Final A/N: So I'm legitimately afraid that all or most of you hate me now. Even if you are really mad at me, I hope that you stuck with me through to the end. The last paragraph of the epilogue was my starting point, my entire reason for writing this story to begin with... and also why I struggled a lot over the course of writing it as I realized that everyone was increasingly invested in seeing Bonnie alive again.
I almost chickened out a few times. I asked some (far more talented than I am) writer friends for advice though, and they all made the point that I should write the story that I intended to tell. I feel like this is that story. When you have tragic characters like Bonnie Bennett and Damon Salvatore, I feel like even a happy ending (as I hope you'll agree with me that this is) would be tinged by sadness and loss.
I really hope you liked the story (: Thank you guys so much for sticking with this and for being so awesome. I'm really new to fanfic and fandom in general, and you guys seriously blew me away. Love you guys!
Onto more of my babbling, feel free to skip all this entirely, lol.
Explanation of the dreams (aka, I Have Way Too Much Time On My Hands):
The dreams started out as a way for Damon to explore his regrets, as this was something he wasn't very capable of doing on a conscious level. He was able to relive these pivotal yet sometimes seemingly banal moments between the two of them, and he was able to in his own way try to do things right the second time around, whether that was by being more open with his feelings and apologizing to dream!Bonnie, or by avoiding whatever line of action put her in danger in the first place, etc.
The dreams changing had two components, in my opinion. First, the dreams changed because Damon was changing. As Damon's feelings for Bonnie grew stronger, and as Damon grew more accustomed to acting in ways that were "noble" for lack of a better term, his dreams became more dramatic because his subconscious was reflecting that he had much more to lose when Mason was shoving his fist into Bonnie's chest, or when Bonnie was bleeding out on the floor. So as his character progressed, his perception of those past events changed as well. Not only was there regret there for the mistakes he had made, there was a level of fear for what was lost and what he may have yet had to lose, particularly in terms of his strange relationship with Bonnie.
The second reason that the dreams changed was Bonnie. I wanted to leave it up to reader interpretation as much as possible, since Bonnie's actions in the dreams could have conceivably been caused by the workings of Damon's grief-addled subconscious. But in my mind, (and sort of revealed in the epilogue) Bonnie did have some influence on his dreams, and at the very least she was able to witness them. As their bond (both the blood bond and their emotional bond) strengthened, her power over his dreams changed as well. What began as vague messages could come across with greater clarity. Situations could arise that took him off-guard where she had more control over the arc of the dream than him, such as her first kissing him. Though that was partly his influence too if you ask me.
There was also the eventual addition of the fact that he wanted to save her: at first he was completely helpless and he couldn't at all, basically forced to watch her die over and over, but eventually as he himself changed, he had greater success with it (the dream with Little!Bonnie was the first time he really saved her).
All in all, the dreamscape was Damon's but at the same time it belonged to both of them. It was their space to work out the changes happening in their dynamic without the usual defenses and self-consciousness that comes with living (or "living") in the waking world. I'm hoping that some or any of that came across in the writing, but if not then I hope the dreams were fun to read anyway. LOL