title: In the Shadow of Your Own Heart
author: [personal profile] ghostrunner
fandom: The Vampire Diaries - spoilers up to 2.21

Scenes from the life of Jenna Sommers, before.

When the arbitrator of the will calls to tell her Jeremy and Elena are hers, Jenna’s first thought is, Isn’t there anyone else?

She thinks this says all there is to say about her.

She is wrong.


Jenna wore a knee length lilac dress to her sister’s wedding. It was a very grown-up dress for a twelve year old, but Miranda said she was too old to be a flower girl so she could be a real bridesmaid.

She walked up the aisle on the arm of Grayson Gilbert’s little brother, John. Jenna thought she might be in love with John in the way twelve year olds feel about cool older kids. A decade later, when she’s sleeping with John Gilbert out of equal parts self-loathing and a desire to do something wicked behind her sister’s back, she’ll realize that he was never as cool as she thought he was. Not as nice either. He’s kind of an asshole and she sort of hates him, actually.

But at Grayson and Miranda’s wedding Jenna Sommers walked up the aisle with John Gilbert, trying very hard to look taller and older and as graceful as possible.

Miranda is the only bride she’s ever seen in real life, but she’s still the most beautiful. This isn’t the first time Jenna has been briefly and bitterly jealous of her perfect older sister’s perfect life and it won’t be the last. Watching her walk up the aisle with their father in transcendent grace and joy, Jenna thinks, I will never have this.

And she never does.


When Logan Fell broke up with her by banging that dumb slut Sherrie during prom, Jenna thought her life was over.

She fled town for college and she threw herself into this new life.

Everything was new and bright and full of promise. She was going to change the world.

God, she was so young.

She liked psychology because it took everything roiling around inside of people and it made it neat and understandable. You could lay everything out in diagnoses and electrospectrum graphs and understand people.

She understands her perfectly normal sibling rivalry now.

She was never really all that good at people.


When the hospital called to tell her that there had been an accident Jenna said, “That’s impossible.”

What she meant was, That’s impossible. You don’t understand, my sister is perfect.

She was really too old and too experienced to believe in perfect people anymore, but it turned out she’d never stopped telling herself the story of Miranda’s perfect family and perfect life.

It turned out she’d completely missed the point about life.


Alaric Saltzman was the best thing that had happened to Jenna since her sister and brother in law died. Since Logan ‘Scum’ Fell came back to town and broke her heart all over again. Since she got ‘Tanner’d’ for Jeremy’s drug problem.

He was funny and nice and stupid hot, good lord. He seemed to genuinely like her and he was willing to take things slow.

A little slower than she’d like, actually.

That was before she found out about Isobel. And Elena. And her relationship with Ric started to rise and fall like a roller coaster.

She was glad when he asked if he could take Elena to Duke to go through some of Isobel’s things. Glad that Elena would have some connection with another dead mother. Glad that Ric could maybe get some closure. She wasn’t sure why Damon of all people was going with them, but she’d given up trying to figure him out.

Ric came back from that trip and kissed her like a star-crossed lover in an old movie and things got better. Things got extremely good, thanks for asking.

She worried that Jeremy and Elena might be upset at her having a man in the house at all, let alone sleeping with their teacher, but they laughed when she brought it up. They liked Ric. They seemed to all get along.

And then John slithered into her house with his bombshells and his doubts and his insinuations.

And then Isobel showed up on her fucking doorstep.

And Jenna realized that they all got along so well because they were all keeping secrets from her.

And then she learned exactly the kind of secrets they were keeping.

God, maybe she really can’t do this.


She didn’t think the last time she saw her niece would be through a ring of fire at the bottom of the quarry.

She didn’t think she’d be this scared. Or this hungry.

It doesn’t matter. She still has a responsibility


When the arbitrator of the will called to tell her that Jeremy and Elena were hers, Jenna’s first thought was Isn’t there anyone else?

Her subsequent thoughts were I can’t believe I just thought that and Oh, god, what am I going to do with two grieving teenagers? I can’t do this.

She does, though.

Every morning she thinks I can’t do this. And then she gets up and does it anyway.


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