A/N: Maria is a canon character, the oldest daughter of Pierre and Natasha, introduced in the epilogue. Nicholas Bolkonski is obviously canon as well. Eugene is supposedly Eugene Onegin, therefore constituting a slight cross-over for this set. The rest are OCs - children of canon characters.
They would become known as the Decembrists but at that moment they were simply rebels and traitors. Nicholas Bolkonski watched the situation unfold and unravel with a terribly sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He was young and Uncle Pierre had made sure he wasn't directly involved with anything. But he knew why they did what they did and he also knew that their cause was noble and deserved to be praised not punished by exile or death. He spent that night burning letters and papers as his aunt prayed in the next room. Shamefully, he was scared.
The time to take exams for the University was fast approaching and Anatole felt as if he was being buried under large quantities of books. His friends hardly understood why he was so worried. "You are smart enough," his cousin, Alexander Kuragin, would say with a slightly disdainful edge. Eugene would just smirk. But Anatole felt like he owed it to his father to make University. There was also the intense desire to go to Petersburg which he had only been to a handful of times in his life. His father always seemed terribly uncomfortable and miserable on those trips…
"Where did you even learn this game?" Alexander asked, sorting a deck of cards for Euchre.
"From his father," Eugene smirked. "Where else."
"Leave Papa out of this," Anatole demanded good-naturedly. "I learned it from a German fellow and his American fiancé who were here a few weeks ago."
"Who'd ever heard of a card game where Jacks are so terribly important," Alexander persisted, as he began to deal.
"Just deal, Sasha."
The cards were dealt and the top card of the kitty turned over. Lisov, Alexander's partner, looked between Eugene and Anatole carefully. "I'm watching you two this time."
"No, Maria, that's final."
The young Countess Bezukhov burst into tears. "Why can't I marry whom ever I choose, Papa?"
Pierre looked down at his oldest daughter sternly as she glared back defiantly at him. He could hear Natasha's continuing hysteric in the other room. "Maria, this man… is not a match for you."
"I love Anatole!"
"I will marry him! No matter what you do!" She ran from the room before Pierre could hold her back. He hoped, desperately, that the girl had more sense than her mother at her age and would not try to elope.
Twenty-four hours until his engagement would be announced. Anatole could hardly believe it. Why had he given into his father? His cousin, Annette Kuragin, was a lovely girl – he could clearly picture her golden curls and pretty little hat – but he didn't want to marry her. Not that his father didn't make sense. All of his arguments were sensible and maybe Anatole would be dishonoring the family in a way, but Maria… Anatole played absentmindedly with a quill, longing to at least write to her, but he wasn't aloud. She would hardly have him after tomorrow anyway. It was over.