She should have seen this coming.
With the world they live in, no day would go smoothly.
Not even her wedding day.
Instead of dancing with her husband and being high on wedding cake, she is stood outside in the town square without even having time to change.
"She couldn't have waited 5 more minutes."
She sighs and hears Stefan chuckle under his breath beside her, pulling her in closer by her waist and rubbing her arm gently to try and dismiss the goosebumps he can see forming.
"Sorry to interrupt your post marital bliss blondie, but we have a queen of hell to stop." Damon interrupts them, rolling his eyes at the determination to keep this as the "happiest day of their lives".
"And how exactly do we do that?"
"I have a plan."
All three of them turn their heads to greet the new visitor. Matt Donovan standing in front of them with a look on his face that means he's ready for battle. "It's crazy but it could work."
He get's Damon's attention instantly and his lips quirks up in a smirk.
"Then spill it Donovan."
Matt was right.
The plan was crazy.
And her first thought is of Stefan.
Using him as the distraction.
Her stomach rolled with just the thought of him being in the same vicinity as any danger.
She raises her head at his whisper, his arms wrapped around her lower back, his fingers softly stroking the material of her dress.
"I didn't get to tell you earlier, but you look beautiful."
Her head falls and the smile she wants to show him never comes. "Stefan-"
Two fingers under her chin, he pulls her up and leads her straight to his lips, kissing her with every ounce of love he can pour out of him. And at this moment, its almost all of it.
He pulls away just an inch, his lips trailing to her forehead before he pulls back completely to lock his eyes on her eyes. What he sees must scare him as he's got her in a full embrace within seconds and is whispering promises in her ear.
"I promise I will come back to you."
"You've said that before."
"And I'm right here aren't I?"
Slowly she lifts her head, scared she'll break if she moves too fast, clutching on to the lapels of his tux. The one she picked out months ago with Bonnie.
"How can you be so happy about this? You are human Stefan, literally anything can happen."
His hands find their way to the sides of her face, pulling her as close as he can get.
"Because nothing, not even Katherine Pierce herself, will stop me from getting back to my wife."
His smile grows as he feels her relax against him.
"And what am I supposed to do until then."
"Go home, pack your bags and I will meet you there. Then we will finally go on that honeymoon I promised."
Its Caroline that leans in for the kiss then, pulling him in with too much force that their noses bump as the collide and he laughs before her lips muffle it.
"Just don't get into any trouble okay."
She nods against him and can't resist giving him one more kiss. Pushing away the feeling that this could be the last.
That feeling almost crushes her and she feels his hand slip out of his and watches as he offers a smile before he goes.
Literally walking into the depths of hell.
She's halfway through packing her bags when she gets the call.
When she answers she's greeted with Bonnie on the other end, panting and frantic and excited.
"Caroline!" she all but yells down the phone, not taking a breath for a second as she rattles on as if her life depends on it.
But in this situation, that could well be true.
"You have to get the Armoury now."
Caroline furrows her brows as she closes her suitcase and beings to pace around her room half fearing for her friend's sanity.
"Bonnie calm down, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, I promise. But I have something to tell you and you are going to want to hear this now."
Her teeth crush her bottom lip between them as she ponders for a second more, she remembers her promise to Stefan of staying put and waiting. But if her friend was in danger she needed to help.
She was the only one who could help.
"I'm on my way."
"Are you sure?"
Bonnie nods again, smiling as her friend finally gets her head around what this could mean. Of how her life is going to change.
"But what about-"
"Caroline". She walks over to her and grabs her hands softly, staring in to her eyes as she tries to plea. "You deserve this, more than anyone I know"
She finally smiles at that, the first time since walking into the armoury that she has actually taken a breath. The first time it hits her what she was just presented.
"And plus I have got two little girls who are desperate for a sibling".
The girls laugh, Caroline closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. Thanking whoever she needs to that she has a friend like Bonnie Bennett. And making a mental note that she owes her big time.
Bring her attention back to the question at hand she prompts her. "So…"
And she decides to take the leap.
Skin tingling and heart soaring as she throws her arms around her friend's neck quicker than the yes slips out between her lips.
They squeal as they collide, spinning around in circles and smiling as if a miracle is about to happen.
And it is.
How did she get so lucky?
Caroline's eyes flicker, once, twice, containing her tears as she grips on to her friend's arms that little bit stronger.
Suddenly nodding is all she can do.
"I am more than ready."
"Then let's turn you human Mrs Salvatore."
Her joy only lasts an hour.
A call for help snaps them out of their celebration and throws them straight into the battlefield.
"Just be careful."
Bonnie shouts as they separate ways on the border of town. Each with their own priorities and responsibility.
She makes her promise as she hugs her close before charging head first into whatever chaos awaits her.
Her promise doesn't last long.
She arrives in the square, arms out ready to fight, when she sees it.
He's lying on the ground, Katherine poised above him, a sneaky dagger attack gone horribly wrong.
And there isn't a moment when she stop or thinks, she just acts. The thought of her now mortal life never crossing her mind as her only focus was on him.
She had to save him.
He sees her a second too late, a moment too slow, as she rises above them and everything happens in slow motion.
Katherine turning, the dagger changing directions, her scream as it lands deep in her side.
Her scream that shatters everything in him.
And then she's falling to the ground.
Body limp and her shirt now drenched in blood. Hair masking her face and all he wants to do is push it back, knowing she would be yelling at him that she didn't want to get it in any blood.
He crawls forward as best as he can and catches her in his arms.
Hell breaking out around them but all he sees his is wife limp in his arms.
And its then he promises her again.
"I will not let anything happen to you.
She's bloody and broken and he can see her skin turning a deathly shade of white. It all makes him gab on tighter and it's then he realises his strength isn't not what it once used to be.
But he tries anyway, God he tries.
Because he is not losing her.
It feels like hours when she finally opens her eyes when it's only been a matter of minutes, seconds even. The blue he loves is faded to grey and water shines bright against the moon's reflection. She chokes out a cough and all he wants to do is kiss away her pain.
So he does.
He leans forward and kisses her, long, hard and desperate, trying to breathe life into her and breath in her hope all at the same time.
His arms snakes around her neck holding her in place, tangling his lips with hers with every ounce of strength he can manage.
"Hey" she whispers quietly, almost too quietly.
Pulling back a few inches, he stares at her, taking in every inch of her face. Her eyes fall shut again as his fingers smooth through her hair, down her cheek, her neck, across her shoulders. It's his comfort routine.
The one he pulls out when she's planning an event and he drags her to spend five minutes in front of the fire with him. The one he uses when she wakes midnight with shivers and sweats and tells him all about her nightmare. The one he used not even 24 hours ago when they parted at the Salvatore house telling her he couldn't wait to make her his wife.
But this time it felt different. It felt terrifying.
"Hey" he finally replies though a choked whisper. "I thought I told you not to get in trouble."
"I was saving my husband, I have a habit of doing that."
They both smile, pained as it might be, but he can still the worry in her face and her curved lips do nothing to ease him.
He grabs on to her tighter, pulls her closer, and continues his soft strokes on her face. "You're going to be okay, you will heal soon."
She stiffens at that, and he feels it.
Feels as if everything is about to slip out of his arms, literally and symbolically.
"Don't talk just try and-"
"I won't heal"
Whatever it is she sees in her eyes is something she never wants to see again.
So she pushes on and tries to bring that small amount of hope he had almost a second ago. "I'm human."
She watches every single expression that flickers through his face. Confusion, understanding, worry and just the tiniest glimpse of happiness.
His brows furrow as he shakes his head. "How? How can you-"
"Bonnie found a spell and I took the leap."
She combs her hand through his hair, giving him a comfort of her own. Her heart drops when she sees it does nothing to wipe away his worry.
"It's okay" she interrupts, giving his hand a little squeeze. "I promise you'll be okay".
He finds his voice then. Loud, strong and damn right desperate.
"No. No, you don't get to do this. you don't get to give up like this."
"Don't worry, I'm not giving up on my mystery guy just yet."
She smiles and he cries.
And his tears are the last thing she sees.
The fight is over after that.
Matt rings the bells, pushing hell fire back to where it belongs and sending Katherine and himself with it.
There are tears and anger.
Pain and comfort.
And then silence.
Nothing but silence, that Stefan can't stand anymore.
So he makes a vow to leave and never come back.
Leaving Mystic falls caught in the crossfire.
Three days later he acts on that vow.
Swings open the car door and crawls inside, the trunk and backseats full to the point of bursting with all of the luggage.
It's mostly Caroline's doing.
"So where first?" She asks in her cheery voice, feet kicked up on the dashboard as she tries to navigate her way around the map. Turning left and right and Stefan chuckles in his seat and helps her by turning it the correct way.
She offers him a smile of gratitude and then a quick kiss just to reaffirm it.
"Well considering you only woke up a few hours ago from a supernatural coma, I think you deserve to choose first."
"How gentleman of you."
He is the one to lean over this time and plant a kiss square on her lips, sending shivers down both of their spines.
There's something else with it too, desperation, sorrow almost.
But she knows exactly what he means.
So she leans her head forward and gives him what he wants to hear the most. "I'm okay."
They remain locked in each others grip for a few moments more before he slips on his seat belt and she flips on the radio.
"I'm thinking New York first."
"Whatever my wife wants, my wife will get".
They do make it to New York.
And they enjoy married life as much as they can.
He teaches her how to cook and she attempts to give him singing lessons.
They travel around the city and enjoy things in their new found humanity. Lapping up the smells and sounds and even embarking in the new thrill that is public transport.
He decides to go to medical school and she gets a job at the local news station. They find a small apartment and the care that its not much doesn't even cross their mind.
They're too busy having movie night Fridays and planting their dream garden along the windowsills, getting caught up in soap fights whilst they do the dishes and spending lazy weekends making full use of the bed.
Too busy to miss their rings and the chaos that came with wearing them.
Too busy being happy.
Its been 5 years.
5 years since Mystic Falls burnt down to the ground.
5 years since they said goodbye to their homes and fled in an attempt to make a new one.
5 years of a normal, uninterrupted, human ending.
And it's a very happy one indeed.
Although, she still finds it hard to adjust sometimes. When there is nothing but silence and calm and she is half expecting someone to burst through the door of their new brownstone and inform them of an apocalypse. Now, her only a weapon a spatula and a pot full of the Salvatore family sauce.
"I can hear your thoughts again."
It comes in the form of an all to familiar laugh from behind causing her lips to curve up instantaneously. His arms circle around her waist when he makes his way over to the stove, planting a kiss on her temple for good measure.
"You're home." she sighs, content and happy.
"Ah ah, no changing the subject. I would like to know what's got my wife so troubled this time."
She sinks back into him, head resting against his, her free hand enveloping the one now planted on her hip, breathing in every part of who he is.
"Don't you ever feel like something's…I don't know…missing?"
His furrows his eyebrows and holds her that little bit tighter, swaying softly to their wedding song as it drawls out from the speakers.
"If you're asking me if I miss the constant death threats and the daily supernatural battles, then the answer is no".
Giving the pot one last stir, she turns to face him, arms wrapping around his neck and she quirks up one brow, keeping the easy rhythm between them as they slowly slip into a dance. "But…"
"But I do miss home sometimes"
She leans forward until her head meets his. "Me too"
Before she can say anything else, he has her hand in his, spinning her out and around, smiling wide at the giggles she releases.
"But right now, right here, I have everything I need-"
There's a rough tug and a sharp squeal before she's twirling back in his direction. His arms open ready to catch her. Ready to bring her home.
"-My beautiful wife in our beautiful new home making us what I'm sure will be a delightful meal."
"Hey!" she scolds in between giggles as he brings her flush against his chest. Hand swooping up her back to glide through her loose curls.
His smirk grows wider and he sends her a quick wink, his heart pounding loudly in his chest. "Any special occasion? Did I forget an anniversary again"
"Not this time"
He watches as she bounces away from his grip and practically skips her way over to the counter. He may be used to her happiness, but right now she is on a whole other level. And can't say it doesn't spike his curiosity.
His unspoken question is answered by a box neatly wrapped in pink paper, a ribbon to complete the top. But the colour is nothing compared to the blush on her cheeks, her smile putting the sun to shame.
"Open it" she says, almost squeals, as she hands him the gift.
He abides her wish and slips off the lid.
And his heart stops.
Dies in his chest and restarts all over again. His pulse exceeding levels that he knows shouldn't be healthy. But he doesn't care, not a single bit.
His eyes nearly leap out of their sockets as he looks from the box to her, her smile now teary as she holds her breath and waits for him to say something, anything, about this new chapter she has just opened.
She nods at every one of his inquiries.
Without another second, he's swooping her up in his arms, swinging her around and joins her in her giggles and happy cries and just everything of pure joy.
And when he does manage to find the words, they are glorious to her ears.
"We're having a baby"
"We are having a baby."
He finally fulfils his promise of Europe and seeing the world.
It's the "just you and me" part he fails on.
But she wouldn't change it for the world.
Not as they walk through the streets of Paris, hand in hand, and she suddenly has a craving for crepes.
Not as she sits on the couch of their Italian villa, his lips trailing softly over her belly, whispering promises of protection and unconditional love to the tiny life inside.
Not as he gets down on one knee again on their anniversary and re pledges his vow to fight for her and their new family.
And certainly not when she sees him for the first time, a tiny bundle of joy wrapped in pink cuddled in his arms as he sleeps softly by the fire.
She thinks for a moment back to the girl in the hallway and the guy that had her hooked.
Smiling at just how it was they got here.
Its been one hell of a life.
But she got to spend it with him.
And she can't ask for more than that.