The Lady in Red

Full Moon Syndrome

Selina strode home in a huff, clutching the grimoire tightly to her chest. She hadn't waited to see if anyone had followed her. She hoped she'd scared them enough that they wouldn't. She opened the front door to the boarding house and found herself face to face with Matthew.

"I was wondering when you'd be back," he told her. When he saw the book in her hands, he looked heavenward and sighed, then gazed back at her. "So you found it, huh? I knew you'd see through Stefan's not-so-clever ruse."

"You knew about this?" she asked.

"Yep," he nodded. "And that's why I didn't want to be any part of it. I knew that you'd figure it out eventually, but Stefan insisted."

"I can't believe he thought lying to me about wanting to help find this thing would be a good idea," she said, collapsing on the couch. Matthew sat next to her and took her hand.

"Are you going to be okay?" he asked. He looked her over and paused a moment. "Where's your locket?"

She shrugged. "I broke it. It's really not worth anything to me anymore."

"What do you mean 'it's not really worth anything to you anymore'?" Mitch asked standing up, his voice rising. "You spent 145 years looking for it! How can it not be worth anything to you?"

"Because Damon lied to me!" Selina said, standing up to face him. "If he really cared about me, he wouldn't have done it! He would have told Stefan that that stupid plan of his wasn't a good idea, and that he should trust me!"

"You do realize that all the time you were looking for the necklace before, you were under the impression that Damon had run off with Katherine, right?" Matthew countered. "What's the difference between then and now?"

Selina sat down. Matthew did have a point. She thought a moment. "Well," she said finally, "maybe this was just one lie too many, all right?"

Mitch looked out the window. "It's a full moon tonight. Did you see that?"

Selina looked. "I don't see what that has to do with anything."

"It has something to do with this, just let me keep going," Matthew said. "Did you ever wonder how you got saddled with the name Selina instead of something normal like Susan, Margaret, or Elizabeth?"

Selina nodded. "Sometimes, yes."

"Well, you were born on Halloween of course, and by the time your mother delivered, it was late at night and the moon had risen. I wanted to keep the curtains closed so that the night air wouldn't have a bad effect on your mother, but she insisted on the curtains staying open because the moon was bright and she wanted to look at it. This wasn't anything new to me, so I agreed. She was always fascinated by the moon. And after you were born, she told me she wanted to name you Selina, and even though I wanted to name you Elizabeth, after my mother, I agreed to your mother's request, since she was the one who'd been in labor for ten hours."

"So Mama wanted to name me Selina? Why?"

"Well," Matthew thought a moment. "I asked her afterwards, and apparently, Selene was the name of the moon in Roman mythology. She was the moon and the goddess of the moon. And then your mother let me pick your middle names."

"That's how Mama used to tell that story," Selina said. She looked down at the grimoire that she held in her lap. "Let me run this upstairs, and then we can continue this discussion," she said.

Matthew nodded, but instead of waiting for her to come back, he followed her up to her room. Once they were both inside, he shut the door and locked it.

"What'd you lock the door for?" Selina asked. "I thought we were going back downstairs."

"No, actually we aren't. I think it would be best if we stayed up here for awhile," Matthew told her.

Selina frowned. "You're trying to stop me too? You're as bad as Stefan! Why didn't you just go to the grave and dig up this book like everybody else?"

"No," Matthew said patiently. "This isn't about the book. This is about something else. The moon is what's making you act this way. You were fine this morning, and all of today, I assume. Then, night time hits and you get really angry. We'll keep you inside tonight, and then tomorrow, when your head is clear, we'll discuss this and I'll let you out."

"Are you serious?" Selina asked, laughing derisively. "The moon is making me insane. That's the dumbest theory in the world. The reason why I'm so angry, if I haven't made it clear to you already, is that two of the people I love most in the whole world lied to me, even though they had absolutely no reason to. The idea that the full moon causes people to have weird mood swings and go into fits of insanity is just a myth."

"Yeah, sure." Mitch smirked. "That means a lot coming from a vampire."

"All right," Selina began to pace. "Let's assume for a moment that this theory of yours is correct. Why would it be true?"

"Haven't you ever noticed a change in your temperament during a full moon?" he asked.

Selina thought a moment. With a start, she realized that he was right. She did tend to be moodier during full moons. She gasped. After she had killed Dr. Stensrund, she'd looked out the window and seen the full moon dominating the dark sky out the open window. And her first night as a vampire, that had been a full moon too. "But what does it mean?" she asked her father finally. "Why am I affected by it so much?"

Matthew shrugged. "I really don't know. Your mother was always unpredictable during full moons. Sometimes she'd be really happy; sometimes really angry. Once, she locked herself in her room at moonrise and cried until the sun came up. Then, once it was light out, she came down to breakfast, acting as if nothing had happened the night before; I always thought it was a bit strange, but I learned to live with it. As long as I left her alone and let her handle things during her episodes, everything worked out."

"So Mama had a disease and passed it on to me?" Selina asked. "That's real nice of her."

"I wouldn't call it a disease," Matthew countered. "I'd call it a quirk. A very odd quirk."

"With her, it was a quirk, but with me, it's probably something worse. At least Mama probably never injured or killed anyone during her episodes."

"What?" Matthew asked.

"When Dr. Stensrund was killed, that was during a full moon. And there are other things…"

At that moment, a voice sounded from downstairs. "Matthew! Are you here? Selina's gone missing! And she's got the grimoire!"

Mitch approached Selina's bedroom door and opened it slowly. "I'm here, Damon," he called back. "And Selina isn't missing. She's up here with me."

There was the sound of somebody coming up the stairs. "Can we come in?" Elena asked, peeking through the crack in the door.

"Sure." Matthew opened the door the rest of the way while Selina turned away and looked out the window. When Matthew Stefan's unconscious form, he turned incredulously to his daughter. "Is this what you meant by 'other things'?" he asked. "Selina Amelia Elizabeth, what happened to him? What the hell did you do?"

Damon and Elena lay Stefan on the bed as Selina turned from the window to look at them all. "I just hit him," she said. "It was the contact with his father's gravestone that knocked him out."

"Is he going to be okay?" Matthew asked as he frowned at Selina.

"I hope so," Elena said. She took Stefan's hand and held on to it.

"And I assume you know about what else happened?" Damon asked Matthew.

"Yeah," Matthew nodded. "She told me. If you want to talk about it, we can go down to the living room."

Damon nodded.

"Selina, come downstairs with us," Matthew ordered.

"No," Selina shook her head. "I don't want to. I have nothing to say. Besides, you said that I had to stay up here until tomorrow."

"Well now I'm saying you don't have to. Come on."

"Fine," Selina said. "But it's not going to do any good."

They left Elena and Stefan in Selina's bedroom, and headed downstairs. After they took seats on either side of the fireplace, Matthew began to talk. "What happened tonight?" he asked Damon.

"We had a good day," he said. "I took her to a carnival in Charleston and we did rides, she ate lots of sugar and got really drunk. It was fun." He smiled as Matthew gave his daughter a look. "Then it got dark and we decided to do one more thing each before leaving. I headed over to the shooting gallery, and she went and saw the fortune teller. It was after she got through with that that she wanted to come back here. She was really angry too."

Matthew looked at Selina. "Is that what happened?" he asked.

Selina nodded. "It was the fortune teller who told me about Stefan and Elena looking for the grimoire at the cemetery," she said.

"Well that's oddly specific for a carnival fortune teller," Matthew said. "What did she look like?"

Selina tried to remember. "She was tiny, with black hair and dark eyes. And she had a blue, beaded bag."

Mitch frowned. "Did she also happen to have a small scar on her right cheek? Did you notice that?"

"Yeah," Selina nodded. "Why?"

Mitch shook his head. "Nothing, never mind. If you see her again, let me know." He looked at Selina. "You said the reason why you crushed the locket was because it was worthless to you now. What's really making you angry?"

"Besides the full moon?" Selina grinned slightly. "I don't know. I guess I just feel like nobody trusts me. They hear that I want the grimoire, and immediately, it's 'let's keep it away from her; she'll probably do something bad with it, or mess up the spell and leave the town in ruins'."

"Well, that could happen," Matthew told her. "You're dealing with very complex magic, and I think I'm safe in assuming that you've never done anything like this before."

Selina shook her head. "For God's sake, I'm not stupid. I'm not going to be the one who'll perform the spell. I got actual witches who know what they're doing to do it for me. If I tried to do it on my own, then something bad probably would be unleashed on the town."

"So you aren't going to be the one who does the spell to open the tomb?" Matthew asked.

"No! Duh! I just said that!" Selina almost shouted in exasperation. "I got a hold of some witches who owe me a favor. They said they'd do it."

"So that's why you crushed the locket? Because no one trusts you?" Matthew said slowly.

Selina shook her head. "I don't really know why I did it, okay? Maybe it was because I was angry and that's what I thought would cause the most hurt. And based on what you told me about Mama, I bet I'll wake up tomorrow and feel really bad about it, but right now, I just don't feel anything." She paused. "I just realized that I haven't fed today."

Matthew looked at her. "Someone should probably come with you. We'll go to the woods."

Selina shook her head. "Not the woods, good God, not the woods."

"Yes," Matthew said firmly. "I don't want you going near people until you're back to being your old self again and have a sense of control back."

Selina let out a growl. "Fine."

She headed out the door and Matthew followed.

Damon was left alone in the living room. He sat in silence for a moment before Elena came downstairs and sat next to him. "Are you all right?" she asked.

He shrugged. "I don't know. She seems less homicidal now, but I'm worried that I screwed things up for good this time."

"If she can forgive you for Katherine," Elena told him, "I think you'll be all right. I really do."

"How are you feeling?" Matthew asked Selina as she sat down on a log.

"I'm feeling intense anger right now," Selina replied. "I don't like the woods. They bring back bad memories."

"Well, you can go back to eating as you like tomorrow," Matthew replied. He gazed around and inhaled deeply. "Try and focus on the good things," he told her. "You're experiencing something a little different."

"Are you done?" Selina snapped. "I want to eat."

Matthew just shook his head, but he stopped talking. Suddenly, he heard a noise. "Here comes something for you," he said encouragingly. "I think it's a rabbit."

"Oh, joy," Selina said flatly. "Thumper. My favorite." But since she wanted to get out of the woods as soon as possible, she humored her father and went after it. The rabbit was followed by two deer. And after she had taken blood from the second one, Matthew proclaimed that she'd had enough and that it was time for them to head back.

"How do you know I've had enough?" Selina asked indignantly.

"I just do. Tomorrow, you can make up for it, but for right now, the most important thing is to get you through to sun-up without any more bad things happening."

"Fine."

Selina followed Matthew back to the boarding house and sat back in her chair, looking sullen. Elena had left the room to check on Stefan and Damon was once again alone.

"Did you get anything good?" he asked cautiously.

"No," she shook her head. "Matthew made me eat Thumper and two Bambis."

Damon's eyebrows went up. "Really?" He looked at Matthew with admiration. "You are a brave man," he remarked.

"I told her she could make up for lost time tomorrow. Maybe you could take her out and make a date of it," Matthew replied.

"I'd be willing," Damon said. "We'll see how things are in the morning."

"I think I'll go upstairs and continue my father-imposed confinement," Selina said standing up. "I have a book I've wanted to start for ages."

As soon as she was gone, Damon looked at Matthew. "Do you think we'll be okay?" he asked.

Matthew nodded. "I think so. Her mother had temperament issues during the full moon and Selina does too, apparently." He smiled. "Take it from someone who knows; just leave it alone for the night, and remember that things always look better in the morning."

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