This season is killing me. I have writers block with "The Masquerade" again, and this idea just wouldn't leave me alone so here it is: It's a collection of significant moments between Damon and Elena which I've written mainly because I think we could all use a little bit of healing after 2x08. This is set in the not too distant future... Everything that's happened in the show is canon.

Thanks again to my Beta LovexAndxFate for looking over this for me :) Enjoy!

He's standing by her mirror again; he always comes back here to look at the photos, to look at her life. He likes to see that radiant smile, the one she doesn't seem to wear often enough anymore captured in still motion. It's as his eyes travel their well acquainted path across the mirror that he notices a difference.

There's a new picture pinned delicately amongst the many photographs, settled in the lower right corner next to a photograph of her and Caroline.

It's a picture of him.

He stiffens and blinks once, twice in surprise recognising the setting with ease – Mystic Grill.

He's smiling broadly, a pool cue in hand and he remembers although he can't see it, that it was the first time that Jeremy had genuinely made him laugh. They'd been celebrating his seventeenth birthday, Elena had excused herself to make her social rounds and he realises now that she must have taken it using Jenna's camera. He frowns slightly, alarmed that he'd really been enjoying himself so much that he hadn't noticed her taking it. He sees that she's gone to the trouble of having it printed on glossy paper, notices that she's also had it cropped – expertly so. In fact it almost looks professional and he understands so clearly in that moment that she's done this, she's put him on her wall because he's part of her life. He's become part of her circle; he's one of the people she loves. He's one of the people that she'd do anything for.

There's a small section of her mirror that belongs to him.

There's a small section of her heart that's dedicated to him.

His face deadpans and he knows that it shouldn't mean this much, but it does.

The feeling of warmth that's spreading into his heart is as un-familiar as it is spectacular; it's the feeling of finally having somewhere to belong. He hasn't felt acceptance like it since his mother and he swallows thickly and reaches out to touch it lightly, his hands needing to confirm what his eyes are seeing.

"Damon?" her voice startles him and shakes him from his reverie. He drops his hand immediately, clearing his throat as he tries to blink away the unmistakable moisture that seems to have gathered in his eyes.

"Yeah?" he answers, still not turning to face her hoping to God that his voice doesn't betray him.

"I like that picture of you" she says simply, her voice is soft and gentle and he looks over his shoulder at her, a thousand emotions washing over his face as he basks in the smile she's giving him. He's floored by what she can make him feel with a simple expression; there's a warmth in her eyes, a genuine display of affection towards him that he can't comprehend yet he knows it's the most meaningful thing that she can give him.

He's been rendered speechless as he looks at her with a mixture of awe and confusion and her eyes soften further because no one should be this stunned over a picture.

No one should be shocked by a simple smile.

No one should be unable to comprehend genuine affection being thrown in their direction… no one that's ever been wanted or loved in their lifetime. She doesn't think her sorrow over this fact will ever cease and that's what makes her feet propel her forwards. It's not pity, she knows he doesn't want or need that; it's empathy and maybe the beginnings of love because she understands now what it feels like to be heartbroken.

She stopped hiding and stopped being afraid. She lost her ideals and that "epic" romance that was really no more than a glorified high school crush. She'll never tell him that somehow she remembers, she remembers what he did for her. It had taken months, almost a year but the thoughts had finally become less scattered; the images drawn together and it left her gasping and breathless to realise what that hollow feeling in her chest had been. It was him; it was the realisation that had never really come to fruition because he'd try to compel it away.

She'll never forget it again.

She won't begrudge him her affection – she's moved past that now. She hasn't forgiven him for what he did but she's let go of the past and it's liberating to just accept things as they are. To accept the fact that what she and Damon have, whilst still unidentified, is special. It's different, and most importantly it never went away. They're complicated, and their edges are jagged, they cut each other with their words and actions but there's an attraction that can't be shaken. She's eighteen, nearly nineteen now and she's had time to grow. She's had time to think things through on her own.

She understands him – he realises that as she walks towards him slowly, taking his hand in hers. It's a comforting gesture, one that requires no words and he turns back to the picture. He hates that she always seems to strip him of his defences, hates the way that she gets him with just one word or one look... hates it and relishes it all at the same time because this is what he's been waiting for. It's what he's been searching for.

"I like it too" he says quietly, and she squeezes his hand in response. Her smile widens and she answers him fiercely.

"Good because it's staying"

He thinks that maybe… maybe this is happiness.


He finds his copy of "Call of the Wild" in her bedside draw one evening as he's waiting for her to emerge from the bathroom; they're going for drinks. She's still two years underage but of course that's never an issue when she's with him. They don't label the things they do together – friends, almost lovers, who cares? It's just them having fun and trying to move on with their lives. Katherine officially died one month ago today, and yes it had been him. She'd died at his hand, just as it was meant to be.

It had taken her a little over a year but as resourceful as she was, she'd finally found the opportunity to free herself from the tomb again – she'd had a momentary escape before but Stefan and he had seen to it that she found herself back in her designated prison. She'd snapped Matt's neck in retaliation, gone to his house and compelled him to let her in, dragged him into the clearing and waited for them to come to her before snapping him like a twig. That had been the final straw, it ended up a bloodbath, but at last it had ended.

He still can't get Elena's cries out of his mind; he'll never forget the way she'd clung to Matt's body or the way Caroline had broken down. It took hours to pry them both from his carcass, he'd had to burn them both, Matt and Katherine whilst Stefan drove them both back to the boarding house. She'd crawled into his bed that night and they'd laid there in silence, save for her quiet cries whilst Stefan sat with Caroline downstairs. Although he hated to admit it, he was fairly fond of "Little Vamp" as he liked to call her. It was ridiculous, but against the odds she'd managed to hold her own, to prove time and time again that she was up to this lifestyle, that she could be trusted, counted upon. She'd earned his respect and for that he would accept her. For that he'd look out for her – in his own way.

Elena and Stefan never did get back together; she'd changed too much, they both realised that. She knew who she was and what she wanted, and where she wanted to be… and she realised that although she'd been comfortable before, happy… it wasn't IT.

She steps out of the bathroom freshly changed, still towelling her hair dry and smiles when she sees him lounging on her bed, that is until she notices what he's now holding up between his index finger and thumb.

"I'm not a puzzle Elena, you can't solve me" he says lightly with a teasing smirk.

She blinks once in shock before flushing scarlet, thoroughly embarrassed that he seems to have realised that she'd read it, because he'd once chosen it. It was a small glimpse into his tastes and preferences that both intrigued and excited her - a facet of his personality that she'd yet to discover. She didn't know why but somewhere along the way she'd decided that these things were important, she wanted to know what his favourite colour was, his favourite food. If he liked movies or if he even watched TV for that matter. He titled his head as his smirk grew wider and she dropped the towel.

"I was just curious" she mumbles, walking over to him and snatching the book back before placing it in the draw again.

He raises his eyebrows in surprise.

"Since when did that become yours?" He asks, slightly incredulous as he throws his legs over the side of the bed, making the motion to stand.

"Since one of my pictures went missing" she answers easily, and it's her turn to smile as he moves closer to her, invading her personal space. His face breaks out into a dazzling smile that makes his eyes dance and her heart flutter as he speaks.

"Touché"

It's simple and it's silly but she likes this. She likes how easy it is, how unassuming they can be. She likes that for once she's just taking things as they come.

"If you wanted a picture of me Damon all you had to do was ask" she says lightly, grinning like a fool and he chuckles brushing some stubborn hair from her face before letting his hand cup her cheek and just like that the teasing is gone. His eyes are intense, and her heart is racing a million miles per minute because she just wants to tell him so badly that she knows. That she remembers.

"My favourite colour is blue" he says quietly and her mouth drops open in shock, slightly disturbed by the fact that he'd been able to dissect her actions so easily, that he'd been so quick to understand that what she really wants now is to know him.

"Blue" she repeats breathlessly – it's fitting she decides. He nods once.

"Blue" he confirms easily, thumb tracing the contours of her face before the teasing seeps back into his eyes effectively ending the moment. "Now go finish getting ready, I'm bored as it is" he says affectionately, dropping his hand and pushing her back in the direction of the bathroom slightly.

She picks up the towel and brings it back to her hair, glad that he can't see the ridiculous smile that seems to be painting her features.

She thinks that maybe… maybe things really can be ok again.


"I'll never forgive you if you don't come back and I mean it this time" she whispers eyes burning with the barely suppressed need to physically keep him there. She knows it's a selfish thing to say, she knows that it's not what she's really trying to tell him but it just comes out. It's raw and it's real and for a few wild moments she actually considers asking him to help her with something in the basement; plans to hit him with a vervain dart before locking him up in the cell such is the extent of her need for his safety… but Damon is uncontainable. She knows that he won't rest until he's seen this through. She knows that if they don't try this – Damon, Stefan and Rose. If they don't find a way to really kill Elijah this time and stop Klaus then they'll all die tonight. She knows that this time, the best way she can help him, help them, is to be safe. It's taken some time, and a hell of a lot of mistakes for her to realise this and accept it but she has and it's tearing her apart from the inside.

He stops making his way to the door, taking a few seconds to consider that statement before he turns around slowly, immediately wishing that he hadn't. The expression on her face makes him mute; it pulls at his heart in the most exquisitely breathtaking way.

This is it.

She really is in love with him.

It's enough to melt the remaining ice in his veins and he swallows tightly, his eyes immediately becoming vulnerable and the walls crashing down as he meets the stormy depths of hers. He makes the decision in less than a second.

She knows what's coming before it does, the confidence in his quick, determined strides is evidence enough. She knows and her heart craves it, exploding with an intensity she hadn't known existed until that moment.

His lips capture hers possessively, his arms encircling her body easily and holding it firmly to his chest as he allows himself to get lost in the earth shattering knowledge that somebody loves him and he loves them.

Someone cares about him and someone wants him.

She doesn't realise it but she's given him a home, a purpose greater than himself, greater than revenge and as sweet as redemption. A promise of hope and of happiness, something to fight for and the knowledge that there's someone fighting back for him not because they have to, or because they're obligated to but because they want to. Because they've chosen to.

She loves him.

Elena loves him.

Her eyes are squeezed shut tightly against the rush of emotion that engulfs her, determined to use the precious little time they have left to convey everything that she feels for him. She pours her soul into that kiss, grabs his face with her delicate hands and caresses the smooth skin of his cheeks, as their mouths remain locked together in a passionate exchange. She wants, no, needs to remember it all; the feeling of him - his lips upon hers, his smell, his taste, the strength and security of his embrace, the love pouring out of him unrestrained.

Everything.

And all too soon he's pulling away, moving his hands to cup her face too as he brings his forehead to rest against hers. Their eyes are still closed and their breathing laboured as they savour this one piece of elation as reality sets in, rushing their moment.

He is the first to move, using his left hand to take one of hers from his face and she lets him, reluctant to open her eyes, she doesn't want this to end. She doesn't want goodbye to be real but she can feel his gaze upon her and she's damned because there's no way that she can let him leave without at least seeing him one last time.

As soon as she does she wishes she hadn't.

He's pressing her open palm to his chest, holding it over his heart and looking at her with so much love and tenderness that is literally breaks her. She gasps softly, almost inaudibly as it erupts within her chest, burning a fiery and crippling path throughout her entire body until the very tips of her hands tingle in pain.

Her lips quiver dangerously and her eyes water to the point where his face becomes a shimmering blur and he swallows thickly at her reaction before forcing himself to speak.

"I'm coming back" he utters fiercely, forehead still pressed to hers, hand still pressing hers to his heart, he can feel her fingers shaking beneath his, he watches her bite her lips and hears her sniff in an attempt to hold it together. He nearly drowns in the moment.

"I promise you Elena. I'm coming back" he repeats, steal determination lacing his words. He gives her hand one last squeeze as he watches the first tear make its silent track down her face and decides that it's time to go. He has to otherwise he'll be frozen with her in this moment forever. If he doesn't, and if she asks him to stay one more time, then he will because he can't deny her anything like this. Not when she's standing there so openly breaking before him.

She feels the ghost of his lips on her cheek and she knows before she opens her eyes again that he'll be gone so she doesn't.

She stands there.

They're still closed and the tears are streaming down her cheeks falling unhindered to the floor as she stands rooted to that spot.

Her heart has just walked out of that door and she thinks that if it doesn't come back… if he doesn't come back, she'll never recover.