The Lady in Red

The Morning After

"Good morning!"

Selina opened her eyes slowly and looked up at Damon, who was out of bed already and very much awake. "Unh," she moaned and threw the covers over her head again.

"You need this?" he asked.

She pulled the covers off and looked at what he was offering her. It was the hangover cure he'd given her the morning after he'd gotten her back from O'Neil's. "How'd you know to bring that?" she asked.

He laughed a little. "I figured that if I was going to bring you to a bar, the least I could do was help you face the repercussions."

She reached out to take it from him and groaned as she realized she couldn't bend without feeling horrible pain in her back. "Oh, damn," she groaned. "I can't move. My back hurts like you wouldn't believe."

He sat next to her. "Well, last night you did bend in several ways I didn't think were possible. Were there gymnasts and circus people at the artists' colony too? Is that where you learned those awe-inspiring moves I saw last night?"

She nodded. "And not only were there gymnasts and circus people, there was also absinthe. Lots and lots of absinthe. That's why I had to drink before I showed you anything. I've never done any of it sober before."

"Hold still," he told her. "Maybe I can do something about your back."

"Hold still?" she asked. "I don't think that'll be a problem. I can't move, remember?"

He began to slowly rub his hands up and down her back, and the pain gradually eased.

"Did anyone tell you you're really good with your hands?" she asked him.

He grinned. "Not since last night."

As soon as he was finished, he threw the sheet back over her again and she was finally able to pull herself up on her knees. "Can I have my clothes?" she asked him after drinking the mixture.

He grabbed the pile from the floor and put them in front of her on the bed. "You can change in here. I'll go into the bathroom," he told her.

"Oh, don't be silly." Before he could say anything, she'd grabbed her panties and her bra and after some skillful maneuvering, managed to get them on while still completely shielded by the covers.

"There," she threw the covers off and threw her legs over the side of the bed. "Now you can stay in here." She paused. "That is, unless you want me to leave while you change."

He shook his head no and grabbed his clothes off one of the chairs near the card table.

After they were both dressed, Selina headed back to the car while Damon went to check out. Once they were on the road again, they discussed what they would tell Stefan and Elena should the two ask about where they'd been the night before. "I vote for a half-truth," Selina opined. "We could say that the car broke down and we couldn't get anyone to fix it until morning, so we had it towed to the nearest hotel and spent the night there, and since of course we didn't pack anything, we're still wearing the same clothes we wore yesterday."

"You know, that's not a bad idea," Damon said from the passenger's seat. Today he'd decided to let her drive. She wasn't half bad. "Let's go with it."

"On another note, this was fun," Selina continued, "we should do it again."

"What?" Damon asked, "The road trip or having sex at an out of the way hotel?"

Selina shrugged. "Either one works for me."

When they pulled into the driveway of the boarding house, they found Elena sitting on the front steps looking upset. "I'll stay out here and see what's going on," Selina told Damon. "You go inside and look for Stefan."

To her surprise, he did as she asked immediately. She watched him go and then sat down next to Elena. "What's going on?" she asked.

"Remember when we first met and you thought I was Katherine?" she asked.

Selina nodded.

"Well, Stefan and I got together a few weeks ago and afterwards, I found a picture of her that he still had around. We look exactly the same."

Selina nodded. "Yeah you do. It's like you're her good twin or something."

Elena laughed a little at that, and then sobered. "I was in shock, so I left. And then later, when I got my bearings back, I asked Stefan how it could possibly be that we look so much like even though I'm a Gilbert and she was a Pierce. He told me he'd look into it, and today he told me what he found."

"What did he find?" Selina asked her.

Elena sighed. "Apparently I'm not a Gilbert after all. My parents adopted me and they never told me."

"Really?" Selina asked. "That means you could be related to the Pierces after all. They were all pretty much rotten to me, but I bet they'd be good to one of their own."

"I don't know how I feel about this," Elena continued, going on as if Selina hadn't spoken. "I feel like I should hate them because in a sense they lied to me all these years, but I don't hate them. At least not entirely."

"Elena, in a sense, I know how you feel," Selina told her, putting her arms around her. "My mother waited eight years before telling me that I was a Warren, not a Pierce."

"What?" Elena looked up at her, surprised. "Your mother let you think that Mr. Pierce was your father for eight years? But he hated you. I can't imagine what it would feel like to go that long wondering why the man who you thought was your father loved Katherine better than you."

Selina nodded. "It was tough sometimes, especially at Christmas. Katherine would get mountains of gifts, and I'd only get one or two and that was all Mama's doing. Then, on my eighth birthday, she took me aside and told me about Matthew Warren. I didn't know what to think at first. I was happy that I wasn't related to Mr. Pierce by blood, that was for sure, but at the same time, I was mad at Mama for keeping something like that from me, just as you are. And that night, l lay awake in my bed and I whispered to my father, asking him why he left me, and why wasn't I a good enough reason for him to stay home instead of going off to war and getting killed. I never got an answer of course, but at least saying the words helped a little." She sighed. "Sometimes I think that if I could just meet my father once and talk to him for five minutes, the world will be right again."

She looked at Elena sheepishly "Sorry for drifting off subject like that. I didn't mean to make this about me when you're clearly upset about something."

Elena shook her head. "No, that's fine. It helped, actually. It made me realize that even though my parents kept this a secret from me, they were good people, and I've had a good life."

Selina smiled at her. "And in the end, that's all that really matters, isn't it?"

Elena nodded, then looked at Selina closely. "Why are you still wearing the same clothes you wore yesterday?"

"Well," Selina began, "It's an interesting story. Damon's car broke down and…" she continued telling the story as she and Elena headed back into the house.

They found Damon and Stefan in the living room. The coffee table was covered with books and papers.

"What's all this?" Selina asked curiously.

"Stefan has graciously agreed to help us with our little project," Damon informed her.

"Really?" Selina looked at Stefan. "Thank you, that's wonderful of you, really Stefan."

"It's no problem," Stefan replied. "But I've looked through a few of these papers and it doesn't seem like any of them will be any help. Maybe I should run to the library and see what I can find there."

"Or," Selina said, "I could run upstairs and fetch Mama's journal and the boxes of her correspondence that I took from Tyler's house and we can see if there's anything useful in them. I mean, we're looking for Emily's grimoire, and Emily did live at Mama and Mr. Pierce's house. Maybe Mama heard something and wrote it down."

With that, she went upstairs and grabbed the journal and three boxes of letters, plunking them down on top of all the papers. "I'll look through the journal if the three of you will go through the boxes of letters," she said. "And I probably don't need to mention this, but they're fragile, so be careful with them."

As Elena, Damon and Stefan went through the boxes of letters, Selina went through her mother's journal again, finding nothing interesting until she reached the entry for October 31st, 1847, her first birthday.

Today is Selina's first birthday and I decided to celebrate it by showing Selina her father. I realize that it might seem a bit morbid to take a baby to a cemetery, but since Mr. Pierce has ordered me to put away all of Matthew's pictures and forbidden me to speak of him, this is the best I can do. Mr. Pierce left town a week ago on business, and Selina and I left for the train station, and boarded a train for Texas as soon as he was gone.

Evening

Something very strange happened at the cemetery. When I asked to be taken to Matthew's grave, the caretaker refused me. I asked him why, but he wouldn't say. Then, he relented. Maybe he saw Selina and had a change of heart. He told me that something was amiss with Matthew's grave. That just a few nights ago, he'd heard noises in the cemetery and gone out to see what was going on. The moon was bright and he clearly saw a woman and two men digging up Matthew's body. He assumed they were body snatchers, and went after them, but they managed to make a clean getaway. He got a good look at them though. The woman was short with dark hair and dark eyes. She was wearing a white dress. One of the men was stocky and ruddy-faced, dressed all in black. The third man was the doctor, at least that's what he assumed. This man was different from the other. He was tall and lanky with salt-and-pepper hair and cold blue eyes. I thanked him for his pains and asked to see the grave anyway. It had been filled in, but it was obvious the ground had been disturbed. Why would anyone with a heart steal a soldier's body?

Amelia Warren

Selina closed the journal and thought a moment about the third man her mother had mentioned. The description seemed familiar to her. She shut her eyes and tried to think. After a bit, she gasped. She had it.

"Guys," she said quietly, "read this." She handed them the journal and they each read the entry.

"Your father's body was taken by body-snatchers, Selina?" Elena asked. "I'm sorry about that."

"No, I don't think they were body snatchers at all," Selina said. "I think they were vampires. The doctor that the caretaker described sounds exactly like Dr. Stensrund."

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