"You look tired," Rose smirked as she pulled her hair up into a ponytail.
"I wonder why!" Dimitri replied, his lips curving into a lazy, sexy smile, alluding to their night of passion.
It was half past nine in the morning, and hunger was forcing the newlyweds from their bed. Abe had arranged a buffet brunch for them all the day after the wedding, and it was to this that Dimitri and Rose were headed.
"Do you think Alto is going to be there?" Dimitri asked. While Rose might have succeeded in putting Stan out of his mind for the evening, Dimitri wanted to know what his former colleague had been doing at 1.30 am in his sisters' suite, and why he seemed so interested in Sonya.
"If he is, then you're not going to make a scene," Rose said firmly. "We will have brunch, see our friends and family, and afterward you can speak with Alto." Dimitri looked as though he'd like to argue. "I mean it, Comrade. Don't ruin this morning. Besides – it will be fun to watch him squirm as he's waiting!"
Chuckling at his wife's devious nature, and longtime dislike of Guardian Alto, Dimitri conceded her plan had merit. Accordingly, when they walked into the dining room put aside for their brunch, Rose and Dimitri greeted everyone pleasantly, neither making eye contact with Stan Alto who, sure enough, was seated next to Sonya.
"Here they are! The newlyweds… Have a good time last night, you two?!" Christian asked suggestively.
"That's enough, Christian," Lissa said reprovingly. The Moroi Queen wasn't a prude, but she did think matters of the bedroom should stay behind closed doors.
"Yes, quite enough!" Janine Hathaway said, giving Christian a stern look that silenced him instantly.
"Sorry, Guardian Hathaway. Sorry guys." Rose's mother scared the shit out of Christian. Between her neck full of molnija, and the way every Guardian he'd ever met deferred to her, she was a frightening woman. Rose waited until her mother turned to speak with Abe before poking her tongue out at Christian.
"So, do you have plans for the day?" Olena asked, smoothing over the awkward moment.
"Not really," Rose said, secretly thinking she wished she could return to bed so she could sleep. "It's going to be warm, so maybe we could go swimming?"
The swimming pool at St. Vladimir's was indoors but had glass side windows that tilted to open the pool to a large grassed area outside. During term time, it was primarily used during darkness, but when St. Vlad's reverted to a daylight schedule over the summer break, it was a popular destination for off-duty Guardians.
"That sounds great!" Eddie said enthusiastically. He'd be traveling to Missoula and then on to Palm Springs in the late afternoon, so he was eager to hang out and catch up with Rose and Dimitri before he left.
"I'm in," Mia agreed.
In the end, almost the whole party decided to go swimming. Abe and Janine were conspicuous in their refusal, but the way they kept yawning over brunch made Rose suspect their evening had been spent in much the same way as Dimitri's and her own. It wasn't something she wanted to dwell on, so Rose was happy to accept their excuse of 'business to deal with' at face value rather than contemplate the possibility her parents were tired after a night of intimacy. No child wanted to imagine that!
"Why don't you all go ahead, and we'll meet you there? I just wanted to have a word with Guardian Alto," Dimitri said, lifting an eyebrow in challenge at his previous workmate. Sonya gave Rose an imploring look before handing Katya to Karolina to dress and take swimming.
"Dimka – you've barely held your nephew – why don't you cuddle him while he's asleep?" Sonya suggested, lifting Maxim from his baby carrier and handing the sleeping infant to Dimitri before he had a chance to decline. It was a smart move, Rose thought. Dimitri was unlikely to start shouting if he was holding his sleeping nephew. Recognizing Sonya intended to stay for Dimitri's discussion with Alto, Rose decided to also remain present.
"I'd like to know what you were doing in my sisters' suite at 1.30 in the morning," Dimitri said without prelude, glaring at Stan meanwhile cuddling baby Maxim.
"It was nothing, Dimka," Sonya interjected before Alto had a chance to respond. "Maxim has his days and nights mixed up. He's used to Russian time, so has been sleeping during the day but awake all night. I'd mentioned to Guardian Alto I'd be sitting up with Maxim, and he offered to sit with me and chat for a while to keep me company. Nothing happened… Vika was there with us the whole time!"
Dimitri was listening to Sonya, but his eyes did not leave Alto.
"Belikov; I want you to know my intentions are completely honorable. I think Sonya is a kind, beautiful young woman, and a wonderful mother. If she says yes, I'd like to keep in touch with her when she returns to Russia. Living so far apart, I know not to have any expectations, but it's been a long time since I've felt able to talk with someone the way I do with your sister." Stan gave Sonya a questioning look while Rose turned to Dimitri lifting her eyebrows in surprise.
"I'd be happy to email and speak on the phone with you, Guardian Alto," Sonya replied primly, giving Stan an encouraging smile before briefly scowling at Dimitri. "You've been so kind helping me with Katya and Maxim."
"It's nothing," Stan said modestly, blessing Sonya with a soppy smile Rose had never seen on the Guardian's face before. "They're lovely children – it's been my pleasure."
Dimitri was watching his sister and her suitor in consternation. While he clearly didn't like the idea, Sonya was an adult, and a mother of two; he couldn't ban her from keeping in touch with Alto, no matter how much he disliked the idea of the two of them together.
"I expect my sister to be treated with dignity and respect," Dimitri growled, a little at a loss after Stan's blatant admission. "Mess her around, and you answer to me."
"You have my word," Stan said, deferentially and, surprisingly, respectfully, "I just want to get to know Sonya a little better." After that, there really wasn't much to say.
"I might go and try to nap while Maxim sleeps," Sonya said.
"I'll walk you," Stan volunteered, not unaware of how his offer was pissing off Dimitri.
"We'll all go," Dimitri stipulated firmly, unwilling to send his sister and nephew off alone in Alto's company. The walk back to the guest quarters was awkward. No one said anything until Rose started chatting with Sonya. Once at their quarters, Dimitri stayed in the hallway watching as Alto bid Sonya farewell, the latter taking Maxim into her suite and closing the door.
"I don't like it," Dimitri grumbled once he and Rose entered their own suite.
"It doesn't exactly float my boat either," Rose admitted. "But they live half a world away from one another – nothing is likely to come of it."
Grunting in acknowledgment, Dimitri changed into his swimwear, Rose doing likewise.
"A bikini?!" Dimitri groaned, taking in Rose's swimsuit.
"You know you love it, Comrade," Rose replied, giving her husband a wink before wrapping a towel around her and slipping on some flip-flops.
"Isn't it a little revealing?" Dimitri asked.
"This is covering compared to some of the others," Rose admitted, "I stocked up since we're going to the Hamptons!"
"You're going to be the death of me," Dimitri moaned, trying to drag his thoughts away from Rose's skimpy attire.
When they reached the pool, Dimitri noticed his sisters, Lissa and Mia were all in swimsuits at least as revealing as Rose's. His mother and grandmother were not bathing, although they were sitting poolside watching Karolina and Xander in the shallow end with Zoya and Katya. Four of the Royal Guard was standing watch, wearing shorts in a concession to the heat. Paul and Christian were swimming laps, while Lissa was sitting with Eddie getting an update on Jill, Adrian, and Sydney. Things were still awkward between Lissa and her younger half-sibling. It was hard for her Majesty to accept her parents' marriage had not been as perfect as she'd once believed. Jill, on the other hand, struggled with the obligations and attention that came with suddenly becoming Royal. When Jill eventually returned to Court, she and Lissa would have to work on a relationship – but for now, most of Lissa's information about her half-sister came second hand.
"You didn't tell me how you ended up being able to come," Rose said, flopping onto a chair next to Eddie, Dimitri following suit.
"I thought Abe would have told you? His plane was at Court to pick up the flowers and the photographer the morning of the wedding. He knew I was scheduled to come to Court, and that Mia could only get away for a couple of days, so he offered us a ride. Mia's going back with the photographer in a few hours, but it's easier for me to fly back from Missoula."
"He never said," Rose replied with a smile. With Abe paying for the wedding and flying Dimitri's family to America, Rose and Dimitri had insisted on no wedding gift – however, both appreciated the presence of their friends. Guardians lived dangerous lives, and in the back of their minds, there was the knowledge that every time they saw a friend or a colleague, it could be the last. The chance to see loved ones to celebrate was worth more than anything.
After chatting with Lissa and Eddie for a while, Rose and Dimitri joined the others in the pool. The group swam, Dimitri and Rose playing with Zoya and Katya for a while before Karo and Xander took them for their nap, Olena and Yeva going with them. With the others gone, the group decided to play a game of water volleyball. Eddie and Dimitri set up the net, and then they grouped into teams – guys against girls. Accordingly, Christian, Eddie, Paul and Dimitri gathered on one side of the net, Vika, Mia, Lissa and Rose on the other. Rose wasn't particularly happy with the groupings – the guys were a lot taller and stronger than the girls, added to which neither Lissa or Mia were particularly fit.
As anticipated, the guys won by a landslide. Rose was pouting about it, so Dimitri swam over to her, scooping her up in his arms and giving her gentle consoling kisses. The two kissed and cuddled in the water until Christian said something crass, and Rose retaliated by splashing him liberally. An all-out water fight started, Lissa scampering from the pool shrieking that no-one was to wet her hair as chlorine made her blonde locks go green. Eventually sick of splashing Christian, Rose climbed out of the pool, claiming a sun lounge and dragging it over next to one Lissa was reclining on.
"You're so different with Dimitri here at St. Vlad's," Lissa observed. "Much more affectionate."
"Not really," Rose argued. She and Dimitri were always very affectionate when they were alone together.
"You're always touching and kissing," Lissa continued. "You don't usually do that."
"Not when we're on duty," Rose agreed. "And you never see us on our time off."
"What do you mean?" Lissa asked, sounding a little offended.
"Nothing, Liss. Just that we try to keep it professional when we're on duty…"
"And you're always on duty," Lissa finished, stating the fact that Rose tactfully omitted. The best friends sat side by side for a few minutes before Lissa asked, "How many hours do you and Dimitri work each day?"
Rose kept her eyes fixed on the water where Dimitri and Paul were playing water volleyball again against Christian and Eddie, Mia and Vika sitting side by side on the edge chatting.
"We clock on at 6 pm, so we're ready when you rise for breakfast, and usually clock off when you and Christian retire at 10 am. So that's about sixteen hours."
"And you do that every day," Lissa said, almost to herself.
"Yes – but sometimes we get Saturdays off," Rose said quickly.
"What do you do, then?" Lissa asked, genuinely curious about how Rose and Dimitri spent their precious spare time.
"Usually train, do the washing and food shopping," Rose admitted. It wasn't glamorous, but those things needed doing.
"So when do you watch a movie or go out?" Lissa asked, her voice small.
"We try to make Friday nights 'our' time," Rose replied cheerfully. Yeah it wasn't much, and as often as not they were so tired they'd crash with takeout in front of the TV, but that's just how things were if you were primary Guardians for the Queen and her consort.
"The stupid thing is, I have so many Guardians, yet I'm really in no danger," Lissa said, still not meeting Rose's eyes. "I'm almost always within wards, and I don't really need you and half a dozen Guardians watching my every move. I think we should look at reorganizing the guard timetable."
Rose turned to stare at Lissa. Since she became Queen, Lissa had never raised how her Guardians were rostered. Traditionally the Monarch had six Guardians with them at all times, each Guardian working a twelve-hour shift.
"I mean, the palace has its own Guardians, anyway, so no one is getting in or out. Surely three Royal Guardians for eight hours overnight would be sufficient? That leaves you and another eight Guardians plus Dimitri to cover the remaining sixteen hours. If you did eight hours, with three other Guardians, then four of the remaining Guardians could be with me, and the fifth could be with Christian for the last shift? It's rare for me to need more than four Guardians with me. And if every Guardian worked two twelve-hour shifts a week, they could even get a full day off."
Rose canted her head, considering her Monarch's words. Lissa was right – now she was no longer attending classes on campus at Lehigh, she spent the vast majority of her time at Court. Six Guardians twenty-four-seven was a bit of overkill.
"Macauley would be a good choice to be with you when I'm not," Rose suggested, looking across to where the female Guardian stood, her eyes constantly moving and checking out the area. She was a skilled Guardian with an excellent track record, but most importantly Lissa liked her. "But reducing your guard puts you at risk," Rose argued.
"Not really. If my Guardians are more rested and have time to train they can defend me better should the need arise."
"We wouldn't be able to implement it until we return to Court," Rose stipulated, her thoughts wandering to summer in the Hamptons.
"Implement what?" Dimitri asked, he and Christian standing beside the girls dripping water fresh from the pool. Each pulled up a chair and listened as Rose outlined Lissa's proposed change to her guard schedule. Rose had anticipated Dimitri objecting; however, he surprised her by agreeing that it was a sensible plan, even going so far as to suggest one of the guards as a good choice for Christian's secondary Guardian.
"I'll talk to Guardian Croft about it," Lissa declared decisively, "but until we return to Court and start the new system, I want you and Dimitri to work a maximum twelve-hour shift. You're married now, Rose. You and Dimitri need quality time together.
Rose wordlessly hugged Lissa, touched that she'd thought about their needs.
"Shhh," Rose giggled as she and Dimitri slunk across the lawn over to the gym and onwards into the woods. "I don't want anyone to see us!"
"Then try keeping your voice down," Dimitri replied with a smirk, as ever amused by his wife. What had started as an evening in bed enjoying shots from a bottle of Vodka together had ended up with Rose deciding an impromptu visit to 'their' cabin was in order. Which is why the tipsy couple was slinking across campus at 1 am toward the wards and a certain old cabin that held such fond memories for them both.
"I think it's over this way," Rose stage-whispered. Honestly, Dimitri was surprised they couldn't hear her from the Administration building.
"It's this way," Dimitri corrected softly, grabbing Rose by the waist and pulling her hard against him before redirecting her toward the cabin.
"Right you are, Comrade," Rose replied, giggling again. Dimitri softly groaned. Rose's mischievous giggle did things to him, which made him urgently want to do things to her!
"Here we are," Dimitri said, seeing the cabin up ahead. Carefully checking the ward line in each direction, no one was in sight. Grabbing Rose's hand, Dimitri pulled her into the cabin, quickly finding and lowering the window shades before using his Zippo to illuminate the dark space. Finding the table, and several candles on it, Dimitri lit them before moving around the small space lighting other candles. The area now bright enough to see, Rose and Dimitri looked around them.
It was dustier than it had been a couple of years ago, yet everything looked the same. The same old quilt was on the bed, and looking at it, Rose could remember straightening it with Dimitri after she'd given herself to him.
"It hasn't changed at all," Rose whispered, sobered by the memory of what had happened here and afterward. The dust was so thick it was easy to believe that they might be the first visitors since that fateful night.
"We have," Dimitri smiled, wrapping his arms around Rose from behind. "You know, this is where I first knew I wanted to marry you one day."
"Really?" Rose gasped, spinning in Dimitri's arms to face him.
Dimitri nodded, flushing a little. "That night… I'd never felt a connection with a woman like that before. I already knew I loved you, but once we were physical, I knew we belonged together forever."
"Then the day after you were taken from me."
Rose shivered in Dimitri's arms, both of them remembering the Strigoi invasion and the devastating consequences of that day and the resultant rescue mission. Unconsciously Dimitri tightened his embrace in defiance of anyone or thing which would try and separate them again.
"You loved me enough to track me down to try and put me out of my misery," Dimitri said, running his finger across Rose's quivering lower lip, alluding to the one part of their shared history they rarely discussed. "And then you loved me enough to find a way to bring me back to you. Your love saved me, Roza." Tears were welling in Rose's eyes.
"Our love saved each other, Comrade."
Dimitri nodded, picking Rose up as though she weighed nothing, carrying her across to the bed.
"And here we are. Together, married and happy. You are happy, aren't you, Roza?"
"So so happy," she whispered, straddling Dimitri's legs as he sat on the edge of the bed.
Their lips joined, tentatively at first, but soon becoming more urgent. Before long, their clothes were discarded, and Rose found herself on her back, Dimitri looming above her, his eyes dark with love and lust.
"Do you remember our first time?" Rose asked, her lips almost touching Dimitri's.
"Every moment," Dimitri replied, his eyes closed, a smile playing on his lips. He kissed Rose again, lining himself up with her before pushing into her wet heat. "I remember the way you gasped when I entered you," he murmured, dropping kisses onto Rose's collarbone as he started a slow and steady pace. "I remember you had your arms under mine, gripping onto my shoulders. At first, you were clinging to me, but when you relaxed, you started to play with the hair on the back of my neck."
Rose groaned. What Dimitri was doing felt so good, but his whispered recollections – the reverent way he described their first union – was what made this so special.
"I remember you were so gentle with me. I felt so loved," Rose explained, recalling the thrill of being able to touch Dimitri's body unimpeded for the first time. Like him, she could remember everything about the night they first made love.
"You were loved, Roza. You still are."
"I know it," Rose replied with a happy sigh. And then words weren't needed anymore.
Dimitri and Rose were sad for their honeymoon week to end. Time with his family was always too short, and it was hard to say goodbye when the couple had no idea when they might see them again. For Rose it was hard to say goodbye to St. Vladimir's again, too. While once she'd hated the place, it was still the place she considered her childhood home. Despite being married, now, and moving on with her life there was always a special place for St. Vladimir's in her heart.
"You take care of Rose," Alberta ordered Dimitri, wiping away tears as Rose and Dimitri prepared to board Abe's plane. Everyone else was already seated waiting to return to Court where Abe, Janine and Dimitri's family would disembark before the aircraft continued on to transport the Royal couple and their Guardians to the Hamptons.
"I will," Dimitri vowed, smiling as his wife hugged Alberta a final time before climbing the stairs to the plane, also wiping her eyes.
Flopping down in the vacant seat beside Rose, Dimitri buckled himself in, and they were soon in the air.
"So, Sonya? Was that Guardian Alto I saw you kissing before you got on board?" Vika asked in a sing-song voice, determined to embarrass her older sister.
Dimitri growled a little but calmed down when Rose squeezed his hand. They'd be saying goodbye to his family in four hours when they arrived at Court, but for now, he was going to spend every last minute enjoying their company.
Thanks for joining me on another fun filled ride!
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Wedding Belles - VA Fanfiction
Swimming the Same Deep Waters
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