Elena Gilbert's dreams are thick of memories - echoes of smiles and sighs and promises and endearments muttered in her ear before she fell asleep, curled against Stefan's - it's name that drums into her head, under the surface of her thoughts, wrapped in longing and regret and plain old need.
Then daylight comes and she sees him: Stefan-but-not-Stefan, this stranger who wears the skin of her one true love, this stranger with dark, frigid eyes and a cruel mouth that won't kiss her good morning.
Even Damon, with all of his inopportune and reckless devotion, can't protect her from this pain. It's like whole an abyss that discoses inside her soul and threathens to shallow her whole.
It was supposed to last forever- she thinks, meeting Stefan's eyes, both alien and familiar at once- and there's a spike of anger, hiding under the pain.
It's not his fault, Elena knows, it was not wrong of him choosing to save Damon's life over can't be mad for that and it shames her, to face that there's a little, selfish part of her that *is* mad about it.
But she can't change how she feels, not when she barely has the strenght to hold herself together.