A/N: As usual I don't own Vampire Diaries or any canon characters.

I'm glad you guys liked the showdown with Bonnie! Thanks for all the wonderful feedback. This chapter is set up like a series of vignettes, tying up some loose ends I had floating around in the back of my mind. I had originally intended it to be two chapters, but decided not to stretch it out. So I give you the final chapter!

"I don't know… I mean it's Bonnie we're talking about. Yeah I know she went a little crazy, but Stefan put her through a lot. Maybe with some time she might… get better?" Damon could hear Elena speaking, and struggled to open his eyes. They were all in Elena's living room. Elena, Jenna and Alaric on the sofa and Caroline on the chair watching the proceedings with wide eyes. Jeremy was leaning against the wall in the corner of the room next to Bonnie, who lay on the ground, still unconscious and tied up. From his own vantage point, Damon gathered that he was lying on the floor as well, and no one was looking in his direction.

"I know what you mean, it's a difficult decision." Alaric agreed. "It's not every day I sit and try to decide whether or not to kill one of my students."

"Um okay I know this might be like splitting hairs or whatever, but technically isn't she already dead?" Caroline volunteered.

"I don't know why we're still debating this?" Jeremy interjected hotly. "She just tried to murder both Elena and Damon, whatever she was before, she's an evil bitch now. I vote we stake her."

"So do I." Jenna agreed vehemently.

"Jenna…" Alaric sighed, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "It's not that simple."

"Oh for crying out loud…" Damon muttered, snapping the leg from the coffee table, he crawled over to Bonnie's side and plunged it into her chest. Her body immediately started decaying and he wrenched the ring from her hand despite the muck, holding it up to Jeremy. "Jer, I think you should have this." He sat back, noting that everyone's faces were riveted to him in varying degrees of shock, no one able to say anything.

Jenna was the first to break the silence. "You owe me a new coffee table."

"I feel fine, I promise." Elena insisted as Damon steered her towards the bedroom. After everyone had gotten over the shock of Bonnie's death and Jeremy had left to take care of the body, the room had started to clear out pretty quick with Caroline going home and Jenna heading to Alaric's place for a well needed break.

"Doesn't matter, if you're not gonna go get checked out by a doctor it's straight to bed with you." Damon maintained stubbornly.

"I'm not tired though." The thought occurred to her that maybe he was the one who was tired, but didn't want to admit it. He seemed fine now, but then again he had been unconscious for over an hour while his body had worked to repair itself – not a small feat for a vampire.

"Even better." Damon grinned, tugging her down to the bed with him into the protective shelter of his arms.

Elena went willingly, snuggling into his embrace. "God what a crazy day." She breathed into the crook of his neck. It was hard to believe that it was well and truly over after such a crazy summer of ups and downs. While it was hard to tell what the future might hold for them, she took this moment to just enjoy being with him.

"You can say that again. I'd say it ranks right up there in the top ten craptastic days of all time." Damon sighed into her hair.

"How can you say that? We're here together and none of us died or was horribly maimed." None of us. Except for Bonnie, which Elena still wasn't sure how she felt about that. On one level, it was Bonnie's own fault that she'd been staked. Elena had tried to warn her that Damon would be out for her blood once she'd kidnapped her. But on the other… it was Bonnie… her best friend for so long. How had they come to this?

"I almost lost you today." Damon's voice was sober with none of the usual sarcasm that tainted his tone.

"But you didn't."

"But I almost lost you today." He held her tight, forehead pressed to hers.

"But you didn't." She repeated, pulling back to look into his eyes. There were no more words then as she proceeded to remind him just how very much alive she was. Damon was at first gentle with her, as though Elena was made of spun glass, but soon she urged him with talented hands and mouth to remember that she wasn't as fragile as all that. In fact, she demanded it; taking control of the shared intimacy. Once he'd caught onto her mood, Damon seemed all too glad to let her take over and do with him what she would; and they celebrated their love until each fell back, hoarse and panting and utterly satisfied.

As they drifted off to sleep, Damon pulled her into his embrace, his eyes falling shut. "Maybe I should let you almost die more often." He quipped with a very satisfied smile on his lips.

*** back from commercial ***

It was late afternoon when the doorbell rang and with a glance up at the bedroom where Damon and Elena had finally fallen quiet a couple of hours ago, Jeremy went to answer it himself. To his surprise, Holly stood on the doorstep, a paper shopping bag at her feet.

"Hi, I know I should have called first but…"

"No, it's fine." Jeremy waved away her concern, still trying to get over his surprise at seeing her. As usual his emotions were conflicted whenever he saw the pretty blonde; knowing what he'd taken from her. "How have you been?"

"Fantastic actually, and I just had to come and tell you as soon as I knew. I got the job!" She all but gave a little hop of excitement.

Jeremy's smile widened, he'd already known that she had the job in the bag. At Damon's suggestion, he'd paid the principal and the superintendent a little visit after her interview. He'd been right, Jeremy owed them more than free babysitting, getting her the job was the least he could do for now. "That's great, I'm glad to hear it." He grinned, doing his best to match her excitement, but she looked like she was about to float away on cloud nine.

"Yeah I start next Monday, I can't tell you how excited I am."

"I can tell."

"You know Kara had a really great time over here the other day, she hasn't been able to stop talking about it."

"She's a great kid; she's got quite an imagination on her." He felt the need to throw that in, just in case the little girl had said anything unusual at all about her visit with two vampires.

"Yeah well, I really appreciate it. I know it can't be a guy's favorite thing to do to play with a little girl so I just wanted to say thanks." Holly smiled, producing a Tupperware container of chocolate chip cookies from the bag and handing it over. "I know it's not much…"

"No, these are great." Jeremy accepted them, a lump of emotion appearing in his throat. "No one's ever made me cookies before." He admitted after a moment.

Her eyes widened in surprise. "No? Not even your mom?"

"Well ok yeah, she did years ago, but she's gone now." He replied, his gaze dropping.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up painful memories." She gave him a sympathetic smile, teeth worrying at her bottom lip.

"It's okay. Painful things happen; not talking about them doesn't make them go away." Jeremy gave a half shrug.

"Yeah, that's true." Holly sobered and Jeremy wondered if she was thinking about Steve.

"But I'm sorry if that causes you any pain." He said quickly.

Holly shook her head, giving Jeremy a faint smile. "Steve and I… I'll miss him, he was Kara's father and part of me will always love him; but we weren't… it wasn't exactly like he was my true love." She said in a very quiet voice, as if she was afraid someone might hear her say something so terrible about the dead.

That eased his guilt a little in hearing that, but he was almost immediately struck by another pang of guilt for thinking of himself even for a moment after what he'd done to the little family. "Do you believe in true love?" Jeremy wasn't able to keep the skepticism completely out of his voice.

"I don't know… maybe... Yeah, I think I do. At least I hope so." Holly gave him a smile that was tinged with hope for the future.

"I used to think so too, but now…" With both Vicki and Anna dead, him too technically; what were the odds he'd find someone now? Who could love a cold dead thing?

"Hey, you're young yet, you'll meet your dream girl." She reached out to give his arm a sympathetic squeeze.

Jeremy looked up at the touch, something stirring inside of him that he didn't recognize; maybe it was hope?

Holly was the first to break eye contact, dashing a look to the car where Kara bounced in her booster seat. "Okay well I should get going, Kara's waiting for me to take her to the park, I just wanted to say thank you."

"Do you want some company?" He found himself asking.

"Ah, sure. Yeah if you want to, I know Kara would be glad to see you." Holly gave him a sunny smile.

Jeremy glanced down at the ring on his finger and stepped into the sunlight.

*** back from commercial ***

Elena waved to Matt and Caroline who already had a table at the Grill, smiling when she saw Caroline waving to her excitedly once she'd been spotted. It was good to see the couple together and happy, and Elena pushed away the pang at thinking that Bonnie should have been sitting with them.

"Finally! I'm starving, but Matt said we had to wait for you to get here. I said we were all good enough friends that you wouldn't care if we started without you but manners… whatever." Caroline grinned.

"You could have gotten something to eat without me. I wouldn't have cared." Elena replied, sliding into the seat on the opposite side of the booth.

"See, told you." Caroline gave Matt a smug smile.

Matt gave Elena a wink, picking up the menu. "Is Damon coming? We could wait for him?" He couldn't help but tease Caroline a little.

Elena suppressed a smile at the outraged look on Caroline's face. "No, he had some business to tie up tonight." He'd been pretty secretive about it actually, and she had more than a few questions as to what had kept him busy of late. But at least things were settling down and Damon hadn't felt the need to attach himself to her hip all the time. She loved him but he sure took her protection a little too far in her opinion.

"Oh good." Caroline breathed a sigh of relief, but then instantly looked contrite. "I mean… I'm sorry Elena, I mean I know he's your man and all he just…" She shivered and Elena guessed she couldn't blame Caroline for having reservations about Damon after all she'd been through because of him.

"It's okay. I'm aware that he makes himself… a little less than lovable sometimes." She said tactfully.

"He seems like a good guy. Like he makes you happy." Matt volunteered and Elena traded a look with him over the table, glad that they'd been able to remain friends and be happy for each other for moving on.

"Thanks Matt, he does. He makes me very happy." Elena still on occasion wanted to take off her own shoe and beat him with it for some of the stuff that came out of his mouth, but overall, Damon made her very, very happy indeed.

"So Elena, I've been meaning to ask you about your 18th birthday. Are you gonna have a big party with tons of people?" Caroline's eyes sparkled with the thought of a big birthday blowout.

"No, I don't think so. Maybe just a small gathering of people, or maybe just a family dinner, I don't know." She shrugged. The party scene wasn't really her deal anymore, in fact, she found it hard to connect with most of the people she went to high school with now.

"Oh come on Elena, you can't not have a party for your 18th birthday, it's like a law or something." Caroline pouted.

"Oh yeah? Did you pick that up from your mom?" Matt smirked.

Caroline poked him in the ribs. "Yeah, and you don't want to find yourself tossed in jail for not having a party so you'd better cooperate. In fact, if you want I can handle all of the details, I'll take care of everything. She offered cheerily.

"I'm not sure Jenna would be up for that." Elena hedged. Caroline in charge of anything was always an ordeal, she was known for being a perfectionist and expecting everyone to jump the moment she gave an order.

"Don't be silly, she wouldn't begrudge you a celebration and I tell ya this town could really use it after everything it's been through."

"What do you mean?" Matt asked.

The girls traded a look. "Oh um, nothing." Caroline smiled weakly. "All the rain… it's been eroding the riverbanks."

Wow, that was a weak recovery, but Elena had to give her props for trying. "Yeah, it's an epidemic." Elena nodded sagely, even as Matt gave them an odd look.

Caroline reached out and touched Elena's hand, her eyes going blank for a moment and Elena recognized that look; she was having a vision.

"Everything okay Caroline?" She asked nervously, wondering if she should pull her aside.

"No, it's fine, really." Caroline smiled after a moment. "Actually, better than fine."

Elena peered at Caroline carefully, unsure why she was smiling like that. "Matt, how about you go see what's keeping the waitress?"

Matt looked between the two girls, a confused look on his face, not quite sure what was going on. Sure, I guess I can do that." He smiled easily though, scooting out of the booth.

As soon as Matt had moved away, Elena leaned forward, her voice dropping conspiratorially. "What's going on, what did you see?"

"You'll see." Carolyn just smiled that infuriatingly smug smile of hers, and refused to say anything else.

*** back from commercial ***

The morning dawned bright and clear on Elena's 18th birthday. Waking to find Damon gone, she frowned to herself at the indentation he'd left on the bed beside her. Of all the days for him to disappear… "Damon?" She called out softly. A brief tap the door answered her call and Damon appeared a moment later, his arms laden with goodies on a wooden tray.

"Oh so you're up?" He grinned, setting the tray down at the end of the bed to come and give her a proper greeting.

Elena sat up, tucking the hair back behind her ears as she surveyed what he'd brought her. "How long have you been up?" She asked, turning her face up to accept the kiss offered.

"Long enough to miss being back in bed with you." He gave her a wolfish grin.

"Well you're the one who left in the first place." Elena grinned back, reaching up to wrap a hand around his neck and tug him close.

Damon willingly went into her embrace, pushing her back against the pillows. For long minutes neither one of them thought about breakfast or anything beyond being in each other's arms.

"So, what's my birthday surprise?" Elena asked at length, reaching for a croissant and smearing it liberally with strawberry jam.

"What makes you think you're getting a surprise?" Damon's brows rose innocently.

"Mmmm, maybe because I know you, and I know that you're incapable of letting the day pass without planning something." She grinned.

"Well maybe I might have something up my sleeve." He allowed, a mischievous grin on his face.

"I can't wait." Elena smiled, her eyes sparkling with anticipation.

Breakfast soon finished, they found themselves on the road in Damon's car. Elena had balked at the idea of wearing a blindfold and they had compromised on the agreement that Elena would close her eyes until Damon said she could open them.

Elena soon found that she was having a hard time keeping herself awake on the road trip, and drifted off to sleep. Her sleeping habits had changed drastically since Damon had started sharing her bed and she had to admit the loss of sleep was definitely worth it. The next thing she knew, Damon was gently shaking her awake. "We're here, Angel."

Opening her eyes, Elena wasn't too surprised to find herself parked in front of Damon's homestead. She was surprised however to find the construction completely finished on the place. Sure the landscaping still needed work, but the house itself had been completed in a remarkably short amount of time. The plantation style mansion sat majestically on the property, reminding her of his roots in that distant century.

"Oh my God, Damon when did you finish this?" She whispered in awe.

"Just a couple of days ago, we got it right down to the wire." He beamed proudly, taking her through the ornate double doors, and into the foyer. "Come on, I'll give you the grand tour."

Damon led her through the house, talking animatedly about the features and design aspects of each room. Elena recognized a lot of the color choices she had suggested, particularly in the master bedroom. Finally he returned to the ground floor, leading her into the kitchen.

"Do you like it?" He asked, bringing her knuckles up to his lips in a light kiss.

"Are you kidding? What's not to like? I love it!" Elena smiled enthusiastically, her fingers running across the smooth granite counter top. The house was beautiful, a perfect blend of old world charm and modern design, just like Damon himself.

"Good, because..." Damon smiled, reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a slim envelope. "I'm giving it to you."

"What?" Elena's mouth fell open in surprise, her heart beating a little faster. "I thought you were building this as your new homestead? Melding together your past and your future, all of that stuff."

"I did."

"Then why are you giving it to me?" She blinked in confusion.

"Because I can't imagine a future without you in it." Damon picked up her hand and pressed the deed into it. "I get that you want to finish high school and probably want to go to college, experience normal human things and I want that for you too. I just want to be a part of your life."

"You are, but you don't have to give me your house to keep me with you." Elena protested.

"That's not why I'm doing it."

"Then why? I love you; I want to be with you, not your house."

Damon smiled at that. "Right back at you, Angel. There are a few reasons why. One… I want to have a place for the two of us without any bad memories." He forestalled her before she could object that they could have that if he owned it. "Two, if it's your house then no vampire can enter without your permission; you never know when that might come in handy. Three… if anything should ever happen to me…"

"Damon, don't…"

"No, hear me out; if something ever did happen to me, I would want this place to go to you, not Stefan. And four, it would just make me happy to think of this as truly our place, so say yes."

Elena stared back into his brilliant blue eyes. It was obvious he'd put a lot of thought into this. How could she say no? "Yes." She smiled, gratified to see his answering smile.

"Good. Because I already have the deed notarized in your name." He grinned, scooping her into his arms for a kiss.

"How did you manage that without me knowing about it?" She pulled back to look at him, but he fixed her with a look that spoke volumes. There wasn't much that Damon couldn't accomplish, she was coming to find.

"About what we talked about before…" Damon sobered.

Elena gave him a blank stare; they talked about a lot of things.

"About the future… there are some things I can never give you…" An unfamiliar twist of pain shadowed his features.

"Damon..." Elena interrupted him, her hand rising up to lay gently against his lips. "I don't know what the future holds or what I might want five, or ten years from now. But I do know that I love you and I want to be with you. That's all that matters, isn't it?"

"No, Elena, it's not all that matters. I want more."

Elena's breath caught at the intensity she saw in his eyes. "What do you mean you want more? That's all I can give you."

"I want to know that in five or ten or fifty years I'll be waking up with you beside me. I want to know that I won't ever be alone again. I don't want to wait for someday any more, I need you here with me now."

A gasp left her lips, was he asking her what she thought he was? "Are you asking me to become a vampire?" That was the only way she could imagine meeting that condition.

"No, I'm asking you to marry me. Right now. I mean hop in the car and drive up to Maryland or fly to Vegas or Mexico or wherever you want to go but I never want to spend another night without you. I want to know that you're really mine."

"I am yours." Elena insisted, overwhelmed by the proposal. Somehow she got the impression that he hadn't been planning on asking her either, or he would have done this with a ring and not the deed to the house.

"So marry me then." He implored her. "We can do the whole white wedding again later if you want, but for now, I just… please… be my wife."

Elena had a vision then of their life together. No more sneaking around, no more darkness; free to travel the world together or stay at home snuggled up in front of the fire. Free to start her life with him anew. "Mrs. Elena Salvatore… I kind of like the sound of that."

Pure joy lit Damon's face and he caught Elena up in his arms and swung her around and around with glee before setting her gently atop the kitchen counter; holding her close. "So, Mrs. Salvatore. Any requests? I can't deny my bride anything on her wedding day." He smiled, fingers sifting through her glossy dark locks.

"Just one." Elena leaned forward, whispering fevered words at his ear, painting a darkly erotic picture for him. "What do you think Mr. Salvatore?" She smiled archly, pulling back to catch his heated expression.

"I think, that we'd better get a limo to drive us to the airport. I'm gonna need my hands free for that." He grinned.

A/N: It's been a great ride guys! I hope to continue at the end of season 2 with where I think the show should go, we'll see you there. In the meantime, I've got the other fic going and I'll be picking up a couple of new ones in October and you can always see what I'm up to on my website (URL can be found on my profile page)

Thanks for the great comments on the Vampire Diaries episode recaps on my website, I'm loving all the great theories!

Last chance…

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