Just a little something that popped into my mind.
The wind howled outside—harsh and unforgiving—and the small bundle that lay on the Salvatore's doorstep shivered and trembled from the cold.
The baby's cries resonated throughout the night and the distressed sound caused Elena Gilbert's ears to prick. She sat up straight, her eyebrows pulling into a frown as she walked over to the heavy door and pulled it open, ready to face whatever was making that heartbreaking noise.
Her expression became a mask of confusion as she placed two hands on either side of the doorframe, leaning her body out towards the night. She scanned the area briefly, before her eyes were cast downwards and a small baby wrapped in a blue blanket caused her eyes to widen.
"What have we got here?" She whispered to herself, reaching down and lifting the baby up with careful, gentle arms. She held it close to her chest, her lips pulling into a small smile when the bundle stopped shaking and looked up at her with curious, cautious blue eyes.
A gush of wind passed then, rendering the baby trembling and herself shivering. She quickly pulled the blanket tighter around the child, before walking backwards and closing the door with one hand. She walked quietly back inside, her mind already calling out for her boyfriend, Stefan.
But he never came and before she could voice her surprise, Damon Salvatore stood in-front of her.
He was clad in black as usual—black t-shirt, black boots, black jeans and a black leather jacket—he looked flawless. She bit back a gasp and looked at him with hard eyes.
"You scared me." She breathed lamely.
He tipped his head to the side and threw her one of his signature smirks. He observed her closely for a moment before his eyes glazed over and became cold, vacant.
"What on Earth are you holding?"
She bit her lip, glancing down to the cold bundle in her arms, "I found it." God, I'm so lame.
"You found it?" Damon repeated slowly, humorously.
"On your doorstep." She corrected and when he didn't say anything, she carried on. "I was here visiting Stefan and you were upstairs doing... whatever. But Stefan's away hunting so I thought I'd wait for him and I heard this noise, like crying, and I went to see what it was and voila." She rambled, laughing nervously.
He swallowed, blinking.
"Get rid of it."
"What?" She exclaimed.
"I don't want it in my house, take it away."
"Damon, it's not an object, I can't just throw it away. It's a baby." She suddenly hated the way she kept calling the child 'it', so she carefully peeked under the blanket before meeting his cold eyes again, "Scratch that. He's a baby."
They remained silent until Elena grew restless and felt like she was teetering of an edge—waiting for something, anything, to happen.
"Elena..." Damon's harsh voice brought her back to reality, "What are you doing?"
She looked at him with confusion, "What?"
"The way you're holding the baby..."
She gulped, only then realizing that she was holding the child at a considerable distance.
"You said you didn't want to be anywhere near it." She tried to justify; all the while knowing that her surprising mother's instinct was the real reason she was clutching the baby to her chest so protectively.
He shook his head, undeterred.
"But you're... shielding it from me." If Elena didn't know him better, she'd think he was hurt, "Do you think I'm going to hurt the thing?"
"No!" She practically shouted.
"You do, don't you?" He frowned, crossing his arms over his broad chest, "What do you think I'm going to do... eat it?" He drawled sarcastically.
Elena's mouth opened and closed until she looked like a fish, "I—"
"—I would never hurt a child." He almost spat, indignantly.
She sighed, exasperated, "I'm sorry Damon, but can you blame for being a little bit cautious after everything you've done?" Vicki and Lexi's faces popped into her mind before she pushed them back with difficulty.
"Sit down." He demanded, his voice hard and unforgiving.
Elena rubbed her forehead with a tired hand, holding the little boy tighter to her chest. "Look, I'm really sorry, Damon. It was wrong of me to—"
"—just be quiet and sit down." He interrupted, grabbing her arm and roughly pulling her down onto the black leather sofa. She noticed how he made an effort to stay away from the baby, "I want to tell you a story."
"About what?" She asked, trying to stop the tiredness from seeping into her voice.
He took his place next to her on the sofa, making sure to put a considerable distance between them. Elena was more than certain that this wasn't because of her—Damon never had any trouble being close to Elena, reveled in it, even. No. This was about the tiny bundle in her arms… this was the thing that was causing the older Salvatore brother such discomfort.
"About my past." He told her, casually flinging an arm up, resting it on the edge of the leather sofa, "Did you know..." He drawled, "...I was in the army?"
"No." Elena raised an eyebrow, surprised. "I didn't know that."
"Well, I was drafted on the 6th of December 1857." He said, his voice as soft as the flickering embers from the fireplace in-front of them, "I was 18 years old."
"Oh my god." Elena breathed, the image of Damon as a young soldier causing her to lose her breath. She thought about him in the midst of violence, blood and death... about how terrified he must've been... and it caused an ache in her heart.
"Don't feel bad for me just yet." He sensed—and hated—her pity, "My story isn't about what happened in the army. It's about what happened before that."
Elena repositioned herself on the sofa, turning until her back was against the armrest and her legs were crossed, Indian style. The little boy lay in her lap, his chubby fingers reaching up for her. "I'm listening." She whispered, already enthralled.
"I had a girlfriend." He started, his blue eyes staring into the fire, "Her name was Keira. Ours was a kind of puppy love; the innocent and pure adoration shared by two flighty teenagers who thought they had the world at their feet."
"You were in love with her?" Elena asked and hated the small pang of jealousy the sparked through her at the thought.
"I thought I was..." He looked at her then, his eyes suddenly scorching and serious, "...but no. I cared about her... perhaps more purely than I've ever cared about anyone... but I've only ever loved Katherine and—" He stopped, his voice falling away as the weight of everything that was left unspoken hung in the air, —Katherine. Just Katherine."
Elena bit her lip, lowering her head.
"Anyway..." He drawled, wanting to stray away from the uncomfortable subject, "...we had the perfect summer together and I fell for her. At the time, Keira was everything I wanted in a girl; kind, loving and a free spirit. My feelings for her were innocent and pure and nothing like the obsession I would later feel for Katherine." He rolled his eyes at his stupidity, "One night, Keira came to my room, through my window, sobbing and as white as a ghost."
"What was wrong?"
"She said... She told me she was pregnant. She was late and scared and crying that she wasn't ready to be a mother, but all I could think about was that we were going to have a baby... I'd always wanted to be a father."
"But you were so young!" Elena exclaimed, the image of Damon as a father causing an incredulously warm feeling to rush through her.
"That didn't matter to me." He told her, shrugging his leather-clad shoulders softly, "I was adamant that we would make this work—that Keira would grow to love this baby as much as I already did."
"I can't imagine you as a dad." She whispered, a small smile curling the corner of her mouth as the image of Damon changing a dirty diaper caused a small chuckle to fall from her lips.
"Well, I was a different person back then." He insisted, his soft voice wrapping around her like black velvet, "I was young, carefree... I didn't have the burden of 100 years of bitterness on my back. Stefan was my best friend as well as my brother."
Elena's heart pulled when she realized she had completely forgot about her boyfriend, "What did he think about it all?"
"He... had his doubts, of course." Damon's mouth curled into a lopsided smirk, "Unlike myself, Stefan hasn't changed a bit. He may have only been 10 at the time, but he was still a boring killjoy even back then." He joked, causing Elena's lips to twitch into an involuntary smile, "But despite his worries, he was happy for me; excited he was going to be an uncle. He was just terrified of what our father would say when he found out."
Elena's breath hitched at the thought of the original Salvatore. She remembered everything Stefan had told her about him… and a protective rush for Damon warmed her heart, "What did Giuseppe do?
"He was furious, of course." He rolled his eyes, "His anger was tripled when he found out that I wanted to play a part in the baby's life. Having a child out of wedlock in those days was unheard of and he couldn't stand having the Salvatore name soiled."
"What did he do?" She asked quietly, secretly scared of the answer, as the little boy in her lap caught her finger with a chubby fist. She smiled despite herself, letting him play with her finger.
Damon observed the encounter with a heavy heart, "He gave me an ultimatum." He told her, tearing his eyes away, "He said that either she get rid of it, or I never bother coming back."
Elena lifted her eyes and shook her head incredulously, "Surely he wouldn't abandon his own son?" She asked, already feeling a pang of love for the little boy in her arms. The fact that anyone could throw away their son was already inconceivable to her.
"Stefan? Never. But me? I was never even considered his son." Damon told her without even a hint of bitterness. It was clear that he hated his father just as much as he resented him, "He was just waiting for an excuse to get me out of his life for good."
"What did you do? What did Keira do? Did she get rid of the baby?" Elena rambled quickly.
"Woah, slow down Tiger." He chuckled, amused by how she seemed to hang on the edge of her seat.
"I'm sorry, I just find all of this so..."
"Amazing." She corrected, "Tell me more."
"Okay." He took a breath, as if composing himself. "When Keira told me she was about 10 weeks gone, I scooped her in my arms and spun her around. But something in her eyes told me she wasn't happy. I asked her what was wrong and her lip had trembled, tears spilling over. She was scared—terrified—saying that she didn't want to be a mother... that a baby would ruin her life."
"How could she say something like that?" Elena silently fumed, looking down at the baby's beautiful blue eyes and thinking how on earth could something so innocent ruin anything?
"We were 17." He defended, "We didn't know how to look after ourselves, let alone a child. But at the time, I reacted just like you. The bond between a mother and her baby was supposed to be something beautiful and I couldn't believe what she was saying. I could only hope that when she saw the child, she'd change her mind."
"What happened? Did she..." Elena's voice trailed off, the thought of Damon's baby dying before it had a chance to live causing tears to swell in her eyes.
"I took her in my arms—reassured her that we were in this together. I even went as far as to tell her I'd marry her. I wouldn't have people looking at her with disgust, thinking she was some kind of common whore. Over the next nine months, I did everything in my power to make her happy. I showered her and her bump with love, buying her little gifts, cooking dinner in the tiny house we bought with my summer job and the money my mother smuggled to us secretly. I bought her flowers to let her know she was important to me."
A small laugh fell from Elena's lips, "You were a sweetie-pie." She teased playfully.
"Don't remind me." Damon frowned, the thought of it causing him to cringe internally, "Anyway, my plan had worked. Occasionally I'd catch Keira stroking her ever expanding belly or quietly whispering to her bump. All her panicked tears about being a mother had quickly melted away, just like I'd known they would."
"I like this story so far." She whispered, feeling the baby in her arms start to rest.
"Well... I haven't finished." He said quietly, with a sickening sense of foreboding, "When the time came, Keira had a natural, trouble-free birth and hadn't stopped smiling from the second our daughter had been placed in her arms."
"You had a daughter?" Elena breathed incredulously as the image of a baby girl with thick, dark brown hair and bright blue eyes flashed through her mind.
"I had a daughter." He repeated—perhaps with even more awe than Elena, "I named her Lily."
"That's a beautiful name."
He flashed her a short smile, before it dropped. "Keira and I planned to get married in the next few months—"
"—but you didn't love her." She interrupted, her eyebrows pulling into a frown.
"That didn't matter to me back then. You have no idea what it was like. She'd run home, sobbing, after she'd heard the snide comments about her being nothing more than a lower class whore. I'd marry her and we'd move to the country somewhere. Start a fresh. Besides, there was nothing I could've loved more than my little girl."
"Damon..." Elena whispered, stunned at the emotion in his eyes and in his voice.
"I did everything I could." He looked at her, "Didn't matter what it was, I was ready to volunteer. It was all a bit of a mystery working out what to do sometimes, though... and Keira didn't cope well. She'd fume and get frustrated and I'd tell her to leave it to me."
"You did everything?" She asked, shocked.
"Well, yeah. I thought she'd carried her for nine months; it was only fair I put in some time now. Keira would get the hang of it eventually. Well, she was gonna have to. The Army sent for me the next month."
His detached voice caused a painful spark to run through her, "Could you not have... refused to go?" She knew the idea was impossible, but humored it anyway, the thought of a father leaving his newborn baby too painful for her to even comprehend.
"Of course not." He scorned her naivety.
"How did you cope?"
"It broke my heart, having to leave my family." His voice was quiet, soft. "Determined to cram in as many memories as possible, I read Lily bedtime stories, sang her favorite songs. I drank in everything about my daughter—from the way she smelled to how her eyelids fluttered when she fought sleep. All too soon, it was time for me to go. Lily was two months old."
Elena gasped; a sound that was more like crying.
"I showered her with kisses... told her I'd never stop thinking about her." He stopped for a moment, his blue eyes sparkling, "But nothing could've prepared me for the physical pain I felt at being away from my child. All I could do was picture her, remember her little giggles and smiles. But knowing that I'd miss my little girl's first steps, first words, every change in her, broke my heart. Still, I prayed that everything was going well and even grew a little optimistic. Maybe this was what Keira needed to realize she could cope without me."
"When did you return?" She asked, the quiet snores of the baby in her lap sounding like a car backfire in the tension-filled silence.
Damon blinked a few times before taking a deep breath. "I barely served 19 days before I was called home."
"What?" Elena exclaimed, incredulous, "Why?"
"I..." His voice faltered, "I went back and... Lily was gone." He dropped his head, his eyes cast to the floor, "The house looked like a bomb had hit it and I found Keira in a complete mess. I picked her up off the floor and shook her, looking into her eyes and desperately asking where our baby was, fighting my panic."
Elena remained silent, blinking back her tears.
"She was sobbing... close to hysterical. She was of no use and the doctors I met the next day would be more help. They sat me down, looked at me with sympathetic eyes... and told me my daughter was dead."
"Oh my god." A tear rolled down her pale cheek and Damon looked at her, shocked and humbled by her distress, "What happened?"
He closed his eyes for a moment, the memory causing a painful twinge in his unbeating heart.
"I can't remember what they used to describe it back then... but nowadays I suppose you'd call it cot death. There was no cause, no explanation... my little girl was gone and no-one could tell me why." His voice caused another tear to escape Elena's eye, "Keira was besides herself and even though I knew it wasn't her fault, I couldn't help but blame her. I needed to take it out on someone. I forced myself to believe that if I had been there, I could've stopped it."
"Cot death is... completely unexpected and unexplained. There's no way you could've done anything." She tried to comfort him.
"I was a father who had just lost his child." His voice was cold, hard, "Do you really think I was thinking clearly?"
"No." She whispered; her watery eyes cast downwards, "I guess not."
"The pain... it was like nothing I'd ever felt before." He whispered, his blue eyes shining with heartbreaking memories he hadn't let himself think about for decades, "For months, eating, sleeping, thinking was replaced with doing everything physically possible to convince myself this wasn't happening."
"How did you ever get past something like that?" She asked, stunned by his strength.
"I didn't." He told her simply; knowing that the thought of his daughter's face still caused an ache in his heart, "To be honest, I don't know how I got through those next few months, the image of Lily's last moments locked in my head. I'd been in the army but, after all the lives I'd saved, I couldn't get my daughter back."
A nearly-sobbing Elena remained silent.
"I couldn't look at her when they said I could see her. I didn't want that to be the lasting memory of my baby girl. At the funeral, my whole family was there... it's sad that something as terrible as this was the only thing that could bring them together."
"Did Giuseppe go?" She asked, interested in if the cold-hearted man could bring himself to comfort his eldest son when he was in inconceivable pain.
"Yes." He told her, but his voice was just as cold as when he had spoke about him before, "But he didn't say anything. He just stood in the corner, still as a stone, as Stefan latched onto my hand with chubby fingers and cried. It all felt so... unnatural. A parent should never have to bury their child. As everyone said goodbye to my girl, I stood at her grave and kissed her headstone, made a promise to never forget her."
Elena pursed her lips into a thin line, tears blocking her vision, "What happened to Keira?"
"I don't know. I needed a distraction so I went back to the army and we didn't stay together. We blamed each other until our relationship completely fell apart. Last time I saw her was 1860."
She nodded and knew she was unable to understand a mother's pain of losing their child. She didn't want to dwell on it any longer.
"What did you do?"
"Nothing. After a couple of years, it was all over. But life without Lily was hard. I sought solace in Stefan and when Katherine came along, the drama that came with her was enough to momentarily distract me from the blinding pain of losing my daughter. But what happened there just added more fuel to the fire. Years passed and each birthday and anniversary was bittersweet."
"But then you were turned. Your pain became eternal. How did you cope with that?"
"When you live as long as I do, eventually you lose everyone. I came to terms with that. But I never accepted Lily's death because although you get used to it, she was just... she was a little..." His voice broke and for the first time in her life, she saw tears gathering in Damon Salvatore's icy blue eyes.
"Damon..." She breathed, astonished. "It's okay."
She reached out for him, placing her arm around him and embracing him with warm, open arms. The baby lay between them, his tiny body on Elena's thighs and his head resting on Damon's. She saw him flinch, the proximity too much for him, and her arms tightened around him.
"I think she was going to be right-handed." He whispered into her hair, his hand cold on the heated skin in the gap between her top and jeans, "The way she would hold onto your fingers... her right hand squeezed just a little bit tighter."
"Sssh..." She breathed, tears soaking his shirt, "You're alright."
He buried his face in her neck, his lips hot on her skin.
"I'm here." She whispered, her hand tangling in his dark hair, "I'll always be here. I'll never leave you."
She felt him shake his head, "Everyone leaves." He whispered brokenheartedly.
"Not me." She insisted roughly, "I'm not going anywhere." Her voice was a quiet reassurance.
He broke away, observing her with shining blue eyes as he felt her compassion resonate through him. She smiled a watery smile, her fingers reaching out and causing a shiver to run through his spine when she traced the edge of his jaw. He closed his eyes, grabbing her wrist with a trembling hand and opening his eyes, gazing at her intensely.
She smiled faintly, holding onto the lapel of his leather jacket with her left hand, and her eyes flickered towards his mouth before she placed her lips gently to his. He breathed into her mouth, her delicacy almost too much for him to handle. It wasn't rough or insistent; he held no scheming intentions to steal her away, and she in-turn knew that she didn't have to be afraid when he was around.
It was gentle... as if she was saying, "It's okay, I've got you. I'll always have you." and her softness made him weak.
When they broke away, Damon's forehead leant against hers, and their breath danced in the air between them.
"Elena..." He breathed, "I can't look at a child, let alone hurt one. I can't be near what you have in your arms either. Because if I am, I know I'll look down and I'll... I'll see Lily."
She shook her head, placing another small kiss on his lips, "It's okay."
"I had a little girl." He whispered in awe, before one small tear rolled down his sculptured face, "I had a future."
She cried with him; his pain echoed in her own body and mind.
The baby boy between them stirred.
"I had a daughter."
What can I say, I'm in a very dramatic mood
Some things may not match up. If that's the case, I'm very sorry.
Review please! :)