Dimitri sat staring at the door of his temporary room. He would be leave for Russia in twenty-four hours and that time really couldn't come soon enough. He thought about the pained look he had seen on Rose's face the last time he had seen her. He had told her the biggest lie he had ever told in his life.
Dimitri prided himself on his honesty and he had lied when it really mattered. He knew it was the only thing he could do. He couldn't tell Rose that he still loved her. She deserved better than him. She deserved someone who would never hurt her. Someone who couldn't hurt her like he had.
She had been standing outside of his jail cell; trying desperately to reach through to the Dimitri she had known. That Dimitri was dead and gone. He couldn't come back even though his soul had been restored after months of being trapped in a monster's body. So he had lied to her. He had told her "Love fades. Mine has."
He had seen the look on her face as he shattered the already broken pieces of her heart into a million more. She had come to him, hoping she could get through to him after he had refused to see her; she was so positive it had been some mistake. He had nearly broken his resolve as he looked into her eyes as he told her the horrible lie. But he refused to budge. What he was doing was for her own good. He really wasn't quite sure how Rose could believe him anyway. Not after how close they had been; not after how he had promised her he would always be there for her.
That had been another lie as well. He had left her right after he had made the promise. He hadn't intended for it to be a lie but fate had other plans. Now he had no choice but to stay away for her sake.
That's why he was running away; running back to Russia for a while. He didn't know when or if he would return, he just had to get away. Each minute he stayed in Pennsylvania was a minute closer to his determination being crushed. If he stayed much longer, he was terrified he would run to her and beg her for her forgiveness. He couldn't do that, not yet and maybe not ever.
A knock at his door caught him off guard as he didn't think anyone knew where he was staying until he left. He had been released from jail the day before and thought he would stay at a hotel in the human world for the day until he was able to get on the plane to Russia. He hadn't told anyone he was leaving, not that there was anyone to tell. When he was released, he simply snuck away from the holding cells at the Royal court. He had managed to dodge Princess Lissa and Christian on the way out. They were waiting on him, wanting to talk to him. His eyes had desperatley searched for Rose, hoping somehow she would show up to meet him, but he didn't find her. He figured that she had finally got it and had given up on him.
That thought had hurt him so much but he had no right to be sad or mad. He was the one that pushed her away; not deserving her. Maybe he never deserved her. A second knock brought him out of his thoughts and he stood to walk over to the door. Checking the peep hole, he paused. The person on the other side of the door was one of the last people he thought he would see here and he immediately opened the door in confusion.
"Guardian Belikov." Janine Hathaway was standing on the other side of the door, her face a mask, revealing none of the reason she was there.
"Guardian Hathaway." Dimitri nodded to the woman on the other side of the doorway, his heart clenching as he said the name Hathaway. "What are you doing here?"
Her face revealed nothing as she looked up to the much taller Dimitri, "May I come in for a moment?"
"Um…" Dimitri was bewildered, "how did you know I was here?" He stepped aside to let her come in.
"I just did." Janine nodded, walking past Dimitri. "I will be quick and to the point." She surveyed her surroundings in true guardian form as she turned to face him again. "Do you love my daughter?"
Dimitri was taken aback. He had thought that Janine Hathaway came on official guardian business, he never suspected her to be coming to ask about Rose. His heart clenched and began to race, Janine Hathaway was definitely a force to be reckoned with and he wasn't sure he could talk about Rose with her mother.
"Well I…" He stammered, at an obvious loss for words, not quite knowing which road he should take with the woman in front of him. She had been direct and to the point and he felt like he should reply in the same manner but wasn't sure if he could really talk to Rose's mother about his feelings for her daughter.
"It's a simple question Guardian Belikov, yes or no. I don't have time to wait for you to figure out what your answer should be as I need to get back in time for my flight back to Europe."
"Yes, Guardian Hathaway, I love her very much." He had been afraid to admit it, not only because it hurt but if he truly admitted it, he didn't what to know what actions he might take.
"As I thought." She nodded. Dimitri was surprised by her words but not nearly as much as the words that followed. "Then stop being a damn coward."
He shook his head, not really sure he had just heard her correctly. Had she just called him a coward? Didn't she understand that it was because of his love that he had told Rose his love had faded?
"I have to admit," Janine continued before he could respond "when I first found out about your relationship, I thought it was some ridiculous school girl crush that my daughter and been stupid enough to get caught up in. But after thinking about it and talking to Alberta, I realized that there was a good chance you returned her feelings. I did not however know the depth of my daughter's feelings until I saw her earlier today. Princess Vasilisa called me to come see Rose. If the Princess was requesting my presence, I knew there had to be a problem."
Dimitri raised his head and looked at the sorrow that crossed Janine's face as she spoke about her daughter.
"It's been three weeks since you told her you didn't love her anymore. During that time, Rose has hardly eaten. I saw her right after your death Dimitri." Janine dropped the formal pretence and called him by his first name. "She was upset and heartbroken but she still had that fire in her eyes. When I saw her earlier…." Janine's voice cracked and Dimitri knew that something was very wrong with Rose. "The fire was gone, I have never seen her like that. She was so broken, just a hollow shell of who she had been. I think she could live with knowing you were dead or maybe even with you being a Strigoi, but she can't handle the thought of you not loving her anymore. She has checked out mentally. Lissa has been forcing her to eat everyday and Rose will hardly touch her food. What she does eat, she usually ends up throwing up anyway. She needs you Dimitri and you are being a coward."
"A coward? This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I am doing it for her." Dimitri swallowed, not believing what he was hearing. "She deserves someone better, someone who could never hurt her even if they were a monster." Dimitri realized he had silent tears streaming down his face but refused to look away from the woman in front of him. "The things I did to her, she should never have to forgive me for those."
"Dimitri, she has already forgiven you for those things. That's why you are being a coward. You aren't doing this for her even thought you think you might be. You are doing it because you can't forgive yourself. You are so damn guilty that when you look at her, you see what you did to her and you can't live with that. So don't give me the crap about it being for her. She has forgiven and forgotten, you need to do the same."
Dimitri started to say something but Janine put her hands up to stop him.
"I'm not trying to say I know what it is like to turn Strigoi or that I know what you went through because obviously I have no idea. But I do know what it is like to lose the person you love. Sometimes you get over it and sometimes you don't. This is a love that Rose will not get over even if she were given all the time in the world. I do know what that is like and I can't stand to see my daughter go through the same things I did with her father. That is why I am here Dimitri. She deserves better. You are the only one that can do that. Even if you can't be with her now, at least don't let her go on thinking you don't love her. That is what is killing her. It really is destroying Rose. Please, I am begging you to talk to her. " A tear ran down Janine's cheek as she looked at Dimitri. "I can't lose her, not when I just found her."
Dimitri was caught off guard by the sudden display of emotions on the normally stoic Janine Hathaway but he still wasn't quite sure what he could do. He was afraid of seeing Rose and it breaking his heart. If he told her he loved her, she would expect them to be together and he had to forgive himself before he could work on being back with her but even worse, what if she rejected him? That would destroy him.
Janine's mood turned from pleading to angry as she looked at Belikov who was obviously still confused about what course of action to take. "Her love for you is a gift Dimitri, and you are treating it as though it is nothing, some insignificant thing that can just be thrown away. You are no better than a Moroi using a Dhampir. She literally went to the ends of the world for you. She went through hell and back and you are treating her like her love is nothing. I know you have probably changed from the Guardian that you were but that guy, that Guardian, he was the fiercest Guardian I had ever known and I have known quite a few. He wouldn't be hiding in some human hotel room waiting to run away at the first chance he got. Maybe you don't deserve her after all."
With that, Janine Hathaway turned and stormed out of the room, leaving a broken Dimitri to think about what she had said. He wasn't ready to forgive himself and beg Rose to take him back but he could at least face her and tell her the truth. She did deserve that much.
With that decided, Dimitri dried the tears from his eyes and left his temporary room in search of the love of his life. Things wouldn't be fixed in a day but maybe, just maybe, they could still be salvaged.