Title from Paperweight by Joshua Radin & Schuyler Fisk.


every word you say, i think i should write down.

Elena grows old and dies. Her skin's wrinkled, full of lines, hands grasping for anything, sad eyes – still brown and endearing – but still all the same, sad.

She dies when it's October and cold out. Too cold for her.

–;

(twenty-one)

Her heart still beats insanely loud and erratic when she's around him. A blush falls over her chest as she lays her hand over it and clears her throat, smiling sweetly and listening to him chuckle.

He still makes her nervous.

He circles around her, rests his head on her shoulder, turns to kiss her cheek. She bows away from him and laughs his name. He closes his eyes momentarily at the way his name falls off of her lips, always the same, never-ending sigh, and he's sure he'll take eternity with her if she'd ever ask for it. He open his eyes again – dark and brooding, always – and a small smile appears on his lips.

She, still laughing, asks him, "What?" Her smile piercing his insides so good.

He steps closer to her, runs his hands up and down her sides, "Nothing."

When she falls flush against him, he takes the opportunity and kisses her, never gets tired of the moan it releases from the back of her throat.

"Stefan." She whispers against his lips. He'll love her forever.

–;

(twenty-six)

She has small wrinkles around her eyes from squinting, smiling, laughing – that's what she has with him. Still though, she sits in front of her vanity and traces the lines around her eyes, trails her hand down her neck, twirls a few strands of her still long, dark hair.

She looks up in the mirror, sees him standing behind her, and smiles. They make eye contact in the mirror and she sighs contently when he walks closer to her, rubs small circles on her shoulders, and kisses the top of her head.

She turns around quickly on the bench seat, her knees nudging against his jean covered legs. He looks down at her with a smile and she can't help but fall forward, hugging his torso to her; the soft fabric of his shirt rubbing against her face.

He grips at her shoulders, hugs her, then pushes her back. He kneels in front of her, rubs his hands up and down her thighs softly. He brings one hand up to her face, smooths his thumb over the creases at her eye. "Beautiful", he whispers.

He leans up a little, kisses the soft skin of her temple, trails soft kisses down the side of her face, placing two on the apple of her cheek; over her nose, down the her jaw, around her mouth – never on the lips. It'd frustrate her a little if her eyes weren't closed and she wasn't completely distracted by his soft lips and generous kisses.

"Beautiful", he whispers again when he's tracing her lips with the pad of his thumb and looking at her with adoration. "So beautiful." She sighs, the breath escaping her mouth and hitting right against his thumb.

She opens her eyes slowly, her hands searching the fabric of his shirt for something to hold onto. She grabs the material at his torso and pulls him to her, between her legs, and kisses him straight on the mouth. His hands fall to her sides, rubbing gentle circles on her hips.

Her breathing's ragged and his smell is everywhere around her. She brings her hands up to his face; palms flat on either side. Then she pushes them through his dark hair, scratches gently at his scalp. A rough moan escapes from the back of his throat and she's so glad that she can still do that to him after all this time.

She's glad that she's still enough for him.

–;

(sixty-six)

Her bones are brittle now and she has to pause to catch her breath sometimes if she's walked too much. Her face, once smooth and silky, is now wrinkled with age. Still bright eyes though; no frown lines, just smiles.

Stefan, still young and pretty – never changing – never leaves her. With bone crushing love, he never gets enough of her. She's still soft smiles and loving eyes when he pulls the cover over her at night.

He still whispers sweet nothings in her ear as she's falling asleep. She doesn't know how he can stay around for so long. She's sure she doesn't look like Elena anymore – tries to stay away from mirrors – and she's old now, feeble.

She still gets the brooding looks of his disapproval when she slips up sometimes and says, "Go, Stefan. Just go." Her voice's soft, but tired. And it's really how she feels. She wants better for him. She doesn't want him to look at her and see wrinkles and death and resent her for never taking his blood, 'cause they could've lived forever.

(Stefan doesn't see wrinkles and lines, gray hair, fragile bones. Stefan sees Elena, seventeen, the one he's always been in love with, the one he won't live without. He just wishes she'd see it too.)

"I think I'll stay." He sometimes says back to her; crouched down in front of her, hand swiping over her wrist, "Won't you let me stay?" And there's a small, too endearing smile on his face.

She's never been good at saying no to him; has never had to. And in the end she always goes back to loving him too much and losing her breath when he's not around, "Stay." She'll finally say and she feels foolish that she'd ever want him to leave.

–;

(twenty-nine)

She's sitting on her front porch, moving back and forth on an old swing. Her hands hold onto a glass of cold lemonade perched on her lap, legs crossed at the ankle, sleek hair falling down her back. The sun's bright outside, the neighbor's children are in their yard playing, she hears laughs, feels the sun on her skin, still a small breeze flitting around the hem of her sundress.

She closes her eyes, a small smile playing on her lips as she listens, listens, listens until she can't hear anymore. She takes a sip of her lemonade, coughs slightly at the now bitter taste, and slowly swings back and forth.

Her house is light blue, like she's always wanted, white picket fence out front, too green grass, and hummingbirds searching for nectar by the steps. There's a window by the swing, she can see straight into her living room, but if she doesn't look too hard she can see herself reflecting back lightly on the glass. And she likes what she sees. She looks good – happy. It's what she's always wanted.

She hears the front gate creak open, and she averts her gaze from the glass to the yard. She sees Stefan coming up the walkway with a small smile on his face, hands in the front pockets of his jeans – too graceful nonetheless.

His feet are light as they knock against the steps and onto the porch. He walks to her and, with ease, falls back onto the swing. He leans over to her and kisses her on the cheek, her eyes fall close immediately as he does so.

His voice soft, he speaks "Hey beautiful."

And it's almost like an everyday routine; it's how he greets her, never changing, always with a kiss. But still, after all this time, all these compliments, all these kisses – it flusters her. Heat rises to her cheeks and she almost bows her head away from him each time. She wonders if he'll ever stop calling her that, kissing her, wanting her, loving her. She hopes not.

–;

(eighteen)

Sometimes when they kiss it's electrifying – almost knocking her off balance, sending her flush against his chest.

Then sometimes the kisses are subtle, nonchalant, lips barely touching. But her skin still gets hot, tingles running everywhere throughout her body.

She doesn't know which she likes better; probably won't ever have to choose.

–;

(twenty-three)

She nearly dies – too young, too brave, too ready.

She shouldn't be, he thinks. She needn't be ready to die. Especially for him. He tells her this afterward when she's breathing heavy, but determined, never swaying from, "Stefan, I told you. I'll die for you if that's what it takes." He sighs, his head lowered, never quite understanding why she's so adamant all the time; always so reassuring, always so brave.

"Stefan, I'm not scared anymore." But she should be, he thinks. She shouldn't have to be so brave, so strong. She's allowed to falter, to be fearful of the unknown. But still, "I'll die for you," she says – never swaying, squared shoulders, determined eyes.

"I wish you'd stop saying that" he comments, looking up at her for a split second, then his gaze is back to the ground. "You shouldn't have to."

She sighs, relaxes her shoulders a little, eyes soft but still strong. She walks closer to him, places one hand on his arm, the other resting light against his neck. She brings his forehead to rest against her own, and whispering she says, "But I will. If need be, I will." What she doesn't say is because I know you'd do the same. Because isn't it obvious.

His lips touch hers soft as ever; sighs of contentment rest somewhere deep inside of them both.

–;

(thirty-four)

They don't fight.

Elena never pushes too far and Stefan's never been good at saying no to her, so it settles anything that could potentially become a fight.

Soft as a feather touches at night, when she can't see his face but can feel one foot rubbing softly against hers, she whispers something about never wanting to fight, not wanting to be one of those couples.

"What?" he says, rolling over her, hovering, face close to hers. "The ones that have brilliant make-up sex because they fight often?" She giggles, brings her hands up to his sides, runs her fingers up and down against his skin. And even though she can't see his face, she can see his pearly white teeth when he smiles wide. "You don't want brilliant make-up sex?" He asks, still smiling, then leans down and nips at her lips.

She quietly laughs out his name. Then one of his hands is sneaking up her tank top as the other rests above her head, his kisses teasing at the corner of her mouth, and she's sighing – her breathing hitting perfectly against his face. She whispers course I do before he distracts her even more.

So yeah, they don't fight. They don't need to.

–;

(thirty)

The day she turns thirty is not good. She wakes up to the rain pounding against her window, the hardwood too cold beneath her feet, and an ache in her bones she didn't have yesterday.

She didn't want to wake up, doesn't want to get up – but does anyhow. She walks into the bathroom, cold tile like ice against her bare feet, cold chills instantly running up her body. She looks in the big mirror; sees bedhead, wrinkles at the corners of her eyes – and she's never been one to really complain, but come on, she has crow's feet now – and worry written in her forehead.

She hates birthdays. Especially the ones that are meant to be milestones – achy bones and wrinkles. God, she really thought she'd be able to escape it.

When she walks into the kitchen later – fresh out of the shower, hair still a little damp, concealer hiding her flaws – she smells the faintest hint of chocolate chip pancakes. Stefan's sitting at the table, gray clouds framing his posture through the window, reading the newspaper. He looks up when he sees her, smiles, and when she makes her way to him he kisses her quickly and says happy birthday.

She sighs a little, hopes it goes unnoticed (it doesn't), and says thank you. She sits, eats her pancakes, and like any other morning, she steals sips from his coffee.

"What do you want to do today?" He asks, arms crossed on the table, curious look on his face.

She finishes her last bite of food, washes it down with the rest of his coffee, and yet again sighs. "Let's just stay home, today. There's really nothing I want to do. Plus, it's raining out."

And she's sure he doesn't mean to offend her when he says, "But come on, it's not like your getting any younger!" With his too sweet smile and too endearing eyes.

It still pisses her off though. Because of course she's not getting any younger. And she never will; maybe she'll get wiser with age though.

–;

(forty-six)

Caroline visits her with never-ending beauty and long blonde hair, no crow's feet around her eyes. She's still seventeen and never changing, always traveling, always smiling.

She visits when Elena's hair's thinning out and turning a shade of gray that she does not appreciate. She hugs her tightly, with a kiss to Elena's cheek, feels the soft wrinkles beneath her lips.

She hasn't seen Caroline in years; seldom has there even been phone calls as of late. When they pull away from their hug, she holds Caroline in place in front of her, smooths her hand over her shiny hair, and with tears in her eyes she says something that sounds like, "You look good, happy."

Caroline returns the compliment, grabbing a hold of Elena's hand, not letting go for quite some time.

They share coffee and talk and when Stefan returns home later, she's still there. Caroline springs up from the table, arms latching around him and her voice is loud and bubbly when she says she hasn't seen him in a while.

Elena watches them as they talk. She sits at the table, fingers tapping out pieces of an old tune, and watches them. Stefan never changing, always tall lean and handsome; Caroline always perfectly blonde, sweet smiles, lasting forever. She changes, grows shorter with age, walks slower by the day, and feels something close to loneliness when she looks at Stefan (never changing, but never leaving.)

She doesn't see Caroline for a while after that. And if her memory serves her well in later days, Caroline cried when she left her.

–;

(twenty)

"What do you think we'd be like if we were normal?" She asks one day when they're grocery shopping. She's pushing the buggy, stopping only for Stefan to drop in the items that they need. He walks beside her, with one hand on the buggy, shoulder nudging against her as they walk.

"What do you mean by 'normal'?" He asks, studying the vegetables.

"I mean, what do you think we'd be doing if we were two normal people living normal everyday lives without the constant looking over the shoulder for old vampires ready to attack at any given moment?" She says in one long breath, in the middle of the produce section.

He chuckles momentarily before smiling and turning to her. He looks at her waiting expectantly for his answer. "I think we'd join a book club – read period novels. We'd promise to read the book by next meeting, forget during the week, and I'd have to brief you on Pride and the Prejudice on the way to the meeting because we do not falter. Plus, my knowledge on old classics is impeccable."

She begins to giggle at the seriousness of his statement then leans forward and kisses him straight on the mouth, "I love book club," she giggles against his lips.

–;

(sixteen)

Elena believes in love, ever since she first started watching Disney movies when she was little. She believed it lasted forever and it was only with one person that you could spend it. So you had to choose wisely.

She thought love was eternal and no one could break the bind from one person to another.

She's older now, and not foolish, and her parents are dead – so screw love. It doesn't last forever, because if it did her love would've kept her parents here. They wouldn't be in a cemetery, casting shadows, hearing cries.

They'd be alive and breathing and she could tell them how much she loved them. Over and over and over again.

Love would be enough if it really was all that it was made out to be.

–;

(seventy-one)

Her breaths are shallow and she can't stop telling Stefan she doesn't want him to see her like this; sad, brittle, broken.

He shushes her, swipes a lonely tear off of her cheek, tries to blink back the ones in his eyes, keeps repeating I love you so much over and over and over again. And sometimes they speak at the same time, but he makes sure she hears him I love you so much, I love you so much, I love you so- overpowering the Stefan, go. Go.

He won't leave her. Most of the time she's really thankful that he never has.

–;

(twenty-eight)

"You love me, right?" Breath ragged.

"Yes, of course." Brow furrowed, confused.

"Say it, Stefan. Say it." Eyes closed, chest starting to heave, shaky hands.

"I love you. I love you." The words rush out of his mouth.

Her breathing slows down, she opens her eyes, clasps her hands together in front of her.

"Love you too." She says softly. He smiles back at her, "Good." And never asks her what was wrong.

She's awfully glad he doesn't.

–;

(twenty-eight)

Sometimes she feels like she's too much for Stefan. Too much drama, too much high school still left in her, too much fight, too much anger, too much of this, never enough of that.

Sometimes she feels like she's not enough. (Most of the time.) Like he's this big, bright cultivating star that you need to drink up before he moves away and you don't have another glimpse at him. Sometimes she feels like she's just watching him, wondering if he'll ever decide to just pass her by.

"Never," she recalls him saying.

–;

(fifty-nine)

She feels like she's falling into an abyss; dark waters waiting to drink her up, drown her, steal breath from her lungs. She's always falling, always so close to falling apart at the seams, drowning, dying; but Stefan always catches her and she wakes up living.

–;

(thirty-eight)

She wonders if she ever deserved someone like Stefan all her life. Maybe she deserved him when she was younger. Seems like she should have only gotten him for a little while; like she only deserved him when she was young, brave, determined.

Oh, but how thankful she is to still have him – young, brooding, loving her.

–;

(nineteen)

She never takes his blood because he never offers and frankly, she doesn't know if she can give up humanity right now. (heartbeat, skin warm against his, heartbeat, beat, beat.)

–;

(seventy-one)

Elena dies old and cold with wrinkles and worry lines, searching for Stefan's hand, not letting go.

She wishes now, maybe for a long time, that she would have just asked. 'Cause they could've had an eternity together. And now all they have is sad goodbyes in the brisk wind – leaves falling too early, her waiting until it's too late.

–;

She would've loved Stefan forever. He still loves her, forever, and that never changes.