A/N: To my faithful readers and reviewers. I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read my story. This has been a delight to write, and I'm sad to see it end, but I'm sticking with my original theory. It's best to end it this way. Here's an epilogue. It's going to be pieces of their life throughout a 15 year span of time. I haven't closed the door on a possible sequel, but it's not in the immediate works right now.

Thank you for loving my characters and making me love writing them. Your kind and helpful words gave me the motivation to keep this story going and make it the very best I possibly could. Honestly, I will always have a special place in my heart for this one because of you guys. So thank you.

I hope you enjoy! Follow me on Twitter newsgirl1983 for info and updates on new stories!

Her Mother's Eyes


"Can I read it, Mom?" she asked, sitting at the kitchen table, sipping her coffee. "I haven't asked you in like 15 years…" sometimes it was hard for Elena to believe she'd grown up so fast. Her eyes wanted to memorize every moment of her beautiful daughter's life. She'd just walked across her high school stage last week as valedictorian. She'd be leaving in a few months for college. "The book you were writing…I haven't forgotten…"

Elena smiled. It was a bittersweet moment. Sophie had grown up in a blink of an eye. None of it, the heartache the tears when it had all began…none of it mattered. But all of it…all of it had been worth it. She wouldn't change a thing. "I suppose I did say you could read it when you were older…and you're not three anymore…somehow," she teased. "I'll send it to school with you, how's that? It can be a little piece of home…"

"What is it, anyway? You never told me," she flipped through the scrapbook Elena had paged through at that same kitchen table so many years ago.

"It's my story of you," she said honestly. "My feelings, my telling of every moment I spent with you and away from you from your birth until you were grown. Everything I wanted to say to you but never could…everything I felt in my heart but couldn't form into words at that moment found its way onto those pages, somehow…"

"Mom…" she swallowed, taken aback. Her mother was the strongest woman she knew, and the bravest. She'd been supportive of her through everything...bad breakups, friend problems, everything…

She had never shared a connection with someone as strong as the one she had with her mother. The truth was, she couldn't remember Katherine. Everyone had always said she would remember flashes…but she'd only been six months when it happened. She hadn't the faintest memory…and while it saddened her, in a way, it made her appreciate Elena, her real mom, all the more.

"You and I have been through a lot together, Soph…and you might not remember everything that you read in those pages…that's why I wanted you to wait. I know you know Dad and I had issues, back then… and I wasn't vague about those feelings when I wrote them… I was heartbroken, back then…but if you read between the lines, you'll see the way it really went…"

"I know…" she smiled. "I'm not afraid to read about it because I know how the story ends," she squeezed her hand back. "And I knew all along what was going on with you two, anyway," she rolled her eyes. "You two are so obvious." The flash in her brown eyes reminded Elena so much of the first day she'd seen Sophie again with Damon, for Christmas…

"Oh no," Damon said walking into the room with his hands in the air. "I walked in on a mother-daughter moment again…" he winked. "You two really are so similar…"

"Good," Sophie smiled widely. "Oh, Dad…Braden asked if you could pick him up from Mia's house in a few hours."

"Mia's house?" Elena's eyebrows rose. "That one again? Damon…I thought you told him…" Elena's brown eyes tightened at the thought.

"Oh, I told him… but he's a Salvatore man, baby. He's got it in him, and he can't help it. Don't worry, I'll keep telling him until he gets it..." he leaned down to kiss Sophie on the head and then Elena on the cheek. "My girls, on the other hand, you've always got yourselves together. So proud."

"He's 13…he's not a man," Sophie rolled his eyes. "And don't worry. I already told him if Mia's mom found them kissing in the closet again," she paused to fake gag for a moment, then smiled, "that'd be it, he'd be grounded forever."

"I worry about him…" Elena raised her eyebrows and cleared her throat. Sometimes Braden could be just like Damon… but overall he was a great kid. He was smart, he listened, for the most part, and he was honest. He'd just recently become a little too interested in chasing girls and a little too disinterested in everything else.

"I know…but don't, okay? Our kids know better. Our kids are the greatest kids in the world…and you know why? Because we've raised them in a house full of love and trust. It is the greatest and worst thing in the world to know our kids are exactly like us," he kissed her on the forehead. "They've got the best and worst of both of us…but everything about this family is exactly the way it's supposed to be."

It was easy, Elena thought, to remember the way things were when the kids were younger. Sometimes, when she'd look into Sophie's eyes, it felt like just yesterday that their journey had begun. And through all the bumps in the road, they'd made it. They'd come out on top, just like Damon had always promised they would.

"If you do that one more time, Braden! It isn't nice to bite people…" Sophie stared him right in his little eyes. Her voice was teetering on the edge of annoyance and laughter. How could she not laugh? Her three-year-old brother knew how to push her buttons. She saw a little bit of herself in him, and she loved it.

She was eight, but a very wise eight, and she'd seen it all before. Toddlers could be so silly.

"Soph stop wyin'," he stuck his tongue out and pouted. He always got his way with that little lip.

"Oooh, nice move with the lip, bud," Damon reached out to give his brown haired son a high five. "Not as convincing as the eyebrow waggle," he winked and waggled his in example.

"Good Lord, Damon," Elena laughed, rolling her eyes. "I don't want any phone calls from his preschool teacher saying he's doing that," she gestured, pointing to his eyebrows, "at some poor little girl. "Girls everywhere are doomed."

"Don't worry, bud, Momma likes when I waggle my eyebrows. Don't let her fool you," he walked over to his wife and kissed her on the cheek. His eyes twinkled in the reflection of her diamond "E" necklace that hung from her neck. She was still his biggest piece of heaven, after all these years.

She went over to Braden and picked him up. His eyes were blue, just as she'd prayed they'd be when she'd carried him for nine months. He was a Salvatore man, alright. He'd been stubborn as hell during birth. But when he'd opened his eyes for the first time and looked up at her, she saw Damon. She'd always thought it was sweet to hear Damon talk about how much of Elena he saw in Sophie, but now she got it. Braden was a miniature Damon...and he was more beautiful than she could ever have imagined a baby boy could be.

He'd proposed in February, they'd married in May, and Braden Stefan Salvatore was born a little more than a year later, in June.

Damon's proposal hadn't really come as a surprise, but she still looked on it as one of the greatest moments of her life. They'd only just begun their journey together, and he'd slid that engagement ring on her finger and promised that journey would never end.

She'd been jittery all day…and when Sophie pointed to the horse drawn carriage under the street lights of New York City on a snowy February night, she'd known. It was supposed to be a surprise, she was sure…but no matter when he'd proposed, she would've said yes. Even if it had been at the kitchen table over some coffee and an omelet….

But he and Sophie were too good of planners for anything that simple.

"Okay, Momma…now, tonight you're a princess," Sophie bounced up and down. The trip had originally been about checking in with her original pediatrician regarding her aplastic anemia. They'd managed to find a specialist in Mystic Falls, but were still finalizing the details.

"I am, hm?" she bent down to kiss her on the top of the head. Damon hadn't seen a more beautiful sight in his life than the two pairs of brown eyes when they looked at each other. He'd never wanted anything more in his entire life than this moment…this picture playing out before him. This was forever. And when Elena's eyes flicked up to him after tickling Sophie, she was met with a look she'd never seen cross his face….and she'd seen a lot of his looks. She swallowed, nervously. If this was it, she knew what she'd say. It had been a dream of hers for what seemed like forever. But it was no longer the impossible dream…

He slid off the bench of the carriage and kneeled before her slowly. Her eyes widened.

"Elena…everything that has gotten me to this point in my life began with you. You have been my strength and my backbone through some of the worst parts of my life. I waivered and I doubted…and I shouldn't have. But you never did. You always loved me…you never gave up. You were the start of my real life…I realized I didn't have to live under a rock for the rest of my life just because I'd lost my wife. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You gave me Sophie…" he smiled, winking at her. But when his attention flashed back to Elena, her watery eyes made him more nervous. He prayed they were happy tears. "And Sophie became the best thing that happened to us. I just look at you and I know everything's going to be okay. I love you so much, Elena. And I want to spend the today and every day with you…until my last day on earth. I want us forever," his hands and his voice were shaking now, as he pulled out the little blue box and revealed a 3 karat, princess cut diamond ring. "Will you marry me?"

She wrapped her hands around his wrists and pulled him in for a kiss, while nodding. She was speechless for the words he'd spoken to her. "Yes, Damon…" she cried. "I've never wanted anything more in the entire world than to be your wife and to be a real family…." He slipped the ring on her finger and Sophie clapped.

"It fits!" She squealed. "Oh Momma!" She hugged her around the neck and touched the diamond. "It's so pretty!"

"It's beautiful," she smiled appreciatively at him. She'd learned long ago not to mention the fact that she thought it might have been too expensive. "I love you…" the tears ran down her cheeks, and threatened to freeze with the wicked wind.

"Dry those pretty eyes," he reached up and absorbed her tears with the pad of his thumb. "Wifey," he leaned in and kissed on the cheeks. "You're even beautiful when you cry…"

"Happy tears," she nodded. "For the rest of my life."

Sophie had just turned four and a half when Elena found out she was pregnant. Nine wonderful months after they'd reconnected at Stefan and Caroline's wedding, Braden was conceived.

"Yes or no…." Damon paced back and forth by the bathroom door. "Come on, baby, which is it?" He pressed his palms into his temples. "I'm gonna explode. That damn box said it took two minutes."

"It's only been one, settle down," she giggled from the bathroom.

"Maybe you should come out here…I think it would go faster. The whole…a watched pot never boils thing…"

"Oh, sweetheart," she said sweetly. "It's one minute. One minute and we'll know if we get another little one of us," she sounded so reassuring, but as she looked in the mirror, she could see herself shaking. She wanted this baby…so badly. She wanted to raise her baby from birth this time, and experience everything with Damon.

When the door cracked open she stared at him expressionless for a moment before running into his arms. A wide smile spread across his lips. "You're a daddy again!"

"I knew it wasn't just the flu," he smiled. He swung her around gently, but set her down when she looked like she could throw up. Her morning sickness had been an early indication…it had hit her earlier than most. She hadn't been sick when she was pregnant with Sophie, and it was a good thing, considering who she was with at the time.

"Oh, Lena," he touched her pale cheek. "I'm sorry you feel this way."

"Don't be," she smiled. "We'll forget all about this nauseous garbage and weird food cravings and emotional breakdowns about commercials in about nine months, when we hold our little baby. Oh God..." she paused.

"Oh, God...what?" he asked, worried.

"I just thought about how Caroline's gonna react!" She smiled widely. "She's only been texting me for the last four hours asking if I 'peed on that magical stick' yet."

"She can be so weird...but I love her just the same," he rolled his eyes. "And she's knows all about peeing on magical sticks...what with the twins and all."

"What if we have twins?" THe though scared the shit out of him. He could handle two little Elena's, he thought...but two little versions of him? "I'm already worried about doing a good job with one baby..."

"Shhh..." she calmed her. "You're a great Mom," he kissed her forehead. "This…these moments with you, are exactly what I love about life."

"Okay, Sophie," Giuseppe smiled and gave her a small, wrapped box. "I know I'm going to be in big trouble for this and I'll probably never hear the end of this from your parents, but I'm the grandpa and I get to do whatever I want..." he winked.

She opened the box to reveal a car key. Giuseppe's smile reached his eyes, as it often did these days. Things had slowly gotten better his relationship with Damon and Elena and Sophie...and Braden had never known the old Giuseppe. He'd always known a grandpa who would love him, play with him, and look out for him at all costs. It had taken awhile at first, but Damon could see from the time of Stefan and Caroline's wedding that Giuseppe wanted to change. And who was he to deny someone a chance to change...a second chance? If Elena had never taken another chance on him...well, he didn't like to think about that.

"A car? Oh my GOD, Grandpa!" She hugged him. "You shouldn't have...okay, yes you should have. Thank you so much!"

"So, um, gramps...you're gonna remember this in five years when I turn 16, right?" Braden teased...but Guiseppe wouldn't see that day. He'd pass on a year after Elena's sixteenth birthday.

Damon had learned a lot from the deaths in his life. Life was short. Forgiveness could be easy.

The front door closed behind Sophie Salvatore, and she met her parents and her brother outside of her car. It had been packed full with her belongings, and it was time for her to head to New York University. She turned back, looking at her house one more time. It wasn't like she'd never see it again. She'd be back in a few months, she was sure…and they'd promised her she could come home anytime she wanted. But she knew things would never quite be the same. She'd come home…but once a child left home for school…they never really came back.

She wrapped her arms around her little brother, whose dark hair was short and spikey and whose eyes were icy blue. Her relationship with Braden was strong…despite their minor squabbles here and there. She loved him, she might even consider him one of her best friends. She had hopes and dreams for him, and she knew he'd accomplish everything he hoped for, because he was a Salvatore.

"I'll miss you, Soph," he admitted. "Make sure you come home soon, and don't let me find out about any guys trying anything on you…" he teased. "These muscles look small, but I'm able…"

"Don't worry," she assured him. "I can take care of myself." And she was right. She was just like her mother in that way. Elena had raised her to be that way….not to stand for anyone's garbage. She deserved better than that. She knew what she wanted in life. And she'd get it.

"And Mom," she hugged her. "I've tucked your book away…but I'm not going to read it until I'm all unpacked…I…I don't want to change my mind about being so far away…"

"You have so many big things ahead of you…" she smiled. "I'm so proud of you, Sophie…I love you. You'll change the world someday. I know you will. And it won't be long, 'til we're together again. Don't forget to take your medicine every day, okay?" she choked out and Sophie smiled and nodded.

Damon kissed Elena quickly and opened the passenger side for Sophie. He was about to drive his baby girl away to college. It was a hard pill to swallow, that she'd grown so fast… but she still surprised him with how well put together she was. She was strong and determined. She knew she had it a little harder in life…she'd be on medication forever…but she didn't let it stand in her way.

Years ago, when he'd taken her in his arms for the first time, he'd never dreamed of this feeling…a feeling of almost letting her go. He and Sophie had been on their own for a while, and he used to think that was the way it was meant to be. But after seeing the amazing woman she had grown into, he knew he had Elena to thank for that. He'd never been meant to raise her alone. She'd been the magnet, the glue that brought and held their family's lives together.

It wasn't that he loved her more than Braden. Of course he didn't. How could he pick sides like that? But he'd always have a special place for their little girl. She'd made everything so simple when it used to be so hard….

Sophie never was just his miracle…she was theirs….

A/n: Thank you!