Richelle Mead owns these characters.

...Three Years Later...

You know how some people say time flies when you're having fun? Well, it's true but in my case it would be more like time flies when you're busy. I mean, when you're raising your kid sister, working and going to college part-time, and then trying to have a relationship with a really hot Russian nerd who likes to read books about cowboys. Now, don't get me wrong I'm not complaining or anything but sometimes I sit back and think; where did the time go? How did we get here so quickly when it felt like just yesterday I was still giving Mer baths. I was still in high school worrying about hiding everything from everyone, hiding myself. Then Dimitri would walk by or Mer would say something and I'd snap out of it realizing; hey, look where we're at now.

I loved my life and everyone in it. I was surrounded by the best people in the world, a family who claimed us as their own, a neighbor who loved us like daughters and a guy who stuck by my side despite everything that was thrown our way. So, yes, time has flew by, Meredith grew up and I finally decided what I wanted for myself but it got better. In that quick span of months, weeks, days and hours; life got better. For all of us and I was happy, still am.

It wasn't easy and nothing ever is because if it was, being this happy wouldn't mean as much. It wouldn't ground me and keep my head in the positive state it's been in for the past three years. Yes, there were bumps in the road and curve balls thrown every now and then but we've come out on top. We have, my family, become stronger as a whole. We were each three different key parts in making our life work and we did it the best way we knew how; together.

'Will we be in the new place by the time I come back, Roses?' I look into the mirror above my head fixing my hair and give Meredith a nod in the backseat.

'Yeah, you're going to miss moving day, although, I think you and mom planned it that way on purpose.' I watch as Mer smirks and her eyes leave mine in the mirror. 'It was all part of the master plan, right?'

It's really not a question but more of a statement and her smirk widening into a smile confirms it. I shake my head and close the mirror as Dimitri makes a turn on all too familiar street. We headed to the Belikov's for dinner in celebration of Dimitri getting a job at some fancy forensics lab. I was so proud of him and happy for him, he worked his ass off to get here. Our relationship had only grown from where we used to be three years ago. We had figured out that raising a kid and still kind of being kids ourselves was hard but often times just as fun. We were partners in crime me and the Comrade. He was my rock, my best friend and I honestly don't know what I would do without him.

'Yeah, who wants to pack boxes with all of our crap and then unpack it again? I don't blame you for leaving, Meredith, just in time too.' He and Mer's relationship had grown a lot as well.

'See I'm not the only one who hates moving.' I roll my eyes at them and prepare for the question she's asked about a million times now since we told her about the move. 'Why can't we just stay at the apartment? I like being smashed like sardines in a can!'

It was the example I used when we told her about the new house we found and how easier it would make traveling everywhere. 'I know you love the apartment but the house is closer to Dimitri's new job...' When she didn't look convinced I knew just the thing to make it happen. 'You'll have a bigger room...'

'You know, bribing me never works, Roses.' She says fighting a smile and avoiding my eyes as I turned to face her.

It always worked bribing that kid, she was only nine but she was going on nineteen and even though I wanted to keep her a kid for as long as possible; sometimes I had to just let her grow up. I laugh and a sudden warm callused hand wraps around my own, with a look over to the driver side I smile. These were the moments I loved the most about the last three years. The ones where it was just the three of us, in our own world, feeling happy and together. And things were about to become even better after tonight.

'It looks like we're here, ladies, let's get this over with.' Dimitri sighs as he parks and shuts off the car. 'Are we really ready to do this, Roza?'

In the silence of the car, parked out front of his childhood home, we waited to gather ourselves. To say tonight was going to be exciting was kind of an understatement. I nod and squeeze his hand gently, looking out to the porch lighting the front yard. I sigh, 'As ready as we'll ever be, Comrade.'

Once Mer is out of the car and walking toward the door, Dimitri pulls me aside and I read nervousness in his eyes. It was kind of odd for this to happen, he was never nervous, about anything. In fact he was always the one reassuring me but thinking about what we're about to do, I get it clearly. I smile at ease and take both his hands in mine as we hear Paul greet Mer at the door. Once I capture his depthless eyes in mine, the uncertainty in his dampens a little. 'You know, they're going to find out sooner or later... we might as well get this over with.'

He nods, 'True but you know once it's out there and they know things are going to get loud... and crazy... and loud.' I laugh and squeeze his hands in mine. 'Then the questions will come and then Viktoria will have some snarky comment to make, and then Karolina's going to want to start deciding stuff... It's going to be chaos once the bomb is dropped, Roza, are you-I mean, are you sure you're ready for that?'

He had a point and I knew everything he said was exactly what was going to happen but I didn't care. I wanted this, I wanted this next phase of our life to start as soon as possible and I knew that for sure. So looking back up to his sweet brown eyes and smiling in as much certainty as I could muster up, I nod. 'I'm positive, Comrade, besides that's our family in there and all the chaos will hopefully mean that they're happy for us.' He nods smiling down at me and then meeting our lips in a soft kiss.

'Will you two quit sucking face and get in here! Mama says we can't eat until everyone is here and I'm starving!' I laugh as Dimitri rolls his eyes at his younger sister and I drag him by the hand inside the house.

'So, Mr. CSI, we heard you bought a house? How come mama had to tell us and you didn't?' Karolina was the eldest of the Belikov children and even though she was really funny, she was also very nosey.

Dimitri's silent shrug causes her to smack her lips at him as we pass bowls and plates of food around the dinner table. It was common to have dinner at the Belikova house but tonight we were celebrating Dimitri's new job and also something else that no one but us three knew. It was just a matter of when the right time to say something would come. We had both knew once we decided something this big, his family was first to know and now that it was time, I was beginning to get nervous like Dimitri was.

'Oh, c'mon, Dimka, you have to tell us everything or we'll hound Rose for it and she will crack.' We laugh knowing all too well she was right. I loved Dimitri's sisters but they can get really crazy with things like that.

'Why are you so nosey, Karolina, if I wanted the whole world to know I would've said something.' Dimitri liked to give his sisters a hard time because they were always making fun of him being whipped, their words not mine.

'Aw, what's wrong little brother, do you need permission from your podruga to talk?' See what I mean? He rolls his eyes and passes me a roll as I smile teasingly at him. He hated when they started that because I would only laugh and encourage them, I thought it was funny. 'Well, c'mon give us the details. Where is it and how much did you buy it for?'

I smile as I think of the new house we we're moving to. It was a surprise that we found one we both loved so quickly after deciding to move closer to the lab he would be working at. It had a huge backyard and three spacious bedrooms, and it wasn't too far from campus. So I could keep my night classes and Mer could stay in her school as well. Before Dimitri got hired at the lab we had talked about moving to a bigger place since we were becoming a little crammed in the apartment. It was kind of sad though to leave that place, that was where we had become a real family and I was going to miss it just as much as Mer was.

However, we needed a bigger place and something close to where everyone had to be. The house was the first one we went to look at and Dimitri decided then and there that it was the one. It was perfect for the three of us. And it was the house that we both wanted to make a home of our own. 'I didn't buy it, we're renting it. I don't know maybe somewhere down the line we'll actually buy it and make it ours.' Dimitri looks to me with a glint in his eyes as the excitement for what we were hiding was starting to get to him.

'Well duh! It's already yours, you're going to live in it, loser!' Viktoria rolls her eyes at Dimitri's comment and gets a glare from Olena.

'That's not what he means, Viktoria, all of you leave your brother alone and eat. We here in celebration, not to interrogate poor Dimka.' All three of the Belikov sisters roll their eyes and shake their heads at Olena's protectiveness of Dimitri. 'When does Meredith leave for Utah, have you got that all settled, Rose?'

I nod and swallow the food in my mouth before speaking. 'Yeah, she leaves tomorrow morning actually; my mom got the airline to have one of those escorts for her. They're supposed to take her to and from the plane since I won't be flying with her this time.' I give Mer a look and she smiles proudly. It was her idea to fly to Utah by herself this summer and even though it took a lot of convincing from her Dimitri and my mother, I finally gave in and agreed.

'Well, look at you Meredith, such a big girl now.' Olena laughs at Mer's smile. 'And school, Rose, did you get through your finals okay?'

I nod, 'Yeah, I think I did okay. At least I hope so, I studied for like ever. We'll have to see when they post grades.' I was in my second year of college now.

I had finally decided to go back and chose to major in psychology. It was a tough choice for me to make because I kept changing my mind about going back at all but with some convincing from Dimitri and even Mer, I had took full advantage. I was still working and everything but school was a lot easier when I had help. Olena and Viktoria were a huge help along with Dimitri. When I had to study or work on a project, one of them would take care of Mer for me so I could get everything done.

Olena's aged but gentle hand covers my own and she squeezes lightly before throwing me a smile. 'You will be fine, Rose, you're a smart girl and you've worked hard for it.'

'Yeah and she lives with that nerd alert over there.' Dimitri rolls his eyes at Viktoria's comment and it kicks off another battle of banter that Olena has to break up.

We eat and laugh and make good conversation over dinner. As Dimitri and Paul clear up the table, me and Viktoria are at the sink washing the dishes as Karolina and Sonya got their mother to sit and take a break. Of course, they were right there with her while the rest of us did all the dirty work. 'So are you nervous about Meredith flying by herself?' I shake my head no but inside I'm screaming a loud hell yeah.

I had to be strong though and let Mer go for it. I was assured about everything and we have been going through the precautions since booking the flight a month ago. It was just, I was used to going with her and then taking a red eye flight back to Montana once she was situated with our mom. 'Not really.' Viktoria doesn't say anything but only gives me a look that said I was full of shit. To which, well, I was. I sigh and roll my eyes at her. 'Okay, so I'm really nervous actually. I mean she is my little sister, I do have a right to worry about her on an airplane by herself, you know?'

Viktoria laughs and then places two more dishes in the sink for me to rinse. 'I knew it; she's going to be okay. Mer is a strong girl and the airlines are really careful about those things, I remember one time Karolina sent for Dimka when he was a kid, and mama had to fill out all these papers and take these-'

It doesn't click that she's stopped taking for a long second but when I turn to look at her, her face is frozen with shock. 'Viktoria?' She doesn't reply, so I wave my hand in her face and she blinks a whole bunch of times before finally looking to me. 'Viktoria, what is it?'

The brown of her eyes glisten as she keeps staring at me and then they move down. My hands were resting on the counter top since I had turned off the water and was about to dry my hands but she just kept staring. 'Viktoria, what is it, what's wrong?' Her silent staring was starting to creep me out. So I reach for the towel that was next to the sink and just when both my hands make contact with the material, Viktoria had my hand in hers directly in front of her face.

Oh shit.

I rip my hand away and she comes to with a shake of her head. We look at each other and just when her mouth flies opens to speak, I cover it with my hand and shush her. 'Shh, Viktoria, you can't say anything, not yet!'

Our eyes meet and she glares with my hand still covering her face. The last thing I need is here yelling it out and then the whole Belikova clan comes stomping over here in a stampede. We wanted to do this together, as a couple and Viktoria was about to ruin that. 'You can't say anything, yet, okay? Dimitri and I we want to do this together, on our own, when the moments right.' She glares again at me but I don't remove my hand from her face. Finally her eyes ease into a look of curiosity and I slowly remove my hand from covering her mouth. She glances back to me and then my hand a couple of times before opening and shutting her mouth without a sound. I take a breath and catch Dimitri eyes gesturing for him to come over.

It only takes a glance to his sister's face and then he too is in a slight panic. 'Vika, you can't say anything, okay? Not yet, we want to tell everyone together.'

Viktoria's face contorts into a lot of different expressions all at once. I caught one of confusion and then another of excitement but something else won out. And it was a little surprising that this was the first thing she thought to say about her discovery. 'Are you pregnant?'

It stumps Dimitri and I both, we give a confused look to each other and then back to her. But she doesn't seem to catch on. 'Well, are you? Is that why you're wearing an engagement ring because you've got a bun in the oven? You are aren't you, you're pregnant.'

'Rose is pregnant?' Paul's curious voice silences the background noise of the voices in the living room and every other noise in that house.

Then before we know it, before I could comprehend it or say anything, everyone is in the kitchen. Olena and her daughters rush in front of me, my mouth opens to speak but nothing comes out. They stare and scream, and my eyes immediately hunt for Dimitri but it seems he was swallowed in the sea of Belikov women because I don't see him anywhere. I hear his voice though and my eyes move about the many excited faces in front of me to find him. 'Roza...' It's like an echo in a vast dark empty space that I can't see. 'Roza...'

I hear it once or twice and it's hallow and barely there. The noise I hear mostly, loud and clear like blasts of glass breaking all around me are the women in front me congratulating and touching me. Smothering me like a sea of screaming crazy people and imp drowning in it.

'Why didn't you guys say anything?'

'I knew something was up, you're practically glowing!'

'Oh my, I'm going to be a babushka again!'

'This is so exciting! A little Dimka running around-Oh! This is so good; we can get rid of all of baby stuff I got when Zoya was born. Oh, I'm so happy for you guys!'

There were hands, arms, smiles and even some Russian ranting thrown all around me, I didn't know what to do. I was trying to talk and tell them I wasn't pregnant but I couldn't get my voice over any of theirs. It turns out, Dimitri was right, this was absolute chaos and I wasn't even pregnant.

'Oh my god, Rose, you're going to be a mommy and Dimka is going to be a father!'

'Roza! Hey, mama, please, we're not-she's not-'

'I hope it's a boy. Or a girl, they're cool too. Oh! We can throw you a baby shower!'

'No, she's not-'

'Ah! This is so awesome! Congrats, you two, you're going to be such a good mother, Rose. I know it and Dimka! Dimka, you better be ready for sleepless nights and butt rashes.'

'And little fingers and little toes, and screaming, and poop! Oh my god, so much poop!'

They shoot off in Russian every now and then, and I still can't get a word in. Not one word, not to tell them that I'm not pregnant and that we don't need a baby shower. They just keep taking and yelling, and scramming and jumping. They hug me over and over again, and Olena had this blissed out happy expression all over her face. She smiling and they're smiling and I still can't find Dimitri anywhere in this mess. It was suffocating and hard to breathe, let alone talk.


It wasn't until Mer's really loud scream that everyone stopped taking and the house became silent and still. It was like all air had been let back into the room and I could breathe again. It was like this calm after a storm and everything was quiet and collected. It was so quiet I felt like I may have lost my hearing but I couldn't have been happier. Finally there was silence and I could breathe and talk, and deliver some really bad news about not being pregnant.

'They're not going to have a baby, Roses isn't pregnant. They're just engaged is all.' Meredith simply says and then gets up from the table and walks out of the room shaking her head.

And then the loud smothering Russian chaos returned, times ten.


I had gone to visit Janine a few months after we moved to the apartment. She had continued to send letters, mostly to Mer, and even called once or twice. The first time we spoke I had expected the same apologies and excuses, except I didn't get any of them. Instead I had got a whole different thing and it was quite unexpected to deal with.

It was a weird foreign feeling to hear your mother finally admit her mistakes and take blame for everything that happen. At first, I didn't know what to say, so we sat there in complete silence for a long time while I contemplated over everything she had just said. To say my mother was a different person would be pushing it, so I'll say she was a better person. Now don't take that too whole heartedly because to this day, there are still things we have to work on. The thing was we were actually getting there this time. Things were different with her, that was true but they were still a work in progress and Janine had knew that. I will say that she had proven to be worthy of Mer after all. That one visit to Utah I took by myself had changed a lot of things.

For instance; my trust in Janine Hathaway. It started out slow and cautious, like standing on a cliff and debating over taking the leap into the water or not, but it turned out to be okay. Trusting her was one of the hardest things for me to do and after that visit; I had decided to just go for it.

It was a very open and honest visit and I came home feeling a little better about myself and Janine. Now I still kept distance between me and her, and she knew it would always be there but the trust with Meredith was there in full. We talked to doctors, psychologist and even the many friends my mother made at the facility, and they all stood by her side. It was interesting to hear some of their stories though, like the one about my mother's roommate who had three children of her own.

They had grown close over the months and had kept each other strong but the roommate relapsed and ended up overdosing. When she died, my mother had promised to herself and her friend that she would never risk her life again. The doctor who was working with Janine had said it changed a lot of things within her and my trust and forgiveness was something she needed to move forward in her progress. It wasn't easy forgiving her and even though I had, I would still remember the pain she had caused me. It would always be there, things like that don't just wash away overnight. I just wouldn't hold it against her anymore and in all honesty, that was sort of a relief for me in a way. I had thought of it almost in the same way as I thought of taking that chance with Dimitri.

I knew he would never risk our relationship again, that he loved me and wanted to be with me. Just like I knew Janine wanted some kind of a relationship with me as well but had damaged that chance long ago. It was the leap I had to take though; people could disappoint you all your life, over and over again but my mother... My mother had disappointed herself and in that she understood what it felt like. What we felt like and it wasn't a good feeling.

So she got better and cleaned up, and surprisingly she's stayed that way. As of this summer, it would be two years and some odd months sober for her, and Mer was going to be with her this Summer to help keep it that way. 'So you're sure you have everything, your carry on and your ticket?' Mer rolls her eyes and closes her backpack up after I made her check things for third time.

'Yes, Roses, I've got it all, chillax already.' I nod and take a breath to keep the panic at bay. 'I'm nine years old and I can take care of myself, I'll be okay.'

I nod again and help her adjust the straps of her backpack. We were waiting in the terminal for the lady the airline was sending to escort Mer to the plane. This was the first time in two years that she would be flying by herself to Utah without me. I usually would go with her, visit with Janine for a while and then take a flight back home that night but since we were moving already, I had to sit this one out. And Mer was more than happy to do this on her own.

'Remember, moms going to be waiting for you by the gate as soon as you land, so look for her, okay?' Mer nods and sighs annoyed with me but I didn't care, she was still my little sister. I would always worry about her. 'And don't talk to any weirdo's on the plane, and if you have to use the restroom make sure you lock the door.'

'Why because people like to watch other people take a crap on airplanes?' I glare as she smiles.

'You hang out with Viktoria way too much, kiddo.' She just shrugs and smiles smugly at me. 'I'm serious, Mer, we don't know who's on that plane and if they're some sicko or not. Just make sure you lock the door and that someone sees you go in.'

She sighs long and annoyed, 'I'll be fine, Roses, we've done this two summers in a row. I stay with the lady and get on the plane, then stay with her when we get off and as soon as I find mom at the gate, I call you. I know, I got it, please stop worrying you're driving me nuts!'

Meredith would never change, she would only grow into the beautiful strong person I know and love. She would tell me things when I needed to hear them and make me laugh out of nowhere. She would be by my side when I married Dimitri and support me when I need it, she would always be my little sister and I loved her dearly. But it was true what Olena, Alberta and everyone else has said; she was a strong capable girl, and I had something to do with that.

'Meredith?' We both turn and come face to face with a lady dressed in the airline uniform. She smiles at me and then to Mer. 'We are ready for you, if you'll follow me...'

'Okay, thank you.' Meredith turns around to face me and I have to fight back my emotions. 'Okay, Roses, I'm going...'

I nod and we both lean in and wrap each other in a tight warm hug. 'Be safe and tell mom to call me as soon as you find her, okay?' She nods and squeezes me tightly, 'By the time you come back home, you'll be in your new room, you know?'

'Yeah, Dimitri said he wouldn't paint it until I got home, so I could choose any color I wanted.' I smile and squeeze her to me one last time. 'Don't get married without me!'

I laugh, 'Mer, we're not getting married until I'm done with school, you have time and I can't get married without my maid of honor, right?' She shakes her head no and then leans out of our hug smiling.

'Mom was really happy when you told her you were marrying Dimitri.' I nod and smile. 'I think it's good too, Roses, he takes good care of us... and he loves us to freaking death.'

'Yeah, he does.' Laughing I fix her backpack one last time and push the worrying panic aside. 'You have fun with mom... and if you're going to work with her, please don't bring home anymore 30 day's sober coins! When people come over and find them, it gets all weird and Dimitri's tired of explaining where mom works.' She laughs and I stand to let her go with the lady.

'Okay.' The lady takes her hand and they head to Mer's flight gate to get her settled in. I watch as they get further away from me and push back the worry again. 'Roses!'

It's kind of hard to hear with all the airport hoopla but I watch as Mer runs back to me right into another hug. 'What happened? Did you forget something?' She shakes her head no and then squeezes me one last time before letting me go. 'Mer?'

She shrugs, 'I just wanted one last hug and to tell you not to worry, I'll be okay.' She smiles while walking backwards and then waves. 'Bye, Roses, I love you!'

I wave in return and laugh as she shouts in the middle of the airport. 'Bye, love you!'

I wait until I lose her in the crowd of people and then turn around to go back home. It was hard leaving her there by herself but like she said, she would be okay and this was another one of those moments where I had to let her grow up. I couldn't protect her from life all of the time but I could prepare her for it and I was okay with that.



'Hey, how did it go?'

I drop my keys on the counter in the small kitchen and lean down to kiss Dimitri as he tapes closed a box he had just finished packing on the floor. 'It went good, I stayed with her until I couldn't see her anymore and then after turning back a bunch of times, I finally left.'

He laughs and rises to kiss me again and soon enough I'm wrapped up in his strong arms. 'Well, it's only about an hour in a half flight, so your mother will probably be calling before you know it.' I nod and take his lips in mine again. This was what I loved most about being with him, when we had time to ourselves and could just be together. When our lips met slowly and then shifted into those heated kisses that made me lose my breath and my heart race. When we were so wrapped up in each other nothing and no one else had mattered or existed.

We had grown so much over the last three years and our love had grown strong right along with it. When I needed him he was there, he was my rock and patient with everything we overcame. He was my opposite in so many ways but the other half of my whole in so many others. And I loved him; I loved him so much it hurt.

I was no longer scared or afraid to take a chance with him and I was grateful for the one we had. So it was really no debate or question if I wanted to marry him or not, he didn't even have to ask me once I saw the ring. I had just nodded my head yes before he got the words out and that was all we needed. He was my best friend and I have no clue where or how I would be without him.

'That was fun!' We laugh, naked and absolutely spent on the kitchen floor.

'Yeah, good way to go out, now we can do it in all the rooms of the new house.' I smack his chest and laugh but stop at the sudden reminder.

'I still can't believe Viktoria thought I was pregnant and that was why you asked me to marry you!' He laughs and then rolls over, covering my body with his own and laying his head on my chest while I run my hands through his hair. 'You know, Lissa and Sydney asked me the same thing when I told them?'

'They did?' I nod as he laughs, leaving light kisses over my body and riling me up all over again. 'Well, when we do get pregnant then we just won't tell anyone.'

'And when my stomach is huge and they start asking questions, what would we say?' He laughs and then our lips meet in a deep kiss.

'You swallowed a beach ball?' I laugh but he captures it in another deep kiss. He leans away but still hovers above me, staring at me in that bewildered loving way. 'You sure you want to marry me?'

The question comes out in a low velvety whisper and I smile at the adoring look in his eyes. The eyes I fell in love with all that time ago, the ones that spoke so many things to me without any words. I look at him and think back on everything we have been through and how it's shaped us into the people we are now. He's taught me so much about so many things, things I didn't even know about myself and he was always there when I needed him.

He had kept his promise and had loved me despite all the drama that consumed my life. He was a long way from the nerdy boy I had met in the library back in high school, he had learned so much from the guy who almost lost himself that first year in college. He was a man now; a good man who I knew would always love me and be there. He was the only constant, real thing I had in my life and I would have him forever.

So looking right back into those observing endless eyes with all the love I could possibly muster up, I nod. 'Yeah, I'm sure. I absolutely positively want to marry you, tutor.'

That's all folks! No worries, I'll be back with more stories very soon-ish. I hope you enjoyed and thanks for the reviews, follows and support. Most of all thanks for just taking the time to read this, I appreciate that people like what I have to write and thank you so much for it.

Peace -riv.