Fifty years later ~
"Are you sure you don't want to go over there? They wouldn't be happy, he wouldn't be happy if he knew you were over here by yourself."
"I'm not by myself. I have you." She smiled at him, her one constant, through her tears. "I told them we would meet them at the house later. I just want to say my own goodbye."
They stood under an old oak tree, Elena's head on Damon's shoulder, his head resting against hers, and watched as the casket was lowered into the ground. His arm around her shoulders brought her in closer, tighter, when a sob escaped her lips. No matter how many of their friends and family they had buried, it never got any easier and this was the toughest death of all.
After her high school and college years, where loss seemed to be an everyday occurrence, their life had calmed down, seemed more normal. So, when the call came a few years after she and Damon had married, Elena was completely blindsided. Matt Donovan was dead at the age of forty-four. He had been sheriff for a few years at that point. Tenderhearted Matt, one of the few humans in their group, the man who was determined to protect his own kind, had been shot in the line of duty. He was shot and killed by a human, a convenience store robbery suspect over one hundred twenty-three dollars and some change. The irony wasn't lost on anyone.
Bonnie had lived a long life, having married shortly after Damon and Elena. Her husband had been a widower with two small children when they met. Bonnie adopted his daughters and raised them like her own. Later in life, she confessed to Elena that she'd made the conscious decision not to have children. It was past time for the Bennett line to end, to break their connection to the vampires. The last thing she wanted was for her children to become involved in vampire problems, as her Grams would have said. Bonnie lived well into her seventies, leaving behind her husband, their daughters, several grandchildren and her two best friends who would mourn her for eternity.
Jeremy had returned to Mystic Falls after his retirement twenty years earlier. His children, two sons and a daughter, had grown up with Uncle Damon and Auntie Elena popping in whenever the mood struck. When they were old enough, they were told the family secret and sworn to secrecy as were their children after them. Once, shortly after she turned, Elena, knowing how he felt about vampires, asked Jeremy if he would prefer that she stay out of his life. He emphatically told her no, ending the discussion for all time.
Months earlier, Damon and Elena had hurried to Mystic Falls when Jeremy's Alzheimer's was diagnosed. They watched him deteriorate, heartbroken when he no longer recognized his wife and thought his daughter, Eleanor, was Miranda Gilbert, his mother . Even though tempted, Elena never tried to heal him with her blood, instead respecting what she knew would be his wishes. She sat at his bedside when he withdrew into himself, seemingly becoming a shell. She held his hand as he passed from this world, surrounded by his entire family.
Standing under the oak tree, they listened as the minister said a final prayer. They watched as Jeremy's family, her family, slowly walked away from his grave. They watched as the cemetery workers filled the gaping hole in the earth. Knowing it was time for her final goodbye to her little brother, Elena took a deep breath before walking to the mound of dirt that covered his casket. She looked over her shoulder, back at Damon, grateful he was giving her time with her brother, but was staying close in case she needed him. As she knelt in the grass talking to her brother, she picked up a clump of dirt, crushing it in her hand, letting it sift through her fingers, repeating the process over and over.
Later, she had no idea how much later, she felt Damon's hand on her shoulder.
"You ready to go? We can stay a while longer if you want."
"I'm ready. Help me up?" She brushed her hands together, wiping off the loose dirt there, before extending her hand to Damon. With a quick tug, she was on her feet and wrapped in his arms, as he kissed the top of her head.
"I love you, Elena. I know this hurts, but it will get easier."
"I know it will. And, I love you, too." Linking her arm with his, she led them through the cemetery to his car. "Getting away from Mystic Falls will help, too."
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Elena wasn't convinced that Damon wasn't just doing it for her.
"Yeah, I think it's time. I'll talk to Stef while we're in Tokyo, but I don't think he'll have a problem with it."
'This' was finding a long, lost Salvatore relative and signing the boarding house over to them. Being in Mystic Falls was just too painful for Elena and they didn't intend to return anytime soon, maybe not for decades, if ever.
With Jeremy's death, a chapter in their lives had ended. Damon had declared it was time for new adventures, beginning in Tokyo. All that stood in their way was some lose ends that would be tied up by the end of the day. They would be boarding an eleven pm flight for Tokyo where they would meet Stefan and Caroline to begin their next chapter, their next adventure.
A/N - I know I've said it many times before, but thank you, thank you, thank you for reading. You've no idea how much it means to me.
I do have a confession about this epilogue. There was one more scene that I deleted. It was a very short teaser that led into a possible new fic in this story line, picking up many, many years later. If you would like to read it (again it is VERY short), just PM me here or DM me on twitter ( fangirlingblog) and I'll be happy to sent it to you.
Thanks again! craftyjhawk