A/N – This starts off when Rose starts asking Adrian about the Mana but soon takes a turn for the best and Adrian ends up a lucky man! Unexpected twist at the end!

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Disclaimer – Richelle Mead owns everything except the story line and extra characters!

Chapter 1

Adrian POV

I saw Rose as she was walking back toward the commons. She looked deep in thought but this was important so stuff it. "Rose!" I shouted at her. I was half tempted to wave a frantic hand but refrained from doing so.

She looked directly at me, surprise and annoyance all over her face. I ran straight off the pavement and directly toward her. My jeans were getting really wet but I needed to talk to Rose. Hmm...maybe I should have been more careful with my jeans, they were really expensive.

My mind rambling got cut off when Rose's mouth opened into a smart smirk and said, "Did you just call me 'Rose'? And not 'little dhampir'? I don't think that's ever happened." she complained at me. I thought she hated me calling her little dhampir, but I just rolled with it.

"'It happens all the time," I said as I caught up to her. We walked into the commons to get away from all the slush and cold – well I did, I think she did because that's where she was headed. Urgh! I'm rambling again...

"Where's your better half?" I asked. This was why I needed to talk to her. She did look kind of annoyed and shocked I was being so brusque. Maybe she liked my charms more than she let on! I might just have a chance with her!

"Christian?" she asked. Rose was obviously deeply confused as she seemed to have two better halves at the moment. I, however, meant her pretty little blonde sidekick.

"No, Lissa. You can tell me where she is, right?" A slightly hurt look spread across her face, and I realized that that probably wasn't the best thing to say. Argh! Not my day today, huh?

"Yeah, I can tell you because it's last period, and she's in class like everyone else. You keep forgetting that for the rest of us, this is a school." she was really annoyed with me so I tried to charm her round with my disappointed face. I was actually quite happy on the inside that she sounded so upset that I didn't want to harass her. This girl just kept surprising me.

I supposed that I should tell her I didn't want to fool around with Lissa because I was in love with her but I didn't give her that satisfaction. I simply said, "I found more case files I wanted to talk to her about, more super-compulsion stuff."

Rose's mouth flip-flopped. "Whoa, you've been doing something productive? I'm impressed." that actually hurt that she thought I couldn't do anything good. Mental Note: Show Rose that I am clever, and awesome boy friend material!

I needed a good come-back though so I retaliated and said, "You're one to talk. Especially considering your whole existence here revolves around beating people up. You dhampirs are uncivilised – but then, that's why we love you." My anger had been subsiding through the speech so I had to add on that I still loved her.

"Actually, we aren't the only ones doing beatings lately." I felt one of my brows go up and Rose looked at me like I should know something that I really didn't. My face must have portrayed that I didn't have a clue about what she was saying because she added, "Does the word Mana mean anything to you?"

I was kind of taken aback – no dhampirs were ment to know about that. I lent against the wall though, pulling out a cigarette. Rose's face was filled with revolt, she really hated all my bad habits. She called them 'Disgusting'.

"You're inside the school," she said, her voice laced with repulsion. She really didn't like my habits. That was not a good mark for me on the 'Why Rose should go out with Adrian' list I had in my head.

"What - oh, right." I sighed as I put my cigarettes back in my pocket, just so Rose knew that I listened to what she said even if I didn't want to do it. I was SO whipped! To change the conversation because she was giving me a dirty look I said nervously, "Don't half of you study Romanian here? It means 'hand'."

"I study English here." she said trying to suppress a sigh but failing miserably.

I was genuinely interested in what she knew and why she wanted to know about this crappy group – not that it meant anything to me. All these stuck up Royals called themselves the Mana thinking that they sounded all hard and like their Dad's that were in the real Mana. God, it was so stupid! "Why the interest in the translation?"

Rose confirmed all my thoughts when she said, "I don't know. I think I got it wrong. It had some connection to this thing that's been going on with these Royals." She sounded really disappointed, like she had just been let down.

I felt my impassive face slip as she said that and knew that my face showed I knew exactly what she was talking about. "Oh, Lord. Not that! Are they really doing that here too?"

Now Rose looked like she had just seen me strip off and lap dance one of the Guardians with the look she was giving me. She did also look kind of like she thought I was suspicious which was ridiculous. I would never get involved with those royal muppets.

"Doing what?" she asked. She eyed me up and down. It would have been pretty sexy and a turn-on if she didn't think that I was guilty to some fraud and she was interrogating me.

"The Mana. The Hand. Its this stupid secret society that pops up at schools. We had a chapter of it back at Alder. Its mostly a bunch of royals getting together and having secret meetings to talk about how much better they are than everyone else." I really hated talking about this stuck-up group. Why couldn't Rose let it go?

"That's it, then," she said. Obviously immensely pleased she had finally gotten the answer to her problems. "That's Jesse and Ralf's little group – the one they tried to get Christian to join." She actually sounded excited. I really couldn't work out why because it was only a group of royals she was talking about. Rose hated royals – except Lissa – maybe that's why she hates me. If I disowned my family, would Rose accept me?

Just then, Rose's words sunk in. I laughed in spite of myself, "Him? They must have been desperate – and I don't mean that as a slam against Christian. He's just not really the type to get into that kind of thing." I added the end bit on about Christian because I really didn't want Rose to kill me and I had heard she got really protective of her charges.

She didn't seem to take offence though. "Yeah, well, he turned them down pretty hard. What's the point of this secret society exactly?" Argh! Here we go! I knew it would end up like this.

I simply shrugged and said as vaguely as I could, "The same as any other. Its a way to make people feel better about themselves. Everyone likes feeling special. Being part of an elite group is a way to do that." As soon as the words had left my mouth, I knew I had dropped myself in it. I knew the next words that would come out of her mouth. Why did I have to be so stupid and let stuff slip like that?

"But you weren't part of it?" She seemed genuinely concerned that I was part of some group that she couldn't get in on; maybe she was just concerned for me, which would be nice, wouldn't it?

I mentally rolled my eyes and thought of the most cockiest thing I could, "No need. I already know I'm special."

Rose didn't even dignify a response to that so I let it slip. "Jesse and Ralf made it sound like royals had to stick together because of all all the controversies that are going on – about fighting and guardians and all that. They made it sound like they could do something about it."

I sighed, of course that retard royal, Jesse, thought he could do something. That shows how young and stupidly naive Jesse is. "Not at this age, mostly all they can do is talk. When they get older, Mana members sometimes cut deals for each other and still have secret meetings."

Rose seemed really confused about this. All she was used to was fighting – I really don't think that she got Moroi politics but I could teach her if only she got over Dimitri. "That's it then? They're just hanging out and talking to hear themselves talk?"

That made me think into it further, I felt my brow furrow . I really hadn't gone into this much detail about the Mana before and I had to drag up bits of memory that I had buried and hoped never to see again, "Well, yes, of course they're doing lots of that. But I mean, whenever these little chapters form, there's usually something specific they want to do in secret. Each groups kind of different that way, so this one's probably got some plan or scheme or whatever."

Rose looked like she was thinking about what I said; I didn't like to think about what Jesse and Ralf were up to. They were really a piece of work. Rose seemed to be thinking the same.

What she said next though really surprised me, "You know a lot for someone who wasn't in it."

She had not just gone there! I had a really messed up family so I just stuck around other people a lot. She was staring at me intently, obviously studying my reaction.

I decided to tell her though, what was the point in holding back now? "My dad was. He never talks much about it – hence the secret part – but I picked up things, and then I heard about it while I was at school."

She leaned against the wall, aiming to look casual but I saw her aura. She was really concerned about what I had told her and really nervous about what she was thinking about. I wished I could read her mind like she could Lissa's. Talking about Lissa – where was she? I hadn't actually gotten that out of Rose yet! I wanted to shake my head, really, did memory impairment have to occur every time I ran into Rose?

Rose was really playing me at the moment; I enjoyed my time with her however, so I couldn't really complain. Could I?

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