[identity profile] illianaka.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: Fathomless Love
Author: D-chan
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Pairing: Damon/Elena
Spoilers: For the first four books in the series. At the time of this writing, book 5, tentatively entitled "Damon," is still a work in progress. Also pairing spoilers for L.J. Smith's other works.
E-mail: mirai_dchan@yahoo.com
Thanks To: L.J. Smith. She knows nothing of this write-up, but she was the author who got me into vampires and writing many years ago, and is the sweetest, most talented author I've ever had the delight of writing back and forth with.



Preface
Before Twilight, there was The Vampire Diaries. Before Stephenie Meyer, there was L.J. Smith. And before 1998, she was the master of supernatural teen fiction, in which love triangles were fresh, new, and have obviously stood the test of time. After ten long years, The Vampire Diaries was republished.

The Vampire Diaries isn't just a vampire story. If anything, the vampires are a subplot. The real story is about teenagers growing up. It's about discovering how valuable trust really is; who your real friends are; what's important and that, while love is powerful and a wonderful thing, real love has it's struggles and you have to fight through the trials in order to win.

Elena, the most popular girl in school, has decided the foreign studen, Stefen Salvatore, will be hers. Unfortunately, so has her former friend Caroline, and she will do whatever it takes to stop Elena from being happy.

But when Elena finally does have Stefan, she realizes she loves him more than anyone she's ever been with before. And it won't be an easy love, because Stefan just so happens to be a vampire.

Enter Damon, Stefan's older brother. He's been following Stefan for centuries, always in his shadow. And he, like Stefan, recognizes the resemblence between Elena and their first love. But Elena resists him every step of the way, and he'll do what he has to in order to have her for himself.

But there's something much more sinister at play. People are murdered, drained dry of blood; animals are going crazy and attacking the folks of Fell's Church; and some of Elena's peers are behaving bizarrely. The town believes it's Stefan. Stefan accuses Damon. And Damon claims he has nothing to do with it.

Whatever it is, it's a power far older than a normal human can comprehend. And it's out for Elena's life.

Elena Gilbert
"He stopped me from killing you." [about Damon, to Stefan]

Elena is queen of the school and, at first, spoiled and self-centered. She uses boys in her attempt to find a meaningful relationship, but they all disappoint her. Then the mysterious Stefan Salvatore moves to town and all the girls--including Elena--fall head over heels for him.

But for Elena, Stefan's different. He's a challenge, for starters, as he seems to blatantly snub her and turn her away at every possible moment. It's only when he saves her from nearly being raped that his feelings for her come to light. Their relationship begins here--and so does the growth of Elena's character.

She truly loves Stefan, but has to face all sorts of trouble to be with him. Caroline's cruelty, Stefan's closed-off front, the town believing Stefan's a murderer at one point... and the fact Stefan's brother, Damon, is trying to seduce her to the glory of darkness.

At first Elena is almost despisable. She's shallow, self-centered, and uses her friends to get what she wants. But as troubles keep poppng up and forcing her to reevaluate not only herself, but the loyalty and trust of those around her, Elena finds the inner strength she's used since her parents died and she fights back. She discovers who matters and who doesn't. She literally has to stand up against the entire town of Fell's Church when they accuse her boyfriend of murder. She is convinced of his innocence and, even though she can't prove it, never gives in and allows anyone to hurt him, if she can help it.

It's not until she's accidentally turned into a vampire that Elena begins to change inside. She starts to care about others, and even does her best to protect her town from being completely destroyed. Her friend Bonnie described it best in a journal entry:

. . . She wasn't a saint. She wasn't always sweet and good and honest and agreeable. But she was strong and loving and loyal to her friends, and in the end she did the most unselfish thing anyone could do.

At the end of book three, Elena dies, but it's a sacrifice in order to save the lives of her friends, of Stefan... even of Damon.

Damon Salvatore
"Katherine made a foolish choice, and she paid the price for it. Elena is different; she knows her own mind."

Damon, once a reknowned Italian arisocrat, is often described as beautiful, with straight black hair, black eyes, a lithe body, and flat muscles. Though older than Stefan, he's slightly shorter--but he's clearly the stronger of the two. Even before he became a vampire, Damon was arrogant, brash, and using his good looks and cunning to manipulate everyone around him. He's not used to being told no, so when Elena successfully resists him, he takes an unnatural interest her, even going so far as to come out of the shadows to threaten his brother with death should he continue to pursue her.

Unlike his brother, Damon kills. He drinks the blood of humans frequently, as it enhances his Powers. He even brags about it. He'll threaten children, specifically Elena's younger sister, and manipulate Elena's closest friends just to get to her. Throughout the first three books, Damon is accused of nearly killing his brother, attacking Elena's peers, killing a pet dog, murdering a teacher, and killing and transforming Elena into a vampire.

But as it turns out, he's not all evil. He does, in fact, have a softer side--one that only shows because of Elena.

The Others
Stefan Salvatore: Elena's One True Love and Damon's younger brother. He originally compared Elena to, Katherine, but came to love Elena for who she was. His rivalry with his brother goes between that and hatred. He became a vampire when, after exchanging blood with Katherine, Damon killed him. Before he died, he also killed Damon, cursing them both. He's very self-abusive and tends to blame himself and take on more than he should. Nevertheless, he truly does love Elena.
Meredith: One of Elena's best friends. She's usually a cool and collected girl. Her grandfather was victim of a vampire attack when she was a young girl, but is widely believed to have hallucinated the attack.
Bonnie: Another of Elena's best friends. She believes it would be romantic to die young and beautiful. She also possesses unrefined psychic abilities. In book four, there's friction between her and Damon, as well as her and Matt.
Matt: Elena's ex-boyfriend. Even though he claims Stefan stole her from him, he is one of Stefan's best friends and seems to see him in the same light.
Caroline: One of Elena's former best friends. She spends most of her time trying to overthrow Elena's status and make her miserable.
Katherine: Stefan and Damon's former love. She exchanged blood with both of them when they demanded she choose one, in hopes her actions would bring them closer. Instead, they killed each other. She reappears alive in book three, furious that the boys didn't appreciate her "gift" and intent on taking her revenge.

Why?
"Katherine."
"Yes."
"Katherine. . . ."
"Yes, Damon?"
"Go to hell."


This is a tough pairing to sell. Why, when Elena is so obviously in love with Stefan, and so clearly afraid of Damon, would you want to ship them?

I admit, for me it is in part because of the author's other writings. I've been reading L.J. Smith's books since 1998--about the time she stopped publishing her work for 10 years. I got to read every single book of hers--the Night World series, the Dark Visions trilogy, the Forbidden Game, and the two stand-alone children's books. But when her books went out of print, there was one series I never got my hands on: The Vampire Diaries.

So when, in 2007, I was helping the store I worked at organize the teen shelves and I saw a book with a vampire on the cover, I instinctively took a second look. "The Vampire Diaries," it read, by L.J. Smith.

I bought it immediately. And I was on edge waiting for the second book, the finale of the four-part series. By the end of the series, I was actually surprised Elena ended up with Stefan. In Dark Visions, Kaitlyn ended up with the "dark, brooding angel" Gabriel. In the Night World, Mary-Lynnette loves Ash, one of the worst vampires in the world. Rashel ends up with the most reputable made vampire in the same series. Basically, given the option, L.J. Smith's girls go for the bad boys, because those boys end up having a soft side only those girls manage to touch upon.

Damon certainly displays this soft side concerning Elena. Though he threatens her, he also thwarts Caroline's biggest attempt to ruin Elena. He argues his innocence of killing Elena, the dog, and many other atrocities Stefan accuses him of.

There are three major incidents that prove Damon actually has feelings for Elena, rather than just seeing her as a toy for his amusement as he does other girls. The first was occured when Elena is turned into a vampire--completely on accident. She willingly exchanges blood with Stefan. Within the same week, Damon manipulates her into doing the same with him. But when Elena is driven into a river and drowns by the Old Power, she dies, comes back partially transformed . . . and tries to kill Stefan. Her memories are muddled, and she claims Damon is the one she loves. Damon, while clearly enjoying this, also displays uncharacteristic concern for her.

He could have made her attack a human. Instead, he opts to Stefan's plan of finding a willing victim. Damon could have forced Elena to stay with him while her transformation finished. Instead, he finds her a safe place, orders her to be cautious, and is completely gentlemanly as he lays her down to sleep. Elena later realizes he had every opportunity to take advantage of her, but had chosen to be kind in his treatment of her.

The incident occurs in book four. Elena is dead now, and Damon left Fell's Church with Stefan on his heels after Elena had him promise to watch out for Damon. And at first, it seems Damon is up to his old tricks. Girls are constantly leaving his room, dazed, their memories not even wiped. Stefan finds himself cleaning up his brother's carelessness, and goes to confront him about it.

Throughout the conversation Damon is cold and snide. Stefan, finally driven to exasperation, decides to point out something interesting.

. . . It would have been kindest at this point to leave Damon alone, but Stefan wasn't in a kind mood. "You know that girl you picked up, Rachael?" he added. "The hair was all right, but her eyes were the wrong color. Elena's eyes were blue."
- Dark Reunion, chapter 4

Clearly, Damon hasn't gotten over her death. In fact, from the way he and Stefan interacted in that scene, he seems to be taking it harder and dealing with it worse than Stefan.

The third and, in my opinion, best proof of Damon's feelings for Elena takes place in book three, The Fury. Katherine has revealed herself to the three, knocked them out, and tied them up. We find out she was the one who has been controlling Elena's classmate; she was the one who killed the dog; she was the one who drove Elena into the river . . . but she hadn't been counting on the blood exchanges, and was enraged to find Elena had come back as a vampire.

Katherine torments them, raging at Stefan how much she hates him now, because she used to love him best. She talks about how she'll kill Elena, preferring it to be slow. But she shows leniency toward Damon, playing on his dark side. She promises to let him go, even offers to let him kill Elena if he so wishes.

In fact, the actual passage best displays the scene. Up until now, Damon's loyalty to Elena has been questioned due to his previous actions. And then we see this:

Elena watched with mute dread. She knew that disturbing smile too well. But even as her heart sank, her mind threw a mocking question at her. What difference did it make? She and Stefan were going to die anyway. It only made sense for Damon to save himself. And it was wrong to expect him to go against his nature.

She watched that beautiful, capricious smile with a feeling of sorrow for what Damon might have been.

Katherine smiled back at him, enchanted. "We'll be so happy together. Once they're dead, I'll let you go. I didn't mean to hurt you, not really. I just got angry." She put out a slender hand and stroked his cheek. "I'm sorry."

"Katherine," he said. He was still smiling.

"Yes." She leaned closer.

"Katherine . . ."

"Yes, Damon?"

"Go to hell."


This immediately incites rage from Katherine, who screams and attacks Damon, tearing at his throat and nearly killing him. Despite this, Elena finds the strength to worry her hands free, knock Katherine into the sunlight, and kill her, as well as herself. As she lays in Stefan's arms, dying, Damon urges her to hang on, because she's strong and can work through this. But when he realizes she's going to die, Damon actually cries. Elena's one sadness as she passes on is that there would be no one to understand him now.

Which brings us to Elena's side of things. She's the one who makes the pairing difficult to root for, as smitten when Stefan as she is. But once she becomes a vampire, she sees Damon in a different light. She notices his kinder actions toward her; at one point even realizes they have a strange sort of bond. Even Stefan notices it, and it hurts him.

As Elena lays dying, she has come to terms with the fact she loves Damon as well. She knows she's dying, but promises to try to fight it because she doesn't want to hurt him. And before she draws her last breath, she asks Stefan to look after Damon. She realizes that, in many ways, Damon is more vulnerable than his younger brother. Elena is the only person to really understand him, and that's what makes this pairing both tragic and beautiful.

Denouement
In book four, Elena has been resurrected in the end. L.J. Smith has promised us that her new book will go more into her newly found powers . . . and the book is tentatively titled Damon, hinting that we'll see more between these two as well.

Maybe the fifth book will disprove this pairing. But maybe not. Elena loves both Stefan and Damon; we've been blatantly told so through the course of the current story. It's likely she will stay with Stefan, but the brothers have grown close in Dark Reunion. Damon has gone from trying to kill Stefan to risking his life to protect him. And, now, Stefan better understands Damon; he no longer hates him.

What does this say? That there's hope. There is definite friction between Elena and Damon; both are strong and stubborn. But Elena is on the side of light, trying to convince Damon to join her even as he tries to seduce her into the darkness he believes vampire nature is.

In my opinion, Damon and Elena, while not "meant to be" as Elena is with Stefan, make a much better pair. There's friction; there's understanding; there's gentleness and callous words and surprises around every corner as each comes to learn something new about the other. And that is what a relationship should be--something that constantly grows and changes.

Outside Links
Ljane Smith - L.J. Smith's newest website. She's changed her name to clear up internet searches, but it hasn't quite caught on with her deepset fanbase yet. Side stories to several of her series are up, including one about Stefan, Meredith, Bonnie, and Matt. The pictures were taken from this site. All credit goes to their artist, Jan Sovak, and all rights go to L.J. Smith.

Shadow on the Roof - a fanfic by Siese. Damon's version of his and Elena's encounter on Caroline's roof in The Struggle.

Happy Thanksgiving - another fanfic by Siese. Damon's suspicious of what happens during the Thanksgiving dinner.

For the Asking - a fanfic by condotta. An alternate tale, if Elena had chosen Damon instead of Stefan.

Date: 2008-04-26 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] christ-chexx-4u.livejournal.com
OH MY GOD I HAVE BEEN IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK SERIES SINCE THE SIXTH GRADE. which, actually, would have been '98 for me as well. i wasnt aware that the books had gone out of print, but that would explain why i had such a hard time locating them...also, it might have been that i couldn't remember the author or the title, it was just 'that awesome vampire series that i borrowed from erin that one time'. but, lo and behold, 2 years ago i was able to google as many names and incidents from the book that i could remember and there they were!

and yeah, i was definitely drawn more towards elena and damon as well. stefan was fine, but damon was so much more interesting!

Date: 2008-04-27 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sasha-b.livejournal.com
I read those books when they first came out - I think I was in high school. I about had a squee fit when I saw that they had been rereleased. This is a great way for new folks to be introduced to the series - glad it's still liked.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Date: 2008-04-27 03:04 am (UTC)
ext_47289: (mitten)
From: [identity profile] invaderwitch.livejournal.com
Oh, wow. I read these books when I was really, really young. I have thought about them a few times over the years but never really considered looking for them again. Now, I am definitely going to order them! I don't remember them too well, but I remember I was definitely in love with Damon. :)

Thanks for writing this!

Date: 2008-04-27 05:52 am (UTC)
ext_9063: (I'm a curly girl)
From: [identity profile] mlyn.livejournal.com
Whoo hoo LJ Smith fandom! She was the beginning of a lot of things for me, too, like vampires, writing, being a freaky dorky fangirl, and choosing a pseud for the Internet (mine's from Night World: Daughters of Darkness).

Date: 2008-05-16 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] julygreen.livejournal.com
Mary-Lynnette was totally awesome! Night World was a mixed bag, but DoD was by far one of the most intriguing books, just because of the dynamic between M-L and Ash.

Date: 2008-04-27 07:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icefalcon.livejournal.com
laskjdfasdf I am so happy. Screw Twilight, all those people who loved it really needed to have grown up reading L.J. Smith, the real teen vampire queen.

Stefan was a total wimp. I was always gunning for Elena/Damon while reading (and Cassie/Nick while reading the Secret Circle. The only other L.J. Smith series where the heroine inexplicably chooses the boring bland guy over the exciting dangerous hot one! Although Cassie was kind of boring in herself, I suppose).

At the time of this writing, book 5, tentatively entitled "Damon," is still a work in progress.

I did not know that. That is amazing. I am really disproportionately excited. XD

Date: 2008-05-09 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well, Jenny chose Tom over Julian as well. Boring guys have just as much of a chance as the bad boys in LJ Smith books.

Date: 2008-05-16 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] julygreen.livejournal.com
I know - TOM! Her going with Julian wouldn't really have been tenable, but I fully expected that series to have a "strong independent woman" ending where Jenny realizes that she and Tom have grown apart and she goes her own way.

Date: 2009-06-17 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sir-hellsing.livejournal.com
/year late, but just found this.

Didn't it? I mean, in the ending, there was nothing clear for what Jenny felt towards Tom, she both loved him and Julian, but what was clear was she was her own master (Tom even knew that if Julian returned he wouldn't have a chance to win back Jenny). Her future plans of marriage and college with Tom were put on hold.

Great summary!

Date: 2008-05-16 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] julygreen.livejournal.com
Like you, Vampire Diaries is the only book series I could never get my hands on. I've only read one of the books, I think. And yeah, in the canon I have read, Damon was always way more interesting and badass than Stefan.

I'm a Dark Visions girl at heart, though - I can't count the number of times I've read those books. Maybe I should do a ship manifesto for characters from those books - I haven't checked, but I bet it hasn't been done - there's very little online about DV. I guarantee that I could pull out exact quotes without even referring to my books ... god I'm a geek. I haven't even come across Ljane fans who count Dark Visions as their favourite. *hugs DV*

Date: 2008-05-17 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] julygreen.livejournal.com
That's cool, and good to know. The majority of the online Ljane stuff seems to be about Night World or Vampire Diaries. I guess it's because DV had such a satisfying ending -- the baddies gone and everyone paired off nicely -- so there's less scope for fanfic.
(Unless there are some Rob/Kaitlyn shippers out there that I don't know about! Hahaha).

Date: 2008-05-18 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] putana.livejournal.com
Hehe, I'm not a Damon/Elena fan, but it is awesome to see manifesto's on LJS's works.

Other links that could be good would be to Twilight Tales (http://www.ttales.net) as there is lots of fanfic over there :)

Date: 2008-05-23 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luck-fortune.livejournal.com
Oh my gaaaawd, LJ Smith. It's been ages, but all of her books WERE my childhood.

And the idea of her publishing again? My heart just stopped. <3

Date: 2009-08-10 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wolf-lamb.livejournal.com
yay! (happy dance)
I love Damon/Elena way more than Stefan/Elena :D

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