Written by me.

Edited by Fuuko no Miko.

Read, review, and enjoy.

She was giggling in her sleep again. Nikolia watched his infant daughter dream lazily in her cot, the corners of her mouth turning up as she laughed, soft skin tensing ever so slightly as her face formed different expressions.

"She is so innocent," thought Nikolia in that moment. "I wish I could make the whole world as safe as this room is right now." The breeze from the open window fluttered the sleeves on Nikolia's shirt as his forearms leant against the cot's honey colored wood.

Katerina was still sleeping comfortably in their shared bed. Nikolia had left her side momentarily to steal a look at their little girl. He still awoke sometimes and wondered if this was all an impossible dream. That the night would come, and his demons, ever lingering, would become real again. But for now, as the sun crept wearily up over the hills and the trees of Natchaug, and the wind whispered with the fragrance of springtime, no dark ruminations could cloud Nikolia's mind.

"My little bambina, "he thought, "I wish I could hold your mother until her skin became old and frail as paper, and you will never know how proud I will be as you turn into the woman I know you will become." Nikolia gritted his teeth slightly to rebut the presence of tears. "Sophia. I've taken many bad things out of this world. You're the only good thing I added to it."

His daughter's small feet kicked slightly as she slept, mussing up the jasmine colored satin blankets. Nikolia let out a soft sigh, tucking the sheet up a little, lest his daughter feel the morning air. Sophia made a soft gurgle in her sleep and Nikolia thought she would waken.

He still remembers the day of her birth, and what a somber day that was. Disregarding the fact the Katerina nearly broke his hand during the delivery, Sophia was born premature and therefore, was an unusually small and frail infant.

"So small and feeble," said Nikolia as he held his newborn daughter in his hands. "Don't worry, no matter what happens Daddy will protect you."

Sophia still seemed a little restless, so in his still sleep-graveled voice, he started to sing a verse he'd known in his childhood.

"I close my eyes and I keep seeing things: rainbow waterfalls, sunny liquid dreams. Confusion creeps inside me rainin' down; got to get to you, but I don't know how. Call me, call me, let me know it's all right. Call me, call me, don'cha think it's 'bout time? Please won't you call and ease my mind? Reasons for me to find you. Peace of mind. What can I do, to get me to you?" Nikolia finished the verse as his child settled once more.

He couldn't bring herself to move, though he knew the morning to be coming. His wife had been fretful at awakening to an empty bed when they had first become intimate. Katerina knew now though that he would shield them from anything, especially old wounds that would never likely heal, from cries in the night. At least now though, Nikolia would usually return to bed with an easy sense of calm and for that small well earned catharsis, the duchess was thankful.

Nikolia gave his daughter one last loving glance, a stroke on the cheek, and left the room to go to his study. He was not one for tidiness, though his focus was single and unrelenting in battle, it did not reflect in organization of his belongings. Turning on the lamp, illuminating a desk strewn with data pads and mended things, the assassin looked for a pen and paper. He wanted this to be tactile and real, even if someday, he would not.

He'd kept all the messages Katerina had sent him during their time apart; Lion-O had intercept them and offered them to Nikolia as a form of payment. He often read them late at night before their separate lives became one. A small piece of his lover to hold on to when fear was all that seemed real, memorized words of comfort, meant to help lift the weight from his shoulders.

He wanted to give her daughter a similar piece of himself - when his strong arms could no longer console her, when his smile could no longer praise her. And so, he began to write:


My beautiful girl. As I write this I have just left your side, I often watch you sleep - when I can not. I hope for every night of your life, you close your eyes and find such serenity.

I write you this letter because one day I will have to leave you, and your mother behind. Though know I would give anything for it not to be so.

I grew up in the hollows of Timrod, surrounded by crime, corruption, and the only genuine ones were my family. And yet, no amount of gold, money, title or land could compare to how I felt when your mother agreed to be my wife. Or how it was to hold you for the first time.

It felt as though everything made sense, finally, and things would never be the same./

Nikolia's lips quirked into a smile and he continued on.

/I can only hope, for myself, that you are well into becoming a woman when you read this, and that with your mother, I have given you all the tools and confidence to live a radiant, ever blossoming, amazing life. If for some reason that does not come to pass, and I leave you with questions and uncertainty. Know what I already know, that you are all that is best in me, and that you and your mother are all the eternity I need./

/One day, you will learn of what I had to do, and whom I had to erase to secure your future. I just hope, when you read this, that you are old enough to understand and hopefully accept. If you hate or despise me, I perfectly understand. But know this, your father loves you very much./

He crushed the tears down again. "Dammit, Ardacril, just let me finish."

/I hope to write you many letters, many thoughts, to be given - as time passes. My hopes, my dreams for you. Your mother too, though her tenderness will remain with you longer than I, has many dreams for you. We like to talk when we are alone, of all our hopes for you. Our greatest being that you find a life and love for yourself./

Nikolia signed the note with her full name, and a heart, and placed it neatly folded in his top drawer.

Switching off the lamp, feeling it cool almost instantly as the light left it, Nikolia smiled and returned to bed.

Author's Notes:

Well guys, it's been fun.

I finally finished this... for now.

And I plan to let the happy couple rest in peace.

Until next time,