WOW! This is it...the last chapter in Frostbite. Kind of sad, but dont fear if you guys are nice and leave me lots of nice reviews i will start on Shadow kiss right away.
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Rose kept to herself the rest of the weekend. No one bothered her knowing she just needed time. I kept my distance as well even though it was killing me. I just wanted to wrap her into my arms and be there for her. Even if I couldn't fix it all, I just needed her to know I would not leave her until she told me to.
On Monday morning I could tell there was a bit of anticipation from her group of friends. They walked quietly towards the dining area. Everyone was anxious to see if Rose would come out of her room or if we would have to go get her. Lissa pushed the doors open and smiled. Rose was already there sitting at the table. She gave a small smile and nodded to us. She looked over and me and nodded again. I knew what she was saying. She didn't have to speak. She was okay and that was all that mattered. I nodded back at her and headed to the guardian area.
"Looks like she is starting to come around," Alberta said as I sat down next to her. "I think she will pull through, but I also know Rose she will cover up her pain as much as possible. Might be wise for us to just watch her for a while," I told her taking a bite of my eggs. She nodded and smiled. "She is going to be one of the best. I can see it. You have done a fine job with her. You should be proud." I didn't look at her I just nodded. "I need to see you in my office so we can go over the ceremony," she said looking over at me. She then placed her hand on mine and gave me a small smile. "She is going to be okay. You just need to give her time. She is already making her way to back to you." I looked up at her. "I know, and I'll meet you in an hour," I said making my way out of there. I needed air.
"Dimitri," I heard from behind me. My heart stopped. I wasn't ready to talk just yet. "Hey, Comrade, slow down," Rose yelled from behind me. I stopped and turned. "Rose, you should not be running," I scolded her. "And you think just because some doctor told me not to do something that is going to stop me. Come on Comrade you know me better than that." I sighed. "You are impossible Rose." She gave a smile and looked directly into my eyes. I could feel the warmth radiating into me. "How are you?" I asked. She shrugged like it was not a big deal. "I'm okay. I'm ready to move on with my life. I need to move on. And that my dear mentor is where you come in." I raised an eyebrow and looked down at her. "Oh and how do I fit into this?" She raked her hand through her hair and let out a sigh. "I know I am not supposed to be training, but I need to. It's what keeps me alive and away from the darkness that keeps trying to pull me under. I need to do something. Please Dimitri, I need your help." She was practically begging.
I shook my head. "Rose that is not going to happen. Your body is not ready for that yet and if you push it you are just going to hurt yourself even more and then it will take longer for you to get back into it." She nodded in defeat. She knew I would not budge on something that might be harmful to her. "I just need something, to keep my mind occupied." I looked at her with and small smile playing at my lips. "How about you spend all the extra time you are going to have over the next few weeks studying." Rose rolled her eyes. "Overrated comrade, overrated." She turned and walked back towards the dining hall where her friends were waiting with smiles on their faces.
Over the next few weeks I noticed that Rose and Eddie had become a lot closer. It was inevitable. After going through what they had and losing someone they both cared deeply about, they had to hold onto something and that was each other. Things started to get back to normal for Rose. Well, as normal as things ever could be for her. I could tell that she was holding back a lot of the pain and when she didn't know I was looking I could see her remembering Mason. The pain and sadness would show in her features, but as quickly as they had come they were gone.
The day of her molnija ceremony I was nervous for her. She would have two marks that would be her forever reminder of how things ended. Her permanent reminder that she had lost someone she cared deeply about. I knew today was going to be hard. Getting molnija marks were not something to be excited or happy about. It was not a joyful time, but a time to reflect on a life that once was. A life that at one time had love and hope and meaning that turned into something evil and soulless. A life that the person getting the mark had had to take out of this world. No matter how evil that person had become when turned into a Strigoi, it was still at one time a person, Dhampir or Moroi and it was still a life taken.
The ceremony was to take place in the banquet hall in the guardians building. I had shown up early to help set up and make sure everything was ready. After a while all the guardians on campus began to arrive. No novices would attend. Everyone milled around but no one talked. Rose walked in and found Albert who ushered her to the front where a stool was sitting in a corner. No words were spoken but everyone filed into ranks. Everyone had regret in their eyes, memories, sadness, hope, and sorrow. No one wanted to watch a novice get their first mark. It only meant that they had to grow up sooner than had been planned.
As Rose took her seat my heart was pounding. I was filled with so many emotions. Pain, sadness, confusion, pride, love, hope, and need. I watched as a few words were spoken between Lionel, Janine and Alberta. Finally Rose pulled her hair over her face and her first marks were placed at the back of her neck. Memories flashed to my first kill and I realized I was not the only one. I looked around to see the vacant stares as memories played through all the guardians' minds. It was always a somber time, but that is why we had these ceremonies. So we would never forget. It was a time to remember why we did what we did to reflect on those who have been lost and hope that we would be strong enough when the time came to do what we needed to do, no matter what.
When the tattoos were done Lionel talked to Rose for a few moments nodded and walked away. Next each guardian went go up and give Rose some sign of affection. Today the affection was flowing strong. She got hugs and kisses on the cheek and handshakes. "Now you're one of us," Stan said. Considering their delicate relationship, that was like Stan kissing her on the mouth. When it was my time I had no words to tell her. I hoped that my look would be enough. I placed my hand on her cheek for a few moments and nodded. I was so full of pride for her walking away from Spokane with only minor injuries if you don't include emotional into that. Rose swallowed back some tears and nodded back. I walked away from her knowing that she would never really be the same. She had grown up before her time. It was sad, but at the same time it was a good thing. She wouldn't be under the delusion that what we did was for the glory, but for the need. She had finally learned that these marks are not badges of honor, but reminders.
Once everyone had made it through the line I could see Rose turning into a Rose zombie again. She just went with it. My heart sunk and I couldn't see her like that again so I slipped out of the room and inhaled a deep breath of crisp morning air. It always helped clear my mind. I slowly walked back to my room hoping that tomorrow would bring a better day.
Over the next week I didn't see much of Rose. She seemed to be trying to get things back in order and I was glad for that. I even started to see her smile a little. She, Lissa, Christian and Eddie were inseparable. If Mia had still been around I think she would have fit right in with the group as well, but soon after they got back she left the academy to go and live with her father at the royal court. I knew that the others missed her. It was funny that once enemies were now each other's comfort. Eddie was even coming around. He seemed to have taken on the protector role for Rose. He kept the boys at bay which I must say I am quite thankful for. I knew they were far from perfect, but they were on the right road.
The Monday after Roses' molnija ceremony she was cleared to start training again. I walked over to the gym and made myself comfortable in the supply room with one of my western novels that Rose like to tease me about. I looked up as she walked in. "I thought you might come by," I said marking my place in the book and setting it aside. "It's time for practice," she said a little confused look on her face. "No, no practice today. You still need to recover."
I've got a clean bill of health. I'm good to go," she said. I knew she wouldn't like it, but I needed her to start the recovery of the heart. She may have had a clean bill of health from the doctor, but I knew it would take time for the heart and today, I was going to be here for her. We were finally going to talk.
"Sit down Rose," I said pointing towards a chair in front of me. She hesitated for a moment before complying. I scooted my chair closer to her so I could see her eyes perfectly. "No one gets over their first kill… kills…easily. Even with Strigoi…well, it's still technically taking a life. That's hard to come to terms with. And after everything else you went through…" I sighed then reached out and grabbed her hand in mine. "When I saw your face…when we found you in that house…you can't imagine how I felt." Here we go. I am going to just lay it all out on the table. She needs to hear it. I need her to hear it. She will make the decisions for herself from now on. I knew she was capable of making them without any help from anyone.
I watched as she swallowed and looked away. "How…how did you feel?"
"Devastated…grief stricken. You were alive, but the way you looked…I didn't think you'd ever recover. And it tore me apart to think of that happening to you so young." I squeezed her hand trying to fight off the emotions that were trying to break through. "You will recover- I know that now, and I'm glad. But you aren't there yet. Losing someone you care about is never easy."
Rose dropped her eyes again. "It's my fault," she said in a small broken voice.
"Mason. Getting killed."
My heart wrenched as she said this. I had hoped that she had gotten past the blame she had put on herself. I should have known better, but I had truly hoped for it. "Oh, Rose. No. You made some bad decisions…you should have told others when you knew he was gone…but you can't blame yourself. You didn't kill him."
Tears were pooling in her eyes when she looked back up to me. "I might as well have. The whole reason he went there-it was my fault. We had a fight…and I told him about the Spokane thing, even though you asked me not to…" A tear escaped her eye and I leaned forward to wipe it away. Touching her again sent a chill through my body. A need to protect her and keep her safe. "You can't blame yourself for that," I told her... "You can regret your decisions and wish you'd done things differently, but in the end, Mason made his decisions too. That was what he chose to do. It was his decision in the end, no matter your original role." I could see Rose going back to that day in Spokane. Remember the moment Mason died.
"I just wish I'd been able to …I don't know, do anything…" She swallowed back more tears and pulled her hand from mine and stood up. "I should go. Let me know when you want to start practice again. And thanks for…talking." She turned to leave and I began to panic. I could lose her forever. "No," I said. I had to tell her about Tasha. It was time to tell her how I felt before I lost her again. This was the chance I needed. I was not going to wait it again.
She glanced back at me. "What?"
I held her eyes with mine I wouldn't look away from her. "No," I repeated. "I told her no. Tasha." Rose was at a loss for words. "I…" She shut her mouth again truly confused. "But…why? That was a once in a lifetime thing. You could have had a baby. And she…she was, you know, into you…" I couldn't help a hint of a smile. "Yes, she was. Is. And that's why I had to say no. I couldn't return that…couldn't give her what she wanted. Not when…" I took a few steps towards her. "Not when my heart is somewhere else." Rose almost started crying again. "But you seemed so into her. And you kept going on about how young I acted."
"You act young, because you are young. But you know things, Roza. Things people older than you don't even know. That day…" I looked at her to see if she knew what I was speaking of. The look on her face told me she did so I continued. "You were right, about how I fight to stay in control. No one else has ever figured that out and it scared me. You scare me."
"Why don't you want anyone to know?" she asked.
I shrugged. "Whether they know that fact or not doesn't matter. What matters that is that someone- that you- know me that well. When a person can see into your soul, it's hard. It forces you to be open. Vulnerable. It's much easier being with someone who's just more of a casual friend."
"Like Tasha," Rose said finally putting the pieces together. I nodded. "Tasha Ozera is an amazing woman. She's beautiful and she's brave. But she doesn't-"
"She doesn't get you," Rose finished. It still amazed me that she could do that. I should know better by now, but it still did.
I nodded. "I knew that. But I still wanted the relationship. I knew it would be easy and that she could take me away from you. I thought she could make me forget you." I tried not to let on the guilt that I now felt from thinking that way show. Rose looked up at me with something in her expression that I just couldn't quite figure out. "But she couldn't," Rose said. I could tell she was thinking about Mason again.
"Yes. And, so…that's a problem."
"Because it's wrong for us to be together," Rose said.
"Because of the age difference."
"But more importantly because we're going to be Lassa's guardians and need to focus on her-not each other."
Rose was quiet for a moment. I had basically told her that I was in love with her and she had come up with every reason we shouldn't be together. My heart began to sink thinking it was too late. That I had lost my chance with her. I stood there looking at her waiting for what she would say next.
She finally looked up into my eyes. "Well," she said. "The way I see it, we aren't Lissa's guardians yet."
It took me a moment to realize what she had said. I just stared at her letting it sink in. She was saying yes. She loved me too and she wanted to try. I finally made my legs move and pulled her into me kissing her. At first I just brushed my lips against her hoping she wouldn't push me away. When she didn't I deepened the kiss showing her as much love and passion as I could. The world span and my heart picked itself up from the pits of my stomach and soured. I felt like I was flying with happiness. I don't know how long we stood there kissing. Showing each other just how we felt without having to say the words. I loved her and she loved me and that was all that mattered.
When I finally broke the kiss I couldn't stop the smile from spreading across my face. I kissed her forehead and rested my lips there for a few moments before pulling away. I stepped back towards the door and turned to her. "I'll see you later, Roza."
"At our next practice?" She asked eagerly. "We are starting those up again, right? I mean, you still have things to teach me."
I stood in the doorway smiling. "Yes. Lots of things."