I wake to a loud banging noise. Sluggishly I sit up and scan my surroundings. The beach is gone, I'm back in my room. Two guards bust down my door, that's when I realize the banging was coming from my door. They awkwardly stare at me.
"Dimitri?" A small voice says walking through the doorway.
"Lissa, what's wrong?" I furrow my brows walking across the room to her.
"You…" Anxiously glancing around the room she continues, "You didn't answer. I've been knocking for a few minutes."
"Oh. I was sleeping, I guess I didn't hear." I sheepishly say. Everyone looks at me with puzzlement plastered on their face.
"I never pegged you as a sound sleeper." Christian says walking to stand next to Lissa.
"I was dreaming." A boyish grin crosses my face. The guardians and Lissa wearily look around the room again, finally resting their eyes on me. Christian's eyes never left mine, he smirks knowingly.
"Lissa he's here, he's okay. He hasn't done anything foolish…" Christian says. "Yet." He adds under his breath, almost inaudible but I heard. And a smirk creeps to my face.
"Okay. Well, we'll wait for you to get ready. It's almost time for the hearing." Lissa finally says satisfied that I'm okay. I nod.
Walking into the court room I see the largest crowd I've ever seen for a hearing. I follow Lissa and Christen walking to Adrian who's sitting in the third row. Our eyes meet and a smirk grazes his lips. I give my usual emotionless nod.
"Dimka, you don't look well." I hear a smooth voice to my right. "Are you okay?" Tasks asks sitting next to me.
"Fine." I give her a wry look.
"He didn't sleep well Aunt Tasha." Christian says, suppressing a grin.
"Oh. Up all night worrying?" Tasha bats her eye lashes almost as if it were her I was worrying about.
"You were sleeping like a rock. We couldn't wake you up!" Confusion playing on Lissa's face. Adrian loses his composure and lets out a laugh that catches the attention of other Moroi sitting in front and behind us. I give him my best guardian glare.
The side door opens and a hush falls on the crowd as Rose is escorted to her seat. I see her stare straight ahead not making eye contact with anyone. I need to see her, see her face. I need to look into her eyes to make sure she's okay.
We all stand as the next door opens. The judge, a Moroi woman walks in, followed by the council members.
"Please be seated." She says with an authoritative tone. As we sit I try to catch Rose's attention. She's looking anywhere but at me. I notice she doesn't have a lawyer, my chest tenses. If it were a Moroi they would have appointed her a community lawyer, but she's just a Dhampir. I clench my fists and let out a deep breath.
"It'll be over soon." Tasha says, gently rubbing the back of my hand. I ignore her comment and gesture.
"Miss Hathaway do you have a lawyer?" The judge asks.
"Umm…I…umm guess not." Rose says quickly looking around the room. In that brief moment I see nervousness cross her face. It happened so fast I'm sure no one else caught it, but I know it's there. I mentally curse myself, of course she's nervous, she's probably scarred shitless! Damn, she's getting very good at hiding her emotions.
"Well then, let's get started. Ms. Kane you're up." The judge says motioning to the prosecuting lawyer.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the council, I will be showing you some very graphic pictures. I apologize in advance, they are very disturbing and normally I wouldn't show them – but I want everyone to see the crime this young dhampir committed."
"Allegedly committed!" A loud, confident voice projects across the courtroom.
"Ibrahim Mazur." I hear murmurs buzzing like wildfire.
"Order in the court room!" The judge demands. Abe walks down to sit next to Rose, I sigh and shake my head in disbelief. This man knows how to make an entrance.
"See Dimitri, Rose will be okay. Abe won't let anything happen to her." Lissa whispers next to me. I quickly glance to Adrian, he nods and my lips turn up into a mischievous grin.
"Mr. Mazur what do you think you're doing in my court room?" The judge asks.
"Paula," he starts.
"Formal titles Mr. Mazur or I will have you escorted out." The judge threatens.
"Your Honor," Abe coolly says, "I am her lawyer."
"Is this true Miss Hathaway?" The judge asks.
"Yup, I guess it is." Rose says, suspiciously looking to Abe.
"Continue." The judge says to Ms. Kane. The prosecution presents the graphic details of the murder scene and provides all the bloody pictures for the court to see. I hear crying throughout the room. They're playing on pure emotions. There is no evidence it was Rose. And Rose never would have been so sloppy! Whoever did this made a mess, obviously they were not a skilled fighter.
"And in conclusion, we would like to ask Miss Hathaway a few questions." The judge nods as Rose makes her way to the stand.
"Miss Hathaway do you know what this is?" The prosecutor waves something in front of Rose.
"Yes." Rose wearily answers.
"And what is it?" She asks, holds up the object for the courtroom to see.
"A stake." Rose carefully answers.
"And how does someone get a hold of a stake?"
"Guardians are issued one upon graduation." Rose says, keeping constant eye contact with Abe.
"Is this your stake?" The prosecution asks handing it to Rose. She carefully grips it and balances it in her hand, feeling the weight and curves. Examining any marks, I see a slight twitch.
"This is not the stake I was issued upon graduation." Rose finally says. The prosecution whips around, glaring at Rose. Apparently this is not the answer she was anticipating.
"Are you certain Miss Hathaway? Remember you're under oath." She says.
"Your Honor, if she says it isn't the one issued to her, then it is not the one issued to her." Abe casually says.
"How do you know it isn't?" The judge asks.
"The marking etched near the top. The one I was issued at graduation didn't have a pattern." She slyly says. The muscles in my chest constrict. This is the hard evidence they have against her. The stake I mailed her from Russia. My hands start to shake.
"Dimitri, it's okay. It's not hers." Lissa says rubbing my arm trying to calm me down. I sharply look at her, she winces. My eyes feel on fire, I've never felt so enraged. How did they get a hold of that?
"Miss Hathaway, where were you last night?" The prosecution asks, trying to recover from her prior failure.
"In my room." Rose quickly says.
"Can anyone verify that?" She asks. Rose starts to glance my way and stops.
"N…" Rose's voice catches in the air.
"I can." A voice says from the crowd. My voice. As I walk toward the center aisle I hear Lissa and Tasha whimper behind me. The rest of the court room gasps at my sudden outburst.
"Stat your name for the record please." The judge says.
"Dimitri Belikov." I say, my eyes never leaving Rose. We're locked in a trance, both our faces showing no sign of emotion.
"Mr. Belikov what time did you see Rose in her room last night?" The prosecution asks.
"I went to see her in her room after Church."
"And what time did you leave?"
"This morning. We left together for breakfast." I say without a faltering. I hear a few murmurs among the crowd.
"That is a very long time Mr. Belikov. Roughly 18-hours, is that right?"
"Yes." I coolly say as a playful grin tugs at the corners of my mouth. Rose's eyes widen as she see my guardian mask drop.
"And exactly what were you doing that took so long?"
"Reconnecting." My grin turns into a mischievous smirk.
"Miss Hathaway is this true?"
"Yes." Rose says eyeing me carefully.
"Can anyone verify your whereabouts Mr. Belikov?" The prosecution asks. I shrug.
"I can." I turn to a familiar voice. Adrian is standing up glaring at me.
"Mr. Ivashkov please share with the court room how you can verify Mr. Belikov's whereabouts but not Miss Hathaway's." The judge pointedly says.
"I saw his babysitter's stationed outside her room last night when I went to visit my girlfriend." Adrian coolly says.
"But you didn't actually see him?" The prosecution asks.
"I didn't have to SEE him. I HEARD her." Adrian's voice is laced with disgust. Whispers travel through the court room.
"But you didn't actually SEE him, so it could have been someone else?" Where is the prosecution going with this? Even if it wasn't me, someone was with Rose, which means she is innocent, I think to myself.
"Your Honor, it was Mr. Belikov." I turn around and to my surprise I see the guardians assigned to me walking down the aisle. A slight nod passes between us.
"He was there the entire time? All 18 or so hours?" The judge asks the guardians.
"Yes." They answer in unison.
"If you were stationed outside her room, how are you certain one of them didn't leave through a different exit?" The prosecution asks.
"We could hear them as well, your Honor." One guard says.
"Ms. Hathaway, exactly what were you doing that was so loud?" The judge asks.
"Umm…" I see her blush, then catching my eye she says, "It's been a while since we've been alone. We were, you know, catching up."
"He was your mentor, right?" The prosecution asks. Rose nods.
"So, where you fighting?" She carefully asks.
"GOD DAMN IT! HOW DENSE ARE YOU? THEY WERE F U C K I N G!" Adrian yells. Rose's eyes dart to me, horror masked behind her eyelids. I plaster a devilish grin on my face. Her fear melts away and she returns my playfulness. I hear sharp intakes of breath, murmurs, and gasps from the crowd. OH, this will be fun.