A/N: Sorry it's a little late, but I wanted it to be perfect! Hopefully it's as epic as you hoped it would be ;)
Damon and Elena stood side by side, their arms crossed. Damon looked faintly amused while Elena looked furious.
"So, how long do you think before she stops laughing?" Damon whispered.
Elena pursed her lips as she stared at Katherine, who was doubled up in fits of laughter. "Never," Elena decided, "Seeing as how your last statement was incredibly absurd and completely ridiculous—"
"Hey, hey is that any way to speak to the vampire who's here to save your life?" Damon grinned. Elena merely glared at him, and Damon relented, "Look, you don't have to like it, but that's the plan."
"Oh yeah?" Elena challenged. "And exactly whose plan was it?"
"It was an unanimous decision."
"Well, I refuse to go along with it," Elena said stubbornly, her chin jutting out in defiance. "You're not trading your life for mine."
"Your life is more valuable," Damon answered shortly, "This isn't up for discussion, Elena."
Elena felt a flash of anger and she grabbed his arm, forcing him to look at her. "I'm not a damsel in distress, Damon! My life is not more valuable than yours!" She dug her nails into his arm, even though she knew he probably couldn't feel it. "Don't do anything stupid," she added in a hiss, noticing that Katherine's laughter had died down. Damon didn't move, and Elena slowly released his arm from her grip.
Katherine walked back over to them, her eyes still sparkling with amusement. "Sorry, Damon," she grinned, "But you can't honestly think that I'd kill you instead of the girl? That would be completely useless to me." She paused, "And you know I never do something unless there's some sort of benefit in it…"
"I remember," Damon agreed. "But I think you'll agree to my terms on this particular matter, Katherine."
"Oh really? And why's that?"
Damon smiled and reached into his jacket, pulling out a stake. "Because of this."
Katherine looked bored, "You're going to try to stake me? You know I'm stronger than you. It'll never work."
"I know," Damon said cheerfully. "I meant that I would stake myself."
Elena gasped in horror, and there was a clatter as Cassandra dropped the sword she was holding.
"Don't be an idiot," Katherine hissed. "You don't want to kill yourself over some…worthless human."
"That's where you're wrong," Damon tilted his head. "Elena's life means too much to just be thrown away by the likes of you."
Katherine's jaw clenched, her eyes flashing with fury. Elena grabbed Damon's arm again, her expression identical to Katherine's. "I thought I told you not to do anything stupid!" Elena said in a harsh whisper.
Damon shrugged, not looking worried. "It is what it is, Elena."
"You claim to love her," Katherine said suddenly. "It will all have been for nothing if you die…"
"Call me your modern day Romeo," Damon grinned. He turned to Elena, "How do you feel about being Juliet?"
"Quit joking around!" Elena snapped, her nerves on edge. "Romeo and Juliet both died, in case you've forgotten!"
"But their love was timeless," Damon pointed out, smirking at the expression on Elena's face.
Katherine was silent for a few moments before her expression cleared. She looked Damon directly in the eye, "Okay."
"Okay?" Elena protested wildly. "What do you mean 'okay'?"
"I agree to your terms, Damon," Katherine replied, ignoring Elena's sputterings. "On one condition."
"And what's that?" Damon asked, looking pleased that his deal had been accepted so quickly.
"I will let you take Elena's place," Katherine said slowly, "And Elena will be free to go back home, unharmed..."
"If...?" Damon prompted.
Katherine smiled pleasantly, "If Elena is the one to kill you."
Elena looked down at the stake in her hand, and then up at Damon. She glanced over his shoulder to where Katherine and Cassandra were standing, some distance away. Katherine's eyes were narrowed, as though she believed that Damon had some ulterior plan in motion. Cassandra simply looked baffled.
"Go ahead, Elena," Damon said loudly, "Let's get this over with."
Elena gritted her teeth, "So this is what it's come down to? After everything we've been through?"
Damon's expression flickered. "Just picture me as the killer I am, Elena. It shouldn't be too hard."
"But there's so much that I haven't..." Elena trailed off.
"Look on the bright side," Damon suggested. "Now you don't have to choose."
"Between me and Stefan," Damon clarified, with a hint of a smirk on his face.
Elena blinked, "What makes you think I haven't chosen yet?"
Damon frowned, "You already—? He broke off with a sharp intake of breath as Elena dropped the stake she was holding and grabbed the lapels of his jacket, pulling him into her body. "Elena, what are you doing?" he murmured, staring into her face. She was inches away, and he could see the unshed tears sparkling in her eyes.
"Making a choice," Elena whispered, her hands moving to his face as she brought her lips to his. Damon heard Katherine muttering behind him, but at this very moment, nothing else mattered except the girl in front of him. He pulled Elena tightly against him, feeling her pulse beat frantically against his own chest, until it felt like he had a heartbeat of his own.
After what felt like ages, he pulled away to let her breathe. She rested her forehead against his before sliding her arms around him in a tight embrace. Damon turned them around so he was facing Katherine. She was tapping her foot impatiently, but he could see through bored expression. She was angry. "Are you two done yet? I don't have all day."
Damon placed a soft kiss on Elena's forehead before gently pushing her away. He bent down to pick up the stake that she had dropped and handed it to her. "Yeah, we're done," he said quietly.
Elena wrapped her hand around the stake, frowning. Damon still thought she was actually going to kill him. Apparently, he was just as insane as Katherine. She looked up to tell Katherine that this plan just wasn't going to work, when suddenly Cassandra screamed.
Elena dropped the stake in fright, as Cassandra fell to the floor, writhing. "NO! STOP IT!" she shrieked, clutching her head.
"What is it!" Katherine exclaimed, backing away from her witch in shock. "What's going on?"
"She's—using—" Cassandra gasped out, unable to form coherent sentences.
"She?" Elena whispered to Damon, who had an arm around her wrist to hold her back. "What's she talking about?"
All of a sudden, a burst of light emitted from Cassandra's fingertips. Elena squinted, trying to see what was happening. A figure crawled out of the blazing white light, emitting sparks along the way. The light faded and Elena lowered her hand to see who it was.
"Oh good," Bonnie said with obvious relief. "You're still alive. I thought I might be too late."
"What are you doing here?" Damon demanded. "Katherine already agreed to my deal—"
Bonnie looked back at him, her expression a mixture of respect and incredulity. "You didn't honestly think we'd...sacrifice you to Katherine, did you?"
Damon looked confused, "I thought..."
"I just needed time to figure out the right spell," Bonnie interrupted, looking down at Cassandra with disdain. "It's something Katherine said, actually..." She turned to Katherine, who was looking at Bonnie in disbelief. "You said something about family ties and blood ties...and I thought, well, if Cassandra is tied to me then that means I could tie my magic to hers, too."
Cassandra groaned, digging her nails into the ground as she struggled to sit up. "You used my magic," she said accusingly.
"You're the one that kept bragging about how powerful you were," Bonnie said dismissively. "Next time maybe you'll keep that information to yourself." Bonnie's eyes flashed gold for a second, and Cassandra immediately fell over. Bonnie smiled in satisfaction, "She'll be out for a while." She strode over to Cassandra and twisted the ring off her finger. Bonnie examined it before tossing it to Elena. "So, you guys ready to get out of here?"
"Wait a second!" Katherine shrieked. "You can't just—"
Bonnie's eyes widened for a split second and Katherine was thrown off her feet. Bonnie smiled, the wind lifting her hair eerily. "Actually, with Cassandra's powers, I can."
Katherine vamped out, her eyes turning red in fury. She blurred, rushing towards Elena. Damon immediately moved to intercept her, but Katherine tossed him aside. Damon went flying into Bonnie and they both fell over. "You little bitch," Katherine hissed, her hands closing over Elena's throat. "I'm going to—" suddenly, Katherine's voice broke off with a gasp.
She looked down to see Elena's hand wrapped firmly around a stake. Embedded in her heart. "Sorry," Elena said, meeting Katherine's gaze defiantly. "Guess I staked the wrong person."
Katherine's mouth moved wordlessly as she fell to the ground.
She didn't move again.
"Bonnie!" Tyler said in relief, jumping up as the trio appeared back in the Gilbert living room. "You're alright!"
"I'm okay," Bonnie said weakly, stumbling slightly.
Tyler caught her in his arms, and hugged her tightly. "I was worried about you..."
Stefan stepped forward, looking between Elena and Damon questioningly. "She's dead," Elena said, watching Stefan closely. "I staked her."
Stefan nodded, closing his eyes. To everyone's surprise, he hugged Damon first. "Thank you," he said quietly. "For keeping Elena safe."
Damon was surprised, but he didn't show it. Instead, he nodded and clasped his brother's arm in return. He then watched as Stefan turned to hug Elena. She returned the embrace, and Stefan leaned back slightly, searching her eyes for an answer to the unspoken question. He smiled sadly at what he saw in her gaze, and gave her arm one last squeeze before turning away. "I'm glad you're both alright," he said finally. And then he respectfully backed away. Breaking the proverbial triangle.
"Where's Isobel?" Elena asked suddenly, noticing that her birth mother was missing.
'She left," Alaric answered tiredly.
"Didn't she want to see if Elena was okay?" Bonnie demanded.
"She said she trusted Damon," Alaric replied, his expression unreadable.
Damon was silent for a second, before he reached into his pocket and tossed something to Alaric. "Your ring. Bonnie got it off Cassandra."
Alaric caught the ring gratefully. He took off John Gilbert's ring before sliding his own ring back on. Alaric then tossed the ring to Elena, who caught it in surprise. "This is a Gilbert ring," Alaric explained. "Jeremy should have it."
Elena smiled, "I'll be sure to give it to him."
"I'll go get him from the library," Stefan offered, getting up.
"I'll go with you," Alaric said, grabbing his coat. "I think Jenna is in town, anyway."
"Yeah, I should get Bonnie home," Tyler said, and they both stood up, with Bonnie leaning heavily against him.
"Bonnie, you're a lifesaver," Elena said, hugging her best friend quickly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." As she passed Damon, she grinned up at him. "Don't worry, we're still even."
Damon shook his head with a smile as everyone trudged out the door. Stefan was the last to leave, and he nodded to them before shutting the door quietly.
Elena faced Damon silently for a few seconds. "Yes?" Damon prompted.
"You almost died for me," Elena said accusingly, smacking his arm. "Why would you do something so stupid?"
Damon grinned, his lips curving upwards in his signature smirk. "What can I say, a vampire in love can do some stupid things sometimes..."
Elena rolled her eyes, but she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close. "And a girl in love can do this," she murmured, smiling as their lips met in a kiss.
THE END :)
*thank you to everyone who read/reviewed this story! I'm so happy with the way it turned out, and I'm sad to see it end...But, we're all a little bit closer to the season 2 premiere of Vampire Diaries! I don't know if there'll be a sequel to this or not, but I am definitely interested in writing more Vampire Diaires fanfics at some point in the future :) Oh and feel free to message me any questions or ideas or about anything really, I'll get back to you when I have time! Thanks again!