My eyes flicker open, only to snap shut again when the sunlight pierces my eyes.
I'm lying in Dimitri's arms on the sofa, my back to his chest, when I awaken. Sunlight streams in from the enormous windows, creeping across the floor towards where we lay, falling across our entangled bodies.
His breath hitches, and I feel his hand slide down my arm and back up again, the pad of his thumb stroking my skin.
"Roza," he murmurs in my ear, brushing a strand of hair off of my forehead. "Good morning." His accent is thick and low, and it sends a shiver down my spine.
Pulling the blanket tight to my chest, I manage to sit up, turning to face him. I know my hair must be wild, my breath must be terrible, but I couldn't care less. I really couldn't.
Not with the way he was looking at me.
"Morning," I whisper, clutching the sheet to my skin. Silly, I know, to be shy at a moment like this, after what we had done last night, or rather, yesterday, but it seemed like a blur. And now, bathed in the morning light, it felt like that memory was worlds away.
Dimitri looked... well, as he has for the past few months. Pale and thin. But, in the last few months, he had been sickeningly thin and so pale he was nearly transluscent. Now, he had gained some of his colour back, and though still thin, he had put on a startling amount of muscle in such a short period of time.
It was early in the morning for humans, or late in the evening for vampires. Thank God I was given the week off.
Dimitri sat up, combing his fingers through my hair, soothing the tangled strands. Straying to my jaw, he cups my face, pressing his lips against my forehead.
"You're looking... a lot better," I comment, biting my lip, my eyes flickering up to meet his gaze. Damn my shyness. "Dimitri, when did this happen? I thought... last time I saw you... Where have you been for the past few weeks?"
He sighs, unconsiously pulling away, his gaze falling to his hands.
"I suppose I owe you an explanation after I disappeared for a month."
"I suppose you do."
He exhales, slowly, stalling. "I suppose I've been trying to rebuild my life, from the ground up. Its about all you can do, I suppose, when you've completely hit rock bottom." He runs his hands through his hair nervously. "The gym all day, mostly, trying to gain some weight, stop looking so much like the living dead. It's over, I hope, this nightmare. I'm getting another chance, and I'm sure as hell not going to waste it."
"And you couldn't tell me?" I murmur, pursing my lips. "Why didn't you tell me?"
He pulls away further, clasping his hands together. "I needed to do this, Rose. I needed to do this by myself. For myself." He sighs again, repeatedly running his hands over his hair. "It was never meant to be a secret, Rose, or something I was keeping or hiding from you. Please understand."
If I was being completely honest, I wasn't really sure how to feel. It wasn't as though he was keeping a terrible secret. He had caused me worry, yes, but it hardly mattered now, right? He was slowly getting better, slowly getting stronger. Slowly healing. It was though all of my prayers had been answered. But here we were, sitting on opposite sides of the sofa, blankets clutched to our chests, trying to think of something to say.
"So," I whisper, "Where do we go from here?"
With a breath of relief, Dimitri leans across the distance, grabbing my hands in his. "I hit rock bottom, Rose, there's only one place to go from here."
"G'night, Your Majesty."
She glared at me, a playful spark in her eyes. "Hey, have a good weekend! It's so strange, not seeing you everyday anymore. I miss you!"
I smile. "Just because I resigned as Head Guardian doesn't mean you can't come visit me," I point out with a smirk, already heading for the door. "Dimitri works Saturday, but we're pretty much home all weekend."
"I highly doubt you'd want the interruption."
Laughing, I wave goodbye to my friend, promising her to meet for dinner.
It's a short walk to the apartment, and I can smell dinner from the top of the stairs.
Dimitri is already in the kitchen, and he smiles when I walk in. I can instantly see that he's pale, well, paler than usual. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I press my lips to his.
"How long has it been since you've fed?" I ask, and he shrugs.
I nod, taking the mail from the kitchen counter and taking a seat on one of the high stools. Since when had this become such a... normal thing? It had happened so fast, so unnoticeable. A year ago, I had been desperate for a 'normal' life, had longed for the average lifestyle I had dismissed as boring before. But now, I was living it, and it had nearly slipped by without my realizing it. But that didn't mean I didn't appreciate it.
Dimitri was well, finally, and was currently employed at the Court, his reputation once again being built up. I had given up my position as Head Guardian and it's grueling schedule, and finally enjoyed having time off, as I had someone to spend it with. Whoever said Guardians had to chose between the job and their own life had obviously not been trying hard enough. Or perhaps we were the lucky ones.
Slipping to the refridgerator, I smile at the photo of Adrian and Jill's daughter before pulling out a bottle of water, as well as one for Dimitri.
"Sorry about dinner," he says, pouring the water from the metal pot into the sink. "I know we had pasta last night, but I'm completely exhausted."
"That's because you haven't fed in at least a week," I point out teasingly. "Maybe if you'd take care of yourself..."
"You're giving me a lecture? Did you eat lunch?"
After a extended pause, I stick out my tongue.
"Hmm. Is that a no?"
He sets a bowl of pasta in front of me, and I thank him, kicking off my shoes and resting my feet on his lap lazily. "Mmm, thank you."
With a warm smile, Dimitri leans across the table and kisses my temple. "You're welcome, Roza."
Yes. It was so normal. So average. So... boring. And I wouldn't change it for anything.
Finally! The end! After countless exams, etc, I actually had a whole afternoon to myself. Voila! Hope you enjoyed!