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27 March 2007 @ 12:03 am
Dragomir Backstory!  
So, here is the stor behind Dragomir's involvment with the Berceuse Malheureuse and the military. :D So it should elucidate some things :D; it's not neccessary to the story, but it may clear some things up for you. ^^ This also has vague spoilers up to chapter 6, so you may not want to read unless you're up to date :D;

Title: Dragomir's Backstory
Author: vink_sama
Rating: R for violence and language
Warnings: violence and torture, language, general sketchiness (XD; )

Dragomir Hirlea stood to the right of Donavan D’Aubigne, fingering the hilt of his blade. Donavan was making a sensitive transaction, on behalf of the Berceuse Malheureuse organization, with some Hispanian militarists looking to start a war. They were ordering a large quantity of weaponry from the Galian black market. Ironic, really, that they would be buying their weapons form the vary nation which they saught to attack. But Dragomir wasn’t allowed to reflect on the irony, or ask questions; he was Donavan’s bodyguard because although Donavan had been more than happy to do their business, they were Hispanian, and were not to be trusted.

The small Hispanian man slid a case across the table with a satisfied little smirk and crossed his arms over his chest. Donavan smiled pleasantly in return but turned quickly to one of his other men and snapped, “Count it.” The lackey steeped forward and took the case from the table before retreating back into the shadows of the small damp attic they’d chosen to make their exchange.

Dragomir was very accustomed to the dank smell and the steady creak of wood beneath his feet, and felt perfectly at ease. The attic was located above a small Berceuse Malheureuse-owned brothel, which Donavan used to launder most of his money, and much of the Berceuse Malheureuse’s business was conducted here. Even so, Dragomir hated coming here. He despised prostitution, and was disgusted by the way the prostitutes were so mistreated. Nevertheless, he said nothing. Donavan liked the location; it was in the center of the questionable part of town, and it was one of the few Berceuse Malheureuse strongholds that had never once been raided by the military.

The lackey returned from counting the money and gave a curt nod to Donavan, who smiled at the small man adjacent from him. “Everything checks out.”

“That’s good to hear.” The Hispanian stood and uncrossed his arms before moving to retrieve something from within his jacket. Dragomir reacted immediately, withdrawing his pistol and aiming for the man’s head. Dragomir never missed, he’d been trained on the streets and working for Donavan for four years, and he’d yet to let his boss down. The Hispaninan’s hands rose quickly above his head, and a look of panic came across his face.

“Easy, Dragomir.” Donavan cooed as though he were speaking to a spooked horse. Dragomir lowered the gun slowly, but did not replace it in its holster.

The Hispanian lowered his hands and glared coldly at Dragomir. “That bodyguard of yours needs to be taught manners.” The man spat indignantly.

“He does his job.” Donavan smiled pleasantly as he too got to his feet. “My men will escort you to where your purchase is waiting. I trust you can get it across the border yourself?” The Hispanian waved his hand dismissively and walked towards the door where he was joined by three Berceuse Malheureuse escorts. When they’d disappeared from the room, Donavan sat back up and grinned up at Dragomir in a friendly manner. “What’s the matter, Dragomir?”

Dragomir holstered his pistol and leaned against the table offering a casual shrug in response to the question posed. Donavan laughed and shook his head.

“Really Dragomir. I know you don’t like it here, but you should lighten up a bit and enjoy yourself. We employ the whores for a reason, after all.”

Dragomir laughed uneasily and shook his head. “It’s not that. This deal seems strange, is all.”

“I suppose, but it’s not our business. I got the word from the hire-ups to make this transaction. Something’s brewing.” Donavan said casually.

Dragomir shifted his weight and ran a hand through his long dark hair. “Do you think anything will happen this time?”
“I don’t frankly care.” Donavan surged. “What concerns me right now is that leak. Last time we made a deal, we had those military dogs on our tails. Who do you think is the rat?”

“I think it’s this place…” Dragomir trailed. “There are too many people around to keep anything confidential.”

“So you think it’s one of the bitches?” Donavan asked.

Dragomir nodded and bit his lip. He felt a great deal of empathy for the women who were employed here, and he disliked Donavan’s flagrant use of the term. Dragomir’s older sister had once worked in a similar institute, but died from the repercussions, and Dragomir had been adamantly against the business ever since.

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Donavan grinned, leaning in closer to Dragomir. “I want you to find that whore and get rid of it.” Donavan said lowly, his eyes glinting with malicious intent. He leaned back and smiled again, his regular, pleasant smile. “Can you do that for me?”

“Of course.” Dragomir nodded curtly. He already hated the assignment and hoped he was wrong about who had been spying. He would kill and armed man in a fair fight in a second, but the idea of offing an unarmed woman churned his stomach.

“Good.” Donavan’s smile broadened and he got to his feet. “Shall we go out for drinks?” Dragomir couldn’t help but smile and nodded. It would be good to get out.

As they started towards the stairs down however, one of Donavan’s men burst through the door. “Donavan!” He said quickly, “It’s The Boss.” Donavan’s mouth set into a grimace and he crossed his arms.

“I wonder what he wants.” Donavan rolled his eyes. By “The Boss,” the man had been referring to Donavan’s father, Laurent D’Aubigne, the founder of the Berceuse Malheureuse. In a way, he dictated all of the organization’s activities, and coordinated the major drug deals, organizing and funneling most of the profits to his own accounts. Donavan’s sect tried to avoid contact with the senior D’Aubigne as much as possible, but Donavan always graciously entertained The Boss when he paid them a visit. “Show him in.” Donavan ordered. The man who’d brought the announcement bowed quickly and left the room in a hurry. Donavan went around to the other side of the table so that the best chair could be offered to his father, and took a seat before smoothing out his jacket. “I suggest you stay alert, Donavan. Our little spy won’t want to miss this.” Dragomir nodded and moved to the far corner of the room by the door. Donavan wouldn’t require his services for this meeting, and so Dragomir would be free to focus entirely on his task.

It was then that The Boss strode briskly into the room and did not acknowledge Dragomir’s bow. Instead, he made his way directly to the table and took his seat. “Donavan,” he began harshly, “I just received a telegram.”

“Oh?” Donavan asked politely, folding his hands neatly on the table in front of him.

“Don’t be stupid. Did you just sell weapons to the Hispanians?” Dragomir didn’t hear Donavan’s response; he was distracted by the faint sound of shuffling which was just barely audible through the wall. Stiffening, Dragomir slipped out of the room and into the small space of floor that separated the room from the stairway down into the main business. There was a another room adjacent to the attic—what would have been the servant’s quarters before the house was converted into a brothel—and Dragomir decided it was the most logical place to check. The door to the room was kept under a heavy padlock, as Donavan often used it to store various nefarious good and substances, but when Dragomir checked the lock, he found that it was open. The door, too, was unlocked, and Dragomir opened it slowly, gauging the pressure he applied to the old door so as to keep it from creaking.
When the door was a fourth of the way open, he was able to clearly make out the form of a young girl, no older then 14, with her ear pressed against the wall adjoined to the attic. Upon seeing her, Dragomir’s heart fell. The last thing he wanted was to be held responsible for the death of a child no older then his sister had been. She was listening intently, and Dragomir made his way across the floor in a few strides with out alerting her to his presence. Quickly, he clasped his hand firmly over her mouth, stifling the scream she tried to cry out. In one hand, he grasped both of her slender wrists, and steered her over to the other wall, pushing the girl up against it roughly. “Don’t make a sound.” Dragomir growled. The little girl nodded, tears welling up in her large blue eyes. Dragomir lowered his hand slowly, and the girl gasped for air, chocking a little. He was so used to being callous and rough that he hadn’t even realized he been hurting the child. Still, he had to remain cold. Dragomir took the knife that hung at his belt and pressed the flat of the cold blade to the girl’s slender neck. “What do you think you’re doing up here?” Dragomir asked narrowing his eyes and pressing the blade a little harder.

“I-I work here, sir.” The little girl finished, looking down. The tears were streaming silently from her eyes now, and Dragomir felt sick to his stomach. Why did it have to be a child?

“Look at me.” Dragomir said coldly. He’d learned to conceal his emotions easily, but he still felt a slight sting of empathy in his heart. When the girl didn’t look up, he angled the blade slightly, forcing her to lift her head. “I’m on orders to kill the rat.” He said plainly. The child’s eyes swam with more tears threatening to fall, and he felt her slender body shiver wretchedly. “Tell me. Who do you work for?” A girl such as this couldn’t possibly be doing so much on her own, and Dragomir would rather not kill the simple messenger. The girl hiccupped and shook her head, the fresh wave of tears pouring from her eyes.

“No, no, I won’t say anything!” she gasped. Her terror was obvious, and Dragomir’s heart felt as though it would break.

“Little girl,” Dragomir said carefully, struggling to keep his voice steady. “You’ve gotten yourself involved in dangerous business.” He paused, his judgment and his heart struggling within him. “In this business, if you slip up, even just once, you get killed.” He paused for a long time, watching the small girl as she squirmed and wriggled in his grasp, her chest heaving as she struggled to check the tears streaming down her cheeks. “But I don’t think you have to die today.” He said finally. The girl looked up at him in disbelieving shock, too stunned to say anything. “But I’ll kill you in a heartbeat if I see you again.” He said cruelly. “Now get out of here. Don’t get involved in all of this…get out while you can…” Dragomir sheathed his knife and released her hands, taking a trembling step backward. The little girl looked from him to the door briefly, and darted out, afraid that he might change his mind. It was in that instant that Dragomir found himself regretting all that he’d done. He didn’t regret letting her go; he knew he’d done what was right. But everything else he’d done, he’d done because he was told to, and because he needed the money. It hadn’t been right, and for the first time, he felt the weight of the injustice of it all on his heart. He slumped against the wall and buried his face in his hands. Dragomir stood silently for a few minutes before he stood back up and strode quickly to the door. He’d made up his mind. He would get out, if he still could.


A week went by, and Dragomir reflected on everything that had happened in the past four years. After his older sister had died, he had followed in her footsteps and turned to the streets to earn the money his family needed. And now, he was considering a different path. Dragomir didn’t know how he could manage to get the money he needed any other way, but he knew one was out there, and he felt that in his heart, unless he turned his life around and pulled himself out of the degradation of the criminal life he now pursued, he wouldn’t be able to tolerate himself. He may have been able to care for his family with the money he got, but he couldn’t face them. He never saw his little brothers and sisters any more; and before he’d just convinced himself that it was because he was just too busy. Now he realized however, that he avoided them because he was ashamed of what he’d done. He had to get out. He didn’t know if he could, but he trusted Donavan. Donavan had been his friend since the beginning, and Dragomir felt that he would understand.

Dragomir resolved to ask Donavan he if could be released from his duty, but he knew he had to wait until the time presented itself. That time came just ten days after the incident with the little girl when Dragomir and Donavan were sitting alone together just after the completion of an illegal drug transaction. Dragomir spent a long time trying to come up with a way to voice his decision, and even when he at last found the words, his voice shock slightly.

“Donavan,” Dragomir began carefully, “I think I want to quit.”

“What?” Donavan asked with a laugh. Dragomir realized he hadn’t been clear enough, and ventured to try again.

“I want out of the Berceuse Malheureuse… I want to quit.” There was a commotion, followed by a shriek, out on the landing outside, and Donavan craned his head around, distracted. Dragomir slumped forward. Now that he was doing it, he didn’t quite know if he could go through with it.

“What do you think is going on out there?” Donavan asked just as it went quiet again. Dragomir shook his head and dropped his arms onto the desk, leaning forward so that his chin rested on his forearm. “Huh.” Donavan shrugged. “What were you saying? You want to quit? The Berceuse Malheureuse?” Donavan laughed harshly, and Dragomir sat up straight as Donavan became completely serious abruptly. “You’re kidding, aren’t you?” He asked sharply. Dragomir didn’t have time to reply however, because at that moment, the door was thrown open violently, and two of Donavan’s men rushed inside, followed by another who was holding the little girl Dragomir had caught spying just a week earlier.

“Look what we found trying to sneak back downstairs, Donavan.” One of the men smirked. The others laughed cruelly, and the man restraining the girl threw her to the floor at Donavan’s feet.
“The little bitch was listening in on your business.” The man who’d been holding her said as he kicked her hard in the side. She would have screamed, but she was gagged and tied, and the best she could do was cruel into a little ball. Dragomir flinched and looked away when he saw the same pathetic tears fall from her eyes, but he knew she’d receive no sympathy among these men.

“But you’ll never guess,” The third man said, sneering nastily, “What she told us.” He stepped forward and moved to Donavan’s side, leaning in to whisper something in his ear. Donavan’s eyes narrowed and his teeth clenched.

When the man finished and backed away, Donavan growled, “Get out,” without turning to look at them. “And leave the girl.” He added harshly. The mean did as they were told and left quickly. Neither Donavan nor Dragomir said anything, but Dragomir had a feeling what was coming. Donavan stood up slowly and turned to face Dragomir, smiling sweetly. “Dragomir,” he said as he took a step towards Dragomir. Donavan’s voice was almost sing-song, and it dripped with a sugary falseness. “Is that true? Did you let that little girl go when you found her?” Donavan asked as though he were speaking to a small child. “Did you?” He asked again. Dragomir could hear the note of sweetness dropping from Donavan’s voice, and could see it in the man’s face that he was growing cold and cruel. “Did you jeopardize everything I have, everything that you have?” The kindness Donavan usually showed Dragomir was gone now, and all that was left was the icy malice. Dragomir looked down, no longer able to keep eye contact with Donavan, his boss, his mentor, his friend. “Answer the question!” Donavan barked, his fist coming in fast and hard, landing a solid hit to Dragomir’s lip. The force was enough to knock Dragomir from his seat and he fell to the floor, crumpled, like the child he’d tried to save.

Dragomir pushed himself up off of the ground and staggered to his feet, turning around to look at Donavan. Instead, Dragomir met with the barrel of a gun, pointed directly at his head, Donavan held at arm’s length. Dragomir made no attempt to move. He knew that Donavan would shoot anyone else found guilty of such and offence, and shut his eyes, preparing to accept his death.
After a minute that seemed like an hour, Dragomir opened his eyes slowly, and met Donavan’s gaze. Donavan was smiling a sad smile, and he eye’s glistened. “Dragomir…” he said softly as he lowered the weapon and offered it to Dragomir, “Kill her now, and I’ll forget what you said. Kill her right now in front of me, and I’ll forget what you’ve done.” Dragomir made no effort to reach for the pistol; it was a generous offer, but one he now knew he’d be unable to live with if he accepted.

“Take it, damn it!” Donavan yelled, jerking his hand forward violently.

“Donavan, I can’t. I can’t do it any more…I don’t want to kill a child.” Dragomir said softly and looked down. Donavan shook with rage and knocked Dragomir to the floor with another blow. Dragomir landed next to the little girl, and his eye’s met his. She was crying feverishly now, the sound of her pain was muffled entirely by the gag. As he looked into her eyes, they seemed to say “I’m sorry,” and he felt his heart swell with sympathy.

A shot rang out, and Dragomir shut his eyes reflexively as the blood spattered across his face. When he opened his eyes again, the life had faded from the child’s eyes, and they stared hauntingly at him through the glaze of death. Dragomir shivered and pushed himself up onto his hands and knees, preparing to get back to his feet. Donavan’s foot connected with his side however, and his elbows buckled as he fell back to the floor.

“I should kill you.” Donavan hissed as Dragomir struggled to get back up again, his head spinning. “No one gets out of the Berceuse Malheureuse. What were you thinking? That you could just leave, knowing all that you know, and we wouldn’t give a damn? I wouldn’t give a damn?” Dragomir staggered to his feet and backed into a wall for support. “Dragomir, you work for me,” Donavan spat as he took a step closer, leaning in close to Dragomir’s face. “You’re mine,” Donavan whispered, sending shivers down Dragomir’s spine, “And I want to keep what’s mine.” Donavan smirked, slamming his fist hard into Dragomir’s solar plexus. Dragomir coughed as his breath left him abruptly and started slump forward. Donavan caught him but the collar of his jacket and tore it from his back. Stumbling forward, Dragomir caught hold of the edge of the table and braced himself against it as he tried to regain his breath. He tensed when he heard a drawer opened and close, and turned around to see Donavan advancing slowly with a horse crop in hand. “Maybe I can beat the softness out of you, and teach you some manners.” Donavan smiled maliciously, grabbing Dragomir roughly by the collar of his shirt and leaning in close. “Do you think I can get you to scream?”

Dragomir took Donavan’s hand in his and twisted it off of his collar. “I don’t want to hurt you, Donavan.” Dragomir said slowly.

“I guess that’s the problem, then. I want to hurt you. And make you submit. I don’t want to kill you, but I won’t tolerate any more misbehavior.” Donavan sneered.

“Please, Donavan.” Dragomir said biting his lip, “Let me go. Let me quit… Can’t you trust that I won’t say anything?” Donavan laughed sharply at the ridiculousness of his question and hit him again, hard, in the jaw. Dragomir stumbled a bit, but managed to swing his weight and punch Donavan in the eye. Donavan fell to the floor and laughed again.

“I’m surprised you have it in you to fight me, Dragomir.” Donavan sneered as he got to back to his feet, squinting out of his injured eye. “But you’ve gone and made it worse for yourself. It’s really too bad you don’t have a brain to back up your brawn. If you did, you probably wouldn’t have ended up like this.” Donavan barked out an order loudly, and the three men who’d brought in the girl rushed into the room. They saw the bruise forming around Donavan’s eye, and realized what had happened. They moved forward together towards Dragomir, who tensed, bracing himself for the fight to come. He didn’t know if he could fight three of them at once now, his side already ached, and his lip was bleeding profusely. But he wouldn’t sit back and let them do as they pleased, either. He’d hoped it wouldn’t end in violence, but there didn’t seem to be any other way to resolve it.


The scuffle that ensued ended badly for Dragomir; both his eyes were too swollen for him to see out of, and his mouth was filled with the blood from his split lip and torn check. He lay helplessly on the floor, keeping his eyes fixed on a grain in the wood. He didn’t want to move; he knew it would hurt too much, so when he saw Donavan approaching out of the corner of his eye, he made no effort to look up. Donavan nudged him in the side where he was already bruised, and Dragomir winced, but allowed himself to be rolled over.

“Honestly, I thought you’d last longer than that.” Donavan sighed. When Dragomir still didn’t look at him, Donavan smirked and grounded his heel into Dragomir’s hand. Dragomir let out a small cry, and Donavan laughed, kneeling to lift Dragomir’s head by his hair so that he could see his face. “You should have thought this through, you know.” Donavan said, shaking his head lightly. He released Dragomir’s hair, and he grunted as he dropped back to the floor. Donavan got to his feet again and wiped his hands on his knickers, turning to the other men. “Tie and hold him.” He instructed. They men did as they were told, and bound Dragomir’s wrists tightly before they hoisted him up off the floor and threw him against the table. Dragomir didn’t struggle; he was beaten and there was little he could do now. He’d let them do as they pleased; he only hoped he fainted before he was reduced to begging for mercy.

Dragomir heard the faint crack of the whip as Donavan pulled back his arm, and braced himself for the impact. The sound as hit bit at his skin was defining, and Dragomir could tell that it had already ripped though his shirt and cut sound to his skin. Dragomir didn’t cry out with the initial strike, but after a few seconds time, he felt the burn of the mark the leather had left. He let out a small gasp, and inhaled a ragged breath before the next strike came, followed by another and another. Donavan was picking up the pace, and with each successive lash, Dragomir felt more and more of his skin rip and tear. His back was hot with the burn of the leather and the pooling of the blood on his skin, but he still refused to cry out. He squirmed against the table futilely trying to change the angle of the blows, anything to ease the pain, but of course, each time he moved, the two mean holding down his arms would yank him roughly back into place.

As the weapon continued to rend the flesh from his back, Dragomir started to slip in to the dull numbness. The methodic lashing seemed to fade from the realm of his perception and he was left with only the burning pain. When Donavan noticed the reduction in his movements and squirming, he let the whip fall limp to the floor and took a steep forward to examine the damage.
“You aren’t planning to faint on me now, are you?” Donavan asked, his voice sounding ironically civil and plight. When Dragomir made no sign of answering the question, Donavan took another step forward and ran a finger over the ruins of Dragomir’s skin. Dragomir’s breath caught in his throat and he squirmed slightly. Donavan was apparently inspired, and scrapped his nails over the remnants of flesh, digging in deep and drawing even more blood to the surface. “So you are awake… That’s good because I’m not quite done yet.” Donavan smirked.

Dragomir heard him walking away and took advantage of the brief moment he had to get the few rasping breaths he could and gather his fortitude. His whole body was shaking now, and all of the pain seemed to finally be catching up to him now that the lashing had subsided. Still, he would endure it. Donavan returned to close proximity with Dragomir and stood just off to the side by the table. There was the loud clashing sound of glass shattering, and Dragomir jumped. He couldn’t see what had just happened, but he knew that the sound heralded something else unpleasant.
He heard Donavan move around behind him, and braced himself for the unknown he knew was about to come. There was a sloshing of liquid, and the momentary feeling of a wet coolness running over his torn skin. That didn’t last however, and Dragomir couldn’t stifle the yell of pain that escaped his bloodied lips. The liquid was alcohol, and it burned and seared his opened wounds. With another weak cry, Dragomir heaved a breath and pressed himself against the table, trying desperately to squirm away from the pain. He heard Donavan laugh cruelly as he emptied the last bit of the alcohol and tossed the bottle aside.

“There you go, that’s what I wanted to hear,” Donavan cooed, again dragging his nails across Dragomir’s ruined back. Dragomir didn’t even bother to suppress the sounds of his agony now; it was obviously want Donavan wanted, and he felt too broken and defeated to struggle. Laughing again, Donavan withdrew his hand and backed away slightly. “Good boy,” Donavan praised. “I hope you’ve learned your lesson.”

Dragomir whimpered softly. It seemed Donavan had had his fill of his pain, and Dragomir felt the last reserves of his strength and composure leave him. He wept bitterly, silently, and didn’t even hear when Donavan told the two men to release him. He slumped limply to the floor and curled up pathetically, numb to anything beyond the pain.

“Go get his brothers. Tell them to come retrieve their sack of meat.” Dragomir heard Donavan instruct his men. Dragomir didn’t want his brother’s to see him like this, but he knew he didn’t have a choice.


By the time Marius and Razvan arrived, Dragomir had fainted. Donavan kicked him in the gut to revive him, but Dragomir was only vaguely conscious of the world outside of his own excruciating pain.

“Your brothers are here.” Donavan murmured into Dragomir’s ear. Dragomir shuddered and managed a little nod. He saw Donavan’s lips curl into a grin, and flinched away. Donavan laughed and lifted Dragomir up by his collar, pushing him against a wall to brace his weight. Dragomir’s head lulled limply on to his shoulder, and Donavan leaned forward so that he could look into Dragomir’s eyes. They were red and bloodshot, and the swelling around them had gotten progressively worse; still, they were the same piercing gray, and they looked on at Donavan with cold indifference. “I realize this will dampen our friendship quite a bit, but I just wanted to let you know that when you get better, I’ll take you back. I still need a bodyguard, and I know there’s no one better.” Donavan smirked and Dragomir closed his eyes. He didn’t want to think, but Donavan was making it difficult for him to shut out the world. “I hope you’ll consider my offer, because you should no that if you don’t come back to me, if you do anything even remotely suspicious, I’ll come after you. I’ll kill you and your entire family.” With a final grimace, Donavan let go of Dragomir’s collar, and he teetered forward, his legs weak and flaccid beneath him. His brothers, Marius and Razvan rushed forward to support him each one managing to catch him beneath his arms. They said nothing and kept their head’s down in quite deference to Donavan, and he watched them exit the room, just managing to bear Dragomir’s weight between the two of them.

It was a long, arduous walk home. Marius and Razvan just barely managed to make it back to their house, and when they finally did, they both collapsed beside the couch where they’d laid Dragomir out on his stomach. The oldest of Dragomir’s younger brothers, Petre hurried to his side, while his sister, Tatiana, clasped her hand over little Viorica’s eyes to shield her from the sight of the fettered flesh. He hated being a burden to his siblings, and wished desperately there was somewhere else he could go…where they could all go to be safe from Donavan.

He thought Petre must have been speaking to him, but he could make out the word and felt too weak to do anything. Dragomir felt like death would be easier to accept than to continue to endure the pain of living. But he knew that he had to pull though to take care of his family, and he cursed himself silently for thinking he could do something to change his lot in life. He did what he had to do to support and protect his family, and it didn’t matter if he wanted something different. He’d let them down by going against Donavan, and now they would all be forced to suffer because of his idiocy. Donavan was right; he really never thought anything through.

Over the next few days, Dragomir was only vaguely conscious of a doctor coming and going to check on him, and of the think gauze bandages that had been wrapped all the way around his torso. As time went on, he recovered and was able to stay awake for longer periods of time, but he still ached everywhere, and his back still burned with pain. He didn’t like to talk about what had happened, or about much of anything. He was generally silent, and preferred to be left alone in his own thoughts.

He was searching for something. An answer, a solution, a sign, anything. Dragomir didn’t know what he was looking for, and didn’t think he would find it, but all the same, he didn’t stop. And finally, twelve days after everything, twenty days after he’d found the little girl and decided to change his life, he found his solution, his answer. He would turn himself in.

Dragomir no longer felt any remorse for leaving Donavan, he’d hardened his resolve and channeled the emotion of his pain into rage. If he could testify against him, and bring him to justice, Dragomir would endure whatever punishment he deserved for his actions within the Berceuse Malheureuse. After all, he’d already suffered more damage, both physical and emotional, then what the authorities could legally do to him.

That still left his family, of course. What could they do? Where could they go? Dragomir took Petre by the arm roughly as he passed by, and his brother instantly snapped to attention.

“Petre,” Dragomir’s voice was weak from disuse, but he managed to install a note of urgency and desperation in his tone. “Can you get everyone to a safe place? I need you to protect them…there’s something I have to do.” Petre’s eyes widened as he realized the gravity of the situation, and he bit his lip.

“Um…Dragos?” Tatiana asked softly, getting his attention. “I know a place.”

“Good.” Dragomir said simply. “Leave now.” He released Petre’s arm and got to his feet shakily. Petre rushed to help him, but Dragomir brushed him aside. This was something he had to do on his own.

He had to make things right.
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