Hear this song and remember…
What happens after the Parisian boat ride on the Seine.
Disclaimer: Anastasia (Anya), Dimitri and other characters belong to 20th Century Fox and Don Bluth. I try to do things as accurately as possible and do a lot of research before writing my fics in order to make things a bit more accurate (Avallon is a real town, etc), so I hope you enjoy.
France, 24 December 1926
Sometimes she wishes she could remember. Anya was lying on her side in the small bed wrapped in white cotton sheets, staring out the window of the bedroom she shared with Dimitri and watching snowflakes gather on the windowsill outside, wishing they were her lost memories of childhood. She thought of the incredible adventure she had been on in the past six months. She came to France to find her family and discovered she was actually Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanova, the last daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Empress Alexandra, and sole heiress to the vast Romanov fortune. She had also found love with Dimitri, the conman who tried to pass her off as royalty only to realise she was the true princess. The couple had eloped on a boat sailing down the Seine, leaving behind Anya's grandmother, the Dowager Empress Marie, her lady-in-waiting, Sophie, and Sophie's sweetheart (and Dimitri's partner in crime), the former courtier Vlad. Once the boat ride ended, the pair considered what to do next: they could go abroad or stay on the continent. Perhaps they could travel to New York City, along with hundreds of other Russian immigrants, but had heard of the hardships experienced there by most. They decided they would be safest in France and caught the next train to the one of the furthest destination according to Anya's Paris guidebook, the historic region of Burgundy.
The couple settled in quaint Avallon, a thoroughly French and quiet little market town known for gingerbread, wine, and cobbled streets. However, they were still Russians through and through but enjoyed living in their adopted country, choosing to stay a less than a hundred kilometres away from the Dowager Empress and learning the language as much as they could (Anya could remember some from her childhood, which vexed her as she couldn't seem to remember much else from that time) and even bought a house on the rue Bocquillot, near the main street. That summer, the couple travelled 90 kilometres south to the town of Toulon on the Riviera and were secretly married at the Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection, with the Dowager Empress Marie's blessing, of course. He was 20; she was just 18. On Sunday, 20 June 1926, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova became simply Mrs Anastasia Smirnova, wife of Dimitri Smirnov.
Upon their return to Avallon, Anya and Dimitri were not surprised to find they were still the only Russians in town. The couple sent regular letters to their family--Marie, Vlad and Sophie--in Paris. However, no one questioned the couple and although rumours continued to swirl through autumn that Anya was in fact Anastasia, most of the time the couple were met with warm smiles and friendship from the townspeople. Dimitri found work at a local vineyard, where he was happy to sometimes enjoy the fruits of his successes for free, while Anya mostly stayed at home, but not of her own accord. For her apparent safety, Marie supplied Anya with monthly cheques of 250 Francs per month, for "necessities" such as food and paying bills, in the old woman's words. The money meant Anya didn't mean Despite the couple's protests, the money kept coming, and decided to put it to good use by paying for the "necessities" of life, per the elderly lady's wishes.
Now here Anya was, one year older and wiser but still without her memories. Some days she would see a little girl bundled up in a wool coat outside and be reminded of one of her siblings or hear the tinkling of bells over a shop door and be reminded of sleigh bells, the images pulling at the very edges of her memory. She once nearly burst into tears after smelling fresh violets, which she remembered had been her favourite perfume long ago. The experience had been almost painful for her.
Anya moved out from underneath the covers and settled at the settee in front of window, gazing out onto the cobbled streets below. Dimitri had left for work hours ago and Anya relished the solitude. She saw a young mother carrying a newborn and smiled to herself, absentmindedly fingering her wedding ring. A few weeks ago she had broken the happy news to Dimitri that she was pregnant and they would be parents come July. The couple sent word to Marie and Vlad and Sophie in Paris, who were overjoyed becoming a great-grandmother and "grandparents", in Vlad and Sophie's case. Her morning sickness was nearly through as she was entering her second trimester and was finally able to relax a bit.
And now the day of Christmas Eve--at least in the Gregorian calendar--had dawned and a light dusting of snow was falling outside. The snow was certainly not as heavy as found back in St Petersburg, but the sight was comforting to her nonetheless. She and Dimitri had considered going back to Russia but Dimitri's decision to "leave and never come back" stood firm. In the end, they decided that they enjoyed their new life together, no matter where they were. Anya stretched and slipped off her nightdress and looked down at her belly. Before long she wouldn't be able to see her toes! With that thought, she filled the bathtub with lukewarm water (the warmest it could get) and washed, then dressed in a warm woollen dress the colour of cranberries and silk stockings which seemed out of place with her raggedy old boots, which she wore both out of pure nostalgia and practicality, as her feet had begun to swell.
She trudged downstairs and contemplated the kitchen. She dragged her fingers along the rustic baking table and, being hungry, decided to bake. But first, breakfast. Anya slipped on her chocolate brown wool coat and fastened the matching wool gloves and fashionable cloche on her head--an early Christmas gift from Sophie from the House of Chanel, no less--and waltzed out the door.