Author's Note: i wrote this story for a Big Bang. It's not quite the Pierre/Anatole story I wanted to tell, and it covers a lot more ground than I had initially intended, but I think it still fits. I constantly think and re-think how a romantic relationship for them would fit into canon. In canon, they kinda swing from friends to not-friends to friends again, until Pierre snaps after the whole thing with Anatole/Natasha. It's quite the rollercoaster and any relationships would probably be at least mildly messed up and full of confusion. I don't know if that comes across well in this fic, but it is what it is :)
After the war, everything changed. Pierre married Natasha in early spring of 1813, mourned Andrei and tried to move on. For the first time in his life, it seemed, he thought he has understood his path, his purpose in life. Or at the very least, he was at peace. He was married, respected, with his firstborn on the way and a slowly evolving mission. The war was ending, peace was coming and Pierre was doing a fine job of telling himself that he was content and that his new life was completely severed from his old life. If he harbored regrets, he did not allow himself to think on them.
His peace was shattered in late June by Theodore Dolokhov who showed up uninvited one night and asked for a word. Pierre ushered him into his study and closed the door so that they could have as much privacy as possible. He did not know what this conversation was about but Dolokhov looked resolute and Pierre did not want to bring old hostilities into his new peaceful existence. "You said this is important?" Pierre sat behind the writing table and watched Dolokhov who remained standing.
Theodore looked older to Pierre, far more careworn that he remembered. He rarely smiles these days, a mutual acquaintance had told Pierre in passing before. Dolokhov was fresh from the front. There were rumors that he had resigned but at that moment he was still in uniform with a black morning band on his left arm. The band was whether worn and tattered. Pierre knew, or thought he knew, in whose honor it was and he found himself uncomfortable, forced to confront his past life which he did not like to do these days.
"I believe you know by now that Anatole died at Borodino," Dolokhov said flatly. He did not flinch at his own words but his entire expression was unreadable.
"Yes," Pierre replied stiffly. "It's…I was sad to hear it." He was somewhat too shellshocked at the time to process the information and since then, Pierre had blocked it out. Everything between him and Anatole had ended too bitterly and he did not want to dredge up those memories but he also felt a terrible sadness at the thought that he never was able to make things right. If anything, Anatole had proven himself to be brave, and Pierre wished he could have given him credit for that when there still had been time.
Dolokhov reached into an inner pocket and took out a stack of papers bound by a string. He set them on the desk before Pierre and stepped back. "Before Borodino Anatole gave these to me. I don't know why, I suppose he must have felt that something would happen. He'd been…despondent all day. Anyway, he asked me to keep them and, in case anything happened, to give them to you. And to tell you that he'd kept them. Even after everything."
Pierre reached out and took the parcel. He took out one of the papers, which he soon realized to be a letter and unfolded it. His own handwriting jumped out at him. September, 1802. Paris, France. The date and location jumped out at him, written in his own smudgy hand. He looked up at Dolokhov with wide, questioning eyes. "These are my letters to him. From when…when I was still in Paris and he went back to Petersburg…"
"I would have returned them earlier, Count. But there hasn't been much chance."
Pierre stared uncertainly first at Dolokhov, then the letter.
Mon Cheri Anatole,
It has barely been a weak since you left and I already feel like we have been apart for a year. Everything is so dreadfully boring without you…
He wondered if he might still have Anatole's letters somewhere among his papers. "He had these with him?" he asked, baffled.
"Yes. You never understood, Count, but Anatole…well, it is not for me to speculate. I've done my duty. I must go, if you'll excuse me." He turned to go.
Pierre rose quickly and blurted, without thinking about it, "Dolokhov, wait." He waited for the other man to turn. "I never meant for it to end…like it did."
Dolokhov looked at him steadily, then nodded and left without another word. Pierre collapsed back into his chair. He considered not reading the letters, simply burning them or throwing them away. He did not want to remember this, did not want more guilt and regret to hang over him. He did not want to know that Anatole had kept his letters close to heart even after everything had gone sour. It would be far better to dispose of this written record of his past.
Instead, he picked up the first one from the top, the one he had already unfolded, and began to read…