July 2020: I am currently re-writing and editing this story. Please note that unfortunately updates to this fic will not be very regular as I need to prioritise my uni studies.

Disclaimer: I do not own the VA world and some of the plot, which belong to Richelle Mead.


Chapter 1

It was only a week since Lissa's coronation, but already I'd been beginning to realize that the peaceful life I had been picturing was still just a fantasy. Once Lissa had become queen, it had seemed as though all of our problems were finally solved, all our enemies diminished. Oh how I wish that were true. That had been nothing more than a fantasy, birthed from a desperate desire to have certainty in life once more.

Four days ago there had been a mass gathering of both royal and non-royal Moroi out in the courtyard near the Court church – the one Eddie and I had been forced to clear as punishment for disappearing from Court. This mob had been protesting loudly, evidently against Lissa as the demanded Rufus Tarus take her place as ruler of the Moroi. Guardians had been able to disperse the crowd before they became too rowdy, but the message to us had been clear. The conflict wasn't over yet.

Dimitri had actually been one of the guardians to break up the crowd. I had been with Lissa in her office at the time, though not on duty. I was still being kept off active duty for a couple of weeks until I was given the all clear by the doctors. It was irritating me, just sitting around, so instead I tried to make myself useful by helping Lissa go over all of the laws that Tatiana had passed when she had ruled. In Lissa's office neither of us heard a thing, but Dimitri had been on his way to Christian's room when he was asked by some passing guardians for assistance with the horde. He had had to help separate the crowd and he heard firsthand all that was said.

"How big was it?" I asked him as we lay in bed that night, wrapped in one another's arms.

"What?" he responded in confusion.

"The mob today. How many people were there?"

"He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Nearly fifty. Both royal and non-royal. There were no dhampirs though."

"That's a lot of people," I said, surprised at the numbers. "Was there anyone there that you knew?"

"There were a lot of Tarus's present, of course. Rufus wasn't there himself, but a lot of his relatives and friends were. Quite influential people."

"And the non-royals?"

"No one I knew. They were predominantly royals."

I sighed I annoyance. My concern for Lissa's safety had never been so strong. My forehead wrinkled in concern and Dimitri kissed my cheek tenderly. "Don't worry Roza, that group is a minority. Lissa will be fine. Especially when she has you around."

I rested my head on his shoulder, apprehensive of what was to come.

It was only yesterday when a menacing letter had been sent to Lissa, demanding her resignation as queen. The letter also went as far as to explain how 'they' would fight until 'they' had gotten what 'they' wanted. Their main demand was for Lissa to abdicate and allow Rufus to rule as King.

"People hate me, Rose. How can I rule when I am despised by my own people?" Lissa sighed.

"Quite easily," I said darkly, angered by the letter. "I can name plenty of world leaders that are hated by their own people."

"That's not the type I leader I want to be!" she exclaimed, looking distraught. "I thought this was going to work out. Maybe I'm just not good enough for this. Maybe I really should step down…"

"And let Rufus take your place? You think that if you're not good enough to be queen, then Rufus is good enough to be king? I don't think so," I scoffed. My next words came out more comfortingly. "Liss, you are perfect. The Moroi public loves you. This group is only a minority. You shouldn't listen to these bastards, hell Tatiana wouldn't have. They're complete lowlifes, they don't understand anything. You've been queen for less than a week. Of course people are bitter that their favourite candidate didn't win the election. You're strong Liss. Stay strong and ignore these assholes."

"You're right," she said after a moment. "It's only been a week and I'm already being asked to abdicate by acrimonious royals."

"Listen to me Lissa. You will be the best queen that the Moroi have ever seen. Just stay strong. I'll help you," I promised her supportively.

She smiled, light shining off her gleaming white fangs. "Okay. But remember, you promised to help me will all of this. Besides, it's your fault that I got elected anyway. I wouldn't have even run as a candidate if it weren't for you and your wild ideas." She laughed and I grinned, happy that she was no longer feeling so down.

I decided not to mention the fact that it hadn't actually been my idea at all, but rather Viktor Dashkov's idea. It would have ruined the moment.

This morning there had been a meeting amongst the royal guard in relation to the anti-Lissa group. Hans had invited me, even though I wasn't on duty for at least another week. Dimitri was also in attendance because he was guarding Christian, who had also received a similarly menacing letter. We hadn't told him outright, but Christian knew he was at risk due to his relationship with the queen. The recent incident with Tasha also had not been good for his public image.

"As you are all aware by now, there's a group who seem to be very opposed to the election of Queen Vasilisa. Therefore, I think we should be more conscious than ever of her safety within Court as well as when she leaves the safety of the wards," Hans stated. "We have changed around the guard. You guys here are the best of the best. You are the most talented and most trustworthy guardians within our ranks. It is your job to not only protect the queen from Strigoi, but also treat everyone as a suspect. After what happened to Tatiana, we know that murder amongst the Moroi elite is a serious threat and that the corruption and betrayal amongst royals is something that must be taken seriously. That is why we have assigned you all these important roles – you are the most reliable and gifted guardians."

"So what should we do?" asked Steven Glint, an older but experienced guardian. He was allocated to be my main guarding partner for when I was allowed to finally start active duty again.

"Be alert for everything. Do not let the queen out of your sight, and make sure you regard all Moroi as dangerous. Although she has many aficionados, she also has enemies that oppose her role." Hans then went into detail with tactics and plans, explaining how we would have to be prepared to battle and perhaps even kill Moroi who were deemed a threat towards Lissa. We all listened in grim silence.

"Remember, this is different to anything that's happened in recent Moroi history. We need to be ready for anything," Hans finished. "You may leave. Except for you Hathaway. Belikov. You two come will me, the queen wishes to speak with you two."

Dimitri and I exchanged glances, and I saw the surprise in his eyes mirroring my own.

"Sure thing," I said.

We walked with Hans to the door that led to Lissa's chambers.

"What's this about?" I asked Hans.

"No idea," he responded.

I was baffled over why Lissa might call us officially to her chambers. Hell, Dimitri and I had planned to come over later today anyway. Why not wait for us to come then? Surely it had to be something important. Maybe another letter or threat of some kind? Perhaps she was in even greater danger than we had anticipated!

Lissa met us in the doorway. Stepping aside she said, "Come in."

She certainly didn't seem anxious. In fact, there was the hint of a smile on her face. That eased my worries a bit, but the mysterious nature of this meeting still had me curious.

"What's going on?" I asked her, bemused.

She just smiled at me mysteriously and gestured towards some chairs. "Sit." Taking a seat facing us all she said, "Yesterday, Rose told me how Dimitri had yet to visit his family and tell them that he is once again a dhampir. I'm asking you, Guardian Croft, if Rose and Dimitri may be excused from duty for perhaps a week or two, so that they can go to Russia and visit Dimitri's family."

Surprise flooded through me and I looked at Dimitri, whom had his guardian mask plastered on his face. Only his eyes betrayed the longing he had to visit his family again.

I felt my heart expanding, and as I looked back at Lissa and felt a grin stretch across my face. Once I had told Lissa how Dimitri's family were unable to afford to all travel to the US, she had insisted that she'd pay for our flights to Russia. I just hadn't realised how soon she planned on doing it!

"Why are you asking me, Your Highness?" Hans said wryly. "Whatever you say undermines my decision. Not that yours is very different to what I am suggesting."

Lissa smiled. "Are you saying that they can be excused from guarding?"

"Well, they'll have to do some paperwork to make up for it." I let out a small groan.

"But I see no reason for them not to visit Belikov's family," Hans continued. "This situation is unprecedented, and we certainly don't have any procedure in place for when a guardian essentially comes back from the dead. But I'm sure we can put through a request for leave and have that prioritised to come through within the next day or two. And Hathaway still "

"Your Highness, we should remain here. We have a responsibility to you and Lord Ozera during these times of turmoil." Ever the guardian, Dimitri would never ignore his duty, even if it meant being reunited with his own blood.

Lissa shook her head. "Dimitri, you have been through an historic transformation. It is only right that you are given this opportunity to visit your family. Plus, this will set a standard. I want guardians to have the right to have more time off duty. How better to start than with my own guards?"

"Thank you, " he said seriously.

"Then it's settled. Rose, Dimitri, you leave for Moscow on Monday night. You can travel to Siberia from there. And after exactly two weeks, you will return to Court," Lissa smiled.