Disclaimer: The Vampire Diaries does not belong to me. If it did, Matthew Davis would be cooking me breakfast.
Yes, events are out of order. It's fanfiction.

Title and chapter titles belong to The Cure, and if you don't know the song, go check that shit out.
Massive thanks to my beta, Saltzatore: she is the queen of all things Dalaric.

Chapter 7 – We'll be here forever and we'll never say goodbye

When Bonnie entered the library, Alaric was sitting on the couch, a glass of bourbon in his hand, and Damon was standing by the fireplace, arms crossed, looking supremely pleased with himself.

"Hey, Ric," she said, once she could see his face. "Getting an early start?"

He looked embarrassed. "Helps with the cravings, apparently." Gave a weak smile.

"Of course. Drink away. Please." Bonnie could almost feel Damon rolling his eyes from where he stood.

"Can we get on with this? Please? We've got things to do. Fun vampire things." He smirked at Bonnie, but she wasn't taking the bait. Bonnie shot Damon a look, and nodded.

She turned back to Alaric. "Did you pick a ring?"

"This one," he said, indicating the chunkier of the two. "It's about the same weight as my old one. Just feels right on my hand."

Bonnie nodded. "Come stand here, by the curtains. You have to be close to the ring, and it has to be bathed in sunlight, so…" She reached for the heavy damask. "Take a step back, just to be safe."

Damon helped her settle the curtains into place. "Now what?" he asked.

This would be the second time Bonnie delivered this speech. She hoped it would be the last. "Now's the part where I explain the rules," she started. "The witch who spells the ring has the power to de-spell it. So if you ever do anything to hurt anyone, I will stop you."

She delivered this last with all the power of her bloodline dripping from her voice, eight feet tall and bullet proof, but to her consternation, Alaric didn't look offended, or angry.

He looked hurt.

"Bonnie, I… wouldn't." his voice faltered.

"You're a vampire now, Ric. That urge is going to be there. Even anchored to your humanity…"

"I know it's gonna be hard, but I won't. And if I do, don't worry about the ring, you can stake me yourself." Damon uttered a cry of protest, but Alaric went on. "I know what you did for me, Bonnie. Thank you." He could barely meet her eyes.

For a moment, Bonnie almost felt bad. Shook it off and opened Emily's grimoire, though she knew the words by heart now. A soft breeze blew through the room.

"There," she said, passing Alaric the ring. He settled it onto his hand, smiled ruefully, and threw open the curtains.

"Thanks, Bonnie," he said.

With a satisfied smirk, Damon said "You can come in now."

Apparently, Elena and Stefan had been waiting on the other side of the door, and at Damon's word, they practically tripped over each other to get inside.

Elena blithely raced to Alaric's side and threw her arms around him. Awkwardly, he half-returned the embrace, and then started to push her away.

"Uh… Elena?"

Stefan was there in a flash, leading her gently away.

"Sorry. It's gonna take a while before you don't smell like food."

Elena looked shocked. "Sorry. I forgot."

"What have I missed?" demanded Caroline, slipping into the room. "You did it, right?"

"I did it." Alaric returned Caroline's hug easily, and Elena looked jealous.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Damon spluttered. "This isn't cotillion. We're not introducing Ric to polite society. Is anyone else coming?"

Elena looked guilty. "Jeremy."

Damon growled. "Why?"

"He was Jeremy's guardian, Damon," Elena chided.

It occurred to Bonnie that Damon and Alaric probably really wanted to be alone, and that she should maybe say something, but this was way too entertaining to watch. She decided to let it unfold.

Caroline and Elena disappeared into the kitchen, came back to the library with trays of coffee, cream, donuts Caroline had picked up on the way to the boarding house. Four mugs of warm blood. Caroline passed one to Alaric, chinked their mugs together.

"Cheers," she said, capillaries darkening as she took a swig.

"This is just too weird," Alaric answered, drinking deeply.

Stefan turned to his brother, taking another mug, passing one over. "So what happened last night? Hey, Jeremy," he added, seeing him enter the library.

"Hey. So, Ric, you know you're like the fourth parent I've had who's died?" At least Jeremy had the good sense not to get too close, just shook Alaric's hand.

Elena flipped her hair. "He's my sixth."

"Yeah, sorry about that." Alaric scratched his head. "But it's not like it's my first time. And I was never really a parent. More like a drunken uncle."

Stefan turned back to his brother. "So what happened last night?"

"You know the punchline," Damon said. What does the rest even matter?" But in the face of five sets of curious eyes, he relented and told the story. Alaric threw in a few details, looking a little more relaxed.

At the end of the story, Stefan looked at Alaric with something like concern. "Anything you need, man. Just ask." Alaric nodded gratefully. Damon rolled his eyes. Bonnie suspected that anything Alaric needed, Damon was going to be first in line to give it to him.

Over the last half an hour, Damon and Alaric slowly drifted closer, and now they were only inches apart, leaning against a book shelf. Bonnie couldn't help it, with any of them, even Caroline, she looked at any vampire and the first thing she saw was: Vampire.

Still, seeing them standing so close together, Damon angled in such a way that he looked almost protective, they looked…

Sort of beautiful, together. She cocked her head as if to seek a new angle.

"So what's he like?" Caroline was asking. Alaric shot Damon a confused look.

"What do you mean?" Elena asked, leaning into Stefan.

"Well, I was all neurotic and bitchy, although I'm doing okay with that now, and Stefan's all angsty and writing in his diary like constantly, and Damon's all… Damony. Which is to say in love with Katherine and hell-bent on revenge. What's Ric like? What's been… heightened or whatever?"

Alaric looked as though he felt like a specimen under a microscope. Aiming for offended and just hitting bewildered.

Damon narrowed his eyes, seeming to consider this. "So far, I'm going with… earnest."

Alaric chuckled, relaxing again. "Really? That's the best you can do?"

"I'll add 'badass'," Bonnie said. "Ric's anchored to his humanity. He can't pull a Stefan on us. He and Damon are going to tear around the tri-state area killing vampires and keeping us all safe forever."

She ignored Elena's lame attempt to sound offended.

"Agreed. More earnest, more badass. What else…" Damon clicked his fingers in a typically dramatic fashion. "More mine." He closed the distance between them and kissed Alaric, firm and determined, but not showy. Possessive as all get-out.

Everyone but Bonnie looked up in shock. A moment too late, Bonnie remembered she should as well, but no one had noticed her utter lack of surprise.

Alaric was grinning lazily, when Stefan finally spoke. "You two…"

"Yep. For thr-"

"Two years," Alaric interjected, making Bonnie wonder where Jenna fit in the timeline.

"Two years," Damon agreed. "And if anyone has a problem with it, I strongly recommend they die in a fire." He cocked his head and smirked. "Enjoy the donuts. We have stuff to do."

He grabbed Alaric's hand, and they headed for the door. Bonnie grinned.

At the last moment, Alaric turned. "Bonnie?"

She tipped her chin, waiting. He crossed the room, hand in his pocket. He pulled something out, and Bonnie's heart skipped a beat.

"As weird as it sounds, I don't know many people who aren't supernatural." He held out the ring. "Do you wanna give this to Matt? He'll have to give it back to Elena if she has kids, but…"

Bonnie closed her hand over the ring. "Yeah. I'm sure he'll appreciate it." Alaric nodded, turned away. "Ric?" He stopped again. Bonnie fought the urge to offer a fierce hug. "Thank you."

Ric gave a lazy grin. "You too."

In the doorway, Damon was making impatient noises.

Maybe it would work out after all. Team badass. She wished them luck.