The Lady in Red

A Heart to Heart Talk

The first thing Selina saw when she woke up was Damon lying next to her in her bed. She stared at him for a few seconds, then the pain hit. "Oh, my God!" she cried, which made Damon open his eyes and sit up.

"What?" he asked. "You wanted me to stay here with you last night!"

"No!" Selina snapped at him. She screwed her eyes shut and shook her head. "It's not you! My head is killing me."

"Oh," Damon grinned a little, then eased himself off the bed. "Well you did have quite a night last night."

She groaned. "I haven't drunk like that since the day the stock market crashed." She looked up at him. "I didn't say anything I might regret later, did I?"

He shook his head. "No, you're actually a lot more civil when you're drunk. Not a lot of people can say that. You're also a really good dancer. You even apologized for all your bad behavior lately."

Selina frowned. "What bad behavior? I have absolutely nothing to be sorry for. You on the other hand…" she glared at him.

"Hey," he said. "I've got nothing to apologize for either. You're the one who ran off with Dr. Stensrund while I was off fighting for the Confederacy!"

"That's it!" She cried. "I did NOT run off with Dr. Stensrund. I got sick. He promised Mama that he would cure me. Then things went wrong. That's what happened. Why can't you understand that?"

"Maybe because it's not true?"

She groaned again. Finally, she said "would you consider my mother an honest person?"

He nodded. "Yes, I would. But I don't see what that has to do with anything."

She got out of her bed slowly and then looked over at him. "You will." She left the room and came back a few minutes later clutching her mother's journal and the letter she'd written. "Read these," she said, shoving them at him. "The letter is the one you were supposed to get when Katherine came to your house. This is a copy; she must have destroyed the original."

He took it from her and read it over. After he'd finished, he looked up at her. "You really were sick?" he asked in surprise.

"Duh," she said. "I've only been saying that for weeks."

He looked down at the letter again. "You were so sick that you would have died within a week?"

She nodded. "Yeah, it was awful."

"I believe it would do Selina a world of good to see you one last time before the angels take her…" he paused and looked up at her. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I probably wouldn't have come."

"Why not?" Selina asked.

He put the letter down. "Because I wouldn't want my last memories of you to be while I watched you die. But what would make Katherine say that you ran off with Dr. Stensrund when you didn't?"

Selina rolled her eyes. "Other then the fact that one of her sole joys in life was trying to ruin mine? Nothing else, really."

"What's the journal for?"

She picked it up. "I brought it to give even more proof that I didn't run off with Dr. Stensrund. Turn to June 16th."

He opened the journal up and read "Today, Dr. Stensrund stopped by with troubling news. It's so sad I can barely speak and I've locked myself in my room. He told me that despite his best efforts, Selina has died. He told me he was sorry for my loss. I haven't told my husband or Katherine about it because I doubt it would move them. The only thing I'm grateful for is that she no longer suffers, and that she and her father have been reunited. And all I can do is wait for the day that I join them.

Amelia Warren"

He looked up at her. "Dr. Stensrund told your mother you were dead?"

Selina nodded. "Apparently. Probably so she wouldn't ask questions."

"What about your funeral?" he asked. "When he didn't return your body, she probably suspected something then."

"Turn the page," Selina replied gravely.

He turned the page to the next day: "Dr. Stensrund came by again. He told me that due to the severity of Selina's illness, and the fact that it's spread so easily, it would be safer for him to bury Selina's body on his own instead of returning it to us so it can be buried in the family plot next to her father's. I thought it was strange at first, but then realized it was the right thing to do. It's awfully courageous of him to risk illness himself in order to protect the whole community.

Amelia Warren"

Damon stopped reading and looked back up at Selina. "Are there any more you want me to read?"

"No," she shook her head. "Just those. Now, if you will kindly admit that I was right and you were wrong, then we can stop wasting our existences hating Katherine and Dr. Stensrund for turning us, and can instead thank them for giving us a second chance at being together."

Damon picked up the letter again. "You know, you're right. About this being a second chance, I mean. If that hadn't happened, you'd be dead and I'd be lonely." Then, he looked up at her. "I told you this last night, but you probably don't remember. And after seeing all this, I probably should say it again. But I'm sorry for everything that's happened. You mean a lot to me, and I've been acting like an idiot."

Selina smiled. "Thank you. Now I'll let the whole situation go, and we can move on."

"Well, since we're moving on," he said as he went to her dresser and rummaged around in her jewelry box, "can I assume you want this back?" he held up the locket.

"Yes, I do. Thanks for saving it for when I came back to my senses."

She took it from him and put it back on.

"Well," he said, "That was actually Stefan's idea. I wanted to destroy it."

She looked up. "Well, aren't you glad you didn't?" She paused and groaned. "All this excitement almost made me forget that I'm hung over. But now I'm starting to remember again."

"Sit on your bed, and I'll get you something for the headache," Damon instructed.

Selina did as he asked and he returned a little while later with a strange-looking concoction, and handed her the glass.

"What's in this?" she asked, looking at it nervously.

"Good, wonderful stuff that makes the pain go away." He grinned encouragingly, but she still didn't drink it. "There's nothing bad in it, I swear!"

"Oh, all right!" Finally, Selina shut her eyes and downed the contents of the glass in one gulp. It took a little while, but the pain eventually went away.

"You know," Selina said, "the last time I took liquid from somebody after they told me it would make pain go away was the sleeping medication Dr. Stensrund gave me after we exchanged blood."

"Really?" Damon asked. "Is that why you were so reluctant to drink this stuff? It's just a plain old, run of the mill hangover cure, I promise."

"No, I believe you," Selina assured him. "It's just that after I took the medicine, I went to sleep, and the next thing I remember is being tied to a chair in Dr. Stensrund's attic and being racked with bloodlust."

"There was something in the medicine, wasn't there?" he asked.

She nodded. "I think it was some kind of poison. Anyway, I was racked with bloodlust, but Dr. Stensrund didn't let me feed until night time. But he said he didn't want me out and about yet, so he kidnapped two homeless men, chained them up right across from my chair, and then he let me loose."

"And did you kill both of them?" Damon asked.

"Yes," Selina nodded. She could feel herself starting to tear up. "And it happened night after night for about a week. Me, killing people. It was horrible."

"Sweetie, that wasn't your fault. You were new and your bloodlust wasn't under control yet. You couldn't help it." Damon held onto her.

"And after I'd regained a little of my sanity, that's when I noticed my locket was missing. I asked him where he put it, and he said, I kid you not, 'I hid it somewhere you'll never find it, because if I can't have you, no one can.' Then I noticed that there was a ring on my finger. He called it an engagement ring. At least it allows me to be out in the light." She showed him her hand, and for the first time, he noticed that she was wearing a ring too. "Finally, I managed to escape one night while the good doctor was out making house calls. I was a little better by then, and I thought about going back to your house, but I didn't because I thought I might accidently hurt you or Stefan, and I couldn't bear that."

"And it wouldn't have done your mother much good, seeing as she thought you were dead," Damon added.

"Yeah," Selina managed to laugh a little. "So I went to the woods. Lived on squirrels and rabbits, the occasional deer if I was lucky. That went on for about six months, and then Michael found me-"

"Wait, sweetheart, stop. You lived on animals for six months?"

She nodded bitterly. "And to sum up that experience in three words, it bit, sucked, and blew. But once Michael showed me that article about Katherine and the two of you, I finally came to my senses, went back to Doctor Stensrund's house, nearly sucked him dry, then staked him. And I've been living off his vast amounts of money and drinking from his very fine liquor cabinet ever since."

Damon was gazing at her as if she were an angel. "I don't believe this," he said in a tone of wonder. "All this time I'd thought you'd gone noble like Stefan."

"No," she shook her head. "I started with people, so eating anything else doesn't really appeal to me. Besides, people who eat people are the luckiest people of all. As long as they aren't stupid and get themselves caught." She grinned. "But I admit I haven't killed anyone since I was at Dr. Stensrund's, nor do I ever intend to."

He was still gazing at her in awe. "You know, I still think of you as you were back when we were alive, so this wild side of yours is something of a surprise. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. I mean, never once did I think I'd have to rescue you after you got yourself so drunk you couldn't even walk."

Selina grinned wickedly. "Well, if you'd been with me in the twenties, it wouldn't have been such a shock. Just out of curiosity, if I did something that got me thrown in jail, would you come and bail me out?"

He nodded. "Of course. After I got over the fact that you did something bad enough to land in jail in the first place." He paused at her look. "I missed a lot by not being with you in the twenties, didn't I?"

"Well," she said, patting him on the back, "let's just say…yes, and leave it at that." Then she stood up, threw a coquettish smile over her shoulder, and left the room.

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