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Months after Damon's death, Elena desperately mourns him. During that time, Elena had been using a witch drug that allowed her to hallucinate Damon as she does not want to believe that he's dead. Unable to go on with the memory of Damon, Elena has Alaric erase every good memory she has of him and doesn't remember loving him until she finally learns the truth from Stefan. After Damon's return from death, Elena tries to avoid him but changes her mind and decides that she wants her memories of him back. However, Alaric becomes human because of crossing the anti magic border and is unable to give Elena her memories. At first, Elena tries to move on but then realizes she can't seem to shake her feelings for Damon. They both decide to make new memories and start their relationship anew. As they started to bond, Elena began to see the good side of Damon as he worked hard to bring Bonnie back from the Prison World.
Damon first met Elena the night her parents died. She met Damon in the middle of the road, and at first, he mistook her for Katherine. They started talking and even flirted a little. He told her that she wanted a love that consumed her, a love that was passionate, and a love that was a little dangerous. And then he told her that he wanted her to have everything she wanted. After their moonlit conversation, Elena's parents had arrived and Damon compelled her to forget it ever happened. They were later reunited in The Night of the Comet, but she didn't remember him. This also explains the reason how Damon knew who Elena was when they met in the Salvatore Boarding House. Elena admitted in The Departed, that if she had met Damon first, things might have gone different between them and she would have chosen him over Stefan. This memory resurfaces after Elena transitioned into a vampire in Growing Pains.
In the last episode Damon goes to Elena's house to earnestly ask for her forgiveness, not because he wants it, but because he needs it. Unaware that he's dying, she asks for more time to consider forgiving him, and Damon agrees wholeheartedly. Later Stefan tells Elena that Damon is dying as he is bitten by a werewolf. At the \"Gone with the Wind\" screening Elena finds Damon and drags him away, but as she does Damon gets confused, mixing the present with the past, when he chased Katherine through some woods. He remembers begging Katherine to feed him her blood so they could be together forever. Back in the present, he tries to bite Elena as she begs him to stop, explaining that he is hurting her. Damon suddenly appears to return to the present, but collapses. Elena cradles him, while also covering her neck with her hand.
Alaric tells Elena they should keep running she hesitates saying they can't leave without Damon and that it's her fault that he's there. Alaric says it's his fault and convinces Elena to keep running. Later, Elena sees Damon get out of the car and asks him if he's okay, he assures her that he is fine. Elena asks if she can have a minute to appreciate that Damon is still alive. Later, Elena walks in to her room Damon gets Elena to confess that she cares about him letting her know he will get Stefan back but he just wants to make sure she remembers how she feels about Damon once that happens.
Later on in the night while in the boarding house recovering from being drained of most of her blood Damon gives Elena a glass of bourbon to help her forget everything she experienced. He goes on to say that if she wishes it he can compel her. She however refuses the compulsion and instead wants to remember everything that transpired.
In The Departed, Elena calls Damon and tells him she's going back, not just for Stefan, but also for Caroline and Tyler. Damon asks if it was just between him and Stefan, who would get the goodbye. Elena tells him: \"I love him, Damon. He came into my life at a time when I needed someone and I fell for him instantly. No matter what I feel for you, I never unfell for him.\" . Heartbroken, Damon says that he gets it that its always going to be Stefan. However Elena says she can't think about always, all she can think about is right now. Elena says things may be different if she had met him before Stefan. Elena assures him that she will see him soon and they say their goodbyes. Damon then remembers how he had, in fact, met Elena before Stefan. Damon saw her there on a road and mistook her for Katherine. He told her about what she really wanted: a love that consumes her, passion and adventure, and even a little danger, before compelling her to forget meeting him.
At the start of Season Four, Damon is with Elena and Stefan in Elena's room, explaining to her that she died with vampire blood (Damon's blood) in her system and that she is now a vampire. He talks to them harshly and tells Elena to feed or die. Later on, she sees Damon in her room, but realizes she's remembering the scene from Rose, where Damon tells her he loves her and he doesn't deserve her then compelled her to forget. She then seems to be shocked by this.
When Damon nearly kills Matt, Elena attacks Damon and saying, \"Leave him alone!\". She tells him she remembers everything, including the fact that she met him first. She eludes to the fact that it wouldn't change anything, but she has to take it a bit further. She asks him what he would have done if he was in Stefan's position and he tells the truth only Damon would tell: he'd let Matt die to save her because he's selfish. He's so selfish, that he'd take someone else's life to give Elena the one she wanted: a human life. And that single factor changes everything. Damon has always been selfish and destructive, but one great reason Elena's answer had to be Stefan hearkened back to the time when Damon just couldn't understand why she'd choose death over vampirism. He tells her \"I would have saved you in a heartbeat; no question. You would have gotten to grow up and had the life that you wanted, the life that you deserved. I wanted that for you, Elena, and I would have gladly given it to you and let Matt die because I AM that selfish.\"Now that he gets that and Elena remembers everything, the love triangle has once again found a way to ignite even further.
Shane had to do some quick thinking of his own: Damon told Elena his theory about Shane having killed the pastor and 11 others in that gas explosion. Shane said the pastor had lost his wife to cancer and sought him out for supernatural assistance. But the pastor was too far gone. Elena said she trusts Shane. That discussion got interrupted by Jeremy and Bonnie, who were ready to prove Jeremy could play nicely now. \"Jeremy, remember the detour. Choose the right path,\" Shane said, as Jeremy walked toward Elena with a wooden stake in his hand. Damon stepped in between them, and Jeremy looked at a smiling Bonnie and handed the wood to Damon. Then he reached Elena and hugged her.
In Down the Rabbit Hole, Damon plans on getting the cure for the girl he loves. Stefan and Elena found Damon and Rebekah while and Vaughn fled through the passage. Stefan sent Elena on, and he stayed behind to try to help Damon.
In Pictures of You, Stefan tells Damon once Elena gets her humanity back, Damon will help her deal with all the emotions she's repressed since Jeremy's death and Stefan will leave town. At night, Damon and Stefan picked Elena up in a limo and Damon gave her a corsage. Both Damon and Stefan walked her down a red carpet walkway which was lined with large screens flashing photos (of Elena and Matt, and Elena and Jeremy) that were meant to tug at Elena's heartstrings.
In While You Were Sleeping, Elena is informed by Stefan of her current ripper situation and that she has been sealed in her room by a spell so that she doesn't feed on anyone. Elena instantly calls Damon and they are both happy to hear each other. They are flirting when Elena asks him how Katherine broke his heart. He shrugs it off saying he doesn't remember. She then says \"The last thing I remember I was running into your arms and I felt so safe,\" and he replies \"It was all downhill from there.\" Elena then tells him how she wanted to fight for him and still want to, Damon joyfully replies \"Oh Elena..the second we are cured of this and don't want to rip each other's heads off, I am going to hunt you down and give you the most mind-blowing night of your life.\" Elena excitedly says that she can schedule him in.
Elena shares more Damon memories with Alaric, including when he stepped in as her escort for Miss Mystic Falls. She remembers it was the first time she noticed how sexy he was. But erasing that doesn't change things. They go through every moment she can come up with but none of them undo how she feels. Every time Alaric asks \"Who is Damon Salvatore?\", each time Elena responds with \"He was my boyfriend, I loved him, he died.\" Eventually, Alaric tells Elena that it will not work if she does not admit when she fell for Damon, Elena says she cannot carry on and wants to stop.
After consulting Caroline, Alaric is told that she denies when she fell for him because she was with Stefan. When consulting Elena, he tells her it is ok to love them both, Elena responds with \"It's ok to love them both, that's what Katherine said.\" Elena finally admits the day she realized her love for him was her birthday after she and Damon spent all summer looking for Stefan. He gave her the necklace Stefan gave her that she had lost. She knew how much it hurt him as he loved her but he still gave her a thing that represented hope for her and Stefan. She says how selfless he was and in that moment she loved him. As she tells Alaric about this moment, stuck in another time, Damon reminisces about the same memory. He is sad and missing her. Alaric then alters this memory, and she remembers the night ending with Damon snapping Jeremy's neck in front of her. Finally, she doesn't remember Damon as her lover, but as a monster who died.