Epilogue: There is a Time
A/N: And with this, we bring the curtain down on our story. Thank you once again to everyone who stayed with it, for the faves, follows, review, PMs, ideas and thoughts. I hope you all have enjoyed it. It has certainly been fun to write. If you have ideas for other stories, PM me and I'll certainly consider them!
Disclaimer: I do not own or operate The Vampire Diaries.
Salvatore Boarding House, June, 2039
Zach Salvatore was nearing 70, but he didn't feel it - not really. It was a happy day. Celebrating two birthdays – Elena's and Damon's - was always a happy occasion, but this birthday for Damon was something of a milestone - not many humans could say they were 200 years old. Of course, according to his birth certificate, he was 50, but that was still something to celebrate. As he walked into the house, Bonnie Gilbert, Elena's sister-in-law, called him into the kitchen.
"Hey Zach. I picked up the cake and all the food." She smiled. "Remember when we had that old-fashioned party in 2010? That was such a good night."
Zach nodded. "It was. I don't think I could dance like that now, unless we were just waltzing. I could handle that." Zach had never married. Losing one girl was enough for him.
"Not nearly as many people, either," Bonnie said. "My goodness, just with the immediate family, we're going to have a crowd."
"I hope you got plenty of food. Damon's and Stefan's boys will eat us out of house and home."
"Enough to feed Lee's army, as Damon would say," she replied and both laughed. "But let's see: You, Jenna, Ric, Damon, Elena, Thomas, Anthony and Ginny, then Stefan, Caroline, Ryan, Rosalind and Grace, then me and Jeremy, Emily and Johanna. That's, what - seventeen? Goodness. How did we get so many in the family?"
"Nature, Bonnie. Good old Mother Nature," Zach said.
Bonnie grinned. "I guess so." There was a commotion outside. "Here comes the stampede."
Three boys, ages 12 to 17 came flying in, yelling at each other. Bonnie smiled at them. "Would you guys settle down and stop screaming like somebody's killing you?"
"O.K., Aunt Bonnie," Thomas, the oldest, said. "When will supper be ready? We're starving."
"In a little while. Your mom and dad aren't back from town yet, and Caroline and Stefan haven't gotten here, either. Aunt Jenna and Uncle Ric are on their way. Here. I found a dozen chicken wings in the fridge from last night and heated them up. Go eat those."
"Thanks Aunt Bonnie!" Thomas said, taking the plate. They boys descended on the wings like a plague of locusts.
She looked at the boys. Thomas was nearly an exact copy of Damon. Same dark hair and bright blue eyes. His skin was just a little closer to his mother's more olive tone. But the way his face was put together, and his frame were Damon all over again. Anthony, 15, looked more like the Gilberts. In fact, he looked a lot like Jeremy. Ryan, Stefan's son, had his mother's blond hair and Stefan's green eyes. Just now, he was in a slightly pudgy period, but he had two or three more growth spurts to get out of the way, and unless Bonnie was sorely mistaken, by the time he turned 17 or so, he was going to be the heartbreaker his dad was.
The girls followed behind, and in Bonnie's admittedly biased opinion, they were as pretty a set of young ladies as anyone would want to see. Ginny was Elena made over, but with Damon's darker hair. Bonnie didn't know where Rosalind's strawberry blonde hair came from - probably Liz's side of the family - but her eyes were Caroline's gray. Grace had dark blonde hair, her mother's bone structure and had also inherited her father's green eyes. She was a striking girl. Bonnie's own two had dark hair and eyes. Emily resembled her mother and her Grams, whereas Johanna looked more like Jeremy. She sighed. Proms and dances, boyfriends and dating were all on the horizon. Bonnie wasn't sure she was ready for it.
Damon and Elena came in, both carrying more food, and Jenna and Ric behind them. Damon had a few strands of silver in his hair, and a laugh line or two around his eyes, but he was still the same handsome man Elena fell for all those years ago. Elena could have easily passed for 35. Neither Jenna nor Ric looked like they were approaching 65, either.
"Where did you boys find that chicken?" Elena asked.
"I gave it to them," Bonnie answered. "They came in and were hovering around the food like vultures. Had to do something."
Elena laughed. "All right. Damon, has Stefan called you?"
"Where in the world is he?" Elena looked at Damon as though he could produce Stefan out of thin air.
"Lord knows. I don't. He said he and Blondie were going to rendezvous at the house and come in together." Damon had called Caroline "Blondie" for years, mostly because it used to irritate her. Now, it was affectionate.
"Knowing her, it could be a while," Elena said. "Wonder what important social occasion held them up?" Caroline was still the social butterfly, and Elena said she was busier than Stefan was in his private practice as a doctor.
"No telling. Plant an azalea for beautification. Could be anything," Damon replied. He stood close to Elena and whispered, "Do I really need a 200th birthday party?"
"Yes," was her definite answer. "You really do. Since Jeremy and Bonnie moved to Richmond, we don't see them as much. You can stand it."
"I know. I'm just glad Zach's willing to keep an eye on the zoo so we can get some time away." By "zoo," he meant the kids.
"Me too. But he lives here, after all." Zach lived in the guesthouse, which meant he was part of the family, but the kids didn't drive him nuts. "And Ginny's such a tattle-tale, if Tony or Thomas put a toenail out of line, we'll hear about it."
"Nice to have an in-house spy," Damon said, laughing. "You were the same way with Jeremy."
Elena shook her head. "Sadly, I was. But I still love you."
"Love you, too," he replied and kissed her forehead, then said low, "I keep asking Stefan when he's going to put up that electric fence to keep the boys away from Gracie. He's gonna need one."
"Tell me about it. Every time I see her, I'm just bowled over again by how beautiful she is," Elena said.
"I see a lot of Mother in her face. That's kind of a comfort to me."
Elena squeezed his hand. "I know it is."
Damon glanced at the clock. "Hey, Gracie. Call your mom and ask her if she and my brother are going to get here sometime today!"
Gracie smiled. "Sure, Uncle Damon." She placed the call. "Mom, Uncle Damon wants to know if you and Dad are ever going to get here." She listened for a moment, grinning. "O.K. I'll tell him."
"What's the verdict?" Damon asked.
"She said, and I quote, 'You tell that demon from Hades to shut his mouth and not worry about me! We're on the way, for his information! Can I help it if I had a major hair emergency?' Her words."
"Oh Lord. You sounded just like Blondie when you said that. She's all wound up about something. I'm sure we'll find out when they get here." Damon laughed.
Johanna Gilbert was insulted. Next to her daddy, Uncle Damon was the center of her universe, and she would not hear a word against him. "C'mere, Uncle Damon," she said. She was sitting in the big recliner.
Damon went to her, picked her up from the chair and put her back in his lap.
"What's on your mind, Peanut?" he said.
"Why did Aunt Caroline say you're a demon? That's not nice." In Johanna's nine-year-old world, issues were black and white.
He grinned. "Your Aunt Caroline likes to pick at me and I like to pick at her," Damon explained.
"Is that why you call her Blondie?"
"Yeah, it is."
"But a demon is mean. Being blonde isn't mean, even if it does come out of a bottle."
At this, Elena and Bonnie completely lost their composure and howled with laughter. Damon's shoulders were shaking in his effort not to howl along with them. He dared not look at Elena.
"What's so funny? That's what Gracie said! She said her mama's blonde hair comes out of a bottle."
"Oh, blame it on me, now," Grace snickered.
"Whose hair comes out of a bottle?" Ginny, also nine, had come downstairs from her room. She climbed into Damon's lap, too. "Who are you talking about, Daddy?" she said.
At that Damon groaned. "Elena, Bon, talk to these girls. This is completely beyond my man skills."
"Well, there's a switch," Ric said to the air. Damon shot him a dirty look.
Bonnie and Elena were busy explaining to their daughters how they shouldn't repeat everything they heard when Stefan and Caroline arrived.
Caroline bounced in first. "Hi there! Total hair emergency. I cannot EVEN explain it! Grace, thank you for bringing your siblings here. We appreciate it."
"You're welcome, Mom."
"Hi brother. Hellloooo, Blonnnnndieee," Damon drawled.
Caroline whirled on him. "I am not speaking to you. We were on our way here."
"What happened? You and Stefan knock each other out fighting for mirror space or something?" His eyes were devilish.
"Oooooh! Why do you DO this to me?" she spluttered.
"You just answered your own question, honey," Stefan said. "If you just didn't take the bait when he throws it out, but you do, every single time. You know if he gets you going about something, he's had a good day."
"I don't see how any female stands to be around you in that newsroom," Caroline said. Damon was the city editor at the Mystic Falls Herald.
"They like to look at me. That's how," he replied smugly.
Caroline glared at him and went into the kitchen. Stefan shook his head. "She can't help it. You dangle the bait…"
"And she takes it like a big bass. CHOMP!" Damon finished the sentence.
"I don't know how you've put up with him all this time, Elena. I really don't. He would drive me crazy," Caroline said to her friend.
"Which is why you're married to Stefan and I'm married to Damon," she said with a smile.
Elena looked at her family, loud and happy, and was thankful. She loved her work in occupational therapy, while Damon found a natural fit for his inquisitive nature in journalism. And when he was following a story, he was absolutely ethical - and absolutely relentless.
Jeremy had his degree in business administration with a minor in art, and he and Bonnie owned a little coffeehouse in Richmond that boasted a small art gallery, too. To no one's surprise, Caroline majored in interior design, and had her own business. In Mystic Falls, Doc Salvatore was a favorite. Stefan had an old-fashioned practice, too. He made house calls and gave his cell number to his patients. Any time someone needed Doc, he was usually there, listening patiently and quietly reassuring them.
As Elena listened to the kids running around, and the adults talking, she couldn't quite believe everything was so right in her world. It had taken a long time, a lot of tears and some heartbreak, but life was good. She just wished her parents, Damon's mother and Aunt Phyllis were here to see it. But, maybe they were. Who could tell?
"Elena?" Caroline broke into her reverie. "It's time to feed these kids!"
"O.K.," she laughed. "Let's do it."
After supper, the crowd gathered in the big dining room for cake. As usual, the candles spelled "Happy Birthday" and everyone sang to them.
Damon took Elena's hand and looked at her. She nodded. "On three. One-two-three!" and both blew out the candles, to applause.
Ginny and Johanna piped up almost at the same time, "Now your wish is gonna come true!"
Damon squeezed Elena's hand and put his head next to hers. "Mine already has," he said.