Richelle Mead owns these characters.

Chapter 1: Raise Your Weapon.

'We're doing all we can.' Those words were the only promise that she could make to him.

By touching his shoulder lightly and looking him in his eyes, the sorrow covered the hope in her expression. I watched from the window of the room where the very girl they spoke of laid. She was unconscious, bleeding from her head and completely exhausted from the amount of spirit she had used attempting to save an elementary student who was attacked and on the verge of death. He sat back down, sad and brooding looking to be in slight shame. His arms set on his elbows at the very tips of his knees, his hands -with those long and gentle fingers covered his face. His hair messy and falling out of the usual leather band he kept it in.

He looked devastated and of course he was blaming himself. He was guilty for letting something like this happen. It's happen before but his charge had been under the protection of another but that hadn't mattered, in his eyes, he was the one to blame. I knew there was nothing neither I nor anyone else could do or say to change his mind. He was a lot like me in that way; stubborn. When it came to his charge -his job and life he was always responsible, whether his fault or not. It was one of the reasons why he was one of the best.

The beeping of the heart monitor brings me back to the room and I continue with my duty cleaning up the princess' wounds. I was a Dhampir, a female Dhampir and I was also the daughter of a very powerful Moroi. One who was much feared but somewhat loved all at the same time. Abe Mazur or Zmey as some would call him was the only reason why I wasn't a guardian myself. I had grown up with him in Russia, Turkey and here in America, where he would sometimes have business. I went to academies all over the world but I never got my promise mark like a lot of my Dhampir friends did. I was a medical assistant here at St. Vladimir's in Montana. Where the last Dragomir princess was attending her last year of school.

...

After graduating from here myself, I had convinced Abe that this was where I wanted to be. I didn't want to sit around and follow him everywhere he went. I wanted a life of my own and here, in Montana, was where I felt it would be. And then two years ago, the Dragomir princess had survived a tragic accident that took the lives of her family. She showed up with two guardians; Guardian Castile and Guardian Belikov.

They were the best of their class, both from schools in Russia and both were the very reason that she was still alive today. As soon as they showed up to the academy I had befriended Eddie or Guardian Castile in front of our peers. He and I were close in age, just turning twenty-one myself, so we had a lot in common. The other guardian, the extremely tall and godlike one, he was a bit more closed off. He was dedicated to his charge and was very anti-social.

Until Alberta had us working together for last year's trials. He had gotten hurt when the bridge he was fighting a student on had collapsed and I had been the one to asses him.

I was helping Dr. Olendski out as she was tending to the student who had blacked out. I would remember that day as if it were a cherished memory carved into my brain. He was feeling a little down and guilty about the way the fight went. The student had underestimated his attacks and when the bridge fell, he had tried to save him but ended up falling off too. I could see in his eyes that he blamed himself and it bothered me that he took so much responsibility for something he couldn't help.

'It was an accident, you know? It wasn't your fault; the bridge was old and gave out.' He looked sullen and stared to the floor as I patched up the huge gash on his forehead. I continued to watch his eyes in case he had a concussion but also because they carried so much in them, I found myself trapped.

'I'm his mentor; I should've protected him anyway.' He spoke firmly.

I glanced at his brooding expression and his deep brown eyes were hard to avoid. 'I thought the object of the trials were so the students could learn to protect their charges?' I carefully questioned.

He sighed long and hard, as if he was frustrated with himself. 'It is but I should've been prepared for anything.' I look to him once again before going back to un-wrapping the band aid in my hands.

I shake my head in disbelief that he anchors so much; that he really believes this was his entire fault. 'You take yourself way too seriously.' I turn for a second to for another q-tip to apply some anti-bacterial cream. 'You're a guardian not a superhero. It was an accident.'

His eyes rise to mine and the look he gives is blank but anger flashes in them before I could return my attention to the gash above his eyebrow. 'No, I am a guardian. I'm supposed to be better than a superhero.' The firm and angry tone of his voice stops me from bandaging his wound and we stare at each other for a few quiet minutes.

Our eyes meet, the momentum heavy and intense, and his eyes still show so much. I swallow and slowly return to my task. 'Guardians don't have telepathy… How were you supposed to know the bridge would give out?' He didn't but by the look he gave me, he didn't have to answer me out loud. So I just quietly carry on. 'Pick up your head, please… and don't feel so guilty. It wasn't your fault; Dr. Olendski says Mr. Ashford will be just fine. The impact just knocked him out, he'll live.'

After that day our strictly professional relationship had changed. He had looked for me during dinner one evening, not long after that day in the clinic. I was in my room, talking to Abe on one of his routine phone calls when I heard a knock. He had stopped by to thank me for telling him what he needed to hear. That Mason didn't even hold it against him and even thanked him for trying to save him as he fell. He even thanked me for fixing him up. Then -to my shock and surprise he had asked to walk with me to the cafeteria for dinner.

It was cold out and as I clutched my pea coat tighter to my body, I smiled a little as he had on his infamous duster, the very one that Eddie had regularly made fun of him for. When we got to the cafeteria though he had just given me a formal nod and then began walking away. I let him and then after gathering a tray full of food, I had searched for him. He always sat alone at a table towards the back of the building. A book in his hand and his eyes every so often drifting to the princess as she ate with her friends and boyfriend.

I walked right up to him, placed my tray on the table and then sat down. His shocked expression flashed quickly through his chocolate eyes and I smirked amusedly. 'You did ask to accompany me to dinner, Guardian Belikov.' I say with a smirk.

As I looked to my food and began eating, I felt his stare before I caught it. A smile left my lips as he watched me in slight surprise and wonder. He nodded and set down his book to the side of him. I offered him fries and kept conversation light as I knew he needed to keep watch of the princess. After that, we had begun a friendship of sorts. We would eat dinner together, I would visit with him before his training sessions and he even stopped by the clinic a few times.

Our friendship had quickly led to feelings that I knew I couldn't have for him. I tried to keep my distance and tried to push away my growing affection for him but it seemed to come back even stronger. One night, as he was on his late shift, I had left my room to wonder around the campus and then ran right into him. That was the night I had let myself slip into my reckless behavior and he had lost his beloved control. We had kissed. It was a feeling I would always remember, even after he pulled away, apologized and left me standing there.

...

'Ms. Hathaway?' I turn and shake my head out of my memories and face Dr. Olendski. She smiles lightly and asks me to tend to another victim.

A Strigoi attacking an academy was very rare but with the staking of the wards we were all kind of on edge. A small group of students who were using magic near one of the wards was responsible for weakening it. Therefore whatever human or humans that were helping the Strigoi were able to steak them and help Strigoi invade the campus. The princess was attacked after leaving the safety of her room to search for her boyfriend. When they found each other near the elementary campus, they came across a little girl who was critically injured.

The princess tried to help her and just as she did a Strigoi had caught up to them. Eddie had saved her in the nick of time but she suffered wounds to the head and lost a lot of blood. Guardian Belikov had found them and carried her all the way over here to the health ward. Where she lays now unconscious and tired and also where he sits. Just outside in front of her room, he was brooding and feeling guilty for his charge becoming injured.

As I pass him in the hallway on my way to another room, I touch his shoulder lightly and bend to whisper in his ear. 'She's going to be okay. You got here just in time.' As I stood up to leave he grabs my hand though and squeezes gently.

We find each other's eyes and stare. Those eyes, his beautiful eyes so sad and deep, it makes me want to comfort him. However the whole idea of us hiding our feelings for each other flashes in my mind and I break the contact as quickly as possible. I finish my rounds as everything has calmed down by now. The campus is safe and the guardians are investigating the attack. There's even talk of Moroi and Dhampir that have been taken and a rescue mission is being hatched.

He comes back from the meeting and sits in front of the room where the princess is still out. I walk by and fight to not look at him. It works but I can suddenly feel him behind me, he follows silently letting the warmth radiate off his body onto mine. I know what this means and so I walk to my office and close the door behind us. Soon I'm held tightly from behind and whispers of soft Russian words fill my heart and ears.

When I turn to face him, his eyes melt in sorrow and fear. 'What's wrong?' He shakes his head to say nothing but pulls me closer to him.

My head is tucked under his chin and I breathe into his chest, soaking up the warmth and comfort it gives me. His arms around my small frame tighten and he breathes in my hair, oh how he loves my hair. I pull away slightly to look up to him then touch his face softly to see his eye is bruised, his cheek too and his body shaking. 'Dimitri, what is it?'

He swallows hard and clutches his eyes closed tightly for just a short second. He licks his lips, the ones I've kissed over and over for the last few months. 'It's my fault, Roza. She's in there because of me.' It's silent as I ponder his soft spoken words.

He blames himself once again and I as much as I want to let him know it wasn't his fault, that he was on a whole other side of campus, he wouldn't hear of it. Another deep sigh releases itself from his lips and he looks to me in the familiar brooding guilty look I first saw him in. 'I was- I was too worried… I wasn't thinking right and now- now she's in there because of me! Because I was distracted.' Distracted?

In all the time I've known him and how I've come to find out so much, he was never distracted. He was too good for that. The students here considered him a god, I considered him a god because he knew his place, and he knew his duty. He carried himself proudly for it but the words coming out of his mouth were odd to me. So I try and make him see reason, 'Dimitri, no. No, you were trying to keep them away from her. You fought a lot of them, it wasn't your fault and you were looking for her-'

He shakes his head before I could finish my rambling. 'I was looking for you.' A cloud of dark heavy silence covered us as I took in his words.

And it all made sense now, everything caught up with me and as I looked into his eyes he knew it too.

Why he sat there in his guilt ridden state and never left the princess side. How every time Dr. Olendski left the room he asked if she was going to be okay. It was all the things we were afraid of happening before deciding to act on our feelings. We were hiding, yes, we hid everything from everyone. Our late night meet ups, our early mornings together, our stolen kisses and moments. It was hard acting like we weren't completely in love with each other. It was a lot harder than anything I've ever had to do.

The days and weeks that went by where I wore the hugest smile on my face. The nights I went to bed with him by my side and times I was too caught up in one of our conversations to pay attention when Dr. Olendski was asking me about a patient. I thought I hid it well because no one ever questioned me about it. I never showed weakness when I was around him or when someone would talk about him in front of me. I hid it so well; sometimes he would ask me if I really did love him. Then here, I thought he was the master of hiding things, of keeping his secrets to himself.

All it took was something like this to happen and he lost his control. The façade was long forgotten as he looked for me instead of following procedure and protecting his Moroi.

'Dimitri…' I whisper in the dark silence.

He just closes his eyes again holding me tighter to his warm body. I loved his body, I loved how lean and muscled it was in all the right places. 'Dimitri, listen to me…'

He pulls away shaking his head, opening his eyes which showed shame and disappointment. 'It's my fault, Roza. I wanted to make sure you were okay. That you weren't out on one of your late night walks and then- and then I see them get the princess… I should've- I should've been looking for her!'

It hurt to hear that but it was the truth and I knew that was the way it had to be. I lift his chin to face me with my fingers softly touching his face and kiss his lips. 'It's not your fault; she should've listened to you and stayed in her room, where you told her to stay.' As I finish saying this he's already shaking his head no and taking my hands into his own.

'I left to find you.' I try to kiss him again to silence his guilt but he stops me by leaning away. 'I'm going with them...' And just like that, just with those few words I know what he's saying.

That was a thing between us, one of the things I loved so much, we didn't really need to say what we meant sometimes. I would already know just by looking into those deep brown eyes what he was saying and I knew now exactly what he was saying. I just hoped and prayed in that moment that he would come back.