(Disclaimer: I don't own Anastasia.) Okay, before you read this, there are a few things I should get out of the way.
Number One: Yes, it is the spring of 1940. Anya is 31, almost 32. Dimitri is 33, almost 34. Their daughter, Tasha, is their only child right now, and she just turned 3. I know that means they waited an awfully long time after the movie to have a kid, but I never understood people's rush. Would YOU want a kid when YOU'RE 18 and 20? You'd still be in college!
Number Two: The chapter refers to travels. I figured they'd spend those kid-less years seeing the world.
Number Three: I own Tasha. I realize that I may not be the first to name their daughter that, since that was the name of the ship, but if you used it first, I'm sorry. It's a common idea. Don't sue me.
Number Four: In this chapter, Anya reads in the paper that the army is drafting men for WWII, and goes to her grandmother to beg the Dowager to intervene so that it won't affect Dimitri. That basic plot may have been unclear.
And Finally, Five: Just so you know, I have no clue how the draft really worked.
It had been the last snow of the season. Maybe not in Ireland, or Belgium, or any of the other places she'd been, but in Paris, the place she still considered her true home. The weather here was climbing the thermostat day by day, even as the grey layers of one last flurry melted in the tepid rays of March.
She heard the crunch of the surrendering flakes under her feet as she walked the familiar route, but she barely registered it. Her mind was elsewhere.
The morning paper. The call to action. It had been a headline that had cracked the bubble of the perfect life she'd been living, and now there was only one thing she could do to keep it from shattering all around her.
Marie. She had to see Marie.
The little hand that was wrapped around hers suddenly tightened its grip, as the little shoe that belonged to it met a puddle.
"Oh! Be careful, sweetie. It's slippery out here."
She had arranged this on the pretense of dropping the little girl off, but she had a feeling Marie knew this wasn't just a social call. No, this was a duty visit.
She was surprised when the door swung open and Marie herself stood on the other side. Never in eighty-four years had her grandmother opened her own door.
"Anastasia! Oh, and my sweet Tasha. Come in, girls, come in!"
"Great-Gramama!" The little girl flew into the old woman's arms, and with some effort Marie picked her up.
The three of them filed into the sitting room, and Marie sat, perching young Tasha on her lap. Anya couldn't sit. She was too nervous.
"I rided a bike, Great-Gramama!"
"You did? My, you are becoming such a big girl."
Pacing back and forth over the carpet, wringing her hands, Anya decided she couldn't wait anymore. "Grandmama...."
Marie tore her attention from the bubbly child in front of her. "Yes, my dear?"
"I...I have to talk to you about...something."
"Well...." Anya spoke more quietly this time, careful to choose the right words. She didn't want Tasha to know. "You've...you've read the paper this morning?"
"Of course, my dear. Sophie brings it daily."
So she had seen it, then. The problem was on the front page. Anya took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. "Dimitri," she said, and something in her voice was urgent.
"Papa!" the little girl shreiked, extremely proud of herself for identifying the name.
"Yes, that's right, Tasha. Very good! Why don't you run along into the study and see if you can find a little something Great-Grandmama has for you, hm?" Marie suggested, and the little girl toddled at top speed from the room.
"Ah," Marie said, drawing her focus back into the conversation. "Go on."
"So, you've read it, then...."
"I have. Men eighteen through forty."
"I...." Anya struggled to find a way to keep talking. "He's thirty-three."
"I know this," Marie said soothingly.
"When that draft letter comes....He'll have to leave us. He'll have to go to war. I came to you because I thought....Well, I don't even know what I thought, I just...." She stopped pacing, and looked into her grandmother's eyes. "Please, Grandmama. You have to do something. I can't...." The sentence faded out.
"I know, my dear. And you won't have to. He won't recieve the letter."
Marie simply reached down and pulled an envelope from the floor next to her chair. She handed it to Anya, and Anya opened it as if it contained the meaning of life.
"That is the carbon copy. The real letter has already been sent," Marie explained, while Anya read the letter voraciously. A weight was lifting off her shoulders.
"This is a letter from the Dowager Empress to the head of the Allied army!" she realized.
"I may have said it before, my dear, but there was a time when I thought I would never see you again. Now, with this sweet little child...." she said, referring to Tasha, and trailed off. She regained her focus. "Not since my Nicholas has there been as good a man as Dimitri. I would never dream of simply watching as my grandson-in-law---no, my grandson---is separated from the two people he loves most in the world. I have lived with terrible losses in my long life, my child, and I'd take my last breath before I'd put you through the same. It is taken care of. The letter will not come."
Anya threw her arms around the old woman, who only smiled. "Thank you, Grandmama," was all she could say.
"Mama! Look what Great-Gramama got me!" Tasha ran back into the sitting room, holding a chocolate Easter bunny in both hands.
"Aw, that's so nice, baby," Anya cooed, finally relaxed. "Did you say thank you?"
"You're welcome, darling," Marie laughed. "To both of you."
"Come say 'bye to Mama, Tasha." Anya bent down and the little girl ran into her arms. "Be good, okay?"
"I'm a angel, Mama."
Anya laughed. "Oh yeah? Who told you that?"
Anya smiled, and rolled her eyes. He'd buy that girl a castle if he had the chance.
She gave her daughter and pat on the back and she ran back to Marie, and Anya heard "Teach me the lullaby again!" as she shut the door behind her.
The smile wouldn't leave her face the whole way home. Everything would stay exactly how it was. Nothing was going to happen to anyone. Everything, she was sure, would be all right.