All right, this is it – the last chapter! I have never written something longer than 5 pages before (must be the power of Delena) and I can't believe how much fun this has been! I'm sure I could have done so much more with this, but I wanted to be certain that I would be able to complete it. Thank you so much for all your support! Your reviews are absolutely amazing and every single one of them puts a huge smile on my face. I hope that this last chapter doesn't disappoint… I hope to see all of you again the next time I write something - even though that is probably not going to be anytime soon, because I have to get back to studying for university. With that said, enjoy!

Chasing memories

Btw, that means by the way

Punctually at 9am, Caroline stood on Elena's porch, ready to drive her friend over to the Boarding House. An overjoyed Elena had called her the day before to share the news about the end of her amnesia. Caroline immediately proposed to throw a huge party to celebrate her complete recovery, but Elena had stopped her, saying that she needed to talk to Stefan first. She had then asked if Caroline could accompany her as she felt uncomfortable facing the bloodthirsty vampire on her own.

Caroline still couldn't believe that Stefan was drinking human blood again – she had heard all of the horror stories about the last time Stefan hadn't been able to control himself. Then again, she herself had given up Stefan's diet after noticing that the animal blood was flavorless and boring compared to the human stuff, even if it came out of Damon's blood bags. And there was this small problem she had with killing cute defenseless animals.

As soon as Elena had closed the front door behind her, she greeted her friend with a strong hug:

"Hi Caroline. Thank you for coming."

Caroline returned the embrace, glad to have the old Elena back in her life. The two girls made their way over to the car and Caroline asked, hoping Elena could finally enlighten her:

"So, do you remember why you ended up in the hospital?"

Elena nodded, her face showing both a touch of pain and shame:

"I was mad at Katherine and Stefan and…I kind of attacked her. Katherine threw me down the stairs and I hurt my head and my back. That's why I lost my memory."

Caroline seemed speechless for a moment and only when she was sitting behind the wheel, did she manage to ask:

"What did Stefan do?"

Elena's voice was full of bitterness and frustration:

"He was planning on leaving with Katherine, or me for her. Whatever."

Caroline almost drove the car of the road the moment her brain registered Elena's words. There was no one Caroline hated more than Katherine, who had been the one to turn her into a vampire. Additionally Katherine had abused her as her spy by threatening to kill Matt. Caroline was unable to understand why her good friend Stefan would even as much as be nice to Katherine.

Despite all the questions cumulating up inside of her, Caroline saw how much it was hurting Elena to talk about the events before the accident. So, she didn't insist any further and remarked:

"By the way, Damon called me this morning. He told me that if I didn't bring you back home in one piece, I'm as good as dead. He said he was unable to be there himself. I think, he mumbled something about having to organize a date…Whoever the poor girl is, my heart goes out to her."

Caroline made a dramatic pause to get her point across, before continuing:

"Anyway, I just thought you should know that you better not do anything to irritate Stefan."

Elena snorted in response, wondering how she should breakup with human-blood-drugged Stefan without irritating him. She decided on not telling Caroline about her plans, out of fear the blonde vampire would turn the car around. So, she changed the subject by talking about school, which would pick up again in one week.

Five minutes later, the two girls arrived at the Boarding House and made their way inside. Caroline perked up her ears and informed Elena:

"He's in the cellar. Probably getting something to drink."

Elena sighed dejectedly and slowly descended the stairs into the cold and musty rooms lying under the mansion. Caroline followed close behind her and they found Stefan sitting on the stone floor, leaning against the brick wall. He was staring at the fridge filled with blood bags standing at the opposite side of the room, his face mirroring the battle going on inside of him. He was so lost in his thoughts that he only noticed the two girls as they entered the room. He immediately jumped up and greeted Elena warily:

"Hey! Is everything all right?"

Elena swallowed hard before explaining:

"I came here to talk to you. Can we go upstairs?"

Stefan knitted his brows, knowing from the sound of Elena's heavy voice that she had bad news for him. He merely nodded in response and trotted after the two girls into the much friendlier living room. The human blood running through his veins clouded his senses, but his mind was clear enough to understand why his girlfriend wasn't alone. Caroline was here to protect her. To protect her from him. It took him a great effort to stay calm.

Elena went into the parlor and sat down on the couch, while Caroline approached the book shelves, pretending to be captivated by a worn out copy of Gone with the wind. Stefan seated himself on an armchair standing in one of the corners and asked:

"How have you been?"

"I'm okay. You?"

Stefan shrugged his shoulders, leaving Elena's question unanswered. Instead, he whispered:

"I've missed you."

Elena cast her eyes down, the whole situation completely overstraining her. Despite what Stefan had done to her in the past, she didn't want to hurt him. She didn't want them to go their separate ways hating each other. In the end, Elena decided she had no choice but to go like a bull at a gate:

"Stefan…I remember. Everything."

If this news shocked or surprised Stefan in any form, then his face certainly didn't give anything away. It was merely the impatient tapping of his feet, which showed a change in his attitude. He cleared his throat and asked:

"You know what happened?"

Elena barely nodded in affirmation, but it seemed enough to confirm Stefan's deepest fears. He covered his face with his hands and a strangled growl came out of his mouth. After a minute of silence, he slowly lifted himself up and approached the sofa. Elena noticed out of the corner of her eyes that Caroline had lost every interest in the book and was now coming closer as well. However, the blonde vampire stopped herself from interfering when she saw that Stefan merely dropped to his knees in front of Elena, holding her hands in his.

Elena's mind immediately wandered back to a similar scene having happened only a few days ago in this same place – she had been sitting on the couch with Damon on his knees before her, asking her if she would wear the ring filled with vervain. With shame and guilt, Elena realized once more how history was repeating itself. Seeing the parallels between Katherine and her, pained Elena more than she wanted to admit. Who was she to judge Stefan?

"What I did, Elena, is unforgivable. Katherine…she got to me. The days before Klaus' arrival, I was so scared. Scared of dying, scared of losing you. When Katherine offered me the deal, I saw a way for you and me to get through this, to survive."

"I know…I just whish you would have told me. Stefan, I wanted to talk to you. I came to the Boarding House practically every day just to see you, but you were never here. And then, when we did see each other again, you lied to me. You lied to my face."

Stefan meekly explained:

"I didn't think you'd understand, Elena. I mean, I was going to leave with Katherine. You hate her."

Elena drew in a sharp breath at his words and whispered:

"There was a time, when you hated her too."

"How can I hate her when she was the one, who saved both of us?"

Stefan was clearly frustrated with Elena's inability to understand him and he got up from the floor, letting her hands go. Lifting his arms helplessly into the air, he lamented:

"What she did to you, was awful. You were never supposed to get hurt. But Damon is the one who is to blame here – he had no right to tell you that I was leaving with Katherine. None of this would have happened, if he had for once kept his mouth shut. Your ignorance was for your protection."

"I would have found out about it anyway. I would have been able to draw the right conclusions, the moment you and Katherine are suddenly both gone. Don't blame this on your brother, Stefan."

Elena slowly felt the anger rising up in her again. No matter how hard she tried to see the good in Stefan, it just wasn't working. Giving it one last try, she wondered:

"How long have you been drinking human blood again?"

Stefan immediately tensed up and answered clearly defensive:

"The human blood has nothing to do with my decisions."

He didn't tell Elena that he had in fact changed his diet the day, he had confronted Damon about his visit to the hospital. He had realized then that he would never be able to keep his brother away from his girlfriend if he continued to drink the animal blood. Just like last time, he was struggling with control, but Stefan blamed that more on the bad luck he was having lately than on the human blood. First his brother, who had apparently remembered his promise to Stefan of 'turning his life into an eternity of misery'. Then Katherine, who had been unable to understand that he couldn't hold his end of the bargain, not when Elena was suffering from amnesia.

The younger Salvatore brother continued, as if he wanted to convince himself more than Elena:

"We can work this out. It's just going to take some time. What we had, it can't just be gone. We're fine."

Elena knew it was time to tell the desperate man before her, what she had come for. She was breaking both of their hearts, when she said:

"I'm sorry, Stefan. I can't, not this time."

It took Stefan a considerable amount of time before he asked, his voice hollow:

"You're breaking up with me?"

"This is not right anymore, Stefan. I can't trust you–"

"Don't!"

Stefan's loud and threatening interruption of Elena made even Caroline jump a few feet backwards. The younger Salvatore brother started to pace across the living room, desperately trying to calm himself. Elena didn't dare to make one move and only silently observed Stefan burning a hole into the floor. Suddenly Stefan was right in front of her again and pleaded:

"Elena, when did you stop believing in us? We are supposed to be together, always."

By now Elena couldn't hold back the tears anymore and she truthfully denied:

"Maybe were not. Maybe we're supposed to be friends, hopefully best friends one day. We never had a chance to try that."

"What I feel for you, Elena, is love. Not friendship. How can you expect me to…"

Resignation and pain marked Stefan's eyes, when he slowly realized that he wouldn't be able to change Elena's mind. He had lost her. Not just for a week or a month. He had lost her for good. He felt the hunger and the endless anger boiling up in him once more. As soon as the thought of the beautiful vein pulsing under the skin of Elena's neck crossed his mind, he whispered:

"Get out. Both of you. Now!"

Caroline was the one who registered first that Stefan was about to lose control. She blurred over to her friend, snatched her from the canapé and speeded out of the house. She ignored Elena's small shriek of surprise and quickly dropped her onto the passenger seat. As soon as Caroline had put some distance between them and the Boarding House, she said:

"So much about not irritating him…"

Elena felt like she had done enough apologizing for the day and only nodded ruefully. She knew that her conversation had been bound to end badly from the start, but it still pained her that the last thing she had seen was the hunger and hatred on Stefan's face. There had been a time where she thought that Klaus had died without claiming any victims. Elena now realized that it had destroyed Stefan and her. But at the same time it had allowed the start of something new. Her heart warmed at the thought of Damon and an unconscious smile appeared on her face.

"You're seriously smiling? Maybe I didn't get the joke, but what the hell is so funny about what just happened?"

Elena hastily wiped the smile off of her face:

"Nothing, Caroline, nothing."

Caroline seemed to contemplate this for a moment, before she blurted out:

"There's a new guy, isn't there?"

This took Elena completely of guard and she only managed to stutter:

"I…it's really too early to…"

Caroline gave her smug smile and while she was bringing the car to a stop in front of Elena's house, she stated:

"Let me guess, the poor girl who's going on a date with Damon tonight, is the person sitting right next to me."

Elena cursed her cheeks for instantly giving her away by turning crimson red. While she had been lying in bed the night before, she had contemplated how everyone would react to Damon and her being in a relationship. She had decided that Jenna would probably suffer from an outburst of fury, Jeremy would make some smartass-comment, Bonnie would cancel their friendship and Stefan would hate her more than death itself. She had not really been sure what Caroline's reaction would be. However, her friend did not disappoint her:

"It's okay, you know. I've always thought that you needed some adventure and excitement in your life…I mean the good kind, not the deathly and gloomy kind. Damon can give you that."

Elena felt relief wash over her at Caroline's words, immensely happy about the support. She whispered:

"What am I going to do about Stefan, though? I'm scared he's going to fly out the handle because of the human blood and the breakup. He can't find out about Damon and me, not yet."

Oppressive silence fell over the car, until Caroline announced:

"I'm going to take him out of the town for a week or two. The change of scenery is going to do him good. Maybe I'll be able to help him with his anger…after all he was the one, who was there for me, when I first turned. He's the reason why I'm still, well, undead. I owe him this."

"You would really do that?"

"Yes, in fact I should probably get him away from Mystic Falls as soon as possible. Before he does something stupid. We've got another week of vacation, so nobody will be missing me at school. And Matt can handle me being MIA for some time. I always wanted to go to New York. Or LA. Or Vegas. Then again, hitting the big city is maybe not such a good idea in his condition. Don't worry, I'll figure something out."

When Elena realized that Caroline meant what she said, she hugged her friend fiercely. An immense weight was being lifted off of her shoulders and she was unbelievably thankful for Caroline's idea. She whispered:

"Thank you so much. I know that, deep down, he's still a good man, but he's really lost at the moment."

The two girls parted soon after that, but not before Caroline made Elena promise to spill every single detail about her date.

Elena spent the rest of the day with Jenna, having a much needed long talk with her. In the evening, she got ready for her date with Damon, standing in front of the closet for more than an hour. Damon hadn't given her any details about where they would go and Elena was completely unsure on what to wear. After leaving a trail of outfits scattered all over the floor, she picked a skinny jeans and a violet colored top. Damon didn't strike her as the fancy-restaurant-type anyway. Additionally, she was downright nervous and couldn't help but be scared that Damon had maybe changed his mind about them. Due to her sweaty palms even putting on make-up became a difficult task.

Her heart stopped for a beat or two, the moment she heard Damon's blue cameo pull up in front of the house. Elena observed the tall, dark and handsome vampire through the window as he strolled towards the porch. He suddenly lifted his head, locking his blue eyes with hers. Within seconds Damon was sitting on the roof right outside of Elena's window, a perfect smirk illuminating his face. Elena snickered and holding the window close, she said, knowing that Damon could hear her:

"Be a gentleman and come through the front door."

Damon tilted his head to the side and answered:

"You want to risk Jenna getting a heart attack?"

"You're just going to have to convince her of your good intentions."

Showing Elena his fangs, Damon smugly replied:

"Who said my intentions towards you are good?"

Elena gave him a fake pout:

"Go through the front door or forget the date. Your choice."

Damon seemed to be rather amused by Elena's stubborn attitude and in one quick movement, he forced the window open. He jumped into the room and grabbed Elena's waist with both hands:

"You shouldn't threaten a vampire, you know. They don't take being stood up very well."

Then he suddenly turned serious and kissing her forehead gently, he inquired:

"How did it go?"

Elena immediately knew he was referring to the breakup and burying her head in his chest, she whispered:

"As bad as expected."

"That's what Caroline said too. She left with him this afternoon by the way."

"Good, he needs a friend right now. I just hope he's going to make it through this."

Damon wanted to reassure her, but the lie got stuck in his throat. They were both very much aware of the fact that Stefan had a lot of demons he needed to face and that losing Elena was not helping him. However, this was not the only problem bothering Elena:

"Damon, what about Katherine? Or Isobel and John? I mean, it's not like those problems are just suddenly gone."

"No, probably not. But we'll face them when the time comes. For now, the evil trio has left Mystic Falls and we don't have to worry about them until they return."

Elena could help but let a bitter laugh escape her lips:

"John is going to hate this."

"You mean us being together?"

Elena nodded and tightened her hold around his body. Damon carelessly remarked:

"Well, I can always finish what Katherine started. I'll be sure to cut his fingers and his head off."

This statement earned Damon a hard slap on the arm and Elena stepped away from him. She grabbed her purse and said, even though she had a hard time keeping her face serious:

"Let's go…before I change my mind."

Damon snickered and before Elena knew what was happening, his lips were on hers. This kiss was different from the first one they had shared on the porch. With the first kiss, they had both acknowledged their feelings for each other. This time they wanted to explore each other and revel in the feeling of completion. Elena's out-of-control heartbeat became like music in Damon's ears, only disrupted by the sounds of pleasure and love emanating from both of them.

After he had turned Elena's make-up and perfectly straitened hair into a mess, Damon said:

"Okay, then. Let's leave the past behind us and let's go make new memories."

Seconds later, they were seated in his car and driving out of Mystic Falls. As soon as her heart rate allowed her to speak again, Elena asked:

"So, where are you taking me?"

Damon took Elena's hand and replied, the arrogant half-smile back on his face:

"That's for me to know and for you to dot, dot, dot."