Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Category: (drama, romance, adventure, etc)
Summary: Elena leaves Mystic Falls to protect those she loves, goes into hiding, and seeks a way to pay for the damage she's caused. Two years later, an unexpected visitor walks into Bree's bar and threatens to destroy the fragile peace she's created. Elena/Elijah, mentions of other ships
Spoilers: Up to and including 3x15
Warnings: Language, violence
Show/Bookverse: Show 'verse, up to and including 3x15
Disclaimer:The Vampire Diaries belongs to its rightful owners and sadly, none of those people or companies are me. I'm only borrowing them, but I promise to return them once I am finished.
Author's Notes: Yep, this is the epilogue. Thank you for all the comments! Thanks to midnight_burn. Mistakes are all entirely mine. Title comes from Bon Iver's 'Blood Bank'.
Caroline settles back against Stefan's shoulder with a content sight. "You know," she says to no one in particular as she studies the yellow-gold light of the string lights and the scattered white paper lanterns. "I think we pulled it off. This is just about as perfect as a wedding could be for Bree and Luce. And this is giving me so many ideas for our wedding."
Elena chokes on her drink. "You two?" she finally manages to say, taking the cocktail napkin from Elijah that he wordlessly offers and she takes without truly looking. She speaks her thanks by pressing into the Original vampire's side. "Finally?"
Stefan looks down at the top of Caroline's blond head affectionately and presses a kiss there. "She finally found the right cake baker."
"It's not a proper wedding without a spectacular wedding cake," Caroline counters, playfully stubborn. "So what if it's been like, almost twenty years? These types of things are important."
Elena thinks cake is cake, and while it's fantastic if it's delicious, it's all about having your loved ones present.
With an eternity before them, and new and strange lifetime ahead of her, Elena spent the first decade after her death trying to 'figure herself out', and during that time, she rationalized that there really wasn't much of a reason to get married; she and Elijah were committed and that wasn't going to be made any more permanent by putting rings on their fingers.
But then sentimentality won out, although only slightly; time was still precious for a lot of her friends, and she wanted them there for the event if she were to have a wedding.
("Do you want to get married?" she suddenly asked Elijah one day while he had her against the shower tiles, held their by his muscular form pressing and writhing against hers.
"Of course," he responded once he lifted his head from lavishing her breasts with kisses.
They spent the rest of the day enthusiastically celebrating their impending nuptials, and then the next making phone calls to ensure that their Aruba home would be able to accommodate the group.
They were both thoughtful people deeply in love with one another, and holding an over-the-top wedding with huge white dresses and wasted shipments of flowers seemed tacky in comparison to their relationship's sacredness. Candles and the surf and their loved ones, that made much more sense.)
The wedding was a low-key affair held over a long weekend on the island, and both Elena and Elijah were shocked by the attendance of Rebekah and Kol, who had not spoken to them in years.
Caroline and Stefan have been engaged for two decades, and while it's obvious neither is having second thoughts about marriage, Caroline's perfectionism streak has reared its hideous head in regards to plans. Elena has admitted to Elijah (in private and far, far away from vampire ears) that she's half convinced Caroline will only be happy with flowers once she's opened her own business, a cake and reception food once she's gone to culinary school, and music once she's learned to play all of it herself and record it.
Elijah lifts his glass. "Congratulations are in order, then."
Their glasses clink together delicately, and the tone is similar to the high peels of laughter from the small child in Mag's arms. The little boy is entranced with the paper lantern and the flickering LED candle within it that his father had reached up and plucked from the low-hanging tree branch. The trio make their way over to the four vampires.
"Sheriff Donovan," Stefan greets Matt, with nod of his head and his beer bottle.
"Salvatore," the man says, a tone of fraternal familiarity resonating in his voice. "Been a while since you visited Mystic Falls."
Maggie hoists the baby a little higher on her hip. "We see Elena and Elijah so much we're sick of them," she adds lightly.
"Not true," protests Matt, and his eyes nervously flicker to Elena's. She swallows down guilt and another mouthful of champagne and forces herself to look out over the dance floor. Still a difficult subject for them, after all these years. Still something that haunts him, according to Maggie.
The DJ is gone, as are most of the partygoers. The only ones left now that the wedding and reception are over are close family members. While Lucy and Bree, both beautiful in their long white gowns, haven't left one another's arms or the dance floor, others have let their hair down.
Or their glamors, as is the case for some of the guests.
It was a mixed crowd at the couple's wedding; they were marrying after so many years together that there were a lot of 'outsiders' who knew them and insisted on attending. To keep up appearances, the Bennett witches cast glamors on their vampire friends to have them appear to have aged twenty years, to avoid questions. Photographer and less familial guests gone, everyone was back to looking like themselves. Damon plugged his mp3 player in and the dancing continued.
He and Elena are trying to make amends, and salvage their friendship. There's been enough time to heal, and to talk. It took a few years to get to that point but they finally did. He looks for no partner as he moves on the dance floor, but seems to be enjoying himself.
Elena hears laughter, and it takes her a second to differentiate between Bonnie and Ellie. Ellie Gilbert – named after both her aunt and uncle, her devoted, protective godparents – is between her parents, her attempts at being a 'cool' teenager having vanished with the DJ's assistant's exit, and she allows her parents to take turns spinning her around. Jeremy, Bonnie, and Ellie boogie circles around Lucy and Bree's soft swaying at the center of the dance floor.
Her magic is manifesting (much to Bonnie's anxious happiness) and does so in creative ways (much to
Jeremy's pride), and Elena can't help but smile, bittersweet, when she realizes her goddaughter's suddenly gangly form has lost its childhood thickness, and seems to hint at the curves of a woman.
And so now Maggie, Bonnie, Matt, and Elena are related by marriage, their relationship now legally proclaimed. It's fitting and strange, all at the same time.
The night goes on, and Elijah excuses himself from the conversation to cut in on the Gilbert family's dance to take Ellie for a turn around the floor, allowing Jeremy and Bonnie to dance to a slow song together.
Elena mouths 'Thank you' to her husband, and he gives her a warm smile in return.
She watches the slow moving pairs on the floor for a second before Caroline taps her on the shoulder.
"Look," she says proudly, brandishing a digital camera. "I found some."
"Found some what?" asks Maggie, sitting down on the other side of the table. She repositions Mattie so she can crane her neck over Elena's shoulder.
"Gray in Elena's hair. Look."
It's not a trick of light, it's definitely a small patch, actually, of gray hair, slightly off-center in Elena's hair. The photo on the camera screen is jarring, seeing as it was taken when they still had their glamors on. Beside her, Elijah is only slightly older, but wears his age handsomely.
"You got grays before me," sing-songs Maggie, who uses her elbow to nudge at Elena.
"I am older than you," Elena replies, but her eyes are entranced by the sight on the screen. This is what she would look like, if she had lived, if that had ever really been a choice. She would have been older than Charlotte.
Elijah and Ella make their way over, and the Gilbert girl holds out her hands. "Aunt Mags, why don't you and Uncle Matt go dance? I'll hold my cousin."
She looks to her godfather for approval, and Elijah slips the girl a positive nod of the head and a wink before he moves around the table to sit next to Elena in a chair he pulls up beside hers.
Elena watches the careful hand off of the infant, and allows herself to delicately take hold of one of her nephew's little feet to secure a sock that was starting to slip off. Her eyes greedily drink in his healthy plump little body and the curiosity that he regards the world with, and has to force herself not to think about the future she'd never have.
As if aware of the sad direction of her thoughts, Elijah's hand brushes at the nape of her neck, and he kisses her there.
Stefan and Damon now stand to the side, talking, and the others are all dancing with their loved ones.
"I know it's taken us a long time to get to this stage, but we're going to have the wedding soon," says Caroline suddenly, but keeps her voice down. "We want everybody to be able to be there, and enjoy it."
The frown that twitches on her face is only momentary before she understands; if Caroline and Stefan were to wait another twenty years, Lucy and Bree would be in their eighties. Lucy is a fabulous and fit woman in her sixties, but Elena has started to notice that Bree is slowing down a little, not too much, but it's noticeable in the vibrant woman who is known for a fast wit and a faster serving time at her bar.
"I've lived a full life, baby," she told Elena just recently, "and it might just be catching up with me."
"Perhaps you might want to wait a year, though, as I know one member of our group may protest about the pictures." Elijah takes the moment to tell them, in a low voice. "Bonnie doesn't know yet."
Earlier in the day, Stefan had come pulled Elena to the side and said that he was pretty sure he could hear an extra little heartbeat. They had all looked to Elijah for confirmation, with his slightly better hearing.
Bree and Lucy are going to be so excited about another baby in the family. Both Maggie and Bonnie's children are treated like their own grandchildren, and they will be ecstatic.
"Bonnie will be as old as Lucy and Bree when this kid graduates school," Caroline realizes. Her gaze travels from the dance floor to her silent friend. "We have to watch all of them die," the blond murmurs, voice thick with emotion, with impending loss and painful realization. "They're all growing old and having babies, and what do we get to do? We get to spend all these years as friends, and then...they die. We get to lose them."
"We get to watch our friends live, Care," corrects Elena, keeping her voice quiet. "We are going to get to watch all of their kids grow up and have children of their own, and we get to watch over them and make sure that they have safe, full lives, and keep doing that. Most people only have a short lifetime to do that."
Out of all of the vampires present, Elena is the only one to have made the choice to turn, something that Caroline and Damon have both brought up once or twice over the years.
She'd do it again, too. Both she and Elijah have spent more than their share of time, over the years, intercepting vampires attacking humans. They don't seek it out, but if they see it, they take care of it. And when they do, the Petrova Fire is on their side. Elena's control over it is steely but she is not afraid to use it when it is needed. She never would have been able to save the lives she's saved if she hadn't turned.
She'd never have experienced the love that she is a part of, now.
The others think it's a little strange, that for a couple so in love, they spend quite some time apart. Elijah takes care of business that is sometimes boring, Elena spends time going to places she finds interesting that he doesn't care to revisit. They enjoy their time alone and apart just as much as they enjoy their time together.
Elena will have no plans of leaving Mystic Falls for the duration of Bonnie's pregnancy. While she is there, she will wear her glamor (gray hairs and all), and she will interact with the town as they know her: Elena Mikaelson, the small town girl born and raised in Mystic Falls who married that British historian who initially came to town pretending to be named Smith. They've been explained that his deceit had something to do with the book he was writing, and it was be shrugged off as another of the little quirks that the couple has.
They're both writers, anyway, and writers are artists.
'Artists are weird people', she's overheard at Founders' events.
The Mikaelson house in Mystic Falls is a house in the middle of the woods, but not too far from both the Donovans or the Gilberts – the latter couple still live in the old Gilbert home.
She'll spend time with her family, and visit the cemetery (Alaric is buried beside Jenna and the rest of the Gilberts). There will be barbeques and decade dances that she'll chaperone. She and Jeremy will teach Ellie how to make Gilbert family chili, despite protests from Damon over the phone from Chicago that it still sucks. There will be Founders' Council meetings where Sheriff Donovan reports back that everything is quiet to a room filled predominantly with vampires, werewolves, and witches. There will be a new Bennett witch or warlock to welcome into the world. The Bennetts and the Donovans and the Gilberts will live and flourish, have happy, safe lives, and she'll get to be a part of them.
Life will go on.
And maybe it won't be every night, but Elijah will be there. His body, and the way it moves with hers, his incredible mind and his beautiful words are things that will never change. Even as the others grow old and the world changes and little by little the world and the life she once clung to and yet took for granted slips away, Elijah will be there.
They are their own mutual anchors, North Stars, and touchstones.
Always and forever, they have promised one another. This is the oath of the Mikaelsons, and Elena is most definitely one.
And as they are both people with a great sense of honor, they will hold tightly to that, as tightly as they hold hands now and go to join their loved ones dance.
(Life is a celebration and they will not stand by and simply watch it. They will fling themselves into the flurry of color and noise and enjoy it for all its worth, and they will do so and will not waver.
Like Bree and Lucy, they will linger on in their dance, longer than the others.)