It was a cold Thursday morning when Anya found the letter.
It was in a light brown evelope sitting on the table by her window; with with only Anya written in neat cursive on the front. Frowning questioningly, she opened it. Inside was a letter, one page long and folded up twice.
I know we left off on really bad terms (my fault, I know) but I want to tell you something that I needed to say before we even set foot in Paris. Something I should've said when we were on the staircase on the last night we saw each other.
I love you, Anya.
I love you so much I can hardly breath when I think about you and I die every time I think about you spending the rest of your life with that Duke. You deserve so much better than to be treated like a fragile creature and locked away from the world.
I know that you probably aren't going to read all of this...But I had to say it, Anya. I had to. Or else I would've never known if you felt the same way, which I know you do. I felt it on the Tasha when we danced together.
Meet me outside the palace gates at midnight tomorrow. Meet me and we can run away, far away, together and leave everything behind.
If you don't come then I have my answer.
Her heart pounding in her chest, Anya slipped the letter shakily into the envelope; feeling the smile spread across her lips before she could stop it.
He loved her. He loved her.
She knew it!
Hurrying to her wardrobe she opened a chest on the bottom and took out her worn boots, coat and an old traveling dress, shoving them into a leather bag and putting the bag in the top compartment (a place only she knew about) and shutting the wardrobe again and leaning against it with a hand pressed against her stomach as to calm herself.
She hadn't been this happy since she found out she had a family.
She would run away; away from the Duke and his cages and the Palace and the duties she loathed. Grandmama would understand, wouldn't she? After all she was always telling her how she should follow her heart...
But oh...what would the Duke do?
Surely they'd realize she was gone and send out a search party...possibly the Royal Guards and swamp Paris...
They'd even put out a warrant for Dimitri's death...
A sick feeling spread over her as her fantasy disolved into a cloud of reality.
She couldn't run away with Dimitri because if she did she would put his life in danger...
No. She'd have to tell him she couldn't go with him.
And that was that.
Dimitri walked to the palace gates, pulling the collar of his coat up and his hat down as he went. All around him people bustled and talked; not paying any attention to him as they made their way home. It was what he preferred after all; it was what he specialized in.
Keeping his head down and his eyes on the things he wanted most.
Stopping at the gates he glanced at his watch.
Five to Twelve.
His stomach knotted in anticipation and nerves as he put his hands in his pockets; glancing at the Palace.
Any minute now she'd come to him and they'd be on the first train out of Paris.
A minute after twelve he saw her; his heart stopping as he watched her walk to him, her hair shining in the moonlight.
"Anya.'' he breathed, a smile breaking out across his face as he hugged her tightly.
Anya winced; blinking back tears as she pulled away, trying not see his expression of joy. Joy she would crush in a moment.
"Are you ready? I have the tickets. The train leaves in an hour so we'd better hurry-"
"I'm not coming with you.''
The coldness of her voice startled him as he stopped; looking at her. "W..what?"
She tilted her head back slightly; trying her best to keep the cold look on her face. "I'm not going with you because I don't love you, Dimitri. It's better if you leave Paris and rid your mind of your foolish fantasy.''
Dimitri stood frozen to the spot; the saddened, surprised look on his face. "I-But...Anya, what is it? What's wrong? Were you threatened-?" he reached for her hand. "Talk to me-"
She jerked her hand away, turning her back to him so he wouldn't see the tears she couldn't hold back any longer.
"I want you gone.'' she said, ready to break.
Dimitri stood for a moment longer, realizing she wasn't going to change her mind.
"I love you, Anya.'' he said softly, making her heart ache even more. "I'll go if that makes you happy.''
She heard his retreating footsteps and covered her face with her hands; sobbing softly as she made her way back to her room.
The next morning she didn't leave her room; crying and staying in bed. She ordered that she have no maides, no visitors. She would send for food if she got hungry but she never did. The pained look on Dimitri's face was all she saw when she closed her eyes so she didn't sleep.
The wedding drew closer and she stood in a daze as they fitted her for her gown; a silk and laced straightjacket for her to be delivered in. She loathed it with her entire being, wanting to tear it off and burn it. What would Dimitri think if he saw her in such a thing? In her minds eye she could see him gazing at her; telling her how beautiful she looked and she started crying again, startling the tailor to the point where the poor old woman left the room leaving Anya alone.
The morning of the wedding was a haze. Anya couldn't feel the maides dress her, wash her nor did she feel them do her hair.
Her body was numb, her heart was even more so.
She sat alone in the bridal room; awaiting her sentence when Grandmama walked in. She sat next to Anya, taking her cold hand in hers.
"Darling...'' she said softly, stroking her grandaughters hand. Anya didn't look at her; shaking her head slowly.
"I can't, Grandmama.'' she said, her voice barely a whisper. "I can't do this...''
Marie smiled sadly, still stroking her grandaughters hand. "Go to him, my child. Go to Dimitri.''
Anya looked at her. "What...?"