It wasn't perfect. They all knew it would never be perfect. Not with the Walkers still controlling the dead world outside their little development.
But it was home now. That's what mattered.
The fall had quickly turned into winter and a new year came without any of them realizing it. They were too busy surviving to celebrate. Winter brought snow and snow brought a whole new set of twists into the survival game.
It was all hands on deck more than ever now. The lake behind the houses had started to freeze over, making them more vulnerable to Walkers or other not so kind survivors. There had been a frenzy to gather supplies and enclose the houses with a full fence. The project had taken days, but was now complete. It was not quite as strong as the rest of the stone fence, though it would do. After all, the lake couldn't stay frozen forever. The cold seemed to slow the Walkers down and they were all thankful for that. It made it easier to take them down from the lookout without having to use a gun.
Hershel's garden was thriving indoors, giving them plenty of fresh veggies to get through the winter. No one knew how he did it. Hershel just had the magic touch when it came to plants. Carol had been spending quite a bit of time in the makeshift greenhouse as well. No one mentioned it, but they all had their ideas about Carol and Hershel's relationship. Why mention it though? They both deserved their privacy. More than that, they deserved love.
In fact, love seemed to be blossoming everywhere amongst the survivors. The Grimes' family was healing, Maggie and Glenn were going strong and T-Dog and Katelyn had gone public with their own budding relationship. He was 15 years her senior, but in this world who really cared? 'Socially acceptable' had been thrown out the window long ago.
Everyone was happy. Smiles weren't strained any longer. Laughs were genuine and came often.
Ella leaned against the window frame, watching as her hunter gathered up an armful of freshly chopped wood to bring inside. The sun shining off the wings embroidered onto his back almost made him look like angel. Ella smiled, she knew better. Daryl was no angel, but that was exactly why she loved him. Over the course of their relationship she had seem him grow from rebel without a cause to rebel with a cause. He was a fighter and that would never change. Only now he had something to fight for. Daryl had found his purpose.
He ducked back inside and without bothering to stomp the snow off his boots, and headed to the fireplace where he stacked the wood against the white brick structure. "Fucking cold. Thought I was gonna shrink up if I stayed out there much longer," he grunted while shaking the snowflakes from his sandy brown hair.
Ella gave him a small smile and shake of her head. Some things would never change. Daryl wiped his dirty hands off on his jeans and made his way over to her. He slipped his arms around her from behind, hands curling protectively around the small bump that had just begun to show. Tenderly, he nuzzled his face into her neck and placed a soft kiss behind her ear.
Ella sighed into him, knowing that this tenderness had not come without work. There had been fights, shouting and hurt feelings. There had also been love made in tents, trucks and on the kitchen floor. Each moment between them had been a part of their story. Their experiences had been woven them together in a tight knot that could not come undone.
Now, as Daryl kissed her neck and ran a soft hand across her stomach, Ella marveled at the idea of family in this forsaken world. This was her family. As unconventional as it may seem, her heart couldn't love anyone more than it did the man behind her and the life growing inside of her. Despite the darkness that lurked in every corner, love shone through boring bright holes into the blackest of moments.
Love had won.
Love would continue to win.
AN: Sigh. That's it, guys. Writing this epilogue was so bittersweet for me! Daryl and Ella have found a little place in my heart, but I knew it was time to close this story. I am still toying with the idea of having them return when Season 3 starts up. I guess we will see. ;)
I owe you all a huge THANK YOU. I wrote this all because of you, dear faithful readers. Thank you for taking the time to read and go on this journey with me! It was your reviews that kept me plugging along through writers block and hard moments! Thanks for loving Daryl and Ella just as much as I do! I applaud you. You warm my heart.
Please check out my other story, Accident or Grand Design, if you haven't already. I'm still churning out chapters over there! Plus, I just got a beta reader! Hoooray. So it's going to get WAY better. Sometimes I write like I am in 3rd grade. My beta is going to put a stop to that. ;)
Love, love, love you all. -CJ