"So, what do you remember?"
Damon stepped in front of Elena, halting their stroll around the witches' property. He looked down at their joined hands, her left, his right, fingers intertwined, the platinum band of her ring glinting in the sun. Not for the first time in the past few hours, he was glad he'd had the foresight to have her ring spelled as a daylight ring.
Getting out of the house, away from everyone else to talk was just what they needed. Before she had a chance to answer, he took advantage of an opportunity that he hadn't had in far too long, he bent down to kiss her, chuckling a little when he felt her free hand fist his shirt and pull him in closer. Breathless, she pulled away, taking a step back, needing a little distance to think straight.
"I remember a lot, too much even. I have all of the memories that, logically, I know didn't happen. Except that they did. It's very strange, having two complete sets of memories." She shook her head, still trying to clear the cobwebs of 'time travel' and dying. "I guess I expected to forget everything from before. I didn't exactly ask a lot of questions when I started this whole thing."
They had already been through the whys and even though he would never agree with the decision she had made, he had agreed to let it go. She had returned to him. She was fine. He couldn't ask for more than that.
"What do you remember about the night you turned?"
"I remember when I got back to the boarding house you had dinner ready for us. It was everything I could do not to constantly look over my shoulder for Caroline sneaking up behind me. I know I said I didn't know how or when it would happen, but for a while, that felt like a huge mistake. At one point I was ready to just get it over with."
"At least you knew you would be coming back, right?"
"True, but spending a whole evening wondering if this was it, that was torture." She tugged his hand, wanting to keep moving while they talked about that last night. It still made her anxious in ways she couldn't explain or understand. "Now that it's done, are you going to tell me how you guys did it? My guess is the wine, either poison or sleeping pills in the wine."
"You're close. I was so worried about something going wrong. I made sure you had more than enough of my blood in your system. So much, in fact, that I was worried it would heal you rather than letting the poison or the drugs do their job. We decided it would be better just to knock you out. Some crushed sleeping pills in your wine glass did the trick. You had barely finished it before you were out cold. While I held you, Caroline came in and…"
"Caroline came in and snapped my neck?"
Damon just nodded. He still didn't want to think about it, much less say the words.
"Can we, uh, change the subject? I'm realizing that I've waited for you to come back twice, then and now. Not really a happy memory, memories for me."
They walked on in silence, while Elena worked up to what she really needed to tell him. He deserved to know the real reason she had gone back.
"I know everyone thinks I did this just so I wouldn't look older than you when I turned. That was part of it, initially."
Damon held his hand up to stop her.
"Elena, you have to know that didn't matter to me, right?" he continued after seeing her nod. "Honestly, you never looked your age anyway. Did you still look like the seventeen year old girl that I met in the middle of the road? No. But, you've lived well. You've taken care of yourself. You've had a happy, relatively stress-free life. Really, other than a few missing laugh lines and gray hairs, you really don't look any different to me."
Elena laughed. "Well, then I guess it's a good thing that wasn't the biggest reason, huh?"
Looking ahead, she saw a huge tree, sitting by itself in a grassy area. She led Damon to it, plopping on the ground in the shade and patting the grass next to her, inviting him to sit.
Once they had settled in, Elena started talking, telling him about her biggest regret.
"I realized that by not choosing, I really had made a choice. It wasn't even the choice that I wanted. I was willing to let it happen whenever it happened. Damon, that was so unfair to you. I'm so sorry. I hope you know that you are first in my heart. I would never put anything or anyone ahead of you, not even my own life."
"Yes, I'm aware." Damon smirked.
Elena grimaced, remembering all of the times she had been more than willing to sacrifice herself in order to save everyone, anyone that she loved. So many of those times, almost all of them, Damon had saved her from herself and every big bad she had faced.
"I thought that I had completely committed to you, but I was wrong. I held that little piece of myself back. You should have known that I was willing to turn, not for you, but to be with you. Forever. For eternity. For our eternity. That's all I've ever wanted."
Elena swore that his ice blue eyes were tearing up as he took her hands in his own. His thumb rubbed over her ring, her daylight ring, her Salvatore ring, the ring that would hopefully mean even more.
"You know, Elena, you aren't the only one guilty of just letting things be. I was so worried about pushing you into something that you didn't want, I ignored what I really wanted. I assumed that if you wanted to turn, you would come to me. You did, really, in your own way. But, that's not what I'm talking about. There has always been something that I've wanted even more."
With one hand, he tucked a lock of hair behind her ear before caressing her cheek. He needed her complete attention for what he was about to say.
"Elena, I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. I can't imagine spending my life without you. While I was sitting there, waiting for you to come back, I kept thinking one thing. I had missed my chance. I promised myself that if you came back, I wouldn't let it slip by again."
Her lips began to tremble as a tear escaped, tracing a path down her cheek.
"This ring says you are a Salvatore and in my heart you already are. I want you to know, the whole world to know, that you are mine, always. I don't want you to ever to doubt that. So, Elena, will you marry me?"
By the time he had finished speaking, Elena's single tear had multiplied to two streams flowing down her face. Rendered speechless, she simply nodded repeatedly as she threw herself into Damon's arms.
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes, Damon, yes, yes, yes! I will marry you!" She pulled back enough to look into his eyes. "I will marry you anytime, anywhere. I will marry you right this second, just say the word."
Instead, he pulled in closer, capturing her lips with his own. Wedding plans could wait. They had a reunion and engagement to celebrate.
Two days later, at sunset, Damon and Elena stood in the center of the solarium, in the very spot she had lain during the spell. Surrounded by their family, Damon and Elena were married.
Unknown to them, the planning, with Caroline in charge, had begun as soon as they had left the house the day before. Jeremy had already decided to fly in to see his sister after her 'disappearance.' Stefan and the girls made the long drive to Sydney to pick up Jeremy and do a little shopping. When they returned to the witches' house, they not only had Jeremy, but a wedding dress for Elena and a suit for Damon. Damon's suit, a black Armani with a deep blue shirt underneath, had been tailored to his measurements thanks to a call to his tailor in Florence and a little compulsion in Sydney. The dress was a strapless white sheath that hugged Elena's curves, the only accent a silk sash at the waist that matched the blue of Damon's shirt.
After the ceremony, the six of them headed back to Sydney. Stefan, Caroline, Jeremy and Bonnie would be staying at the rental house with plans to spend a few days sightseeing in Sydney before going home. Elena and Damon drove straight to the airport to catch the first of several flights, eventually landing in Paris to begin their European honeymoon and continue their life together.
A/N - There you have it the last chapter of The Past Shapes the Future. There will be an epilogue, so be on the look out for that. I can't thank you enough for all of the reviews, favorites and follows for this little fic. They've all meant the world to me. Thanks again ~ craftyjhawk