|Reviews for Anastasia: Retold|
| Guest chapter 22 . 7/30
I love this so much. I really hope you keep updating regularly. It's just perfect, thank you for writing it so well.
| wizardtimetravel chapter 23 . 7/28
Really good! Please update. :)
| AkkaTik chapter 23 . 7/9
Another very intriguing chapter, maybe the most subtle… I love how, instead of suddenly realizing he’s falling for Anya on the boat like in the movie, he’s slowly deluding himself about keeping a cold head. He really is starting to believe his own con: before, he tried to lie to Vlad about his real feelings for the girl and his reasons for getting upset, even though his reasoning fell rather short with the older, wiser man… Now, he’s trying to make himself believe his false reasons: he’s broadening the excuse of his personality being separated into two entities, the romantic buffoon, as he sees his genuine yearning for real human contact, versus the con artist that he prides himself to be and that he perceives as his real identity instead of being just a convenient mask he’s wearing to protect his most vulnerable side. Therefore, every real and instinctual reaction Anya got out of him is seen as a crass mistake and the fact that he let her catch glimpses of the man behind the mask makes him an amateur… Plus, the analogy with his past achievements is telling: conning a widower out of his money stands for what he plans to do to the grieving dowager, while parting a young lady out of her unmentionables is exactly what he wants to do to Anya and what he won’t allow himself to. Even alluding to his conman performances hint at twinges of conscience he’s not willing to acknowledge, hence the distance he puts between her and himself in his mind and the desultory way he considers sex as a con. Again, he’s always been lying about who he was to everyone threatening to come closer, in terms of official identity and of inner self.
It is that reluctance to let go of his defensive lies that makes it even more difficult to deal with Anya: she’s getting under his skin and under his mask and she’s bringing out who he really is, someone who’s so well hidden Dimitri has managed to pretend he’s forgotten about for years. And what he sees in her eyes is “pity”, the more positive side of very same scorn he’s feared from his idealized Anastasia… By opening up and telling Anya about his trauma, he’s bound to retract in his cave to hide again, not just because he’s feeling vulnerable, but because he can’t imagine she’d feel any other thing that disdain for him, because he’s not worthy of anything else… You’ve really build a very coherent portrayal of the guy in those few chapters: it ties up pretty well, really, and gives him very interesting depths, which were suggested in the movie.
But what’s even more taking is how he’s slowly unraveling the con on himself: he’s convincing himself that he’s just tricking her into doing his biding, while he’s only trying to get closer. Every attempt to school her into meting Anastasia’s standards gives him the opportunity to spend time with her (under the guise of letting her heal enough to introduce her as a princess), to get to know her better. He’s only trying not to let her go by prolonging as much as he can their sojourn in the in-between represented by the woods, trying to cling to his dream of them being a normal almost-couple, until Vlad starts feeling unnerved. That’s pretty sad, because he’s so used to lying he can’t even face the truth of what he really desires, while, at the same time, it makes him the ultimate cheater, who only sees the world through lies and tricks… it’s his greatest con, indeed, and probably the last, because starting to believe his own fraud is the first sign of his downfall as a professional liar: once the lies fail to mask the truth, they’re bound to disappear as no longer needed. The last line is interesting in that regard: “ten millions rubles could buy all the amnesia” in the world indeed… especially when you’re in love with an amnesic girl yourself, right?
| liliya chapter 23 . 7/9
this is my all-time favorite story (not just fanfiction, *story*!) and i check it all the time to see if it's updated—and when it does i always do a little jig ! i'm SO looking forward to what's to come and i'm really digging how well-loved anya and dimitri's characters are—i grew up with a really intense attachment to this movie (i have the music box for crying out loud) and im so glad to see them in completely capable hands. cant wait for the next update! (sorry if i seem kinda dorky because i totally am a total dork for this story)
| Shelby S chapter 1 . 7/8
Please continue writing this. Best Dimitri and Anastasia one yet. I'm loving it! Your writing is incredible!
| rowyntree33 chapter 1 . 7/8
This is about the third or fourth time I have read your fic. You write so very well and I really enjoy your take on Anastasia. I hope you continue as your writing is a gem. I am following this story and look forward to the next update. Keep up the great work!
| little miss saigon chapter 1 . 7/6
I DIDNT EVEN KNOW THAT THEY HAD FANFICTION FOR MY MOST FRICKINF FAVORITE MOVIE EVER
| AkkaTik chapter 22 . 7/5
Thank you for giving us Anya’s side of the situation! :)
I really like how she feels a connection with Dimitri, fuelled by protectiveness towards his vulnerability and tenderness. The guy is no longer a powerful figure she has to fight off or whose teachings she’s come to accept: sees the lost little boy in the man and that complexity is even more fascinating. Yet, dealing with her stirs emotions in Dimitri and, as usual, that knowledge provokes a fight or flight reaction in him: so far, fighting only made him get closer, which explains why he’s choosing to display only indifference and distance with her. And again, dreams/nightmares are closely linked to their doubts, fears and aspirations for life, only now Dimitri doesn’t want to get involved with her sleeping patterns, since it would lead to an intimacy he’s trying to protect himself from… Somehow, he reacts like he did when she got sick in the train even though the situation has tremendously progressed since then: he cannot offer comfort, because he’s not at ease with his own emotions.
Thus, she’s left alone to deal with her trauma and, just like before, she turns the turmoil of emotions into anger. The resulting scene in the woods is the pendant of the one interrupted by the bear, only, now, they’re no longer struggling with attraction. Both times, they aim for the same thing: to reach out to the other but also to avoid getting too close. Problem is that the situation is making her feel like a victim. She’s as powerless to change things as she was to defend herself. She’s feeling like she’s not worth becoming a princess, which is understandable because she only dreamt of being one because she could envision this dreamlike version of herself through Dimitri’s eyes. Now that he refuses to look her way, the vision has faded, leaving in its wake only bitterness and disappointment (in the situation for being too much to handle, in her for not being strong enough to grab at her chance for a better life, in him for shutting her off right after opening up). It doesn’t come as a surprise then that it’s again “Anastasia” that Dimitri uses to shake her up of her despair; the lost princess was the light guiding him and he makes that hope become Anya’s goal too. Anger has many sides between them: it used to mask attraction, now it’s become a sword she could yield to fend off her demons and everything horrible in her life. It’s turned into pride.
Yet, by doing so, Dimitri is still trying to draw the line that separates her from him, first by reinforcing the con and the hold he has on her mind, then by implicitly placing himself in the category of “everything that doesn’t matter” and that she needs to forget, along with Ivan. Ironic that his words affect her in a way he did not anticipate: they only enhance how she feels about him, instead of getting her to focus on becoming the woman he wants her to start believing in. Wanting “him” (not only as a lover, but as a person she wants to spend her life with) has taken precedence over wanting to meet her supposed grandmother and become royalty. Yearning for a future has become more important than dwelling in the past. And, since she’s suffering with the same abandonment issues he refuses to deal with, she’s developing the same kind of logic that he’s trapped in: it means emotional avoidance in order to keep the inevitable loss and rejection at bay. I'm amazed that the more you show of their inner struggle, the more similar they become. Wonderful work!
| AkkaTik chapter 21 . 7/5
Do I need to say that I reaaaally like that introspective streak of his character in your story? Great work!
Instinct is speaking loud in this chapter. Anya trusts Dimitri to save her and he is mad with rage and terror to see her harmed, which causes an outburst of violence. So far, Dimitri as appeared as a very collected person, except in his dealings with the redheaded: seeing her in danger awaken another facet of that anger, that only she manages to elicit in him, more protective and primal this time.
Here, anger is mixed with guilt and the whole situation is shaded by the ghost of his mother… Dimitri has come to care about Anya as his woman, hence the possessiveness and the fear to lose her. And it “made him furious” to love her, because he’s failed at keeping himself at arm’s length. He’s become emotionally involved and vulnerable: his hard shell has broken. This is why he refuses to explain how he feels to Vlad and resorts to hiding behind the con again… There’s a subtle progression, because the con is getting more marks than intended: he’s trying to fool his accomplice too by using it as an excuse, all the while becoming more and more (reluctantly) aware that he doesn’t really want to get through with the fraud.
When the rage is slowly receding, they start touching each other fleetingly as a way to show reassurance and to be sure they’re safe now. Touching physical injuries leads to explore emotional wounds too… Lust is giving way to love. In need for a reprieve from isolation and hurt, he tells her about his shattered childhood and trauma… Obviously, it is deeply linked to the events of that night, about his fear at seeing someone he cares about in danger. Yet, Anya may not realize the extent of the similarities: he doesn’t know it was not his fault because his mother’s suicide has planted notions about himself in his mind that he has never been able to shake. Like the tacit belief that his existence was not enough for his mother to keep living; this notion of not being worthy enough developed later in another form, given that he was just a kitchen boy for his dream girl. It also explains how comfortable he feels at living a life of lies. Another notion is associated with the horror of not having been able to save his mom, like he’s failed at preventing the situation Anya got in: this guilt stems from the regret about his terrible past, about witnessing everyone he cared about abandon him. In a way, while refusing to grieve his past, he might still be pinning for his lost future (his words imply that he’s still projecting about the unknown sibling, which becomes quite intriguing since he pretended that he only saw Anya like a little sister before. I don’t know if you had this detail sketched out when you wrote chapter 19, but it’s nonetheless interesting). The tunnel vision towards despair he’s shown at the beginning –with the very brief mention of suicide as a solution- and his obvious clinging to his princess’ memory as a way to escape his life with a scam show how he’s recreating the same situations, trapped in a loop of hopelessness.
Indeed, Dimitri has not grieved his losses; he’s just shoved the pain down and never spoke about it, hence his apparent coldness hiding his boiling rage… Seeing Anya’s predicament worked as a terrible reminder and opened the gates for bottled up emotions: the truth comes out. He half-admits to himself about how he feels about her and tells her about the darkness that has changed him… This jarring emotional need to let it all out causes a splitting of his characters into two parts he cannot yet reconcile: he one who’s vulnerable, eager and truthful, and the empty shell of the con artist he’s shaped over the years to hide himself inside… Anya’s presence (as a reminder of his past and a hope for something more in terms of future) forces him to face demons he feels better off ignoring… Of course, that the only way for him to heal, but he's not ready to accept it, because it also means that he can get hurt again and that Anya, if he starts loving her, might leave him like his mother did.
Thank you again for this wonderful story! :)
| AkkaTik chapter 20 . 7/4
You did great with turning a simple song into a scene subtly packed with a complex perspective. Firstly, Vlad almost fades in the background next to Dimitri’s blazing presence when the teaching resumes. In the very first lesson, in the train, both acted as her teachers, even though Anya was aware was it was Dimitri’s plan. Now, though, she’s so focused on her crush that she drinks his words. She’s eager to become a princess because it gives her purpose in life, but probably also because listening to Dimitri is a way to hold his full attention. Maybe she’s sensed too that the ghost of Anastasia was still haunting his heart and that genuinely becoming his restored dream girl would a sure way to win his affection… Plus, the trust she’s showing is particularly intriguing because, truth be told, Dimitri has done nothing concrete to earn it yet: he only tried to survive along with her and he’s still molding her like clay to get money out of the situation. She should still question his motives. Even the gentlemanly respect he showed by not sleeping with her when she was drunk is part of the con, since he didn’t want to muddle an already complicated situation and, afterwards, he denied the intimate moment to have happened at all… On the contrary, she has proven that she was trustworthy and resourceful, if only by sharing her earnings with them. The true reason for her change of mind is that she wants to believe him: by deeming Dimitri honorable and sincere, she hopes that she can have a future with him in the long term.
On the other hand, Dimitri is closing himself off as a way to protect himself from falling even harder. His best protection against her is the con he’s now trapped in. By reversing to the original plan and clinging to it and to his old conman guise, he’s trying to deny that he and his goal have already changed… His “change of heart” has already started, but his mind is not ready to accept it.
Now, about the new, darker, arc you’ve created, even though it’s not my favorite part (I’m a softie at heart, lol), it certainly creates an interesting and startling situation. If I’m not mistaken, you already hinted at the fact that it’s not safe for a young woman to wander among strangers. First when Dimitri was willing to spare her any discomfort at having to share their room in the palace (which was the first genuine moment of communication that passed between them), then when Scar Face was trying to intimidate her away from the cards game. But now, the danger is more palpable, starting with the meeting with Inga, which, in spite of her kindness is a bit unsettling. Somehow, the out of the blue invite is made even more awkward by its eerily similarity with the con Dimitri is setting: like Anastasia’s grandmother, Inga is eager to recognize her long lost relative in a perfect stranger… In a way, Ivan preys on the situation, just like Dimitri is doing, by using Anya because she’s convenient. Of course, both men are as different as day and night, but it might justify the younger man’s unacknowledged guilt and his ambivalence towards his instinctive protectiveness. Also, your description of Ivan reminds of Rasputin (the hair, the nose, the bad smell, the brutality the sorcerer showed on both times he tried to harm her in person). It’s probably only a coincidence, given that they’re rather standard traits for villains, lol! :) The attempted rape is jarring and creates a disturbing contrast with the lighthearted beginning based on an upbeat song. Again, you really managed to make the story full of dangers and realistic! Thank you!
| AkkaTik chapter 19 . 7/3
Wow, soooo much sexual tension! :) It comes across as a very interesting detail that Dimitri’s resentment is expressed in relation to Anya’s initial no-touching policy (“funny how someone vehemently averse to physical contact…”), especially since they did touch since then and she enjoyed it. It’s almost as if his wording is betraying is thoughts, which very much involve a lot of touching at that moment, lol!
Furthermore, he’s discovering her bit by bit, in the light of a new day - and I must just ask here: could the metaphor of the “pale, languid fingers of morning light” be a reminiscence of The Odyssey (“Eos/Dawn of the rosy fingers”)? Because, if it’s just a coincidence, it’s a pretty charming one, especially since the book is another story about journeying in a hostile world. Anyway, this slow awakening to a new perspective symbolizes accurately how recent events have lead him to see her in a new light, just as progressively as dawn is revealing new details of her features… And it makes him discover new things about himself too. His lust is turning to something deeper, more emotionally connecting. It’s expressed through his “fantasy” of a simpler and more fulfilling relationship with her. He’s starting to feel guilt for making her a mark in his great con and regret for being trapped in dire circumstances, for not being a better person who wouldn’t hesitate to throw his ulterior motives through the window of that dingy room and be more genuine towards her and towards what he feels. Slowly, Anya is turning into what Anastasia represented for him: a ray of hope for something better in life, for becoming someone he’s afraid he could not be. Hence his desperate clinging to rules that defined his life and his identity so far.
Similarly, the excuses he used for pretending that she’s not worth his attention are crumbling one by one. He used to call her a “brat” or a “little sister” when his fake indifference was questioned, while now he sees her entirely as a woman. Her unrefined ways were troublesome, but she saved them by winning at cards: her lack of skills for ladylike matters contrasts with her self-confidence as a card shark… She was an inexperienced orphan, yet what she learnt at the orphanage comes as a surprise (bonus points for using yet another point of the movie and giving it a deeper meaning!)… not to mention that she used his shock as a tool to impress him, which is at odds with the line in chapter 17 “not that she had anyone to impress”… All in all, it looks like from his current point of view, the only thing she’s not as experienced in as him is sex. And after he gets this startling knowledge about her virginity, the baser, most instinctual part of him whispers into his ear that he could “show her”… I’ll say it again: I just love those introspective bits you put in the story: they are one of the best parts and they really put emphasis on how well you crafted your more adult version of the characters.
About Vlad’s suspicions, I wonder, did he go into his room to tell him about the bus? It seems weird that he just ordered tea and waited for them to wake up, given that they were already on a tight schedule… but it would explain why he didn’t try to hurry them up; he may not have wanted to find them in the same bed in a compromising situation…
The next part of their trip matches the movie, while adding context and some intriguing undercurrents. Anya’s happiness and optimism can be explained by the growing awareness that she feels something deep for her companion and that there’s a possibility that her feelings might be mutual, even after the disappointment of not waking in his arms and of being denied an acknowledgment of their sweet night together. And Dimitri is uncomfortable at being forced to reveal a part of the truth to her, when he’s starting to be afraid of scaring her away with his con; it only adds to his guilt as seeing that he managed to trick her again because he earned her trust with lies. It matches his character in the movie, who was frantic when Anya and her grandmother refused to believe him the one time he was saying the truth, whereas the girl had been eating in the palm of his hand every little lie he fed her before. The struggle between truth and lies (and trust) is an important aspect of what makes his character so intriguing. It’s even clearer in your story, because everything in his life has been an untruth or a half-truth since he lost his mother (for instance he refused to talk about it and hide the trauma as best as he could; his feelings towards snatching the royal women from the soldiers’ clutches are still ambivalent; he tries to control carefully what his mentor/surrogate father knows about him; and so on…).
Sorry: this review is interminable! The ones for the next arc will be shorter hopefully… :p
| AkkaTik chapter 18 . 7/3
Hi, it’s me again! Yep, today is gonna be a spamming day too! :)
I especially like this chapter! The atmosphere is euphoric and relaxed for the first time, after growing desperation and Anya’s badass victory at the end of the last one. The resulting companionship and relief makes the not-quite couple more pliant to the heat simmering between them, particularly after Vlad’s naughty retreat with the busty barmaid. He got lucky easily –a detail suggested in the movie by the eager welcome he got from the French maid at Sophie’s- and it plants the suggestion of giving in to the temptation for our recalcitrant lovebirds…
There’s an undeniable feeling of expectation in their playful talk while they drink alone. It almost feels like a drunkish and flirty version of a first date and Anya understands it in a basic way, like every time they get alone, and reacts to Dimitri’s veiled advances… That’s a dangerous game they’re playing, in more ways than one. Indeed, he’s the first one to bring sex in their friendly struggle to get the upper hand. Somehow, he’s always the one making the first move, by telling her that he can “handle” her, by pinning her against a tree… He enjoys her company and feels admiration, because she earned their money in a risky way –in the same kind of way that he lives, minus the dishonesty. He wants to lower her inhibitions by getting her drunk and playing with her. He sets the mood for an intimate talk, like seduction. It is even more visible when he mentions that he had sex in a public place: it suggests that he’s a daring and satisfying lover who likes to explore chancy settings, which is bound to sparkle her interest, given that almost having sex together outdoors had already passed through their minds in the woods. It's a subtle way to let her know that he's an adventurous man, a very attractive quality for the feisty woman that she is, while planting the suggestion in the comfortable and almost harmless setting of a game...
Her reaction to his sudden and sensual attempt at opening up is equally intriguing. Admitting that she’s a virgin is the first real honest tidbit she gives him about her (she says nothing about the loneliness, about her friend or her childhood dreams). This implicit displayed vulnerability, both as a woman and to his charms, appeals to his protective nature, but it becomes also part of seduction process when she describes the positions she was never in.
That’s a very sexy and subtle scene you wrote! Thank you! :)
| AkkaTik chapter 17 . 7/2
You reversed the situation completely in this chapter: in last chapter, Anya was ignoring him, now he’s the one trying to avoid her. And the reason is oddly similar: she resented that he was letting her out (but apparently, she was ok enough with Vlad for him not to take notice), now he’s thinking he’s already too deeply involved and tries to back off. Each of them is playing a game of pushing the other away once they get too close and reeling them in when they’re not close enough. Very clever. I also particularly like how you make Dimitri the one prone to mistakes –enhancing that he’s less controlled than he’s thought, especially when he’s with her. On the contrary, Anya, who started as a rather gullible young girl with bad manners and a big mouth ends up being an asset to their group. It completely changes the dynamic between the conman/coach in “princess-improvement” and his mark/pupil: things are shifting towards a more balanced relation between equals.
Lastly, the conditions you create to expand their trip add a lot of realism, which makes the story much more gripping. Things are getting bad and it conveys the impression of a never ending nightmarish journey in the forest… No need for any sorcerer’s nasty spell when you put yourself in such terrible circumstances… Bonus points too for taking the time to instill a bit of local flavor in the old-fashioned rural tavern. It works, especially with the brutish Scar Face!
| AkkaTik chapter 16 . 7/2
Another great chapter! It encloses just the right amount of fear and humor: the bear did a great job at making them scramble, lol! I like how the banter between those two hotheads never stops even when their life is in danger! And the cub getting enamored with Dimitri’s pant leg was just adorable (and frightening)… At least, he should be happy that one animal likes him, since he was complaining about poor Pooka! XD
More seriously, the way you made the -sensual then terrified- tension vanish in shared giggling makes their relationship progress quite nicely, because they obviously feel at ease with the other. Deep down, they can sense how similar they are and that they understand each other. Once they stop trying to get the upper hand and sending belligerent sexual signals, they allow themselves to relax because there is nothing to prove anymore, neither to the adversary/potential mating partner, nor to themselves in terms of being strong enough not to need anyone. I particularly like how denial is going strong in Dimitri’s head, but never stops being contradictory: in the previous chapter, his very physical reactions were at odds with the reasoning he was trying to feed to his own wandering mind, while now, the gradation of everything that Anya is not supposed to be follows precisely what she’s progressively becoming. She’d become a business partner of sorts once she accepted to follow him and to be groomed into acting like a Grand Duchess: he’s still planning to scam her, obviously, but for all means they’re on it together until he and Vlad give her the slip… As for “his lover”, she almost became this for him, only a few moments before, and he knows it: he wants her and he can feel that the feeling is mutual on some level (she would have been angrier otherwise when he was pressed against her, instead of slowly relaxing under his hands; he’s male enough to know that, I guess). Now the tricky part is becoming “friends” with her, since it supposes honesty and trust… I guess he’d only consider them friends once he decides to stop exploiting her…
P.S: about last chapter, I forgot to comment… Dimitri “preferred his women much older than himself” and well-endowed, apparently. Interesting way to characterize his type… Mommy complex? ;)
| AkkaTik chapter 15 . 7/1
Funny, once both decides to get more distant –either by taking refuge in planning how to keep the con going or by giving the other the cold shoulder-, they start falling faster and crashing into one another. Denial is stronger than ever, even if front of rather big clues that attraction has been flaring from the start: Dimitri suddenly realizes that she’s ignoring him, yet he knows exactly how much time has passed since he had her full attention. Same with Anya: she knows that getting too close to him is dangerous, but she resents him for not noticing her as much as she would want him too…
Then, everything that happened between them so far burst into an explosive altercation, the no touching policy, the spark they felt the first time they made contact, the power play… until violence melts into lust… and a new layer of denial. Isn’t it ironic that Dimitri, who’s more experienced in the bedroom, is precisely the one fighting this very obvious desire with all his might? After all, Anya already admitted that “want” is a big part of the complicated lump of feelings he rouses in her… Again, I can’t express how many nuances you packed in that simple scene that becomes smoothly steamy while staying tasteful, evocative and true to character… Thank you! :)