The Lady in Red

The Misfortune

"So where are we going if we aren't seeing an ex of yours?" Selina asked as the car started. She knew she'd already asked that, but wanted to try again in case Damon actually felt like telling her this time.

He took one hand off the steering wheel and put it around her shoulders. "Sorry sweetheart. The answer is still the same as when you asked me last time. It's a surprise. You'll find out when we get there. However, I'm touched by your enthusiasm."

Sighing huffily, Selina nudged his arm off her shoulder.

"What's that for?" he asked. "It's not like I'm taking you anywhere bad."

Selina shifted. "Can you at least tell me what city we're going to?"

"Fine," Damon said. "We're going to Charleston."

Selina's eyes lit up. "Charleston? That's where Uncle Andrew used to live!" she paused and frowned again. "We won't be able to do any research there. Uncle Andrew didn't have anything to do with the whole Emily-Grimoire situation."

"I know," Damon said. "That's not why we're going there."

Selina thought a moment. "My God!" she burst out finally. "Uncle Andrew is alive too, isn't he? This is going to be fun adjusting to. I'm barely used to having Matthew around."

"No," Damon shook his head. "I thought that at first too. When I announced that we were going to Charleston, Matthew was convinced it was because you'd found some of Andrew's descendants and were going to look them up or something. He also said that Andrew lived a good long life and that he'd seen Andrew's gravestone."

Selina took a deep breath. "Damon, I know this is supposed to be a fun road trip and all, but when we get to the city, could we maybe stop by the cemetery first? I want to see Uncle Andrew too."

Damon nodded. "Okay. But we're not going to stay too long. I don't want to spoil the mood."

Andrew's grave wasn't hard to find. Apparently, he'd been quite the philanthropist in his time and had a library, college, and museum named after him. He had a crypt to himself in the local cemetery and the caretaker was more then happy to show Selina and Damon the way to it.

"Wow," Selina said after awhile. "Would you look at it? I just hope he's in heaven lording all his success over my grandfather. Apparently, grandfather was convinced that neither of his sons would be successful unless they stayed with the law practice. And look at how much Uncle Andrew accomplished. No wonder Matthew's proud of him." She stepped away from the crypt to sit on a bench and Damon followed, sitting beside her.

"Selina," he asked after a moment, "why is it that you can call your mother 'Mama' and your uncle 'Uncle Andrew', but you can't call Matthew 'Dad' yet?"

"Well," Selina replied after thinking it over, "I guess it's because I don't know Matthew well enough. I mean, I grew up with both Mama and Uncle Andrew in my life. I used intimate names for them in daily speech. But 'Dad' or 'Papa' wasn't a word I ever used in my life. Katherine's father was always Mr. Pierce and I always referred to your father formally as well, so it's strange to start using it now. Plus, it's kind of strange in any case, even though I know he's my father."

"Why is it strange?"

"Think about it!" Selina said, laughing. "On the surface, I'm eighteen. He was only twenty-two when I was born. Wouldn't you feel weird calling someone Mother or Father if they only looked four years older than you?"

Damon nodded. "You have a point there."

"Not to beat a dead horse," Selina continued, "but if he wouldn't have erased my memories of his visits when I was a little girl, I think I would be perfectly comfortable calling him Dad now. But because I have no memory of it, and all because of him, I just find it weird."

"Again with that argument," Damon said. "Do you really want to keep being mad at him for that? Don't you think it's about time you let it go? He's clearly very sorry that it happened, so why not just forgive him? It'd be a lot better for you."

"Yeah, maybe you're right," Selina answered, looking at him meaningfully. "It takes a lot of energy to hate a parent when you really have no reason to, doesn't it?"

"Hey," Damon said. "This is about you, not me. I'd rather we didn't make it about me, as a matter of fact."

"What went on with you and your father?" Selina asked. "What'd you do to make him so upset?"

"Well," Damon said after awhile, "I left the army. That's what made him angry. It wasn't long after I shipped out. I missed you, and realized I was probably going to be killed and you'd be left all alone. You'd already lost one man in your life to war and I didn't want you to lose another."

"Oh, my God," Selina said. "That's so sweet. Thank you."

He nodded. "You're welcome. When I came back, I told Stefan the real reason I left. I never told my father. So he thought that I was a cowardly deserter."

"Matthew wanted to leave once he got into camp too," Selina said. "He wrote to Grandfather to get him out with an honorable discharge, but Grandfather wouldn't let him leave. So you aren't the only man I've made consider deserting the army."

Damon gave her a small smile and stood up. "So, do you want to find out where we're going now?" he asked. "Or do you want to stick around some more?"

"Nope," Selina said, giving him her hand. "I'm good, let's go!" he pulled her up and the two of them headed for the car and got on the road again.

Stefan parked the car in the street and walked slowly up the driveway to Elena's house. When he reached the door, he knocked and then waited. When it finally opened, he was glad to see Elena on the other side. He'd made up a long, detailed explanation in the car to give to Jenna if she was the one to answer, but now it was unnecessary and he was glad.

"Hi," Elena said, holding out what Stefan presumed was her ancestor's journal. "You wanna come in? I got the journal as you can see, but I had a tough time. Jeremy had given it to somebody and I had to track them down to get it back."

Stefan stepped inside. The living room was empty. It seemed as if there were no people in the house but him and Elena. "Are we alone?" he asked.

"Yeah," she nodded. "Jenna had to run to the grocery store and Jeremy's out doing something with somebody. It's hard to keep track of him. Is that a problem?"

Stefan blinked and shook his head. "No, of course not."

Elena sat down on the couch and placed the journal on the coffee table. Stefan sat down next to her and placed his father's journal beside hers. "Do you really think what we need will be in either of these?" Elena asked, eyeing them doubtfully. "And do you think Selina suspects what we're up to? Do you think she'll be angry if she finds out?"

"No," Stefan answered. "You saw how happy she was when she left. And she and Damon are on a road trip. It'll bring them together. It's a good thing. There's no way she'll be angry."

"Okay, if you say so." Elena picked up her journal, and began to leaf through it. After a moment, Stefan did the same. But all the while, they wondered what Selina and Damon were really up to.

"A carnival?" Selina asked in surprise. "You brought me to a carnival?"

"Yeah," Damon said. "They have everything: rigged games, junk food," he directed her attention to a stand near the entrance "dollar-a-glass strawberry daiquiris."

"Oh, my God! They have strawberry daiquiris? I haven't had one of those in years. I think I'll go get one." Selina grinned and took off for the stand with a ten from Damon in her pocket. She'd just break it now, but as God was her witness, there would be no change by the end of the day. She bought the first one and drank it slowly. "What are we going to do first?" she asked Damon.

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe we should start with some rides before you've passed the point of no return and can't enjoy them anymore."

"Good idea." Selina gulped down the rest of her drink and threw the cup in the trash. As she backed away, a small wave of dizziness hit her and she swayed a little.

Damon caught her from behind before she could hit the ground. "Don't you know you aren't supposed to chug it like that?" he asked in mock reproof. "It goes straight for your brain if you do."

"I know," she said. "But I didn't want to carry around a glass on the rides."

After some debate about what ride to go on first, they decided to start with an old classic: the tunnel of love.

"I can't believe they still have one of these," Selina said as the plastic swan drifted toward the tunnel. "I thought they all went out of fashion once the world stopped being run by bluenoses, wet blankets and fire extinguishers. This ride in particular was made created as a socially acceptable excuse for couples to make out."

"Well, that's not surprising," Damon remarked. "You put two people together in a boat and stick them in the dark, what else are they going to do?" while he talked, he slowly brought his arm up around Selina's shoulder. This time, she was more receptive.

"Thanks," she said, smiling. "I was getting a little chilly." They sat in silence for a moment. Then Selina tilted her head up and their lips met. The kiss lasted for quite awhile and by the time they'd pulled themselves apart, they were beginning to see light.

"Oh, look," Selina remarked. "The light at the end of the tunnel."

"At least we got our money's worth," Damon added.

As soon as the ride stopped, they disembarked and Selina headed back to the daiquiri stand. She got another drink and some cotton candy along with it.

When he saw what she'd bought, Damon winced a little. "How could you buy that?" he asked.

"What?" Selina said. "You were the one who pointed out the daiquiri stand in the first place."

"No," Damon said. "I meant the cotton candy. It's nothing but pure sugar. Doesn't it make you sick?"

"No. And I know it's pure sugar," Selina told him. "That's why I like it." She was taking large handfuls from the bag and scarfing them down in a manner that would have made her mother faint. Once the bag was empty, she went to the funnel cake stand and ate what she got there just as quickly. After the second daiquiri was done, she was hopping up and down.

"Can we go on a rollercoaster now?" Selina asked. "Let's go on a rollercoaster. I love rollercoasters!"

"All right, we'll go on a rollercoaster. Which one?"

"That one!" She pointed at one that had two loops and a particularly steep drop.

"All right," Damon said, eyeing it doubtfully. "If you want to. Personally, I would have picked a different one."

"Why?" Selina asked. "Are you scared of that one?"

"No," Damon bristled. "I'm not scared. It's just that you ate a lot of stuff and I don't want you getting sick all over me. This is a new jacket."

"I think you're scared," Selina countered.

"No, I'm not."

"Prove it," Selina challenged.

"Fine." And he grabbed her by the wrist, hauling her to the front of the line and annoying several people who'd already been waiting. Thankfully, the coaster had separate cars for each person, so he didn't have to worry about his jacket, and he was very impressed when Selina made it through the whole ride without throwing up on any innocent bystanders.

"Wow, I'm impressed." He said as they walked away from the coaster. "I thought that was going to make you sick for sure."

"I had a boyfriend once who loved to take me to amusement parks, so I have a lot of experience in dealing with rollercoasters and food." She pulled her hand away. "I want to get some more cotton candy."

"No way. No more sugar for you. When you're drunk, you're fun. When you're drunk and hyper, not so much."

"Okay," Selina pouted, but she still gave him back her hand and they walked around a little while. They then stopped at the shooting gallery where, despite her best efforts, Damon beat Selina quite handily.

"It figures," she said. "After all, that is the first time I've ever shot a gun."

"I'm going to run to the bathroom real quick," Damon told her. "Are you going to be all right out here by yourself until I get back?"

"Yes," Selina said. "I think I can handle being alone for a few lousy minutes."

But the line was long and by the time he returned to where he'd left her, she was nowhere in sight.

"I got it I think!" Elena cried triumphantly.

"What?" Stefan said. "Let me see."

He looked it over and nodded. "I think you're right," he said.

"The entry talks about a Giuseppe Salvatore," Elena continued. "Was that your father?"

Stefan nodded. "Yes. And according to this," he held up the journal. "The grimoire is in his grave."

"In his grave?" Elena said. "You mean we actually have to go to the cemetery and dig him up?"

Stefan nodded gravely. "If you're up to it, we'll do it tonight."

Trying to keep calm, Damon approached the info booth. "Hi," he told the bored-looking woman sitting at the desk. "I lost my girlfriend. Have you seen her? She's tiny and has blue eyes and long black hair."

"Is she wearing a lot of pink?" the lady asked.

He nodded.

"You'll find her at the security office. They had to bring her in," the lady told him. "It's not far from here, next to the brick building where they're showing the cakes."

"Thanks," he said. "You've been a big help."

It took a little time, but eventually he managed to find the security office.

"What can I do for you, son?" asked the police officer at the front desk.

"The lady at the information booth told me that my girlfriend was here."

The man leaned forward. "So the tiny, black-haired bearcat belongs to you, huh? We found her trying to bully one of the game managers into giving her a teddy bear when she hadn't even won his game. She punched him in the eye. Has she been drinking today at all?"

"Yes, she has." Damon answered. "But I promise I won't let her have anymore."

The officer led him to the cell where Selina was holding onto the bars and yelling at one of the other officers to let her out.

"Selina!" Damon said. The sound of his voice stopped her midtirade.

"Hi Damon!" she said, suddenly perking up. "What brings you here?"

"I came to bail you out," he said.

"Oh, goody!" Selina let go of the bars and jumped up and down.

Once he'd gotten her free, Damon got Selina as far away from the daiquiri stand as he could. Apparently she'd gotten a third one while waiting for him.

"I leave you alone for a little while and when I come back, you're in jail. Would you care to explain?"

"I told you. I wanted a prize, but the stupid guy that ran the bottle game wouldn't let me have it."

"What was it?" he asked.

"A teddy bear," she replied immediately. "It was pink and fuzzy and said 'I love you' when you squeezed it."

Damon looked her over. "Well, you're currently pink and fuzzy, and I bet if I hugged you right now, you'd say the same thing."

Selina put her arms around him. "I love you," she said. "And thank you for getting me out of that jail. Those officers were really unreasonable."

"No problem," he said. "And don't worry. I won't tell Stefan." It was getting dark. "How about we do one more thing before we head to the hotel?" he suggested.

"All right. What do you want to do?" she asked.

"I think I'll head over to the shooting gallery," he said. "What about you?"

She looked around and spotted a fortune teller tent. "I think I'll go visit the fortune teller. Meet you back here in ten minutes?"

"All right," he said. "But don't try and get any daiquiris afterward. I think you've already had enough today."

As soon as he was gone, Selina headed into the tent.

"Hello, my dear," the fortune teller greeted her. "Have a seat, have a seat. And we'll look into my crystal ball and see what your future holds."

Selina was beginning to feel excited. She'd always wanted to do something like this.

The fortune teller gazed into her smoke-filled ball. After a moment of silence, she looked back up at Selina. "Be careful," she said. "Those you once thought were trustworthy are no longer allies to you. You are being deceived."

"Really?" Selina said.

The fortune teller nodded. "The answer lies in the grave of the father. Go back home and see the lies for yourself."

"Are you sure?" Selina asked.

The fortune teller nodded.

"Thanks," Selina stood up. She left the fortune teller's tent and walked to the shooting gallery to meet Damon, pondering what the fortune teller had said. "Those you thought were trustworthy are no longer allies to you…what does that mean?" she muttered to herself. "The answer lies in the grave of the father…go back home and see the lies for yourself…my god!" she stopped for a moment as the realization hit her, then sprinted the rest of the way.

"I want to go home now," she told Damon curtly when she arrived at the shooting gallery.

"Home?" Damon laughed. "Sweetheart, don't you mean to the hotel?"

"No," Selina shook her head. "I want to go home so I can get to the cemetery."

"Selina," Damon was a little nervous now. "Why would you want to go to the cemetery at home? Haven't you had enough of cemeteries today? Let's just go to the hotel where we can be alone and me and my hands can help you get over whatever is bothering you."

"No." Selina shook her head. "Car. Now."

As soon as they'd been on the road a little bit, Selina continued. "I have a question and I would love an honest answer. Why did we really go on this trip?"

"Because we haven't really spent a lot of time alone and I thought it would be fun."

Selina shook her head. "Wrong answer. The correct answer is that Stefan and Elena are looking for the grimoire and they wanted you to distract me so I wouldn't find it first and 'mess everything up'. Isn't it?"

But Damon didn't answer her. Instead, he drove the rest of the way without saying another word, and then parked at the cemetery gates. Then, he looked her in the eye and said "yes."

She was shaking with rage by now. When she finally reached Guiseppe's grave, she wasted no time in making herself known to Elena and Stefan, who were digging feverishly. "I thought I'd find you here."

Stefan looked up at Selina, then at Damon, who stood behind her. "I thought you said you would keep her away for a good long time," he said.

"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?" Selina said. "You'd just love for me to be out of the way so that you could find this for yourself and not breathe a word of it to me. What were you going to do with it once found it? Rip it apart? Burn it? Anything to save me from myself."

Stefan pulled himself out of the grave and faced her. Elena followed, holding the grimoire. "What we did, we did for your own good, Selina."

"You don't know a god damn thing," Selina said. "It's not nice to lie to people. And don't feed me that 'for your own good' song and dance. You want to know what I think of that?"

And before Stefan had time to move, she threw a punch that got him square in the face and sent him headfirst against his father's headstone, rendering him unconscious.

"Selina!" Elena cried in shock, her grip on the grimoire slackening.

"He was in the way," Selina replied coldly. She then snatched the grimoire out of Elena's hands. Then, she turned to Damon.

"I have to admit you had me fooled," she told him. "All those promises of a good time; that nice kiss we had in the tunnel of love. I thought you meant it, but it was all a lie. I guess I can add this to all the others you told me in my life: I want to be with you forever, Selina; I'm the one man in the world who will love you more then your sister, Selina; you're my reason for living, Selina. Well you know what? I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I just hope this was worth it for you." And with that, she tore off the locket, stomped on it until it was crushed to pieces, then went on her way without another word.

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