Following day after he went away all she seemed to do is cry. She cried herself to sleep, and she cried while holding Sammy, she cried while making lunch for one. Sometimes it felt like she's crying in her sleep as well. All the tears were bottled up inside of her for such a long time, and now they were trying to find their way out. She had no other choice but let them.
And then one day she woke up and there were no more tears. She was afraid her heart forgot, or that it is on its way to forgetting, but it didn't, and it never would. It simply calmed itself down.
She got Stefan's old grandfather clock fixed so it ticks again, she stuffed his clothes in a box with most of his other things and kept them in the wardrobe in the hallway. She left his magazines under the table, where they were since they moved in together, and his pictures stayed in the same place around the apartment.
Stefan's mom happily watched Sammy until he was ready to go to kindergarten so Elena can go back to work.
She raised a sandy hair boy with big green eyes and his mothers smile. Looking at him would bring tears to her eyes, but Stefan was right, after some time none of it mattered. After some time those things brought a smile to her face, and a memory became pleasant. She raised a sandy hair boy with big green eyes and his mothers smile, and she taught him how to ride a bike and helped him with his homework and admired his drawings which were very good from a young age.
When there was a problem she could not figure out, she would quietly ask, "Stefan, what am I going to do now?", and when Sammy made his first steps she whispered, "Are you seeing this?", and there were times when she would afford herself the luxury of telling him she loves him and misses him, but those words would open old wounds that refuse to heal. When Sammy was ten, he had a hard case of pneumonia, and while he was lying in the hospital with tubes in his nose, she quietly prayed, "Please Stefan, let him stay. Please don't let them take him away from me." And in those times, she would feel Stefan's presence hoovering above them, and she knew everything will be all right.
It's hard trying to make one person love another without even meeting them. So when Elena talked to Sammy about Stefan she didn't talk about him like he was perfect, she talked about him as he were - like a flawed human being he was. A guy who made buildings grow out of nothing, who loved baseball and cheese fries, hell, who loved cheese in general, who didn't hold his liquor well and said everything that was on his mind even if you didn't want to hear it. But she told her son his father loved him much more than he can imagine and that he wanted him for such a long time. That he loved them both, and somehow that seemed to be enough for Sammy.
When he learned to walk, he would grab Stefan's picture off the dresser and point, "Dada," and Elena would take him in her arms, kiss his temple and say, "Yes, that's daddy."
Stefan didn't only live in Elena's stories and her talks about how much he loved them both. He lived in their apartment, with them, in every picture and every thing he possessed while he was alive. He lived in Rebekah's childhood memories which she shared with Sammy, and he lived in Caroline's stories about how her best friend was the happiest with him.
Sometimes it seemed he's most alive in that silly story about a guy who was able to convince a girl to have a piece of cheesecake with a stranger at 5 am.
Sammy didn't like cheesecake, and he preferred football to baseball, but the way he was sitting by his desk and draw for hours would remind Elena of catching Stefan at three in the morning, adding the final touches to his new design. So she wasn't surprised when she came home one day and caught Sam buried in Stefan's old architecture magazines, or when he decided to be an architect. Just like dad.
Few days after she turned 50, they discovered she has a stage four cancer. Lung cancer. She never even lighted a cigarette.
She died six months later. Caroline asked her if she's afraid to which she smiled weekly and shook her head, because she knew wherever she's going, Stefan will be waiting for her.
When she arrived there, she kept asking them where Stefan is, but they just kept telling her she has to cross over. So she did, and she kept walking for what seemed to her like an eternity, when she finally found him. Or maybe he found her. He was the same as she remembers him, and suddenly she started worrying she's too old or too ill or not enough for him, but she didn't feel like it. She felt young and healthy, she felt like she did when they were together - like she's on top of the world.
He cupped her face, which felt so soft under his fingertips, and he brought his lips to hers and kissed her. And it felt heavenly. No pun intended.
"I've been waiting for you," he whispers into her lips, softly, like he used to.
"Here I am," she intertwines her fingers on the back of his neck, and with her fingertips starts cuddling his nape. "Have you seen him?" a smile forms on her lips.
Stefan sucks some air into his lungs. "Yes," he smiles against her lips, nuzzling his nose against hers, "You did a very good job. I'm sorry you had to leave him."
"I'm sorry too," Elena whimpers a little, holding onto Stefan. "You were watching over us, weren't you?"
"I could have felt you."
"I was there for every moment."
"Like you never left."
"I never left."
"I'm sorry," she furrows her brows.
"Sorry for what?" he asks confused.
"I couldn't do it. I couldn't be with anyone else."
"Elena.." he wants to stop her from having this conversation.
"No, let me say this. There were times when I wanted to, when I missed it. Being close to someone. I even went on few dates, but.. Guys think girls as mysteries, and men think women are mysteries, and in reality we're so simple. I want what every other girl wants, and what every girl in the history of the world wanted and what every girl will want in the future - we just want to be loved and treated in a way which love brings with itself. And guys think we're Pandora boxes and if they open us we will implode and they will implode with us, and so little guys get it right. But you got it right," she smiles at him with her eyes, "And no one else after you had it right."
He pulls his hands on her waist and wraps them around her body, pulling her closer. "We got it right together."
"So, is this our chance for a happily ever after?"
He sighs. "There's no happily ever after," she looks at him curiously, "There are no happy endings, or sad endings, there are just endings. People seem to be caught up in Disney's idea of a happy ending, but there's no such thing. People close a book or turn off a movie and things end for them, but life is not like that. The story goes even after you close the book, and no one ever wonders what happens to the prince and the princess after they get married. Does he die during hunting or does she get some fatal disease? Happily ever after is so inconclusive because a lot of things can happen between now and the time when things end. Life is a series of choices, and maybe we didn't get to spend our lives together and die together when we're old and gray, but I like the choices that I made and I wouldn't trade them for anything. The years I spent with you, I wouldn't trade them for another lifetime. We had something, you know? Something more and something better than some people get in the hundred years they spend on this planet. We loved and we danced and we smiled and we did all of the things we wanted to do, and there are some we didn't have time to do, but that doesn't mean I would choose anything else. I came to realize it's not about the ending, it's about what happens in between. And Elena, even if I died after only a day of knowing you I would die as a happy man because from the moment I saw you I knew you're the best thing that will ever happen to me and I wouldn't opt for anything else."
She presses her face against his shirt and whimpers silently. No more tears.
"We can have a million of little forevers, though."
She raises her look and smiles at him. "We can?"
He nods. "This is a forever. And the next moment will be a forever as well. This is how time works here. Thousands and thousands of forevers just waiting to be lived."
She nods happily, her arms still around his neck. "Is this Heaven?"
He grins. "There's no Heaven. You seem to go wherever you believe you will go. I think that's why I can't find my dad, he believed in reincarnation, not eternal peace."
She furrows her brows. "I don't think I believed in anything," she tries to remember, but her mind is foggy.
"You believed you will be with me, so I guess you're stuck with my belief."
"I have no problems with that," she gives him a peck on the lips.
"Just don't use the H word. It's not exclusive. Oh man, I gotta teach you these things before an angel beats you to death with a harp."
Her eyes widen. "There are angels with harps?"
He smirks at her, and she hits him on the shoulder with her open palm, "Not funny."
"It's a little funny," he responds.
"Stefan?" she hums his name.
"How do I look like?" she asks curiously.
"You look like yourself."
"Well geeez, don't sound so disappointed. I mean - "
"I know what you mean," he interrupts her in the middle of her sentence, "You look like the last time we had seen each other," he plants another kiss on her lips.
"Good," she sighs in relief, "I was worried I will be old and ill."
"You're beautiful," he stops her right there and then.
He pulls his hands to himself, and she does the same with hers. He smiles at her and takes her hand in his. "Come on, lets go home."
AN: I think I explained why I decided to end this story the way I did in Stefan's speech. I know I usually don't write these things, but I felt like I have to, because the show disappointed me greatly. I feel like this season was the end of Stefan and Elena as we knew them, and I'm not saying there's not a chance they won't get back together, they probably will at some point, but they won't be the couple I fell in love with. I was so angry, truth to be told, to see how these characters are being treated, and I want to quit this show so much, but that doesn't mean I won't always ship them because those three seasons, and that couple, they were magical. So I guess that's what I tried to do with this story - the ending is not the most important thing. Things end, and they end for everybody, but not everybody get to have such a beautiful life in between.
I don't think I'll right another story, at least not right away. I don't really have any ideas, or time, or inspiration truth to be told. Maybe when the show comes back and I remember, maybe then. If I get an idea earlier, I will write something, for sure. Thank you for reading and thank you for your lovely comments, I really appreciate it. See you in the near future :)