A/N: Hey there, everyone. I'm peeking out from behind a tree here, trying to see how much damage has been done to my readers through all this time. I know, I'm a horrible writer, for leaving you all so stranded, but I'm so sorry you have to bear with my apologies yet again. I could tell you all the very many details of why I didn't get you the update I promised so long ago, but it wouldn't change anything save for frustrating you too. So, for now, my life is back in order and I'll be uploading at regular intervals. However, there is something that I need to discuss with you, which will be in a separate Author's Note that I'll be uploading shortly. It is extremely important that you read through it, and let me know your thoughts. but for right now, I got you a chapter in this story to tide you over, and hopefully as a peace offering ?

DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Richelle Mead, the amazing woman who created Romitri !


Previously (In Abe's POV)...

...I marched over to him, breaking the protective formation, but I didn't care. I had to reassure myself that Pavel was wrong. That the small body lying crumpled in a heap at his feet was not my daughter. That I hadn't been too late. But there she was, looking for all intents and purposes like she was sleeping.

Except she wasn't breathing.

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No. No !

This wasn't possible. This wasn't happening. My dear child, my little girl, she was not gone. Not like this. I had not striven to stay away from her for the major part of her life so that she could go and leave me like that, in the middle of nowhere, and just when she was starting to step back into my life.

I was Ibrahim Mazur, and this was happening my way, and only my way. My daughter was staying alive and happy, even if it took all I had.

My brain shut itself from the crippling pain in my gut and I launched myself into the same ruthless persona I was known and feared for. My Guardians were given quick orders that they completed with the utmost efficiency, Pavel lifting Rose up from the bloody pavement and gently placing her into the car, Christian following behind him with eyes full of worry and... reflection ?

I then recalled the way he'd insisted he absolutely must go with Rose. The boy knew something and I was going to find out what. Soon. But first, my daughter needed all my attention.

Back on our way to the Manor, I asked Caleb to get the cars ready for our journey to the one place I knew I would find answers. The one place I wanted to avoid taking Rose to. Baia.

CPOV

The trip back was the shortest ever. Rose never once stirred during that time, and for all my bravado, her lack of movement was scaring me too. I knew Rose was one of the best of the best, but lately all she'd been was...broken. It didn't take a genius to know that her condition could turn extremely critical, if it wasn't already.

Abe was the epitome of that scary mobster reputation he had in the whole Moroi world during the whole ride, barking orders and organizing matters. He even sent for some Alchemist to clean up the gore we'd left behind. The man thought of everything.

Sitting in the back seat with Rose laid out beside me, I had to wonder at the similarities between the two. Rose was so much like her father, it was scary. Not that she'd ever admit it. And looking at Abe now, I could see the cogs of his brain working continuously to analyse the situation from every angle. Did he too think this was somehow related to why Rose wanted to be back in Russia ? When I first saw her with that darkness escaping her, it was mesmerizing. Beautiful, only in the way something lethal can be. But I never thought they could be so dangerous. So destructive.

My thoughts accompanied me all the way back and to the time I found myself staring at Abe Mazur in his study. Rose had been whisked up to her room and 'help' sent for. That was as far as he would tell me. Until I answered his questions, that was. I already knew what he wanted to know, but I had no answers to give other than that one incident.

"So it's all somehow linked to the bond Rose has with Princess Vasilisa ?" Abe asked after I'd told him everything. I could only nod my head. "Seems like it. Though from what Rose told me, she felt the bond breaking when..." I stopped.

I suddenly realised I didn't exactly know when Rose felt the bond breaking. "Breaking ?" There was worry clear on his face then. Logical, since nobody had heard of this ever happening before. Suddenly, I imagined Rose's reaction to once again be thrown into a situation of complete oddity, causing me to smile slightly. However, Abe was scarier than ever, almost restlessly pacing the length of his study and muttering to himself, until Pavel knocked and announced someone in.

She was a petite person, honey-coloured hair accompanied with amber eyes in a face marked with a glaring lily tattoo on her cheek. An Alchemist. What was an Alchemist doing here ? As far as I knew, they never associated with our kind, only helping us because they wanted us to never mingle with the humans, ever. I guess when they say Abe dabbles in a whole lot of things...

"Ah, . Right on time." Abe greeted her, his face still unreadable. The girl nodded her head once before looking around the room twice, seemingly in search of something. "Where's Rose ?" She asked as she took a seat beside me, nodding at me too. I was surprised. I had never known Alchemists to be so...candid towards us. Sure, she was wary, much more of me than Abe, which was a thought weird enough in itself, but she wasn't terrified, or even concerned. And she spoke of Rose with something akin to fondness.

I looked to Abe as he answered. "She's in her room. I doubt you can help her though." He said, leading the way upstairs. "We leave for Baia in about a half hour." We'd reached Rose's room by now, and I could see her on the bed, still and motionless as she had been since we found her. I wanted to stay by her side, but Sydney and Abe nearly pushed me out, Abe asking me to get my things ready for the trip. I couldn't help but wonder at the things happening around me. I was in a situation where a friend of mine was in a serious condition and I couldn't do anything to help her. I'd never felt so useless before. But one thing was clear to me: I was going to stay by Rose's side no matter what it took.

Dimitri's POV

We were all sitting in the Princess' living room, those of us who were still left at court that was. Adrian, drunk and sarcastic, glared at me from the other side of the room, and knowing what I did, I couldn't blame him. Eddie and Mia were sitting on the couch opposite from the seat the Princess (Lissa, I reminded myself) had taken. Christian was nowhere to be seen, and Rose was...I hated not knowing where she was. She could be in trouble, but nobody knew anything of it.

"Well ? What were you expecting ?" Adrian asked from where he was huddled on the barstool. He shifted his gaze towards Lissa, sitting almost childlike and hysterical on the love seat, "You cast her aside after all that she did for you, never once considering what she might feel." He took a sip from the ever-present glass in his hand, "I wouldn't be surprised if she simply left. After all, what did she have that was keeping her here ?" And even I could admit there was some truth to that.

"Guardian Croft said she was missing." Lissa replied. "Missing, Adrian. Not gone. She wouldn't leave me." She said, her voice wavering and uncertain, as if she was imploring everyone, anyone, in the room to agree with her. But nobody could. I couldn't possibly say that Rose would never go away from us. We- no, I- had turned my back on her, and I could cite my guilt and lack of emotions for it all I wanted, but it wouldn't change the truth. I turned away from her, pushed her away, not because I thought I couldn't feel love anymore, not even because I felt undeserving of her, but because I was scared. It terrified me, the sight of her. She was the very image of everything I had craved and killed for, and the obsession that I had with her during my Strigoi days haunted me, almost pulling me under with the weight of it in the dead of the night. I couldn't see her, couldn't be with her, without wanting to consume every bit of her. Just like I had wanted when she was in my captivity. And this right here, was the reason I had to let her go. She wasn't meant to be tied down to someone who couldn't love and cherish her like she deserved to be. She wasn't meant to drown in all the baggage I had, wasn't meant to be focus of my monster. She was to be the sunshine she so craved, the dance she did with her stake, the laugh she so held between her lips, the spark she so lit with her smile, and the love she made with her eyes.

And I couldn't give that to her. She had to be all that without me.

"This isn't about you, Lissa." Adrian was saying when I came out of my thoughts. "Get over yourself for once. Rose is much more than just your Guardian. She was your friend, your sister, you called her, remember ? And what did you do ? You don't turn your back on family, especially when they need you the most." Adrian then struggled to get off the stool, stumbled, and then righted himself.

"I never turned my back !" Lissa said, tearful again. "I wanted to tell her everything, but Dimitri needed me and-"

"Oh, spare me the Dimitri talk, please." He cut her off. "He-" here he pointed an angry finger towards me, "-is the reason for all of this." He sweeped his arms around the room. "But you even more, Lissa. What did you tell him, huh ? That you saved his lost soul, is that it ? Or that you went and broke all mortal barriers so he could have a there-not there chance at life again ?" He huffed, almost out of breath with all the energy his anger was taking. "Did you tell him the lengths Rose went to ? Or did you just take all the credit ?" He shook his head as he headed towards the door. "Face it, Cousin. You wanted to be a hero, a messiah who could restore the dead, when actually, you had nothing to do with his restoration." And with that, Adrian slammed the door on his way out.

Silence engulfed the room after that exit. I didn't know what to think. What did Adrian mean by breaking barriers ? I knew my restoration was a miracle, something that had never happened before, but I wasn't aware there had been any danger involved, other than a Moroi staking a Strigoi single-handedly, that is. Adrian implied something big, something that involved Rose.

"You didn't tell him ?" That was Eddie. I turned to look at him. "Tell me what ?" I asked, but he ignored me, his attention lasered on the Princess. When Lissa shook her head slightly, Eddie scoffed. "And here I thought you'd do anything for Rose." He, too, shook his head disapprovingly and made to walk towards the door, but Lissa's voice stopped him. "He wasn't ready." Now I knew why it annoyed Rose when people talked around her as if she wasn't present. It was indeed extremely irritating being out of the loop. I smiled slightly as I thought about her reaction to these sort of situations.

Eddie whirled around. "He isn't a child, Lissa." He nearly growled. My Guardian instincts kicked in, and I shifted slightly as Eddie neared the Princess, before I controlled myself. Eddie wouldn't hurt her. "You owed it to Rose to at least tell him all the shit she went through for him. Instead, you protected him, sheltered him from an evil that was never really there. He wasn't ready ? Really ? Ready for what ? To know that it was Rose who never gave up on him ? To know that she risked the one thing she worked for all her life just for him ?" And then he took another step closer to her, Mia's hand on his shoulder, trying to get him back in control, "Or ready to know that it was Rose who broke Victor Dashkov out of Tarasov for the cure to restore a Strigoi ?"

That last sentence was a mere whisper, but I heard it loud and clear. It rang through my ears, settling in my chest like a cold shard of ice. Rose broke Victor Dashkov, her mortal enemy, out of a highly secured prison, just for a chance that I could be restored ? What was she thinking, risking her life, her reputation, like that ? But I knew the answer, Rose wasn't thinking at all. Roza never thought much far ahead when her loved ones were involved. And I had thrown all of that, all of her efforts, all of her love, away. Simply because I thought she deserved better. She did, yes. But she also deserved for me to right all the wrongs I did her.


So, thoughts ?

And also, don't forget to read through the note in the next chapter. Like I said, it is extremely important that I know what you guys think. Let me know in the reviews section, pretty please ?

Ahluwalia Kaur X