A/N: hellooooo people! yay, i updated! go me, especially, cus i've been sick the last week, and i have been fiddling with all sorts of stuff, and it was just too much to bear inside my head, so my dear readers of this fic had to wait so detestily long: forgive me! now i'll stop the ramble, and if you want a disclaimer, it's on every story with a disclaimer:)

Chapter XIII

I had been thinking that getting back home, back to Transylvania, back to Vaseria, had been my biggest need, but it pulled in my heart for me to join the Knights. No more waiting home for some husband who never came. Surely it was hard to loose Ronan, but the longing to forget that he had ever touched my heart, and as he died, taken that part of my heart away with him, I wanted to forget, and found myself even more attracted to forget the past, to drown it out, somehow. That, and I was missing Vlad dreadfully. And sitting 16 years at some place I Poland alone, playing a nice wife, really made me feel I needed to get out now.

The more I thought of it, the more I got hot on the idea of me joining the knights, hell I had even heard woman started to join, so why shouldn't I? and even though I hadn't thought of it at the time, I was doing this for Vlad, to win him back, if it was so that I had lost him.

"You want to enrol?" drawled Cardinal Charram looking sourly at me.

"Yes, father. I've heard of other similar cases-"

"Special cases, miss Cassandra. Not just any woman can enrol because they think that they can wield a sword, but hasn't even the guts to kill a mouse," he said in his roman accent, sounding as though he knew better: sounding as though women were nothing but lovers and housewives, and God how he were wrong.

"Then you do not know me, father," I said with an utmost deference tone.

"Perhaps not, miss Cassandra, but I do know that I can not simply allow you in," he said shortly. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have mass to attend," he said, as if it cleared it all.

He left me in his office to think of other possibilities of getting into the Order.

I knocked on the door to Vlad's room, and was met by a very surprised young man in his twenties, wearing nothing but his underwear, his hair as unruly as a bird's nest and had a "five o'clock"-shadow on his chin. This young man was supposed to look like Vlad, but a minute I was sure this must be his unknown, messy twin brother. He opened his mouth to speak but his words were caught in his throat.

"Hi," I said, purposely sounding pleasantly surprised.

"Cass!" he finally said with a nervous grin, trying to cover himself, but quickly giving up as there would be no way for me to un-see him in underwear.

"Cass, I… I expected you here some time… but I also expected that you would send word ahead and uhh," he said as he scratched himself behind his ear and looked at me with a sheepish grin, "And, uhh, warn me," he said, the sheepish grin spreading all over his face.

"Oh… I'm sorry Vlad but I need your help," I said.

He looked at me with a kind of incredulousness: I needed his help!

"Of course, Cass. Please, come in," he gestured for me to get in, and so I did.

"I'm sorry to let you see me like this, Cass, I-"

"I should have sent word ahead, but as it is I'm not quite sorry; it's a rare thing not to see you without your regal façade. It pleases me," I added in a cuddly tone, which I regretted slightly.

A few seconds he stood looking at me, chewing his lip.

"So, what do you need, my dear?" he said in a casual way, quickly pulling black trousers on, and snapping up a white shirt.

It just hit me what I had to ask of him.

"I, uh, I want you to get me into the Order, with or without you by my side," I said, gulping down a knot in my throat.

He was buttoning his shirt and looking down himself when I said this, but stopped and looked up with the most peculiar expression. He swallowed, and sat down, debating something inside his head.

"You want to join us?" he asked. "I would have to pull a lot of strings, though… why don't you just ask Charram?" he said, probably already aware of my answer.

"I did," I plummeted down on the bed next to him, "But he declined, saying only special cases were allowed," I added with a heaving sigh.

"Well, that's lucky for us, isn't it, my dear?" he said, pulling on his knee-high's.

"I don't understand," I said curiously.

"Well, you are a special case, my darling, even if he doesn't see it yet, but then we will simply have to make him see that," he said simply, looking at me.

"I'm still not following, Vlad," I said, still confused.

"Well, I find it quite simple. As little respect Charram has for my personality, he knows that he has to stand me as long as soldiers still pledge loyalty to me and therefore has to do me some favours from time to time," he said, taking out some foam smearing it around his chin and jawbone.

"How so? Remember that you can't lie to him about me; he knows who I am," I said, as he started shaving himself.

"What gave you that ridiculous idea that I would ever lie?" he said with a devilish smirk through the foam, which gave quite the impression, and I smiled and looked away.

"Call it intuition," I said smartly.

"Don't worry, darling. By the time I'm back, you will find yourself stationed in the new department for special cases of heroic women," he said, washing his face in the bowl of water on a nearby table.

"Don't flatter me like that. I haven't done anything yet," I said miserably.

"Don't worry, you shall have your chance. But right now, I will have to go stand in line outside Saint Peter," he said, drying his face in a towel.

"Stand in line? For what?" I asked.

"Well, for Charram, of course! I have to reach him before all his actual worshippers come to praise him," he said matter-of-factly. "And now you just sit there and wait on the bed till I get back. Can't wait for my reward," he added ecstatically, kissing my cheek chastely and rushing to the door, wearing a grin.

"Whoa-whoa-whoa! What are you talking about!" I exclaimed, but he had already left and closed the door.

I must have fallen asleep, because when Vlad returned, he was shaking me gently.

"It has been done, m'Lady," he drawled as he roused me. "Now how about that reward," he said with a teasing smile.

"Vlad, we hadn't talked about any re-"

"I was only toying with you, my dear," he said.

I couldn't help it. It felt wrong to even think about, when it wasn't even a month ago Ronan was put 6 feet under ground, and I felt like I was betraying his memory, but like it had felt so good, so satisfying all those years ago when Vlad had kissed me for the really first time in the Order's weaponry, it felt so good to make him hold his tongue and to shut him up with a soft lingering kiss, which he hardly dared break.

"I guess I got my reward after all," he said, drawing back, holding me gently in my hand, fixing me with smiling eyes.

"I'm sorry!" I said getting up. "I didn't mean to, it was just that I was confused with all this, loosing Ronan and-" he had gotten up, and placed the tip of his index finger on my lips.

"Don't be foolish, Cass," he said, wrapping his arms around me, kissing the skin on my jawbone. "Don't deny. We are not twenty years any more, my love. I can't wait for ever, and I have been waiting patiently for you," he said, kissing down my neck.

I had to admit that he was right about us not being young anymore. He was 37 or 38 now and I was 35. And further more he was right about waiting: 20 years was a very long time. And now as he was kissing me, pleasuring me with these small romantic kisses, I felt I was honouring Ronan's memory by letting my self go on with my life.

His hand was starting to feel under the blouse on the skin of my stomach and then my back. I noticed that his hands was a little bigger now, which made me smile to myself. It was my turn in feeling his warm caucasian skin, my hand surging around his stomach, cursing through the hair trailing about there.

And the thing popped up in my head that we really weren't youngsters anymore, this wasn't just some flirt that I had to get over and done with. He had loved me for nearly 20 years, and I hadn't even noticed!

All of a sudden, I felt horrible. I had passed him up for so many other worthless causes. It truthfully brought a tear to my eye that I had deceived him so: deceived my heart so. I drew shuddering breaths, which he noticed and stopped to look at me, but I had rushed out the door, willing to be alone in my misery.

"I don't even deserve him," I whispered to myself, as I leaned my forehead on the door to the Saint Peter Cathedral.

Instead of entering the Cathedral, I rushed to Charram's office, and asked if he had spoken to Captain Vladislaus Dragulia, and indeed he had. He was sorry that he had not realized before my possibilities with a sword, which of course left me utterly dumbfounded but I played along, nonetheless.

"When can I have a mission, father?" I said. "And where is the women's department?" I added in a still deference tone.

"Dear, child, you will have to go through training first, and you most prove yourself worthy of bearing a mark of the Order. The "women's department"," he said with a grin, "is just below the men's. You will be asserted to your room when you get there. I have already sent word. Good day, my child," he said, as if dismissing me.

"Thank you, father," I said, bowing.

He gestured with a flapping hand and a tolerant smile for me to get out of his office.

As I passed the men's sleeping quarters, and was about to descend another staircase, I heard the calling of my name.

"Cass! Stop, wait!" it was Vlad, and he was running to catch me.

He came over panting.

"I've been looking all over for you. First I was down at the sleeping quarters downstairs, then the cathedral, then back again, then at Charram's insufferable office, back to the cathedral, into my room again, and then I got word from Arno back there that he had seen a woman, with your description, walking past him, very quickly," as he rambled, he counted all the locations on his fingers, as he slowly stopped panting and just looked at me. "Why did you run off? And be honest. Twenty years of friendship deserves that," he said.

"Twenty years of love, you mean?" I said, looking up at him.

"What?" he said.

"I don't deserve you," I said miserably, feeling very dramatic.

"Don't be childish now, darling. I thought we just agreed on that we weren't kids any more. What do you mean; you don't deserve me, hmm?" he said lifting my chin with his finger, looking tenderly into my eyes with his sea blue ones.

"I mean, think of our… of my history! I've deceived you all my life!" I whispered urgently.

His face got a terrible expression, which changed as quickly as it had come.

"You are misunderstanding something here, my love. It is I who don't deserve you. I don't care about it. I waited, and it's over now," he said with a pleading expression.

Not with this new realization it wasn't.

"I will end it," he said huskily, pulling me into a small storage room, kissing my greedily on my neck, and what else could I do than submit?

It wasn't a very romantic first time for us, but we had waited about 20 years. He stripped himself of his white shirt with my help and while kissing me with subtle and gentle kisses, he backed me further into the storage room. I put my hands on his stomach, gliding my hands up his chest, feeling his muscles contract and ripple beneath the skin.

He held my face in place with his hands, and I touched his hair for the first time in a little over a decade, but it felt more like a century to me. He pulled my dress up, and stopped. He looked at me with eyes that sought permission, because he would never push me voluntarily again. I granted him permission by pulling up the dress myself. He picked me up with a little victorious smirk and pushed me against a wall, kissing my neck greedily.

I felt a light blush creep into my cheeks when I felt the bulge on his pants, and at the same time felt flattered. He gave me a long fiery kiss, and I suddenly moaned loudly into his mouth without being able to control it: it had happened because of his sudden entrance of me, crossing through the heat in me. He thrust slowly, picking up speed along the way, and I couldn't help but moan his name out in silent gasps, while he nibbled my left earlobe tenderly.

As his speed increased, as did his panting, and reaching my peak, warmth exploded inside of me and I felt momentarily blind; I felt like I was living out the happiest moment in my life; satisfied beyond all borders or boundaries; yet drained and I was already disappointed that that moment had passed so fast; so brief.

I fell against Vlad's chest, feeling wasted in a good way. I uttered a 'thank you' before I gathered myself up and left Vlad with a kiss on his cheek, and he sent me a smile on the way, one I shall never forget: a tired, but satisfied smile and his eyes showing a weird form of admiration, which I only ever saw that one time, but it warmed me and made me smile the rest of my day.

A/N: oh, please! R&R! even CONSTRCTIVE flamers are welcome... mark the word CONSTRUCTIVE!