"I can't do this anymore Elena." Stefan said softly yet resolutely. Even in his pain he managed to hold an expression of love and respect for her. She felt her heart flutter at that realisation as she tried to think about what she was going to say in response. Part of her urged her to stop where this conversation had led them, to say something that would rewind it. She sighed and opened her mouth unsure of what words would leak out. He looked at her expectantly.
"I know." She said. Strange that those words felt right and even though that little voice inside of her was disappointed that she wasn't trying to backtrack the conversation, somehow that part of her knew that she had spoken earnestly. Stefan nodded slowly. It was strange to be breaking up but feel so calm about it. It felt sad but right. This was the kind of ending she had wanted with Matt, but she hadn't had the ability to separate herself from her raw emotions back then and Matt certainly hadn't been able too. Still, they had all aged like 10 maturity years in the past year with what they had all been through.
Elena looked down at her clasped hands, at her new daylight ring. It seemed extra shiny at the moment. Perhaps the dip in the river had done it some good. It hadn't exactly been the prettiest of rings and like Caroline she had been a little disappointed that she couldn't pick the ring she was going to have to wear for the rest of her existence, still now all she could think of when she looked down at it was that Damon had recovered it and saved her with it. Perhaps it wasn't so bad to have to wear it as a reminder of that moment. He had saved her again, but this time it had been different. This time she had realised how much she had wanted him to save her and he did.
Stefan bowed his head. "I'm going to head home, we've all got a lot to think over." He turned to look at her again, almost asking her permission to leave or perhaps giving her one last chance to tell him not to go. She nodded, smiling gently. They both stood up together and turned to each other expectantly. She moved into his arms and they held each other warmly. She breathed in his scent and tried to hold it in, memorizing it. She wasn't sure what was going to happen now. They broke apart and she saw the tears in his eyes. He held his composure well as he nodded at her one last time and headed down the stairs towards his car. They didn't speak. Elena remained on the porch watching him leave in his car, perhaps for the last time. She sat back down in her previous spot on the porch and drew in a deep breath. She felt free.
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"Don't shoot!" Damon held up his hands in mock defence as Stefan entered the boarding house. He smirked hoping that he could lighten the mood. He knew Stefan would be pissed that he had told Elena everything, but he hadn't had a choice. He could see how hurt Elena had been. It would have been the end for their relationship if he hadn't told her exactly why Stefan had been deceiving her, deceiving them all. The way she had held his hand, gazed into his eyes, spoken his name… He had been mesmerized by her. He had felt himself want to lean in and kiss her, take what he had always wanted. For the first time it would have been at her invitation and he had almost lost control and given himself to her, but he had been able to pull back just in time to stop that disaster. He had had to fix this and yet again think of his brothers' feelings.
Stefan stood staring at him expressionless from the hall. Damon snapped back to the situation at hand. Stefan continued to stare at him.
"Everything ok?" Damon frowned. Stefan took his jacket off and placed it on the coat hook. Damon stood awaiting a response from him. Stefan cast him a blank look and left the room. Damon gave out a small laugh of surprise and confusion before shouting after him. "Ok, you can shoot me if you want if it'll make you feel better." He still got no response from Stefan so he sat down a little gobsmacked. Surely Stefan couldn't be that mad, he must understand why Damon had told her. It was for his benefit for god sake!
Stefan didn't breathe until he reached his bedroom and closed the door. He knew he was acting childishly but he had no idea how to deal with Damon right now. He felt so conflicted he wasn't sure what to do with himself. He began pacing the room, adrenaline pumping through his body aching for an outlet. He tried sitting down in his chair and writing his feelings down but when he tried to form a coherent thought he couldn't stop picturing Elena's face and how relaxed she had been when he had said that he couldn't be in the middle of this love triangle anymore. She hadn't looked upset, unsure or even argued with him about it. She had seemed sure that he was doing the right thing and that hurt. It hurt more than he would ever be able to put into words and write down. The urge to turn it off came upon him with such force that he considered it. He took a deep breath, becoming aware that he had snapped the pen he had placed on the page of his journal. He laid the pen down and stared at it. How had they gotten here?
He knew that a lot of this was his fault, he had tried to kill her, tortured her, bit her when he had been under Klaus's control and even afterwards when he was no longer a minion, he had had to look after his own interests and they came first. Turning it back on had led him back to her, but everything that he had done had changed her. She and Damon had always had something that he couldn't put his finger on or explain. The way they looked at each other sometimes as though they could read each others' minds had made him wild with jealousy and envy. When he had turned it back on and they had begun to try to rebuild their relationship, he had known then that she had changed. Damon had changed too. Had Elena simply been working very hard to bring back the feelings of love she had had for him, rather than feeling them again? God he really thought that her becoming a vampire would help her understand him better. Now that she had firsthand experience of what blood could do to your mind, how the thirst could control your actions and decisions, he had hoped she would be able to forgive some of his transgressions. Instead, she had gone to Damon. She had understood his transgressions and she seemed to have forgiven him, but she couldn't let everything that Stefan had done go. How was that fair?
Now she had basically told him that she wanted Damon, that their time had passed with the human Elena. As a vampire she wanted Damon. He had known this was going to happen but he had hoped that if they could make her human again she may return to the girl he had known or at the very least she would be able to evaluate properly without the attraction of the blood and all the ways that Damon could help guide her. Even though she knew that this was all a possibility, she had still effectively drawn a line in the sand over the relationship. Perhaps she thought that even as a human she would still feel the same as she felt right now. Perhaps she would still not want to be with him. He badly wanted to believe that perhaps he might have another chance if they could cure her, but then Damon had made it clear to him that he loved her either way and if they became a couple now, he wouldn't want to let her go no matter how much she would change if she became human again. Damon had waited a long time to be with her and he would pull out the stops to keep her. Stefan growled under his breath in jealousy and hate. He wasn't sure whether Damon deserved to be hated or whether the hate he was feeling was self loathing, all he knew was that he was angry and he didn't know what to do about it. It was dangerous for him to feel this way, he had to calm down. Hunting would help. He got up from his desk and moved to the door, when he realised that he didn't trust himself not to hurt Damon if he had to see him on the way out, so he turned and opened the window to leave that way. He would deal with Damon later when he had calmed down.