Rising from the Ashes @esm3rald
Chapter 1 - Resurrection

Here you go, the very first chapter which covers the events of the Pilot, part1 at least. For part2 you will have to wait for next chapter. No Damon in this one, sorry about that. Not much of him in the next chapter either, I'm afraid. I promise you, though. You will see a lot of him after that. I hope you like this chapter in the meantime. Tell me what you think.

Chapter 1

RESURRECTION

She opened her eyes to darkness. For a moment, her surroundings reminded her of a coffin. A breath of smoke and ashes made her coughing deep in her chest. But she could move and when she did, her arms broke through whatever was encasing her. It was like punching through a paper-thin wall, and she was soon free to observe the sun half covered by tree branches.

She got up on shaky legs, and looked down at the strange imprint she had left on the bed of dry leaves and grass of the forest trail. It looked like remains of a broken statue but when she touched it, it dissolved into ashes, blowing in the wind.

She coughed again and realized she was covered from head to toe in ashes as well. What the hell had happened to her?

She tried to dust off the ashes from her clothes, and face and hair, but it was useless. How was she supposed to return home looking like that? And what time was it anyway?

She checked her iPod for the time but to her dismay it was broken, the glass cracked and the screen black.

"Oh, come on." She cursed to no one in particular, but then she huffed and decided that she needed to go home, have a shower and get ready for school. She would think about what had happened to her later.

She started to run and didn't stop until she was standing beneath the window of her bedroom. Years of sneaking out of the house at every hour of the day and night had taught her to be stealthy and quick. She climbed the tree outside her window on sure feet, and then pushed the window up so that it would open enough for her to sneak inside. She never bothered to lock the latch, Mystic Falls wasn't exactly a dangerous town.

She frowned at her last thought. Maybe she ought to rethink her statement after what had happened to her. Still, that was the problem. What exactly had happened to her?

She climbed into her bedroom and headed for the conjoined bathroom. She didn't dare look in the mirror, she simply stripped off her clothes and entered the shower. She tried to relax underneath the warm water but a particular jet hit the side of her neck and a flashback of the pain of the bite she had experienced only earlier that morning made her shiver in fear. She touched her neck with one hand but where there was supposed to be an open wound was only smooth, untouched skin.

Finally clean, she dried herself off quickly and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked the same as usual, lithe but curvaceous body, pink-golden skin, bright emerald eyes and flaming red – albeit wet – hair. There wasn't a scratch on her that she could see. How was it possible? How was she still alive at all? She had felt her heart stopping. She had felt the blood leaving her body. That vampire – because she was sure he had been a vampire –, his fangs so long and sharp, they had left like small blades had pierced her soft skin like a knife with butter, had attacked her at the very least and yet, she didn't even have bite marks on her neck.

Did she dream all of that? No, she couldn't have. But what was the alternative? Was she crazy? No, she couldn't be.

Alright, let's think rationally. First, a vampire had bitten her. Second, she had lost consciousness if not outright died (she wasn't sure about that part). Third, she woke up some time later – she still wasn't sure what time it was – surrounded by some kind of cocoon of solidified ash, completely healed, completely fine, except for the state of her clothes which were only worthy of the trashcan now.

Even only thinking it made the situation seemed insane. And the most absurd thing was that what was more insane wasn't the fact that she had been attacked by a vampire – as a student of history she could accept the fact that the founding families' journals filled with vampire stories were actually real – but that, if she had really died, like she was starting to suspect, she had somehow come back to life. If vampires existed, that meant that other supernatural creatures could exist as well. Was she one of them? She didn't know what to believe and now wasn't really the time to ponder about it. She still had the first day of school to deal with.

She finally checked her phone and noticed with relief and a little bit of disappointment both that it was seven thirty. While the time meant that she had been out of it – or dead – for no more than two hours more or less, it also meant that she only had thirty minutes to get ready. Better be quick about it.

Ten minutes to eight, having managed to get ready in record time, Blair was descending the stairs towards the kitchen. Jenna was there, sipping her coffee and looking like she was deep in thought.

"'Morning, Aunt Jenna."

"Morning Blair, aren't you later than your usual routine?"

"Slightly, yes." Blair replied, stealing a banana from the counter and the yogurt from the fridge. She took a teaspoon from the first drawer and started to eat quickly. She will eat the banana in her car.

"Ready for the first day? Nervous?"

"I don't get nervous, aunt Jenna." Blair replied flatly.

Jenna rolled her eyes at Blair with a smirk. "Of course, you don't. Ah, to be popular and in high school again."

"Funny you would say that because I can't wait to get out this little town and see the world. There must be more to life than Mystic Falls, right?"

"So, people say. Sometimes I'm not so sure."

Blair sighed, rolled her eyes at herself and then said, "If I haven't said this before, I'll say it now. Thank you for being here, basically putting your life on hold to take care of us. Maybe we don't always show it – Jeremy and I, I mean, Elena is trying a little too much – but we are grateful, you know that, right?"

Jenna smiled at her. "I know. And it's not a sacrifice for me, I assure you."

Blair shrugged, uncomfortable in showing that much of her feelings but it needed to be said. "Yeah, well, thanks anyway." Then she checked the time – more of an excuse to get out of a conversation that was becoming too mushy for her tastes – and said, "Gotta go, now. Care's surely waiting for me by now."

At ten past eight, she was driving towards Caroline's house, looking as perfect as she looked every other day of the week, like nothing outward had happened at all. She had to use the flat iron and hair spray that day (which she disapproved of, both of them, because they would ruin her hair in the long run) but she didn't have time for her usual hair routine, not for her morning mask, but her make-up was still on point – she would just use extra moisturizer when she would return home after school.

Caroline didn't realize anything was wrong when she climbed into Blair's car, only commenting on the fact that Blair was a few minutes later than usual – more as a teasing sort of comment, since Blair was a stick for punctuality.

"Guess what?" Caroline asked her, all cheerfulness and bright smile.

"What?" Blair asked her with a smirk. "Did you find me a new boyfriend? I need to show the school that I'm completely over Tyler, which I am, of course, but you know how people are. He only slept with Vicki Trashy Donovan because I broke up with him, to get back at me. But he had the gall to spread the rumor that he cheated on me and that I broke up with him because of that. That I was pining for him now or something. Me? Pining? Can you believe it?"

Caroline shrugged, still looking bubbly and energetic and completely unfazed. "No, my news was about the fact that my dad bought me a car, since he didn't buy me one for my sweet sixteen. I guess he's trying to make up for the fact that he divorced mom and left town with another man. Which, I'm totally cool with, I just wish he had stayed here. But mom would never have allowed it. I mean, I get it, you're pissed off and hurt and whatever, but he's still my dad and I want him here.

"But, back to the car, I can drive you around now too, how cool is that? And about the boyfriend thing, what about Matt? I mean, he is Vicki's brother, he's cute and hot and sweet and a quarterback, he's popular. And he's, coincidentally, Tyler's best friend. Perfect, right? Elena broke up with him last summer after all. He's not off-limits anymore."

Blair grimaced. "Donovan? No way. First of all, he's still mooning over my cousin, the poor idiot. And second of all, even if he wasn't, I don't want Elena's sloppy seconds."

"Well, that's not very nice." Caroline said but at Blair's raised eyebrow, she giggled, "sorry, forgot who I was talking to for a minute."

"Anyway, Matt is so…vanilla." Blair continued. "He looks like the missionary type. I bet that's one of the reasons Elena broke up with him. My cousin may look like a good girl but she has an adventurous side, I bet she likes a little spice in her meals, if you know what I mean. Didn't you ever wonder why I stayed with Tyler for that long? I mean, he is a douche but the sex was great. Really great. I just got bored with his clinginess, possessiveness and daddy issues." Blair said, finishing with a shiver of disgust for good measure.

Caroline giggled again. "I wouldn't mind a ride with Matt, just to see if your theory is right or not. At least, I know he would treat me right."

Blair rolled her eyes. "You would get bored with him in a month, and that's me being generous. I, on the other hand, would go bored with him in a day. No, what I need is fresh meat. Or maybe someone older. A college guy maybe, but not the fraternity bros, those are gross mama-boys, who are no better than the schoolmates we already have to deal with. But this is Mystic Falls, who is ever going to move here voluntarily?"

Caroline nodded along. "So true."

"Like I was expecting…" Blair said with a sigh, looking around at the boys in the school hallway, Caroline by her side. Said boys all looked at her and her friend when they passed by but they ignored them, not being worth their time. "Too many pretty girls and too few hot guys. Tragic. How am I going to find a revenge fuckboy here? I'm really starting to rethink your Matt suggestion."

Caroline grinned at her. "You don't really mean that."

"No, I don't. Matt is much more your type than mine anyway. You know I have a thing for the bad boys."

Caroline smirked. "That you do…I remember them all: Brad Thompson and Kyle Jenkins from eighth grade, Paul Auburn, Ian McCallan and Trevor Webster from ninth, and David Fraser and, of course, Tyler from tenth."

"Listing them all like that makes me sound like such a slut."

Caroline shook her head, turning serious. "No, just someone with many options who gets bored pretty easily. There's not one guy in this school who wouldn't jump at the chance to be with you – some teachers I won't name included. And if you're a slut, then so am I. I had almost as many boyfriends as you, if they can be called such."

"And speaking of said teacher, maybe I should try with him." Blair said contemplatively. "He's not bad looking, he's older – that means he's experienced, and the whole forbidden thing could be exciting."

"I thought the whole point was to show off in front of Tyler. With him, you won't be able to."

Blair nodded. "True. And I wasn't really serious anyway."

"Hey, look, that's Elena and Bonnie." Caroline said, pointing at the end of the hall where the two girls had just crossed the school entrance. "How is she anyway?"

Blair snorted. "She's Elena. She has the whole martyr thing going, pretending to be the 'strong one' for the rest of the family, trying to mother Jeremy or something, trying to help Jenna 'parenting' us because Jenna is completely clueless, doing the whole big sister thing with me all of a sudden – I will spare you the details on how not well that went –, and trying to pretend she's still not moping around in grief when all she does is spend time wandering around Mystic Falls' cemetery – writing in her diary and talking with her dead parents. So, I'll say…not good at all."

Caroline grimaced. "She didn't work at all this summer on the cheer routines. She's going to be a disaster."

"We'll just put her in the back, I guess. If she doesn't just decide to drop cheerleading altogether."

"Do you think she would do that?"

"I think we should be starting to think of possible replacements. The football season is about to start after all. Maybe this year we could have a chance at Nationals."

"You think we're ready?"

"With some work. Our routines were looking really good this summer. Luckily Elena is not a flyer. That role would be difficult to replace in such short notice."

"I think I'll go talk with them. Want to come?"

"Nah. You know I have some flirting to do this morning. He would certainly be expecting me. It became our tradition since freshman year."

Caroline giggled. "I bet. Do you think he's just waiting for you to turn eighteen to really try something?"

Blair smirked. "Probably. Catch you later."

"Have fun!"

Blair walked away to the sound of Caroline's laughter. It was good to be back to normal. Whatever had happened that morning, it didn't matter at the moment.

Blair was good at that, compartmentalizing. It was how she had survived the death of her parents, and then the death of the Gilberts. It had been like losing her parents all over again. But Blair would never show how much she was hurting, not even to Caroline, the person she cared about most in the world now.

She knew that Elena would alternatively worry for her because she hadn't broken down crying in a heap on the floor when her aunt and uncle had died – like Elena had done – and become furious and resentful with her because Blair seemingly didn't care, but Blair would never be so open with her emotions. She hadn't even spilled a tear at her parents' funeral. It was like there was something inside her screaming that if she gave in to her emotions, it would only make things worse. That wearing her heart on her sleeve was dangerous, both for her and for others. That it made her weak, something others could use against her. It didn't make much sense but it was an instinct she couldn't ignore.

Pretending she didn't feel didn't mean that she didn't, but compartmentalizing her emotions, dissecting them to deal with on her own time gave her a sense of control that she couldn't do without. 'Control your emotions, don't let your emotions control you.' She didn't know where she heard it from but it was good advice. It was her second motto in life after 'it could be worse.' And that morning it really could have been worse, she could have been dead. But she wasn't, she was still alive. She would figure out the rest later.

Blair checked her make-up in the hand mirror she kept in her bag (making sure her red lipstick didn't smudge on her teeth), mussing her hair a little to give them more volume (stupid flat iron, her hair that morning was practically stuck to her face, she could have been Elena) and then rearrange her top so that it was showing a little more cleavage. Satisfied with her appearance at last, she knocked on the door of the history classroom.

Mr. Tanner's smile when he saw her was blinding. Tanner's admiration for her was rather pathetic and certainly inappropriate but it did wonders to her self-esteem (not that she had self-esteem problems but still).

"Blair!" He said, rising to his feet in greeting like they were at a dinner table in the Regency era. She half expected him to bow but, luckily, he restrained himself. "How wonderful to see you. How are you after…?" He trailed off awkwardly.

Oh, the Gilberts. Blair was taken aback, something that didn't happen often. He was the first person – beside Caroline, of course, her friend was self-absorbed and shallow but not that self-absorbed and shallow – who had asked her that. Everyone else was 'how is Elena? Is she better?'. Nobody seemed to care about the fact that she had lost them too. Sure, they had been Elena's parents but still…They didn't even ask how Jeremy was for fuck's sake. Not that Blair wanted anyone's fake compassion, she had had enough of that when her own parents had died.

"Oh, you know. Getting better." She shrugged, honest for the most part but playing her vulnerable card all the same. "How was your summer?"

Mr. Tanner smiled at her, sitting back at his desk when Blair reached his side – to get a better view of her figure she was sure – and answered, "Very pleasant. I traveled abroad. After spending ten months every year teaching students who couldn't care less about what I teach – company excluded, of course – getting away from this town is exactly what I needed to recharge. Europe is filled with historical sites, especially Italy. You would have loved it, I'm sure."

Blair's eyes sparkled at that, and she wasn't faking this time. "Italy. Oh, how I would love to go there some day. I spent the last three years learning Italian just at the idea of visiting there one day."

"You're young still. I'm sure one day you'll be able to see the world, if you want. And maybe share the experience with someone special, eh?" He winked at her.

Blair forced herself to blush in embarrassment – though the slight uncomfortable feeling in her chest wasn't a lie. Not because of Tanner's clear hint but more at the idea of being able of sharing something like that with a boyfriend – because that was Tanner's clear meaning. Somehow, she really couldn't see it. A friend was one thing, a friend with benefits perhaps, but a…a lover, as in, someone she loved? She felt somehow stunted in that particular area. No boy – or man – had ever touched her heart in that way. Maybe she simply wasn't capable of loving someone like that. Maybe those that called her 'Ice Queen' were right after all.

"I don't know about that. I don't feel much like looking for someone special at the moment."

Tanner nodded. "Ah, yes. I heard you and Mr. Lockwood broke up. I've always thought he wasn't worthy of you, if you don't mind me saying so. You need someone more…mature…not necessarily older than you, of course, but emotionally and mentally at your level. Tyler is still a child in a lot of ways. And really, someone who would cheat on you, and with Vicki Donovan of all people, is a complete fool. Well, perhaps I shouldn't speak in a such a way of two of my students but..."

Blair blinked, surprised at Tanner's unusual boldness – that was new. Usually, Blair was the more forward one. Tanner's meaning couldn't have been more obvious if he had spelled it out for her but…he wasn't exactly wrong about Tyler, was he? He was still a child in a lot of ways. Jeremy, who was two years younger than him, and a brooding kid even before the Gilberts' death, was more mentally mature than he was. Though, Blair had to concede, with a father like that, how could Tyler not have issues?

"Blair…" Tanner's voice brought her out of her thoughts.

"Yes, forgive me. I'd just prefer not to talk about it if you don't mind. It's still a sore subject for me."

"Of course. I should be the one to ask for forgiveness. I shouldn't have brought it up."

Blair shook her head. "Never mind that. I was wondering if I could do a new project this year. I need as many credits as possible for Harvard. And what better subject than history for that?"

"What did you have in mind?"

"Well…" Blair leaned a little on Tanner's desk, to give him a better view of her generous bosom. "I was thinking of 'Mystic Falls during the American Civil War'. If I'm not much mistaken, it's part of the program this year and I would be able to find so much information here. Between the Founding Families journals, artefacts and the Historical Archives…"

"As usual, I admire your enthusiasm, Blair. Bring me a detailed outline of your project by the end of October and we'll talk about it more thoroughly, alright?"

Blair smiled at him, leaving him a little dazed. "Of course, Mr. Tanner. Thank you."

The doorbell rang in that moment, signaling the beginning of class. Blair went to her seat, her short skirt caressing her thighs with every step. She could feel Tanner's gaze on her legs and smirked to herself. He was just so easy. If she had really decided to seduce him, he would be like putty in her hands.

Caroline entered the classroom a few minutes later and bounced to her side. She looked like an excited puppy – or the cat that got the cream.

"What is it?" Blair asked her with a grin. Blair knew the look in Caroline's face. Her friend had gossip she couldn't wait to share.

Caroline sat down next to her, while the class started to fill up. "We have a new student. Transferred. A junior…"

Blair smirked. "Hum…a hot one too, from the expression on your face."

Caroline nodded. "Oh yes. So hot. Look, there he is." Caroline surreptitiously tilted her head in the new guy's direction. Blair turned her head slightly to look at him, watching him walking to a free seat a few desks away from her own. He was tall, but not too tall, with sandy brown hair combed in a sort of Edward Cullen's style but less messy – point for tidiness or minus one point for trying to look like a sparkly vampire? – with a strong jaw and a broody expression in his hazel green eyes. He looked muscled, well-built, like someone who played sport regularly. All in all, a very handsome view.

"Wanna call dibs?" Blair asked Caroline. That was the first rule of their friendship. Never let a guy come between them. If one of them was interested in a guy, then the other would back off, no questions asked.

Caroline shook her head. "I think…I think I want to try with Matt. Just, you know, slowly. You can have the new guy. Careful though, it looks like he has his sights set on Elena already."

Blair rolled her eyes. "Typical. The charm of the sweet girl next door never fails, does it? Especially now that she's the sad girl as well. Brings out men's protective instincts or something."

Caroline opened her mouth to say something else but Tanner decided to start class in that moment and all the students fell quiet. Sometimes Blair had this strange sense of deja-vu when looking at Tanner teaching. He reminded her of someone sometimes – when he would stand in front of his desk, scowl on his face and low voice lecturing, the class silent and a little intimated –, but for the life of her, she couldn't figure out who.

"Once our home state of Virginia joined confederacy in 1861, it created a tremendous amount of tension within the state. People in Virginia's northwest region had different ideals than those from the traditional deep south. Then Virginia divided in 1863 with the northwest region joining the union." Tanner was saying but for the first time in her life, Blair wasn't paying attention to his lecture. Instead, all her attention had been captured by the exchange of glances between her cousin and the new guy. Blair frowned. So, Caroline had been right. Well, no matter. She still hadn't played any of her cards. The fact that Elena was also interested in him made all of it more interesting.

"So, what do you know of him?" Blair asked Caroline as the two of them made their way inside the Grill. Bonnie and Elena were supposed to join them later – Elena's routine after-school stop at her parents' grave something all her friends knew but no one would dare bring up (in her face, at least).

"His name is Stefan Salvatore. He lives with uncle up at the old Salvatore Boarding House. He hasn't lived here since he was a kid. Military family, so they moved around a lot. He's a Gemini, and his favorite color is blue."

"Impressive. I knew I could count on you."

"Always." Caroline said with a curtsy and a giggle.

"Oh, look. A certain someone's working today. Why don't you go talk to him?" Blair encouraged Caroline, tilting her head in Matt's direction. "If you're so intent on him, why not start now?"

"You think I should?" Caroline asked, looking a little uncertain.

"It's just a chat. You aren't going to ask the guy to marry you, are you?"

Caroline nodded, putting on her resolve face on. "Right." Blair watched her go, her back to the entrance. Maybe that was the reason Tyler Lockwood was able to sneak up on her.

"Well, look who's here. The Ice Queen has decided to deign us with her presence. What an honour, your Majesty."

Blair turned around and smirked at him. "You didn't call me Ice Queen when I would suck your cock, right, Tyler? I remember you used to enjoy that a lot. Tell me, is Vicki as good at giving head? Or are you bored of her already?"

"Jealousy doesn't suit you, B." Tyler said with his usual cocky smirk.

"Me? Jealous? Don't make me laugh. Who's the one who started the rumor that you cheated on me because he couldn't accept that I broke up with him? Tell me, does Vicki know that you're in love with me? That she's only a rebound? I bet she wouldn't sleep with you anymore if she knew."

"You should know I didn't really mean it. When a guy tells you 'I love you' after fucking, it just means he loved fucking you." Tyler's voice was indifferent but the look in his eyes was very telling.

"Who you're trying to convince? Me or yourself?" Tyler frowned and said nothing. A moment later Vicki waved at him and Tyler walked away to join her reluctantly after a last look in Blair's direction.

Blair kept her face impassive but her chest was stinging. Perhaps Tyler wasn't the only one who was lying to himself. Perhaps she had cared more than she was willing to admit. It didn't matter now though. Tyler had made his choice and she had made his. She just wished she would stop feeling regret when she looked at him.

Caroline rejoined her side and the two of them sat at a table. Bonnie entered the Grill a few moments later and Blair watched her talking with Matt.

"So, how did it go with Donovan?"

Caroline shrugged. "Don't know. He asked about Elena at first, but then we sort of started to talk about the party at the Falls tomorrow and things went better, I think."

"Ah, so you're going with him? Feels like improvement to me."

"We just said we'll meet there."

Blair nodded. "Still, feels a bit like a date, doesn't it?"

"I don't think he sees it that way."

"Well, that's just because men never know what they want. You just have to show him."

Caroline nodded but she didn't seem convinced. "Care, you want him, right? Just go after what you want. It's that simple. Want. Take. Have."

"Please, don't quote Buffy to me – especially not if your point of reference is Faith. She made all the wrong choices."

Blair shrugged. "Perhaps, but she was a badass."

"Well, obviously." Caroline replied and then the two of them burst out laughing. The laughter died in her throat though when Blair saw Elena entering the Grill with the new guy – Stefan – at her side. Damn, but she moved quickly.

She saw Elena introducing Stefan to Matt and Bonnie, Matt glaring at him like he would have much liked to kill him with his eyes alone. Then they made their way towards them and Blair turned towards Caroline, asking in a whisper, "how do I look?"

"Gorgeous, as you very well know."

"Just checking. I hate my hair today."

Finally, they were standing at Blair and Caroline's table and Elena made the introductions. "Stefan, this is Blair, my cousin and friend, and Caroline, my other friend. Blair, Caroline, this is Stefan Salvatore."

"Very nice to meet you, Stefan." She purred at him, looking at him with hooded eyes – a look she had perfected in the mirror when she was thirteen. She noticed with satisfaction Stefan swallowing a little, before shaking his head, looking a little confused.

"Likewise." He said without looking directly into her eyes. She had made him a little nervous, good.

Soon, they were all asking him questions in turn. "So, you were born in Mystic Falls?" Caroline asked.

"Mm-Hmm. And moved when I was still young."

"Parents?" Bonnie asked this time.

"My parents passed away."

"I'm sorry. Any siblings?"

"None that I talk to. I live with my uncle."

"So, Stefan," Blair said, with deliberate slowness, almost caressing his name with her tongue – Stefan fidgeting a little in his seat, "if you're new, then you don't know about the party tomorrow."

"It's a back to school thing at the falls." Bonnie explained.

Stefan turned to look at Elena and Blair frowned. "Are you going?"

"Of course, she is." Bonnie answered for Elena.

"We all are." Blair interjected. "You should definitely join us."

"I think I'll do that, thanks. I'm not usually one for parties but…"

"Oh, I'm sure we can find a way to make it enjoyable for you." Blair said to him with a smirk. "The loner look has its own appeal, but better not overdo it, right?"

Stefan nodded, a look between desire and confusion flittering across his face before disappearing. He shook his head again, looking like he was just coming out of a trance. He turned to look at Elena then and that look disappear, a purposeful one taking its place. He looked like a man on a mission.

Blair didn't know what Stefan's deal with Elena was, but she wasn't giving up just yet.

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