Hope came in a lot of forms.

To Dimitri, Anya was a hope at a reformed life. Something to get him away from the forged papers, the stolen goods, the days he and Vlad had spent cold and hungry. Something to get him away from the thousands of people, who like him, needed life support. Something to get him away from people who needed more than bland soup and frayed blankets on nights when they wished they lived anywhere but Saint Petersburg.

He needed Anya so he could forget the various Russian girls he'd been with over the years, the loveless women with the greedy eyes, the ones who would do anything to make a few extra kopeks.

He needed Anya to forget. Around her, he was the boy who'd opened a wall, who'd nobly restored her to her family and to Russia. Without her, he remained a crook; a cheat, a liar, a street rat. Without her, he remained a con man with a keen sense of shrewdness and an aptitude for larceny. Without her, he remained a child of the dusty cobbled streets of a town where he was one in a million liars.

He needed Anya to show himself he was capable of forming a relationship with someone other than Vlad. He wanted so very badly to show himself he could grow to trust someone, learn to rely on someone other than himself.

But Anya was lost to him, and along with her, all the things she'd left him with - love, a newfound reason to live, and a home. Dimitri looked up at the window, swallowing down the lump in his throat. He blew a kiss to the soon to be empress of Russia and walked down the street, his black ripoff cape from Saint Petersburg swishing behind him as he walked. The wind was bitter and unwelcoming, and it carried with it despondent memories of an isolated past.

All hope was lost.