Damon pined for Katherine for over a century on The Vampire Diaries, but Katherine claimed Stefan was her ‘one true love.’ Did she ever love Damon?
Did Katerina Petrova, aka “Katherine Pierce,” one of The Vampire Diaries’ most memorable villains, love Damon Salvatore? The Vampire Diaries ran for eight seasons on The CW and is perhaps best remembered for the epic love triangle between Elena Gilbert, Stefan Salvatore, and Damon. However, Elena wasn’t the first woman to come between the brothers. In 1864, both Stefan and Damon fell in love with Katherine, and their devotion to her changed the trajectory of their lives, pitting them against each other for 145 years. Katherine professed her love for Stefan throughout the series, but did the manipulative vampire love Damon too?
Although Damon pined for Katherine, when she arrived in Mystic Falls, she told Damon she never loved him. Despite Stefan’s belief that Katherine was incapable of loving anyone, flashbacks told a different story. Katherine continued to profess her love and pursue Stefan in subsequent seasons. In season 5, episode 12, “The Devil Inside,” she told her daughter that Stefan was her “one true love.” While her final words to Ian Somerhalder’s Damon before her death in “Gone Girl” were unapologetically harsh, she told Stefan she loved him and that she’d always loved him. So it would seem that despite her deviousness, Katherine’s affection for Stefan was genuine and never waivered, but despite their adversarial relationship, fans may have forgotten that Katherine loved Damon as well.
In a flashback during season 1’s “Lost Girls,” Katherine revealed to Stefan, “You have no idea of the future I have planned for us, Stefan — you, me, and Damon.” If Katherine was truly as ambivalent about Damon as she appeared in later seasons, she could have just turned Stefan, leaving Damon behind to live a mortal life. In season 2, as Damon lay dying of a werewolf bite, Katherine delivered the cure. She had the chance to run without looking back, finally freed from Klaus Mikaelson’s compulsion, but she knew Damon wouldn’t survive without Klaus’ blood. Although Katherine told Elena she only did it because she owed Damon a favor (he supplied her with the vervain that enabled her to escape), she also said to Elena, “It’s okay to love them both. I did.” Given that Katherine denied ever having loved Damon at the start of the season, this could have been interpreted as a way to get under Elena’s skin which was how Katherine usually operated, particularly when it came to her doppelganger. However, it’s more believable that when she and Damon reunited, her cruelty towards him was an attempt to separate the brothers, distracting them so they wouldn’t figure out her real agenda.
One of Katherine’s few selfless acts involved saving Damon. During season 3, Katherine joined forces with the Salvatores to achieve a common goal; killing Klaus. However, when Katherine learned that Klaus’s death would also result in Damon’s, she appealed to Stefan (whose humanity switch was in off) to save his brother by sparing the Original. When Stefan questioned Katherine’s motives for forsaking her freedom, she confessed that her goal was to restore Stefan’s humanity in addition to saving Damon. Stefan didn’t believe her, accusing Katherine of caring only about herself, and Katherine responded, “You and I both know that is not true. I loved you. I loved Damon too.” At that moment, Katherine had no reason to lie, and her sacrifice supported her testimony.
One of the reasons Katherine made such a compelling villain on The Vampire Diaries was her ability to evoke compassion from those who had every reason to hate her: a trait she and Damon shared. Paul Wesley’s Stefan Salvatore was the only one who understood that mitigating circumstances accounted for much of Katherine’s behavior, and he had a begrudging respect for her survival instinct. It’s not a question of whether or not Katherine loved Damon because, at one time, she did. She just loved Stefan Salvatore more.