Breaking Traditions

Breaking Traditions

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A 1x1 between myself and aarondalea.

476 readers have visited Breaking Traditions since Little Fox created it.

Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

vampireacademy.com

Introduction

For centuries the Moroi and Strigoi have been in a constant state of war, though always kept secret from humans. There was once a time when the Moroi would use their magic and fight alongside their Dhampir Guardians. But as the world began to advance and adapt around them, ushering in the era of technology and doing away with primordial practices, deeming them savage, the Moroi and Dhampir advanced and adapted with the human world as well. The King/Queen that was once chosen through a battle to the death now came about through voting. A form of monarchy and democracy was formed. And as the Moroi world became more political, corruption erupted and many Royals spent their time fretting over idle gossip of scandals and plotting on how to get their family to rise in the ranks of fame and eventually to the throne. They always found time to fight amongst one another, perfecting the art of manipulation and backstabbing.

They became fake.

They focused more on fighting each other for power than eliminating the Strigoi for survival as they once did. The thought of a Moroi lifting a finger is outlandish and physically aggressive Moroi are seen as barbaric, looked upon as scandalous. Using magick aggressively is no longer heard of, not even an idea anymore. There is no need to forbid it because the thought never crosses a Moroi's mind. Why fight? That was solely the job of the Dhampir Guardians now. From the moment that they could understand words, Dhampirs – both male and female – are taught that only the Moroi matter. Royal or common, a Moroi's life means more than a Dhampir's and every Dhampir is to put their own wants on a back-burner for the wants and needs of Moroi. The act of a Dhampir becoming any sort of hostile or the slightest bit of aggressive with any Moroi is seen as a crime, even if it is to defend themselves or another Moroi. No longer do even Guardians seek out Strigoi to kill them. Moroi simply live life as though Strigoi don't exist, letting their Guardians lay down their lives for them in case they are attacked.

But one Moroi and her Guardian are about to tear that all down.

Unknown to the Moroi and their Dhampir Guardians, the Strigoi are organizing. Even in centuries prior, it was unheard of. While humans have more recently began exploring the “fantasy” of vampirism, some believing that a person suddenly has their “evil switch” flipped on just because they become an undead creature of the night is a silly thought... Well. They're wrong. All Strigoi are evil. Some might come off as some sort of kind, but it's only for personal gain. They don't care about anything but power and themselves. Life and death has no meaning to them and they no longer have a soul. Working with other Strigoi is working with the enemy. But they want to get rid of Moroi and Dhampirs for good. Take over the world? Maybe. But if the Moroi don't defend themselves, it could mean their end. Ysabel Conta and her Guardian, Leon Schwartz, have plans to make things happen and show the Strigoi that they are not lambs that they can simply pick off one by one without facing punishment.

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The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 2 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Saturday. That meant that she didn't have to do a damn thing but enjoy herself. And she was definitely in the mood for a shopping trip. Ysabel enjoyed finding any and every excuse to escape the prying eyes of her peers lately. She wasn't really one to personally give a damn about the opinions that others had for her, but listening to people whisper about you as you passed by got irritating after a while. She had been used to people talking about her since she was young, people always finding flaws about her. She didn't specialize. She was the shortest Moroi in the world. She trained with Dhampirs. She needed glasses. She worked on cars. But she had gotten used to those whispers and found them all childish. What people had been whispering about for the past week since their return from Spring Break was the fact that she came back from Venice with a lonely Molnija resting just below her hairline. People had heard that she helped fight off a Strigoi after one of their Guardians had been downed but they didn't imagine that she fared well, much less actually killed one.

She was a Moroi. A Royal Moroi. She wasn't supposed to fight physically. Her fighting was supposed to be done in politics! Well, she disagreed on that, though she hadn't voiced it yet. She had to play her cards right. She was still deeply into the politics and she was lucky that more of the Royal Moroi within, below, and just barely above her age bracket found her feat impressive and intriguing more than they found it barbaric. They were kids and it was 2011 - Going against the flow was a trend.

Still, the majority of the older Moroi weren't impressed and while her mother didn't care, she had heard that her aunt almost had a heart attack when she heard. She had definitely met with some stern words, though she easily put an end to their bickering and chastising with a single question. “Is it illegal?” Queen Amelia Drozdov reluctantly admitted that it wasn't and when the question of outlawing it rose up, Ysa was all too happy to pose another question to silence them. “So you're going to enforce a law that states that Moroi cannot defend themselves even if their Guardians are killed in action? That Moroi are to be mere sheep to be picked off when their Guardians are no more?” They had no further words and the young Spaniard could tell that it wouldn't be an issue anymore. At least for now. Oh yes, she was definitely still in politics and was more than happy to show up at Court before the Queen and her Council to banter with them. Sometimes she won and sometimes she lost, but she never backed down and she always walked away with a good deal of information. So, it was a win-win most times.

Ah! But she needn't worry about that today. Despite having done plenty of shopping in Venice, Ysabel assured Leon that she positively needed other things. Like jackets. She hadn't bought enough jackets. She only bought one. And she needed a beret to go with her new yellow sweater. Even though he pointed out that she wouldn't need a jacket any time soon with it being spring, she was adamant on going and she knew he understood why. Well - He knew that she was getting tired of all the chatter and that she was on the verge of another one of her drastic mood swings, though neither of them could tell if it would be depression or violent anger. Either way, it would not bode well for her to explode into flying fists or tears in front of her peers. What he didn't know was that she had been compelling a lot of people since she got back to ease up the flow of gossip, though only in the Royal circles. She needn't worry about the Dhampirs because many of them were glad that she wasn't uppity. Common Moroi still seemed unsure of her antics. She didn't mind that her Royal peers often saw her as little more than a jester. That was fine by her - Underestimate her capabilities and be surprised when she plays her next card. She let them laugh at her while she would every now and then take time to brawl with a novice to boast her fighting skills.

But she was nobody's jester today. She didn't have time to entertain her friends until later that evening and she most certainly didn't have time to listen to idle gossip. She had been up early that evening to prepare herself for going out, something that she always took seriously. She never knew when she would run into other Moroi and had made the mistake of going out and looking frumpy only once. Leon had escorted her to a mani-pedi appointment in town and she had come across Prince Richard Tarus and his wife, Lady Pashmina Tarus-Drozdov. Apparently they didn't think that a young Lady, or any Moroi, should be out in public with a messy ponytail, an oversized [but comfortable] pullover with permanent paint stains, flip-flops, and daisy dukes that cannot be seen because of the length of the pullover. That easily gave birth to a rumor accusing her of being a slob and boyish. Since then, she has always found time to look her best, much to the approval of Prince Richard. In fact, the brunette was sure that he would most definitely enjoy her teal ensemble, being a man of fashion.

She even bothered to put on just a smidge of eyeshadow. Just a smidge. She hated heavy eyeshadow unless it was done creatively and not just a single shade of a single color. “Where are you? I'm ready to go and if you delay any longer, I will be forced to leave without you and think of a suitable replacement.” She left her Guardian a voicemail after calling him and being sent to the aforementioned voicemail, sounding as polite as possibly could be. She sat in a blue Nissan Rogue, fiddling with the radio station until she found some samba playing. She didn't really need to ask where Leon was. She knew that he was either discussing something important with the other Guardians, being reprimanded for having allowed her to fight back in Italy, or he was in the gym. She knew him well. A small smile crept across her lips as she lay in wait, her gaze falling to her hands folded in her lap. Despite her "threat" on his phone, they both knew that she wasn't getting rid of him any time soon. They had a weird thing and it worked. Whatever that weird thing was. Friendship. Yeah. That's what it was. Best of all? She knew that it wasn't a fake friendship. She trusted him more than she trusted her own cousin.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Time: 3:20 p.m., Saturday afternoon



Leon woke up to the loud buzzing of his alarm clock, tired from yet another night of half-sleep. Ever since he was 18, Leon had never fully gotten a good night’s sleep as his Guardian duties and senses constantly made sure that Leon would not miss one ounce of danger if it ever passed on him while he was sleeping. But it didn’t matter much to Leon by now- he was used to this lifestyle. He stretched, a small groan slipping through his lips as he felt his joints crack, and then relaxed one more, enjoying the faint soreness in his muscles. Turning his head to his left, he cast a surveying glance to his clock- 15:21- and a note that he had placed right beside the clock. Leon didn’t need to reach over and read the note. He knew what it was about- Shopping. Tomorrow with Ysabel- afternoon. Sighing, Leon sat up and stretched once more before shifting out of his bed and towards his room’s toilet. Leon’s room was far smaller than that of the moroi, but it didn’t matter much anyways. His room was as bare as a winter tree, bereft except for the bed and closet in the corner. The bathroom was no different. Leon quickly washed his face and brushed his teeth, and then headed to his wardrobe to quickly grab something to wear at the gym.

His morning routine had been set the moment he arrived at St. Vladimir’s with Ysabel. Wake up at 3:20, dress and wash up, and then head to the gym. Even for guardians, this was a rather rare routine, as many followed strictly along with the time schedules of the Moroi, waking up only around 30 minutes earlier than their charges. But Leon was different, and most knew this to be true. Jogging down the stairs within the Guardian building and out into the garden right in front of the old building, Leon grinned as the sun greeted him, the sounds of birds chirping reaching his ears. He walked off towards the gym in the distance, preparing himself for another tiring day of shopping.



Time: 6:30


Leon had forgotten the time as he worked throughout the mannequins in the gym. As the time had passed, other Guardians had showed up, each immersing themselves in different training areas. Some had taken the sparring area, wrestling one another, trying out their strength and agility against one another. But Leon had kept to himself- just like most of the other few Guardians-, his concentration fully directed towards brutalizing the punching bag that hung right in front of him. So concentrated was Leon, that only until a shorter, female Guardian – Jennifer- had pointed it out to him, holding up his phone to his face to show the text message- and the time. Where are you? I’m ready to go and if you delay any longer, I will be forced to leave you and think of a suitable replacement. Leon took the phone and shook his head, an exasperated sigh leaving him as he shoved the phone back into his pocket.

Without a second word but a short, curt nod, Leon sped off towards the lockers, changed quickly into his usual dark ensemble of black casual clothes, and ran out towards the gates. From the distance, Leon spied the blue Nissan Rogue sitting on the road with two Guardians pacing nearby, waiting for his arrival. How could I ever be late for something this important… Leon berated himself as he slowed down his pace turning to the left to talk to one of the Guardians. “You’re late.” The guardian said mockingly as he held out three stakes for Leon, dangling them in his hands for Leon to catch. Leon took them without a word and placed them in his jacket, keeping them securely hidden in the customized rings that lined the inside of the hoodie. “This won’t happen a second time.” Leon said as he turned to open the car door to the driver’s seat. “It shouldn’t! Don’t forget your duties as a guardian.” The guardian's words irritated Leon as he got in the car and slammed the door, his eyes narrowing at the guardian whom he had spoken to. I know my duties as a guardian. Leon thought as he swiftly erased the irritated look from his face, his pocker face once again reappearing.

He sighed and looked at Ysabel, his frown returning as suddenly as it had disappeared, his countenance growing darker as he noticed what she was wearing. “I apologize for being late, Lady Ysabel.” Leon muttered as he turned on the car and drove it away from St. Vlad’s, slowly allowing the car to gain speed. He sat as straight as possible, his eyes fixated on the street as they sped along towards the nearest city.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Ysa had busied herself with playing Candy Crush, every now and then glancing up at the setting sun with a faint smile. The windows were tinted so it dimmed the sight a bit and took away some of the vivid color, but she could still see the beautiful pink and purple hues. It didn't bother her that much, but she wasn't directly exposed to it. Her attention had been captured as the sound of one of the Guardians outside chastised Leon. A frown formed on her lips as she put away her phone and rolled her eyes at the man's words. She caught a glance of Leon as he slid into the driver's seat, not missing the frown on his face. This caused a small smile to take place on her own glossed lips once more and she gave a slight chuckle as he headed out the gate.

“Don't listen to Marcus – It's just a shopping trip. It's not like I was going to die of old age waiting five minutes.”

But she knew how Guardians were, especially Marcus. Even the most menial and unnecessary wants of a Moroi was a Guardian's top priority. She didn't mind being pampered, but she still felt that it was absurd that he had been chewed out for being a few extra minutes late for a shopping trip. It wasn't like she was standing outside the gates of the school where the wards ended. She wasn't in danger.

“You don't like my outfit?” She feigned a pout – a very convincing pout – and let her lower lip quiver just a bit for the extra effect. “The hemline doesn't rise that far. Just two inches above the knee. And it's not that low cut. Is it? Do you think we'll run into someone at the mall? I don't look trashy, do I?” She frowned now as she worried about running into someone at the mall from Court or nearby and being seen in an outfit that might be seen as skanky. The last thing she needed was for people to start rumors that she was turning into her mother. Worried laced her expression now as she pulled her hair down from its ponytail and arranged her hair so that she wasn't showing as much cleavage, though she wasn't showing too much anyways. “It was a gift from Lady Rina Ivashkov.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Ysabel’s voice rang throughout the car as Leon kept his eyes fixed on the street. Being in this close proximity with his charge was normal- but it didn’t make Leon feel any less uncomfortable. This needs to stop. A small sigh escaped Leon as he stopped at a red light- the only one for a while-, his right index finger drumming the smooth steering wheel. “You don’t like my outfit?” Ysabel asked as she pouted at Leon, as if expecting a change in expression from the stern man sitting beside her. But Leon’s expression didn’t change as he kept his eyes on the lights as they turned green. The blue Nissan rolled forwards once more, zipping down the street as trees and scenery zipped past in the windows. “The hemline doesn’t rise that far. Just two inches above the knee. And it’s not that low cut. Is it? Do you think we’ll run into someone at the mall? I don’t look trashy, do i?”

Leon only coughed a bit as he quickly glanced at Ysabel and back at the road. It wasn’t that she looked bad- but rather, she stood out too much. And Leon knew that Strigoi would be on the prowl within an hour or two- and the Strigoi were out to take down whatever Moroi they could get their hands on. Even though Ysabel didn’t look much like a Moroi, there was still an obvious quality that made her comparably different beside Dhampirs and humans, especially. It definitely was not the dress- not at all- but rather, a quality that presided within all Moroi, especially royal Moroi. Even with her hair down, Ysabel’s neck still stood out, a beacon for any prowling Strigoi. When Leon didn’t speak or comment on her dress, Ysabel continued, “It was a gift from Lady Rina Ivashnov.”

“It was very nice of the Lady to present you with such a lovely gift.” Leon said curtly as the city came into view, tall buildings rising in the distance. Cars started to grow in volume as the Nissan drove into the city. “But I must implore you, Lady Ysabel, to be careful. Even though the sun is still partially up, there are still dangers everywhere.” The English words stumbled off of Leon’s tongue, the language still new to the older guardian. This sense of worry had developed recently over the past year, as Leon had guarded Ysabel. The girl had grown confident, especially after he taught her the means of protecting herself from Strigoi. But that’s not enough. His only worry was that she would now grow more callous, and less wary of the largest threat towards the Moroi race. Even Leon’s skills had a limit- but it didn’t matter, for now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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As they drove, she listened to him talk and took into account his words. She knew that there was danger out there – She knew that just a bit more than most vampires her age. Of course he would worry about her, but she wasn't going to spend her life completely paranoid every time she left the safety of the wards. She refused to live in fear; It wasn't in her nature. “I know there are dangers, Leon. Trust me. But that doesn't mean that I can't wear a dress and some heels when I go out.” She offered a light smile before looking back at the road. She was relieved that she didn't look bad in her outfit. It was one of her favorites.

“And it doesn't matter what I wear, Strigoi will smell me from miles away.” It was true. While Moroi had exceptional senses that were twice that of a Dhampir and thrice that of humans. But Strigoi had crazy high senses and didn't need to use their eyes to pick out Moroi and Dhampirs in a crowd of humans like Moroi and Dhampirs needed to. She wasn't a Guardian, but she knew enough about Strigoi to not be stupid. “It'd help if you' let me carry a stake.” There was a silence after that and a single glance from him told her that she wasn't going to win this fight today. Like she hadn't won last year.

She dropped the subject soon enough as they pulled into the mall and parked close to the doors just in case. Her mood lightened as she grabbed her purse and headed indoors with Leon at her side. The mall was busy, so that was an immediate good sign. Strigoi never attacked when a multitude of humans were present. They picked their prey from small groups. She felt even safer when she went out with just Leon. Not because of feelings or anything. Not like they went on dates. But because when it was just her and one person, they looked like just a couple out for the evening. When Moroi traveled in group, a Strigoi could easily survey the area and see the Guardians with them. While humans wouldn't see anything more than a group of friends, vampires could see Moroi with a Guardian traveling next to them and one or more Guardians traveling a little less than fifty feet away, always looking for potential dangers. Humans never noticed these things. Those who did always thought that they were just bodyguards for business moguls, celebrities, and mobsters.

“What about this one?” Half an hour had passed and she had managed to buy two leather jackets, a cute pink sweater, three scarves, and five new pairs of boots. She had stopped at a jewelry store and eyed a $12,000 bracelet in the form of a panther in stride, black diamonds set in silver. She longed for it but decided that she couldn't afford it just yet. Right now, she had come from the dressing room, donning a one-shoulder black dress that she had picked out for the upcoming Spring Formal. She had gone through an endless cycle of dresses, constantly asking Leon his opinion.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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“I know there are dangers, Leon. Trust me. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t wear a dress and some heels when I go out.” Leon frowned at Ysabel’s town, his brow furrowing but he didn’t open his mouth to retort. He kept his hands on the wheel and his eyes alert as he maneuvered the car through the multitudes of other cars that now crowded on the streets, as the humans were starting to go home from work. His eyes zipped around as he watched each of the mirrors, though he made sure to pay attention to what Ysabel said. She was his Moroi, he was her Guardian. I must keep her safe at all costs. Of course, this entitled listening to her and fulfilling all her wishes that were within Leon’s ability to fulfill. “And it doesn’t matter what I wear, Strigoi will smell me from miles away. It’d help if you let me carry a stake.” Leon shot a glance at the Moroi girl sitting beside him, an irritated look crossing his face before his eyes flicked away once more. “You know it is my duty to keep you safe from harm, Lady Ysabel, not arm you with weapons you barely know how to use.” As he spoke, he turned the Nissan into the large mall parking lot, parking the car neatly in one of the last spots open. There seem to be a lot of humans still shopping…it should be safe with Ysabel and I.

Leon had gotten out of the car and had opened the door for Ysabel, bowing slightly, his eyes closed as his face turned down towards the floor, as she got out from her seat. Locking the car and another sharp glance around them, Leon had followed Ysabel into the mall, his eyes flickering left and right. But as they walked into the mall, a smile had formed on Leon’s face as he tried to blend the two of them into the bustling crowd within the mall. However, he kept a distance from Ysabel, his hands stuck in his pockets, a few steps behind as she paced in front towards different shops. Whenever she asked him questions about the goods and dresses that she went through, Leon would only smile and nod, as his limited fashion sense left him at a loss with what to say about each dress. From the leather jackets, to the scarves, to the boots, to the jewelry shop- Leon followed Ysabel like a docile puppy, though his ears and eyes were constantly on alert. He ignored the throngs of female women that passed by them, giggling and chatting with no care of the probable danger their lives could be in; he disregarded the voices of male humans as they sent hungry looks towards the shopping Ysabel. There were no signs of Strigoi- or at least, Leon thought there wasn't.

“What about this one?” Leon’s eyes snapped to Ysabel as she walked out of the changing room, donning a short black dress. “You…look great, Lady Ysabel?” He said, unsure of what to say as he looked at his charge. The dress fitted her more than perfectly, and Leon had no idea how to voice his ideas. I can't. This is not right. The feelings that now coursed within Leon had been there ever since the Moroi had demanded Leon to train her how to fight. It was then that Leon knew she was not a simple, normal Moroi girl. He coughed uncomfortably as he looked down at the ground, his hands crossed across his chest. The ground around him was littered with the multiple bags that contained Ysabel’s bought items, all of which Leon had to hold. How will I juggle all of this while fighting off a Strigoi… A sigh escaped him as he shot another glance at Ysabel and then down at the floor once more. Worry gnawed at Leon’s mind as he contemplated the situation he was in- and the Moroi he had to protect.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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“You're such a guy!” Ysabel whined, though the shine in her hazel eyes showed that she was teasing. Perceptive as she was, she caught how uncomfortable he seemed and her brow quirked up in curiosity. Was the dress that short? She moved past him to check in another mirror, observing herself from every angle, bending over this way and that. There were a few vulgar calls and gestures but she ignored them. No, the dress wasn't that short. And it fit her like a freakin' glove! She was getting it. And she did, leaving the store with a polite thank you after paying the needed six hundred dollars for the designer wear. After arguing with Leon to let her carry some of her own things to no avail, as he reminded her that it would not bode well for another Moroi to see her carrying her own things when her Guardian could spare to carry them himself. They had decided that three hours was enough time to shop and he easily recognized that she was hungry from her subtly and unconsciously biting the inside of her cheeks.

She didn't argue with him there and was happy to head out for somewhere to eat. She suggested that they head back to Saint Vlad's for food simply for safety measures. Plus she hadn't had any blood and the line was probably going to be long enough already. She wasn't so arrogant that she was willing to stay out in public any longer than necessary, daring any Strigoi to attack. She was confident in Leon's abilities, but she wasn't completely confident in her own. She had killed one Strigoi. And she had gotten lucky with that. If she ever lost Leon, she'd never forgive herself. And what if she choked up and ended up dead or captured? Leon would go from being a famed and honorable Guardian to a disgrace and pariah. He'd be working as a secretary, if that for the rest of his life.

No, she was fine heading back to Vlad's. But they had to stop for gas first; The Guardians got pretty cantankerous when vehicles were returned with anything less than three-fourths of gas left in the tank and she hated it when they jumped on Leon's case for what seemed like such trivial things in her eyes. “Is it alright if I go in and get some M&Ms and orange juice?” She had stopped before getting into the vehicle and rounded the car to the other side and approached Leon, her heels clicking against the pavement of the mall's asphalt parking lot. “I'll get you a cheeseburger to hold you over.” Her thick Spanish accent rolled from her tongue smoothly as she altered her tone of voice to be more enticing, as though it would help her case.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Relief filled Leon as he opened the car door for Ysabel, as he knew they were heading back to somewhere the Moroi would be able to act in anyway she wanted without danger lurking around every corner. He closed it after her, juggling the bags that piled in his arms, and walked to the compartment trunk, quickly unlocking and opening it. The bags were quickly stuffed into the trunk as neatly as possible, Leon's head turning left and right to pick up any weird noises. Nothing. Leon stood up and reached for the trunk lid, slamming it down hard. His eyes flicked left and right on more time, his head turned to the left as if listening to something. Leon frowned a bit- it felt too quiet in the parking lot for some reason. A group of human girls walked past, giggling as they shot furtive glances at Leon- from where he stood, he could hear their 'hushed' whispers as clear as day. However, he didn't react, but turned and walked to his side of the car, pulled open the door and got in. The drive back to St. Vlad had been as uneventful as it had been driving to the mall. A quick glance showed that the trip had used up more than three quarters of the car's fuel. Leon sighed silently- with Marcus on duty, Leon would never get away with the amount of oil he had used up to drive Ysabel on her shopping spree.

Ysabel had been just as aware of the words, glances, and giggles of the human women in and around the mall as Leon had been of the men with their gestures, catcalls, and whistles. And it bothered her. She didn't know why, but seeing them make eyes at her Guardian made her want to pull her lips back and issue the most cliche hiss she could manage. Though, with vampires being a popular trend these days they probably would have written her off as a weird "Twinerd" and pitied Leon for having to put up with her. As they rode in silence with her gazing out the window, she realized just how she felt about the females making eyes at Leon and the brave few that had walked up to him and slipped their numbers in his pocket. It made her... Was she jealous? About what? He was her Guardian. And her friend. Best friend. Shouldn't she be happy that the stern older man was garnering attention from females? She frowned at her reflection. He was attractive, very much so. But he was her Guardian and best friend. She was a Royal Moroi and he was a Dhampir. There could be nothing but a working relationship and friendship between them. They had no future together as anything more. But why would she even think of anything more than just that? It wasn't like she was naming their kids and house shopping in her head. But she had been thinking about it nonetheless.

Remembering Ysabel's earlier request for M&Ms and orange juice, Leon made a note to stop at the gas station that was not far from St. Vladimir's. Rarely did he ever use the gas station- the one time he did, the place had given him a dark feeling. Wariness had grown within him with each passing second as he had filled gas there. It didn't help that the man that had been working in the station had watched Leon's every movement. "Lady Ysabel, please stay in the car. I will buy what you want." Leon drummed his fingers against the wheel, his face already fixed in a frown as he knew what Ysabel was going to say. “Ysa. My name is Ysa out here.”, she huffed softly as Leon spoke to her through the rolled down driver's side window. But she was already getting out of the car. “It'll only take a few seconds. Promise. And I'll get you something too.” She flashed him a quick smile and quickly slipped out of the car, having already anticipated his "no" and unbuckled her seatbelt. Leon sighed deeply as he watched Ysabel get out of the car. Unbuckling himself quickly, as well, Leon opened his door and rushed out of the car behind Ysabel. His eyes flickered left and right as a quick 'beep' sounded from the Nissan as he locked it. Taking quick strides, Leon stood a distance away from Ysabel as they walked towards the gas station store.

While her smile towards him had been a fanged one, unseen by anyone but him, as the place was desolate and the only sign of life being the lights inside and two people moving around, her full lips fell back down over her fangs so that she gave a softer and less toothy smile. The bell gave a light DING! as she pushed the door open and her heels drew attention to her. Leon entered right after her, the door once again emitting the soft 'ding' as he entered behind Ysabel, his eyes flickering left and right once more, his countenance dark and moody. Why did I ever expect her to listen to me. Leon thought, casting an annoyed look at the top of the Moroi's head before looking at the others in the store. Already farther away from Leon than she normally was outside of the wards at night, Ysa immediately remembered what the Guardians always told her: Trust no one. While she gave off a nonchalant and casual air, she could feel the men's eyes on her anyways. They looked like bums. Or rednecks. Of course a pretty girl like her would draw attention. “You new around here?” The green eyed sales associate gave a light smirk that suddenly made her highly uncomfortable. There was something just...wrong about him. She faltered and took a step back, bumping into Leon, who quickly pushed up back upright again, though his hand lingered on her shoulder. “No. Not really. My boyfriend's family lives out here. He's an uncle now.” She thought it had been stupid at the time, but she was now grateful Leon had coached her in addressing small talk in uncomfortable situations.

Leon pursed his lips at the man- he also felt as if the man didn't feel normal. Coughing slightly, Leon smiled at the man, laughing slightly as if slightly happy about Ysabel said as he wrapped his arm around Ysabel's shoulders. "Yup! I've got a newborn nephew. He was adorable- parents are extremely proud as well. " He flashed a large smile at the man as he walked towards the fridge, his arm still wrapped around Ysabel's shoulders, and grabbed an orange juice. With the men now behind his back, Leon's smile dropped almost immediately, his usual stern and serious look once again on his face. "Is this what you want, babe?" Leon asked, as his free hand now moved into his jacket, holding one of the stakes he had brought in a tight grip. His voice sounded cool and composed, but his mind raged as he questioned himself about the actual identity of the men standing near the counter

“Well, congrats. But, you know what they say?” The other man, the one with dark brown eyes that were almost black, spoke up with his eyes on the "couple". He had been browsing chips, but Ysa could hear him moving closer. But it wasn't human. It was...graceful. And slow. Like a predator stalking prey. Fear made her heart stop as she clenched her eyes shut and her body froze. Leon in turn tightened his grip on both Ysabel's shoulder and his stake, trying hard to not make any wrong move. Though he seemed disconcerted on the outside, his mind was deadly calm.“No. What?” She had given Leon a nod but turned her head in an attempt to be polite and discreet about her emotions. The man was standing less than ten feet away now, his face showing no emotion. “Every time a baby is born...” “...someone, somewhere...dies.” Either these two were just a couple of freaky humans (as freakshow goth seemed to be trending) or Ysa and Leon were in serious trouble. Leon's head turned towards the man, his eyes glaring at the weird man. This person isn't human. Leon thought as he dropped his arm from Ysabel's shoulder to hold onto her arm, his hand still tucked into his shirt and around the stake. She couldn't even feel happy that Leo's arm had been draped over her nor that he called her babe.

Her butterflies died.

“I've never...heard that before...” She wanted to reach out and snatch up Leon's hand and squeeze it until it stopped his circulation. But she knew that he might very well need both hands for what could be coming. Even if they weren't Strigoi and they were just weird humans, they were giving off a serial killer vibe and Dhampirs would kill humans too if they posed any sort of immediate threat to their Moroi. Leon cursed as he pushed Ysbael back against the fridge, placing himself between the Moroi and the incoming men. Strigoi.

“You smell fucking delicious, Conta. I hear blood from Moroi with organic diets is...amazing.” The man had jumped over the counter with ease and was now advancing on the two with his companion. But they couldn't be Strigoi! They were tan and their eyes weren't red! "Strigoi." Leon cursed internally as he grabbed his stake from his pocket and rightened his stance against the two incoming men. Two against one. This does not look good. His eyes flickered between the two as he reached behind and pushed Ysabel with his free hand. Keeping his eyes on the Strigoi, Leon moved as Ysabel did, all thoughts focused on making sure Ysabel left the shop safely. "I suppose I will be leaving this shop for two new Molnija marks, won't I?" He asked the two Strigoi, a grim smile playing on his lips as the two Strigoi hissed at him, their fangs flashing in the dimly lit shop. Repulsion filled Leon as he watched the two circle closer, their eyes fixated on Ysabel- their bloodthirst radiated off of their skin.

“L-Leon...” Her voice came out in a squeak as she finally seemed capable of speech again. This wasn't like before. Well. It wasn't logical for her to be so frightened now. Three weeks ago in Venice there were three Strigoi against Leon, Guardian Josef, and her. Whereas Guardian Josef had been killed, she managed to kill the Strigoi that he had been fighting while Leon finished the other two Strigoi, swiftly. It was an even fight this time. Or at least by numbers. Leon's eyes narrowed as he also remembered the 'incident' back at Venice. He remembered the sight of the two Strigoi bodies, bloodied and almost mutilated, lying right at his feet. Luckily, Ysabel had been nowhere near to have seen the bodies. The alchemists had dealt with the bodies- and Leon returned to a shocked Ysabel standing beside the body of Josef. Ysabel couldn't shake the way Strigoi looked at her - At Moroi in general. Like they were a thirty-six ounce medium rare steak. Like they weren't anything but food.

The green eyed Strigoi was the larger one and the faster one, probably older too. He moved ahead of his... friend? Were they friends? Strigoi didn't have friends, even among their own kind. They lived with a dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest, every-man-for-himself mindset. Working with other Strigoi meant sharing their meals. And Strigoi didn't share anything. She cringed back behind Leon as he squared off with the Moroi, squealing as her Guardian managed to shove her out of the way. The Strigoi was too fast to dodge and either way he went, the second one would catch him and that would leave Ysabel open for attack. “Give me one of the stakes!”, she screamed at him as she hit the floor, sliding away from the fighting men. She didn't have to worry if she stayed out of the fight. Strigoi always went for the Guardians first. If they paused to snack and see if they could finish their meal before the Guardian staked them... Well, their timers always ran out. Leon cursed as the green-eyed Strigoi attacked, lunging at him with jaws open. He flung the stake he had been holding quickly at Ysabel, hoping that the little training he had given her would help the Moroi with escaping. He grunted as the Strigoi grappled and tried to rip at Leon's arms, wounds opening up where claw-like nails were dragged over. A quick punch and kick, Leon maneuvered himself out of the Strigoi's grasp as he pulled a new stake out of his coat, his eyes flashing as he aimed the stake straight at the Strigoi's heart.

“Oh, this is just too cute. But I like 'em feisty,” The brown eyed Strigoi laughed openly as Ysa kicked her heels off and gripped the stake that she had immediately snatched up, taking a defensive stance as Leon and the other Guardians taught her. If she told a human that she had five years of training in how to kill a "person", they'd be impressed. Dhampirs scoffed. Dhampirs her age had at least seven or eight. Granted, fighting wasn't a main focus under the age of ten, but they were still being taught basics. After all, there were seven year old human black belts. But even though Ysa knew she wasn't as good as Dhampirs, she didn't like when people laughed at her. Grappling the Strigoi, Leon turned to see Ysabel squaring off with the other Strigoi. Worry gripped his heart as his hand continued to dive towards the back of the Strigoi he was fighting, only to have a hand swiftly parry the stake away. "Don't get distracted!" The Strigoi laughed as he swung a hand to punch Leon. Leon took a quick step back, avoiding the punch, only to quickly circle around the Strigoi again, his attention still split between Ysabel and the Strigoi he was fighting.

The Strigoi played with her, letting her think that she had a shot at him to stake him, but he would always dodge just in time and simply laugh at her. They had their "dance" for a minute or so before he moved behind her faster than she could process a thought and there was a sudden stinging pain in her hand that was now grasping...nothing. He had slapped the stake from her hand and grabbed herby the back of her neck with a single large hand. But she wasn't going to make a sound. She wasn't going to give them the pleasure of seeing her suffer. Fear was in her eyes, yes. But so was defiance. She bit down on her bottom lip so hard that her fangs drew blood as he grabbed a handful of her hair and yanked her head back. “Maybe Ezra will decide to keep you for a while. Like a pet. I certainly wouldn't mind.” Leon's eyes flickered towards Ysabel- immediately, he drew himself away from his own Strigoi, only to be blocked again. "Going somewhere?" The Strigoi taunted, lunging once more at Leon, forcing him to take a step back and away from Ysabel. No! Damn it- Ysabel! Leon dodged the Strigoi- but it appeared in front of Leon once more. "I know you, Dhampir." The Strigoi drawled, looking at Leon. "Leon Schwartz. I've heard stories that you're stronger than this- faster than some Strigoi even. What's wrong with you today? Need to keep up appearances for your little Moroi girlfriend?" Leon snarled at the Strigoi, anger building deep within him as he quickly threw the Strigoi off.

Ysabel's Strigoi roared with laughter as she struggled against him, his hand leaving her hair as his arm wrapped around her petite body and crushed her against him. What did they teach you?! What do you do when you're cornered?! Guardian Uriel said she got downright savage. Like a cornered animal. She remembered practicing with the woman and catching her in a headlock behind. And she got knocked the fuck out.

Ysabel let her head hang before bringing it back as hard and fast as she could repeatedly, smashing into the Strigoi's face. She could feel his blood matting her hair as she broke his nose and her head was absolutely ringing with pain. But she had to power through! She had to! She kept slamming her head into his face until he released (well...threw) her away from him, clutching at his face. “You stupid cunt!” Ysa paid him no mind as she tried scrambling away only to meet with a foot in her gut. Now she cried out in pain, a whimper coming from her as she coughed up a bit of blood onto her hands. “Don't mind if I do.”, he hissed at her. She was yanked up by her arm so fast that it made her dizzy and... Was he kissing her? Okay. That made her scream. Or as much as she could. The brown eyed Strigoi didn't seem sure if he wanted to shove his tongue down her throat to drink the blood she was coughing up or if he was going to rape her.

Leon turned quickly just as he heard Ysabel's muffled screams. "Let her go!" He quickly turned away from his Strigoi, running fast towards the Strigoi that had Ysabel planted against the wall. But a hand grabbed his arm, wheeling Leon quickly backwards as a hand snaked towards his face to land a punch. Quickly, Leon buckled his knees, dodging the punch, dragging the Strigoi down with him at the same time. "You piece of shit Guardian!" The Strigoi yelled, falling to the ground hard. Within this time span, Leon sat up and quickly shoved his stake into the heart of the Strigoi, his eyes hard and his mouth set. The Strigoi struggled, howling and screaming in pain as the silver burnt against his flesh. "Pull it out! Get it out! Get that fucking stake out of me!" Leon stared at the Strigoi- at the stake and the blood that flowed out from the wound- almost as if transfixed. He pulled the stake out of the Strigoi- only to plunge it hard once more into the exact same spot. The Strigoi let out a shriek as the stake plunged back into his body- only to be lifted up again. "Stop- Stop, stop, stop!" Laughter bubbled up from Leon's chest as he shoved the stake into the Strigoi one last time. Only then did the pain from his own wounds reach Leon. Blood pooled from the Strigoi, mixed with Leon's, but it didn't bother Leon. He got up, his eyes still focused on the Strigoi, until the sounds of Ysabel struggling against her Strigoi once again returned to his ears.

All it took was the feel of a hand under her dress for her to kick back into gear, bringing her knee up and forward right into his family jewels. Human. Dhampir. Moroi. Strigoi. It didn't matter what you were. If you were a man and someone got to your goods, you were going down. Again, he released her, dropping her to the floor to clutch at his groin, doubled over and groaning. She grabbed the silver stake near her and went for his chest. But it wasn't as easy as the movies made it look. Just like it didn't take a vampire five seconds to drain a person, it didn't take one quick jab that was hardly aimed to pierce someone's heart. He cried out in pain again as she cried out in more of an angered scream. She knew that the stake hadn't pierced his heart, but it hurt him, burning his flesh. And pissed him off. It didn't take long before he backhanded her and sent her flying into one of the shelves, tipping it over and burying her underneath. Luckily it was one of the lighter shelves and had chips and twinkies stocked on it. "Ysabel!" Leon ran towards the downed Moroi. “L-l-eon...” Her voice was weak and she sputtered a bit, but she assured him that she was still alive. Though his wounds ached, Leon tried his best to ignore the pain that coursed through his body. Worry gnawed at Leon as he ran towards his Moroi, as thoughts of her being hurt sped through his mind. How did I let this happen? Leon cursed, his eyes inspecting Ysabel for any obvious wounds, spotting only scratches and bruises, and a busted lip. Judging by the amount of blood on her mouth though, she had a bit of internal damage- this intensified the guilt and worry that Leon already felt. She is my charge! How could I have ever let her- I have failed as a Guardian.

But he had been too concentrated on Ysabel. Leon had completely ignored the existance of the other Strigoi- the Strigoi that now stood right behind him. “Look out...” She would have risen her arm and pointed, but it was pinned awkwardly under her back and bent at a weird angle, though not so much that it was broken. Leon quickly turned back, his hand swiftly grabbing his last stake, only to see the Strigoi wheel back and out of the door. He sighed in relief, turning back quickly to help Ysabel out of the rubble. "Are you okay, Ys- Lady Ysabel?" He said quickly, inspecting her all over, only to see that she was healing already. Quickly, Leon let go of Ysabel and moved a meter away, bowing towards Ysabel. "I apologize for this blunder, Lady Ysabel. You may punish me however you wish." Leon's voice was bereft of emotion as he glared at the ground, his wounds itching as they also started to gradually started to heal.

Without waiting for Ysabel's response, Leo helped her up from the ground, allowing her to hold onto him as he slowly walked with her out of the ruined store. While her cuts and such were healing, Ysabel still felt like crap on the inside. She had been reluctant to release her death grip on him when they got outside, taking a few moments to catch her bearings, holding her arms out to balance herself as her vision became less and less blurry. “Leo,”, she started, using a nickname that she never called him by in the presence of others. “it wasn't your -” Her words were cut short by a scream of terror as headlights seemed to come from nowhere. She was frozen with fear as it seemed like the car was heading for her. But Leon pushed her out of the way quickly as he took a step forward towards the car, as if his actions would stop the car from harming the two. They come before us. We will die for them. Happily so- it is our duty. It was the Dhampir way and saving Moroi was reflex. They didn't even think about it. “Leo, no!!” She screamed again, horrified by the sight of her Guardian's body crushed between the car and a pole. As the car and Leon had smashed into one another, Leon had tried to jumped onto it's hood, intent on killing the last Strigoi, his stake gripped tight in his hand. But it had been too late- the car and the pole hit one another with Leon in between. Pain shot through his body as metal gouged into his body, breaking his bones and tearing his flesh. No- Ysabel- His thoughts faded into black. Pain. All other thoughts faded to the back of his mind as Leon screamed internally from the pain in his chest and legs. But the pain was slowly fading- numbness started to take over as everything started to fade away, no more noise entered his mind- it was Leon alone, floating in an endless darkness.

Immediately she ran to his side, though she bent over and grabbed the last remaining stake that had fallen out of his pocket. “Here, kitty!”, the Strigoi hissed as he stalked around the car to find her. She was waiting for him though. Luck seemed to be on her side this year. As he lunged for her, she took a wild aim, blinded by rage and a fierce depression. The Strigoi stopped at an arm's length as the silver stake slipped in past his ribs and went in. She had to use all of her energy to push him down. He was wrong about her. She wasn't just some other Royal Moroi. Her strength took him by surprise and somewhat froze him. She sobbed as she stained herself with blood, stabbing him repeatedly even long after he died.

“Leo!” She screamed out for her Guardian, practically crawling to him. She couldn't leave him like this. He was gasping for air and choking on blood. She ran to the driver's side of the car and threw it into reverse, hardly capable of processing any other thought other than Leo. Leo. Leo. Leo. Leo. Leo. as she rushed to his body, cringing as it crumpled to the ground. She placed a blood soaked hand against his face, fervently stroking his face and pushing hair from his face as an unintelligible stream of babbling slipped past her lips, her language switching between Turkish and Spanish.

As his heart finally stopped beating and that last breath caught in his throat with a sickening gurgle, she let out a sob and lay down next to him, curling up and sobbing as she clutched at his chest. This was all her fault! She would do anything to have her Guardian back. To have her best friend back. Her eyes were squeezed shut so tightly that it almost hurt. All she wanted was to have Leon back. That's all she wanted. She was lost in her hysterics, having turned her head so that it was buried into his side. She paid no mind to the sudden flow of warmth and joy that surged through her and gave her stomach butterflies. Like the first time that she had actually noticed Leon. She chalked the random burst of happiness as the first step into her long ride down into the depths of insanity. She was just hysterical and grasping for any happy memories.

“It's my fault. I'm so sorry, Leo.” She whined and sniffled, choking on her sob, too hysterical to notice the slight movement beneath her body. Leon's eyes jerked open as his senses suddenly flooded back into his mind. What was that? He thought as he moved his hand, only to see Ysabel crying, her head against his torso. Moving his hand slowly, Leon placed it on her head and ruffled the Moroi's hair. "Ysabel." he muttered, his eyes kind as he watched the Moroi, slowly sitting up as his body felt healed- but something was off. “Leo...” Ysabel's head snapped up so quickly that she winced with whiplash as her eyes bulged at the sight of Leo...alive? Sadness, surprise, and guilt filled his mind, and the feelings obviously were not his own. Y-Ysabel? Leon thought as he watched the Moroi, his eyes questioning and a little taken aback. "What's happening, Ysabel- where's the Strigoi?"

“You're...dead. You were crushed...I felt your heart stop....” She immediately began to scramble away from him, her hands and legs getting scraped on the ground as sudden fear filled her. Was he a zombie? Did those exist? In her mind, the scene of him dying replayed over and over again, the sound of him choking on his last breath and his very last heartbeat ringing in her ears. "Zombie!" Leon said incredulously as he sat upright, watching Ysabel scramble away from him. "I am alive! I'm Leon, Ys-Lady Ysabel." Getting up, Leon walked towards Ysabel and helped her up, a faint smile on his face as he watched her look at him with horror. However, his smile was only momentary as his duties as a guardian returned to mind once more. The feelings that coursed through his mind helped erase the smile from Leon's face as well, as doubt and speculation filled his heart as well. Ysabel? He thought, expecting the Moroi to hear him as he rereached a hand forward towards the Moroi.

How did he know I called him a zombie?! He's not my Leo! He can't be... She hesitated, wanting to reach out to him. But she recoiled and took a step back. He obviously wasn't Strigoi. But how else was he able to come back to life? “If...If you're really my...If you're Leon...Who is my father?” The thing is, her father was a very powerful and wealthy Common Moroi. But he was the type of man who proved difficult to find information out about. Especially when it concerned those who were close to him. Few people knew that "Zmey", Ibrahaim Mazur, pretty much a mobster, was her father. Plus, her mother would die before admitting to having had a child by a commoner. Leon shot Ysabel a confused look, but complied with her demand.
"Your father is Zmey, Ibrahaim Mazur, well-known Moroi mafia boss."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Over the course of the next few hours, everything was a blur. Leon was Leon and he wasn't Strigoi. The two others didn't have the trademark red eyes and sickle pale skin, though further investigation showed that they were wearing makeup and contacts. While there were plenty of things about the Strigoi that were off and raised a lot of suspicion, Ysabel was more concerned with Leon. She didn't know how he had come back, but she gradually began to accept that he was just back. By some divine means, perhaps. She did find it weird that he seemed to know exactly what she was going to say before she said it. The two immediately moved their attention to the three Alchemists and two dozen Guardians that showed up. It may seem excessive to some, considering that the Strigoi were already dead, but the moon was high in the sky and the sun would not rise for another eight hours and they didn't know how many more Strigoi were still out there. After answering questions, Ysabel was wrapped in a blanket and ushered into the back of the Rogue. She watched as Marcus began yelling at Leon, reprimanding him for putting Ysa's life in danger.

Her lips pulled into a frown as anger bubbled and she immediately got out of the car, daring one of the Dhampirs to put a hand on her as she stomped over to the tall [well, everyone was tall to her] Guardian. “For fuck's sake, Schwartz! I don't see how the fuck everyone thinks you're some big fucking legendary hero when all you've done is put your ward in danger! This is the second time this year that she's nearly lost her life. Do I need to remind you that she is one of only ten remaining Contas?!” Marcus always enjoyed berating Leon and finding whatever flaw he could, holding a magnifying glass up to it and humiliating him. Aside from Guardian Alberta and Guardian Alto and Guardian Belikov, he was one of the best Guardians the school had. He was in the top five and he had been pretty popular. But his attention was taken -unintentionally- when Ysabel demanded that Leon be her Guardian and watch over her even while she was at school.

“Oye! Lay off, Marcus!” She glared at him and grabbed him by the arm, forcing him to turn towards her. “Lady Conta, please. I understand that he is your friend as much as he is your Guardian. But he cannot get away with letting you -” There was silence among them all, his harsh chastising towards her cut short as the sound of his scorn was replaced by the sound of her open palm meeting his cheek. He looked absolutely shocked as he looked into her angry eyes. “He is my Guardian. His job is to do as I say. He, nor any other Dhampir lets me do anything.” She was more than capable of pulling the Moroi card at any time and she felt as though this were the perfect time, if any. “Yes. Of course, Lady Conta. But you shoul -”

“You've been a Guardian for going on eleven years. You know the rules – Moroi come first. Even the most trivial of their wants are placed above a Dhampir's needs.” It was something that all Dhampirs knew and when they talked about it amongst each other it didn't have that harsh effect that it did when it came from a Moroi. Especially an angry Moroi. When a Moroi said it, it made them sound like they were slaves. Pieces of property even. But she held Marcus' glare as he bit the inside of his cheek. “And I want to fight with my Guardians. I understand how important I am to Moroi politics, but Dhampirs, Guardians especially, are just as essential to our survival as Moroi are to making and enforcing our laws. I refuse to stand by and watch the people I care about, the people that I can trust, be slaughtered to protect me as though I am some helpless lamb. That is my decision and mine alone to make. Not yours, Leon's, or anyone else.”

The silence remained as even the Alchemists stared, but they soon decided that having cleaned up the mess, they didn't need to be in the presence of these creatures any longer. Ysa held Marcus' gaze and let her words sink in. “And if you ever bitch at my Guardian again for something stupid – like being five minutes late for a shopping trip – or for my actions – which he has no control over – I will have your ass sent to Court filing paper and being Guardian Uriel's bitch for the rest of your life.” Threat issued and point made, the young Conta grabbed Leon by the arm with determination and held her head as high as she could without getting dizzy, heading back to the Rogue. “I need a shower and food.” No questions were asked as the Guardians bowed, a few of them hiding smirks of amusement as Marcus stayed put, his face red with embarrassment.

- - - - -


After having returned to school, Ysabel was escorted to her room so that she could change and take a shower. Leon was right behind her with her bags as she walked with her head held high as though every shopping trip ended in a battle. Maybe it was a sign from God that she should really lay off of the shoes. People stopped her in the halls to offer air hugs [nobody wanted to get blood on them] and expressed concern, wondering what had happened. As shaken as she was, she managed to be charming and witty, joking that Some punta tried to last black Gucci boots. before moving on. She was reluctant for Leon to leave her after he had dropped her bags off in her room, but she held a brave face.

As soon as she got into the shower, she fell apart. She sat down as the water beat down on her, pulled her knees to her chest, and she cried. Blood and water pooled around her and washed down the drain as she relived the incident over and over again, unable to shake the image of the car smashing into Leon and crushing him. It crushed his ribs. He had been spitting up blood that looked like a mix of strawberry and chocolate syrup. The sound... Feeling his heart stop beating under her hands. But he had come back. How? She was glad that Leon was alive. Ecstatic. But she watched him die. But now he barely had a scratch on him. It frightened her. But it was only natural for people to be frightened by the unknown...

- - - - - - -


“Lady Ysabel?”

Ysa glanced up from absently staring out the window to look over at Head Mistress Kirova. She was sitting in the in the bay window as one of the nurses treated the wounds that hadn't healed yet – Just a few cuts and gashes. She wasn't able to concentrate, zoning in and out. “We have a feeder and dinner for you on its way; if I remember correctly, you are quite fond of shrimp alfredo with fettuccine and orange juice.” Kirova wasn't usually a very sympathetic woman, but this was one of those situations that called for delicacy. The young woman could only give barely a nod, swaying with nausea. “I do apologize for happened, but - ” Guardian Alberta was there too, Leon standing next to her. The look on his face told her everything she needed to know: They blamed him.

Because Moroi could do no wrong.

“It was my fault. Not Leon's.” They wanted her side of the story. “We had finished shopping and I was hungry because I skipped breakfast and feeding. I made him stop at the gas station and ignored his request to remain in the vehicle. I figured that it would be quicker for me to get the snacks to hold us over while he gassed up. He went in behind me and he protected me when the Strigoi attacked. There were two and I'd seen one there before. But... Their eyes. One had green and the other brown. They weren't pale. They had pants and long sleeved shirts. From their neck up, they were tan. My Guardian did his job in protecting me but they were quite old and strong and took advantage of the small space and only a single Guardian being there. One went for him and the other for me. Leon did a fine job in taking care of his Strigoi quickly and I did my best to survive long enough for him to take over. He ran away before Leon could kill him. We went outside to call the Alchemists and get on the road in case more came. And... Uh, he came back.” She faltered for a few minutes, wincing in pain as she remembered once more the car that killed Leon.

“Take your time.” Alberta spoke softly, concern in her eyes as Ysa looked down to her hands. It's my fault. I should have listened to him. It's my fault! He died! Guilt washed over her as more tears welled up in her eyes. “The other Strigoi. He came back and fought with Leon. I ran to a car that had the keys still in it and I ran over the Strigoi. Pinned him against the pole. He had knocked out Guardian Leon so I staked him while he couldn't move.” She was lying and the Guardians knew it. Kirova gave a nod before glancing at her phone. “Well, you are both okay. I've contacted your aunt and your mother. You will need to leave to Court tomorrow afternoon.” Ysa gave a nod, looking up to see that her meals had arrived. The feeder was a middle-aged woman with a dazed look in her eyes and her name was Kelly. She was the one Ysa usually fed on. “Lady Ysabel, it's so nice to see you.” She was high from the endorphins that were constantly in her bloodstream from being fed on.

The human was about to launch into a casual conversation but she noted the tense atmosphere and remained silent as Ysa sat behind her and bit into her neck, closing her eyes and letting the blood flow into her mouth. It gave her a boost of energy, but it wasn't like an adrenaline rush. She just felt less shitty. When she felt Kelly draw air in sharply, she released and sent her away. Kirova excused herself as a phone call came in and that left Ysa alone with the Guardians. Alberta, the Head Guardian, turned to Leon. “Marcus, go deliver the report to Janice.” Knowing better than to argue, the younger Guardian left quietly with his notes, closing the door behind him. “What really happened when you two walked outside?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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It had been hard convincing Ysabel that Leon wasn’t a Strigoi or any sort of phantom. Not only had her thoughts flowed into his mind in an incoherent mass, his own confusion only added to the perplexing discussion the two had in the middle of the ruined gas station. Then, the guardians arrived, quickly swarming and securing the area, followed directly by the alchemists who immediately went to the two Strigoi bodies that lay on the floor. Leon sighed as he stood up, his wounds all healed, to face Marcus and Belikov. Here we go. Leon thought as he watched Marcus open his mouth, spittle flying out as he started to berate Leon- though the two were definitely on the same level within the guardian circle. “For fuck's sake, Schwartz! I don't see how the fuck everyone thinks you're some big fucking legendary hero when all you've done is put your ward in danger! This is the second time this year that she's nearly lost her life. Do I need to remind you that she is one of only ten remaining Contas?!” Leon carefully managed his own emotions, only to feel irritation spill into his mind from Ysabel. The sight of him standing in front of Marcus flashed into his mind from where Ysabel sat,

“Oye! Lay off, Marcus!” Leon shot Ysabel a look, hoping that the Moroi would stand down for the time being- if she managed to embarrass Marcus in front of the large congregation of Guardians and Alchemists alike, Leon would never hear the end of it. But it wasn’t Ysabel that continued the conversation- it was Marcus. “Lady Conta, please. I understand that he is your friend as much as he is your Guardian. But he cannot get away with letting you-“ Leon narrowed his eyes at Marcus, annoyed that the Guardian had picked directly at the one thing Leon feared the most. I am growing too close with Ysabel. But before he could open his mouth to agree with the other Guardian, Ysabel reached up and slapped Marcus across the face, anger radiating from her into Leon’s mind. No- Ysabel- But Leon’s thoughts did not reach her mind. “He is my Guardian. His job is to do as I say. He, nor any other Dhampir lets me do anything.” Shock filled Leon as he watched the short Moroi angrily telling the much taller Guardian off- but this shock was soon replaced by amusement. Leon shot a quick glance to Belikov, and saw that the other guardian was amused as he, especially since the two both shared a mutual dislike towards Marcus.

“You've been a Guardian for going on eleven years. You know the rules – Moroi come first. Even the most trivial of their wants are placed above a Dhampir's needs. And I want to fight with my Guardians. I understand how important I am to Moroi politics, but Dhampirs, Guardians especially, are just as essential to our survival as Moroi are to making and enforcing our laws. I refuse to stand by and watch the people I care about, the people that I can trust, be slaughtered to protect me as though I am some helpless lamb. That is my decision and mine alone to make. Not yours, Leon's, or anyone else.” The amusement Leon felt earlier immediately vanished, his stern expression appearing once more on his face. It was obvious that the two would be in large trouble, especially due to Ysabel’s bold words. Leon’s mind rushed as he once again found himself standing in Ysabel’s mind, her anger pulsating through his body as he watched Marcus turn red through Ysabel’s eyes. But as immediately as he had entered Ysabel’s mind, Leon was out again, as the Moroi walked to their surprisingly unscathed Nissan Rogue. “I need a shower and food.”




Leon escorted Ysabel back to her dorm, though the Moroi hadn’t said much. He could feel how shaken she felt through their new connection, but she put on a cool appearance as she interacted with the other Moroi on campus, each appalled at the amount of blood that now ruined Ysabel’s teal dress. “I will arrive and pick you up later, Lady Ysabel.” Leon said with a firm bow as he watched her disappear into the Moroi dormitory. Slowly, he backed away and then turned rapidly, walking quickly out of the building and towards the Guardian dorms. He knew that her mind would take over his quick- her emotions had been spilling over his ever since they had entered the Nissan Rogue, but Leon hadn’t known how to comfort Ysabel. I am her Guardian. I shouldn’t have let this happen. I was supposed to keep her safe! Leon cursed as he hit the wall of the dorm he had been walking along, anger coursing through his veins. How could I let this happen?

Suddenly, Leon was no longer in the courtyard- he was in the shower in Ysabel’s body. He tried to close his mind but to no avail, as Ysabel’s emotions was too strong. Her mind flooded his with grief and shock, as images of himself bloodied and mangled surfaced in his mind. Ysabel!- But still, his voice did not reach her. Leon opened his eyes to see the large courtyard of St. Vlad’s once again spreading in front of his eyes, his shaky hand placed against the wall of the Moroi dormitory. “What in the world-“ Leon crouched down, his left hand rubbing his temple as cold sweat ran down his spine. What am I? His lips pursed as Leon shook his head and got up once more, his eyes blazing with determination. I am not good enough for Lady Ysabel- at least, no longer. It is high time that I separate from her before we become too…attached.




“What really happened when you two walked outside?” Leon’s eyes snapped from the back of Ysabel’s head to Alberta, narrowing slightly as he watched the slightly older woman. It was obvious that she at least would have guessed that something worse happened… He coughed once, raising his hand to his mouth before focusing on Alberta once more. “Alberta, it was all a blunder on my side. What Lady Conta said is true- and it is only true because I let my guard down.” Leon stopped as he looked at Ysabel’s head once more and then back at Alberta, who now scrutinized Leon’s every movement. He glared back, though he tilted his head down slightly in a show of respect towards the stronger Guardian. Alberta sighed. “I have never heard you fail a mission, though- both you and Belikov have perfect records. I find it hard to believe that you were unable to dispatch two Strigoi effectively.” She got up and paced behind her desk and seat, her hands folded behind her back.

Leon shook his head, and then looked up to watch Alberta pacing. “I was caught off guard. The two Strigoi had makeup on- I am sure you have seen the reports from the Alchemists, already. They looked like any other normal human being, and while I had my back turned, they attacked the both of us.” The words flowed off of Leon’s tongue as he watched Alberta emotionlessly, his voice near monotonous. He didn’t dare to look at Ysabel. “Because of this large blunder, I believe that I am no longer capable of continuing my role as Lady Conta’s Guardian.” Alberta turned around quickly, an air of caution surrounded her as she watched Leon. “I am sure you understand, Alberta. A Guardian who makes a blunder should not be assigned to one of the last members of the Conta family.” Crossing his hands behind his back, Leon stood tall and cast his eyes on the ground, his head bowed, as if he were a criminal waiting for a verdict.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Ysa's eyes flickered to Leon as he began speaking to Alberta and her previous grief and confusion had quickly become replaced with anger and irritation. No! She was unaware that he could hear her thoughts, the single word ringing out in her own head as her brows pinched together and lowered in anger. She stood to speak, shooing away the nurse that had finished bandaging her wounds. Before she could find the words to say, struggling to express her anger and irritation and everything pent up inside that seemed to really have no words, the door opened once more and revealed Ms. Karp. She was one of Ysa's favored teachers at St. Vlad's. Sure, she was a little bit crazy. But she meant well and she was an excellent teacher. “Oh, my...” She had been holding a glass of orange juice in one hand and a bowl containing Ysa's food in the other. Her green eyes were wide as she took a step back, nearly falling over as her eyes flickered between Leon and Ysabel. Everyone simply eyed her curiously, though they didn't really seem too eager to know the reason behind her outburst. She was always saying and doing strange things. “You two will never be apart again.”

But that caught their attention.

“Professor Karp... What are you?” Ysa looked more confused than angry now as she took a step back, Karp advancing on her. Though she wasn't exactly a threat to Ysa, the way she was advancing was strange and the Guardians immediately moved to block her. “Sonya, this is a private discussion. If you wish to speak with Lady Co-” Alberta stopped short as Sonya rose her hand to silence her. Though she was just a teacher, she too was Moroi. Alberta bit her tongue and lowered her head some as Sonya motioned between Ysa and Leon. “You two are bound...” Now she had gathered actual interest. Guardian Belikov gave a light snort and shook his head. “Those are just old stories.” He hadn't meant to sound disrespectful, but what she was suggesting was preposterous. “Moroi and Guardians have not been bound for centuries. Even so, they were few and far between. But those are just old legends.” Alberta spoke in a more respectful tone, keeping her head bowed towards Sonya.

Ysa had moved past them and took her meal from the professor's hands, setting it down on her desk. “What are you guys talking about?” She looked between all of the Guardians and Sonya, though she avoided looking at Leon. She was angry with him right now. “There are stories from long ago. About Guardians who could feel when their Moroi was in danger and feel them in general. Nobody knew how or why. But they're just stories.” Guardian Alto had spoken up, shaking his head. Sonya was now staring at Ysa. “You brought him back.”

“From where?”

“From death...” Ysa whispered and immediately every eye in the room was on her. She looked down and shook her head. “It was my fault...all of it. We could have just gassed up and left. I could have waited to get back to eat. But I ignored Leon and I went inside... When that second Strigoi came back...He was in a car. And Leon pushed me out of the way. The car... It...” Tears formed in her eyes as the guilt resurfaced. “He was crushed between the car and the pole and he was dying. I staked the Strigoi and I... I held him until his heart stopped beating.” The tears were flowing freely now as Sonya held her with a dazed look, stroking her hair. “How did you bring him back?” Dimitri spoke up, his expression the very same look of awe and confusion as the Guardians stared at Leon.“I don't know. I was just sad... And I wanted him back. He didn't deserve to die because of my stupidity. There was...warm and fuzzy feelings. And he was just back.”

There was silence between them all before Belikov spoke up. There was no way that it was just hysterics speaking. The evidence from the scene of the fight was all there and it added up more so than the story Ysa had given before the others had left. “Knowing this, do you still wish to be reassigned?”

“A bond can never be broken. It's impossible. It is very rare and very special. Destiny. It should not be squandered nor taken lightly.”

There wasn't much that they could explain, the knowledge on bonds very limited and thought to be myth anyways. After coming to an agreement that nobody outside of the group standing in Ysa's room would know about it until they figured it out, Alberta and Sonya had turned to Leon with stern expressions. Ysa felt fear shoot through her. Who else can I trust...? There can't be another Guardian. He's always been there... He can't just leave. Not now! He's the only one who understands. Only he can help. Only he's ever helped me... What am I going to do if he's not there? She trusted Leon more than she trusted her own family and the kids she had grown up with. He had given his life for her and she had to repay the debt. Leon knew more about her than anyone else and she didn't want to go through the tedious task of forcing herself to pretend to trust whatever new Guardian might come her way. It wasn't unheard of for Moroi to use Guardians for information. She figured that if Leon did decide not to remain as her Guardian, her father could swing her Belikov. Petrov and Alto had jobs at the school, she didn't like Marcus, and Hathaway had been with her Moroi family for almost eighteen years.

At the rate she was going, attacked twice by Strigoi in one year, she was definitely a priority and first in line for the best Guardians. Which pretty much meant Leon, Belikov, and Marcus. Would Leon feel better if I had another Guardian to help? He's amazing, but I can't expect him to fight them all off alone every time we go shopping...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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“No!” Ysabel’s voice rang through Leon’s mind, causing his eyes to flicker from Alberta quickly to Ysabel who sat in the chair, glaring at him. “I hope that you will consider my proposition.” Leon said through pursed lips, forcing the words out as his brows crossed, Ysabel’s anger spilling through their newly established link. Stop! Ysabel! He tried to shoot back, anger building within himself as well, but it didn’t work. She continued to glare at him from her seat, obviously wishing to cut in as the three watched one another through slightly hostile eyes. “Oh, my…” His head turned quickly as the Moroi teacher stumbled into the room, her hair disheveled and her eyes wide as she looked between himself and Ysabel. Leon’s scowl deepened as Sonya continued to stare at the two, her eyes wide with shock. “You two will never be apart again.”

Leon’s eyes widened as the sentence left Sonya Karp’s lips, mirroring the confusion and disbelief that swarmed into his mind from Ysabel. “Professor Karp…What are you?” He kept his mouth shut as he watched the two Moroi, just as Alberta spoke up, shaking off her slight shock. “Sonya, this is a private discussion. If you wish to speak with Lady Co-“ Her sentence was cut in half immediately, as Sonya raised a hand to silence her, as if she needed utter silence as she observed Ysabel and Leon carefully. After a while, she finally opened her mouth, “You two are bound.” A jolt shot through Leon’s spine as he listened to Sonya, his eyes widening with disbelief which was mirrored on all the faces of the present guardians. The…myth? From the link, Leon could feel confusion spilling from Ysabel- obviously, she didn’t know the myth that all guardians kept close to heart. “What are you guys talking about?”

Ignoring the discussion around him, Leon frowned as he contemplated his future plans. If we are bound…it would be implausible to suggest a transfer. A sigh escaped Leon’s mouth as he leaned against the wall, his right hand reaching up to rub his forehead. A headache was coming along, worsening Leon’s already sour mood. The stares that were now all focused on him as they discussed his death didn’t lighten the deathly glare that was now fixed on Leon’s face. “Knowing this, do you still wish to be reassigned?” Leon snapped his head up, his cold, contemplating eyes focusing on Alberta as she stood near Ysabel. “A bond can never be broken. It’s impossible. It is very rare and very special. Destiny. It should not be squandered nor taken lightly.” Leon’s dark glare now focused on the half-mad Moroi, his frown deepening as he contemplated probable solutions to the situation he was in. But if I stay beside he- Lady Ysabel, I will be distracted and unable to perform my Guardian duties to it’s fullest! He wanted to say, but he knew he couldn’t. Leon would not bring further disgrace to the young Moroi royal.

Who else can I trust...? There can't be another Guardian. He's always been there... He can't just leave. Not now! He's the only one who understands. Only he can help. Only he's ever helped me... What am I going to do if he's not there? He looked at Ysabel, her feelings passing through the bond silently, for him to hear only. Another sigh escaped his lips as Leon placed his hands against his hips and shook his head. It was rare that he would let his feelings show so directly, but Leon had little patience and much anger to fuel the state he currently was in. Would Leon feel better if I had another Guardian to help? He's amazing, but I can't expect him to fight them all off alone every time we go shopping... Leon shook his head. No. That would not make me feel happy at all. Turning to once again look at Alberta, Leon said with a firm voice, “I would like to retract my motion to transfer away from Lady Conta. If there is a bond between us…” Leon shot a look at Ysabel, an unsure look on his face, “Then I shall not sully something this sacred. I will make sure to protect her with all my capabilities, and not let her near trouble again.” His throat seemed parched and his face burned as he admitted his recent failure. It was unlike Leon to not be able to take down two Strigoi- rather it was unheard of. Earlier, Belikov had actually pulled Leon aside, a look of surprise on his face as expressed his disbelief about Leon’s failure.

But it didn’t matter anymore- Ysabel was safe. “Very well. I wish to inquire about Lady Conta’s health further. You are dismissed, Schartz, Belikov. I will call for you two later.” Leon bowed towards Alberta, then Ysabel, then Sonya before turning and walking out of the room behind Belikov, his back straight and stiff. As the doors finally closed behind him and the two were a few corridors away, Leon let out a sigh and crouched down, his eyes closed as his hand once again rubbed his forehead. “It’s unlike you to let your emotions get the best of you, Schwartz.” Belikov commented, standing near Leon who ignored him, still crouching in the middle of the abandoned corridor. His emotions raged as Leon glared at the floor, as images and feelings flooded to him from his link with Ysabel. What am I going to do from now on? He asked in despair, another large sigh leaving his body as he got up, his back straight and tall. Belikov reached down and patted Leon on the back, muttering jokes under his breath as he laughed at Leon, unsure why the similar aged guardian was at such a loss. “Leave me be, Belikov.” Leon muttered, sighing, though he cracked a small smile. However, without a second word, Leon nodded at Belikov and immediately shot off back to his dorm, the intent on taking a hot bath strong in his mind- at least Ysabel was safe. For now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Ysa had done her absolute best to act like she was more than capable of handling the information thrown at her though she was just as confused as ever by the time everyone had left. No sooner had the other Guardians closed the door behind them did she simply sit. She set her phone beside her and turned to her Classical playlist and meditated before shifting into yoga. It always helped her calm down and process her thoughts. She allowed herself to lose herself in the music, moving into each position slowly as she eased her breathing. Alright...So. I did specialize. But in Spirit? And that's why I can compel other Moroi without really trying...? And... Is dream walking a Spirit thing? Wait. Leon can hear my thoughts... Was that really him in those dreams? She fell over with a thud and laid on her back with a groan. She and Leon had done... Well. What they had done would not have been acceptable among those at Court. And there will be no more of that. I have big plans and I cannot do them without the person I trust most nor our reputations sullied. She gave a light sigh before doing a bit more yoga and devouring her food. A quick brushing up on Bodyguard Theory and Personal Protection 3 as well as Ancient Poetry, she was ready to go to bed. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



She was up by nine in the morning for yoga, though she was anxious to get to Court just to get it over. She had spent some time curling her hair and pinning it so that the waist length locks fell only to her shoulders while managing to look natural. Donning a yellow dress, she avoided contact with others as she headed for the Rogue, soon on her way to the airport. Leon was with her, of course. Along with Belikov and Marcus. There was an awkward silence but she didn't mind. She kept her mind occupied with thoughts of Candy Crush, deciding that things with she and Leon didn't need to be so visibly awkward, lest people start asking why. She was a little less silent on the plane where it was just her and Leon, though they only discussed what they were going to tell the Queen and the Council. Then befell another awkward silence as they ran out of things to say and the next three hours was almost depressing.


Still, she managed a cheery smile as soon as she stepped off of the plane, greeted by a Dhampir servant offering her something to eat before she went into the meeting. She was more than happy for a feeding a small breakfast with Leon at her side, but it was just a short moment of peace before they were both whisked away for the meeting. Rather than being held in the usual Council room, Queen Amelia held it in her office. Ysa walked in to see the Council members from each family sitting there: Marie Conta, Tatiana Ivashkov, Victor Dashkov, Abby Badica, Natasha Ozera, Rufus Tarus, Alexander Voda, Danielle Szelsky, Howard Zeklos, Eugene Lazar, Eric Dragomir, and Ava Drozdov and Queen Amelia Drozdov herself. Lovely. She gave a light smile and took a seat on one of the couches, folding her hands politely in her lap. “So many happy faces here today. I must have come at a good time.” She gave a light chuckle, though maybe one or two smiled. Her aunt and the Drozdov pair seemed most displeased. Leon kept a straight face as he stood two steps behind Ysabel, his eyes on the floor in a sign of servitude.


“According to our reports... You fought a Strigoi. Again.” Queen Amelia spoke with a lifted brow, scorn in her voice. Ysabel gave a nod as though it wasn't that much of a big deal. “I reacted on instinct. I help people. I care. It's what I do. My grandfather says that I get my warrior spirit from the Dragomir in me.” She gave a bright smile, slowly beginning to compel the others as subtly as possible. She did it every time she came about into this situation so it had gotten easier. “It's not that big of a deal, is it? I was only trying to help. Leon's spent most of his life defending my family. I only thought that as his friend and as the Moroi responsible for him, I should do something if I could. And I was hardly hurt. Just a concussion and some bruises and a scratch.” She could see some of them keeping a stern expression while others seemed to be nodding in light agreement. She knew that even though they were nodding, she couldn't change the way they've thought their entire lives just like that. But what she could do was notice that she was in no danger. 


Leon dared not to shift at the back as he felt Ysabel's thoughts slowly flood into his mind. Though Leon knew that Ysabel always used her compelling abilities on the Nobles whenever she got in trouble, he had never been pleased about it. His eyes snapped towards Ysabel, a frown on his face, but he kept his head down as none of the Moroi had given him the order to look up. Stop, Ysabel- But her thoughts continued to flow into his mind- just as they had been for the whole day. The dreams. Leon stopped the sigh that had almost escaped from his mouth as he continued to stand rigidly behind Ysabel. Throughout the whole plane flight over, he had refrained from talking to Ysabel too much. I have to develop a boundary somewhere. I cannot sully the name of one of the last Contas. 


“That is no excuse! A Moroi does not fight. That's what Guardians are for.” Marie spoke up quickly, snapping at her niece with a frown, her Spanish accent thick. Marie's brown eyes were narrowed at Ysabel though the young woman simply gave a gentle smile, her eyes shining. We used to. Alongside our Guardians. Back then we weren't afraid of the Strigoi. They were afraid of us. We weren't frightened to go out without a Guardian by our side. But she held her tongue. But you're not ready for that speech yet... She gave a soft chuckle and tucked a loose curl behind her ear, her expression pulling quickly into one of question, her brows lifting and her lips slightly pulled to the side before she resumed a straight face and spoke with a light bit of defiance. “Well, that's not your choice to make, is it? I am Moroi. I am Royal. And I highly doubt that you're about to motion for a law that bans Moroi from defending themselves.” She was openly defiant now, her gaze challenging the others, and not a single one able to hold it. Leon stifled a groan as he heard Ysabel's thoughts before they passed through her mouth. 


“No, but I can remove Leon from his assignment and keep him here at Court. I can assign a Guardian to you who can keep you in line.” Marie's voice took a dangerous edge that made Ysabel's eyes narrow, though she kept a smile, leading her aunt into the hole she had dug for herself. “Keep me in line? That's hilarious. And how would this imaginary Guardian keep me in line?” She tilted her head back, watching Marie smirk. “Marcus is a fine Guardian with a record just as good as Leon's for his age. And from what I've heard, he thinks you need quite a bit of discipline and considering how much you disrespect him, he wouldn't mind being the one to teach you. Especially after you put your hands on him and humiliated him.” The room hushed as the other guardians in the room seemed to turn towards Leon, their eyebrows raised as if to ask him to confirm the story that had most likely already entered their ears as well. However, the gazes soon once again returne to the ground as they were but dhampirs. Only their charges had the right to talk within the room that they all currently stood in. How could Marcus actually dare to talk out against a Moroi! He cursed. That damned coward.


There was a moment of silence before the room simply exploded with anger. And it was all directed towards Marie. 


Sure, Ysabel was reckless sometimes. She was young. But how dare Marie suggest allowing a Dhampir to manhandle a Royal Moroi! She was insane! Her position on the Council was put into question as they chastised and berated her for her stupid choice of words while Ysabel managed to look perfectly frightened at the idea. She held no qualms with putting her aunt on the chopping block because she knows that Marie would do the same. She may have raised her when she wasn't at Vlad's, but Marie didn't like her. Her generation would eventually be in line for the throne and she preferred her own daughter. She often commented that she was waiting for Ysabel to turn into her mother. So there was little love between them. I'd love for Marcus to try and put his hands on me. She resisted rolling her eyes. So Marie had been using Marcus to spy on them. It wasn't surprising considering that they were once lovers and he was like a lost puppy chasing her. She didn't have to worry about him anymore though. With it out in the open that he had expressed a wish to put hands on her, the Queen had decided that he would be pushing pencils and filing papers until he died. 


Why do people underestimate me, Leon? She sighed in her head, outwardly maintaining her frightful facade. He heard the thought, but kept silent, his position as Guardian forbidding him from speaking up as the Moroi continued to chastise Marie. Because you are young...and too reckless for your own good, Ysa. His eyes softened though he could not see her- all he could see was the plush, maroon carpet that decorated the floor of the room. But as immediately as his eyes softened, Leon quickly shoved the feelings that had just been in his heart out of his mind. No! I am her guardian. God damn it, Leon Schwartz! What is wrong with you? Without Leon noticing, the chattering between the Moroi had vanished without a trace into the air as the Queen raised her hand. Queen Amelia cast a surveying glance over the twelve other Moroi in the room, her aged face serene yet powerful. "I wish to end this meeting as quickly as possible- it is far past into the human cycle for us Moroi. Tell me, young Conta." She focused her gaze on Ysabel, her eyes cold with dislike, "You will not participate in anymore...fighting. Your guardian there-" Drawing up a hand adorned with various rings and rare gems, Queen Amelia pointed disdainfully at Leon, "-will do so. Do you vow to act like a proper Moroi, and not a lowly dhampir?" Her voice boomed throughout the room as all the council members stared at Ysabel, holding their breaths.


“Of course, my Queen.” Ysabel bowed her head subserviently, appearing as a chastised child. For now, anyways. Leon. We need to go speak to Guardian Tanner after this. Buying her act, the Queen gave a light nod and waved her hand in an act of dismissal. Despite all of the grumbling, everyone began to leave. Ysabel and Leon were the last to leave, the Queen watching them through narrowed eyes. Even as they left, the other Moroi were still berating Marie amongst themselves and offering Ysa their condolences for having been threatened with an idea so barbaric. Right. Because she hadn't been getting her ass handed to her by the Guardians training her for the past almost five years. But she didn't mention that. Instead, she played the part of being shaken and was quick to rush away from them. She had gotten directions to Tanner from some of the other Guardians, finding that he was in the church. They were there soon enough, Ysa walking faster than Leon to avoid the sun. It was noon and it was very hot, making her skin crawl. She could bear the evening sun, but noon sun was irritating. Hardly enough to make her faint though. 


“Well, well. So, when are you getting that second molnija?” Guardian Tanner gave a soft chuckle as Leon and Ysa approached him, walking down the aisle, Ysa's yellow dress flowing behind her. Ysabel smiled and threw her arms around the Dhampir, giving him a tight hug. “Ah, who knows. But it's not like I need it.” She flashed him a dazzling smile as she took a seat next to him and leaned against the pew in front of them with her body turned slightly towards him. “I heard about what your aunt said. Sorry about that. But don't worry, he'll get special treatment around here,” He gave her a wink and she could only laugh lightly. While she was an oddity among Moroi and Dhampir alike, she found that she was quite popular and admired among the Guardians. After all, it wasn't every Moroi who could take a hit to the gut and get back up to keep fighting. Or stake a Strigoi. “You having fun yet, Leon? Don't worry – It's safe in here.” Tanner turned to Leon and offered a smile, calling him by his first name, a twinkle in his green eyes.


The sigh Leon had been holding in for the whole meeting finally escaped his lips, leaning back against the pew. His face was emotionless as he glared up at the podium, his eyes without the usual sharpness they held. Rather, they were dull- and he wished to escape the Church as soon as possible. But that would raise suspicion. He turned his head towards Tanner, a sarcastic smile on his face. "Of course- and we will be getting our Molnija marks soon after this. Not sure if I have much space left." Leon chuckled with the other Guardian. He tried to ignore the stares of the other Moroi as they started to fill in the Church, glaring at Ysabel as she sat among the guardians and dhampirs, rather than where she belonged in front with other Royal Moroi. Tanner seemed to also detect these glares as he also pursed his lips for a second, before his usual dazzling smile appeared on his face again.


“Just goes to show what an amazing Guardian you are. You've probably omitted some kills just to save some space.”, Ysa teased with a smirk on her face. Leon shook his head, a small smile playing on his face though he kept his eyes diverted from Ysabel's. 


“Probably. It's like that sometimes. And when are you ever going to go one month without getting called here to be lectured?” Tanner turned his gaze away from the Moroi as they entered, smiling at Ysa who rolled her eyes. “Well, I'll be clear of here for the next six months. I'll finally be eighteen and graduated then. That's when the real fun starts. You care to join in?” She offered him a light smile, holding his gaze. “Does this fun have something to do with what you've been doing... But bigger?” Tanner was so good at reading people. Ysa gave a light nod. While she trusted Leon more than anyone else, there were some others that she trusted as well. Most of them Dhampir. “You have my allegiance, Lady Conta.” Tanner's voice had dropped since his last question, though he did give a subtle bow.

And so it begins.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Time: Saturday, 1:00 A.M.


Leon sat on the sidebenches that lined the dhampir gym, his eyes mindlessly following along the patterns of the floorboards on the floor. She's late. He shifted in his seat, his hands clenching into fists and then relaxing before resting on his lap. Ever since mass, Leon had mainly avoided Ysabel on campus. As her guardian, he had accompanied her to class and from class as usual, but as the wards were up, he could often excuse himself from her side without much of a fuss. Especially since she had accidentally sent the thought about the dreams...No. No, those did not happen. Leon shook his head, his right hand smoothing his hair back as his eyes returned once more to the gym door that still remained shut and closed. His mind churning, Leon's mind once again returned to the 'hearing' that had been held in Queen Amelia's personal conference room, and how Ysabel had used her compulsion(?) abilities to pull herself out of trouble. I will have to talk to her about that. He got up and started to pace in front of the bench where he had just been sitting, his impatience growing as he continued to wait for Ysabel in the gym for her personal 'training' session.

“I'll catch you guys later.” Ysabel had bid farewell to her friends as they headed out for shopping. She had joked that she had lessened her shopping trips because Strigoi kept trying to steal her stuff. She had other plans after Mass – Training, to be exact. Just as Leon had been avoiding her, she had been doing her best to somewhat avoid him as well. When she was around him before her thoughts of jealousy and admiration for his looks were safe. Now they weren't. She wasn't sure how she felt about him after recently having spent so much time doing her best not to think about him general for any reason. But she wouldn't skip out on training. The Queen told her she couldn't fight. She didn't say anything about training. So she traded in her cotton dress and heels for short shorts, a tank top, and bare feet. She held her head high while trying to bolster her own confidence as she strode into gym, pulling her hair into a loose ponytail. “Lo siento,” she apologized in Spanish, shaking her head. “I was talking to Father Andrew. I'm cleaning the attic later and getting some books.” She offered an apologetic smile before swinging her arms some, managing to look at him without too much trouble. “What's on the schedule?”

Leon cast a surveying glance at Ysabel before jerking his head at the mats. "We will be refining your posture while fighting. I was...watching while you fought off the Strigoi." He made his way towards the mat and then stood beside them, his hands folded behind his back. "I would say that your fight was admirable...for a member of a royal Moroi family." A small smile formed on Leon's face before it vanished. "But I am sure that you also know that it wasn't enough. Especially as a Moroi, if training had worked at all, that Strigoi would not have been able to have run away and-" Leon stopped talking, his mouth immediately clamping shut as the memories of the night flooded into his mind. I spoke too much. He sighed and waved Ysabel over, trying to ignore the clothes she now wore. "Let us, just, try some of the basics, shall we?" He avoided Ysabel's gaze as he slowly walked onto the soft mat and turned around, positioning himself against attacks.

Ysa nodded silently in understanding. She would say that he had no idea how much she blamed herself for not training hard enough, though she took the compliment with a hidden smile. For not being strong enough. But he knew better than everyone else the guilt that she felt. What had made it worse was that she hadn't had a spare moment to smoke a cigarette since then. She had only been out once since that night and that was to go to Court. They sold everything under the sun but cigarettes in the shopping area there. She wished there was a way that she could cut him off from her feelings so that she didn't unintentionally torment him with her guilt, depression, anger, and confusion. She was sure he had enough of his own and didn't need hers piled on. Confident and a bit shamed at the same time, she followed him to the mat and stood across from him, taking an aggressive stance. She squared her shoulders and moved her feet apart, planting herself solid and raising her fists with her right one closer to her face and her left a bit further forward, knees bent. She learned quickly when she first started training that you always moved with your knees and not your back unless you wanted to be laid up in bed for a week.

A wide smile formed on Leon's face as he watched Ysabel take her stance. Though firm, there were still hints of reserve and lack of skill in it. Good enough, I suppose. However, the feelings that spilled over the bond worried Leon. He knew that she felt something towards him, but that did not worry him much at the moment. What did was Ysabel's growing depression- and he had no idea what was causing it. However, he decided to not comment on her mood. "Lean forwards a bit, come on. There's no need to look menacing when you can't even pack a punch." His smile suddenly vanished, his expression turning serious, signifying that he was not going to treat the training session as a joke. She will need to learn if she wants to learn with me- and she hasn't taken my lessons in. His serious expression turned into a frown, but it went away in a second.

Do I have to? Stop smiling like that. She wasn't able to control her thoughts before they formed, though she gave no outward indication that she had thought anything of the sort. She hated when she was chastised by him and when he, of all people, poked fun at her lack of natural Dhampir strength. She had won her fair share of fights against Guardians and novices. She'd lost more than she won, but she did well. But she knew that she had only gotten lucky with those Strigoi she staked and he had a point. Her upper body strength wasn't as great as it could be. But she had leg strength that even Dhampirs didn't have. That was due to her gymnastics and dancing. Still, she obeyed and leaned forward some and kept her gaze squarely on his chest, awaiting further instruction.

"Come on. I'm a Strigoi- try and take me down." Ysabel was more than happy to comply. She knew that if she managed to hurt him, it wouldn't be by much. And she needed some way to let her anger out. Going directly for a punch or a combination, especially with her lack of upper body strength, would do little to nothing so she struck it from her action plan. With flexibility honed from years of yoga and gymnastics, Ysabel took a step back before another forward, bringing her right leg up and over, intending to bring the top of her foot against her Guardian's neck. Shots above the chest were forbidden when novies trained, but this wasn't a regular training session. Leon reached his hand up and blocked Ysabel's leg, before he pushed the leg down with his arm and leaned forward, immediately putting his arm around her neck. "And you'd be dead by now." She breathed as calmly as she could, closing her eyes and trying not to be a creeper by inhaling his scent. It was just as hard to not melt against him. He quickly let go and took a few steps back, his breath absolutely unfazed as he positioned himself again, back where he had stood a few seconds ago. "Try-."

Ysabel didn't let him finish, striking out again, though this time she went for a punch to the throat. She had half a mind to just kick him between his legs, but faltered, tripping over herself as a sudden dark...feeling plagued her and forced her to pull her face into a contorted look over anger. Despite tripping over herself, she made up for it by using her bent over position to rush at him in a tackle as if she meant to maul him, her irritation spiking. Leon's eyes flew wide as Ysabel's irritation started to pile through from the bond, more so than it had at the beginning of the class. What? He tried to shut the bond, but he couldn't. The feelings were too powerful- Ysabel's irritation and anger too great- for Leon to ignore. As Leon was distracted with trying to understand what was happening, as he had never seen Ysabel this angry before, he did not see Ysabel suddenly charge towards him. Grunting with surprise, Leon immediately manhandled her, his instincts acting up before he could comprehend the situation, pushing Ysabel onto the ground underneath him, his hand over her neck.

Ysa yelped out in anger and pain as she was manhandled, growling underneath his hand as she moved her body, twisting quickly with her legs striking out as she attempted to take him by surprise and kick his legs out from under him. Stop it, Ysa! This isn't you! Take control! Fuck! I need a cigarette! I can't do this! I'm not strong enough! She argued with and berated herself with a short internal monologue, shaking her head as she moved about. Leon heard every word and felt every emotion as they passed through Ysabel's mind. He had at first lessened his grip, but the moment Ysabel had started to move again, he had clamped down again, knowing that she probably would harm him if he gave her the chance. "Ysabe- Ysabel." Leon said, as he tried to catch her attention. "Ysa! Stop! Calm yourself!" He tried to ignore the fact that his entire body was pressed against hers as he tried to calm her down. What's wrong with her today?His brow furrowed as he stared directly down at the face that was right under his own, his eyes filled with concern as they searched Ysabel's anger filled face.

The young Moroi's hands moved, curling into tight fists, beating against Leon's arms and back and sides as hard as she could, though she knew the damage was minimal. “Stop it! Get off of me! I hate you! I fucking hate you! I'm never going to be good enough for you! I'm weak, okay?!” Her thrashed underneath him as he tried to sooth her, though she kept her eyes shut tight and tears soon flowed from them as her moving lessened and her body soon grew still as depression and confusion replaced the anger and a stream of apologies in Spanish flew from her mouth, her hands moving to her face, hiding herself in shame. Leon's voice faltered as he saw the tears streaming down Ysabel's face. "Ysa-" A lost look formed on his face as he slowly got up, pulling her along with him though he did not know what else to do. "Ysabel. Calm down. Everything's alright." Getting up, he shuffled until he sat beside Ysabel, his hand patting her back as he watched her cry. "You're already doing very well in our training sessions! Notice that now I position myself before you attack? Hush, stop crying." He looked at Ysabel before looking away, panic and confusion filling him as the Spanish words flew over his head.

Her face remained in her hands the whole time as she stifled her sobs as best as she could. How could I say that to him? Him of all people! I don't hate him! I lo.. I don't hate him! She cried some more, moving her hands to pull her already messed up hair down to hide her face as she wiped away the tears. She looked like crap. “You suck at this and it's not helping. You want to help? Get me some fucking cigarettes and a goddamned bottle of vodka.”, she snapped at him angrily, her emotions making yet another one-eighty before making yet another so fast that it could have given her whiplash from the sudden sharp turn. “I'm... God, I am so sorry... I can't.... There's...” She faltered as she tried to explain, another round of tears streaming down her face that she quickly began to wipe away. “There's just this darkness... I need to numb it. I need to numb me...”

Leon frowned. He had heard her earlier thought- the one that she had stopped midway. But he ignored it. Ysabel needed him right now. "No, no, it's fine. I'm your guardian, anyways. Just, um, let it all out?" Leon tried to comfort her once more, this time wrapping his arm around her shoulder and allowing her to lean against him. Only this once. He leaned towards her, a kind smile on his face as he tried to coddle her into a better mood. "Come on, if it'll make you feel any better, you can hit me. Right here, on this cheek." He pointed to his left cheek. Feeling his arm wrapped around her made Ysabel's mind and her emotions go blank instantaneously. At this rate, with the way her emotions kept swerving so suddenly, she would have been dead of a snapped neck. She felt nothing as he held her, adamant at keeping her thoughts and her feelings to herself. Things were already awkward enough. Especially now after everything she had just said to him. She ignored his offer for her to hit him, unable to stop herself from melting against him, though she forced back the feelings of affection that began to surface. “I. Am a terrible person. I'm a bitch... All I've done since day one is make things hard for you and now I'm being mean and I can't even function without nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol.”

Leon's smile turned into a frown as he heard the last sentence, his eyes immediately losing the joking look they had sported just a few minutes ago. "This is unlike the Moroi that I have known for the past few years." “The Moroi you've known downed two bottles of vodka every weekend and went through twelve packs of cigarettes a week. This Moroi hasn't had jack squat in almost a month.”, Ysabel mumbled. The hand that Leon had placed on Ysabel's arm moved upwards, patting her head reassuringly, as if it would help. He tried to ignore the feelings that were spilling from Ysabel- the feelings of affection- that were mirrored in himself. But he couldn't. Once again, he reminded himself of his duties of a guardian, and his hand immediately snapped away from Ysabel's head. Moving away, he bowed in front of her, his eyes stuck on the ground as he mumbled, "I will retrieve whatever you want, Lady Ysabel." His resolve was slipping.

As he offered to go get her something, she grew a bit more sad again. “Great... Now I'm pushing him away with my insanity and weirdness.” She sighed and stood up, swaying lightly before taking on a complete lack of expression, almost as though she were about to issue a shrug and a Whatever as she began to trudge past him. “You're off duty for the day. It's Sunday – Take a me-day.”
Leon looked up and sighed. Getting up from where he had just been crouching, he walked in front of Ysabel and forced her to a stop. "Ysa. I'm acting like a Guardian should- like what your guardian should. Please, don't force me to overstep the boundaries. Don't act like this- I can feel what is going on inside of you, please." Leon almost pulled her into a hug but he stopped himself short, a sigh escaping his lips instead but that didn't stop her from throwing her arms around his torso, resting her head against his chest as she cried some more. She didn't say anything. She didn't know what to say. So she just cried.

Leon's eyes widened as the Moroi started to cry on his chest, her sniffles echoing throughout the whole gym. What...do I do. He stared helplessly at the top of Ysabel's head as his arms fluttered around in the air, unsure of what to do. At least I booked the gym for the day...no one will come in... Coughing once, Leon placed his right hand on Ysabel's head as his other went for her back, slowly patting in a steady beat. "Everything will be fine, Ysa. I'm here." Flashes of how they had interacted in the dreams came back to him and a blush crept up Leon's face- it was almost like how they were interacting now. He had never hugged the Moroi he was in charge of- and he didn't know what to do, nor did he know what to say. So he kept his mouth shut as he continued to pat her on her back, allowing Ysabel to cry into his chest.

“You're smoother in your dreams.” She finally cracked a smile, wiping away her tears. She was glad that she wasn't wearing makeup but her eyes were still puffy. And I don't even have those anymore... She didn't want to compromise her Guardian and that meant that she couldn't visit his dreams anymore. Not like she had any control over it. Leon coughed, his eyes diverting as he let go of Ysabel since she had stopped crying. "That is a completely different matter. I-" he stopped and sighed, shaking his head as his hands now rested on his hip. "I- I am your guardian, Ysabel. Let's keep it like that, okay? I will help you with your scheme- I know you are thinking something up, I can hear your thoughts directly from over the bond." His eyes roamed her face as he stopped and reached a hand up as if to touch her face, but it fell down limply by his side. "Because I am your guardian- a dhampir- I can only provide you assistance in fighting, protection. Nothing more. Please, it would be easier for both of us if it stayed this way, okay?" A faint smile appeared on his face but then it fell away again almost immediately.

“Nothing in life is easy, Leon. And what I've got planned is going to shake things up anyways. But...not now. Soon.” She smiled softly, raising a hand to rest on his cheek. “I really do need cigarettes and alcohol. It's going to get worse without them. They...dull everything.” Leon sighed. Holding onto her hand, he leaned his head into it before pulling it down, though he kept it in his grasp. "Ysa. Please. Don't hurt yourself." He sighed and pulled her close into a short tight hug before letting go. "Don't harm yourself. I'll protect you from everything." However, just as he was trying to calm Ysabel down, he felt a surge of dread rise out of nowhere. Anger and sadness crashed inside him- but he trie to ignore it as he watched the calmed Ysabel. “Hurt myself? I'd die for the people I care about. Don't think that you can be the hero all the time.” She gave his hand a light squeeze, her smile widening. This was the most tender moment she had ever had with Leon outside of his dreams and she would cherish it. It was at that moment that she realized that she felt...normal. Happy, even. Of course she was practically oozing affection, but she felt less crazy. “That's....weird.”

Leon let a small smile show before he shook his head and took a step to the side. "I don't think that you're up to anymore training today. It's not that early in the morning, and there are other guardians roaming the grounds. You will be safe within St. Vladimir grounds. I'll wish you good night?" “Leon...” She turned her gaze back to him as her arm fell to her side. The smile on her face had yet to fade even as she looked down. “Maybe bring me some vodka later? New season of Game of Thrones starts in a few hours. I'd ask you to watch, but I don't want to sully your honor.” She couldn't explain it, but she seemed just fine as she teased him, that twinkle returning to her eyes. Leon laughed but shook his head. "I cannot promise that I will bring vodka, Ysabel, especially for someone so young." He looked up and grinned slightly before he returned once more to his serious guardian demeanor. "I will take my leave now, Lady Ysabel. Do have a good day's sleep; I will pick you up tomorrow morning."

“I'll see you tomorrow then...” She spoke softly with a smile before leading the way out of the gym.Leon sighed as the gym door closed behind Ysa, the Moroi leaving his sight. Slowly, he walked back to the mats and sat down, his head in his hands. Anger spilled through Leon as he sat there, unmoving like a statue. Today was a mistake. He thought as he slowly lay down, his hands clenched into fists. What have I done?!

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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→6 months later... ←




Ysabel spent a good few hours hugging her friends and bidding them farewell after the graduation ceremony even though she would see them later. Today had been a big day for her; she had finally gotten her second molnija (having been forbidden from doing so earlier by the Queen), tomorrow would be her eighteenth birthday, she had graduated, and she was finally able to start fighting again. Strigoi, that is. As she would soon be eighteen and graduated and there being no law against it, Queen Amelia could not prevent Ysabel from doing so. She had buckled down in her training with Leon and improved exponentially. He still kicked her ass with ease but if she was counted among the Novices (now Guardians) she would be in the top forty-five percent of the class. She was very proud of herself and was ready to use herself as an example to move forward with her plans for political domination; for the greater good, of course. And with Amelia reaching her prime, a new monarch would need to be chosen. That meant that Ysa had to not go out to hunt Strigoi.

Well. Nobody actually did that. But she thought they should. Take the fight to them, that is. Your best defense is a good offense. But she definitely would not be fighting as much as she’d like, as most of her time after today would be spent kissing the Queen’s ass and winning over the other Royals. Because that’s what she wanted to do until Amelia decided to retire. But who the hell knew when that was? Maybe she could compel Amelia into retirement… No... Because of how much the Drozdov hated her, people would most certainly suspect foul play if she all of a sudden just up and retired, passing the throne on to Ysabel. She was only eighteen, after all. The last monarch they had so young was Alexandra. And that had been centuries ago. Before internet. And electricity. And daily bathing routines. But Ysabel was ambitious and more cunning than people gave her credit for.

As soon as she had bid her farewells, she and Leon had taken a plane to Barcelona. It was her place of birth and the place where she would celebrate her birthday; even if the party was the day after her birthday. The ten hour flight there had been relatively silent – or at least between Ysabel and Leon. Their relationship hadn’t much improved in the way of romance. That one moment in training when she had broken down right in front of him had been the single most intimate moment that they had ever had and things had been awkward for a few weeks after, though they eased up as Ysa inserted herself further into the Moroi social circles and distanced herself from Leon. He was her Guardian and a trusted friend. That was all. She had gone through precautionary measures to ensure that she did not overload him with her feelings, smoking more often and keeping herself away from things that would stress her out; which was generally easy.

She had also learned from Ms. Karp that the more she used her abilities, the more unpredictable and off the handle her mood swings would get. After that, Ms. Karp apparently retired. Something had been off, but Ysabel couldn’t afford to investigate. She instead had begun doing more yoga to keep her mind clear and focused only on bettering herself when training with Leon – which was pretty hard when he always smelled and looked so wonderful. It took some time, but she managed to snuff out that affection. Or at least smother it. When she had decided to stop compelling people, she had to rely solely on her own charm and cunning. But that worked out quite well enough. She was sitting on the plane with seven other royals from her graduating class, their Guardians there as well. Some had seasoned Guardians, pulled by their parents. Others were with fresh Guardians of their graduating class, having been assigned them a week before graduation.

The sun was up when they touched down in Barcelona, allowing them to shop freely without fear as they began preparing for the party. And Ysa loved a good costume party. Perhaps a bit childish for her age, but she knew girls her age would manage to turn Innocent Child Gretel into Gretel the Cum Guzzler without too much difficulty. Though she herself wasn’t a fan of the Halloween porn star look, she complimented the others on their choice of outfits and was soon heading to her home. Rather than the home she had grown up in, she would be celebrating in a home her father had bought for her. A birthday/house warming party was what it was. And in no time they had everything set up to make her new home look like a royal mansion. Afterwards, jetlag caught up with them and they were soon sleeping.




She was hardly surprised to wake up to find breakfast had been made for her, the smiling faces of her friends and all the Guardians surrounding the large dining room table with almost a buffet set before her. Though she knew there was only so much due to the amount of Guardians they had to feed. She was often impressed by the amount of food a Dhampir could put away and after losing several eating contests, she commended them for their skill. What did surprise her was the extra muscle there, though she immediately recognized some of the faces and knew her father was there. He didn’t usually travel with so many Guardians and the two never interacted much publicly. Mostly because he had a “business” to run and she had school. And in his line of business, it wasn’t wise to make your weaknesses public knowledge. It was hard to squeeze in time to visit. But she loved him more than anyone else in the world. She thanked him for coming and thanked his extra muscle for promising to keep her mother and aunt out of the party.

“It’s your eighteenth birthday. I won’t let your mother ruin it by sleeping with your friends. Nor will I allow your aunt to spy on you. This is your home, Ysabel. And it is important that a person feels comfortable and safe in their own home.”

She couldn’t thank him enough, as well as thanking the staff that had made the breakfast. It was already four though and she had to get ready before the party guests began to arrive. She giggled and squealed with her friends, wondering what the cake looked like. Her father had promised that he had it handled and it was the only surprise in her party – besides his appearance, of course. She was glad that he had apparently thought that she was tough enough to take care of herself now; which meant that he didn’t care who knew she was his daughter because she could kick their ass and Leon could help. She did feel a little smug that he gave her more credit in the ass kicking department than Leon, but she knew Leon could kick her ass any day. Although, she was a bit worried about what sort of enemies he had.

But she couldn’t worry about that. Not tonight as she admired that way the royal blue satin embroidered with silver and decorated with small emeralds brought out her hazel eyes or the way the corset of the strapless ball gown made her look bustier than usual. She was busty as far as Moroi women went – A solid B cup. But she could pass as a flat chested Dhampir. Like every other Moroi female, she envied the bust of Dhampir women and often wore pushup bras to make her seem less like a stick. But she envied no woman tonight. This was her party. Her night. Her time to shine. It was the beginning of her empire. Well, that might be a bit melodramatic. But point is made.

Excitement ran through her as she moved through the halls of her new mansion, the realization of it all dawning on her. She was a free woman now. No more studying – Until she started college. No more spending every waking moment dividing her attention between kissing ass, training, and school work. She was free. She interacted with other Moroi on her own terms. The world had officially become her chessboard. A bright white smile lit up her face as plump lips pulled back to reveal fangs. She moved to the western balcony, greeted by Leon, her father, and some others.

“On this night of March the twenty first in the year of two thousand and eleven, we are all gathered here to celebrate the birthday of a truly exquisite individual!” And the surprises continued – Her father was giving a speech. “You all know her as Ysabel Dilara Conta. The Fighting Moroi. But tonight, she is Queen Ysabel Dilara Conta. Tonight she shines brighter than any star in the sky. And brighter than this.” He opened a chest that had been sitting on the ledge and revealed an amazing tiara of silver, crafted finely with sapphires and diamonds. Tough gift to top. He carefully positioned it within her hair so that it wouldn’t fall, placing a kiss upon each cheek before turning to the clapping crowd and sending them into a flurry of roars and whistles. “Long live the Queen!”

And so the party began with a bang. Ysabel made her way from guest to guest, making sure she interacted with as many Royals as she possibly could before one had snagged her attention. “I hope it’s not too much trouble to request a dance from Her Royal Highness.” Ysa turned to face Adrian Ivashkov, a laugh bubbling past her lips. “I didn’t think you’d make it!” She obliged and soon found herself in the middle of a tango with him in her backyard.

“I heard that you broke poor Trisha Tarus’ heart.”

“Is this you seeing if I’m available? Because for you, I’m available anytime.” Adrian smirked from behind his Zorro mask and Ysa rolled her eyes. There were hardly any butterflies. She generally just brushed off when guys flirted with her. Not because of Leon, but because she didn’t trust them.

“So you did?”

“It’s very un-Queenly to gossip. Must you sully such a sacred day of birth with meaningless gossip about my love life? I’ve already told you yes.”

“I don’t think I’ve got the time for a relationship. I’ve got things to do.”

“Like what?”

“You know – The usual. Taking over the world.”

“Every Queen needs a King.”, he objected as he dipped her, reaching out to steady her tiara. He earned only a scoff as she was brought back up and pulled in close.

“How incredibly sexist of you, Adrian. I’d say that I expected better of you. But it’s un-Queenly to lie.”

“Oh, how your harsh words wound me. You need only to speak of how I might right this grave wrong and I shall do it.”

The two burst into laughter, easily sliding into the beat of the next dance as Ysabel threw her cares away for the night, allowing herself to relax completely as she cycling through dance partners like she cycled through shoes, even sharing a few with her father. Everywhere she looked, she could see Guardians staring sternly out into the distance, surveying the perimeter for potential threats even though her home was warded. It pained her to see them dressed up and working during her party, but it wouldn’t look good on her now if she told them to shirk their duties for dancing and drinking. She remained silent as she danced with her father to Sweet Child of Mine, sending a thought out to Leon. I’ll save you some cake. I promise.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Time: 4 months ago



Leon felt like an utter coward. I can’t believe I’m avoiding a girl of half my height and near half my age! Leon lay on his bed, earphones on, blasting Dvorak’s 9th symphony, From the New World, as loud as his ears could bear. His hand reached up and rubbed his hair that was unkempt and messy. Earlier, Leon had hid out in the gym, away from the student buildings, punching at the tattered and beaten up punching bag. His mind had been in a fury- one that he had never experienced before- and the anger still persisted as he lay on his simple bed, his legs splayed, with annoyance etched into every part of his body. Ever since that night at the gym with Ysabel, Leon had been in irritated moods that were only calmed down whenever he was near Ysabel. He didn’t know why, but what Leon did know was that the fact that Ysabel was his anchor did not please Leon at all. All that guardian training for nothing. Leon sighed as he got up off of the bed and walked towards the bathroom linked to his dorm room. He glared at his mirror image as his hand turned on the faucet, allowing water to spew forth from the tap. Christ. His image was the epitome of unkemptness, something Leon had never been in the past. “Scheiß-,” He splashed water onto his face and neck, rubbing away at the sore muscles, allowing the water to both sooth his flesh and mood.

Pulling off his shirt, Leon dropped it in the near full laundry basket, and then placed the rest of his clothes in the basket as well. Suddenly, his eyes flashed back to the basket as he just noticed the large amount of contents held within. This had never happened before, either. Verdammt. Leon pushed his hair back with his right hand as he stepped into the shower, his emotions boiling inside as he turned on the water, instantly annoyed at the fact that the water was not as warm as he wished it to be. ”Ficken amerikanischen Wassersysteme.” Glaring at the wall, German words flew out of Leon’s mouth as he muttered darkly, his mouth twisted into a firm frown. The sudden input of Ysabel’s thoughts did not make Leon feel any better, especially since she was out at one of Adrian’s parties again. Suddenly, Leon was in Ysabel’s mind again as scenes of heavy, pounding music and dancing young Morois filled his vision. So this was why the bond was numbed just right now. His frown deepened as he looked through Ysabel’s eyes at the scene, distate grew within him as he watched the Moroi and Dhampirs fall over one another, drunk and inebriated. Junge Narren. Suddenly, Ysabel’s vision turned rapidly, and Leon’s mind was filled with the vision of a Moroi boy, gyrating against Ysabel to the rhythm of the music. No! Leon yelled, but the boy continued, a sly smile on his face as he continued to dance against Ysabel. “Get the fuck away from Ysabel!” His fist hit the wall as Leon suddenly found himself once again in his bathroom. A shaky sigh left his lips as Leon knelt down in the middle of his shower, water pouring down onto his hair and down his chest and back. What am I doing?! What is happening?

After a while, Leon stepped out of the shower, his emotionless mask once again on his face as he shaved and combed his wet hair. He wiped himself down and put on his favorite pair of khakis and a black shirt- really, it didn’t matter anymore. Leon was determined to forget Ysabel. Picking up his phone, he quickly scrolled down the names before finally stopping at the name titled Jennifer Lewitt. Pressing the call button, Leon placed his phone against his ear as he waited for the phone to pick up. “H-hey, Leon! What’s up?” A shaky female voice said through the phone, obviously shocked and flustered. “Hey, Jennifer. Mind if I head over for…the night? He muttered back into the phone as he put on his shoes and grabbed his sleepwear. It wasn’t like she was going to say no.


Time: Day Before Departure


Opening a bleary eye, Leon woke up to an unfamiliar room, furnished with expensive furniture all white and bright. “Good morning, Schwartz.” A husky female voice came from beside him as the sheets moved. Suddenly, a bare woman’s body pressed against his as a Moroi woman’s face came into view. Veronica Dashkov. Leon sighed and raised a hand to rub his face, trying to wake himself up. “It’s almost four in the afternoon- I suggest you hurry up before you’re late to fly with your princess off to Barcelona. Leon grinned back, “A few minutes won’t hurt anyone, lovely.” But the two still got out of bed, the cold air of the air conditioner hitting their bodies as they left the warmth of the covers. The Moroi moved towards the large doors, grabbing a bed sheet as she walked, wrapping it loosely around her body. “Well,” she said, a coy look on her face, “I will meet you later, then. Make sure that no one sees you and, oh-,” she pointed towards the bedside drawer and giggled, casting Leon a sly look, “Better throw away that useless thing. It’s not like I’d get pregnant, anyways.” She blew an air kiss towards Leon and then disappeared behind the door, the bed sheet fluttering in the cool air.

The moment she was gone, Leon immediately dropped his small grin, an irritated and annoyed look suddenly appearing on his face. Walking over to the table, he wiped it down with a volley of tissues before stuffing it in the bag he had brought. No way else to dispose of it without other people seeing it. Walking over to the toilet, he quickly brushed up, furiously washing his hands and body all over to rid himself of the strong smell of the Moroi woman, and then rushed out of the room with all his stuff on him. Swiftly, he rushed down a set of secret stairs and avoided the other Dhampirs and humans that served within the house- and finally he was out, running as fast as possible towards his car that was parked but a block or so away. Quickly, he got in and pushed the car onto maximum speed as he rushed down the street, back towards the St. Vladimir’s campus. He had four hours left; he had to hurry to be in time for the graduation ceremony. This had been his fourth woman of the month, but Leon still did not feel satisfied. What…am I doing… His car sped along fast across the street, peeling down roads as he rushed back towards his source of responsibility.


Location: Barcelona
Time: Five o’clock


Leon stood with his back towards the gathering of Moroi, muttering instructions to a group of newly instated guardians. The new graduating class. All of the dhampirs gathered around him watched him with reverent eyes as he split them into groups of two and spread them around the area closest to the dancing area. Better keep them away from probable dangerous areas. A wave of the hand signaled for all the new guardians to disperse- and they did, immediately, their anticipatory looks were immediately coated with a sense of emergence and formality. Without him noticing, Mike- a long time friend of Leon’s- walked up and patted him on the back. “This year’s batch seem promising, don’t they?” He said with a grin, as the two walked away from the dancing grounds and towards the periphery of the mansion, which was already dotted by a few well-seasoned guardians. “Barely. They are all too excited. This isn’t a game- this is an actual job.” Leon muttered as his eyes scanned the grounds of the mansion, his hands crossed across his chest as they stood straight and tall.

Though the two were speaking, their eyes kept on flickering left and right, nonstop- guardians never forgot their duty, unless they were still young. “Oh, come on. It’s their first time on duty. We were like that when we were younger.” Leon rolled his eyes, though an easy smile formed on his lips. “I will have you know that I was a straight A student until you arrived at my school as an exchange student!” The two chuckled but still kept their eyes wide as they started to walk around the grounds. Mike and Leon were two of the oldest guardians within the new Conta mansion- they had the responsibility of covering the entirety of the grounds, and so the two walked across the gardens of the new mansion, highly alert to all noise that happened to cross their ears.

Leon tried to ignore the images that passed through the bond as Ysabel twirled around on the dance floor. It was for the best that Leon could not see Ysabel herself- he would have been distracted. He had seen her earlier, and she had been dazzling in her dress, not to mention with her father’s present on. However, the flashes of her dancing partners was enough to cause Leon to grimace, especially as she flirted with Adrian Ivashkov, the notorious playboy Moroi that had graduated along with her class. Shaking his head, Leon continued his patrol with Mike, once again pushing down the amalgam of emotions that raged within his heart.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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The party had been amazing. The best that she had been to in her life and it was one of those rare moments where nobody spent any time trying to sneak into a social circle to spread rumors. The entire night was about her and her happiness and just having an excellent time. The presents were amazing too; there was a lot of clothes and jewelry, some concert tickets, a new laptop, some new things for her house, a few new instruments, and some comic books. Nothing topped what her father had gotten her though; but a house, car, tiara, and workers for said house was a gift that nobody could top.

The only thing that she had wished was that she could have at least had a dance with Leon that night. One dance wouldn't have hurt anything. Or maybe it would have. Either way, she dismissed the thought as she stirred in her sleep and found herself staring at Adrian Ivaskov. "Dios mio!! We didn't... Oh.... Oh, no. God, no!" Dread and sheer terror filled her expression as tears welled up in her eyes while she watched the boy get dressed. Adrian rolled his eyes at her and shook his head. "Have sex? No. Pretty much everyone slept in here last night. Remember? We're just the last ones up." Ysabel struggled to calm down and remember, heaving a sigh of relief as she did remember Adrian sleeping near the window while Gemini and Alexandra had slept in bed with her among plenty of other girls. Her birthday bash had turned into a slumber party and she pitied those who had to clean up.

She heaved a sigh of relief before standing, glad that she was in pajamas - Blue ones, of course. Shaking her head, she lifted a brow at him as he gave her a look of hurt feelings. "What?" She crinkled her nose at him, pulling her door open and pausing to watch him put on his shirt. "Nothing. Just... So crushed at your reaction after thinking we had sex." But she only rolled her eyes and continued on downstairs, greeting the domestic servants and Guardians with a friendly hello. She looked like crap. But she could. Because it was her house. She just couldn't get over that she had her own place now.

Granted, she shared it with some friends who didn't want to stay at Court or go back to their parents' place.In the last six months of school she had really buckled down to find an inner circle of other Moroi Royalty and she had done just that. She didn't bother putting too much effort into looking for trustworthy Dhampirs because that took too much energy and she could do that after graduation. Besides, in the mean time, she had Leon, Tanner, Stan, Dimitri, Gunter, Alberta, and whatever Guardians her father would allow her. Mazur Guardians were among the most trustworthy if you were the right person. They took their secrets to the grave. Her dad could probably kill the Queen while they watched and they wouldn't say a damn thing.

But she didn't want to worry about any of that until she had some breakfast in her. Every window and curtain was open to let in the cool summer air of Spain, moonlight streaming in from everywhere and candles lighting the home more than the light bulbs. It was a beautiful night and she got to sleep in late. "Dad...left me Feeders, right?" She facepalmed, realizing that he hadn't but made a mental note to acquire some later. For now, she settled with a bowl of assorted fruits mixed in with her Frosted Flakes, taking a seat at the round table with her friends.

Apparently all the extra guests had left already. She didn't speak though, only yawning as the others did in between bites of food while the house was cleaned around them. Leon stood guard in the room, along with four other guardians, watching the Morois eat. Though he desperately needed sleep, Leon didn't let it show as he kept his eyes stuck on the wall opposite to him. He had to follow normal procedure, which meant that he could not talk, move, or really make a noise. Right now, he was a statue- and he couldn't allow the food on the table- and Ysabel for that matter- to distract him at all. Feeders...I'll call for them when they're done. Leon kept a mental tab as his eyes drifted over the crowd sitting at the long, grand table, eating without a care.

A buzz of Leon's phone dragged his attention down to his pocket. Bowing a bit in the direction of the Moroi, Leon backed out of the room, nodding at the guardian at the door as he walked as his hand dragged his phone out of his pocket. With the dining room door shut behind him, Leon picked his phone. "Yes? No sign of Strigoi, right, Masters?"

"None. Some humans walking by, but that's about it. I don't think they'll come near the wards, sir. But there's a house down the way Lady Ysa wants us to keep an eye on. A Moroi graduate and her new Guardian, also a recent graduate, are living there with no wards." Leon's brows scrunched as he listened to the younger guardian through the phone. He knew of the Moroi, and he was just as worried as Ysabel about them. "Yes. I'll send a few guardians over later, when the main forces start to arrive at the building. Hopefully the Moroi is still getting those wards up, or she's putting all of us here in danger." He sighed. "Well, I'll be heading back. Stay safe, Masters." He hung up the phone, a deep frown in place. A Moroi living without a ward...either foolish, or living with ill content. I will have to report to Ibrahaim soon. Placing the phone once more in his pocket, he walked towards the dining room, opened the door silently, and once again took his place right behind Ysabel, his mind still whirring about their new, enigmatic neighbor.




"So, you're serious about Moroi training?" Gemini looked up from her meal at Ysa and everyone else paused as well. Except Ysa, who kept eating as though it were the most normal topic in the world to discuss over breakfast. "Yeah, of course. I mean, I don't think Moroi should be forced to learn how to fight. It should be advised though. But what right do any of them have to say that we can't defend ourselves?" She watched the others nod in agreement, taking a cigarette passed to her by Adrian as Leon walked out with his phone she eyed him before looking at the other Guardians. "The house is warded. Take a break and get some food or something." She watched as they looked a bit confused for a second before she lifted a brow, exhaling smoke. "Did I stutter?" The smile she gave was playful as she watched the Guardians disperse to the kitchen.

"Alright. So how are we supposed to carry out this brilliant plan. Do you honestly think people are going to go for it?" Adrian rested a hand on hers though she retracted subtly, bringing the cigarette back to her mouth and taking a drag before speaking. "There's more of us willing to change than there are of those wanting to stay in the past. All we have to do is be the stronger influence and set the example. Show the benefits." Leon stood behind the two Moroi, his hands set behind his back as he glared over their heads, his anger growing as the Ivashkov boy tried to get closer to Ysabel. He tried to read her emotions- but something seemed to be blocking him. No matter. Leon pushed harder, a negative energy building within him as he pushed forth- one that he was extremely familiar with these few days. Ysabel passed the cigarette back to Adrian before polishing off the rest of her cereal, the others nodding in agreement. Gemini gave a light grin towards Ysa as she finished her own Lucky Charms cereal bar. "This is going to be amazing. I mean, we're going to change things in a way nobody ever thought to." There was excitement in her eyes as she looked around at her friends but Ysa just smiled.

"It's not like the idea is unheard of. We're just setting things how they used to be. How they should be. Fair and equal for everyone." She remembered the disbelief from them when she told them that Moroi and Dhampirs once fought and lived as equals. Adrian turned his head some at the prompting of Max nodding his head, noticing Leon glaring behind he and Ysabel. "You alright there, Chuckles?" He gave an uncaring air with a lifted brow as he exhaled smoke in the Guardian's direction. "Adrian, don't make me hit you." Ysabel frowned as the urge to jump to Leon's defense surged through her. He could handle his own against Strigoi, but it never fared well for a Dhampir to say anything out of line towards a Moroi. And Adrian knew that. She knew Adrian was a good person in general - He was just spoiled and lead a laid back, come what may lifestyle. Leon's eyes flickered down to the Moroi, his slightly angry expression falling away to once again be replaced by a look of nonchalance. "No, not at all Master Ivashkov." His eyes immediately flickered up to stare at the air above their heads, watching as maids walked over to clean up the messy plates that the Moroi left behind them. He would not fall for the taunts of a young Moroi. But how could he...read my emotions so well? Suspicion rose within Leon as his eyes moved towards Adrian's head, but he dragged his eyes away again. I'll search around later.

"Leon, may I talk to you for a minute?" Ysabel glared as Adrian chuckled some more before leaving to go do God knows what. The others were clearing out to go dress for the night as well but Ysabel motioned for her Guardian to follow her. Leon stifled a sigh as he followed after Ysabel, making his way towards the large room she had deemed her office. She closed the door behind them and urged him to take a seat before pulling down a book from one of the shelves and flipping through the pages. "Alright. What's wrong?" Looking down at Ysabel, Leon feigned a look of nonchalance. "Nothing's wrong, Lady Conta." His eyes stayed fixed on the wall behind her head rather than on Ysabel herself. "Don't lie to me." Ysa sighed as she put down the book and ran fingers through her messy hair, stifling a yawn. Leon sighed. "I would never lie to you, Lady Conta."

"You're lying right now." She gave a frown and hung her head a bit. Leon's eyes narrowed as he looked down at the Moroi, anger growing inside him as he watched Ysabel's head. Taking in a deep breath, Leon tried to calm himself. "I am not lying, Ysabel. Can I please go back on duty now?" He closed his eyes, trying to calm himself as his anger continued to boil and grow. "What's making you so mad?" She looked at him directly now, tilting her head to the side. He couldn't help it anymore. Leon moved, pacing around the study, his hands clenched into fists as he tried to not look at Ysabel. "I am-," he said through clenched teeth, "Not. Fucking. Mad!" Leon whirled to face Ysabel, yelling the last word across the vast room, his eyes narrowed and his face red.

"..." Ysabel lifted her brows, concern in her eyes as she simply studied him for a few moments. "Said the man yelling and dropping the F-bomb. Stop lying to me. I can see that you're mad. Your aura is red." She swung her feet from her perch on the desk, as patient as ever as she waited as though she had all the time in the world. "It kind of sort of really hurts that I trust you with my life but you can't trust me enough to tell me what's bothering you." Her head hung again as her lips pulled into a frown once more, her feelings actually hurt. "Verdammte Hölle!" Leon switched into his native language as he continued to pace around, trying to calm himself down as he ignored the words of the Moroi, though her voice did soothe his nerves a bit. But only a bit. "Warum zum Teufel war das Junge hängen über euch?!" The words tumbled off of his tongue, annoyance etched on every surface of his face, the words not registering in his mind.

However, Leon started to slowly calm down, enough to stop his pacing and stand across the room from Ysabel, watching her with weary eyes. "I apologize for my-," Leon shook his head as his left hand rubbed his closed eyes, soothing the headache that was building. "-my insolence, Lady Conta." His hand went up to ruffle his hair as his eyes searched Ysabel's face, worry now replacing the anger that had been there just seconds ago. Ysabel watched Leon for a few minutes, biting her bottom lip a bit as guilt ran through her. His anger frightened her just a bit, though only because she felt as though it was directed towards her, making her flinch when he yelled. When he finally apologized, she turned her head the other way. "Leon... Please, calm down. Adrian isn't even my type. I don't have time for a relationship outside of my dreams right now anyways. And if I did, the only person I'd consider is you... And you know that." Leon took a few steps back, closing his eyes as he shook his head rapidly. "No, Ysa, no. That cannot happen. I will not allow that sort of shame come upon one of the last Contas. Especially since..." He walked up to Ysabel and placed his hand against her left cheek, his eyes soft as her head tilted to the side to rest further in his hand as if by reflex. "...Especially to the woman I care about the most in this world." His hand dropped as if wounded, a sad expression crossing his face as he looked down at Ysabel.

Ysa gave him a light smile with her usual hope coursing through her as she took his hand in hers. "Have a little faith, will you? I really don't think you fully comprehend just how much we intend to change things. We might be just a bunch of barely legals, but don't underestimate us. And honestly, if we do fail... Then, to Hell with what everyone thinks of me. Because if we fail, I'll never regain that honor and respect. But we won't fail. And then you and I... Well. We can be happy without having to have secret dates in your dreams. And you can say whatever you want, I know you love it when I visit you." Leon watched Ysabel, a look of worry etched on his face. What if this leads to Ysabel's ruin? He pulled her into a loose hug, checking the doors to make sure that they were locked. "Whatever you say, Ysa. I will do whatever you tell me to do, even if that is to give up my own life." Placing a tiny kiss on top of Ysabel's head, Leon drew away quickly as sharp raps sounded on the door. "Ysabel? You in there?" Leon's frown once again returned as he glared at the door as if daring the Moroi boy to knock again.

Ysa's eyes closed as she momentarily melted into her Guardian, a sigh of relief escaping her. She knew that she wasn't exactly the easiest Moroi to deal with. Out of all the traditional and "normal" Moroi in the world, of course Leon got stuck with the rebel. She gave a light smile as her head rested against his chest. The sound of Adrian's voice made her frown simply because it made Leon move away. "Yes. I am. I'm in the middle of a very important and very private conversation. Go away." She could almost feel Adrian's smirk on the other side of the door and she could only roll her eyes as he called out again. "It's not your birthday anymore, ergo you are no longer queen."

Sometimes she wondered what in the world was keeping her from punching Adrian in his gut. He was a good friend, but she could only handle him in doses. "Go find Jessica, Thomas, Reed, and Dawn. Tell them to reapply the wards. Now!", she snapped at him, her voice holding authority and irritation. Adrian sighed from the other side of the door, his voice dripping with dry humor. "For someone preaching about equality among all, you're pretty damn bossy." Leon held back a chuckle as he took a step back, his strict facade immediately making it's appearance once more. "Lady Conta, I do believe you should go and oversee the setting of the wards. You are now the master of the house." He walked towards the door and opened it, revealing an Adrian who was just about to leave. "You should follow your heart. It'll be worth it in the end." Ysabel countered with a gentle smile as she followed him, a knowing look in her eyes as Adrian narrowed his own towards her. Ysa simply shrugged. "Relationship counseling. Something you wouldn't know about." He simply scoffed with a roll of his eyes, offering her a cigarette.

She turned it down with a shake of her head - Being around Leon seemed to calm her more than usual since they had bonded. With the exception of that one hysterical breakdown. She was about to walk away before suddenly turning around to face her Guardian once more. "We need to fly out to Seattle in a few days to go visit some of the other Vodas. Also, could you go check on Olive and Jeremy down the way? Take Byron, Cecily, and Patrick with you." She flashed him a smile before turning and heading away again. Adrian simply shot Leon a smirk before calling out to Ysa. "Mind if I shower with you?" Shooting a quick glare at Adrian, Leon bowed towards Ysabel's back as she retreated down the hall. He straightened up and turned quickly, walking for the guardian rooms.

The house had been split in two- the main for the Moroi, large and spacious with maids and expensive furnishings. The other half- or, rather, quarter- for guardians, living in minimal rooms in hallways that looked more like dorms. The guardians had a general 'common room' where, when guardians are off duty, they could rest- or when meetings were held. Walking in, he noticed Byron, Cecily and Patrick sitting conveniently in chairs that dotted the common room, chatting with one another or immersed in sharpening their weapons. "Masters, Miguelina, O'Donnel. Move along, we have orders to check on the Moroi down the street." Grabbing two stakes that lay on the table that hosted lines of weapons, Leon walked out of the common room, knowing that the other three would follow him promptly.

~~~~~~~~~


The four Guardians were silent as they closed the doors of the silver Honda after pulling up in front of the house down the road. Like the Conta home, it wasn't exactly near town and not really in a neighborhood. Most Moroi either lived outside city limits and had quite a bit of land, lived at Court, or they lived in Moroi communities. Sometimes it seemed easier and better to live out in the countryside where one could have privacy. But it also made them suitable targets. The two younger Guardians had paired up with the older and more experienced ones, Cecily at Patrick's side and Byron letting Leon take the lead. Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary. Lights were on in the home and it looked like there was a television on. Byron had to admit that he felt a bit uneasy about just four Guardians scoping out suge a huge place. Who knows how many Strigoi could hide there.

But they made it calmly to the front door, Patrick knocking loudly and rapidly as he called out. "Olive and Jeremy? Lady Conta sent us to check on you! Are you alright?" There was a bit of silence before scuffling could be heard and the Guardians tensed. But the sounds that followed made Cecily stifle a giggle. "Jeremy, move! Get off! Somebody's here! Go get your clothes on!" Leon raised an eyebrow as he stood behind the other three guardians, his eyes surveying the area around them. Just because they were dhampirs didn't mean that Strigoi wouldn't attack the four that had just left the Conta mansion; rather, they were, almost, the perfect targets for a Strigoi attack. A stake was clutched in his hand, hidden in the pockets of his large sweatpants, the other stuck in his jacket. He only turned when the door creaked open, a male dhampir sticking his head out from behind the crevice, his face flushed and his hair messy. "Jeremy, I would presume?" Leon stated, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice as the boy nodded his head quickly, widening the crack of the door immediately when he realized that he faced four other guardians. "Who is it?" A girl's voice squeaked from within the house, though the owner of the voice did not show up. "It's...I believe, Lady Conta's guardians?" Jeremy shot them all a shy look before looking down at his toes again, the blush that had been on his face rushing to his neck as well.

Leon put on a reassuring smile, holding up his hands as if to show that he held nothing- his stake was left in his pocket. "I just wanted to talk to you about your wards. Why are they still not up yet? Jeremy, from the training you received at school, you should know that it is of greatest importance that wards are set up around the abode of any Moroi." His voice slowly went from amiable to didactic, the boy cowering on the doorstep as Leon looked down at him with stern eyes. Jeremy flinched at Leon's words and hung his head a bit with shame. Olive piped up from behind the door with a bit of what might be sadness in her voice. "We don't know any Moroi that would come out here to set up wards for us on a weekly basis... We kind of just figured we'd deal with whatever came our way." Jeremy turned to see her smiling weakly even though the others couldn't see them. Byron gave a light nod as he and the others understood. The girl was a pariah to her family for her choice in relationship. Such relationships weren't really frowned upon while they were at school, but for a Moroi of any bloodline to continue on a serious relationship with a Dhampir into adulthood was damn near forbidden.

As far as most Moroi were concerned, Dhampir men and women alike were only good for Guarding them, doing their chores, and giving them Dhampir babies to be later shipped off to become Guardians so the cycle would continue. Except Dhampir males. Most Moroi female tried to avoid having Dhampir children. They weren't as open about their sexual conquests with Dhampirs as Moroi males.

Patrick nodded towards Leon wih a light frown. "Your call. Should we ask Lady Ysa to send hers down here to help out?" They all knew that she would, of course. Leon frowned as well, watching the two helpless newly graduated kids. They need help- they are too young to be thrown to whatever Strigoi comes this way. He nodded quickly, giving Olive and Jeremy a small but firm smile. "I shall inform Lady Conta of your situation. Hopefully, she will send a few helpers down to set you two up a ward around your house. Well then," Leon turned around and made his way down the steps slowly, "Till then- Jeremy, do you have stakes?" He turned his head only to see the boy hold up two short stakes that looked like the ones they practiced with at school. "You have got to be kidding me..." Patrick muttered, shaking his head. "Patrick, hand Jeremy the three stakes you brought. Let's be on our way. Stay safe, you two." With another nod, Leon turned around and made his way towards the silver Honda, though the nagging worry that had plagued him as he had arrived at the house persisted. His stomach squirmed uncomfortably but Leon ignored it, taking his seat in the Honda as Patrick took the wheel and wheeled the car out back onto the road and towards the Conta Mansion again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


They soon had grabbed Jessica, Thomas, Reed, and Dawn after getting the approval from Ysabel and being rushed out of the house by her, now on their way back in a slightly larger vehicle to accommodate them all. Of course, they were all a bit nervous, especially the Moroi. They had left the warded area of the Conta property and were out in the open. Their fears were brought to life as they neared Olive's home once more to find the sight of Olive slamming the door while Jeremy bravely fought off five Strigoi. The four Moroi in the SUV screamed and cringed, covering their eyes as one of the Strigoi snapped Jeremy's neck and began to feast. The other four had quickly turned around as the headlights came upon them, clearly unhappy with the intrusion.

Cursing, Leon kicked the car door open as fast as possible. "Byron! Stay in the car- guard those four." He jerked his head towards the four Moroi that sat in the door. "And lock all the doors to the car!" With that, he ran as fast as possible towards the Strigoi that ignored the three incoming guardians and went for the door, kicking it down as if it provided no weight at all. It was as if everything happened in slow motion- Leon tried to quicken his pace as the Strigoi moved into the house, their fangs flashing in the light of the moon, but no matter how hard and fast his feet pounded against the soft soil and grass, he could not speed up at all. No- Olive's screams split the air and was quickly silenced once more. Olive! Anger pulsated through Leon as he ran to the front of the house and quickly pulled a Strigoi back by it's collar, turning around and staking the Strigoi straight in the heart. But it was all too late. Patrick and Cecily came running up, stakes in their hands as well as they judged the situation. "O-Olive!" Cecily muttered as she saw the lifeless body of the Moroi clutched in one of the Strigoi's hands.

Leon kept his eyes fixed on the Strigoi as they turned around to face the guardians, their lips drawn into sneers. "Well, well, well. What do we have here?" One of the Strigoi- a woman- said, flashing her fangs at the three guardians as she smirked at them, blood trickling down her chin. "Dogs. Toys, the lot of them useless dhampirs." Another one chipped in, tossing Olive's body away from him, causing it to crash hard against the wall. The Strigoi that stood behind them glared at Leon, his eyes gleaming a bright red, but he kept silent. "Well, what should we do, Drake?" The woman asked, turning around to face the man. Drake smiled, placing a finger against his lips. "Hush, Veronica. There is one guardian that stands here today that we cannot underestimate. Welcome, Schwartz. I finally am able to meet the man who has managed to kill most of my first brood." The man stepped forward, his smile chilling as he ignored Patrick and Cecily, keeping his eyes fixed on Leon. "I do not wish to extract revenge- no, rather. There is something else I have in mind for you, especially, Schwartz. Something very honorable, most honorable indeed." But before Drake could finish, Patrick took a step forward, "Bugger off, we aren't here to talk."

Veronica quickly appeared in front of Patrick as the guardian attempted a swipe towards Drake's chest, blocking his attack easily. "Is this how weak guardians are nowadays! Bah!" Quickly, Patrick retracted his hand and started to parry against Veronica's quick attacks, grunting when a hit landed on his body. Leon kept his eyes fixed on Drake, his mind blank and his stomach queazy as he ignored the two other sparring pairs that fought around them. "Well, Schwartz. I would suppose it is only just you and me, old friend. But do not worry- no harm will come to you. None at all." Drake smiled before he lunged, his nails sharp and lethal, scratching the side of Leon's neck as Leon ducked the sudden attack. Stumbling backwards, Leon quickly took a firm stance as he blocked another one of Drake's sudden attacks, using his other hand to guide the stake towards Drake's chest. But the Strigoi moved fast and the stake missed it's target, landing instead on Drake's arm. However, Drake didn't flinch as he used the arm to grab Leon's hair, pulling Leon's neck towards his sharp fangs. "No!-" Leon kicked Drake hard before pulling the hand he had used to parry Drake's earlier attack back, punching Drake across the face as fast as possible.

His hair free from the Strigoi's grasp, Leon stumbled back a few steps before moving forward again, as fast as Drake himself as the two shot attacks at one another faster than a human could probably follow. Quickly, Leon gained the upper hand, as many hours of training helped him build his resilience, allowing him to fight for long periods of time- Drake was different. He only had the advantage of being a Strigoi- and the sun was rising in the sky. Stumbling back from Leon's sharp jab towards his chest, Drake cursed and then turned around, calling Veronica to his side. "Remember me, Schwartz! Do not think you will get away with this embarrassment!" Leon glared at the Strigoi as the two disappeared into the forest and away from sight.

~~~~~~~~~~


Silence lingered in the Conta home as the Guardians began to fill out their reports of what happened while the young Moroi sat in the large living room. The television was on but it was muted and everyone seemed to stare blankly at the floor. Except Adrian who was busy with a cocktail and a game on his phone while in between sweet talking a girl on the house phone that he had met at the party. Ysabel's stomach was in knots and she felt like she was going to vomit after having seen the photos to be filed with the reports. Her home would be swarming tomorrow with Dhampir and Moroi from Court who would come to fetch the bodies of the two dead teenagers. Olive's parents had refused to come though; they believed that their daughter had chosen her fate when she decided to live outside of Court with her Dhampir lover. Ysabel was disgusted with them, though she held it back and simply retreated into herself. She didn't even want to really be around anyone at the moment. Maybe she had showered for no reason. Maybe she should have just stayed in bed.

She refused when Adrian offered her a Feeder several times, eventually throwing a book at him when he persisted. "I'll be in my room." Her voice was lifeless as she headed away from her friends who seemed to all do the same. None of them (except Ysa) had actually been so close to Strigoi before. They had heard of attacks, but none of it had ever been near them. To have an attack right down the road to them had set them thinking and they needed time to themselves. Ysa just wanted to curl up with her pillows and stuffed panda. Pedro the Panda, she had named him. She'd had him since the night she had killed her first Strigoi. Leon had given him to her to help her when she couldn't sleep and she had never slept without him since then.

She now clutched him close, curled into the fetal position with her face buried into his plush body. She hadn't known Olive that well, but what she did know was that Olive was a good girl. She had a lot of book smarts but her head was always in the clouds. She was very young and naive, but Ysa kind of liked that about her. Jeremy was a sweet guy too. He was tall and gangly, strangely built for a Dhampir. But he was kind of goofy and not really a good Guardian though he always gave it his all and then some. They were a sweet couple and she wished that they weren't dead. They didn't deserve to die that way. Nobody did.

She clenched her jaw and closed her eyes as she took the blame for not having sent people down their sooner. If she had sent Guardians sooner, there would have been wards and they would be alive right now. Each of her thoughts made their way to Leon's mind as he leaned against the door of his room, a frown etched on his face. What did Drake mean that I have to remember him...will he come back to the Conta Mansion? Leon's eyes flashed dangerously, his own emotions raging compared to Ysabel's mellow disposition. He wanted to go to Ysabel's room but he knew he couldn't. Not that anyone would hear him or see him- but if they did the two would lose any favor that Ysabel had been able to build. It is still too early. Leon cast his eyes out of his window, watching as the trees moved under the light breeze, the sun slowly brightening up the dim sky with a blood red. Walking over to his cabinet and grabbing the water bottle that stood on it, Leon took a drink before settling down in his still new bed and fell into a light slumber.

Ysabel had contemplated drinking herself to sleep with the remaining alcohol in the bottle on her dresser but there was no need for it as she soon found herself passing out as the sun began to peek over the horizon. As she did slip into slumber, she stifled a groan when Adrian showed up. She looked down to see that she was wearing the blue dress from her party, Adrian grinning at her as he smoked. "So, you going to tell me what's going on with you and Schwartz?" He tilted his head some with a devious gleam in his eyes. She wasn't in the mood for his games and gave only a frown. "Get out." He rose his hands to apologize and protest but she immediately forced him out and away. She didn't have time for his foolishness. She had other things to worry about.

Like Leon.

She didn't know how she did it. She just did. She simply wanted to see Leon and she found herself standing in front of him. She still wore her blue dress though they were not in the garden that she usually found herself in when Adrian visited her dreams; they were in a forest with a lake nearby. Her gaze found Leon and she hesitated as she took a step towards him, an arm half raised as if wondering whether she should reach for him or not. "L-Leon...?" Leon's head snapped towards Ysabel, his eyes blinking quickly as he took the scenery around him in and then at Ysabel. It was impossible- he was at his home back at Germany where he lived at with his mother. But then, suddenly, it clicked. It was one of those dreams again. Leon pulled up the the small canoe he, for some reason, had in his hands and onto the shore, cleaning his hands on his short khaki pants as he walked up to Ysabel. "Ysabel. What's wrong?" He frowned as he looked at the Moroi, tilting his head to a side as he judged her expression.

"Olive and Jeremy are gone... I could have stopped it from happening... I... I feel like I was responsible. I knew beforehand that they were living right down the road from me with no wards. I should have dealt with it sooner.." Her arm had dropped and hung limply at her side as she stared him, her face contorted with distress as she looked up at her Guardian. Smiling encouragingly, Leon bent down and linked his hand with Ysabel's gently, and then turned to walk towards the small wood house that stood right beside the clear blue lake. "It wasn't your fault, Ysa." He said, leading her across the soft dirt that lined the lake. "You couldn't have predicted that it would happen. Anyways, they were foolish for not coming to find you first." Turning around, Leon let go of Ysabel's hand as he placed a hand behind her back, enjoying the rare intimacy the two were sharing. As much as he often chastised himself for feeling such a way towards her, it could not be helped. He knew that when he woke, he would chastise himself again. But whenever she would again visit him in his dreams, he would welcome her with open arms as he always did.

Leading Ysabel to sit on a rocking chair that stood on the porch of the wooden house, Leon leaned against the railing right across from her, his back towards the lake. "They were scared. And justly so. Olive's own parents aren't even going to attend her funeral." She was still frowning though she did not protest to being lead to the porch, enjoying the rustic nature scenery. It was the type of place she'd enjoy escaping to if she ever needed to go into hiding. Not that it'd happen. But just in case, she kept the scenery in mind. She crinkled her nose as she realized she was far past overdressed, grabbing the fabric in her hands. It seemed to fade into nothing before she found herself donning a tank top and her usual work out shorts as though she were about to spar. "I might not be on the Council, but it's still my job to look out for other Moroi - and Dhampirs - and I should have sent wards for them sooner instead of getting absorbed in my stupid party." She crossed her arms over her chest, standing across from Leon. "Ysa- don't place on your shoulders something that is not your fault...and something that is not reversable. You did all you could, and who should be in blame now are her parents who threw her aside due to her love for a dhampir." In an attempt to cheer Ysabel up, Leon took her hands in his and smiled encouragingly, though he did not know what else to do. Where have all my 'skills' gone to. Leon thought, slightly annoyed at himself.

Ysa sighed, knowing that she wasn't going to win this; Leon would never let her feel guilty for anything. Knowing that he was that protective over her made her smile a bit. She released his hands and instead wrapped her arms around him, letting her head rest on his chest. "Will you throw Adrian off of a balcony for me? We can blame it on Strigoi." Leon chuckled, looking down at the Moroi. "Obviously, I would love to, but I can't. Guardian duties." He leaned down and pressed a kiss on her head, a small grin on his face as he enjoyed the dream with Ysabel. She gave a light smirk and a bit of a triumphant grin. "But doesn't your Guardian duties as my personal Guardian mean that my orders come first?" Pleased with her logic, she decided to celebrate in the very best way. She scrunched up her face and stuck out her tongue. Why? Because she could. There was nobody around to judge either of them. In their dreams, they were always free and she was hardly ever sad.

Leon snorted, shaking his head as his smile widened. "Well, Ysa, it seems like you give me no more choice. I will have to throw the young Ivashkov off of our new balcony, I would suppose, and lose my job in tow." Ysa retracted her tongue and rolled her eyes before releasing Leon and turning so that she could lean back against him. "You won't lose your job. He's always so damn drunk we could just say he tripped himself." She frowned some as her mood did darken a little. She didn't hate Adrian. Or at least she wasn't sure sometimes. After Leon had left with the others and Ysa had gone to oversee the finalization of the wards for the week, Adrian had begun prodding and teasing her about Leon and she didn't like it. She didn't mind the teasing. What angered her was him insinuating that Adrian was a better choice for her, that Leon didn't suit her as well as he did. How quick she was to demand death for those who dared insult her Guardian.

Leon raised an eyebrow as Ysabel's thoughts flowed through the bond into his mind. "Hush, Ysa. You do have to admit, marrying the Ivashkov boy will give you a better advantage in proceeding your status within the Moroi royal court." Though the words stung, Leon tried to keep his voice calm as he suddenly produced a daisy in his hand and tucked it onto Ysabel's ear, placing her hair over it so it wouldn't fall. She was beautiful in his dream- not that she wasn't already in real life. "And I know, I know you will protest but-," He sighed as he let his hands fall away from Ysabel, "-it is the truth, and we both cannot deny it." Ysa listened to him, his words stinging and stunning her into silence as he tucked the daisy behind her ear. She allowed herself to think on it for a moment before jerking her elbow back and driving it into his stomach. She quickly turned around and faced him with a glare. "One - I will kill you if you ever suggest something so absolutely and impossibly insane and just downright cruel and inhumane ever again. Two - I would have nothing if I married Adrian any time soon. A relationship would fare well in the eyes of the others, but that's a fifty-ffity if that. Keep in mind that Adrian is the drunken whore of Court and I'm the Moroi who fights wih Dhampirs. And three..."

She paused, almost appearing as though she were about to come to tears. "Three... I wouldn't hurt you by doing that. Ever. I don't mind manipulating and feigning friendships for social standings, but I will not pretend to love some idiot just so a bunch of other idiots think of me as less of an idiot." Leon sighed. He knew that she was going to protest, and she was right in some ways- but it was undeniable. She was still young. As an attempt to drag her attention away from their argument, Leon immediately tried to change the scene from his lonely wood hut in Germany to the large tulip plains he had visited once while on a trip to the Netherlands. Immediately, the lake and hut fell away and replaced by tulips of varying colors. "Let's not argue for now." He said, placing another kiss on her forehead. "I will not argue with you, or hurt you, Ysa. I won't, unless it is for your own good."

"I assure you that an intimate relationship of any sort with Adrian Ivashkov is bad for most females in general." She gave a light smile as the scenery changed into one that took her breath away and caused her to give a wide and fanged smile. She did concede the argument though, accepting yet another kiss on the forehead before falling into silence to kneel among the flowers. "Leon... If I ever needed to, would you ever let me bite you?" She knew it was a dangerous question to ask a Dhampir, especially a Guardian, and especially one with so much honor and pride. She almost cringed at the question as it came out but she was curious, turning her hazel eyes towards him. A frown appeared on his face as Leon knelt down beside Ysabel, his eyes averting away from hers. Let Ysabel bite me... He sighed and plucked at a tulip before he finally turned around to look at Ysabel. "Yes, I would. Because your well being is more important than my own life, Ysabel Conta." He smiled as if the thought did not bother him at all.

"Because I am Moroi or because I am me?" She lifted a brow, watching his every movement as she herself moved closer, kneeling before him now. There seemed to be a particular earnest in her tone though she did her best to keep her expression calm. His words did make her a bit curious though as to whether or not he was lying. But she wasn't sure how soon she'd want to test that theory. Leon looked over at Ysabel, an eyebrow raised as well. "Ysa! Of course it's just you." Ysa gave a light giggle as Leon answered in a tone that made it sound as though he thought it was the most obvious fact in the world. She leaned forward (and upward because kneeling still didn't make her taller than him even if he sat) and let her lips capture his for a few brief moments. It wasn't their first dream-kiss. They had certainly done far more than just kiss before in his dreams, but things seemed different now that they knew for sure that the dreams were more than they seemed.

"When are you actually going to kiss me outside of your dreams?" She gave a light smirk as she pulled back, pressing a hand against his cheek. Leon coughed, his face flushing a bit as he turned away from Ysabel, though he pressed his cheek against her palm. "When everything is settled, Ysa. When everything is settled and what we do won't affect your reputation." The scene suddenly shifted again, leaving Leon and Ysa sitting on a wooden porch with their feet stuck warm sea water.

"That could be forever away." She pouted, kicking her feet in the water but still finding that her hand had moved to his and she was leaning against him. There was a nagging in the back of her mind that told her that the sun was going down in the real world. She'd have to wake soon. They both would. Moroi and Guardians were coming and they needed to be presentable. But she didn't want to leave. She hated how her few seven hours of sleep only felt like ten minutes in the dreams with him. But the dream dissolved before Ysabel woke up. Leon jolted awake as his alarm clock buzzed beside his bed, forcing his bleary eyes awake as the image of the warm, tropical sea suddenly vanished. He sat up and sighed, rustling his hair as he got up and prepared for another day distancing himself away from Ysabel.

Ysabel woke more gently, still curled up with Pedro the Panda, staring at the clock. It was six forty-five and she could already hear the Moroi arriving. She sighed and gave a yawn, stretching out completely before getting up. She had a yoga ritual to do before bothering with people. If anyone asks where I am, please tell them that I've had a long night of grieving...And no need to throw Adrian from the balcony yet. We still need him for some things.

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Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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“And did they mention why they didn't have any wards or other Guardians around?”

Ysabel narrowed her eyes as she glared at one of the Moroi that was there to claim the bodies to be taken back to the United States for the funeral. Byron seemed a bit uncomfortable to speak further and the young Moroi could already guess why. But as he was prodded for further information, he bowed his head respectfully and spoke in a low tone. “Miss Torres and her Guardian said that they were unable to attain any other Guardians for their home. They were also unable of finding any Moroi willing to ward their homes.” Though he had not said it exactly as such, his words implied to everyone around them that the two lovestruck teens were dead because of the fault of other Moroi. Dhampirs bowed their heads and Moroi sneered as the one speaking with the young Guardian gave her own small smirk before clicking her pen and putting it into her pocket. “That will be all, Guardian Masters.” She said no more as she turned and left, taking the others with her.

And that's all it was. They had come to see if any Strigoi remained to be killed. They attempted to persuade Ysa and the others to end their “foolishness of rebellion” and return to their family homes or live in Court where they'd be safe. They asked questions about Olive and Jeremy and inspected the bodies. They tried to assign more Guardians from Court to Ysa's home. But they were all gone soon, no new Guardians left behind.

Ysa was just as mentally exhausted as her friends even though the “clean up crew” had only remained for a few hours before leaving quickly. That's how it always was. It wasn't anything like the humans did when someone had been murdered; There was no full scale investigation, list of suspects, hours spent trying to avenge the untimely demise of the two teens. No. They came, found out what happened, wrote it down to store later, got the bodies, cleaned up the scene, and left. Ysa had never thought about it before because that's simply how things were. Just like the Dhampirs never really thought about how everything in their lives was decided by someone else. It seemed as though a lot of her views on the life lead by her people had changed the first time she had killed a Strigoi.

It felt great. She didn't know if that person was forced to be Strigoi or if they made the choice on their own but they did make that choice to jump innocent girls and to kill a man. A man that was a close friend of hers. It felt good to avenge his death. It was after that she began to study more about the past, using compulsion to access locked away books and scrolls. She still couldn't understand what had driven Moroi into being mere sheep, as she called them, nor why Dhampirs didn't put up a fight. She had read about Keepers, but the information was vague and when she asked about them she was scolded and the look on the faces of the Moroi was of disgust. They were called uncivilized and savage. But Ysa wanted to meet them.




Biting into flesh wasn't exactly as easy as it was made to seem in the media where vampires were portrayed. It wasn't like a warm knife slicing through butter at all. The blood didn't flow cleanly into your mouth at all. It was messy and you had to be careful not to hit any major veins or arteries. And that you didn't take a chunk out of their flesh. But it was something perfected at a young age in Moroi and hardly something anyone thought about. In truth, Ysa wasn't really thinking much about anything as she stared blankly at the wall, her teeth pressed gently against the flesh of one of the Feeders. The blood was warm and sticky in her mouth with a hint of blueberry taste. Madison had been her personal Feeder since she was a child. Her father had procured the female for her and Mad tended to keep a steady diet of blueberries because it was Ysa's favorite.

She didn't stir until she felt Guardian Masters' hand on her shoulder, bringing her from her daze. “Flight plans have been arranged for your visit to the Voda family home. They will be expecting you the night after tomorrow.” He gave a light smile but Ysa could tell that he was still shaken, feeling that bit of fear and dread seeping from him. “Thank you. Very much. Why don't you go ahead and take a break. Grab a snack and watch a movie. I'm going to go supervise the wards.” The young Guardian attempted to protest but Ysa held up a hand, not allowing it, indicating that her words were not a suggestion. She quickly motioned for him to go as she herself headed away from the kitchen and around the halls until she arrived in the backyard where four Moroi were putting up the wards. She observed from afar in silence, arms crossed over her chest.

She felt someone brush against her arm, looking up and over to see Adrian standing next to her. Neither of them spoke as they shared eye contact for a few brief minutes before turning to supervise the wards once more. Ysabel had always held a love/hate relationship with the notorious playboy Moroi, wanting him dead one minute and shopping with him the next. He did that to people. Sometimes you really wanted to hate him but you just couldn't when it came down to it. Not if you actually got to know him. He really was a good guy. She hated the cliche "misunderstood" card but that certainly was his case. She couldn't really find herself holding any right to chastise him about it either. Of course she could have before, but that was before she knew that he was afflicted by Spirit. Talking with him about it she found that it was Spirit that made her so out of it. It often made her think back to when she blew up on Leon.

Leon. Yet another complicated relationship in her life. It wasn't a love/hate relationship as it was with Adrian and her feelings for Adrian paled in comparison of what she felt with Leon. But there was so much seen wrong with even just their close friendship. He was almost ten years older than her, he was her Guardian, and he was Dhampir. She couldn't continue the Conta Moroi bloodline with him. Since having bonded to him their relationship had become more strained. They would tell each other and themselves that they couldn't feel that way for each other and they'd agree sometimes. They'd sometimes even avoid each other. But when the sun began to rise and they fell asleep, their dreams were their own and their hearts lead the way.

Just another complication on her plate.

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Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta
Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz

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Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz
Leon Theodore Schwartz

"I will protect my charge with all my might."

Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta
Ysabel Conta

"I may be Moroi and a little crazy, but I can sure as hell kick your ass!"

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Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta
Ysabel Conta

"I may be Moroi and a little crazy, but I can sure as hell kick your ass!"

Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz
Leon Theodore Schwartz

"I will protect my charge with all my might."

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Character Portrait: Ysabel Conta
Ysabel Conta

"I may be Moroi and a little crazy, but I can sure as hell kick your ass!"

Character Portrait: Leon Theodore Schwartz
Leon Theodore Schwartz

"I will protect my charge with all my might."


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Re: Breaking Traditions

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Alexandria Drozdov // Air // 18 // Housemate

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Adrian Ivashkov // Spirit // 20 // Housemate

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Eleazor Tarus // Earth // 19 // Housemate

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Ryan Badica // Fire // 17 // Housemate

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Gemini Voda // Air // 18 // Housemate

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Maximus Zeklos // Water // 18 // Housemate




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Byron Masters // 22 // Conta-Mazur Guardian

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Breaking Traditions

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