Here's the last chapter! I hope you'll enjoy it!
It had been six long years since my best friend had run away.
The news of her absence, and then that of Dimitri had shaken our world to its very core. Their house had been found by guardians, the door kicked open and the rooms practically smashed to pieces. But the 'police' hadn't suspected foul play. Footprints in the broken glass showed that someone had walked around afterwards. There was no blood, no weapons of any kind to indicate that Rose or Dimitri had done it, or harmed each other.
And of course, there were the rumours. Except they weren't rumours.
Everyone knew that Rose and Dimitri had been looked down upon as a couple because of the fact that Rose was a dhampir. It didn't matter that they'd been best friends for over thirteen years, or that they'd been planning to get married. As far as the moroi were concerned, it was fine for them to be friends, but sacrilege for them to feel romantically towards each other in any way.
At every royal function, at every chance they got, the sharks were constantly circling, watching for any fault they could find with Rose. Guys deliberately antagonised her, knowing that with her impulsive nature and fiery temper, it wouldn't take much for her to lash out.
Moroi girls flirted with Dimitri relentlessly, in the hopes of getting their picture splashed on the front page of the papers as the next 'Mrs. Belikov', even after Dimitri and Rose announced their engagement.
The whole world was pitted against Rose and Dimitri, and there was nothing they could do about it.
Except to run away.
So they had. And all they'd left to let their families and their friends know that they hadn't been dragged off by the people who wrecked their home… was a note.
Liss and Mama,
We're okay. We wish we could tell you more, but since we don't know who keeps trying to break us apart, we can't leave anything to chance. Don't look for us.
We love you, and hopefully, someday, we'll see you again. For now, we have to go it alone.
Rose and Dimitri.
They'd told us not to look, and I'd known what Rose was hinting at. If we tried to look, we wouldn't find them. They didn't want to be found.
And as the months passed, everyone stopped looking. Except for Olena, Abe and myself. Though Abe was busy most of the time, he still did what he could, and hired private investigators to look for them. Once a year, on the anniversary of their departure, we ramped up our efforts to find them, if only for a day.
But we were starting to lose hope. It had been six years. Six years without any sighting's or contact from either of them. For all we knew, they could have died the day after they left, and our searching would have been in vain.
But we still kept it up, hoping against hope that we'd find them somehow, somewhere.
"Vasilisa, maybe we should stop."
My tired gaze met Olena's and I nodded. It was midday, human time, since we didn't know what schedule Rose and Dimitri were following. We felt that it was most likely they'd be following a human schedule, as that was the easiest way to avoid detection.
Right now, we were sat in the middle of a park, under a small gazebo trying to shelter from the strong rays of the midday sun. The sunlight didn't harm us since we weren't strigoi, and our guardians looked like they were enjoying being out during the day, but it was uncomfortable. My eyes felt oversensitive and weak as the rays seemed to shine directly into them every time I stopped squinting.
"Maybe you're right Olena. I just- I can't help but feel like we're close…" My voice trailed off as I watched a young boy run into the arms of his father who laughed and pulled him close as they both fell over into the grass. A quick glance at the others showed that they were watching the same thing as I was, small, wistful smiles spread across their faces.
"He reminds me of Dimka." Olena's voice was so low we had to strain to hear her, even with our advanced hearing.
"Who? The man?" Abe nodded. "I can see it."
"No." Olena shook her head, and then she squinted to try to get a better look. "The son. Though now that you mention it…"
"Ethan!" A little girl, no older than two, ran over to join the man and boy who were rolling around on the ground. She toppled over just before she reached them, her hands stretched out to break her fall, and small delicate sobs echoed through the space as her father reached out to pull her into his arms and cradle her body to his chest. From where we were sat, she looked incredibly tiny against his long body, as her brother watched with wide eyes.
His father murmured something to him, and he nodded before running off in search of something, or someone else.
A few minutes later, the little girl seemed to have calmed down and her father stood up.
Beside me, Olena gasped. "He looks so much like Dimka. His height, his shape, but it can't be him. Dimka wouldn't be here, in bright dayli-"
Her voice cut off as the little boy came running back, his voice clear for us all to hear. "Mom's coming. Alana, it's okay." His worry for his young sister was endearing, and at the same time, reminded me of Dimitri. He always kept other people's best interests at heart, and made sure they were cared for before he cared for himself.
"Olena?" Abe gently shook Olena's shoulder. "What's wro-"
His own voice cut off as his eyes locked onto someone else, and I turned in my seat, confusion etched across my features. Until I saw why they were both so shocked.
The woman approaching them had long, waist length hair that was such a dark brown it was almost black. She was at least a foot smaller than the man she approached, and as he caught sight of her, complete adoration filled his features.
It was Rose, no doubt about it, which meant the man was Dimitri. So who were the kids? They couldn't have had children as soon as they left… could they?
I would have been left puzzling if Rose hadn't turned at that moment to shout after the little boy who'd run off again, this time in the opposite direction. One of her hands rested in the crook of her back as she stretched slightly, whilst the other wrapped protectively around her round, swollen belly.
Rose was pregnant.
The little boy ran back up to them, his laughter spilling out across the open space as Dimitri handed the younger girl down to Rose and swung the little boy up onto his shoulders, before he bent his head to press his lips against Rose's quickly.
They smiled at each other for a moment before she lifted the smaller girl up onto her hip, and they began to walk away, towards the park exit.
"What do we do now?"
Abe's voice was a low hum, yet serious as he watched his daughter and her family walk out of the park.
I straightened my back and stood up. "We follow them."
Come on Lissa. It's only Rose. She's your best friend. You can do this. Just knock on the door, and things will fall into place.
I gritted my teeth as I listened to my subconscious and pressed the doorbell. There was no noise for a few moments, but then a small thump sounded, along with excited childlike chatter.
The door swung open, and I was face to face with Dimitri's chocolate brown eyes, set in the chubby face of an excited twenty month year old.
"Lissa?" I glanced past the wriggling child to see Dimitri there, holding his daughter up in mid-air so she could 'open' the door.
His daughter wriggled uncomfortably and he immediately placed her down inside the house so that she could toddle down the hallway. Once he straightened up, his eyes flickered over my shoulder, and widened.
Olena didn't answer; instead, she sobbed and pushed me out of the way to throw her body forwards into her son's arms. Her hands wrapped around his waist tightly as he hugged her back, and I grinned as they reunited after six long years.
Finally, finally, they pulled apart, and Dimitri grinned again. "Would you like to come in?"
Abe nodded and nudged me forwards, eager to see his daughter, as Dimitri took his mother's hand and led her into the house.
"Yes?" Her voice sounded near, but it's not near enough.
"We have guests." Dimitri turned to grin at us once more, before he pushed the front room door open to reveal Rose curled up on the sofa with their children, her hand idly rubbing small patterns over her distended stomach.
"Rose?" I asked. I needed to clarify that it was really her, that we'd really found them.
She sat up straight, and then winced at the sudden movement before holding a hand out for Dimitri to help her up. "Is that really you?"
I nodded, and then we were in each other arms as we sniffled and hugged each other as best as we could with her stomach in the way.
"Sorry," Rose sniffled and wiped at her cheeks. "It's the hormones."
"How long do you have left?"
"Three weeks." A wobbly smile pulled at my best friend's lips before she sniffled again.
But despite her red nose and puffy eyes, my best friend hadn't changed a bit. She was still beautiful, with that cheeky, mischievous look about her, and a quick glance at their son showed that he'd inherited it, too.
"I've missed you, Liss."
We fell into another hug then, and Abe coughed.
"Old man?" Rose grinned and let go of me to hug her father. "I've missed you, too, Baba."
"Kizim." He hugged her gently before pulling back. "You gonna introduce me to my grandchildren?"
Rose laughed and motioned for the kids to get off of the sofa. "This is Ethan Ibrahim Belikov."
Dimitri smiled proudly and lifted up their daughter. "And this is Alana Vasilisa Belikova."
"And as for the unborn baby – we haven't decided yet. But if it's a girl, her middle name will be Olena, and if it's a boy, his middle name will be Christian."
I couldn't believe that our families had found us again. After six years without any sort of contact, they'd stumbled across us by chance.
I sighed and curled up against Dimitri, smiling when his hand rubbed against the sensitive skin of my stomach as our little baby kicked gently.
"I love you, Dimitri."
His lips pressed to the shell of my ear lightly before he smiled and murmured back to me. "I love you, too, Roza."
Lissa and Olena were talking with Ethan and Alana, while my father snooped around the house with their guardians.
"Rose?" I glanced up to find Lissa hesitantly sitting down at the end of the sofa.
She fidgeted with the hem of her shirt for a moment before meeting my gaze. "Will you come back? To court, I mean."
Behind my back, Dimitri froze and Lissa tensed.
"I- I-" I had to pause to think about it, but I already knew the answer. "Please don't be upset, Lissa." Her face fell, but she nodded bravely. "No."
One crystalline tear trickled down her cheek. "Can I ask why?"
"We just can't Lissa." Dimitri squeezed my hand and leant forwards to kiss my forehead. Lissa was my friend, and therefore, it was my job to explain, but he was still there for me, to support me, no matter what.
"We don't fit in there anymore. After everything that happened, we can't go back Lissa. Our kids are settled, and we've built our life up here. This is our little niche, where we can just be ourselves, without the stress and complications that came with living at court."
She nodded forlornly. "Can I visit you? You're not too far away."
I grinned and scooted down to her end of the sofa to hug her. "Of course! I've missed you."
"I've missed you too." Her voice was sad, but understanding as she hugged me back. "So when did you get married? Even though I know you were staying hidden, I still can't believe you didn't at least invite me to that."
I rolled my eyes before grinning and pointing to the picture on the mantelpiece. "Three months after we left. We'd just settled in here, and then…" I met Dimitri's gaze and smiled softly. "We couldn't wait. We'd been delayed long enough by everything that went on in court." My father nodded. "And with a baby on the way, it was better to get married sooner rather than later. So we did."
"And we haven't looked back since." Dimitri grinned and tilted my face up to meet his. "You were my first, and you'll be my last. You're my everything."
I hope that you enjoyed your FAGE 3some gift, Laurie.
And I hope that my fabulous readers also enjoyed this short story! Thank you all for reading and reviewing. I hope that you enjoyed this chapter as much as the previous two! xx