Series: The Vampire Diaries (television series verse)
Word Count: 663
Characters, Pairings: Damon/Elena, past Stefan/Elena
Summary: Sometimes, love means letting go (and sometimes it doesn’t).
Warnings: Spoilers if you haven’t seen up to 3x09, some angst, sap, a bit of domesticity.
Notes: This was a prompt requested by angelus2hot at the TVD comment ficathon here. Prompt was: Damon/Elena, I will not cry for the love I lost but rejoice in the love I found in you.
Sometimes, love means letting go. Sometimes, it means holding on with all you’ve got.
It takes her weeks to come to terms with what ‘letting go’ really means. It takes her longer still to figure out that letting go of a person doesn’t mean that you stop loving them. What it really means is that you love yourself enough to not dwell on what could have been, and you instead cherish the memories of what once was.
It’s harder for Damon, who’s spent decades upon decades following his brother—he’s spent years that she doesn’t have, and no matter how much anger she sees in those ice-blue eyes of his, she knows that he hasn’t stopped loving Stefan, either.
She finds strength where he would declare there is weakness, and they walk this broken, bloody path side-by-side, shoulders touching. She’s learned that it isn’t always about the place that you ultimately arrive; sometimes it’s about all the places you visit in the middle.
She’s learned that just because they agreed to let him go doesn’t mean that they agreed to stop missing him. There are times when the Boarding House seems far too large for the two of them, and so she invites him over to her house instead, which is no less empty (for there are missing faces there too) but isn’t nearly as large, which means that there are less empty spaces to have to worry about filling.
She thinks of the empty place in her heart (and in Damon’s) where Stefan used to be, and doesn’t think that it will ever go away—doesn’t think that either of them truly wants it to.
She’s learned to be eternally grateful for what she has, because there are mornings when she doesn’t know what she would do if Damon wasn’t there with his trademark smirk and his horrible flirtations (which are in actuality much less horrible than she used to be willing to admit). She’s learned that his presence now puts her at ease to the same degree that it used to make her uncomfortable, and that’s saying a lot.
She has learned that, even though she doesn’t particularly care for her on any level, her vampire counterpart is sometimes correct: it is okay to love them both. For her heart is human, and human hearts change.
Or perhaps she’s finally simply willing to admit to herself what she’s known all along, and it’s taken letting Stefan go to get to where she is now.
Her declaration is not something grand or carefully calculated. It is not flowery or ridiculously beautiful or incredibly sweet. It is just this:
A sunny Sunday morning spent on the couch in front of the television while he browses through articles in the newspaper (without really reading any of them) and she finishes off a bowl of cereal. She’s noticed that, for some reason, Sundays are the hardest for him, because on Sundays, he thinks about his brother the most. She can tell in the way he speaks volumes without saying anything; she can tell in the way his shoulders hunch and his eyes get that faraway look in them. She doesn’t have or need to ask.
So instead, she remembers with him (separately), and she sets her bowl on the coffee table, reaching for one of his hands and twining her fingers with his.
“I love you too,” she says simply, effortlessly, because he’s told her more than once and she’s never let herself properly respond until now (she’s learned that she can be quite stupid sometimes, holding onto her childish ideas of a prince charming that never really was).
Damon looks at her, his eyes wide and searching. Her gaze is unwavering.
He smiles then, really smiles, and it is beautiful and broken (but both of them are) and something that Elena knows she will treasure for as long as she lives.
Damon gently squeezes her hand, and she holds on with all she’s got.
Remember when I said I am an unrepentant sap at heart? I really meant it. ^^;