A/N: Yay, I'm about to complete my first story! I had a 'ball' writing this. I laughed and I shed a couple of tears too. Well, I know you all have high expectations of this chapter. I do too. Without further ado, I present to you the final chapter of Locked In A Loveless Marriage.
The three minutes they spent waiting for the results of the pregnancy test were the longest three minutes of his life. At least Elena put the test down in the bathroom and joined him outside of it so they could wait together. He knew it wasn't possible, but he thought he must have held his breath the whole time. Once his watch beeped that the time was up, Elena went in to retrieve the test. When she came out of the bathroom, she looked slightly disappointed. She showed it to him. There was a line in one window and a cross in the other.
"Doesn't the cross mean it's positive?" he asked her, unable to keep the frown off his face.
"Yup," she said with a grin. "We're pregnant. Congratulations, you're going to be a dad."
Words escaped him, but then when it came to Elena, the words always escaped him. He picked her up in his arms and twirled her around. She laughed and laughed until she told him to put her down because she was going to be sick.
Damon had never been happier. He could hardly believe that it had happened so soon. The best part for him, other than the fact that he was expecting to be a father, was that Elena seemed happy about it. She was as excited as he was that they were becoming parents and he found her enthusiasm just added to his own. It was early days yet, and they had a long way to go but he was over the moon.
Over the next few weeks her morning sickness worsened.
"It should be called all-day sickness," he'd grumbled more than once, since it never seemed like it was just the mornings where she was feeling ill.
Whenever he said that she would just smile at him and tell him that it was all going to be worth it. He knew it was true but it really took its toll on him seeing her so sick. He did everything he could to help, but it was easy to feel useless. What was ridiculous to him was that she was the one reassuring him that she was okay and everything was going well with the pregnancy. His wife was like no-one else he'd ever met.
He'd finally figured out that he was in love with her. For him it wasn't like one of those moments in the movies where the guy has a sudden epiphany and finally knows it without a doubt; no, it was a gradual awareness of what he'd been feeling all this time. Ever since Elena had opened up and told him how she felt about him, he wasn't trying to repress his own feelings and he allowed himself a little bit more time to think about what it was he was feeling. If he had to guess he would actually say he had loved her for some time. His feelings had been very deep since the beginning, and they had kept growing. He knew now those feelings were love.
Things were perfect between them, and he really wanted to tell her he loved her. She deserved to hear it. She was so patient with him, so understanding and so considerate that he never felt any pressure from her, but there was an internal pressure that was driving him to distraction. It was like he knew what he wanted to say, but he couldn't get the words to come out of his mouth. There had been so many perfect opportunities in the last three weeks to confess his undying love, but something was still holding him back and he didn't know what it was. Why couldn't he just say it? Why did he get a lump in his throat every time he went to tell her?
He puzzled over these questions as the two of them dressed for the ball. Elena had had her makeup and hair done downstairs earlier and now he helped her into her dress. He liked the dress. It was a royal blue gown with silver embroidery under the bust line and down the middle of the corset as well as around the skirt itself. She had blue matching gloves and a matching jacket. The only problem with the dress was that once he had her zipped up in it, he wanted to get her straight out of it again.
"Damon," she breathed, as he nuzzled her neck, kissing just under her ear.
"You look far too good in this," he told her. "You know blue is my favorite color."
"I do," she said, "that's why I chose it."
"So you are trying to drive me out of my mind."
She gave him a rather wicked look. "I may have thought about it once or twice."
Her words excited him. "If we don't leave now, we may not make it out the door at all."
"I'm not opposed to enjoying you all night in bed."
He groaned. Her libido matched his perfectly.
"I have to go to this, so for the first part of tonight you're only going to get to enjoy my dancing," he told her, wishing it wasn't the case at all.
"I suppose that's okay. Just remember when we're out there dancing that we could have been doing something else instead," she said, with a saucy smile.
He raised his eyes to the ceiling as she walked out of the room. She'd said that deliberately to keep him turned on all night. It worked. As he twirled her around the ballroom floor, all he could think about was how they could have been doing the horizontal tango in bed.
Elena laughed as she and Damon spun around the dance floor. She loved the fact that she had so much fun with him, and it helped that he was an exceptional dancer. Her man could move; in bed, out of bed, on the dance floor. She was also enjoying the fact that he wanted her. His lust for her was written all over his face, and as much as she wasn't proud to admit it, his need for her sexually gave her a sense of security. She'd thought so many times over the past few weeks that he'd been going to tell her he loved her, but the words hadn't come and she was blaming the pregnancy hormones for making her feel a tad insecure. Keeping him interested sexually was easing some of that insecurity and when they were intimate she felt as if he did love her.
Around an hour after they'd arrived, Katherine entered the ballroom. Elena felt apprehensive about how Damon would handle it, but to his credit, Damon barely did more than look up briefly as she made her entrance. Elena thought Katherine's date looked a little old for her, but he was still handsome. Grudgingly she admitted that Katherine herself looked stunning in a black gown. The gown looked a little short for this type of event, but Damon's ex-girlfriend made it look classy.
Luckily Katherine and her date stayed on the other side of the floor to them and eventually Elena relaxed enough to stop checking on their location, and started to enjoy herself again. After much dancing, and socializing in which she met many of Damon's acquaintances, she excused herself to go to the ladies.
As she washed her hands at the basin, she was joined by Damon's ex-girlfriend. Luckily, it wasn't Katherine.
"Hi Elena," Caroline said. Both the smile and the voice were friendly, so Elena decided she might just be okay.
"Hi Caroline." Elena was hoping to avoid one of those awkward conversations that people have when they don't know each other very well, but Caroline chatted away easily and soon the two girls found themselves laughing away together.
"I was so mad when he broke up with me," Caroline told her.
"I'm sorry,' Elena said.
"That's okay. Damon loves you."
Elena didn't want to correct her.
"I see the way he looks at you. Damon never looked at me like that, but then Damon never loved me. Katherine, that total stuck-up bitch, really screwed him up. I wanted him to love me, but he never could. Then I dated Stefan for a month. Can you believe that bastard cheated on me?"
"Yes," Elena said. "Yes, I can believe that."
"Tyler though, he's a real sweetie. In fact I think he might even love me. I think I might love him."
Caroline had a far away look in her eye and a large grin on her face that had Elena grinning back at her.
"You know, we should go and get some champagne and introduce Tyler and Damon to each other," she suggested, her voice full of excitement.
While Caroline was nice, Elena thought it might be a bit to soon for that sort of thing.
"I can't drink champagne," Elena told her, trying to politely decline.
Elena was searching for an excuse when Caroline guessed.
"Oh my God, you're pregnant aren't you?" she practically squealed.
Elena didn't bother to deny it because she couldn't stop her own answering grin. Caroline jumped up and down and hugged her. The girl was so excited one might have thought she was the one who was pregnant.
"You two are going to have such cute babies. Have you thought of any names yet? Are you hoping for a boy or a girl? Are you going to find out the sex?"
Elena laughed at her enthusiasm. "It's still early days, Caroline. We're just taking it one day at a time."
"I know, it's just…"
When Caroline broke off mid sentence and stared past her, Elena turned around to see who she was looking at.
"Hello, Caroline," Katherine said as she sauntered towards both of them.
"Hi," Caroline mumbled.
Had Katherine been listening to their entire conversation? Elena hadn't seen her enter the bathroom, so she must have. Had she heard Caroline call her a bitch? She kind of hoped so.
This was Elena's moment to tell Katherine exactly what she thought of her and the atrocious way she'd treated her husband, but faced with the enemy, she found herself completely speechless.
"I don't think we've met," Katherine said to her, as she washed her hands.
"This is Elena Salvatore," Caroline told her proudly.
"Damon's wife," Katherine said with an eyebrow raised. She stepped back a little and very blatantly examined Elena from head to toe. "Did I hear you're pregnant, Elena?" Katherine asked her now.
She couldn't very well deny it if Katherine had heard everything. "Yes," she told her.
"Well congratulations. Damon has wanted a child for a very long time. It's nice to know he found himself a breeding cow."
"Excuse me," Caroline said, outraged on Elena's behalf. "She'd kick your but if she wasn't pregnant."
Katherine laughed. "I'd like to see her try."
Elena was very tempted to try, but instead settled for using her favorite weapon of choice; words.
"I'm not a breeding cow, as you so delightfully put it, Katherine; and having a baby is something very special. Not that I'd expect you to understand. Taking care of someone else is beyond your comprehension and abilities."
"Snap," Caroline said, clicking her fingers at the same time.
Katherine did not look amused. She walked right up to Elena.
"You think you're better than me? Hmm. Is that it?"
Elena took a step back. "I think Damon deserved better than what you did to him."
"Double snap," Caroline said, clicking her fingers twice.
Both Elena and Katherine glared at her. "Sorry," Caroline mumbled.
"Well," Katherine said, "I'm sure Damon appreciates you standing up for him, but truth be told the guy has always been in love with me, and I'm sorry to tell you this but he probably always will be."
"No," Caroline told her, "he loves Elena now. You are yesterday's news."
"Is that so?" Katherine asked Elena.
"Yes," Elena lied. "He loves me. He got over you a long time ago."
"That's very sweet and very naïve of you Elena. You know, you really don't look too sure about that. Let's play a game. Give me a three minute dance with your husband and then we'll see who he really loves."
"Damon would never dance with you," Caroline said with absolute conviction, but inside Elena just didn't have that same level of conviction.
"Three minutes," Katherine said, holding up three fingers. Then she walked out the bathroom door.
Elena closed her eyes, and hoped that somehow what Caroline said was the truth and Damon did love her, because if she went out there and found Katherine dancing with Damon, she thought her heart might just break.
Damon was starting to get concerned. His wife had left to use the bathroom fifteen minutes ago and she still hadn't returned. He hoped she wasn't in there throwing up. He started walking toward the bathroom when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Damon turned around to see who it was that had clapped him on the back. "Mr Barroway, how are you?" Damon asked, shaking hands with the elderly gentleman. The Barroways were a very powerful family and Damon had been after their business for years.
"Please, call me Jim. I had the pleasure of speaking with your wife earlier," Mr Barroway told him. "I have to say, she is just lovely. I don't know where you've been keeping her, but we must have dinner sometime. If you have the good taste to marry her then I know I can trust you with our money."
"Well, thank you Mr Barroway…I mean Jim. I'll have my assistant call you."
"Do that," Jim told him, "I can't wait to find out more about your gem of a wife."
The old man left him. Damon was shocked; Elena had just landed him the Barroway account. She was absolutely incredible. He couldn't wait to tell her the good news. As he walked towards the bathroom he was intercepted by Katherine. Her sudden appearance caught him off guard and she used the moment to slip into his arms and put her arms around his neck.
"Damon," she purred, "I thought we could dance for old time's sake."
"Thanks, but I'm not interested," Damon told her, trying to remove her arms from around his neck. He wanted to tell his wife he loved her, not dance with the worst mistake of his life. Katherine, however, would not let go of him. She clung tightly, even when he tried to pry her away. She made a noise and he saw people starting to turn their heads and look at them.
"Don't make a scene, Damon," she told him sternly.
He glared at her. He had nothing to say to her and had no idea why on earth she would want to dance with him.
"What do you want, Katherine?"
"I just had the pleasure of meeting your wife in the bathroom."
She had his attention. "What did you say to her?"
She pouted. "Why would you assume I said anything to her?"
"If you said anything to upset her, I'll…"
"You'll do what, Damon? You won't do anything; you're all talk."
"You have no idea what I'm capable of, especially when it comes to my wife," he told her.
"So protective, aren't you?"
He wasn't interested in playing her game.
"We were good together," she told him.
"No, we weren't. You lied, and I thought you were someone you weren't."
"Not everything was a lie, Damon. There's still an attraction between us. Don't you feel it?"
"Honestly, Katherine, the only thing I feel when I'm with you is shame and regret. Shame that I let myself get you pregnant, and regret that I'll never meet that child."
Elena walked out of the bathroom after assuring Caroline that she didn't care if three minutes were up or not, she wanted to get back to her husband. She hated how insecure she felt, but she had to find out if he still loved Katherine. As soon as she saw him dancing with her, she felt a jealousy so white and hot it felt like someone was ripping her apart on the inside. She stood frozen to the spot for a moment watching them; watching the way they glided across the floor, Katherine's arms around his neck, the two of them pressed together. She wanted to sob; she wanted to die.
"Elena," she heard Caroline say softly. An arm went around her. Elena couldn't look at Caroline. "Don't let her win," Caroline said.
No, she couldn't let Katherine win. Tonight she may have lost the fight, but she hadn't lost the war, not yet.
When the music stopped, Damon tried again to shake himself free of Katherine.
"One more dance," she told him quickly. "Or will it cause trouble between you and your wife?"
"Is that your intention?" he asked her. "Did you come here tonight to cause trouble?"
"No, it wasn't my intention, but it has been fun nevertheless."
"What do you mean? What have you done?"
Elena approached Damon and Katherine with single-minded determination. Instead of feeling white hot jealousy, Elena was now seeing red hot rage. She tapped Katherine on the shoulder.
Katherine turned around and seeing Elena standing there, she smiled a rather smug smile. In that moment Elena wanted nothing more than to wipe that smile off her face.
"Katherine, I think your date is looking for you. I overheard a man talking about a selfish slut who tried to sleep with all his friends."
"Ouch," Katherine said. "I suppose it must hurt to know I'm right."
"Right about what?" Damon asked. Elena didn't bother to answer him. He could wait as far as she was concerned.
"Were you? If you were right you wouldn't be going home alone tonight."
"What are you talking about?" Katherine looked confused.
Elena pointed to Katherine's date on the far side of the ballroom. The man looked disgusted.
"I've just had an interesting conversation with your date. He didn't know that you gave my ex-boyfriend gonorrhea, but what he does know is that you have trouble keeping your hands to yourself."
She could see Damon's confused expression out of the corner of her eye.
"That's very clever of you, Elena. It's a pity I don't believe you though."
"Well, why is he walking out right now then?" Elena waved her hand, and shooed Katherine away. Then she launched herself into her husband's arms and began to dance with him so that Katherine had no choice but to talk to her back if she was going to say anything. Elena hoped Katherine would simply leave them be. She was feeling so fragile right now that she didn't think she could take another minute of Katherine's company. She heard something that sounded suspiciously like a foot stomp before she saw Katherine go after her date.
Damon had watched the exchange quietly, trying to figure out what the hell was happening. He would have enjoyed Elena's one-upmanship of Katherine had he not been able to tell that his wife was extremely upset. There was murder in his wife's brown eyes, and it wasn't all aimed at his ex-girlfriend. Elena was angry with him; furious, judging by the look on her face. He felt the waves of rage just rolling off her. It made his gut knot. He'd never seen her so angry before, not even after their wedding. Her eyes glittered dangerously as they clashed with his and that's when he saw it; there was pain in her eyes. She was hurting. Was she upset because he'd been dancing with Katherine?
"Elena," he started.
"Don't, Damon. Not here and not now."
Elena desperately hoped Damon wouldn't say another word, because if he said anything to her right now she was likely to fall apart in his arms. She looked at a spot on the wall on the far side of the ballroom, trying her hardest not to cry. She wouldn't fall apart; not here. She wouldn't give Katherine the satisfaction, even though she was hurting like hell. She couldn't look at her husband as she danced with him, couldn't bear to see what was on his face. Loving someone who didn't love her was one thing; but loving someone who was in love with someone else was quite another. She would see out tonight if it was the last thing she did; and then she had to decide what to do next.
Damon couldn't stand to see the look of anguish on his wife's face. He wanted to tell her that Katherine had forced the dance, and he hadn't wanted any part of it. Instead, and despite her protests, he grabbed her hand and dragged her across the ballroom, to the bathroom. He locked them in, ready to try and reason with his wife and make her understand what had happened with Katherine, but surprisingly Elena started talking the moment the door was shut.
"How could you dance with her?"
His wife was literally shaking with anger.
"I didn't want to dance with her, I was trying to avoid a scene after she threw her arms around me and wouldn't let go." He said, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice. He didn't like where this was going. She was so angry and so emotional that he was afraid of what she was thinking, afraid she had completely the wrong idea.
"You still have feelings for her," his wife accused, her voice trembling.
How could she possibly think he still cared for Katherine in any way? His wife's jealousy gave him no satisfaction, no pleasure, no amusement, because it meant she had no idea how he felt about her. Because if she did know what she meant to him, she would never doubt him; she wouldn't feel insecure or threatened by Katherine. She would know that she was everything to him, and she would know that she was the only woman he wanted for the rest of his life. Katherine meant nothing to him, and Elena meant everything, and he hadn't told her that.
"Elena," he said, approaching her slowly.
"Don't," she said quickly, holding her hands up as in telling him to stop. "I don't want to hear it. I know you care about me, and I know I said it didn't matter if you don't love me. But I was wrong," she whispered. "It does matter."
Her words slipped past his last defense and made his heart ache. His inability to move past whatever it was that was holding him back was hurting her badly. He did love her and he had to tell her. No excuses, no nothing; if he couldn't share his feelings with her, he was going to lose her. The thought was enough to bring those last remaining walls he'd built come crashing down.
She went to walk past him, but he grabbed her arm swinging her around, so that they were just inches apart.
"No Elena, you don't understand. You can't understand how I feel about you because I've never told you. I've never been able to find the words to tell you what you mean to me, but I'm going to try now, because I can't lose you."
He cupped her beautiful face between his hands now so she had to look at him.
"I love you, Elena." He paused for a moment, wanting to let those words sink in for both of them. "I know those words have been a long time coming, and I'm sorry you had to wait so long to hear me say them, but you have to believe me when I tell you that now that I know them I will never forget them. I love you, and if you left me today or tomorrow or ten years down the track, inside I'd die without you."
Her eyes were glistening with unshed tears but he couldn't bring himself to stop. After spending weeks searching inside himself; searching for the words to tell her how he felt, he'd finally found them all and now they were just sitting there waiting to be said. He couldn't turn them off. He took one of her hands and put it over his heart, covering her hand with both of his. His eyes never left hers.
"This heart; it beats for you. You make me a better man and I don't even want to think about who'd I'd be without you. You are everything to me. You are my light; you are my hope and Elena, you are my destiny."
He watched as the tears spilled out onto her cheeks. God, she was crying and his heart was breaking as he wiped her tears away. Did she understand yet? Did she get that she was his entire reason for being?
"I would do anything for you, Elena. I need you. It's you, and it's always going to be you for the rest of my life. Please tell me you understand."
She was silent, but the tears were still sliding down her cheeks.
"I promise you this," he told her, "there will never be another day in this lifetime that you won't know how I feel about you. I will tell you every day how much you mean to me; how much this marriage means to me."
Elena sniffled slightly and tried to pull herself together. This moment was one she'd hoped for, waited for, and now that it was finally here she was a mess – she was moved to tears. He loved her, and she hadn't even realized how much she needed to know that, to hear that, and for it to be true until tonight.
"Okay," she told him.
"Okay, you better tell me that every day."
He smiled. "I will." Then he kissed her, a kiss that told her he meant everything he'd just said.
"She has your nose," Damon told Elena.
"Well, she has your hair," Elena told him.
Damon reached into the bassinet and stroked their baby girl's hand. She gurgled and grabbed his finger, looking straight into his eyes. His daughter, Olivia Grace Salvatore had been born four days early, after a twenty-three hour labour. The moment his daughter had been placed in his arms would be forever imprinted in his memory. He'd cried. It was the only time he'd ever cried in his life, and Elena would never let him forget that, but he didn't care. The moment had been pure magic, and his daughter, well she was completely perfect.
A year ago he'd thought he'd never love again, now he felt as if his heart and his life were just bursting with it. He was quickly realizing that there was no limit to the love he could feel. When his daughter had been born it was like his heart had grown and expanded to accommodate all the extra love he would feel for his child. His capacity for loving was just growing and growing. He knew he owed so much of that to his wife.
Olivia closed her eyes now, and Damon slid his finger out of her grasp.
"She's so beautiful," Elena said.
Damon had to agree, Olivia Salvatore was picture perfect, but could he expect anything different when his wife was the picture of beauty herself? Elena had glowed the whole way throughout the pregnancy, and even now, he thought she was stunning. Motherhood agreed with her. She seemed to have taken to it like a duck to water. He'd always known she would. Her instinct was to love and nurture others and it was one of the many, many things he loved about his wife.
The two of them wandered out of the nursery quietly and took a seat in front of the fire. She put her feet on his lap, and he found himself rubbing her feet.
He wasn't the perfect husband by any means, but he tried to be. He made mistakes but Elena was quick to bring him up to speed when he put a foot wrong. He was still learning how to love someone and their marriage was a work in progress that he would never take for granted. She was his best friend, the love of his life and he loved her more and more everyday.
"I love you, Elena," he told her now.
Elena looked at the man who was giving her the best foot massage in the world. He had kept his promise and then some. He told her every day that he loved her, but his actions spoke volumes of his love for her. She couldn't help but feel adored, pampered and appreciated every day. If she had ever been locked in a loveless marriage, as Stefan had suggested, she certainly wasn't anymore. Their marriage, their family, their house was full of love. Elena couldn't help thinking that everything about the journey that had led them here had been worth it. Their love was one that would last forever.
A/N: This has truly been an incredible journey for me. I want to thank you all for coming along for the ride with me. I have loved writing this and it has been a challenge every step of the way, because I haven't wanted to disappoint any of you. Your support has been AMAZING. Thank you to every single person who has been reading this fic, added me to their alerts and this story to their favorites. I know how lucky I am that so many of my readers took the time to review this story.
Damon and Elena as a married couple were a lot of fun to write about. I will write another story about them being married, but that is in the distant future. I don't think I took every opportunity I could have in this story, but I did what I felt was right at the time and it ended up being about 50,000 words I think. M&B are usually between 50,000 and 57,000 words so I wasn't too far off the mark there. I'd love to have a M&B with my name on it one day.
Until the baby comes I intend to write like there is no tomorrow. I have two complete stories planned to finish before August. I uploaded the first chapter to one of them yesterday; it's called Dark and Dangerous Desires. It is another AU. I've realized while I've been writing LIALM that I am not one of the many VERY talented writers on here who can write more than one story at a time. That said, the final chapter to Friendship on Ice is nearing completion and I have a one-shot that I would like to publish on here at one stage. It's complete but my husband thinks it's crap. He NEVER tells me something is crap, so it must be bad. I'm still playing with that one.
Before October 2010, when I joined this website, I hadn't written seriously since 2004. I feel like I'm finally starting to shake off the cobwebs and rust and find my voice. I'm still making mistakes, but it's all about the journey right? I'm crazy about romance and with the couple of stories I have planned, I intend to completely play around with classic romantic formula. My new AU is a bit of a romantic comedy, we'll see how that goes since I'm not the funniest person you'll ever meet, but I'm excited about it anyway.
Now that I've talked your ear off (are you getting the impression that I don't want this fic to end yet? :( ) I want to thank you all again. Thanks also to a friend who ran her eye over several of these chapters for me, and took the time to tell me when I made a mistake in my other chapters. You're awesome.
Lots of Love (because the world could always use more)