A Beauty For A Beast by TwiAddictAnne


Submission Heading: A Beauty For A Beast
Non-Canon Awards; Twisted Fairy Tales
Pen Name: TwiAddictAnne
Rating: M
Genre: Romance, Drama, Supernatural
Word Count: 8,612
Pairing: Damon Salvatore/Elena Gilbert (The Vampire Diaries; Book Universe)
Summary: A curse turned him into a beast and he was looking for a Beauty who could help him break the spell. What he found was so much more.

Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.

A Beauty For A Beast

It was a cold, dark night when tradesman John Gilbert took a wrong turn on his way home and found himself at the front gate of a huge mansion with a rather foreboding-looking sign hanging from the gate.

The sign read: Beware! All who dares to pass through this gate should have to face The Salvatore.

“Salvatore? Is that not the name of the old Duke who died in a freak accident a few years back?” John muttered to himself.

Figuring that it was an old sign that would probably not be applicable at present time, he pushed the gate with his hand. The gate squeaked open slowly, as if the hinges had become rusty due to lack of use.

Before he could go ten steps inside the gateway, a rushing sound came to his ears and then he found himself hanging about a foot above the ground, with a hand holding on to his throat in a chokehold.

“Did you not read the sign?” a smooth male voice enquired of him.

All John could do in response was to nod stiffly, afraid that the owner of the voice will snap his neck in two if he did not answer.

“And yet you dared to enter my place?” the voice asked again. And again, all John could do was nod. The sound of a chuckle came to his ears. Then the voice said, “You are either extremely brave, or… very, very, foolish.”

Some basic animalistic instinct told John that he was in danger of dying at any moment. So he started to struggle to break free of this captor’s hold. Just then moonlight shone over their heads and for the first time, John could see the face of his captor.

A gasp left his mouth at the sight. Because, the man holding him looked exactly like the dead Duke’s only son—who had been thought to be estranged all this time.

“You are Damon Salvatore,” John managed to choke out.

A cold laughter seemed to echo around them as his captor shook his head and said, “All you need to know is, I am the one who is going to bring about your death, for trespassing on my property.”

John tried to plead, hoping against hope to be able to escape from this seemingly mad man with his life. “Please, Sir, I need to go. I have three daughters with no one but myself to take care of them. If you want anything in return for my life, I will gladly give you that.”

The dark figure seemed to think for a few moments before asking in a quiet voice, “What are the names of your daughters?”

Seeing John struggle to get enough breath to answer him, the man—Damon, as John called him—slackened his hold and returned his prisoner on the ground.

Massaging his throat carefully, John answered the question the man had asked. “The oldest one is Bonnie, the middle one Caroline and the youngest, Beauty… I mean Elena,” he corrected himself.

“You have a daughter named Beauty?” Damon grabbed hold of John’s neck and asked in a deceptively soft voice.

John started to shake his head before thinking better of it and stammered, “No, Sir. Beauty is simply a silly nickname we all call her with. Her real name is Elena, Elena Gilbert.”

Damon stayed silent for what seemed like hours before looking at John. John felt a shiver go down his spine at the dark, almost feral look in the man’s eyes.

Finally, Damon took his hand off of John’s neck. “You are free to go,” he said.

“Thank you, thank you so much, Sir,” John started to thank him profusely when Damon said in a tone ringing with finality, “In return for your freedom, I want you to send your daughter, Beauty, here the moment you reach home.”

Fear gripped his heart as John realized what the other man was asking for. “Please, Sir,” he begged, dropping down onto his knees, “Not my child. She is a mere girl of nineteen. There must be something else you need: money, jewels, anything?”

The sinister voice scoffed. “I do not need anything. I just want your girl to come and do little household chores here. Once I feel that she has paid off your debt, I will release her.”

Realizing that talking to him will only make matters worse, John nodded, a plan of going back on his words already forming on his mind. He stood up and with a curt nod and a swift promise to follow through with his words, he hastily retreated out of the gates.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

As Damon saw the retreating figure of the frightened man, he felt something he had not felt for a long time—hope. Maybe the man will keep his word and send his daughter out to him or maybe he will go back on his promise and hide Beauty.

Correction: try to hide, Damon thought, with a humorless smile curving his lips upwards.

Staring at the figure for a few more moments, Damon started to go back inside the house. He needed to see this Beauty with his own eyes. The Beauty he had been looking for all these years… Elena Gilbert.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

John tried to gauge his daughter’s reaction as he looked intently at her. He had managed to return home safely and then proceeded to share his horrifying experience with his three daughters.

Caroline had gasped, looking at her father and pleading with him to not to do such a horrifying thing.

Bonnie’s reaction was the exact opposite. She had looked scandalized that the dreadful man had dared to ask for a person as collateral. Then she started to admonish their father for even bringing the subject up in front of Beauty.

However, Elena had remained completely silent throughout both of her sisters’ ranting and raving. Now she seemed to have felt her father’s eyes on her back and sighed, before turning her body to face him. “You cannot break a promise, Papa,” she finally said.

“What choice do I have?” John lamented.

“I can go and pay your debts. I will not let anyone think of my father as a coward for not keeping his promise,” she said in a determined voice.

There was a moment of horrified silence before all of her family members started talking at once, trying to make her change her mind. But Elena was not to be moved. So after pleading with her to see reason for several times, they all acquiesced with heavy hearts to allow her to go pay a visit to the Salvatore.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

The next day, just around midday, Elena reached the gate of the Salvatore mansion. She was wondering whether she should knock or not when the door of the main house opened and the figure of a tall man could be seen walking up to the gate.

The man had a scruffy, almost desperate look about him. Despite that, an amiable smile could be detected on his lips even from afar as he hastened to open the gates for her.

However, as soon as he was close enough to gaze upon Elena’s face, his smile disappeared and a look of wariness took its place. “What do you want?” he asked, from the other side of the gate.

Elena smoothed down her hair and replied with a forced smile on her face, “Hello. My name is Elena Gilbert. My father told me that I was asked to work here for a few days.”

A deep thoughtful crease appeared on the man’s forehead as he asked slowly, “You are Elena Gilbert? Also called by the name of Beauty by your family?”

Elena blushed at the sound of the name. “Please, Sir, it is just a silly nickname,” she said, humbly.

Finally the man smiled and started to open up the gate. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Gilbert,” he said, “I am Alaric Saltzman, the caretaker of this house.”

As Elena stepped over the threshold of the mansion, she asked Alaric, “How many people are there inside this mansion, Mr. Saltzman?”

Alaric’s smile slipped for a moment before returning and he replied shortly, “Just the Master and myself. And you, Miss Gilbert, from now on.”

As she followed Alaric inside the main door of the mansion, Elena wondered that if the Master already had a caretaker inside the house, why he required another person for chores.

But as her guide showed her to her personal bedroom, she was so speechless that all thought left her mind.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

There was a knock on the door that aroused Damon from the music he was playing on his piano. He did not even bother to answer. He knew it was Rick—his childhood friend and most trusted employee.

The door opened a crack before he could sense Alaric’s footsteps on the floor, approaching him.

“She has arrived,” Alaric announced, without any preamble.

Damon simply nodded, pleased that he would not have to do anything to force John Gilbert to keep his promise.

There was a pause before Alaric cleared his throat, seeming very uncomfortable with continuing this subject. “Master,” he started and Damon growled, letting him know that he despised it when his best friend addressed him as Master.

A chuckle sounded and then Rick started talking, “Damon, she looks… she looks like…” he could not finish the sentence.

Damon sighed and then completed his friend’s thought for him, “Like Katherine.”

Alaric’s eyes widened as he stuttered out the words, “Y-you y-you knew? How?”

Damon shrugged, and then said, “I have been watching her since the moment her father crossed the gate outside. And as far as I have seen, she could not be more different than Katherine. She is thoughtful, caring and loves her family dearly.”

Alaric allowed a smile to appear on his face. He said warmly, “Then I think she might be the one.”

His cynical friend closed his eyes, as if saying a silent prayer to the God he had vehemently refused to acknowledge even just a year ago. With his eyes still closed, he said quietly, “We will see.”

Rick placed a tentative hand on his friend’s shoulder and said, “You need to start believing in the good in you, my friend. Someday soon…” with these words, he took leave, allowing Damon to think about how and when he was going to introduce himself to Elena Gilbert.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

Elena could not believe her eyes when Alaric had opened the door of her room. It was a huge room, decorated with the most comfortable furniture she had ever seen. As she continued to look around the room after Alaric had left her, a sudden thought struck her.

Why would a maid be given such a room as this?

The more she thought, the more it became clear to her that for whatever reason the master of the house had demanded her presence, it was not to do mere household chores. As soon as realization dawned on her, she decided to seek Alaric out and demand to know why she was there.

As she walked out of her room and started toward the place Alaric had pointed out as the dining hall, she fully expected to run into the caretaker of the house. What she did not expect, however, was to hear quick retreating footsteps the moment she opened her door.

Was someone standing right outside my room? she thought, and then, instead of her intended target, she started to follow the sound of the fading footsteps.

She followed the sound up to the second level of the house and into a darkened hallway. She thought she could see a tall figure swiftly walking away from her but because of the darkness, she could not be sure.

Feeling an overwhelming urge to see the one spying on her, she turned toward the hallway windows, only to find them shut and locked, with heavy curtains hanging from them.

She quickly grasped the curtains and swished them away to allow sunlight filter through the closed windows.

An animalistic growl sounded from the other end of the hallway and before she could blink, the curtains had been yanked out of her hands and straightened up to dowse them in the darkness once again.

However, in that short few moments that sunlight had penetrated the darkness, Elena managed to catch a glimpse of the face of the one who had taken the curtains out of her hands. And now, even in the darkness, all she could do was to stare with a gaping mouth where the terribly disfigured face had disappeared to.

A low groan seemed to come out of the thing standing before her and before she could get enough air into her lungs to scream like a mad woman, a voice said in a warning tone, “Do not scream. Just do not move the curtains anymore while you are here and you will be fine.”

Even in the fear taking hold on her, Elena put on a brave face and asked in a slightly shaky voice, “Are you threatening me?”

A dark chuckle sounded as she heard the sound of shuffling feet, moving away from her. “No. I just stated the fact, Beauty.”

She felt a shiver of fear go down her spine and closed her eyes, expecting the beast-like creature to strike her at any moment. When the blow did not come, she opened her eyes to find herself standing there all alone.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

Damon was standing by the window in his room—or prison as he thought of it—as he saw the moonlight coming through the open window and erasing away all traces of the beast he resembled every morning. That was when the door opened and a furious Alaric entered.

“Do you have a death wish?” he demanded, without any preamble.

When Damon did not offer an answer, he closed the door before striding up to his best friend. “You do realize that the rose has only one petal left, do you not? It means you only have one month. We finally have the girl. Why are you so adamant to ruin this and die?”

Damon did not even bother to face his friend as he said in a sardonic tone, “Maybe I want you to be free from having to care about your idiotic best friend.”

Alaric muttered something that sounded like “I might throttle you to death myself if you keep this up.”

Immediately, Damon felt guilty for making his only friend in the world worry for him, so in a soft voice, he tried to explain his behavior. “I just wanted to look at her once. I did not know she would come out of her room all of a sudden.”

With difficulty, Alaric resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Rolling eyes at the rightful Duke of Salvatore Estate was insulting to the last of the Salvatores and no matter how close friends they were, a part of him respected his friend for having the courage to keep on living after he had been cursed.

Instead, he patted Damon’s shoulder and said in a soothing manner, “You can go and talk to her now. I could hear footsteps in her room. She is awake.”

Damon lamented to himself, “I have probably given her nightmares for the next few years of her life!

When he looked at the understanding gaze his friend was giving him, he nodded before straightening himself up and walking toward the door. He was going to show her one of his passions—books—that had kept him sane in the past year of imprisonment. He just hoped she would not be repelled by him at the dark of night.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

Elena was pacing around in her room, too agitated to fall asleep. When she had asked Alaric about the thing she had encountered in the early afternoon, he had simply suggested she take the matter up with the master of the house.

By the time she had calmed her nerves and made up her mind to ask Mr. Salvatore, the master himself, about this problem, a soft knock sounded on her door.

Hastily she went to open it, only to find herself face-to-face with the most beautiful and handsome man she had ever looked at. He was tall with jet black hair adorning his head as his dark blue eyes immediately locked on her green ones.

“Uhh, I am sorry to not have been there to greet you when you arrived here. You are Elena Gilbert?” he said, the last part coming off as a question.

Without her conscious thought, Elena felt her lips pull up to an innocent smile. “I know what my name is, thanks,” she said teasingly before continuing, “Besides, Alaric was a very nice guide.”

“I bet he was,” the man muttered before looking back up at her and said, “As you may have guessed it already, I am Salvatore.”

It struck Elena as odd that he would address himself by his surname but she let it pass. She made a courteous bow to the master of the house and said, “How do you do, My Lord?”

Then she asked the question that had been bothering her since she entered the house, “What type of chores do you exactly expect me to do? My father said…”

Salvatore cut off her question as he shook his head and said, “Your father disrespected my privacy. So in return, I asked him to send you here to keep me company.”

Elena narrowed her eyes at him and asked cautiously, “You want me to keep you company?”

Her host’s eyes widened for a moment before he grumbled in a frustrated voice, “I mean, just stay and visit with me for a while. That is all.”

I can do that, Elena thought, before asking out loud, “So I am not a prisoner here or anything?”

A calculative look came over his face and after a bit of thought, he replied, “I expect you to stay here and not leave and in return, I will allow you to enjoy my most prized possession—my library.”

Now it was Elena’s turn to stay still with a mixture of shock and surprise. When she could finally speak, she asked with a sudden rush of excitement, “You have a library here? In the house? I love books.”

Without words, her host turned around and started walking—apparently, expecting her to follow him. After walking for some time he opened a large door and ushered her inside.

In stunned silence, Elena took in the high-ceilinged room, full of shelves upon shelves of books. Then she turned around and smiled at him. “Thank you. This is unbelievable,” she started gushing when he let out a grumble and said something that sounded like, “Anything to make you stay, Beauty.” But his voice was so low that she could not be sure of it.

Shaking it off of her mind for now, she smiled up at the huge shelves around her before turning back to thank him again. But all she found was emptiness—he was gone by the time she remembered him.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

In the next few days of her stay at the Salvatore Estate, Elena kept to herself as she spent most of her time being lost in the world of fictions.

She had forged a very easy friendship with Alaric during this time. And all Alaric could talk about was his master, who he one day admitted was his best friend as well. So naturally, her mind kept going to Lord Salvatore.

During the few days she spent in the mansion, she noticed that the master of the house was never present in daytime. At first, she thought it was because he was a heavy sleeper that he kept missing breakfasts. But soon, she noticed that he did not come out of his room for lunch as well.

In fact, the only time she had happened to see the man was after sundown.

However, his demeanor had changed since their first meeting. Now he did not run away when she tried to engage him in conversation. Instead, it was he who sought her out almost every night in the library, and after a few days of awkward silences, he had even started to talk to her as they read their books in silent companionship.

It was now two weeks since Elena had come to stay at the house and as she saw the handsome, mysterious man sitting next to her, she decided to broach the subject she had wanted to bring up since that first day.

“My Lord?” she asked tentatively.

The man beside her shook his head and asked in a resigned voice, “You are not going to call me by my Christian name, are you?”

She blushed and looked down at the open book on her lap. After a few heartbeats, she made up her mind, looked up and said in a confident voice, “Damon? Can I tell you something?”

A very small smile started to play around the corners of his lips as he nodded to give her the ‘go ahead’.

“The day I came here, Alaric told me that only you and he live in this house. But I can swear that on the very same day, I had seen something or someone else in here. And since then, I have been going through everything in my head and cannot add it all up,” she said, letting her last words linger in a silent question.

There was a long pause in which Damon became very interested in the book in his hands. After several minutes, he asked in a quiet voice, “Have you talked to Alaric about it?”

Elena hid her impatient huff as she nodded and replied, “He evaded the subject, insisting that the only habitants in this place are the three of us.”

When Damon kept quiet, she reached out with her hand and touched his. “We are friends, are we not? You can tell me anything, Damon,” she implored him, thinking it could be something shameful about his family history.

Damon, however, did not seem to like her forwardness. He snatched his hand from underneath hers, stood up abruptly and strode to the door of the library, leaving her to stare open-mouthed at his rude behavior.

Just before leaving the room, he stopped and in a deadly soft voice he said, “Come to the third door on the second story tomorrow morning and you might get your answer.” Then, without allowing her to say anything else, he walked out of the room.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

That night, before going to bed, Alaric walked up the stairs to bid his friend goodnight. However, the sight that greeted him told him that his long-time friend’s night was going anything but good.

Damon paced the length of his room in an agitated manner, his hands tugging his hair in between his fingers and his lips drawn downwards in a frown. Seeing him in such a state, Alaric rushed to his side, ready to offer him any assistance he needed. “Are you all right?” he asked, concern lining his voice.

Damon stopped his pacing long enough to offer a grimace to his friend and then said, “She asked me about the figure she had seen the first day.”

“And?” Alaric prodded, hoping to be able to stop this catastrophe he could feel was about to happen.

Damon abandoned his pacing and sat down before the glass vial encompassing the dreaded flower. With his gaze locked on it, Damon replied, “I told her to come here in the morning. I cannot keep her in the dark anymore.”

A satisfied smile spread over Alaric’s face as he asked, “So are you going to tell her about the prophecy?”

His friend shook his head sadly and said, “No, I am not going to force her into anything. I have already done that—I forced her to come and stay in the house. I am simply going to show her my true self that is all.”

“And if she wants to scream and run for the hills? Have you thought about that?” Alaric challenged him.

Damon nodded. “Yes, I have. What is the worst that will happen? I will die? Tell me, Rick, do you honest feel that my life is anything worth living?”

Alaric shifted his eyes downwards and mumbled, “You have been happier though. I think it is the most cheerful I have seen you in the past year.”

A soft chuckle left his friend’s mouth as he said, “She is the one that has brought a breath of fresh air in my dreadful existence and I will not ask something like that of her in return.”

Alaric’s eyes narrowed as he asked in a quiet voice, “You have fallen in love with her, haven’t you?”

Damon shrugged, neither accepting, nor denying that statement. After few moments, he replied, “I do not know anything about love. I just know that she fills me with hope that maybe I can be redeemed and I want to be—for her.”

Alaric gave up trying to make him see sense and with a slight pat on the other’s shoulder, he left, letting Damon decide how he was going to reveal it all to his Beauty.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

The moment she felt the rays of sunlight hitting her eyelids, Elena threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. After the ominous way Damon had asked her to meet him, she had had a very restless night.

After freshening up and changing out of her sleeping gown, she decided that it was not too early to go searching for Damon anymore. So, she walked out of her room and went up to the door.

Taking a calming breath, she raised her hand and knocked the door three times. There was no answer.

As she raised her hand to knock again, suddenly the door opened an inch. Cautiously, she peeked inside the room but found it empty. Besides a barely slept in bed and the clothes strewn around haphazardly, the room would have looked like it was a spare room.

Elena pushed the door to open it fully and took a few tentative steps inside. As she let her gaze sweep over the room, she caught the sight of a shadow standing by the curtained window. Feeling herself relax a bit, she called out, “Damon?”

Slowly the shadowy figure turned around and then a hand shot up to push the curtains back from the window, letting sunlight stream inside the room.

The sight before her made Elena gasp out loud. Because standing before her was the animalistic creature she had encountered on her first day at the house.

In the light of the day she could see the towering figure completely covered in furs. Its hands were more like paws with claws. She started to step back slowly, ready to bolt out of the room and scream for Damon and Alaric to come save her. That was when she saw the sad eyes of the beast-like creature.

They were dark blue… the exact same shade of Damon’s.

As the thought struck her, she stopped in her tracks. Feeling bewildered, she asked in a low voice, “Damon? Is that you?”

A deep sigh came from the figure. Then it nodded.

Elena controlled the urge to gasp out once more. Damon is a beast? But he looked fine just last night! Her mind could not decide if what she was seeing was reality or a nightmare.

“Are you going to run away now?” She was brought out of her tangled thoughts by the sound of Damon’s voice—coming from the beast.

Elena gulped, forcing herself to stay and overcome the urge to flee. Then she said, “That depends. Why did you not tell me about this before? What happened to you?”

He replied in an embarrassed tone, “Because I was afraid you would leave me. And I do not want you to leave.”

She held out her hand as if to indicate her continued presence and said back, “I am still here though. So why not tell me now?”

The beast—or Damon—turned his back to her and looked out of the window. In a detached tone, he started to recount his story. “I was born as the sole heir to the Duke of Salvatore. I got everything I wanted, always. So you can probably understand that I had started to think that I owned everything and everyone between the sky and earth. I was an arrogant bastard,” he paused to take a breath.

She did not say anything. Because the amiable man she had gotten to know in the last few weeks could be described as a lot of things but ‘arrogant’ was not one of those.

When he continued, his voice had gotten hard, as if he was getting to the most painful part of his story. “It was last year’s summer festival when my paths crossed that of Katherine Pierce. She was the guest of one of my father’s tenants. So naturally, I felt like I had a claim to her,” he said, his voice showing shame and hatred for his behavior.

His back slouched as he continued, “I will spare you all the gory details, except that I had taken advantage of her lower station and then when the time came for me to brave my father’s wrath and confess our relationship, I turned my back to her, like a coward. It might sound cold, but I did not love her. She was just a convenience to me. So when father asked me to choose a girl to marry, I did not give her a lick of thought.”

Elena knew she should have felt anger and hatred at his abhorrent behavior but hearing the sadness and remorse in his voice, all she felt was compassion and an inexplicable urge to take away his sadness.

However, he did not let her speak, his words coming faster now. “When Katherine found out that I was intending to marry the girl my father wanted me to, she turned into the viper she always had been—I was just too blind and arrogant to even imagine anyone being smarter than myself.”

Finally, Elena spoke, in a whisper, she asked, “What did she do? Did she talk to your father?”

A dark chuckle left his mouth, as Damon shook his head. “What she did was much more than that. She revealed to me that she was a Traveler—a witch-like creature—and all along she had intended to seduce me so that she could become the next Duchess. When I told her that I was never going to marry her, she got angry. When I told her that I never loved her, she decided to play this cruel joke on me.”

“She put a curse on me. She cursed me to be a beast so that I would not be able to become the Duke… so that I would never be able to find love,” he said, before stopping his recounting.

Elena felt enraged that anyone could be that selfish. In a broken whisper, she asked, “What happened then?”

He shrugged. “Nothing. She disappeared, and when I came back home to my father, he could not take the shock of seeing me like this. So he died, leaving me all alone.”

She took a step closer to him and said in a whisper-soft voice, “You are not alone, Damon.”

He sighed, nodding. “You are right, I have Rick. He was the son of my father’s estate manager and my best friend. He was the only one who decided to stick with me when all the other servants left the beastly duke,” he said bitterly.

She reached out, letting her hand touch his shoulder lightly, “I was not talking about Alaric. I was talking about me. I am here now.”

Damon spun back to face her and asked in confusion, “Are you not afraid?” his blue eyes searching her green, for something she did not know.

She offered him a slight smile and replied, “I am scared out of my wits, but not of you. No, I am afraid for you. I am afraid that you feel pain and I wish I could take it away from you.”

His eyes widened as he asked, “But I deserve this, you must think that.”

She shook her head. “No. No one deserves what she did to you. Yes, what you did was wrong but what she did was more horrible. Besides, you feel remorse for your behavior, which I think shows that you have grown out of that silliness you call arrogance.”

He shook his head, as if unable to believe his ears. “You really are Beauty. You have the most beautiful heart I have ever seen.”

She blushed, and then looked back up to him, asking, “You said she cursed you to be like this. But then how can you be your old-self at nights?”

His lips turned upwards in a slight smile. “It was a compensation from Katherine’s sister, Nadia. She was the tenant of my father. When she saw what her sister had done, she did what she could. But her power as a Traveler was weaker than that of Katherine’s. So all she could do was allow me to turn back into my true self when the sun goes down. The light of day only shows my cursed self.”

Elena reached up and placed a shaky hand on his face. “I wish I could take away the hurt she has cost you,” she said compassionately.

Damon placed his hand over hers, holding it to his face. “Your being here helps.”

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

The week after his revelation was the one of the best one of Damon’s life. His Beauty did not let him shy away from human contact or hide in the shadows during the day anymore. No, she boldly started to wake him up every morning with a cheery “Good Morning.” Then she made him wash up and join her and Alaric in the dining hall for breakfast.

She made him feel almost human even in the bright light of the day.

One day, she found the ivory-white piano sitting in the music room, collecting dust. When after inquiring him, Damon had begrudgingly admitted that he used to play the piano, she had made him play for her while she danced. Then she had made him stand up and dance with her—with no music but her giggles as he tried to keep his balance.

Because of Elena’s constant presence, Damon had been able to make Alaric take a break from fussing over him and go visit his family. When a few days later, he admitted to being in love with a shy girl named Jenna in the nearby village, Damon had been thrilled for his friend.

Now as he sat and looked at the enchanting woman sitting beside him in the library, he could feel his heart beat faster. Maybe this is love. Maybe I have fallen in love with her… with Elena, my Beauty, he thought.

Unable to stop himself, he reached out to touch the strand of hair that had escaped her bun and was now dancing over her cheek. The moment his hand touched her cheek, Elena turned her head to look at him, and he felt his heart break into a million pieces.

There, on her cheek was a lone teardrop.

He asked her quickly, “Elena what is it? Why are you crying? Is it something I did?”

She sniffled and shook her head. “No, Damon. You did not do anything. I just…” she stopped, letting her words linger in the silence.

“You just what? Tell me, please,” he begged of her.

In a timid voice, she continued, “I just miss my family—my father and sisters. It is the longest I have been without seeing them.”

Damon’s mind went back to the flower with a single petal sitting in his room. I still have time. If it has not fallen down yet, it can hold on a little longer, he thought to himself. Then in a fluid motion, he stood up and held his hand out for her.

Instinctively, she placed her hand in his, as if some invisible thread bound them together. For the first time since she had come to stay with him, Damon allowed himself to give into the urge he had felt for a thousand times and brought her to himself in a hug.

With his nose buried in her hair, he said in a soft whisper, afraid that she would catch the pain in his voice if he spoke any louder, “You should go and see your family. They must miss you as well.”

Elena pulled back to look into his face, her expression a cross between happiness and concern. “But what about you?” she asked.

He smiled, hiding his pain from her and replied, “I will be here, waiting for you to come back.” If you come back, he added silently.

She hugged him tightly once more and then said in a muffled voice, “I will not be long. I just want to see that they are all well. Once I am satisfied, I will come back. I promise.”

Because he loved her, he believed her. Then afraid that his heart will make him change his mind, he quickly arranged for her to leave that night itself, hoping in his heart that the faster she left, the sooner she would be back.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

The moment Elena reached her home, she was engulfed in hugs from both her sisters. “When Enzo said that a carriage has been seen on the road with the Salvatore coat-of-arms, we all have anxiously waited for you,” her sister, Caroline, said.

Elena smiled and drew back from the hug to look over the house she had grown up in. Then looking back at her sister she asked teasingly, “I bet Mr. Enzo won a few points for that in your books.”

When Caroline blushed, she laughed out loud, knowing her sister was in love with her father’s business partner.

Caroline was saved from Elena’s teasing by their eldest sister, Bonnie. She took hold of her baby sister’s shoulders and looked at her with concern. “How have you been, Elena? He did not hurt you in any way, did he? The way father described him, he sounded like a monster.”

Elena stiffened at the way her sister spoke about Damon. With great effort, she kept a smile on her face as she replied, “Father gets scared of the little things. He is a good man, sister. He would never do anything to harm me.”

Caroline took hold of her hand and said hesitantly, “But we have heard some terrible things about him since you left. Can it all be false?”

Elena looked at her sister beseechingly and snapped, “It can and it is. Damon Salvatore is a nice gentleman. You should not believe everything you hear, Care.”

Caroline was going to say something to back up her words when the sounds of horses’ hooves reached them, followed by the sight of their father riding in a gallop to reach his daughter. When he reached them, he brought all of his children in a hug, stopping the conversation there.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

It was not until three days after her return that Elena was caught up in a fight with her family—over Damon.

Once she was satisfied to see her family happy, she had expressed the desire to leave for the Salvatore Estate the next day. Immediately, her father stood up, his hands balled up in fists. “Of course not! I am not letting you go back to that Hell Hole again, Beauty.”

Elena started to say in a calm voice, “He is not bad, Papa…” but her sister, Bonnie cut her off. “Do not start with that again, Elena. He might be a saint but we are not letting you go back. You just got home.”

Elena felt her anger rising as she snapped at her sister, “I am not asking for your permission. I am of age. I was simply informing you about my plans.”

Her father and sisters started to protest all at once, pleading and urging her to see sense. She was fighting the urge to stick her fingers in her ears and run away when Caroline said, “Please, Elena. We are your family. You cannot leave us for a stranger.”

Elena turned to face her sister and said, “Care, I promised him that I will be back. I—I care for him. Please, respect that.” Then without letting anyone say anything else, she walked out of the room, to go and cry in the solitude of her room. The truth was, not only she wanted to keep her promise but she missed him, desperately.

And no matter what anyone said, she was going back to him and this time, she intended to tell him the truth about herself.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

Damon looked miserable as he laid on his bed, too weak to sit by the window anymore.

Alaric sat by his bed like a silent sentinel like he had been this past year. Once the silence got unbearable, Alaric huffed and asked again, “Why exactly did you let her leave? One kiss, Damon, that is all you need. One kiss from her and you would be saved. You know that.”

With effort, Damon shook his head. After licking his dry lips to wet them, he murmured, “I could not do that. She missed her family. I could not be selfish and keep her here.”

“Why?” his friend demanded, “What is wrong with being a little selfish?”

Damon finally spoke the words Alaric had never expected to pass his lips. “I love her, Rick. And it is because I love her that I cannot be selfish with her.”

Alaric gave a frustrated groan. “You do realize that by the looks of it, you are not going to make it till sundown and you would not be able to even tell her that you love her yourself.”

A slight smile tugged at the corners of Damon’s lips as he said, “Who knows? A miracle can happen. And even if I die, you will be free to pursue your love. Promise me that you would marry that girl—Jenna. Let me live vicariously through you.”

Alaric could not stand his friend’s rambling. So he stood up and went to look out of the window. And it was at that moment when he caught the sight of a moving figure in the corner of his eyes. As he strained his eyes to look more closely, he saw a carriage driving in full force through the ice-covered grounds and approaching the mansion.

The moment his eyes caught the sight of the Salvatore coat-of-arms on the door of the carriage, he let out a whoop and turned to face his friend. It seemed Damon’s Beauty was coming back to him after all.

However, as he laid eyes on his friend, he cringed. Damon’s face was white as a sheet of paper; he looked like he was having difficulty to draw breath in his lungs. Alaric quickly sat by the bed and said urgently, “Damon, hold on, my friend. You were right. She is coming back. Please, just hold on.”

A dazed smile came over Damon’s face as he said in a hoarse voice, “See, I told you. She is not a liar, Rick.”

Alaric nodded, trying to keep him talking so that he did not lose consciousness until Elena got there. “Yes, yes. Just keep breathing, all right? Don’t you die on me, Damon!”

Just then, there were footsteps on the stairs. Alaric quickly went to the door, desperate to bring Elena to save his friend. As soon as he could see Elena’s face, he rushed out to grab hold of her and bring her to Damon.

“Alaric! What are you doing?” Elena cried out at the suddenness of his movements. “Where is Damon?” she demanded.

With a quick breath, Alaric spilled the secret he had been begging his friend to tell Elena for the past month. “Damon is dying, Elena. Katherine cursed him and said that only a kiss from Beauty, his true love, will break the curse.”

Elena searched his face for a hint of mirth, probably thinking that he was trying to be funny, but when she found none, she rushed into the room and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Damon lying on the bed.

Then she threw herself on Damon as she called his name in desperation. “Damon! Oh God! What has happened to you? I am here, Damon, please, open your eyes and look at me. I am not leaving you again.”

Damon’s eyes fluttered open and he managed a faint smile as he whispered, “I love you, Elena.”

Alaric could see Elena trying to blink away her tears as she sobbed, holding Damon’s head on her lap. “I love you too, Damon.” And then she kissed him.

Alaric did not know what he expected to happen when she kissed Damon but it was not what happened—nothing.

Damon still laid on the bed, looking frail and deathly pale as Elena pulled back and looked at Alaric with wild eyes. “You said the curse will break with my kiss,” she almost roared in anger and frustration.

Before Alaric could respond, Damon brought his hand up to touch Elena’s face and said, “I does not matter. The fact that I get to die, knowing that I was loved, by you—Elena Gilbert, my Beauty—is more than enough for me.”

Then he closed his eyes, and Alaric watched as the last petal from the flower Katherine had left Damon as a measure of his time left, fell tumbling down to the ground.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

“No, NO!” Elena sobbed, clutching Damon’s lifeless body to her. Then something snapped in her and she brought her wrist to her lips. With a growl of “it is not enough for me,” she bit down on her wrist, took a mouthful of blood in her mouth and kissed his lips, allowing small droplets to pass through.

As she let her blood drip inside his body, Elena begged to every deity she could think of to make it work.

A low thud sounded from behind her and she looked back to see that Alaric had fainted. Letting Damon lie on the bed, she picked up Alaric and carried him to the room, next door, hoping that she had not scared him to death.

Then she returned to Damon and waited.

Time ticked by and Elena felt herself getting restless, wondering if she had been too late to save him. It was then that a soft thudding sound came to her ears. Looking down to the man she loved, she saw that in spite of the daylight, his body was returning to its original form.

She let out a careful breath, knowing that he was going to be all right.

It was not until another hour that Damon’s eyelids fluttered and he finally opened his eyes. His eyebrows scrunched up as he seemed to take in his furless hands and clawless fingers. Then he turned his eyes to her and asked, “How? You broke the spell?”

Elena bit her lips, unsure how he was going to react. Finally deciding to just say it, she said, “Damon, I am a vampire. When the kiss did not work and you started to die, I did all I could to save you.”

Damon looked startled at her sudden revelation and asked, “What did you do?”

“I turned you,” she muttered, “It is overwhelming, I know. But I can teach you to hunt animals. You will no longer be a monster. Now you can rule as the rightful Duke forever.”

“You mean I am a vampire now?” he asked in disbelief.

Elena nodded and held out her wrist to him. “Once you drink blood, you will be. I am sorry, Damon. But if I was the Beauty Katherine had spoken about, then this was the only way I could break the curse.”

Damon took her wrist in his hands and asked, “What do I have to do?”

Elena peeked at him from beneath her eyelashes. “You are not angry? I thought you would be furious.”

Damon shook his head and said, “No, I am not angry. If the only way I can be with you forever is by being a vampire, then so be it.”

Elena smiled at him and then showed him what he would have to do to feed. Once his transition was complete, she shared with him how as a mere girl of twelve she had been in a horrible accident and how her father had taken her to a healer who made her drink a red liquid and then how when she had woken up she had found out that she had been turned into a vampire.

When they went to inspect Alaric, they found that he had regained consciousness. After Damon had told his friend what he had become, he made him promise go and stay in the village with Jenna, not wanting to hurt his best friend in a moment of weakness.

Alaric acquiesced, but not before thanking Elena for saving his friend and promising to always be there for Damon and Elena.

~*~*~*A Beauty for A Beast*~*~*~

Two Decades Later

“Damon, wake up, or we are going to be late,” Damon opened his eyes to find his wife whispering into his ear.

He moaned and then cuddled further into the covers, not yet ready to face the day. “Rick’s daughter is getting married today. As her godparents, we should be the first ones to the ceremony,” she said again, trying to rouse him.

Groaning, Damon pulled Elena to his chest, feeling her soft body mold perfectly against his hard one. “There is still time, Elena,” he said, closing his eyes once more.

He felt Elena drop kisses on his bare chest as she let her hair cascade down on his face. “I think you will enjoy yourself immensely if you get out of bed now, my Lord. A hot bath is waiting for you,” she said against his skin.

His eyes snapped open as her words registered in his brain. Using his arms to trap her against his body, Damon looked into the beautiful face of his duchess. “Don’t I get a good morning kiss from my wife?”

Elena tapped her chin thoughtfully before smiling down at him. “I think I can arrange that for you,” she said, before giving him the kiss he asked for and so much more.

Maybe Katherine had expected for Damon to suffer as a vampire once the curse was lifted. But she could not be more wrong. Because being able to love Elena forever sounded like the best kind of blessing to him.

~*~*~*The End*~*~*~

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