After the coronation, Lissa tried frantically to change the law enabling death sentences, and had succeeded massively. The whole council had voted for her proposition, declaring that "It was one of the traditions we could to to part with." but even so, many on the council still felt strongly that Tasha should pay for her crimes. And let's face it, pretty much everyone else at court did too. Many of them were yet to get over their strigoi fears, believing that when she was gone, the Ozera's would have no contaminated family members left (no one really noticed Christian), and more still just wanted to see her punished.
The only people who didn't want her to die were Christian, Lissa (for both Christian's and her own sake; how could she bare to face him when there was something she could of done), Dimitri (who had been a close friend of Tasha's), and strangely enough, me.
Even Dimitri, who I was usually completely in sync with, found this hard to understand. Even though he didn't want that fate for Tasha himself, he thought that I, being the target of her plans, would want revenge. And, to an extent, that was true. I wanted Tasha to be punished, but certainly not killed. I wanted her to live with the guilt, just as I had wanted for Victor. The way I had killed him scared me, and I now knew how wrong it was to take a life(unless an undead one), even if it was the murderess who had tried to frame me.
"Rose?" I heard a voice call softly behind me, and I broke out of my reviver "Rose? Are you ok?" I heard Dimitri ask a second time, and I slowly met his gaze, turning away from the beautiful stained glass window that I had been staring at blankly as it filled our living area with soft afternoon light. "No," I replied. What was the use denying it? He knew me to well. "About...later." he said, his tone indicating that it was not so much a question as it was a confirmation. "Yes." I stated, looking up into his soft brown eyes, filled with concern. My heart still fluttered at the knowledge that it was for me that he was concerned, even though his friend was about to die. Heartless but true.
"Why aren't you sad Dimitri? Tasha was your friend, how can you just let her be murdered like that? It's not right, doing this to her, no one deserves to die like that, she should be punished, but not like that." I gushed, the words pouring out of me like water from a dam. I realised my voice was shaking and an octave higher than usual
"Oh Roza. I am sad, but Tasha's not the person I thought she was," he breathed, and I felt Dimitri's arms encircle me. I leant closer, only just realising how much Tasha was bothering me, and how much I needed his support in this. Today at lunch I hadn't given it a second thought, but now it was looming, I suppose all my bottled up stress that even I hadn't noticed was spilling out. I still need to be there for Lissa though I thought, and I reluctantly broke out of his embrace. "Rose, you know you don't have to go, not if it upsets you so much," Dimitri reasoned, knowing that my remission of his embrace meant I intended to go. "No, I have to do this, for Lissa," I said, and I saw a blazing pride in his eyes as he gave me a gentle smile, a smile that I lived for. Yet, it was mingled with concern, and, gallantly, he picked up his tie, and went to get ready. "You hate it just as much as I do, Dimitri, you don't have to come." I called after him, some of my normal bravado back in my voice. Dimitri turned around and started walking towards me. "I'm coming and that's final, Rose. You need me as much as Lissa needs you." he said, ending with his nose against mine, and his voice a quiet whisper. Then I kissed him, trying to express my gratitude for his coming, for everything he had done, with my lips. He kissed me passionately back, his lips hungrily dancing with mine, doing what we had not been able to do for days because of our different shift times. Finally, I reluctantly pulled away. "I have to get ready now, or we'll be late." I puffed, trying to catch my breath. He nodded, picked up his tie, and went to get changed.
Realising my clothes were also in the bedroom, I followed him in so I could find a suitable dress. It was the same red and gold room I had woken up in after Tasha shot me. "Rose," Dimitri groaned when he saw me; he was half undressed. "Hey, I don't have a problem, and I need something to wear," I replied, sifting through the antique wardrobe for a suitable dress seeing as I wasn't on duty. "Well I need to get dressed," he argued.
"Don't worry Comrade, I've seen it all," I said, my words were an imitation of my usual self, but my voice still shook unsteadily. "And I've found my dress. You can finish getting changed now."
Ten minutes later, we went to watch Tasha die.
I'd never been to an execution before, let alone such a highly anticipated one. In fact, I hadn't known that the Moroi still carried out such a thing until I myself was in Tasha's position, and I now suspected that this sort of high treason was the only crime that could evoke such serious consequences. It was understandable I hadn't known about it, seeing as no monarch had been murdered for over 100 years, and there probably hadn't been an execution since then. At the time of my accusation, I had felt offended that they could simply pencil my death in on a calendar, especially since I was innocent (of that crime at least), but now, it just seemed sick.
As Dimitri and I arrived in the courtyard where the execution would be held, I found the scenery to be incredibly ironic. In movies whenever someone is hung, it is in some cold, industrial place with a sky deep gray to match the concrete ground. The clouds are heavy with water droplets, and it often starts to rain just as the character dies. The onlookers wear neutral clothes that mach their bleak surroundings, and their faces are grim. The only noises are the heavy footsteps of the convicted, and the grim discussions between the heartless people running the event. Before me I saw no such sight.
The gentle rolling hills that could be seen on this side of court were black, their daytime beauty washed away by the radiance of the setting sun, a glowing ball of light slightly obscured by the surrounding clouds. They were streaked with orange, quickly fading to pink and finally a grayish purple as the clouds reached out towards the open sky, a sea of blues and purples, greeting the oncoming darkness. The birds chirped softly, settling down in their nests for the night. There could not be a more peaceful scene. The only thing that ruined the view was the silhouette of a wooden platform about six feet tall with stairs leading up to it, and a moderately thick wooden beam running above the platform another six feet in the air. From the distance I could just barely see a noose hanging from the beam over what I thought would be a trapdoor. The gallows.
I audibly gasped, my eyes wide and on full alert. My body tensed, wary of the sight before me. Tears began to well up in my eyes, but I just managed to keep them under control, slipping into my guardian face. I needed to be strong for Lissa, despite my mind screaming at me to go away, to run as far away from this murder as I could. This is sick it told me. Suddenly, I felt a warm hand enclose my own, stopping the trembling in my hand that I hadn't even noticed. I squeezed back, and looking at Dimitri's face, I saw that he was trembling too. Instead of feeling comforted that I wasn't the only one feeling sorry for a murderer, I felt worse. Dimitri was stoic, and could effortlessly slip into that neutral guardian expression even when he was feeling the strongest of emotions - say, pretending he wasn't interested in me. But I could see in his face the fear, the depression and the disapproval, the trembling in his hands a tell-tale sign that he was not in control. He may never have loved Tasha the way she loved him, but I could see that it was still harder than seeing a nameless person die, no matter how often he said that he hadn't really known her. I also saw that he didn't like this concept anymore than I did.
"Rose!" I heard someone call, and, now scanning the area I saw that half the court had turned up for the event, and, making her way towards us through the masses was Lissa, looking regal in a dress of soft pink chiffon. She honestly looked more like she was attending a tea party than a funeral, but I suppose that whatever her personal opinion of execution was behind closed doors, she still had to appear as if she was one with the entire council, a single mind, working together strong and united for a better Moroi world.
"Hey Liss." I attempted a weak smile as Dimitri and I fell into step beside her. Dimitri offered her a consoling smile. We walked through the crowd in silence, the situation too tense for any conversation. Eventually, we reached a roped off section at the front of the crowd: the Queen's designated area. Right in front of the platform. I gulped. "Your Majesty," a court employee bowed as he lifted the rope for her. Dimitri and I went to follow, but the official stopped us. "You're not allowed in here, this is the Queen's private area." he huffed. He obviously didn't know who we were. "I'm her Majesty's guardian, and so is Guardian Belikov," I explained, making to join Lissa. "I know who you are, Guardian Hathaway, but I'm afraid protocol does not permit you to sit with the Queen. You aren't even on duty."
"What?" Lissa exclaimed, "I wasn't told this." Her voice was soft, sad. Despite our lack of psychic bondage, I could tell that she was abnormally upset. "It's okay, Liss, we'll just stand behind here, an-"
"No," she cut me off, and turned to the official, "Let them in." I saw the compulsion blazing in her eyes, heard it in her voice. Since our bond had broken she had been getting worse; there was no one to take spirit's darkness from her. The official obligingly lifted the rope for us, but I cut in. "Liss, its fine, don't compel him," I whispered in what I hoped was a soothing tone. She couldn't use compulsion in public like that. Even if she was Queen, it was illegal. Lissa shifted her attention from the official to me, the sudden lapse of concentration allowing him to break free. She gasped, coming back to reality at the same time. I saw the shock in her face, at what she had done. She turned back to the official, who was standing there, speechless. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't ha-"
"You used compulsion on me!" he said, disbelief colouring his tone.
"No, I -"
"You used compulsion on me!" he said again, yelling this time. I saw the people around us look around at the source of the commotion. I heard their gasps of shock and horror. The Queen had used compulsion. The Queen had broken the law.