“The house looks amazing,” Katherine gazed at the spectacle that was her sister’s living room.
Elena and Elijah had decked out the house in green, red, and blue. There were piles of baked goods on the coffee table for the plethora of guests who would later make their way through the house.
“Caroline made cookies,” Katherine sat on the couch.
“How do you know I didn’t make those?” Elena bounced Miranda on her hip. The baby kept trying to reach for the colourful cookies. “I could have made them.”
“You can’t bake,” Katherine laughed as she popped a cookie into her mouth. She closed her eyes to savour the sweet treat. “Everything you bake is inedible, and these are like little drops of heaven.” She grinned and ate another cookie.
“I resent that,” Elena dropped into a chair with her niece, “I am an excellent baker.”
“I love you Elena,” Elijah placed a hand on her shoulder soothingly, “but your sister is right. You are a terrible baker.” He took Miranda when she reached out to him.
“You can sleep on the couch tonight,” Elena snagged a cookie for herself. She moaned when it hit her tongue. “They are like little drops of heaven.”
“Is Caroline here?” Katherine looked around the living room as if expecting the blond to materialize at the sound of her name. “I’d like to compliment her on the cookies.”
“You two are terrible,” Elena looked up at Elijah. He was gently swaying the baby back and forth. Elena reached out to tickle her tummy. “You’re my only friend Miranda. You think I can bake right?”
Miranda blew a raspberry, and scrunched up her nose causing everyone in the room to break out in laughter.
“I think that’s a no, ‘Lena,” Katherine came around to wrap her arms around her sisters shoulders. “If it helps any I think you are a wonderful cook.”
“It doesn’t,” Elena hugged her back. “You can complement Caroline’s culinary prowess at the party tonight.”
“Do I still have to sleep on the couch?” Elijah had sunk to the floor and was playing with Miranda. He lifted her up to blow on her tummy causing the little girl to giggle and grasp his short hair.
“I’ll think about it,” Elena dropped beside him and ruffled Miranda’s curls. She gasped when he wrapped an arm around her waist to pull her closer.
“Miranda you don’t think I should have to sleep on the couch,” Elijah ghosted his fingers along the child’s toes making her grin. “Tell your auntie I shouldn’t have to sleep on the couch.”
“That’s not fair,” Elena placed one hand on his chest and the other on Miranda’s back. “You know I can’t say no to Miranda.” She shoved his chest and used her body to push him back to the floor where she started tickling, “Help me Miranda.”
“I’m going to take back my baby,” Katherine took the giggling child from Elijah, “before this escalates.”
“I haven’t seen this many teachers in one place since graduation,” Katherine stepped up beside Caroline.
“I haven’t seen this many ugly Christmas sweaters since high school,” Caroline made a silly face at Miranda. “Do you remember senior year when we pranked the school.”
“Yeah, we told everyone it was ugly sweater day,” Katherine smiled at the memory of Alaric with a giant snowman on his chest. “I still can’t believe how many people fell for that.”
Miranda yawned and used a tiny fist to rub her eye. “She’s tired but she doesn’t want to miss anything,” Katherine fingered a brightly coloured ornament beside them, “Miranda loves the colours.” As if on cue Miranda reached for the bobble. Her drooping eyes were glued to it.
Elijah came up beside them and handed them each a glass of punch. Katherine stared at the giant tree on his sweater; it lit up.
“I’ll take her upstairs if you like,” Elijah was already reaching for the baby. “You should enjoy the party.” Miranda wasted no time before she tried to grab the lights on his chest.
“That would be nice Elijah, thank you,” Katherine relinquished the baby. “I just have one question. Did you pick out the sweater or did Elena?”
“I did. Why do you ask?”
“No reason. I think you’re Miranda’s new favorite person though.”
“That was the idea,” Elijah called over his shoulder. Miranda rested her head on his shoulder when he started up the stairs.
Elijah opened the spare bedroom where Katherine had set up for the night. “How about we get you some jammies?” He pulled a onesie from the bag and quickly switched her clothes. Miranda stuck her fingers in her mouth and stared at him.
“Can you keep a secret?” Elijah chuckled when she smiled around her fingers. “Of course you can,” he reached into his pocket to pull out a small box. “Who are you going to tell?” Picking Miranda back up to rest against his hip Elijah checked to make sure no one had followed him up the stairs before opening the box.
Miranda cooed and reached for the ring he held just out of her reach. “This is for your auntie, Elena,” his eyes focused on Miranda, “do you think she’ll like it?” He leaned forward to murmur against her ear. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.”
Miranda’s attention focused on Elijah. Her eyes drooped closed when she yawned and leaned against his shoulder.
Elijah tucked the ring back into his pocket. When his other hand was free he used it to stroke the little girls back. When she finally drifted off to sleep he laid her in the crib and picked up the monitor before returning to the party.
The party started winding down around 10:30. After Elijah saw the last of the guests out, he returned to the kitchen. Elena and Katherine were putting the left overs in the fridge. Elijah cleared away the dirty dishes and placed them into the dishwasher before helping Elena put things away.
Katherine excused herself when she heard Miranda starting to fuss on the monitor.
“Have you decided what you want for Christmas, Elena?” Elijah turned on the dishwasher and began wiping down the counter.
“hmmm,” Elena considered him while pouring a glass of water. “I don’t know,” she admitted. She closed the distance between them to wrap her arms snugly around his waist. She peered up at him through her eyelashes. “What do you want for Christmas?”
“You,” Elijah smirked wrapping his arms around her back.
“No,” Elijah shook his head slowly with a grin. “I want you anyway I can get you. Not because you’re beautiful, or clever, or kind or adorable.”
“I’m not sure where you’re going with this,” Elena breathed deeply and ran her hands along his back. “If this is your attempt to avoid sleeping on the couch tonight it’s not working very well.”
“You didn’t let me finish,” Elijah admonished. He placed a hand on her lips to keep her from talking. “I was going to say that you are all of those things; that’s just not why I want you.”
“Then why do you want me?”
“I want you because there is nobody else in this world like you,” he untangled himself from her and reached into his pocket. He fiddled with the box before pulling it out. “And I never want to start a day without seeing you,” Elijah sank down on one knee and opened the box. “Will you marry me?”
Elena covered her mouth with a hand to stifle the gasp. A diamond ring stared up at her; two blue stones flanked the diamond that was set in a white gold band.
“I don’t ever want to start a day without seeing you either,” she swiped a stray tear from her cheek. “Yes.” Elena threw her arms around his neck and peppered his face with kisses. “Yes,” she mumbled between kisses. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Elijah slipped the ring on her finger before kissing her soundly. Elijah pulled back to rest his forehead against hers and panted: "Where did we land on the couch?"