"Julia and Thomas Salvatore." The audience clapped and Elena and Stefan smiled proudly as their children walked up and received their little certificates of promotion. Stefan reached over and took Elena's hand, trying to pretend like it was no big deal but she could see the light blush tenting his features.

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"I'm glad I decided to make that donation...we have two very beautiful and sweet children." He whispered as he watched them sit back down with the rest of their class.

"It's strange; when we first met Damon told me vampires couldn't procreate." Stefan snorted.

"Damon tells all his girls that, he just doesn't want children." Elena frowned and Stefan squeezed her hand.

"Don't let it bother you...I'm the lucky brother." He winked and she turned scarlet, enjoying the sensation of his fingers laced with hers...Damon never let her hold his hand.

"And Katherine is the lucky sister." She mumbled, hoping he wouldn't hear but forgetting his vampirism gave him perks. His eyes lost some of their shine and his smile faltered.

"I'm just a drop in the ocean to her, Elena. One drop in a sea of men that she toys with. She doesn't love me." He decided to stop there, terrified that his voice would crack. Elena's heart broke.

"She's a fool." Stefan quickly turned to look at her, his heart leaping into his throat. He glanced down at their entwined fingers and then back into her chocolate brown eyes.

"Let me take you out tonight. I have a friend that can watch the kids." He offered. Elena shifted uncomfortably in her seat, gently pulling her hand from his.

"I can't, Stefan. We're both married, it would be wrong." He sighed and leaned in closer to her.

"What do you think our spouses are out doing together right now? I can guarantee you it's more than just dinner. Come on, Elena...I have to know you." He said the last part intensely and Elena had to suppress the squeal that was bubbling in the back of her throat. Unable to find her voice she simply nodded and Stefan smiled in victory, turning said smile to his children as the ceremony came to an end and they ran to him.

"Mommy, Uncle Stefan, look!" They yelled simultaneously and handed the certificate to Elena. Stefan picked both of them up, sitting one on each hip.

"I'm proud of you, kiddos! How about some ice cream to celebrate?" They nodded eagerly and Elena laughed, half at her little ones and half at the flirtatious look Stefan was sending her way.

When Stefan and Elena made it to Dairy Queen he looked over at the twins.

"Let me guess...you both want Strawberry?" They nodded and Elena stared at him in surprise.

"How did you know that? Damon never even remembers which foods they prefer."

"Well, Strawberry is my favorite and they're my children so I kind of just assumed." He said with a thoughtful smile. This pleased Elena and she beamed as she handed them their ice cream.

"Are you my real Daddy?" Julia asked curiously as she climbed in Stefan's lap. Way to go, Salvatore. Stefan thought to himself; nearly face palming that he'd said that in front of them. He shot a panicked look to Elena and she shrugged her shoulders, leaving it up to him. Stefan was longing to be closer to Elena and his children, aching for the affection he never got from Katherine, so he nodded. He gently caressed his daughter's cheek and she took a long lick of her ice cream cone.

"Yes, Sweetheart. I am." He said softly. Thomas piped up.

"Are we supposed to call you that?" Stefan laughed.

"Only if you want too, or you can just call me Uncle Stefan like you always have."

"I would call you Daddy but..." Julia trailed off and her lip began to quiver and she reached across the table and tugged on Elena's shirt to where it exposed her shoulder. Three large bite mark scars and a couple fresh bruises covered it.

"You're afraid he would punish Mommy?" Stefan asked in a broken whisper. Julia nodded. He pulled her closer to him.

"I won't let that happen. I promise to put a stop to that."

"Are you going to be her Prince Charming?" Julia's voice was adorable and her question was so cute that Stefan burst out laughing and looked soulfully into Elena's eyes.

"If she'll let me." Elena blushed and Julia squealed, turning around and squeezing Stefan's neck in a hug.

When the children finished their ice cream Stefan drove them to his friend Lexi's house. When they knocked on the door she looked surprised to see them.

"Stefan! I haven't seen you since your 161st birthday! Hug me!" The bouncy blond yelled and she flung herself at Stefan. He laughed and patted her on the back.

"Could you do me a favor, Lex?" She grinned.

"Anything!" Stefan smiled and took the hands of both his children.

"I was hoping to go out with this beautiful young woman tonight, and I need someone to watch my kids." Lexi frowned.

"Katherine out being a hoe?" Stefan nodded and she sighed.

"Okay, I'll take good care of the kids. Have fun you two." She said with a wink and opened her door wide, gesturing for the children to come in. They looked wide eyed at Stefan but he patted their heads.

"It's okay, Lexi's fun, you'll like her." They kissed Elena goodbye and disappeared into the house. Stefan took Elena's hand again and walked her to her side of the car.

"Where are we going?" She asked. He grinned and kissed her on the cheek.

"It's a surprise." She blushed for what felt like the thousandth time that day.

"What is it about you that makes me feel like I'm a teenager again?" She asked quietly. Stefan shrugged and got in on the driver's side.

"You make me feel that way too, Elena. I knew you had to feel it all those Christmas's and birthdays...the electricity in the air when we're near one another. It's always been there, this chemical attraction." She smiled sadly at him.

"You can't talk that way, Stefan. I'm your sister-in-law." Stefan looked at the road intently, as if he were thinking very hard about something.

"You're the mother of my children. You're more than my sister-in-law and you know it. Don't pretend like what we've been doing this whole time means nothing. It means everything to me, Elena. I'm so lonely." He admitted.

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"I'm lonely too. Very lonely." He squeezed her hand.

"I'm going to take this slow, I'm going to do things as right as I can in this situation. But I promise you, if it's the last thing I do I'll make sure he never hurts you again...and that you won't be alone anymore. We won't be alone anymore." Elena didn't answer, hating how her heart lurched when he looked at her and how she always hung on to his every word. She didn't want to be this person, she didn't want to be to Damon the way he was to her...but with all that had happened that day between her and Stefan, she couldn't help but wonder if this is what real love felt like. Was it?