Near to You

~3~ This is a little Delena fic inspired by the song of the same name by A Fine Frenzy. Listen to it. ~3~

He and I had something beautiful
But so dysfunctional, it couldn't last
I loved him so but I let him go
'Cause I knew he'd never love me back

Such pain as this
Shouldn't have to be experienced
I'm still reeling from the loss,
Still a little bit delirious

Near to you, I am healing
But it's taking so long
'Cause though he's gone
And you are wonderful
It's hard to move on
Yet, I'm better near to you.

You and I have something different
And I'm enjoying it cautiously
I'm battle scarred, I am working oh so hard
To get back to who I used to be

He's disappearing
Fading Steadily,
I'm so close to being yours
Won't you stay with me
Please

Near to you, I am healing
But it's taking so long
'Cause though he's gone
And you are wonderful
It's hard to move on
Yet, I'm better near to you.

I only know that I am
Better where you are
I only know that I am
Better where you are
I only know that I belong
Where you are

Near to you, I am healing
But it's taking so long
Though he's gone
And you are wonderful
It's hard to move on

Near to you, I am healing
But it's taking so long
'Cause though he's gone
And you are wonderful
It's hard to move on
Yet, I'm better near to you.

Yet, I'm better near to you.

~3~

There were things Elena hoped she would never have to doubt. She had never thought she'd have to live her life without her parents. Once they were gone, she had assumed Jenna would take over all of the obligations and privileges that her mother had left behind. But she'd lost her too. Even her biological parents were dead. But more than anything else in her life, Elena had thought she and Stefan were forever. He had been perfect. He was dangerous, but gentle, romantic and attentive. Stefan had been her world. She used him to plug up every hole that appeared in her life. As he fell apart with his addiction to human blood, Elena reached out to Damon for help. He proved to be a sturdier rock than she had expected. When Damon had been moments from death, Elena had realized something that shook her greatly. It wasn't just Stefan that had filled the gap. They both had. Damon was a major part of her tentative grasp on happiness. As she realized this, she had silently pleaded with whoever was listening. She'd begged for Damon's life. She'd bartered with fate, offering to do anything to preserve what little she had left to hold on to. Fate is not always kind. Stefan was the sacrifice that had to be given. He left her. Although it pained her, he had chosen to save Damon instead of being with her. That was okay. She would have done the same for Jeremy.

When Katherine had cured Damon, Elena had been accosted by a myriad of conflicting emotions. First, unspeakable relief washed over her. Her Damon would be okay. The second emotion was horror that Stefan was gone, and possibly never coming home. The last was , oddly, the most difficult. Elena had always been physically attracted to Damon, but had used his less appealing qualities as a force field, protecting her from his other charms. The problem was, he seemed to be systematically eliminating those issues. So when Katherine witnessed their tender moment and exited dramatically by telling her "It's okay to love them both", Elena had absorbed the full meaning of her situation. For a few moments, she had let go of the walls she had built. She allowed herself to feel everything, because she was sure it would be her last chance. She didn't hold back, and followed her heart. This had resulted in her vaguely acknowledging her feelings for him, followed by their first fully consensual kiss. There were sparks. For that moment, she had loved Damon.

Although she knew that the events of that night would have to be acknowledged and sorted out, Stefan's loss crippled her. She loved him. She needed him. She had been there for him, accepted him, and pulled him back from the edge of darkness. She had been through hell for him because he was her heaven. Elena had never been so broken. Damon was there, letting her off the hook for hurting him. He never mentioned what had happened except in jest. He took it gracefully, helping her look for his brother. All he asked is that she examine her feelings, that she remember what she felt without Stefan. Damon was a loyal friend, and he made her feel safe. They protected each other.

The pain was always there, lurking in the shadows, but there were times when she felt almost whole. He could make her laugh. He taunted her and baited her playfully, forcing her to come out of herself and fight. And fight they did. Constantly. They fought over little things and big things, they fought out of boredom. He knew exactly how to distract her. Through everything, Elena never forgot that Damon loved her. She knew she was breaking his heart, and the thought nearly killed her. In addition, she was having trouble convincing everyone around her that she didn't return those feelings. Sometimes she had trouble convincing herself.

When Stefan came back, Elena found herself completely torn. He wasn't heaven anymore. Stefan was a sick, twisted caricature of his former self. Elena repeated her mantra day and night. He isn't himself. It's the compulsion. He'll go back to normal. According to almost everyone, though, this was the real Stefan. Damon told her that she didn't want to know, he tried to shield her from who his brother had been as long as he was on human blood. He had tried so hard to keep her from knowing the Ripper. As much as it went against everything she'd believed about the Salvatore brothers, it seemed that Damon was the stable one after all.

There were times that Elena's resolve almost broke, when Damon was so sweet and good that she wanted to jump in his arms and never let go. He had taken arrows for her; faced an original vampire, an unbalanced brother, and rabid hybrids all at once; and he did it all to ensure that Elena could be happy with another man. As his humanity returned to him, Elena couldn't help but to see the beauty that was inside his callous exterior. His exterior was a problem too. He was gorgeous. He oozed sex appeal. He insisted on touching her tenderly and reverently. Elena would never forget the moment of weakness that she experienced as he showed her where to stake a vampire. He always used himself as a visual aid, simultaneously giving her reason to look at him, and making him seem so vulnerable that she had trouble finding the will to attack. But for this particular demonstration, he showed her on her own body. The intimacy of the moment had overcome her. She found herself wanting to kiss him again as his hand found its way to the bare skin of her side. She had waited for the guilt to come. She wanted it to come. It was the only thing stopping her from crossing the ever-blurring line that defined their friendship.

The guilt never came. As Stefan continued to treat her as Klaus' property, a mere asset, her love for him dwindled. Even as she looked at the tattered remains of her feelings for Stefan, she didn't want to fall in love with Damon. She didn't want to be Katherine. But, though she would take it to her grave, she understood what here doppelganger had felt in 1864. Elena valued her independence, and didn't want to be the girl who needed a man in her life. No matter what her head was telling her, Elena knew that she did need Damon. He was everything now. She cared for Stefan, she wanted him to come back to himself as badly as she always had; but she no longer wanted it for selfish reasons. She would never trust him again, and didn't want to be with him anymore. It had taken forever to admit that she had given up on him, but in the end, it happened.

By the time Stefan betrayed them, Elena knew completely where her loyalties lay. Whatever hopeless battle they were fighting, she knew her side was Damon's. It was mutual. They didn't really agree a lot of the time, but it didn't seem to matter. If anyone else was involved, they would protect their own. She would protect him. It was for this reason that Elena ultimately let Stefan go. She told Damon as much and saw the hope and admiration in his eyes. At that moment, she finally felt healed.