Summary: Personal canon. Spoilers for all of S2. Elena Gilbert has always been perfectly ordinary; this is the necessary punchline to this grand cosmic joke.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended.
Word Count: 1,200
Author's Notes: for womenlovefest (day five). youcallitwinter's prompt: I've been looking for a girl like you-- not you, but a girl like you. Unbeta-ed and written with haste. All mistakes are necessarily mine!
All My Love That Rages High
1. She was, of course, the apple of her parents' eye.
But don't take that too seriously. It's not like she never:
messed around,broke rules,
bitched out her brother,
--or made out with strange boys at Caroline's drunken behest.
(Elena Gilbert has always been perfectly ordinary; this is the necessary punchline to this grand cosmic joke.)
It's just that it was all meaningless.
Bending people to your will, like your own image reflected in a distant surface.
That's love, isn't it?
The most unconditional kind--blessed with the youthful arrogance of knowing there are no consequences.
1a. Then. (As the tale of woe goes.) Then comes the night on Wickery Bridge.
Elena never underestimates her own meaning again.
2. After her parents died, Elena became sad.
This is an allowance people afford her, simply because it would be monstrous not to. They call it an unfortunate tragedy, an unlucky happenstance. Such a terrible thing to happen to such good people; a reminder of the cosmic gun metaphorically pointed at our heads. They look at her with expressions of pity, rather than accusation. They let her be because she's only a girl, with grief in her eyes and innocence in her heart.
Because near-death makes a person wiser, Elena knows them to be wrong. She lost that innocence, somehow, in more ways than one. She will never get it back. This is her fault.
She remembers waking up that night in a clean hospital bed, whole and alive. They called it a miracle.
That didn't mean anything.
(Elena Gilbert is a fatalist, and that's how she knows she had that shot coming.)
3. Elena's little brother went off the rails after the accident.
This is true. This is her responsibility. Because Elena Gilbert can always be counted on, she adheres to this duty as though life itself depends on it. (Not her life, obviously; someone else's.)
Jeremy has never been like Elena. Jeremy does not cope well. Jeremy has every right Elena does not--to grieve, to be angry, to rage, to blame everyone but himself.
In her sick moods, she envies him. In her even sicker moments, she deplores him. Her brother is her one stubborn tie to life, which means she's duty-bound to hold on. She knows this is punishment rather than salvation, because she doesn't deserve it. Because she wishes she were dead; she wishes, necessarily, to be free of him. This is an awful thing to want. It's how she knows she's right to want it.
4. Stefan was the first to make Elena happy again.
She doesn't know where he comes from--but it's a bolt out of the blue, the sun emerging from behind a cloud, or whatever sentimental cliche is appropriate here. Elena doesn't care. She's had her fill of half-empty glasses; when he tells her she won't be sad forever, she believes him.
Elena is happy. This is a truth impossible enough to endure whatever else could possible come next.
4a. (Stefan is a monster.)
This is something very few know. And yet, it's part of what makes them special, what makes them StefanandElena. This is a space nobody else can inhabit; not even the ghosts of her cold dead parents.
Stefan is a monster, and that's why she knows she belongs with him.
5. (She looks like Katherine.)
The most humiliating part of this fact--this unshakable foundation of her existence--is how many people know before she does.
There are some who have known for centuries, adding even more fuel to her hatred of the universe and its mad spinning.
And then there are those who have no idea in the world. Elena couldn't possibly tell them. She wouldn't even know how. They need to be protected. Their innocence is something Elena admires; it must be kept intact.
It's selfish in so many ways. She's terrified they'll all see her as a fraud. (For the fraud she has, in fact, always been.)
(She looks in the mirror now, and likes what she sees even less than before.)
6. Elena is the girl everyone wishes they could be.
This is true.
Not in the sense that it's an objective truth. But still true, insofar as everybody is operating on false information. She would correct them all, but there is a part of her that wants to believe the lie. This part inevitably wins out.
(She has always been terrified of being a disappointment.)
7. Everybody always thought she'd end up with Matt.
Elena loves Matt. She really does. It's why she can be honest enough to allow that she probably never loved him in the way she should have done. Those days they spent growing up--they belong to someone else now, to a different person entirely. The girl from Before.
Matt can have that girl. Elena never wants to see her again.
8. Damon is her friend.
Nobody really approves. But they don't know him like Elena does. She can't account for it. Damon is familiar, though she can honestly say she's never known anyone like him.
(In her weaker moments, she resents the fact that this is not a feeling he shares for her.
But this is not a feeling to which either of them have a right, so she forsakes it, lest she overturn the boat and they both drown.)
Besides, letting Damon into her life is necessary to being part of Stefan's. This is an explanation that no idiot could possibly refute. You do what you have to do for the people you love.
8a. This is why she carves up her own heart, sorts the parts like dirty laundry. Everyone gets a piece. She keeps her boyfriend's brother in an unlit room, apart from everyone else, but only so there's no confusion.
She lets him stay there, along with all of the anger, hate, grief, waste, and any unbidden feeling she hasn't yet been able to filter out of her system.
9. Everybody wants to die for Elena.
Sometimes, she catches herself dreaming the impossible. She imagines herself running. She runs away, somewhere far from here, this place of death. She shakes loose the chains these attachments have brought. Nobody wants to die for her, or because of her, ever again. (And she'll never be obligated to die for them, either.)
It's a futile fantasy. She blames it on the part of her that dreamt of being a writer, the part that was endlessly bored with reality and fancied she was meant for greater things.
(Life has a way of almost killing you with irony like that.)
But that dream was buried along with her parents. Elena's a realist now. That's how she knows, deep down, that no matter what she does, she's bound to lose.
9a. After Klaus comes and goes, she visits the graves of her five dead parents, and knows without a doubt that there will be no more dreams. There is just this.
10. Elena Gilbert is a survivor.
This is truer than anything else anybody could possibly accuse her of. It's a blessing and a curse, much like life itself.
It has very little to do with deserving.
Maybe she's finally turning into Katherine after all--because she thinks she's starting to get it.