The Lady in Red

Together Again

Slowly the girl smiled. "What am I saying? Of course it's you!" She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. Surprised, he resisted for a moment, but then relaxed and returned her hug. Finally she pulled away. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?" Then, she noticed Elena. "And I see you brought her," she continued, circling Elena and glaring at her. "Why'd you have to do that? It wrecks the whole moment."

Stefan sighed. "Selina, this isn't Katherine. Katherine died a long time ago, in a fire."

Selina's eyes lit up. "Katherine's dead? As in gone? As in I'm never going to have to see her ever again?" She began to do a little dance, chanting "ding dong the witch is dead". This went on for quite some time until Stefan finally cleared his throat and she stopped. She glanced at him sheepishly. "Sorry about that." Then, she looked at Elena. "If you're not Katherine, who are you?"

"I'm Elena Gilbert," Elena replied. Then she took the locket out of her pocket and handed it to Selina. "And I think this belongs to you."

"Thank you." Selina took the locket, touching every inch and gazing at it intently as if she wanted to make sure it was really there. "I haven't seen this in a long time. But how come it looks so nice? Wouldn't it be tarnished after being in the ground for so long?"

"After my brother and I found it, we brought it home with us and took the silver polish to it."

Selina smiled and put it on. "Well, thanks again."

Stefan took one of Selina's hands. "How is it that I'm a little surprised to see you here, but you don't seem so surprised to see me?"

"Just a minute." Selina left the room and came back a minute later, holding a yellowing paper lightly between her thumb and forefinger. "Once I saw this," she explained, setting it down on the table, "I knew it was only a matter of time."

It was an issue of the town paper. The headline read "Salvatore Brothers Escort Miss Katherine Pierce to First Founder's Day Ball".

"And I was right," she continued matter-of-factly. "Here you are. Am I right in assuming that she turned Damon as well?"

Stefan nodded. "Yes, she did." He looked at the paper again. "How did you get this?"

Selina laughed without humor. "It's a funny story really. After I escaped from Dr. Stensrund's house, my bloodlust still wasn't completely under control. In order to stop myself from accidently hurting anyone, I hid out in the woods. I don't know how long, maybe about six months. My diet consisted mainly of rabbits and squirrels and the occasional deer. One day, my cousin Michael came upon me while I was feeding. I thought he was going to stake me. That was the rule. But for some reason, he spared me, saying as long as he and descendants of his walked this earth, I could stay in this town and be safe. And then he gave me this." She gestured at the paper. "Once I saw it, everything became clear again. I left the woods, came back here, attacked Dr. Stensrund until he was almost completely drained of blood, and then I staked him. I've been spending his money and drinking from his liquor cabinet ever since. Well, except for the twenties when I left town to see the world, but that's an entirely different story."

She paused and looked at Elena and Stefan who were gazing at her with amazement. "Are you two going to say anything or are you just going to stand there and gape at me?"

Stefan blinked. "Sorry about that. It's just that I had no idea about any of this."

Selina nodded. "Of course you didn't. Katherine made sure of that." She looked at Elena. "Oh, and I'm sorry about attacking you earlier. I just had some issues with my sister. Really big issues. I didn't hurt you too badly, did I?"

Elena shook her head. "Nothing too bad, just some cuts and scratches."

Selina breathed a sigh of relief. "That's good. Say, the two of you didn't happen to bring anyone else with you, did you?"

"You mean Damon?" Stefan asked.

"Yeah," Selina nodded. "Him. The man who proposed to me, and then the moment I was out of the picture, went after my sister."

Stefan sat beside her. "Katherine used her powers to get him to believe that you cheated on him and eloped with Dr. Stensrund while he was away fighting. And he still believes it to this day."

Selina sighed. "Of course he does."

"But you still want to see him, don't you?" Elena asked.

Selina nodded. "I know I'm probably a glutton for punishment, but I do. I don't know why. For closure, maybe."

Stefan put his arms around her. "You know, he still carries around the picture you gave him the day he shipped out."

"Really?" Selina asked, surprised.

"Really." Stefan answered. "So I think there's still a part of him that loves you."

"And I know how you can prove it," Elena said. "Next week is Halloween and there's a town wide party every year over at the school. People usually come in costume, and if you have one of your old dresses, you can wear it, and maybe he'll see you, the old feelings will come flooding back, and it'll be like nothing ever happened."

Selina looked at her, surprised. "Do you think that'll work?"

Elena shrugged. "It's worth a shot, don't you think?"

A week later, Stefan returned to the boardinghouse after meeting with Selina for one last time before the party, and was surprised to find Damon in the parlor. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "It's Halloween. I thought you'd be out terrorizing the locals or something."

Damon stood up. "As a matter of fact, I am going out tonight. That Halloween party they put on will just be full of girls ripe for the picking."

As Stefan smirked, Damon frowned. "What?"

"I know something you don't know," he said.

"Would you mind telling me what that is?"

Stefan just laughed again. "It's a surprise. You'll find out at the party."

Stefan picked up Elena and the two of them headed to Dr. Stensrund's house for Selina. When they came in, they didn't see Selina waiting for them.

"Selina," Stefan called, "are you ready to go?"

"Yes," Selina called back. "I look really good and I want to make an entrance."

A few seconds later, she appeared at the top of the stairs, wearing a very familiar red dress and red stones in her hair. As she descended the staircase, the look on Stefan's face made her smile. "Looks like I've still got it. Do you think it'll work on your brother?"

He nodded. "If it doesn't, he's crazy." Just as she was about to head out the door, he put a hand on her arm. "Just a minute," he said, "I have something to give you." He handed her a box and she opened it to find a dozen long-stemmed red roses.

"My God," she gasped. "Stefan, these are beautiful!"

"Well, happy birthday," he told her. "I just wanted to let you know that I remembered."

She smiled. "Thank you." After Selina put them into a vase, the trio got into Stefan's car and headed to the party.

The festivities were well underway by the time they arrived. Stefan dropped Selina and Elena off at the front entrance and then left to park the car. The girls went inside and separated, Elena heading to the dance floor, and Selina looking for a seat so that she could compose herself. It had been awhile since she'd been in a group this big. There was one table she saw that had available seating, a woman dressed like a flapper was sitting alone and she seemed to be waiting for someone.

"Hi," Selina greeted her as she approached the table. "Great costume. Let me guess: Daisy Buchannan?"

The woman nodded. "Yes! And you must be Scarlett O'Hara!"

Selina smiled. "In a hoop-skirted ballgown who else would I be? Would you mind if I sat here?"

The woman shook her head. "No, of course not. Be my guest. I've never seen you around before. I'm Mrs. Lockwood, the mayor's wife."

Selina shook her hand. "I just arrived. I'm Sophia Warren."

The woman eyed her curiously. "Warren? We had some Warrens in this town awhile back, but they've all died out. Would you be related to them, perhaps?"

Selina nodded. "Matthew Warren had an older brother Andrew. Their father disowned Andrew after he elected to quit the family law practice and seek more lucrative and exciting business opportunities up north. That's the branch I come from."

Mrs. Lockwood smiled. "That is so interesting. I had no idea."

"Well, I'll tell you what," Selina told her, "not a lot of people do. I'm just here to explore the family roots."

Just then, Mrs. Lockwood's eyes left Selina's.

"What is it?" Selina asked.

"Here comes a friend of mine with drinks," Mrs. Lockwood explained.

Selina followed her gaze and saw that Damon was coming toward the table with a drink in each hand. Just as she turned, he looked up, into her eyes. His widened and both drinks went tumbling to the floor, the glasses shattering. Taking no notice of the mess he'd just made, he strode over to Selina and breathed "Oh, my God, Seli-"he was beginning to be overwhelmed. It really was her. She was wearing the same dress she'd worn the night they'd gotten engaged.

"Sophia," she corrected him, "Sophia Warren. I just got here."

"Right," he collapsed into the chair across from her, not saying a word.

"Damon," Mrs. Lockwood asked, looking concerned, "are you all right?"

"Sure," he replied, sitting up, "I just need to run to the bathroom. I'll be back in a minute."

And he dashed off without another word. Instead of going to the bathroom, however, he set out in search of his brother. When he found him, he immediately asked "did you know Selina was going to be here tonight?"

Stefan nodded. "Of course I did. That was the surprise."

Damon frowned. "You could have warned me, you know."

Stefan smiled. "I could have, but then you probably wouldn't have come. Now get back there and talk to her, ask her to dance, something, anything at all!"

"Right!" Still a little dazed, Damon made his way back to the table.

"Any better?" Selina asked him.

Damon took a deep breath and finally was able to look at her again. "Yeah, everything's great."

At that moment, the band started up a slow song. Selina stood up. Walking over to Damon she said carefully, "I know we don't know each other very well, but would you do me the honor of a dance?"

Damon took her hand. "It would be my pleasure."

As they danced, the other couples cleared the floor. It was as if there was no one in the world but the two of them. "This is nice," Selina whispered.

"Yeah," Damon agreed. "And by the way, happy birthday. Sorry I didn't bring you anything."

Selina shook her head. "It's okay. This dance is more than enough."

As Stefan and Elena watched, he said to her, "See, I told you. He just needed to see her again and everything would work out just as it should." They left the room and headed outside.

As the song ended, Damon and Selina separated and the world came rushing back. He offered to go get her a drink. As soon as he was gone, Elena came running up to her, covered in blood.

"Elena, what's happened?" she asked.

"Something terrible," Elena answered. "Stefan needs your help outside."

Selina followed Elena out to the back of the school where Stefan was struggling to keep hold on a wildly thrashing girl. "Stefan," Selina asked as soon as she reached him, "what's going on? What happened to Elena?"

"Vickie attacked her. She just barely managed to get away."

Selina inspected the wildly thrashing girl. "New vampire?"

Stefan nodded, gripping tighter as, at the sight of Elena, the girl's movements became more frantic.

"Do you think she'll be able to be tamed?" Selina asked.

Stefan shook his head. "No, that's why I think the best thing to do would be to stake her before she kills somebody. You hold her down."

Selina's eyes widened. "Stefan, you can't be serious!"

"I am," he replied gravely and grabbed a tree branch, plunging it into Vickie's chest. As soon as the deed was done, Selina let her down to the ground and then looked up at Stefan and Elena, who was still covered in blood.

"Who did this to her?" she asked.

They looked at one another, knowing that Selina wouldn't like the answer.

"Damon did it," Stefan said finally. "He was trapped in the house one day without his ring and that's how he spent his time."

"What?" Selina's voice shook.

"It's true," Elena agreed. "She was a mess before. He told me that she'd thank him for it someday."

"My God," Selina could barely talk and tears were running down her cheeks. "I don't believe this."

Stefan took her hand, pulled her up, and put his arms around her. "Do you want to go home now?"

She nodded.

"Go inside," he told her. "Elena and I will be along in a minute."

She nodded and went inside, rooting around in her purse for a tissue.

"Are you all right?" a voice behind her asked. "What's the matter?"

She looked up and saw Damon staring back at her. She felt her tears start to dry up. "Don't talk to me," she told him. "Stefan's going to be back in a few moments, and then I'm going home."

Damon put his hands on her shoulders. "Again I ask, what's the matter?"

"Why the hell should you care?" she asked. "And don't touch me," she maneuvered herself out of his grasp.

Damon sighed. "Fine, I'll leave you alone. But we're going to talk about this later."

Alone in her room, Selina lay on her bed, and cried into her pillow. Suddenly, the door opened, and Damon strode into the room. "All right, now tell me: what's wrong with you?"

Selina sat up and wiped her eyes. "You know, it's customary to knock before you enter somebody's room."

Damon rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

Selina sighed. "Stefan told me about that Vickie girl you turned."

Damon came over and sat on the bed next to her. "Is that what this is about? That was nothing. I was bored. I wanted to have a little fun and there she was. What's the problem with that?"

"The problem," Selina answered, "Is your complete and utter lack of regard for other people. You used to be such a good person. But Katherine really screwed you up, didn't she? She turned you into a cruel heartless psycho, just like her. Maybe you two really do belong together."

Damon stood up quickly. "Well, maybe we do. And don't you ever talk about her that way."

Selina frowned at him. "Did it ever occur to you to tell her that when she was telling you all the lies about me?"

He scowled at her, but said nothing as he left the room. As soon as he was gone, Selina buried herself under her covers, and whispered to herself "Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…"

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