Home > Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)(7)

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)(7)
Author: Richelle Mead

"Rose?"

Peering in the voice's direction, I caught sight of Victor Dashkov, his kind face smiling at me as he leaned on a cane near the building's wall. His two guardians stood nearby at a polite distance.

"Mr. Dash-er, Your Highness. Hi."

I caught myself just in time, having nearly forgotten Moroi royal terms. I hadn't used them while living among humans. The Moroi chose their rulers from among twelve royal families. The eldest in the family got the title of "prince" or "princess." Lissa had gotten hers because she was the only one left in her line.

"How was your first day?" he asked.

"Not over yet." I tried to think of something conversational. "Are you visiting here for a while?"

"I'll be leaving this afternoon after I say hello to Natalie. When I heard Vasilisa - and you - had returned, I simply had to come see you."

I nodded, not sure what else to say. He was more Lissa's friend than mine.

"I wanted to tell you..." He spoke hesitantly. "I understand the gravity of what you did, but I think Headmistress Kirova failed to acknowledge something. You did keep Vasilisa safe all this time. That is impressive."

"Well, it's not like I faced down Strigoi or anything," I said.

"But you faced down some things?"

"Sure. The school sent psi-hounds once."

"Remarkable."

"Not really. Avoiding them was pretty easy."

He laughed. "I've hunted with them before. They aren't that easy to evade, not with their powers and intelligence." It was true. Psi-hounds were one of many types of magical creatures that wandered the world, creatures that humans never knew about or else didn't believe they'd really seen. The hounds traveled in packs and shared a sort of psychic communication that made them particularly deadly to their prey - as did the fact that they resembled mutant wolves. "Did you face anything else?"

I shrugged. "Little things here and there."

"Remarkable," he repeated.

"Lucky, I think. It turns out I'm really behind in all this guardian stuff." I sounded just like Stan now.

"You're a smart girl. You'll catch up. And you also have your bond."

I looked away. My ability to "feel" Lissa had been such a secret for so long, it felt weird to have others know about it.

"The histories are full of stories of guardians who could feel when their charges were in danger," Victor continued.

"I've made a hobby of studying up on it and some of the ancient ways. I've heard it's a tremendous asset."

"I guess." I shrugged. What a boring hobby, I thought, imagining him poring over prehistoric histories in some dank library covered in spiderwebs.

Victor tilted his head, curiosity all over his face. Kirova and the others had had the same look when we'd mentioned our connection, like we were lab rats. "What is it like - if you don't mind me asking?"

"It's...I don't know. I just sort of always have this hum of how she feels. Usually it's just emotions. We can't send messages or anything." I didn't tell him about slipping into her head. That part of it was hard even for me to understand.

"But it doesn't work the other way? She doesn't sense you?"

I shook my head.

His face shone with wonder. "How did it happen?"

"I don't know," I said, still glancing away. "Just started two years ago."

He frowned. "Near the time of the accident?"

Hesitantly, I nodded. The accident was not something I wanted to talk about, that was for sure. Lissa's memories were bad enough without my own mixing into them. Twisted metal. A sensation of hot, then cold, then hot again. Lissa screaming over me, screaming for me to wake up, screaming for her parents and her brother to wake up. None of them had, only me.

And the doctors said that was a miracle in itself. They said I shouldn't have survived.

Apparently sensing my discomfort, Victor let the moment go and returned to his earlier excitement.

"I can still barely believe this. It's been so long since this has happened. If it did happen more often...just think what it could do for the safety of all Moroi. If only others could experience this too. I'll have to do more research and see if we can replicate it with others."

"Yeah." I was getting impatient, despite how much I liked him. Natalie rambled a lot, and it was pretty clear which parent she'd inherited that quality from. Lunch was ticking down, and although Moroi and novices shared afternoon classes, Lissa and I wouldn't have much time to talk.

"Perhaps we could - " He started coughing, a great, seizing fit that made his whole body shake. His disease, Sandovsky's Syndrome, took the lungs down with it while dragging the body toward death. I cast an anxious look at his guardians, and one of them stepped forward. "Your Highness," he said politely, "you need to go inside. It's too cold out here."

Victor nodded. "Yes, yes. And I'm sure Rose here wants to eat." He turned to me. "Thank you for speaking to me. I can't emphasize how much it means to me that Vasilisa is safe - and that you helped with that. I'd promised her father I'd look after her if anything happened to him, and I felt like quite the failure when you left."

A sinking sensation filled my stomach as I imagined him wracked with guilt and worry over our disappearance. Until now, I hadn't really thought about how others might have felt about us leaving.

We made our goodbyes, and I finally arrived inside the school. As I did, I felt Lissa's anxiety spike. Ignoring the pain in my legs, I picked up my pace into the commons.

And nearly ran right into her.

She didn't see me, though. Neither did the people standing with her: Aaron and that little doll girl. I stopped and listened, just catching the end of the conversation. The girl leaned toward Lissa, who seemed more stunned than anything else.

"It looks to me like it came from a garage sale. I thought a precious Dragomir would have standards." Scorn dripped off the word Dragomir.

Grabbing Doll Girl by the shoulder, I jerked her away. She was so light, she stumbled three feet and nearly fell.

"She does have standards," I said, "which is why you're done talking to her."

FOUR

WE DIDN'T HAVE THE ENTIRE commons' attention this time, thank God, but a few passing people had stopped to stare.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" asked Doll Girl, blue eyes wide and sparkling with fury. Up close now, I was able to get a better look at her. She had the same slim build as most Moroi but not the usual height, which was partly what made her look so young. The tiny purple dress she wore was gorgeous - reminding me that I was indeed dressed in thrift-shop wear - but closer inspection led me to think it was a designer knockoff.

I crossed my arms across my chest. "Are you lost, little girl? The elementary school's over on west campus."

A pink flush spread over her cheeks. "Don't you ever touch me again. You screw with me, and I'll screw you right back."

Oh man, what an opening that was. Only a head shake from Lissa stopped me from unleashing any number of hilarious comebacks. Instead, I opted for simple brute force, so to speak.

"And if you mess with either of us again, I'll break you in half. If you don't believe me, go ask Dawn Yarrow about what I did to her arm in ninth grade. You were probably at nap time when it happened."

The incident with Dawn hadn't been one of my finer moments. I honestly hadn't expected to break any bones when I shoved her into a tree. Still, the incident had given me a dangerous reputation, in addition to my smartass one. The story had gained legendary status, and I liked to imagine that it was still being told around campfires late at night. Judging from the look on this girl's face, it was.

One of the patrolling staff members strolled by right then, casting suspicious eyes at our little meeting. Doll Girl backed off, taking Aaron's arm. "Come on," she said.

"Hey, Aaron," I said cheerfully, remembering he was there. "Nice to see you again."

He gave me a quick nod and an uneasy smile, just as the girl dragged him off. Same old Aaron. He might be nice and cute, but aggressive he was not.

Books
     Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
     Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
     Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
     Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
     Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
     Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
     The Meeting (Vampire Academy 0.9)      Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)