Disclaimer: I don't anything or anyone from the vampire diaries.
I pull off my towel and slip into my underwear and jeans before glancing at the time; I'm running on schedule so far so I take a moment to myself in the middle of this crazy hectic week.
Between preparing for graduation, buying clothes and essentials for our Europe trip and packing, I feel like I haven't really had a lot of time to let this all sink in.
I feel like I've barely seen Elena since prom, she's a popular girl and between Caroline and Bonnie, her Aunt Jenna and her brother, I've literally been fighting for her time.
It's ok though, I didn't get mad when she delayed our plans or cancelled them because she was caught up with something or someone else. I'm going to spend almost three months with her travelling and then the rest of my life.
We have time.
I think back to this time last year, I was alone and bitter and so angry at the world. I didn't think that I'd ever be able to move on from what happened, never mind fall in love. I was alone, in every sense of the word, and I felt so sure at the time that my life would never get any better.
I remember going to a bar in some random town I found myself in looking for Klaus, I can't even remember the name or which state it was in, but I went inside, I bought a drink, I met a girl, and I used her for sex for a place to stay the night and for a way to fill in a gaping hole in my heart.
I realise now how stupid I was.
I look across at my cap and gown that is laid out on my bed with a laugh. I never thought I'd ever make graduation, even before the shooting incident happened, and to think that I'm even going to college, and not just a community one, a real one, is just surreal.
It's all down to one person though.
I swing around surprised to see that I'm not alone and turn to see Elena stood in my doorway, her hands crossed in front of her as she leans against the frame.
"What are you doing here?" I ask surprised. "I thought you were getting dressed with the girls."
"I was…" she walks closer and wraps her arms around my neck, my hands immediately landing on her hips. "I am. But I feel like I haven't seen you in forever and I thought I'd stop by on my way to Caroline's house to say hello." She stands on her tip toes so are lips are almost touching.
"Well I'm glad you did." I whisper with a grin before leaning down and kissing her slowly. "I've missed you."
"Today is going to be a long day." She rests her head against my shoulder, her arms falling from my neck to wrap around my back and immediately pull her tighter against me, my arms wrapping around her waist and I kiss the top of her head, my nose immediately taking in the unique scent of her shampoo.
"I know, but before we know it it'll be over and tomorrow we'll be on a flight to Italy." I smile just thinking about it.
"I can't wait." She sighs wistfully and we just stay silent for a few minutes, basking in this moment alone before things go back to chaos again. "You know what else I can't wait for?" she pulls away and looks at me with a smile, one of her hands coming up to rest on my cheek.
"Hearing your name being called out to collect your diploma." She says with a smirk. "Seeing the look on every single persons face who ever doubted you in this town when you walk across that stage with your head held high." She traces her thumb slowly on my cheek and I gulp slightly as I feel a blush crossing my cheeks.
Damon Salvatore does not blush.
"I am so proud of you." She finishes before kissing me softly and when her phone starts ringing loudly interrupting us, I can't help but feel relieved because I'm still not used to this feeling that Elena gives me when she says things like that to me.
"God, it's Caroline." Elena groans and pulls out her phone from her jeans pocket. "Hello?" she rolls her eyes slightly and I can hear snippets of Caroline's loud wailing voice through the phone and she does not sound happy. "I know I'm late Care, I'll be 5 minutes ok…No, I'm not at Damon's…" she smiles at me and I let out a small silent laugh before closing the small distance between us and kissing her on the cheek, mouthing the word 'go' to her with a smile.
Elena attempts to smooth things over with Caroline and runs her hand down my arm before waving me goodbye and leaving the room and I shake my head with a smile before turning back to face the dark red cap and gown on my bed.
I've made it.
I turn around and force a smile when I see my Uncle John walking towards me. I feel hot and stuffy in my gown and I take the cap off my head as he gets closer.
Graduation went by smoothly, and Caroline was right, I got the feeling that it was a right of passage as I walked up onto that stage to collect my diploma, Jenna and Jeremy sat in the audience with proud smiles on their faces as they clap and cheer.
I noticed John was there too, and for once, it didn't make me feel mad.
"Hi. You're back." I state simply.
"I wouldn't miss your graduation." He smiles softly at me. "Well done, Elena, I'm proud of you." He sounds sincere. "And I know that your parents would be too."
I smile sadly at his words. "Thank you." I say and meaning it.
"So…I hear you're going to have an interesting summer…" he begins with a skeptic look on his face.
"Please don't start Uncle John..." I sigh exhausted, it was going so well/
"No, no." he immediately holds up his hands in defence. "I'm not going to say anything, just that you look after yourself and you be careful."
I feel my eyes widen in surprise for a second before composing myself and nodding my head. "Of course, and Damon will take care of me." I tell him seriously, knowing that he will probably never be my boyfriend's number one fan.
"No you know what, I may never understand what you see in him, but one thing is clear, he does love you." He admits with a forced smile. "I see that now, and I trust him to look after you."
I turn around to see Isobel walking towards me with a smile on her face but the second she notices John over my shoulder it slowly fades.
"Isobel." John speaks first, breaking the awkward silence that has surrounded us and I do my best to not think about this situation right now.
It's too weird.
"John." Isobel nods at him somewhat politely and I cough awkwardly.
"I'll leave you both too it," John speaks up and squeezes my arm. "I'll see you before you go?"
"Sure." I nod my head, knowing that since Jenna is in a good mood she has probably invited him over to the house tonight for our little farewell party.
"So, you've finally graduated, huh? How are you feeling?" Isobel smiles at me and I shrug with a small smile.
"Weird." I admit as I lift up my arms, one of them holding the diploma in my hand. "Despite wearing this ridiculous gown, it still doesn't feel real."
"I can imagine." She smiles softly at me. "So, tomorrow huh?"
"Yep." I can feel the smile on my face widen. "Tomorrow."
"Send me a postcard?"
"I will." I tell her sincerely. "I'll send you a few."
"Thank you." She smiles and I swear I can see tears in her eyes but she hides it quickly. "Anyway, I better leave you too it, your family at calling for you."
I turn around to where Jenna, Alaric and Jeremy are stood a few feet away, Jenna's camera in her hand as she waves me over for what I know will be a dozen cheesy photos.
I think about inviting Isobel over to my house tonight but I think better of it if John is coming, besides, I still don't want to rush into things just yet and I already told her we could meet up just the two of us once I get back from Europe and before I move to New York.
"I'll see you…in a couple of months then?" I look back at her with a genuine smile and she nods her head, I'm about to walk away but before I get the chance her arms are wrapped around me in a hug.
I'm shocked a first, and a little unnerved by the gesture but slowly I feel my arms wrap around her slowly to return the hug.
She pulls away after a few moments and this time I definitely see the tears in her eyes before she can hide them.
"See you soon Elena." She says with a shaky voice before turning around and walking around.
I watch her go frozen and jump slightly when I feel a hand on my back.
My entire body relaxes when I realise it's Damon.
"I am now." I turn around to face him with a smile. "You want to come get in cheesy photos with my Aunt Jenna?"
He rolls his eyes with a smile, Jenna now calling his name out too to come over. "Let's get this over with then." He sighs loudly but I can see the amusement in his eyes.
"You taking a breather?"
I turn around to see Stefan step out into the front porch.
"It's pretty crowded in there; don't think I could stand Caroline's wailing for a moment longer." I smirk at him a little, gesturing back to the emotional messes that are inside. After too many bottles of champagne, the girls turned on the waterworks when they realised how much their life was about to change.
"She's just going to miss her best friend." Stefan shrugs while stuffing his hands into his dress suit pockets. I shrug and loosen my dark blue tie a little. "We all will."
I glance at him from the corner of my eye as he stares out into the street, his hands pressed against the wooden railings of the porch as he stands beside me.
"Sometimes I forget," I break the silence as I look up at the bright stars above us. "That you loved her." I finish.
Stefan shrugs slightly. "She's a loveable girl."
"She really is." I confirm with a small smile. "But I never apologised."
Stefan shakes his head. "Damon…"
"No I'm serious, brother; I was an ass to you about certain things…especially when it came to Elena. She was your girlfriend and…well…I was inappropriate and I never thought to take your feelings into consideration, I realise that now and I'm sorry."
"You don't need to apologise to me, Damon." Stefan replies with a sigh. "We both acted like assholes, besides, it's obvious now that I'm not the Salvatore Elena is supposed to be with."
We fall into a small silence and it's comfortable and I appreciate it.
"I'm glad that she found you." Stefan speaks up again and I turn around this time to face him. "I really mean that."
"Thank you." I smile slowly at him. "That means a lot, to hear you say that."
"Well, it's the truth. I know that we've had our ups and downs, mostly downs, and not just to do with Elena, but…despite their slight overreaction inside because hey, it's not the end of the world, things are going to change in our lives and for you it starts tomorrow the second you and Elena get on that plane." He looks away for a second and I wait silently for him to continue. "But uh…I just…you're my brother and I love you, and no matter what happens, I just want you to be happy."
I stand frozen, unsure how to reply because Stefan and I have never really had a conversation like this before, not as genuine either.
"I want you to be happy too, little brother." I clear my throat slightly. "And I love you too, even when you are being a whiney idiot." I smile at him and he lets out a laugh and shakes his head before wrapping his arms around me in a hug, we pat each other on the back before pulling away and Stefan coughs awkwardly as we leave a massive gap between us.
"You ever need any tips to get girls in California, give me a call." I wink at him and he grins.
"I don't need tips from you, brother."
"Why? Big football star hitting Stanford doesn't make you any cooler when it comes to the ladies, Stef." I tease him jokingly.
"Yeah, yeah." Stefan waves me off. "You're out of practise. You've lost your game!"
"I don't need my game." I smirk. "I have Elena."
"You do." Stefan agrees with a smile and I watch slowly as it fades. "Hey uh…this came for you today." He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a letter and hands it to me. "It's from Dad."
"Oh." I look down at it awkwardly.
Giuseppe is still in Chicago taking care of the family business, we haven't seen him since we left to come back to Mystic Falls and he couldn't even make it back for one day for our graduation.
Or to see me before I disappear for three months.
"I'll let you read it." Stefan pats me on the back before wondering off back inside.
I sigh and slowly unfold the letter before reading it.
Who would have thought you'd finally make graduation? I'm not going to lie to you son, I certainly didn't.
But I'm glad you did.
Ever since you were a boy you caused me stress, you were always too smart for your own good and I never knew how to handle you, and I don't mean this in the bad way that I know that you will immediately think of from me. You're a good kid, Damon, despite everything that has happened, despite all the terrible things that you have seen in your life, from me and other people.
I wanted to write you and Stefan a letter to apologise for not being there today, but with you, I feel like I need to apologise for not being there for more than today. I know that we'll never be the best of friends, but I want you to know that I am proud of you son.
You have grown up so much in the last year, and sometimes I wonder if you are even the same person. I don't know if it has to do with Elena Gilbert or if you just finally gave your head a shake and got over yourself, but either way, I am glad.
Your mother will be so proud of you, and I'm sure that she is watching over you right now.
I am sorry for everything you had to see that day, you were just a boy and I should never have blamed you.
But the past is the past, and we need to move on. You're about to embark on a journey and who knows when the next time we will see each other will be.
So enjoy yourself, and take care of yourself.
I gulp slightly as I hold the letter with shaky hands, trying to fight the tears from springing in my eyes, because coming from Giuseppe, this letter is a lot.
He's never apologised to me for what happened with my Mom, for what I saw, for finding her when she died. He never apologised for blaming me.
And now he has. Even if it is in the form of a letter, he has finally apologised.
I turn around, my eyes wet and I immediately feel embarrassed when I see Caroline stood by the door.
"You ok?" she asks concerned and I nod my head and wipe my eyes.
"Of course Goldilocks." I scoff and roll my eyes slightly before clearing my throat. "This porch is taken so move along and find your own…"
She smiles slightly and nods her head before walking back inside, but not even 10 seconds later the door is opening again and Elena steps out.
"Hey," she looks at me concerned. "Caroline said I should come out here."
I sigh and let out a small laugh. "I'm fine."
"No you're not." She closes the gap between us and wraps her arms around me and I immediately feel better. "Talk to me."
"Stefan gave me this," I hold the letter out between us and Elena looks down at it confused. "It's from Giuseppe."
"Oh." She looks back up at me and I motion for her to take it. "Damon…"
"Read it, please." I practically beg her because I know I won't be able to talk to her about it just went but I want her to know, I want her to understand.
"Ok." She takes my hand and pulls me over to the porch swing and pushes me down into it, instead of sitting next to me though she sits on my lap, her legs resting on the rest of the swing as she sits on me sideways and wraps one of her arms around my neck before unfolding the letter.
I watch her eyes with my eyes as she reads the letter, and when she's done she neatly folds it back up and places it on the wood beside us and leans forward and kisses me slowly on the lips.
"I love you." She places her hand on my cheek. "So much, and I will always love you, Damon."
"I love you too, Elena. Always." I smile and peck her nose quickly watching as she squirms slightly, scrunching it up cutely with a giggle. "This time tomorrow…" I trail while my hand runs up and down her arm as she shivers, despite the humid summer night.
"We'll be in Italy." She finishes for me with a smile.
We sit in silence for a while, stealing kisses and sneaking touches as we sit curled up together on the porch swing, swaying slowly backwards and forth, watching the bright stars that illuminate the small town that is Mystic Falls.
Everything seems so calm and content, and I like it, because despite my excitement about what tomorrow will bring in the next chapter of our lives, it's nice to just take this time out of my life, with Elena snuggled up in my arms, and just breathe and take in the moment, especially after the chaotic and emotional day that we have had.
Elena traces her fingers up and down my arm slowly and I smile and kiss her temple, watching as she smiles and sighs wistfully, her head leaning back into my chest as she nuzzles her face closer into me, her hand playing with the buttons on my shirt.
"Hey Lena." I murmur quietly into her ear, my lips tracing her skin and I smile as she shudders against me.
"Mhm?" she asks while closing her eyes, a small but happy smile on her face.
"One day I'm going to marry you."
I know it.
Wow! I need to take a breather here! I can't believe it's finished. I've never enjoyed writing a story as much as I have enjoyed writing this one, and I am so happy to have so many dedicated readers who came along with me for the ride!
When I first started this, I never ever thought it would reach 20 chapters never mind 47! In my head when I started, I always had this ending that after Damon found out it was Kol who killed Katherine, he would move on with his life with Elena and be happy, but I just couldn't end it then, I needed to keep it going and I felt that I needed to add more to Elena's story, because she is a character that I was surprised to find out was so enjoyable to write!
Thank you all so so much!
I have decided that I am going to go ahead with the sequel idea, except it won't be a complete continuation, instead it will be a load of one shots flashing into random points of Damon and Elena's life. They won't be in chronological order, and some of them will probably not even be important, but I've already made a start to it and am enjoying writing their future lives together.
So please look out for it! I will be posting it sometime this week, and it will be called:
Feel This Moment