The moroi sat staring out at the sunlit lawn of the court. Most of her kind were asleep but Lissa remembered Rose's love of the sun. From her shaded vantage point Lissa sat and observed other dhampir as they moved around the grounds. Rather than shy away from the sun, many found excuses to linger, turning their faces to its warmth like Rose used to do. How much easier would it be on them if they could just guard the moroi while they were sleeping? Then the moroi could return the favor as the dhampir slumbered. I know nothing about them beyond Rose and I knew nothing about her save where it concerned me. It was one of the reasons Lissa stayed out so late. The dhampir were always on their guard, but during the day they were less... of her knowledge of Rose had been in the context of herself.

"Dimitri, am I selfish?"

Dimitri, ever faithful, answered in his typical rote manner as of late. "No your highness. You are the most selfless of beings."

Lissa rolled her eyes. Maybe this was the wrong person to talk to, but at this time of day he was all she had. "No, that isn't true. If it were…" Rose would still be here, or, rather, I would have left with her.

"Princess, you brought me back to life at great personal risk to yourself. That deed in and of itself…"

"Was so that I could have Rose back."

"A dhampir whom you also saved from death, though of a more permanent nature," Dimitri disagreed. Lissa noted that he didn't say her name. He had claimed that he could no longer feel, but if that were true, then her name would mean nothing.

"I didn't want to live without her. I didn't know what I was doing, I wasn't thinking of her, only of me." Lissa held her hand up, "no Dimitri, it is true. When she left to kill you, I was angry, I hated you. I hated her, why? Because she dared do something for herself, something that did not involve me. In mere months I destroyed friendships and, had it not been for her, I would have wound up in the cells of Tarasov at best. She was right about me. I tried to protect you and dared to call her selfish when none of us were in the right. If she were here she might say that it was a difficult situation and had our places been reversed...but that would be a lie.

"I would have fought, I would have insisted, I would have ordered, and then I would have cast her out as I have before. I never treated her like an equal, even if I didn't realize it. I took her for granted and for that I lost her. Now, now I can do something for her."

Her gaze flickered to Christian, sleeping in her bed. "I...we can protect them. If your kind disappear Dimitri, then we all fall. You have never needed us, it is the world that has needed you. I need Rose, but not as a guardian. She and Christian were the only ones to tell me the truth. I need a friend, an equal. I need you to remember that is what you are Dimitri. I may have wielded the stake, but we are only here because of her."

"Don't discount your own contributions princess."

Lissa looked down at her hand where a tear had fallen. "I'm not, I'm just finally seeing hers."


That bi-She took another shot of Russian vodka. She had been gone for years, thanks to moroi money and yet she was still ruining Tasha's life.

"Please Tasha, I know that she will listen to you. Just tell her I'm sorry, that she was right, that I want to help," Lissa pleaded.

"Dimka, Christian, make her see reason," Tasha appealed to the two men in the room. "If she wanted us to know where she was, she would have told us. Why is this still an issue? She broke with us, our way of life when all we did was reach out and help her."

"Tasha," Dimitri, "Please."

Another shot. Three years, she had been gone for three years. Three years where Rose had been galavanting around the world and Tasha had been here. Stuck.

Yes, that was the perfect word. Stuck. Not moving forward, not moving backwards. The game was set, Tasha was just three moves away from turning her pawn, her little Lissa, into a queen. But no, suddenly it was about Rosemarie again. Getting her out was certainly not enough; no, Lissa needed her little plaything (a plaything Tasha would like had it not been for the highly inappropriate feelings of Dimitri. She had been a student for crying out loud!)

Tasha finished off her last shot and stared off into the night. It seemed that she would have to take steps to rid herself of this complication once and for all. Something many people tended to forget in the game of chess was that it wasn't the queen who was the most powerful piece on the was the player.