Stefan plunged the knife into Katherine’s heart, the feeling of stabbing her startlingly familiar. The unthinkable heat from the literal hell fire roared toward them. Stefan closed his fragile eyes against the intense blaze.
He searched himself for peace, for acceptance, finding only sorrow. He longed for another day on this earth. A day free from pain and heath. A day of love and happiness and mundane human existence. Another day to do good. To attempt to make up for the horrors he’d brought to the world.
So, no, there was no peace coming from this. No acceptance of this fate. Only a desperate, clawing desire to wrap his arms around his wife, to step foot in the warm sun and revel in it, to make something of himself, something good.
The fire was glowing in the tunnel before him. Ready to disintegrate he and Katherine into nothing. A panic overtook him. A will to live so intense that he didn’t recognize the emotion. He suddenly thrust Katherine forward into the on-coming inferno, being thrown backward himself, shielding his face as a burning hot light seared across his skin. Katherine disappeared into nothing. And Stefan remained.
He pulled himself from the dirt slowly, his human body bruised and broken and burned. The fire was gone, Katherine was gone and Hell itself was, presumably gone. But he was still here. Alive for another day.
He chuckled in disbelief and relief and pure happiness. He pulled his phone from his tattered pocket and dialed Caroline, labeled in his phone already as Mrs. Forbes-Salvatore.
“Thanks for understanding, but turns out I was an idiot for even considering leaving you even a day before I have to. So, if looks like you’re stuck with me.”
Caroline’s joyous laugher rang out through the charred cavern.
2 Years Later…
“Mommy, we’re sick, can’t we stay out of school today?”
Lizzie and Josie let out rehearsed fake coughs, much to Caroline’s amusement.
“Nice try, but I don’t think so,” she said with a smile.
“Stefaaaan,” they whined in unison at their step-dad, putting on their best doe-eyes.
Stefan chuckled and shook his head, “Listen to your mother, girls.”
“Aww,” they whined.
“Besides, it’s Aunt Bonnie’s class, your favorite. And there MAY be some ice cream sundaes in it for you later,” he crouched down and whispered conspiratorially.
“Yay!” They exclaimed, hugging him excitedly, almost knocking him over before scampering away.
When he stood up, Caroline was staring at him with a soft smile.
“What?” He asked, walking up to wrap his arms around her waist.
“I just love you so much,” she said.
“I love you too,” he said, brushing her hair away from her face, “And if you’re good, there might be ice cream sundaes for you too.”
Caroline giggled and placed a soft kiss on his cheek.
“Ewww,” a group of tiny witches laughed, running past them, making lights flicker above their heads as they chanted a spell together.
Stefan smiled at them, pleased at their progress.
“No running!” Caroline yelled, walking after them, “And no magic outside of class without Ms. Bennett present!”
“Oh hey,” she called back to Stefan, “You got some mail.” She pointed to a stack on the table.
Stefan picked up the pile, looking through bills and applications until he found a letter addressed to him and opened it.
“My old friend,” it read, “I hope this letter finds you well. I am inspired by tales of your good will and charitable acts, as well as I’m inspired by the goodness of those both in my past and my present who spread light in this world instead of darkness. And therefore, I hope you can make use of this donation that is both working toward my own slow path to redemption as well as possibly securing a spot at your school for my daughter at her mother’s request. Hope I have the good fortune to hear from you soon, old friend. Klaus.”
Stefan’s looked at the letter, and then the large check in disbelief.
“What the..” Caroline said, suddenly looking at the check over his shoulder.
“Payday!” She chirped, grabbing the check playfully from her husband’s hand.
“Ice cream sundaes for everyone tonight, ” she called out, waving the check in the air and being met with cheers from the students.
She winked at Stefan over her shoulder before scampering off to show Ric the check.
Stefan smiled, truly and completely happy for the first time in his long, long life. And all because he gave himself a chance to make things right. Redemption not to be found in death, but in life.
There, I fixed that for you.