Okay, sorry about the delay but I've just realised Epilogues are actually kinda hard to write :P I just couldn't get it to come out like I wanted...
"Rose? You ready?" I turned to see Janine poking her head round my half-opened door. I nodded and took one last look in the full length mirror. My hair was pinned up in a tight bun on my head, displaying my impressive set of molnija marks to the world. My dress was black, silk and elegant, highlighted my curves and frame in an esteemed and elegant manner.
I nodded again, my expression unreadable and she gave me a brief look, asking if I was alright. Again I nodded and turned back to my reflection, arranged my dress fruitlessly before sighing and following my mother out.
The house was bustling with activity as guests chattered, laughed and danced.
It was my 25th Birthday party and Lissa had insisted we celebrate. Reluctantly, after much nagging from her, Mia and Maia, I conceded and allowed it to happen. I hadn't had any celebration of my birthday since my 17th and Lissa had taken it upon herself to make up for that, inviting basically everyone we knew in the Courts.
I took a deep breath, preparing myself for the onslaught of hugs, kisses and cries of 'happy birthday'.
As predicted Lissa was the first, closely followed by Mia, Christian, Adrian, my mother and father, Maia, Julius and others that all blurred into one single collection of hugs.
Adrian laughed at the look on my face after an hour of this and jerked his thumb to the porch outside. I mouthed thank you and slipped out, not unnoticed but I was too tired to care and breathed a sigh of relief, being the centre of attention used to be the highlight of my nights, but not anymore. Now I enjoyed my solitude, it gave me peace of mind and a chance to breath.
Two arms encased my waist and a deep voice whispered into my ear, sending shivers down my spine.
"I knew you'd come out eventually."
Well, maybe I didn't enjoy complete solitude...
I turned and wrapped my hands round his broad shoulders and smiled, feeling at home. "What are you doing out here? Why aren't you inside enjoying the party?" I teased, knowing full well how much he hated parties, especially now that he was often recognised and constantly bombarded with questions.
"You know full well I dislike parties, and now that everyone seems to know who I am I can't really get a moment of peace anywhere." He chuckled and I kissed him lightly.
"Well, it's your fault for playing the hero." I continued to tease as I trailed kisses along his jaw, neck and shoulders.
"Mmm, I'll try to keep that in mind next time you and the Princess are in mortal danger..." His voice had lowered, his breathing rhythm speeding up and his hands automatically tightened their grasp at my waist.
I closed my eyes at the horrific memory that still haunted my dreams some nights, although they were becoming less frequent.
"Marcus" I cried again, collapsing onto his immobile chest.
I was unsure of how much time passed, if any did at all. I disconnected myself from this world, becoming engulfed in the heartbreak; the agony until a movement pulled me back, snapping me into reality.
A rising of his lungs, his chest that my head lay upon.
It came in a gasp, a sudden, sharp inhalation.
His chest rose suddenly, fell slowly. I jerked up into a kneeling position and watched in disbelieve as he opened his eyes and blinked a few times, adjusting his brown eyes to the light.
"Oh thank God!" I exclaimed and collapsed back onto him, delirious with glee to feel the thudding of his chest, and rise and fall of his lungs in an even pace.
"Well, I'm flattered, but Adrian will do fine." A voice laughed and my head shot up to see Adrian kneeling opposite me, looking absolutely exhausted.
"Adrian..." I trailed off in disbelieve then launched myself at him, hugging him with all the strength I had left... which wasn't that much.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I exclaimed, unable to convey my gratitude and elation.
"Mmm, no problem... but I think I need a nap." Adrian mumbled and slowly became limp in my embrace, his arms dropping to his side as he leaned heavily upon me. Gently I lay him down, stroked his cheek before returning my attention to Marcus. Ripping his shirt off, his blood soaked shirt, I searched with my eyes and fingers for a wound, a mark. There was none. Nothing but blood stained skin.
"Oh Marcus," I breathed out in relieve so profound I felt light-headed, and kissed him, on his chest, his shoulders, his neck, jaw, cheeks and finally his lips. His was obviously slightly disorientated but eventually began to respond, his hands working their way into my mattered hair.
"Alla, you're hurt." He whispered as we broke for air but I shook my head.
"I'm fine, but..." I trailed off as my head spun, and eyes centralised on Lissa's body. "Liss!" I cried as I stumbled to my feet, coming down from my insane high I started to feel the injuries I had sustained, but I continued to ignore them as I crouched beside Lissa and slowly turned her onto her back. She was pale, deathly white and non-responsive, but she was breathing on her own, and had a heartbeat.
"Lissa! Rose!" I heard a feminine voice cry and I looked up to see Janine and several Guardians running towards us, thankfully they had medics with them.
"She's hurt, badly!" I called and moved to give the medics room to work.
She was still losing blood, at a rate too fast for bandages and any medical treatment to be of any help. Realising I had my ring I hastily ripped it from my finger and pressed it against her skin, beside the open wound. Praying it might work, but as nothing happened I realised her own magic would be useless on her.
"She needs blood," I realised, "There aren't any feeder's close enough..." I trailed off and then gestured to Janine to hold her up while I pulled my hair back, preparing myself to feed her.
"No Rose, you've lost too much blood, you can't afford to sacrifice anymore without putting yourself in danger." Janine stopped me and I opened my mouth to argue, but Marcus cut me off.
"I'll do it. We don't have enough time to get a feeder, and I am healthy enough to not be weakened too greatly by this."
I couldn't protest, his logic was irrefutable so I moved aside further. Marcus bent over Liss, exposing his neck to her mouth and she reacted on instinct. Smelling the blood she latched onto his neck greedily and immediately began to feed.
I sighed in relief as I felt her regain some strength and I allowed my own weakness and blood loss pull me into the dark oblivion as my eyelids drooped and I sagged.
"It's alright Rose," Marcus whispered gruffly as he tightened his embrace, holding me to his chest. I hadn't realised I'd begun to sob pitifully until I felt the hot wetness of my tears run down my cheeks.
"I almost lost you, and Lissa," I croaked digging my fingers into the chest of his shirt.
"But you didn't," He reassured me gently, kissing my head soothingly, "You didn't and I'm still here. We're still here."
"Hey Rose," I looked away from Marcus's chest to see Maia and Lissa standing on the porch, eyeing me in worry. Although I did cry a little more often now, it was rare they ever actually caught me. Smiling through my tears I broke from his embrace and took a few steps towards them. They smiled softly and offered their hands, which I took after wiping my eyes furiously.
Time to go inside and continue the celebration of my making it through another year.
"You know something Lissa?" I asked her as she linked her arm with mine, "Hmm?"
"This is my 25th birthday, and birthdays involve presents. You know what the best present you could give me right now?"
"A vacation." I answered, "A vacation to some exotic beach where there are no politics, no work, no fans begging for autographs. Just nobody but us."
"That, my little Dhampir, indeed sounds like a perfect present," we turned at the sound of Adrian's voice. He was standing beside Marcus presenting five pieces of paper to me, "And since I'm the perfect guy and all, I thought I'd give you just that. You, me, Lissa, Christian and Marcus. Two weeks at my aunt's private resort. Nothing but sand, sun and -"
"Suntan lotion!" Lissa interrupted, giving me a knowing look. I laughed and agreed, "Defiantly suntan lotion. Lots and lots of it."
Marcus gave me a funny look but I shook my head and gave him a peck on his cheek, "I'll tell you some other time."
"So, Marcus have you been feeling anything Adrian has?" Julius asked and Marcus shook his head.
"No not yet, but I'm told that that won't happen for at least a few weeks, if not months."
I nodded, "I didn't start getting even a tingle from Lissa until a good couple of months after the car crash, but don't worry about it. First thing I'm going to teach you is how to block him and his thoughts... because no doubt they're going to be highly inappropriate."
Adrian gave me a look of indignation, "Hey, give me a little respect!"
"I did, by saying they'll be inappropriate, not completely indecent." I teased and the room filled with laughter.
He grumbled incoherently, muttering about being underappreciated.
"Oh Adrian don't be absurd, of course you're appreciated... who else could we get to give us use of a private resort?" I interrupted his ramblings and it only caused his pout to deepen.
As I watched Marcus and Adrian attempt to read each other's thoughts, and Lissa snuggle with Christian on the sand I realised something. In the past five years, where so much had happened to me, and to Lissa, a lot of things had changed, but as much as they had changed, essentially they had also stayed the same.
We were older, wiser, and stronger than before, but we were all still together. We could still muck about and talk with each other freely, and now that a lot of guilt had been lifted from my shoulders I was able to finally let myself be happy. I finally felt free to enjoy moments like these without worrying that Dimitri was out there killing, 'living' as something he had always hated.
Although Dimitri wasn't constantly on my mind, as he once had been, I still thought about him from time to time. Remembering the happier moments, happier times we had had together. It was easier for me to remember him as the Dhampir, the Guardian and mentor than as his final days as a Strigoi, a soulless monster.
The days after his death, and his funeral had been... rough to say the least. I had come dangerously close to a similar lockdown I had experienced back when I'd been brought back. Although I was more prone to fits of tears than fits of rage.
But it had been Marcus who had kept the nightmares at bay, who had beat away my fears and kept me sane. His presence had become a constant, and the only time he left my side was for toilet usage and food delivery, if Lissa was otherwise engaged. He had become my rock and I wasn't ashamed to admit it. Wasn't ashamed to admit I had been weak, and scared.
He understood, Dimitri had been my first love, and after nearly six years, I had finally succeeded in killing him, in fulfilling the promise we had shared with each other. The moment when I'd actually stabbed him had been surreal, as though I weren't actually the one doing it, but merely a spectator watching from afar.
The realisation that he was truly, completely gone didn't come until after his funeral, late during the night as I lay in Marcus's arms. It hit me like a tonne of bricks and I inexplicably burst into tears, sobbing and crying out 'he's gone' repeatedly. Marcus hadn't even needed to ask who, or what was wrong; he just understood and that made me love him more.
Coming back into reality I laughed at their attempts at getting into each other's head, "You guys realise it'll be months before Marcus even gets an inkling of Adrian's emotions right? I don't see why you're pushing it,"
They both looked up at me and grumbled, "It would be so cool though,"
"It's only cool until the novelty wears off and you end up in each other's head during the most inappropriate of times."
Adrian cocked an eyebrow up, "I don't think I'd mind being in his head at any... 'inappropriate' times. I've always wanted to see what lies beneath that clothing Rosie." He added in a drawl and Marcus hit him over the head while I laughed.
"And that Adrian, is exactly why as soon as Marcus gets that inkling, I'm teaching him to block you out."
"Well, we have a while before that happens," Marcus murmured in my ear and I felt tingles run down my spine.
"We have plenty of time for that." I agreed and kissed him lightly.
Lissa and Christian joined us as we watched the rising sun, the change in light and colour creating extravagant pictures on the water as it crashed onto the sand.
"It's too bad we can't stay here for longer than two weeks," I sighed, leaning into Marcus as he kissed the top of my head and wrapped his arms around my waist.
"Hmm, maybe we can come back again soon..." He agreed and swayed me to the rhythm of the tide.
"Yeah, very soon." Lissa added and we agreed in our mind that we hadn't had peace like this in far too long, but perhaps things could continue as they were now.
And that's it!
Wow, I finished my first fanfiction :P I'm so proud even though I felt this chapter was a little off... but yeah...
So that's it, and before you ask... no there isn't going to be a sequel, I think ya'll can use your own imaginations to think up dramas for Rose, she's had enough from me :P
Thanks to everyone who followed me through this, it's been grand hearing from you, reading your reviews and opinions on what I should or shouldn't do.