Bella awoke in complete darkness, unable to remember how or when she had ended up wherever she was and there was complete silence.
She realized she was laying down and attempted to move when she felt two walls on either side of her. Startled, she ran her hands along them, feeling a thick padded lining. She then reached above her, her hands meeting a polished wood surface.
Closing her eyes tightly, she shook her head, not wanting to believe she was in a coffin. Inhaling and exhaling rapidly, she could hear her heart pounding in her chest as she heard a thud hit the wooden surface above her.
There was another thud, then another. She was being buried alive… and with that thought she let out an earth shattering scream and pounded on the wood right above her.
Her screams and pleas for help went unanswered and by the time she stopped the only thing she could hear was her own shallow breathing. She had no idea how much time had passed when she remembered how she’d got there.
Stefan Salvatore, she sneered mentally at the name. He had turned his emotions off and was playing a game with Damon and Elena, so they would stop searching for his whereabouts. She had been his pawn, and he had almost drained her dry while he’d sent pictures to both Elena and Damon, proving her imminent death. He had then heartlessly finished the job and buried her.
Anger filling her, she kicked the side of the coffin and growled. Tears streamed down her face. She was dead and should be in an eternal sleep. More tears sprang forth as she realized that she must be in transition.
She violently shook her head back and forth trying to clear the memory of Damon giving his blood to her that very morning, after she cut herself badly with a knife slicing through the cantaloupe she was preparing to eat for breakfast. He had insisted and even though she had a bad sense of foreboding as she drank it, she went ahead and drank it, anyway.
Damon Salvatore was not one to argue with, and she wasn’t about to waste her breath or her time protesting against drinking the blood. That and the fact she really didn’t want to go to the hospital and be stitched up.
“Damon.” She spoke aloud, her voice soft, almost reverent. She had been drawn to him ever since the moment she laid eyes on him at the Mystic Grill a year ago when she moved to Mystic Falls.
She felt her lips twitch at the thought of him and she sighed. They were as close as two people could ever possibly be, and she had often times wondered if maybe he was her other half; her soul mate.
They had both shared unfathomable heart break, both putting up walls around themselves to keep the other out, and like him, she had her own brand of humor that most people did not find amusing. But Damon got the humor, and more importantly, he got her, he understood her. For the first time in her 18 years, she had felt accepted, and more importantly she had accepted herself. She had begun to live life in the moment.
Instead of wallowing in the heartbreak that her lost love had left her in, she had let go of him. She began to let her walls down and let people in. She made new friends and she cherished them and every memory they had made together. Both the good and the bad; that is what life was all about, after all.
She owed all that to Damon, the snarky, violent, pain in the ass of a vampire.
The tears kept flowing as she realized she would never get to tell her friends how much she truly loved them, how much she cherished them, or show gratitude for how they truly changed her life. She sobbed even harder when she realized that she wouldn’t get to thank the one truly responsible for turning her life around, for pulling the stick that had been in her ass and making her live, making her realize she was more than what she herself thought she was.
She slammed her head against the small polyester pillow that her head rested on and shuddered as the sobs increased.
She would never be able to tell him that she somehow had fallen in love with him. She knew the feelings would not be reciprocated, but she wanted him to know that someone out there loved him, that someone accepted him.
It didn’t matter that he had been on murdering sprees, it didn’t matter that he was reckless. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves forgiveness for them. She so desperately wanted to be the one to offer that to him, to tell him that she sees the man within the vampire.
She had cried herself into the darkness of sleep when images of a dream came to her. It was the living room of the Salvatore Boarding House. It was late, the fire was roaring and the music was loud. She had been drunk out of her mind as she danced wildly.
Damon had taken it upon himself to join her from behind, snaking his arms around her waist. She ground herself against him as his hands roamed across her stomach and her hips. Then he had abruptly turned her around and pulled her towards him. She’d been startled and braced her hands on his shoulders to keep from falling as his hands tightened around her waist.
The music continued to blare from the house’s sound system, but was ignored as they met each other’s gaze. He licked his lips as his eyes moved to hers and her breath hitched at the movement. Time seemed to stop as leaned her and tenderly kissed her on the mouth.
Startled, she had pulled back, looking at him in surprise. “Damon?” She questioned.
He had taken in a breath and slowly exhaled before speaking softly. “You are so beautiful when you’re like this. So free, without a care in the world. This is the Bella I love.”
“Wh-What?” She had said in response, her voice a tad higher than normal.
“I love you, Bella.” His voice was heartfelt, earnest and with an undercurrent of relief as he said the words.
She had been astonished by his confession and just stared at him, her eyes blinking. Not able to really say anything, she simply grabbed him by the back of his neck and pulled him to her.
“Kiss me.” She had demanded as she found her voice.
He had obliged, kissing her in a way she had never been kissed before. It was passionate and when his tongue entered her mouth, it had set her ablaze and she returned the kiss with equal fervor. Her fingers found themselves tangled in his hair and his own hands had found their way to her ass as he pulled her even closer to him.
His lips had made their way down her neck and left a trail of open mouth kisses there before he picked her up and held her against the wall, bringing his lips back to hers. She felt him grinding between her legs and it made the fire within her rise even higher. She had never felt like this before; she felt like she was flying.
Somehow, Damon’s shirt had been removed and she was busy running her fingers along the planes of his chest when the music suddenly stopped and the lights went out, leaving only the fire lighting the room.
Damon had stilled his movements and sighed, gently settling her down and stepping away as he buttoned his shirt before turning back around and facing her with a solemn look on his face.
He minutely shook his head as he told her, “I can’t do this.” His voice was barely a whisper.
Bella was embarrassed and her insecurities flared as she was once again jilted by someone she loved.
“Wh-Why not” she asked. Tears pricked her eyes and her voice wavered. “You said you love me and you have to know that I love you.”
His fingers brushed her cheek gently and he smirked slightly, “I know, and that’s exactly why I can’t do this. Your first time should be more than some drunken dance and taken up against a wall. Your first time should be with someone whose heart is only for you.”
He chewed on his lips and squinted his eyes, “I can’t offer you that right now, Bella. I have feelings for Elena, too and it wouldn’t be fair to you.”
She had stepped around him and stood with her back to him, her arms crossed over her chest, as if trying to ward off the rejection that stabbed at her heart like a needle, again and again.
“I never thought you would turn down sex, Damon,” she said bitterly, biting her lip as the tears stung her eyes. “You know, I wouldn’t care if you had feelings for Elena, just knowing that you love me too would be enough.”
With that she had gathered her things and stumbled toward the door, attempting to leave, to get as far away from the house and Damon as she could. He had stopped her though, blurring in front of her, and grabbing her shoulders.
He reached behind her neck and she felt the chain to her Vervain locket fall. Realizing what he was about to do, she shook her head no.
“Don’t do this, please don’t do this, Damon.”
He had thickly swallowed as he replied to her, “I’m sorry! I can’t lose you…” He shook his own head as he said, “I won’t.”
He set the locket down on the table beside him and took her face in his hands. When she had squinted her eyes tightly shut, he softly spoke, “Open your eyes, Bella.”
“No.” she defiantly replied. “I am not going to let you compel me.”
“Bella, please.” He pleaded, “Just listen to me.”
She couldn’t resist the desperation in his tone and slowly opened her eyes. He kissed her once more and stroked her cheeks with his thumbs. Meeting her eyes as his pupils dilated he began his compulsion.
“I do love you and I am sorry I have to do this. You won’t remember anything from tonight. You won’t remember the kiss, you won’t remember the conversation we had. All you will remember is that we got drunk, we partied and we danced. We had fun like we always do then the power went out and you went to bed.”
He had then carried her to his room and placed her on the bed, tucking her in. “Sleep.” He compelled her once again.
Bella laid in the coffin, gasping for breath, tears flowing down her cheeks as she realized that it wasn’t a dream; it was a memory. She kicked the top of the coffin in fury as she yelled out, “Damn you, Damon!!! Damn you!”
Her toe started throbbing and she laughed mirthlessly, thinking that she would probably be the only person on the planet that would hurt themselves buried in the ground inside a casket.
Moments passed as her breathing returned to normal, and she stared out into the darkness and bravely faced the fact the she would die twice in one day. She let out a puff of air and suddenly felt the most immense pain she ever felt in her life in her gums.
She tensed and held back a scream as she run her tongue along her teeth and gums to try and soothe the ache. It was then that she felt them, two fangs had grown and she timidly reached up a finger and touched one.
An inhuman hiss escaped her at the sensitivity of the touch and her eyes widened at the sound she had made. She was becoming a vampire, and she could feel the changes taking place. Her vision was clearer now, she realized that she could make out pattern of the fabric and she could see her hand in front of her. She could also make out every tiny noise her movements made.
She beat her fists against the coffin, angry that she wouldn’t be able complete the transition, angry that Stefan had killed her, angry at Damon for compelling her. She kept beating at the top of the casket, working out her anger and frustration.
The sound of wood splintering spurred her on as she kept pounding some more, hoping that maybe she could find a way out. To her disappointment though, all she was able to do was put a few cracks in the top causing quite a bit of dirt to fall through them and into the casket.
Coughing as she inhaled particles from the dirt, she brushed her face off, growling in frustration. Stewing for a bit as she thought of what Damon had done, and why he had compelled her, she realized that the more she thought about it, the more she knew that his heart had been in the right place.
She couldn’t bring herself to hold it against him, and the memory of it was now a gift to her. A gift of knowing that he did love her, and that he knew she loved him. Her heart felt lighter because she felt that all Damon had ever needed was to be truly loved, to be accepted. She was happy she had been able to give him that, however brief the moment was. The only regret she had was that she would never be able to tell him again.
More time passed as she lost herself in her thoughts. There wasn’t much else she could do trapped inside a coffin with no way out. She wouldn’t have enough vampire strength until she fed and that was impossible.
She could feel herself getting weaker by the minute, her lips were dry and the hunger she felt was starting to overpower her thoughts. All she could she could think of was blood. Her mouth watered at the thought of sinking her fangs into someone’s neck and drinking them dry and her body ached as it was craving for the nourishment it vitally needed.
She could hear the soft thump, thump, thump of her heart in her chest and she could feel her skin starting to go dry. Time was ticking away and death was approaching for the second time that day. She knew it wouldn’t be long and it was a depressing fact to her that all she could do about it was accept it. She sure as hell wouldn’t welcome it, but she’d accept it. Closing her eyes, she waited patiently for death to come visit her once again.
It was then as she lay quiet and still, that her ears picked up a noise above ground. She could hear soft footfalls and muffled voices, and when she focused on them she recognized the voices of Elena, Bonnie & Matt.
She sighed in utter relief when she heard a fourth voice say, “She’s here… grab the shovel, Quarterback and let’s start digging.”
Bella chuckled and smiled, and then tears filled her eyes once again as it sunk in that she was going to be saved. She wiped the tears from her face and licked her dry lips. Her throat was dry and her voice hoarse, but she called out softly.
“We’re coming for you, Bella, Hold on!!” he called back. His voice was full of determination mixed with elation and she could also hear a hint of affection behind it.
It wasn’t long before the top of the coffin was torn off and blinking at the sudden light, her eyes met the startling blue eyes of her savior.
He met her gaze and she saw the emotions flicker across his face. Anger, guilt, sorrow, worry, joy, and the last one of all surprised her; there was love there. She simply stared up at him, her own emotions weighing heavy in her heart and her mind.
Damon picked her up and gingerly set her down before he hugged her tightly, brushing her hair and kissing her temple. He leaned back to look at her and cupped her face in his hand.
“I thought we were going to be too late,” he whispered brokenly. “When Stefan sent me the pictures, I hated the thought you waking up and going through the transition alone. I could kill him for this.” He growled lowly.
Bella bit her lip and wrapped her arms around him tightly, “I never thought I’d see you again!” she blurted out. The tears fell down her cheeks as she hugged him tightly, bringing him as close to her as possible.
They stood and held each other tenderly, until after a while, Damon broke the silence and spoke, “You need to feed.”
He stepped back and grabbed Matt by the arm, pulling him in front of her.
“I’m not going to eat Matt, Damon! I could kill him!!” she shrieked.
Damon smirked, “Do you think the world would really miss Mystic Falls’ star football player?”
“You can’t let her feed on Matt, Damon!” Elena admonished.
“She needs to feed Elena, and would you rather it be Matt or some unsuspecting stranger in the town square that she doesn’t know how to compel? Besides, the choice isn’t yours, it’s Bella’s and if she wants a taste of nice, juicy quarterback, I’m not stopping her. One way or another she is going to feed.”
He voice was venomous, full of spite and anger. No one had ever seen him speak to Elena in this manner and there were looks of astonishment from everyone in the grouping.
“Bella,” Matt spoke gently, “It’s okay, you can feed from me, I trust you. You have to have human blood to complete the change and no one here wants to lose you.” He tilted his neck to the side as an offering.
All Bella could do was focus on the pulse moving under his skin, she could hear the rush of blood as it moved through his body, his heartbeat calling to her, almost begging her to come forth and drink.
She felt her hunger overtake her as her fangs descended and she leapt forward, grabbing the boy’s shoulders and sinking her fangs into his neck. The blood flowed into her mouth and it was like nothing she ever tasted before. It was like the finest wine, sweet and robust; she couldn’t get enough of it and kept drinking and drinking.
She suddenly heard a shout and became aware of Damon quickly standing behind her, softly talking in her ear. “Bella, listen to his heart, it’s getting slow. You need to stop.”
Bella took a few more long pulls, then she felt him wrap an arm around her waist as he whispered to her gently, “Bella, stop.” He coaxed.
She pulled away from Matt and licked her lips clean of the blood before turning around to face Damon.
“Good” he praised and kissed her on the forehead. He then went over to Matt to feed him some blood.
Bella looked over to Bonnie and Elena as they slowly approached her. Elena was first to speak. “I’m sorry Stefan did this, I’m so sorry you had to go through this.”
Bella took the girl’s hand her own and squeezed it gently. “You have nothing to be sorry for, Elena. This is all on Stefan.”
“He didn’t mean it, Bella! His emotions are off!” Elena tried to reason.
Bella’s voice became cold as she replied, “And I don’t care!! He has got to answer for his actions at some point or another; having the switch off is no excuse. None whatsoever!!”
She looked over to Bonnie, who stood silently and simply nodded in agreement. She let go of Elena’s hand and stepped towards the young witch.
“I know you’re not the biggest fan of vampires, and I completely understand your reasons why, but you are my friend and because of that, I will try to feed on animals and if that doesn’t work well, then I’ll use blood bags. I will try my best not to drink from the vein unless I absolutely have to. You have my word.”
Bonnie nodded once again and hugged her. She stepped back, smiling wanly. “Looks like I have another daylight ring to make.”
Bella clasped Bonnie’s hand gratefully and said a sincere “Thank you.”
Damon then approached the group and slung an arm around her shoulder. “I think we need to get Baby Vamp home.” He nudged her with his hip and smirked.
Bella shook her head, “I can’t go home to Charlie; it’s not safe for him right now.”
“You don’t think I’d actually take you home to Daddy Cop right now, do you?” Bella looked at him perplexingly and he smirked again “You’re coming home with me, to the Boarding House.”
She arched her eyebrows, “Seriously? And how exactly do we explain that?”
He shrugged. “Easy, for now you’re sleeping over at Bonnie’s house, studying for a Trig test.”
Bella smiled, “So you’ve thought of everything, huh?”
His blue eyes twinkled as he replied, “Don’t I always?”
She promptly swatted at him and scoffed.
He moved his arm from her shoulder and took her hand in his as he led everyone out of the cemetery. Bella’s memory of the night he compelled her played again through her mind and she stopped abruptly, halting Damon’s steps as well.
Everyone looked at her quizzically before she spoke, “You guys go on ahead. I want to speak to Damon about something.”
Damon took his car keys from his pocket and handed them to Matt, “If there’s one scratch…” he threatened.
Bella shook her head in amusement as the group left the cemetery and she stood facing Damon, whose blue eyes were looking at her questioningly. She stood and nibbled on her lips before she spoke.
“I remember.” Her voice was barely a whisper and when his eyebrows shot up in surprise, she wasn’t quite sure what it meant.
She was nervous as he stepped closer to her and placed a strand of hair behind her ear. He moved his hand down her arm until he reached her hand, he then took it in his own again, lacing their fingers.
He looked into her eyes, “What exactly is it you remember, hmm?”
Bella continued to nibble her lip as she sighed. “You, me, the Boarding House, kissing, being drunk, making out. You telling me you loved me and then compelling me.”
Damon chuckled and grinned. “If I remember correctly, someone told me that they loved me, too.”
Bella scoffed, “So not the point, Damon! You compelled me to forget!”
She yanked her hand out of his and stepped back as she glared at him. “I understand why you did it! I do! Believe me, I do, but don’t you know that no matter what, no matter if you love me or if you love Elena, I will always love you! When I was in that damn coffin, all I could think about was the fact that I never had a chance to tell you that I loved you, and then when the compulsion wore off, I was glad to have that memory! I was elated that you knew I loved you.”
Tears welled in her eyes as she looked at him, “There is no one I know that deserves to be loved more than you do, Damon! No one! Am I mad you compelled me? Yes!! But I will never regret telling you how I feel.”
He had stood with his arms crossed as he eyed her, listening to every word she said. “Are you done?” he curtly asked. Bella nodded.
“Good! Because you need to listen!! I compelled you because I didn’t want to hurt you. I had been in love with Elena and I wanted to be sure I was over her before I ever started something with you! I fell in love with you Bella, and I love you so much that I wanted you to know that I chose you, and there would only be you, it would always be you. But I needed time to make sure I was over Elena, and the whole Katherine mess. I came very close to telling you when Tyler bit me, but that was not the time or the place for it, either. I couldn’t die on you and leave you to all the ‘What ifs’ I know you too damn well! You would have clung to it and never moved on! After everything Edward put you through, I wasn’t going to put you through that!”
He approached her and wrapped his arm around her. “When Stefan sent those photos of you, I threw the phone across the room and broke it, and at that moment, for the first time in my life, I felt regret because I had compelled you to forget that night, that you had no memory of it, that you never knew I loved you. When I finally remembered that you had my blood in your system, I just about wreaked havoc and demanded Bonnie do a tracking spell. Once she did and when got here, and I spotted the freshly dug grave, all I could think was that I would get see you again, and maybe, just maybe get the chance to tell you I love you. I want you, just you. There’s no one else. No Katherine, no Elena, only you.”
Bella smiled and grabbed his face in her hands. “I love you.”
He smiled back, “I love you. Now how about we get you home and I’ll help you get a shower?”
She looked at him incredulously. “Help me?”
He nodded. “Yep, there might be some spots you can’t reach…”
She swatted his arm as she giggled, “I might let you help…”
He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “I can be very convincing, maybe we’ll even pick up where we left off that night.”
Bella shivered in thought and murmured, “I like the sound of that.” And kissed him.
It was a day that ended in a death, but with that one kiss, they felt the promise of life… and it was only the beginning.