The soggy smell of wet cherry blossom hangs in the air. Spring is finally here; bringing pewter grey rain clouds and high winds. Daffodils flutter below the tree and as Elena watches a balloon comes loose from a chair and floats up to get stuck in one of the branches.
His birthday proves a contented affair, despite the English weather. As tradition Elijah celebrates his birthday every hundred years. He can not pinpoint his exact day of birth but he knows he was born in the spring, in the month of April. After weeks of cajoling Elijah to agree Elena planned a lavish celebration and sent out invites to their friends and family. The gathering is a success, with members from the Council and the Coven in attendance. For years there has been a peace but bringing werewolves, vampires, witches and hybrids together is always a taut event.
Sighing she places a chair under the tree and climbs up to retrieve the balloon. Stretching to reach the ribbon she feels something brush against her leg and looks down at Elijah. One hand glides up the back of her calf while the other grips her hip firmly.
"Can't have you falling head over heels in front of our esteemed guests."
"Are you calling me clumsy?" She smiles up at the balloon, standing on her tiptoes. The end of the ribbon tickles her fingertips but it's still annoyingly out of reach.
"Of course not, you're grace personified."
"Ha!" She wraps the end of the ribbon around her fingers and pulls the balloon down. As she does a cascade of blossoms and rain drops fall. Balloon now in hand she turns on the chair, gazing down at him and as he plucks pink petals out of her hair. She had made it clear that she had wanted to wait before fully giving her heart away but somehow he took it without her noticing. There is not a piece of it left to hold back, he has taken it all. She slides her hands around his shoulders and he wraps his arms around her waist.
"Thank you for doing this."
"You're welcome. It's not every day a girl gets to celebrate someone's 1100 birthday, especially when you celebrate them every hundred years…" she trails off and the easy comfort that had been there previously dims. His immortality is something that they discuss infrequently but it is always there, an invisible thing between them. She had accepted that death would one day separate them but as the years stretched and her love grew that acceptance became weaker. She does not want to part from him and the answer to that problem has been clear from the start.
Elijah smiles softly at her. "I'll celebrate it every year if you'd like or would that take the shine off?"
"It was hard enough getting something for you, let alone every year! You're a very hard man to buy for." She brushes her lips against the corner of his mouth, conscious of the fact that a few of their guests are watching them. Finn's and Abby's children giggle behind their hands.
Elijah looks back at his brother and a slow, wicked grin spreads over his face. Finn had been convinced by his wife to fly in an aeroplane for the first time but he had to be sedated on the way after threatening to transport the whole "beastly contraption" with magic to London. The xanax has not worn off yet and he regards everything with a mellow, dazed smile. Elijah has responded with a level of schadenfreude that only siblings can truly achieve and Rebekah teases her older brother with equal gusto. After years of stubborn silence she had contacted Elena unexpectedly to share the news that she was married and expecting her first child. Elena cannot say that she knows the woman well but she has never seen her so happy. Now she sits, contently rubbing a hand over her belly while her husband – a doctor - fetches a juice for her.
Elijah squints up at her playfully. "Hmm I have been wondering what you've got me."
"I'd save you the suspense now but I don't want to scandalise the children." She lets her weight fall against him and he pulls her off the chair, her feet dangling. Elijah smirks and lowers his lips to hers and kisses her hard and fast. Her breasts heave against his chest as she laughs into his mouth.
"Eww!" Their nieces and nephews shout and scream before running away. They sit and Elena watches them play wistfully and unbidden she pictures a lonely boy before a piano. What she wouldn't give to see him play now. Elijah turns to her and takes her hand, displaying that uncanny ability to read her without words. She shakes her head with a smile and kisses him softly. The balloon she had retrieved slips from her loose grip and she breaks away to watch it float up into the air before being carried away by the wind.
There is no limit to what magic can do. It's just a matter of finding the right words to form and shape it, the right person to cast it…Magic can heal and magic can kill. It can revive those dead and gone but at a price. Nature demands balance, you can not take something without giving back. There are laws.
Time has laws. The past is obdurate, it does not like to be meddled with and as a rule witches leave the past as it is. The future on the other hand is insubstantial, changing every second, sprouting off in a thousand, million threads. The future is easy to manipulate and if you are lucky enough you can weave those threads into whatever you desire. Magic can restore and the future can be shaped. But how can you bring to life a ghost from a future lost? For the last decade that is what she has been yearning to know and tonight she may finally get her answer.
"I can't guarantee that this will work," Bonnie says and the candles around the pentagram flicker into life. "No one has ever attempted this before."
"We know and we're prepared for that," Elena says, looking at Elijah who nods stiffly. They have talked about the possibility of seeing Grayson for years but it is only recently that Elena has approached the possibility with a drive that borders on obsession. Where this drive comes from she will not fully disclose but he has his suspicions. Elena is now thirty three, almost the same age as her mother when she died. That has to be an underlining reason but it is one she will not voice.
"Then you know the risks. You can't touch him if he materialises. He's from a different timeline, a different reality. He doesn't really belong here and any attempt to cross him over could be dangerous."
"Because he doesn't really exist," Elijah says quietly and Elena gives him a sharp look.
"Not here but he does somewhere, some when. I'm not doing this out of a sense of sentimentality, I didn't give birth to him or get to raise him...but he's still my son. If that timeline is still existing, in whatever state, I need to know if he's okay, if he's safe." She looks back at the salt circle with a hard gaze. "I know nature could be unbalanced by him crossing over, I understand but I need to put these doubts to rest."
Bonnie opens her spell book and sighs, "He might not even be able to talk or see us, he might not be aware."
Elena and Elijah nod and watch expectantly as Bonnie begins to chant, eyes squeezed shut. The candles suddenly flame upwards, roaring with heat and the centre of the circle begins to shimmer, like a heat mirage. A shape begins to emerge slowly and a strange echoing noise fills their ears. The shape becomes more solid and the hollow noise becomes louder, as if many people are whispering in a large, echoing room.
"Who…who…who are…you?" His voice drifts up, small but distinguishable from the others. He stares at Bonnie, back to his parents. "Do you want to see…see my uncle?"
Bonnie smiles, shocked to her core that it has worked but giddily pleased. "Actually I want talk to you. Turn around."
As he does, becoming more solid and there every second, Elena stumbles and Elijah grips her arm. She smiles up at him, about to tell him she is fine when her nose begins to bleed. Alarmed Elijah looks up at Bonnie whose smile falls.
"I – I feel strange. Oh!" With a surprised gasp her eyes roll up and she collapses into his arms.
Elijah looks up at Grayson just in time to see the shocked little boy disappear. Before he does their eyes lock and Grayson stares at Elijah in bewildered recognition. With a sound like air being sucked into a vacuum the many voices cease and the candles lower. Cradling Elena in his arms Elijah frantically listens for signs of life and can just barely detect her heart beating. He bites into his wrist and presses it to her mouth, forcing the blood down her throat. Elena chokes and a wave of relief washes over him.
"Elena? Are you okay?" His voice shakes and she looks up at him blearily. But her confusion fades as her eyes snap to the empty circle.
Elijah nods, keeping rigid control on his wild emotions. He looks at Bonnie who kneels shakily at their side. "What happened?"
"I – I think something was trying to make him real, make him alive. Nature saw him as something that didn't belong so tried to fix it..." she trails off, gazing thoughtfully before looking at Elena who sits up against Elijah's chest. "If he had been here any longer you would have died."
"Why me?" Elena asks, wiping the blood from her mouth and nose.
"Elijah is already dead and I'm not his mother...I guess you were the most compatible because of the blood connection."
"Nature would have used my life in exchange for his?" Elena stares with a hungry intensity at the spot where Grayson had been. "So it's possible? He could really be here?" The arms around her spasm and grow tight.
"The cost is too high."
Elena looks up at him and turns. The anger in her eyes turns into something softer. "Not such a cost you told me once."
"Your life means more then mine."
"And his means more then mine," she calmly whispers, willing him to understand. "I have your blood in my system, I won't die permanently. We both knew this day could come and I've been prepared for it. I accept it."
"You told me that you didn't want to be a vampire," he speaks roughly, jaw clenching.
"When I was a teenager. A lot has changed since then, I've gone out in the world, I've lived and I'll continue to. If anyone has shown me that you can live a worthwhile, good existence it's you. I'm prepared to do this if it means he gets to live."
"You'll become like me…do you want to raise a child like that? I thought I could do it, that I could still be a father to Ivan but I caused him nothing but pain. He was better off without me." Torment dances in his eyes and she cups his face.
"That was years ago Elijah, you're different, more in control. You're a better man, a better vampire. If I can make any sense of where he comes from, if it even exists for him, our son might be living with a hybrid, with Klaus. You're telling me we should ignore that because we're vampires?"
"You're not one yet," he growls out and pulls her up to her feet. Elena clutches at his coat, hands balled into fists.
"If there is a way to do this I won't let anyone stop me. He belongs with us."
A strange smile quirks his lips, "I don't get a say?"
"You don't want to do this, you've made it clear."
He grabs her hands in his and stares at her intensely. "No, I would give anything to have him with us but not in the way you're talking about. Vampires raising a child? How cruel do you think I am?"
Elena blinks as if struck. She looks down at her feet, shaking her head. "What else can I do?"
"Let him go."
Bonnie moves away from them, not wanting to intrude on a painful and intimate moment. The truth of the matter is even if Elijah agreed she couldn't bring the boy back into their world, not if it meant turning Elena into a vampire. It goes against the rules of the Coven, rules that she must uphold absolutely as the High Priestess.
"Aw, don't be such a stick in the mud," whispers a voice in her head and she tries her best to ignore him. But he can be annoyingly persistent.
"Shut up Klaus, this doesn't concern you."
"Excuse you but that little kid happens to be family. So it does concern me. I've been stuck in your head long enough to know the rules as well as you do. If a person consents to being a vampire there's nothing you can do about it."
Since draining his life force and containing his body Klaus has not left her in peace. He took up residence in her subconscious at first, invading her dreams, trying to scare her into releasing him. But as the years drew on they struck up a strained sort of companionship. Visiting her dreams is the only way he gets to live and communicate. She learned years ago to accept it but only a handful of people know. If her brothers or sisters knew in the Coven she would have her titled revoked before she could blink. As long as she siphons off his everlasting energy she lives but he never leaves her consciousness, an unforeseen side effect of the elixir. Now she listens to his advice grudgingly.
"Crossing him over could skew the balance of nature. Who knows what the side effects will be?"
"By that reasoning you shouldn't have attempted the ritual in the first place. Come on, live a little love."
She stares at Elena and Elijah, watching Elena trying her utmost to convince him. She seems to be winning because he looks at the circle of salt wistfully.
"That's my girl."
She walks back to her friends and stares at Elena firmly. "If you want to do this say so now, you might not get another chance."
Elena looks up at Elijah, begging without words and he sighs, relenting. "If this is what you want then I won't stop you. He should be saved."
"Thank you," she breathes and clutches his hand. She watches, heart racing and blood thundering in her ears as Bonnie performs the spell again and prepares herself for what comes next.
Morning light shines through the lace curtain. In the sunbeam she can see miniscule specs of dust. There must be thousands of them and if she was so inclined she could lie there and count them all. Instead she focuses on the lace covering the window, following the intricate pattern. From a distance she can see the warp and weave that someone sewed, accomplished by a human hand. She could probably create wondrous things if she wants, she realises with a thrill.
She focuses on details, smaller and more complex the better. Anything is preferable then facing the incessant hunger. It has been over a month since she turned and as Caroline told her each day is hard but not as hard as the day before. It had been thirst that awoke her and she turns to see a blood bag next to a glass. Elijah is not here but his old ring lies against her chest, protecting her from the sun. In its place he now wears a simple gold band.
She reaches for the blood and glass and measures out an amount to drink. Pace and control, Elijah's voice whispers into her head, do not let the hunger govern you. In the end it had been her choice. Not by accident or through malicious means. She had thought about it for years and over time became almost certain of her decision. Indecisiveness is a flaw in her character, one that she battles with but she would make the same choice a thousand times over. Of course there is a searing kernel of fear within her, fear of what she may do but she has surrounded herself with the best people, the very best and she will not succumb to malevolence.
A sweet sound reaches her ears and she sits up. Since transforming she has had to cope with not just the bloodlust but also the sensory change of the world around her. In dreams she had seen how vampires' experience their surroundings but she realises that it had been a pale imitation of the real thing. The world is utterly overwhelming. But the sound calls to her, a siren drawing her up from bed. She walks from the room slowly, fingers trailing over tiny bumps in the walls and then with a burst of speed she reaches the hallway.
I've been here before, she thinks as she comes to stand between cream walls, sunlight streaming in. Before she had thought it looked sterile but now it is welcoming and warm. These moments of déjà vu, of frequently seeing things that should not exist, bemuse her. She had tried to change this thing from happening but fate is seems had other plans. Smiling she opens the door and peeks through. They sit side by side before the piano and Elijah encourages him quietly. He has proved a wonderful teacher. Grayson begins to play with confidence, wanting to impress. When he finishes with a flourish, beaming, this time he turns to his father who claps proudly.
Time is obdurate and time is flexible and people attempt to manipulate the two. Some succeed but they meddle in things beyond them. Time has a resonance, a familiar beat and no matter what you do it does not truly fade. Everything happens just as it should, if not always in the way you expect.
~ The End ~
This final chapter proved to be more difficult then I imagined. You start out with one ending in mind but come to another. I rewrote this a dozen times. Originally I thought it was too "nice and neat" but then I made it too depressing, because I love angst. So I hopefully this is a happy medium. I imagine that Grayson, not being from their world/timeline gradually feels overtime that he doesn't belong and that his existence is...fragile. I was going to explore that but I felt I should leave it here before I lost my mind trying to finish lol.
I liked playing with the idea of freewill and predestination. Elena shapes her future but there are some things that just do not go away. It's in those moments of deja vu that she sees this. I intended for her to change at the end but I wanted it to be her choice and not by accident. I just had to do it in a way that would be in character, which I hope I've achieved. Doing it to save a loved one seemed right to me...They really are "Always and Forever" now ;)
This is the end of this story but if the mood strikes I might dip back into it again. Either way I do have other Elena/Elijah plot bunnies that I'll write down soon.
Finally I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read this story and left reviews. I never ask for them and don't expect to receive them so it's been surprising and incredibly flattering to have this response. THANK YOU!