He watches her as the sun filters through the window, dancing over the blanket and reaching for her still form, making her blonde hair shine and her pale skin warm. Leaning in the open door that leads onto a wrought iron balcony looking out on the city below, a cool breeze ruffling his hair and running over his bare chest, he watches as the sun chases sleep away, creeping ever closer to her long lashes, soft against her cheeks. Her brows draw together and her lips purse as she lets out a little disgruntled sigh. It’s a routine he’s watched many times before, for years, decades even, he’s lost count somewhere.
She turns onto her side, rubbing her cheek against the pillow, and his lips curl up at one corner as he waits for it, waits for her hand to reach out and—
She finds no one next to her and frowns, blinking her eyes open slowly. “‘Lijah…?” she murmurs, searching for him.
He pushes off the door and crosses the room, the carpet soft under his feet. He lays down on his side of the bad, turning his head to face her as he does every morning.
She smiles at him, her eyes falling closed once more, hums contently, and moves across the bed to snuggle against him, resting on his chest. He runs his fingers through her hair, tangled here or there, but soft and smelling faintly of her shampoo.
"Time’s it?" she wonders.
"Early…" He strokes his hand down her back; her skin is cool to the touch, it’ll warm when she has her coffee, but sometimes he likes it likes this, how it reminds him that they’re different, special.
Her fingers draw absently on his skin, shapes and letters and nothing in particular. She’s been doing it since that first morning together.
Ages ago, when everything went sideways in Mystic Falls, she needed an out, an escape. Klaus had run off to New Orleans and Tyler wouldn’t answer his phone, Stefan had his hands full with Elena and Damon, and Bonnie was still trying to resurrect Jeremy. Elijah found Caroline drinking her sorrows away, slumped on a stool, lost and broken. She looked over at him, her eyes tearful and glassy, and she spilled everything. He sat silently beside her, listening, drinking a decanter of bourbon that couldn’t compare to what he had at home. When she was done, tears clinging to her lashes, she looked at him and whispered, “Would you take me away if I asked?”
He stared at her a moment; the fractured angel whose glow had dimmed. He understood what Klaus had seen in her, but his brother had done too much, had hurt her too many times, and now, when she needed him most, had left her. Elijah was used to cleaning up his family’s messes, but this one felt different. He didn’t want to help Caroline because she mattered to Klaus, he wanted to help her because she needed it, because she deserved it, and, truth be told, Mystic Falls no longer held any appeal.
So he took her hand, led her from the bar, and returned her to her house. As he laid her down in her bed, he told her that if she felt the same in the morning, he would take her anywhere she wanted.
She was at his house bright and early, a suitcase at her feet.
Elijah always kept his promises.
He took her to Paris first and then they traveled, place to place, never stopping for long, he wasn’t even sure she knew where she was half the time, recognizing only that it wasn’t Mystic Falls. He bought her pretty dresses and he took her to fancy balls, he treated her to every beautiful thing she laid her eyes on. But it wasn’t the baubles and the trinkets, the necklaces and the clothing she liked. She wanted companionship, loyalty, and freedom.
She was drinking one night, some three years into their travels, dancing with anyone who asked her, wearing a dress that cost enough to make others sweat. She was laughing and happy and he could see as her depression and fear melted away as she spun in circles, negligent of whomever her dancing partner was. And when the song finished, she stumbled toward him, high on happiness. She ran her hands up his chest and she told him “Thank you,” her lips brushing his with every letter. She was sober, not one drink that night, when she slanted her mouth over his and sighed, sinking against him, letting his arms around her waist hold her up as a sea of emotion and relief flooded her.
Elijah was a patient man, certainly, and never a careless one. But Caroline didn’t want careful, she didn’t want questions or sympathy, she kissed him before he could raise any kind of protest, before he could battle lust with logic, and they returned to their motel room in a cab she’d hailed.
In the privacy of their suite, she turned her back, presenting him with the zipper, and grinned as he reached for it. As her gown pooled at her feet, she faced him, undressed him, and wrapped a hand around the back of his neck, drawing him close. “I’m not asking this time… Take me,” she whispers thickly, and he never has said no to her.
She’s a passionate lover, give and take in equal measures, loud, and not the least bit ashamed of what she wants. They ruin the bed, biting each other, licking away the liquid that beads on their skin. She’s even more stunning when she’s painted in blood, her teeth out, desire and hunger mixing. They spend hours like that, enjoying each other, making up for lost time, playful and rough. When he wakes in the morning, she’s still asleep, relaxed and beautiful. She reaches for him when the sun rouses her and he leans into her touch. He knows there’s no going back, this is how it is, how they are, and he has no regrets.
Decades later, it’s the same. She is his joy, his relief, his partner and his confidante.
"You think too loudly," she murmurs, rubbing her nose against his chest before she stretches, her toes reaching for the end of the bed. Her hand slides down his stomach and under his pants, cupping him as she turns a suggestive, sleepy grin on him.
He kisses her, leaning into her until she’s on her back beneath him, giggling sweetly, and he smiles, hitching her soft legs around his waist. He’s more than a millennium old, but she makes him feel young, as if the world still has so much to offer him, and more than anything else, happy.
He can, and does, spend an eternity just like that.