefan takes promises very, very seriously.

I wish him luck. But he'll be doing what Elena wanted him to, which I think will make him happy. As happy as he can be here without her. He's wearing her ring on a chain around his neck now.

If you think any of this sounds frivolous or as if I don't care about Elena, that just shows how wrong you are. I dare anybody to say that to me. Meredith and I cried all day Saturday, and most of Sunday. And I was so angry I wanted to rip things apart and break them. I kept thinking, why Elena? Why? When there were so many other people who could have died that night. Out of the whole town, she was the only one.

Of course, she did it to save them, but why did she have to give her life to do it? It isn't fair.

Oh, I'm starting to cry again. That's what happens when you think about life being fair. And I can't explain why it isn't. I'd like to go bang on Honoria Fell's tomb and ask if she can explain, but she wouldn't talk to me. I don't think it's something anybody knows.

I loved Elena. And I'm going to miss her terribly. The whole school is. It's like a light that's gone out. Robert says that's what her name means in Latin, "light".

Now there'll always be a part of me where the light has gone away.

I wish I'd been able to say good-bye to her, but Stefan says she sent her love to me. I'm going to try to think of that as a light to take with me.

I'd better stop writing now, Stefan's leaving, and Matt and Meredith and Alaric and I are going to see him off. I didn't mean to get so into this; I've never kept a journal myself. But I want people to know the truth about Elena. She wasn't a saint. She wasn't always sweet and good and honest and agreeable. But she was strong and loving and loyal to her friends, and in the end she did the most unselfish thing anybody could do. Meredith says it means she chose light over darkness. I want people to know that so they'll always remember.

I always will.

-Bonnie McCullough

12/16/91

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

This afternoon, I talked with Caleb Smallwood on the front lawn of my house. I barely know him, yet I feel this visceral connection with him. I love Bonnie and Meredith more than life itself, but they have no idea what it's like to lose your parents, and that puts a space between us.

I see myself in Caleb. He's so handsome and seems so carefree. I'm sure most people think his life is perfect. I know what it's like to pretend to have it together, even when you're coming apart. It can be the loneliest thing in the world. I hope he has a Bonnie or a Meredith of his own, a friend he can lean on.

The strangest thing happened while we were talking. A crow flew straight at us. It was a big crow, one of the biggest I've ever seen, with iridescent black feathers that shone in the sun and a huge hooked beak and claws. It might have been the same one that appeared on my windowsill yesterday morning, but I wasn't so sure. Who can tell crows apart?

And, of course, both the crows reminded me of Damon, who watched me as a crow before we even met.

What's strange - ridiculous, really - is this dawning feeling of hope I have deep inside me. What if, I keep thinking, what if Damon's somehow not dead after all?

And then the hope collapses, because he is dead, and I need to face that. If I want to stay strong I can't lie to myself. I can't make up pretty fairy tales where the noble vampire doesn't die, where the rules get changed becuase it's someone I care about.

But that hope comes sneaking up on me again: What if?

It would be too cruel to say anything about the crow to Stefan. His grief has changed him. Sometimes, when he's quiet, I catch a strange look in his leaf green eyes, like there's someone I don't know in there. And I know he's thinking of Damon, thoughts that take him somewhere I can't follow anymore.

I thought I could tell Bonnie about the crow. She cared about Damon, and she wouldn't laugh at me for wondering whether there were some way he might still, in some form, be alive. Not after she suggested the very same thing earlier today. At the last minute, though, I couldn't talk to her about it.

I know why, and it's a losuy, selfish, stupid reason: I'm jealous of Bonnie. Because Damon saved her life.

Awful, right?

Here's the thing: For a long time, out of millions, there was one human Damon cared about. Only one. And that one person was me. Everyone else could go to hell as far as he was concerned. He could barely remember my friends' names.

But something changed between Damon and Bonnie, maybe when they were alone in the Dark Dimension together, maybe earlier. She's always had a little crush on him, when he wasn't being cruel, but then he started to take notice of his little redbird. He watched her. He was tender with her.

And when she was in danger, he moved to save her without a second thought as to what it might cost him.

So I'm jealous. Because Damon saved Bonnie's life.

I'm a terrible person. But, because I am so terrible, I don't want to share any more of Damon with Bonnie, not even my thoughts about the crow. I want to keep part of him just for me.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

I'm so scared.

My heart is pounding, my mought is dry, and my hands are shaking. I've faced so much and survived: vampires, werewolves, phantoms. Things I never imagined were real. And now I'm terrified. Why?

Simply because I'm leaving home.

And I know it's completely, insanely ridiculous. I'm barely leaving home, really. I'm going to college, only a few hours' drive from this darling house where I've lived since I was a baby. No, I'm not going to start crying again. I'll be sharing a room with Bonnie and Meredith, my two best friends in the whole world. In the same dorm, only a couple of floors away will be my beloved Stefan. My other best friend, Matt, will be just a short walk across campus. Even Damon will be in an apartment in the town nearby.

Honestly, I couldn't stick any closer to home unless I never moved out of this house at all. I'm being such a wimp. But it seems like I just got my home back - my family, my life - after being exiled for so long, and now I have suddenly have to leave again.

I suppose I'm scared partly because these last few weeks of summer have been wonderful. We packed all the enjoyment we would have been having these past few months - if it hadn't been for fighting the kitsune, traveling to the Dark Dimension, battling the jealousy phantom, and all the other Extremely Not Fun things we've done - into three glorious weeks. We had picnics and sleepovers and went swimming and shopping. We took a trip to the county fair; where Matt won Bonnie a stuffed tiger and turned bright red when she squealed and leaped into his arms. Stefan even kissed me on the top of the Ferris wheel, just like any normal guy might kiss his girlfriend on a beautiful summer night.

We were so happy. So normal in a way I thought we could never be again.

That's what's frightening me, I guess. I'm scared that these few weeks have been a bright golden interlude and that now that things are changing, we'll be heading back into darkness and horror. It's like that poem we read in English class last fall says: Nothing gold can stay. Not for me.

Even Damon...

Damon has changed. Ever since we defeated the jealousy phantom, he's been...kinder. Not just to me, not just to Bonnie, who he's always had a soft spot for, but even to Matt and Meredith. He can still be intensely irritating and unpredictable - he wouldn't be Damon without that - but he hasn't had that cruel edge to him. Not like he used to.

He and Stefan seem to have come to an understanding. They know I love them both, and yet that haven't let jealousy come between them. They're close, acting like brothers in a way I haven't seen before. There's this delicate balance between the three of us that's lasted through the end of the summer. And I worry that any misstep on my part will bring it crashing down and that like their first love, Katherine, I'll tear the brothers apart. And then we'll lose Damon forever.

Still, it's possible that this new life will be wonderful. Maybe I'll find everything I've been looking for. I can't hold on to high school, or to my life here at home, forever. And who knows? Maybe this time the gold will stay.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

Every time I remember the look on Stefan's face when I told him I needed space, my chest aches. It's like I can't breathe.

I never wanted to hurt Stefan. Never. How could I? We're so close, so wrapped up in each other that he's like a piece of my soul - without him, I'm not complete.

But...

I love Damon, too. He's my friend - my dark mirror image - the clever, plotting one who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants, but who has a kindness deep inside him that not everybody sees. I can't imagine living without Damon, either.

Stefan wants to hold on to me so tightly. He cares for his brother - he does - and Damon cares for him, too, and having me between them is messing that up.

All three of us have been held so closely together by the crises we've had to deal with recently - my death and rebirth, Klaus' attack, Damon's return from the edge of death - the phantom's attack - that every move we've made, every thought we've had, has been wrapped up with the other two. We can't go on like this.

I know I've done the right thing. Without me between them, they can become brothers again. And then I can sort out the tangled threads of my relationships with both of them without having to worry that any move I make will snap the tenuous bond between us.

It's the right decision. But still, I feel like I'm dying a slow death. How can I live for even a little while without Stefan?

All I can do is try to be strong. If I just keep going, I'll get through this time. And in the end, everything will be wonderful. It has to be.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

I can't believe what a fool I am, what a faithless, worthless fool.

I should never have kissed Damon, or let him kiss me.

The look on Stefan's face when he found us was heartbreaking. His features were so stiff and pale, as if he were made of ice, and his eyes were shining with tears. And then it seemed like a light went out inside him, and he looked at me like he hated me. Like I was Katherine. No matter what happened between us, Stefan never looked at me like that before.

I won't believe it. Stefan could never hate me. Every beat of my heart tells me that we belong together, that nothing can tear us apart.

I've been such a fool, and I've hurt Stefan, although that was the one thing I never wanted to do. But this isn't the end for us. Once I apologize and explain what a moment of madness he witnessed, he'll forgive me. Once I can touch him again, he'll see how sorry I am.

It was only the adrenaline from coming so close to death, from that car chasing after us. Neither Damon nor I really wanted the other one, that kiss was just us clinging hard to life.

No. I can't lie. Not here. I have to be honest with myself, even if I pretend with everyone else. I wanted to kiss Damon. I wanted to touch Damon. I always have.

But I don't have to. I can stop myself, and I will. I don't want to cause Stefan any more pain.

Stefan will understand that, will understand that I'll do anything I can to make him happy again, and then he'll forgive me.

This can't be the end. I won't let it be.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

I don't know who I am anymore.

Tonight, with Damon, I could almost picture my life if I took what he offered me, became his "dark princess." The two of us, hand in hand, strong and beautiful and free. Everything I wanted without having to lift a finger, from jewels to clothes to wonderful food. A life above the concerns I used to have, somewhere far away. Experiencing and seeing wonders I can't even imagine.

It would have to be a world without Stefan, though. He's shut me out, utterly. But seeing me with Damon - not just kissing, but being who Damon wants me to be - would hurt him, I know. And I can't stand to do that anymore.

It's like there are two paths in front of me. One goes into the daylight, and it's the ordinary girl I thought I wanted to be: parties and classes and eventually a job and a house and a normal life. Stefan wants to give me that. The other is in the darkness, with Damon, and I'm just starting to realize how much that world has to offer, and how much I want to experience everything it holds.

I've always thought Stefan would be with me on the daylit path. But now I've lost him, and that path seems so lonely. Maybe the dark path really is my future. Maybe Damon is right, and I belong with him, in the night.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

Last night, I had a terrifying dream.

Everything was as it had been just a few short hours before. I was back in the Vitale Society's underground chamber, and Ethan was holding me captive, his knife cold and steady at my throat. Stefan and Damon watched us, their faces wary, bodies tensed, waiting for the moment when one of them would be able to dash in and save me. But I knew they would be too late. I knew that, despite their supernatural speed, Ethan would cut my throat and I would die.

There was so much pain in Stefan's eyes. It broke my heart to know how much my death would hurt him. I hated the idea of dying without Stefan knowing that I had chosen him, only him - that all my indecision was behind us.

Ethan pulled me even closer, his arms as tight and unyielding as a band of steel across my chest. I felt teh cold edge of the knife bite into my flesh.

Then without warning Ethan fell, and Meredith was standing there, her face as wild and determined as a vengeful goddess's, her stave still raised from the killing blow she'd put through his heart.

It should have been a moment of joy and relief. In real life, it was: the moment when I knew I was going to live, when I was about to find myself safe in Stefan's arms.

But in the dream, Meredith's face was blotted out by a flash of pure white light. I felt myself growing colder and colder, my body freezing, my emotions muffled into a chilly calm. My humanity was slipping away, and something hard and inflexible and...other...was taking its place.

In the heat of the battle, I had let myself forget what James had told me: that my parents had promised me to the Guardians, that I was fated to become one of them. And now they had come to claim me.

I woke up terrified.

I don't want to be a Guardian. The Guardians killed my parents. I don't think I can ever get past that. If it wasn't for them, my selfless parents would still be alive and I wouldn't be constantly worrying about the lives of the people I love. The Guardians only believe in one thing: Order. Not Justice. Not Love.

I never want to be like that. I never want to be one of them.

But do I have a choice? James made it sound like becoming a Guardian was just something that would happen to me - something I wouldn't be able to avoid. Powers would suddenly manifest themselves, and I would change, ready for whatever horrible thing comes next.

I haven't told anyone yet. Meredith adn Damon knew I was upset after I saw James, but they didn't know what he told me. So much happened last night that I never got a chance to tell them.

I need to talk to Stefan about this. I know that when I do, everything will start to feel...better.

But I'm scared to tell him.

After Stefan and I broke up, Damon made me see the choice I needed to make. One path led to the daylight with the possibility of being a normal girl with an almost-normal, almost-human life with Stefan. The second into the night, embracing Power, adventure, and all the exhiliration the darkness can hold, with Damon.

I chose the light, chose Stefan. But if I'm fated to become a Guardian, is the path of the darkness and Power unavoidable? Will I become someone who can do the unthinkanle - take the lives of people as loving and pure as my parents? What kind of normal girl could I be, as a Guardian?

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

I can't stop worrying about Damon.

Meredith and Bonnie have gone to the mountains in pursuit of the blessed white ash tree, and our room is too quiet. When I'm alone in here, the empty space fills up with thoughts of how angry and distant Damon seemed when I found him in the woods last night. His aura was so dark that it frightened me.

I haven't told Stefan yet about my Power leading me to Damon. I'm going to tell him, though, as soon as we're alone - I've learned my lesson at last about letting secrets come between us.

But Stefan's been so busy. He's pulling us all togethe: sparring with Meredith, researching with Alaric, and now that Zander's gone to the mountains with them and Bonnie, Stefan's been working with the Pack, too. He's determined to protect me from Klaus, to protect us all.

Wherever Klaus is , his plan is working - I'm always on edge now. I know he wants me to be afraid; he even told me so - but I can't stop myself from jumping at every shadow. Every day I get more frightened, and angrier at myself: I don't want to feel the way Klaus intends me to. But when I'm with Stefan, we can slide into our private world. Despite the danger that hovers near us, it's safe there. In Stefan's arms, I feel like maybe we can defeat Klaus. Somtimes I beleive we can do anything, together. We can save ourselves, and save Damon, too, even if he doesn't want to be saved.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

I have to prepare. If the Guardians won't change my task, my Powers will be concentrated on finding and destroying Damon, not Klaus. I need to be able to defeat Klaus on my own, by discovering my Power for myself.

For an hour today, Andres and I tried to unlock more of my Power.

It was a complete failure.

Andres had decided that learning to move things with my mind could be useful, so he folded pieces of paper all over James's house and encouraged me to imagine protecting my friends from evil by flinging them around. It was sickening to imagine Stefan or Bonnie or Meredith at Klaus's mercy, and I wanted to save them. I knew that if I could swing a stake at the right time, I might change things in a fight. But I couldn't even stir a page.

I'm going to be as ready as I can be, though. If I can't use my Guardian Powers to defeat Klaus, I'll fight him face-to-face. If I can't be killed by the supernatural, I have a huge advantage. Meredith and Stefan have been teaching me how to fight, how to use weapons.

Klaus is so much worse than Damon could ever be: when I think back, I can remember so many times that Damon saved innocents instead of killing them - Bonnie, the humans of the Dark Dimension, half our high school. Me. I owe him my life. Time after time, even when he's wavered, he's turned away from the easy darkness and come down on the right side, the side that saved the helpless. I know he's strayed again, but maybe it is our fault, mine and Stefan's, for not showing him we care. It was just that once I got Stefan back, all I could think of was clutching him to me so tight that he'd enver slip away again. Damon needs us, though he'll never admit it, but we'll fight through the darkness that shrouds him. We will save him. If I can just remind the Guardians of all Damon's done for us in the past, they'll see that he isn't evil. They can be rational, even if they are cold and distant.

I used to hate the idea of being a Guardian, of becoming less human. But now I know that it's a gift, a sacred trust to protect the world. As a Guardian, I can stop some of the deaths, some of the suffering. Once I fully come into my Power, I can use it to deeat the right target. I can still be the one to kill Klaus.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Diary,

Forever.

The prospect should feel scary, I suppose: my time on Earth has been so relatively short. A lot has happened to me, more than most people get to experience in a lifetime, but I still have so much to learn and do.

But I'm sure of Stefan, and I'm sure about forever. All I can feel is overwhelming, riotous joy.

It's not even just Stefan and me, and the prospect of eternity to learn all the little things we don't know about each other, even yet: What was the color of Stefan's mother's eyes? What will his lips taste like, on a bright spring morning two hundred years from now? Where would he go, if he could go anywhere? And we can go everywhere. We'll have time.

That's so much of my happiness, but it's not all of it.

I finally know who I am. It's ironic in a lot of ways that I should be a Guardian, when I loathed and feared them with such passion. But an Earthly Guardian is different; Andres has taught me that: I can be compassionate and loving and human, and I can use my Guardian Powers to protect my home, to protect the people I care about, to keep evil from destroying the innocent.

There's my bond with Damon, too. Finally I know how I can care for Damon and love Stefan at the same time. There's a connection between Damon and me that'll last forever, that will keep him from being consumed by the darkness that has always threatened him. No matter where he is, I'll hold a piece of him and he'll have a piece of me.

Through everything, Stefan will be by my side.

And with us will be all my beloved friends, each of them so powerful and good, each in their own way. I love them all so much.

I'm trembling, but it's with anticipation. I'm not afraid anymore. I can't wait to see what the future holds, for all of us.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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