The loud rum of a plane's engine rang in my ears as I stepped off the ladder and hit the asphalt of the runway. The warm air ruffled my hair. I tilted my head upward, gazing at the cloudless Pennsylvania night sky. The call of my name a few feet away made me look back down towards the voice.

A woman stood there, a guardian by the looks of her. She was about my height, 5' 3'' tall, her black hair pulled back tightly in a ponytail. She was wearing the standard guardian attire of all black clothing.

She walked the rest of the way to me, all business. "Welcome, Miss Ivashkov. My name is Cynthia Campbell. I'll be escorting you to the Royal Court." I nodded, immediately forgetting her name. She turned, walking towards a black SUV as I rushed to keep up with her. She opened the door to the SUV and once I got in, she immediately closed the door behind me. She walked to the other side and hopped in. We rode in silence. The whole time I just stared out the window at the passing trees and greenery.

We'd be there soon enough, I told myself, time to face reality. We would soon be pulling into the Royal Court; my old home.

It is where all official government business of the Moroi world was conducted. It was also where the new queen lived. Queen Vasilisa Dragomir, the last Dragomir. Except, she used to be the last one, it is now known that her father had had an affair and had an illegitimate daughter. Jillian, I think her name is.

I scoffed at the thought of a new queen, while at the same time I had to blink back tears. The old queen had been murdered in her bedroom, but before that she'd been my Great Aunt Tatiana. I hadn't known her that well, only her sporadic visits every now and then at holidays, but I still missed her. I didn't even get to say goodbye.

I tried to keep my thoughts away from Aunt Tatiana as the ride continued, and the fact that I didn't know why I was returning to the Royal Court distracted me perfectly. At first, I thought it would be for family matters, but after speaking with my mother, Daniella Ivashkov, who had said she knew nothing of the matter, I now figured it would be magic.

Magic. It plagued me every day. I'd been a laughing stock back at school. Every Moroi is born with access to all 4 elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. At a certain age, one element grows stronger and it's called specializing, but not me. I haven't specialized yet. My instructors had been hopeful, but a pessimistic thought it the back of my mind told me that I would never specialize. My brother hadn't specialized either and he's 21 now.

My brother. The Infamous Playboy Adrian Ivashkov. I never saw him much anymore; he was off at college and me at the Moroi academy in England. Well I wasn't at the academy in England anymore, but I doubted that I would see him any more here at the Royal Court than if I were still in England.

The car stopped suddenly, pulling me out of my thoughts. It was the mis the middle of the night, middle of the Moroi day, and the moonlight gleamed off the windows of every building. I gasped, stepping down from the SUV and onto the freshly cut green grass. Warm air wisped my dark brown hair into my face and I pushed the strands behind my ear.

A small group of guardians met us in the foyer of the building the female guardian led me into. Another female guardian dressed in a similar style to what the first was dressed in stood in front. She looked to be just over 18 and had long dark brown, almost black, hair and brown eyes. Her face was kind and beautiful. The pin at her collar signaled that she was part of the Royal Guard.

A tall man stood behind her. He was easily 6'7", his medium length brown hair tied at the nape of his neck. His brown eyes were cloudy and stoic. Like any other guardian, he was all business. A sort of cloud hung between him and the girl. I puzzled over it for a second before dismissing it as my imagination.

Another guy stood beside him, but this one was much shorter and younger like the girl, he could barely be older than 19. He was gorgeous. He had semi-short blonde-brown hair that the ends brushed his ears and ocean blue eyes. He had lean hard muscles that were hidden under his white shirt, but his arms were bare. His face was perfectly sculpted. My mouth almost fell open, but I stopped just in time.

I looked back to the girl in the front and noticed something. She reminded me of myself. Which was ridiculous, she was nothing like me. I was a Moroi, she was a Dhampir, there was no similarity, but the more I studied her, the more I saw it. She spoke just then, sending my mind tumbling out of its thoughts.

She stepped forward, "Welcome to the Royal Court, Miss Ivashkov."

I groaned, "For goodness sake, just call me Michelle." My slight British accent laced my words.

The girl nodded, "Alright, Michelle, my name is Rose Hathaway. I'm Her Majesty's personal guardian." I saw a sense of friendliness surround her for a fleeting moment at the mention of the Queen.

I smiled at the realization of who this was. "You're Rose Hathaway? I've heard of you."

She seemed slightly proud about this, but only her eyes gave her away. She introduced the two men, "This," she gestured to the tall man, "Is Guardian Dimitri Belikov" He nodded in respect, his brown eyes soft, "And this," She pointed to the gorgeous younger guy, "Is Guardian Nicholas Wilson , he will accompany you when you leave the Royal Court."

Guardian Wilson smiled at me and I smiled back, blushing slightly and turning away, so he didn't see. Bringing my eyes back up to Rose, I made my face look blank again. "Thank you for having me" Even though I have no idea about why I'm here, I added to myself.

Rose nodded, "The Queen sends her regards for not meeting you herself, but she had prior arrangements, but promises to meet you for dinner." Sounds like a Queen, I thought to myself, always busy. "You're the first of the students to arrive." Rose informed me.

"What students?" I asked her.

"There are about 15 of you that we've planned on coming. Most of them are either sophomores like you or juniors." When the confusion on my face didn't disappear, Rose said. "Her majesty will explain everything later. I nodded, studying the tiled floor. "Your room is this way." Rose turned and began to lead me down a hallway. The other female guardian followed, but we left Guardians Wilson and Belikov behind.

We walked for a few minutes in silence, but I finally broke it, "You're sleeping with him, aren't you?" I said, finally realizing the cloud between them.

Rose looked at me, surprised. "Who?"

I laughed. "Guardian Belikov."

Her eyes widened and I knew I'd hit the spot. "How…how'd you know that?" she stuttered.

I laughed again. "I could feel an aroma around both of you. It was so full of compassion that it was obvious once I put the pieces together in my head"

The surprise increased in her eyes. "Was it like an aura?" The mention of auras made me flinch slightly, remembering someone.

I shrugged. "Sort of. I don't usually see it. Normally it's just a feeling. I could feel your love for him and his love for you. It was kinda overwhelming."

"Miss Ivashkov." The older female guardian said sharply. "We're here" she'd stopped in front of a white door. Rose and I stopped as well, Rose taking out a keycard, much like someone would find in a hotel, from her pocket. She swiped the keycard in front of the door and the red light flashed green. The older guardian opened the door. I walked over the threshold and turned around.

The female spoke again, "Your luggage will be brought to you shortly." I nodded and shut the door. It was an hour or so later as I walked down the hallway to meet Rose for dinner when a strange feeling came over me. It had only happened once before.

My parents had been visiting my academy a few years ago when I was 10 and they'd brought Adrian along. I'd only been attending the academy for a year or so. They'd surprised me during my lunch break. The strange feeling rolled over me as I looked at my brother. It had never happened before. He'd come up to me. "Elle, are you okay?"

I nodded and hugged him. We'd been raised together at the Royal Court until our parents had shipped me off to the London Academy or Moroi and Dhampir students in order for me to "have a better education". I'd missed Adrian desperately. "I'm okay. I've just missed you." The separation had been harder, knowing that he wouldn't be coming with me.

He hugged me tighter. "I've missed you too, Elle. The Royal Court just isn't the same without you. Aunt Tatiana misses you too."

I laughed. "You've always been her favorite, Adrian."

He laughed as well, releasing me, but still held me at arm's length. "Doesn't mean she can't miss you." Something had changed about him, but I couldn't figure it out. It had been me who changed, I'd realized later.

Back in the present, I walked into the foyer. The first female guardian who'd met my plane wasn't there, but the Queen was; along with Rose. They hadn't seen me yet, so I hid behind the corner, listening to the end of their conversation.

"She felt that Lissa!" Rose exclaimed in a hushed whisper.

The Queen's face grew curious. "Do you think?"

Rose nodded. "She's a Moroi, so it's very possible. Lissa, she flinched when I mentioned auras. If she isn't a spirit user, then she definitely knows someone who is!"

I walked in just then, cutting their conversation off just as the Queen was about to reply. "Your Majesty" I curtsied.

She nodded at me, smiling. "You must be Michelle."

"Please, your Majesty, call me Elle. Will you be joining us for dinner?"

The Queen nodded, "You may call me Lissa," she gestured to the door, "Shall we?" She waited for me to walk through the door then followed. Our group walked to the Palace, a fancy term for calling the large building that the queen lived and conducted royal business in. I was led down several twisting hallways, all patrolled by guardians. When we emerged into the dining room, I was surprised to see Adrian sitting in one of the dining chairs around the long elegant table.

When he saw me, his eyes widened in shock. "Sister?"

I felt tears brim my eyes, but blinked them back. "Hello, Adrian."