Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries or it's characters. If I did, The Originals and Steroline would never have happened, Kol would be alive and happily causing mayhem somewhere, and Klaus and Caroline would be travelling the world and sexing it up.
3 years later…
She holds the mug of tea between her hands as she watches the rain swirl beyond the cafe windows, blowing on the hot drink to cool it.
Winter had well and truly set in over London, and as long as she's lived here, she still doesn't think that she'll ever get used to the chill.
Klaus reassures her that the further inland they get the warmer it will be, but she has yet to see any particular evidence of that, finds herself wishing for a hazy Texas day, all dry heat and sunshine.
The bell ringing over the door heralds a customer stepping into the cosy cafe, and Hayley Marshall's face lights up when their eyes meet.
The younger girl, now twenty two years of age, weaves her way gracefully between the tables before bending down to pull her into a hug.
"Good to see you." Hayley begins with a smile, depositing herself into the chair opposite and scooping up a menu from the middle of the table. "Thanks again for inviting me."
She and Hayley had actually defied all odds when it came to their acquaintanceship, which had very quickly progressed quite naturally to friendship as time went by.
Although younger than her, Hayley was witty and intelligent, always ready with the right answer whenever she needed it, willing to listen to any advice that she might have to give.
As a result Hayley's career had also progressed in leaps and bounds, and the girl was not only the reigning Olympic champion, but reigning world champion in beam, something which she had continued to own as her specialty.
"To my wedding? Of course you were going to be invited. Did you and Elena have a good trip over? You guys were on the same flight, yeah?"
A cafe worker hovers next to their table, eyes lighting up with recognition at the sight of the two of them together. The girl says nothing however, simply pulls a notepad and pen out of her apron pocket and waits expectantly for Hayley to order.
They're left alone once she does, and Hayley finally answers her question.
"It was fine. Elena and I kept ourselves entertained. She's a bit jet lagged, crashed back at the hotel room and told me to tell you that she'd call you when she's a bit more reasonable to deal with.
She laughs softly at that, because it was definitely something that her oldest friend would say.
"I'll forgive her this time. Tell me though, what are you up to? How's Tokyo training going?"
Selections for the Tokyo Olympics had just taken place for Team USA, and predictably, Hayley had been selected to captain the team to hopefully another Gold Medal win.
Hayley had been quite modest about the achievement, miles away from the attitude she'd displayed three years ago in the lead up to Rio.
"It's rough, but okay now that Isobel has quit the coaching team and disappeared. Alaric has taken her place, and he's so much more reasonable to deal with. Didn't even bat an eyelid when Vicki and I told him that we were skipping practice for a few days to come over for your wedding. He sends his apologies that he couldn't make it. Again."
She waves a hand dismissively.
"I've already told him it's fine. He's got some stuff going on, just the fact that he sent me his well wishes is enough for me."
Hayley just smiles up at the worker, who's returned with a steaming cup of coffee.
"I have to admit I'm loving how cloak and dagger everything about this wedding has been. Any particular reason why?"
Media scrutiny around her relationship with Klaus had never really gone away, especially after they'd moved in together. Although it was rare to encounter paparazzi outside of London where Klaus lived, once they were in the city or out at an event it was usually fair game.
She'd learnt to stop reading tabloids over time, learnt to just ignore all the rumours and speculation and trust in her bond with Klaus.
It had served them well so far, although not without a few memorable arguments and fights throughout her studies that had stretched them both thin.
"We just want this day to be about us you know? Us and our closest friends and family. We don't want to share it with the rest of the world, sell off exclusive photographs to the highest bidder."
Hayley leans back in her seat with a nod.
"Now that I can definitely understand."
"How's Jackson?" She asks the younger girl, taking a sip from her mug. "Still going strong?"
Hayley just gives her a soft smile.
"Yeah, still going great. He gets it you know? It's refreshing."
Jackson was a lawyer in downtown Huntsville, with a busy and successful career of his own. He was a good foil to Hayley's hot headedness, always there with a calming smile and a funny anecdote to calm her.
They were well suited for each other, and he brought some much needed stability to Hayley's chaotic life. He was working on a big case at the moment, otherwise he would have accompanied Hayley to the wedding.
"You nervous about tomorrow?" Hayley asks after a beat.
"No." She replies immediately. "It feels like we've been married forever. I think the only reason we were waiting was for off season and when my final year was almost done so we could do the honeymoon straight away."
"I'm glad." Hayley replies with a smile.
"You deserve all the happiness in the world."
Rebekah straightens from where she'd been crouched at her feet, adjusting the hem of the gown that she'd hand sewn for the occasion herself. Rebekah called it her Magnus Opus, the gown that would define her career.
And as she looks at herself in the full length mirror in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the Mikaelson mansion in Wiltshire, maybe it might be true.
The dress is beautiful, with a flattering silhouette and a flowing, floor length skirt. With the height of her heels she won't be tripping over the hem at all, which was the one thing she was worried about.
Well, that and having to constantly hitch up the bodice of her dress if she was going strapless, which Rebekah had flat out refused to make for her during the initial design process.
They'd finally settled on a long sleeved gown, the laces sheer and delicate and warm enough to protect her from the English Autumn.
"There." Rebekah pulls gently at her skirt, now wanting to upset the luxurious fall of the skirt. Then she takes a giant step back to survey her handiwork. "You look beautiful."
Rebekah is dressed in a pale blue gown, also of her own design. Bonnie, her other bridesmaid, is in a matching dress, and turns from her spot by the door.
"Oh Care, you look stunning." Bonnie declares with a beatific smile. "Are you nervous?" She asks carefully.
"No, not particularly." She answers her best friend, who just nods in understanding.
It was the same as what she'd told Hayley before. She and Klaus had been together for quite some time now, and felt like they'd been married for just as long given their living arrangements.
Besides, she was used to being the centre of attention. She would do what she always did in scenarios like this. Breathe, and block all but the most important stuff out.
There's a gentle tap on the door and her mother pokes her head around the opening, mouth opening slightly as she takes in the sight of her daughter in her gown.
Given Liz Forbes role as the main parent in her life, she could think of no better person to accompany her down the aisle. While this particular job typically went to the father of the family, given the fact that her father had walked out on them years ago and had lost that right.
He'd tried to get back in touch, after hearing of her win at Rio, but she was having none of it. He'd made no effort before then, it was only now that she was successful that he even bothered. It'd be something for him to brag about to work colleagues, and she had no doubt in her mind that he already was, regardless of their relationship.
She hadn't invited him to the wedding. Hadn't even thought about it.
"Are you ready to go?" Her mom asks, and she just gives a gentle nod before beginning her progress out of the room, Bonnie handing her a bouquet of flowers before she exits.
Rebekah and Bonnie fall into step behind her as they begin the long progress downstairs and outside into the gardens.
Esther had very kindly offered up the use of the Mikaelson estate for the wedding when she'd heard of her and Klaus' wishes for a private affair.
With high walls ringing the property and security all entrances and exits, there was no way that a paparazzi could crash the event and spoil the day with intrusive photographs.
That and the address of the Mikaelson estate was known to very few people, Klaus and his siblings taking care over the years to not compromise the security of their childhood home.
They'd set up a glass marquee for the reception, but the ceremony itself would be taking place outside in the gardens, in a similar setting to Bonnie and Kol's wedding all those years ago.
The sun is shining in a cornflower blue sky, and although the week prior had painted the skies in a dull, grey blanket with the threat of rain, she couldn't have asked for a better day to get married.
"Is it usually this nice?" Her mom asks as they wind their way down the hill towards the gardens, squinting into the sunshine.
"No." She replies with a laugh. "I was half expecting it to rain. We're very lucky." She adds as Rebekah and Bonnie chatter away behind her, arms linked as they help each other navigate the terrain in their own heels.
"A good omen then." Her mother replies with a wink as they reach the entrance of the gardens, pausing to listen to the music, the sound of the guests murmuring to each other as they prepare to make their entrance.
Bonnie and Rebekah move ahead of them, each giving her a gentle squeeze on the arm and a kind smile.
She and her mom link arms as they step forward together, the guests rising to their feet and turning as one to watch her progress.
She spots Klaus right away, an awestruck look on her face as he takes her in from top to toe. Kol and Elijah are standing next to him, both looking equally as pleased that this day is finally, finally taking place.
Her mom drops her arm, and she stops to give her a kiss on the cheek before stepping forward on her own and taking Klaus' outstretched hand.
He looks absolutely delectable in his tuxedo, the fabric perfectly tailored to the strong lines of his body. Rebekah's doing no doubt, and she makes a mental note to send her sister in law a giant bunch of flowers.
Klaus kisses the back of his hand and gives her a smile that takes her breath away. Bonnie steps forward to take her bouquet, and as one she and Klaus turn towards the celebrant they'd chosen to marry them.
"I love you." Klaus murmurs under his breath as she turns to look at him with a gentle smile, hands still joined.
"I love you too."
The crowd seats themselves and Klaus just squeezes her hands reassuringly.
She just smiles. Because she's happy.
"Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today…"
AN: I feel strangely emotional about finishing this fic. This is a story that I've wanted to write for years now, but I wanted to wait and finish some of my other stories before giving this one the attention it deserved.
This is probably the quickest that I've ever written a full length fic, and I have all of you to thank for it. Your continued support, encouragement, and excited reviews meant the world to me and I thank you for sticking with this giant fluff ball of a story.
This epilogue was always going to be short, and things were never really going to be wrapped up neatly in a nice little bow.
I like to think that you can imagine your own endings for Klaus and Caroline in this universe, come up with your own head canons. But for now at least, I'm happy to leave it at this point- Klaus and Caroline happy and married.
Caroline's happiness was all that I ever wanted in this story, and she went through a hell of a journey to get there.
I'm thrilled to be able to mark another story as complete. Thank you again for your support, you guys are the greatest.