She crept silently through the estate, slipping through the shadows with practiced ease. She paused at a junction, ears straining. The ancient clock down the hall sounded the hour, nearly startling her before she clamped down on her controls. The low voice of Vulcan's ambassador came from a room above and she held her breath. But his voice soon drifted away and her shoulders eased.
She felt a surge of triumph. They did not know she was here.
She began moving again. A stairwell, another darkened hallway, and she was almost there. She stopped to listen again. And froze, eyes widening.
The snuffling noise of the House sehlat came from two rooms over. She pressed herself harder into the shadows and willed it to miss her. The snuffling came closer and now she could hear the click of claws on stone tiles. She looked around for a retreat, knowing that if the sehlat caught scent of her it was over. A youth's voice called, echoing down, and the sehlat trundled obediently away. She breathed out very slowly and crept on.
Time seemed curiously stopped, and it was everything she could do to control the loud hammer of her heart in her side. A faint sheen of sweat moistened her brow. Another corridor passed. Then a third. A fourth. Each winding deeper into the estate.
And then, suddenly she was there.
Hidden in the darkest corner of the estate, cloaked in shadow, was a single door. She stood still and just breathed. A remnant of Vulcan's more savage days, the great door was heavily carved, its deep twisting inlays darkened with age and disuse.
She crept forward almost reverently and touched it ever so softly. Her attention fell on the massive lock embedded in the carvings. She touched it, too, this time with skilled fingers. She slipped a delicate set of tools from out of her tunic and set to work. A surprisingly quiet click sounded and the door shifted ever so slightly. She put her tools back into her tunic, her hands shaking now.
It was done. All she had to do was push it gently and then there would be no secrets. She would know everything. Of her lost Vulcan family. Her Romulan kin. Everything that had been so carefully hidden all of these years. It was all in there.
And now, standing at the threshold, she couldn't do it.
She wanted to weep at the bitterness. She sank to the stone, wrapping her arms around her knees, holding herself as tight as she could. She let her head fall forward against her knees and closed her eyes. She thought of nothing. After a long time, she rose, re-locked the room and vanished back into the shadows.
After an even longer time, Saavik quietly slipped out of the darkness and followed her daughter.