#3184
Location: Nadezhda Katoracov's Home • Date: 31 January, 2002

The sound... she knew it. She had heard it before.

Adrian had promised she would not hear it again. Had he lied? Or was this a mistake?

Nadezhda crossed herself as she heard the noise, then made her way to her husband's office. Anastasia was in Germany so that Ylenia could visit her father, and the house was empty spare for the servants that would be quiet in their quarters and the dog that was now howling from the wailing.

The door was closed. Did she dare open it?

Adrian Katoracov's wife waited solemnly, hands clasped in front of her.

He had broken one of the cardinal rules of their marriage. Sleep could wait.
#3256
It was over. His cousin sat slumped in the chair before his desk, her skin quickly growing pale as the light inside her dimmed. No blood would stain her clothes or his office, though. The blade was too thirsty to waste a drop.

With no fear of discovery by his children or his men, Adrian did not stop the tears from falling. It was supposed to have been the contact that cleared away his cousin's debt. Instead, it was the contract that had sealed her fate.
#3258
It was silent for a time, though Nadezhda could hear gentle noises. Someone was still alive inside.

Someone was also likely no longer with them.

Against her better judgment Nadezhda pushed the door open carefully, a gasp finding her lips at the sight that met her gaze. She covered her mouth with her hand, shaking her head in disbelief.

"Adrian," she murmured, her own tears quick to follow. "What have you done?"
#3263
It would have been better if his wife had not found her there, but that was not God's plan, it would seem.

"What was required of me," Adrian replied. He was growing weary of betrayal. He was growing weary of taking lives in retribution.
#3264
"This is our home," Nadezhda wept, still looking at her husband in disbelief. She could not look at the girl, at least not for long, though she allowed herself a sorrowful glance in Varya's direction before turning back to Adrian.

"And she is our family. Your own blood. And first Costin, and now... how? How could this be required of you? And in our home?"

Though Nadezhda was never one to raise her voice, her tone became strained as she fought to speak through the tears.
#3294
His wife was right to question him. It had been wrong if Adrian to do this in her home, but there was no right place to do it. It needed to be done, and he needed to own it.

"She betrayed us," he said quietly. "She has been lying to us for years, and those lies could have had disastrous consequences."

He could not bring himself to lift his head.

"I am sorry to have brought this into our home."
#3299
Her husband had apologized, and clearly he meant it.

That did not change the state of things, however. There was still a body in his office, all that was left of their dear cousin.

With the grass over Costin's grave still only a mound of dirt, at that.

Nadezhda considered his words, considered the girl in the chair. Varya had always been cold, but she had been family, and she was still one of God's children. This had not been the life she would have liked for her, but it was still a life. They had nothing in Russia, and Nadezhda had urged Adrian to take them in, to offer her something. She had almost seen a spark of life in Varya's eyes after the debt had been cleared, but... something else was always there. A shadow.

And all of that was besides the matter of her being with that woman. A girl, really. Always so bright and young.

Nadezhda had been unfairly cruel to her, she realized now. Perhaps her shred of humility had come from seeing her cousin's wife at his funeral just a week before, so unsure of herself and where she was supposed to go from here.

"There had to have been another way," Adrian's wife insisted, her mourning showing as anger in her voice.

"Somewhere else, at least. Not here, not like this. Where does this end? What does this solve, to have this in our own home? Where we raise our children, our grandchildren? And if Anastasia had been home..."

The older woman covered her mouth again, closing her eyes as she shook her head. She was sure her husband had planned things this way, so that their youngest daughter would not be present, but that did not forgive what he had done.
#3305
"I made certain she would be elsewhere," Adrian admitted, confirming his wife's suspicions.

"And it ends here," he assured her. "Varya was..."

He sighed.

"She was family. It should not have been somewhere random, or her own home. I wanted to give her a chance to explain herself."
#3311
"She killed an innocent person in the place of the crimelord she was meant to," Adrian replied quietly. "That might have been forgivable, as she did so unknowingly, but when the truth was revealed to her she made no attempt to right matters. For three years she conspired with this criminal. Never once did she come to me to tell me the truth, to ask for my forgiveness and help in fixing this mess she had made."

Adrian shook his head.

"It is God's business now to judge and to forgive her. She has my prayers, whatever good they will do her."
#3313
Nadezhda placed a kiss on the girl's cheek, brushing some of the hair from her brow. When she was finished having her last moment with the young woman, Adrian's wife turned back toward the door.

Though she knew that this was the person he was, it did not make it any easier to face him.

"You will see to her," she finally instructed, her voice wavering.

"I will see to Adriana for the evening, and hope I will see you at the church in the morning."
#3315
He would be there. It might have been rarer for him to attend church than his wife, but even he felt the need to commune with the Lord in such places at such times.

"I will see you in the morning," he said with a nod. "Give our daughter my love."

He did not want to be alone. He likely would not see his bed at all that evening, with his wife away, and he could use a hand with the body in any case.

He returned to his desk once his wife was gone and retrieved the pocket watch he used to use more frequently. It had not seen much use in recent years, and he wondered if the other man would even notice. If not, there were always others.
#3318
Gavril did not notice, but Dominik did.

It was bedtime, and the boy's father was reading him a story when the buzzing sound came from the other room. The child had been too curious, and he'd had to pause the story to check in on it.

And then he had to wait for Iokaste to return from work before he could investigate.

The house was too quiet when he entered, and Gavril kept his wand at the ready as he reached the office.

Unsure what to expect, he knocked twice before opening the door.

Whatever he was prepared for, it was not what he found.
#3364
A drink. He was supposed to have a drink. There was a chair for him, right next to Varya.

Varya, who still had a stiletto piercing her chest. Who might have looked as if she were sleeping if she were not so pale.

No wonder the dog had growled at him when he'd entered.

"Iisus Hristos, pula mea," Gavril blurted out, disgust contorting his features. He was being offered a drink, and this is what he'd walked in on? This was why Adrian needed his help? Or was he just the next one to be summoned, and the old man had finally lost it?

"The fuck is going on?" he asked, not reaching for the glass. He was too shocked to yet be affected by his cousin's death, but he was sure it woudl come in time. Assuming his own death wasn't swift to follow.