|Christian Dragomir (afireinside_) wrote,|
@ 2020-12-07 15:04:00
He'd taken the loss of his parents the best he could, given how young he was. But Tasha's betrayal dug into his chest like a stake every time he thought of it. He could barely look Rose in the eye; he'd done nothing wrong but he couldn't help but feel the "guilt by association" every time he passed her in the corridors of the Palace. The main difference between Tasha and Christian was that Christian was better at controlling and subduing his more negative emotions - especially those of jealousy. Tasha allowed them to become toxic and control her - she'd almost become as bad as the Strigoi.
While Christian was beyond angry with her, he still needed closure. What she'd done was horrible but he still wanted to believe there was something good there - something minutely redeemable. After Tasha had been contained in her cell before being sent off to Tarasov for execution, he'd visited her.
The guardian in charge escorted him into a room lined with telephone booths. A thick wall of glass separated them and Tasha walked in, dressed in a jumpsuit that did her beauty no service. She was healthy, but she looked tired, like she hadn't slept. As she sat down, she and Christian grabbed their receivers.
"Christian... please," Tasha started. Her voice was unstable.
"What the hell were you thinking, Tasha?" he asked her. "Why? Do you have any idea how hurt we are? How hurt I am? Did you think about anybody but yourself before you pulled that bullshit? I still don't want to believe you were capable of that, but all the evidence is right there, practically staring me in the face. I can't ignore that."
"I'm sorry..." she said, shaking her head. Her eyes were watering with tears. It hurt him to see her like that, but it hurt even more to think about what could have happened if Tasha were successful in her crazy scheme.
"You frame my best friend for murder... you pull a fucking gun on Mia and my girlfriend, and you're sorry?" He was at a loss for words. There was a tightness in his chest and he was fighting his own urge to cry. "No, Tasha. That's not how this works. You nearly killed Rose. And not only that, you've given the entire Royal Council another reason to not trust our family. The shit you do? That all falls back on me the most, and it's not okay."
"Please Christian... I never wanted to hurt you," she pleaded, her hand pressing against the glass. "I don't know what you want me to say. I'm going to Tarasov soon, and I'm scared. I don't want to die."
"Don't give me that, you made your choice and now you have to accept the consequences," he shot back. "Whatever reasons you had for killing Queen Tatiana are irrelevant; you shouldn't have done it, period. You manipulated all of us. The entire time, you were pulling the strings and we had no idea."
"Well... I guess this is goodbye, then," Tasha said, sinking back into her chair. She wiped at the moisture at her eyes with her knuckle. "I hope someday you can find it in yourself to forgive me."
"We could have been happy, Tasha," he almost shouted. Instead, he slapped the counter in front of him. "Our reputation was on the mend! I'm sorry but I can't stay here, anymore. It hurts too much. I loved you, so much. You were all I had for so long, and now I have to come to terms with the fact that you're going to die and I can't fucking do anything about it. With or without you, I'm going to redeem our family name. Goodbye..."
Gathering his jacket, Christian turned and walked out of the visitation room. Tasha was pulled out by the guardians and escorted back to her cell, where she would wait to be shipped off to Tarasov to be executed. He could hear her sobbing as she was pulled away and he bit down on the inside of his lip as he exited the prison quarters of the Court.
Lissa had made a specific block in her day for the Ozera family the week following his last visit to Tasha. This was one of the first times he'd see her not as his girlfriend, but as Queen Vasilisa Dragomir. When he was summoned and they were all in the council room, he could tell Lissa was doing everything in her power to not break down. She hid it well from the others, but he could tell by the way she was carrying herself that she'd rather be anywhere else. This was protocol, and she could not let her personal emotions get in the way of her duties.
"I want to thank you all for taking the time to meet with me," she greeted them all. "I will keep this meeting brief, as I know you all have things you need to do. Lady Natasha Ozera was executed on charges for high treason, though she also had other criminal charges. The Ozera family tree will be updated later to reflect the date of her death. That is all, thank you for your time. This room will be shut down and locked in five minutes. If you wish to stay behind and talk until then, that is your choice. Please keep your discussions civil."
As he expected, the bulk of the Ozera family slid out of the conference room. Nobody had any emotional attachment to Natasha, given she was Lucas' sister, so this was basically just a stupid meeting giving them information they already knew. They didn't care.
Christian's gaze averted most of his "family" members and if caught, he tried to remain stoic but stuck around until all of them were gone so he could have a private moment with his Queen. Except now, it was just Christian and Lissa - not Lord Ozera and Queen Dragomir. His arms wrapped around her the second he got the chance, nose buried into her white-blonde hair. "I know that was hard, Liss," he murmured, pressing a kiss to the side of her head. "But you were amazing. I love you."
He didn't care how much turmoil he was going through; Lissa needed all the affirmation she could get, especially now that her bond with Rose was broken. She had so much responsibility to shoulder as the newly coronated Queen of the Moroi; the stress and pressure to do the right thing combined with the fact there was nobody to absorb away the ugly parts of her spirit magic anymore made keeping her emotions in check that much more difficult. But Lissa was one of the strongest people he knew, and he knew she'd pull through.
She seemed to melt into his embrace, which tightened gently around her. It calmed them both after a few minutes, and he leaned away from her, his light blue eyes scanning over her face. He smiled when he saw her expression was a little lighter. "Listen- I'm going to see you again tonight, okay? I just need to go take a walk with Dimitri and get some fresh air. I love you."
He parted from her with a kiss before he left. He wasn't going to let Tasha's actions ruin him - that was simply out of the question.
Despite everything between Dimitri, Tasha, and Rose, Dimitri knew Christian had things a lot worse than him and wouldn't hold anything against him - he'd been at the headquarters the night Christian's parents turned, and Dimitri was like a brother to him, at this point. Dimitri was a novice when he had comforted Christian and talked to him while Tasha was in for questioning from the guardians, and their old guardian Vinh had always treated Christian like an adult and respected him.
As for Vinh - he thought for a moment about Tasha's first "Promised" guardian. He and Dimitri were alike in more than just a few ways - they were both kind, patient, intelligent, took their work as guardians seriously, and even after that awful night, none of them had judged Tasha or Christian for things they had no control over. Tasha had feelings for Vinh too, but he'd sacrificed his life in the name of keeping his charges safe.
That was a phrase that made Christian uncomfortable anymore. Some of the other Royals treated their dhampir guardians as expendable slaves. A lot of these people were young. Either they were newly Promised guardians, freshly turned eighteen, or they had only been on the field for a couple years or so.
They'd barely seen the world yet and here they were, laying down their lives to protect people that would just replace them without a second thought once they'd died. They'd probably never explore the world, be able to chase their passions, any of the 'finer' things in life were irrevocably off-limits to guardians, because nothing else mattered as long as you had that Promise mark tattooed on the back of your neck.
It was why he and Tasha had fought so adamantly on changing the law to let Moroi practice offensive magic, again. If Tasha had known more the night his parents came, maybe Vinh wouldn't be dead. Christian couldn't fault Tasha for wanting Dimitri - he recognized that Tasha loved and missed Vinh. Of course she was going to try and get with the closest, best thing she could.
But no matter how much you wanted someone, you couldn't force them to love you. It just didn't work that way, and he couldn't imagine why anybody would want a relationship like that - something so one-sided and lackluster.
He'd never expected to fall in love with Lissa the way he did, but from the very beginning of their friendship, they were kindred spirits. Their personalities complemented each other's in a way that made them perfect for each other, and eventually they became inseparable. They weren't perfect and they'd both be the first people to admit to that, but they worked together constantly to have their relationship be where it was right now. Perhaps it was best that way, he thought, to fall in love with someone you never intended to fall in love with.
Tasha was willing to do the work, he knew that much, but hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She saw Vinh in Dimitri, but they were not the same person and she couldn't pretend they were.
He was outside now, sitting on a bench off the sidewalk, waiting for Dimitri to meet up with him. In his jeans pocket was the black leather billfold he kept on him at all times. He fished out the picture of Tasha he had all these years. Christian was a lot more sentimental than some people gave him credit for, but this was a final step he needed to take. Taking one last look at the face of Tasha, the corner of the picture suddenly caught aflame - his doing, and he watched in a numb fascination as the flames turned the smiling portrait of him and his aunt into a charred black "tissue". He crushed the remnants in his palm and swept his hands of the residue.