"Is there any hope for Damon and Elena to really get back together?”
Meta by Nat, StandbyDamon :
Damon letting go of Elena: parallels and evolution (2x08, 4x09, 5x17)
Okay, I know that if we are thorough we’ll find more subtle instances of Damon letting Elena go, but these three are especially interesting in terms of where they stand and therefore their mindset.
Although Damon doesn’t say the words, that’s essentially what he does. He acknowledges his love for Elena as well as the fact that she’ll never be with him. She’s Stefan’s girlfriend, he recently killed her brother, they don’t stand a chance. He lets her go without asking her, without hoping she will ever come to him.
As for Elena, it’s hard to understand what she was feeling - probably amazement, even awe, but (unpopular opinion?) maybe, deep down, if she had gotten to choose, she would’ve chosen not knowing about it. She and Damon, even back then, were too complicated for her to handle. This is why she doesn’t bring up this memory when she remembers it in 4x01.
They don’t expect to find their way back to each other. But they do.
The thing in common with 2x08? Damon is the one calling the shots, again. He makes the same choice. He makes it for her own good, no matter what it costs him.
But this is a completely different ballgame. Damon is confused and lost. It’s hard to tell if he has any hope - maybe not, given the finality of the witch’s statement in 4x08. But Elena? She’s as certain of her feelings for Damon as it gets in their situation.
She’s right. They have to go through a lot, but they find their way back to each other.
And this is where we get to the beauty of this time.
In a way, it’s 4x09 mirrored. In a way, it’s like 2x08 after a ton of development. In the end, it’s so much more.
This time, it’s Elena calling the shots. She’s the one asking Damon to let her go. She’s the one who believes it’s final. Damon is the one harboring hope - more than that, absolute certainty that they’ll be together again.
So what makes it different from 4x09 and even more so from 2x08?
In 2x08, Elena doesn’t love Damon. She cares about him, she’s attracted to him, but she’s not in love.
4x09 was tainted by the sire bond. Hell, the reason for 4x09 was the sire bond. Damon couldn’t be sure how Elena felt. Even Elena, for all her certainty, couldn’t really know how she felt.
Now? Their love for each other is beautiful and strong, and maybe too strong, and maybe that’s the problem.
In 2x08, Damon lets go of Elena because she doesn’t love him. In 4x09, Damon lets go of Elena because she probably doesn’t love him. In 5x17, he lets her go because she definitely does. It’s beautiful and kind of twisted, but it means a lot.
And look at the kisses. They are not goodbye kisses.
2x08: “I want you to be happy - even without me.”
4x09: “No matter what, I will fight for you, for us.”
5x17: “I understand. Take your time. I’ll wait for you.”
This is a journey from the most hopeless despair to the most justified optimism. There’s no compromise, no maybe. They will be together. Damon knows it. And deep down, Elena knows it, too.