Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, as Arkadiya Gagarina has been granted a private audience with Aleksey. She’s come to petition for a better school and hospital in Yekaterinburg, her native city and the city where His Majesty almost died eleven years ago. However, given the timing of her arrival and her noble surname, she’s been mistaken for one of the princesses auditioning for the role of empress-consort.
From this point on, the majority of the rest of Part III is in Arkadiya’s POV.
She eased into an antique mahogany chair across the cherry wood desk with ivory paneling, taking in how large this study was. Not only was it large, but it was full of books, maps, artwork, ikons, and family photographs. Then she looked at the young new Tsar, who had a very kind, sincere face. He didn’t look any different from the pictures in the newspapers, and just looked like a slightly older, more mature version of the child tsesarévich she’d seen so often in newsreels and photographs. Now that she could finally see him in person, she saw his hair was a lovely auburn with coppery highlights, not brown like she’d assumed. The only thing she wasn’t expecting was just how deep his blue-grey eyes were. Black and white photographs couldn’t do them justice.
“So, are you truly interested in marrying me, Princess Gagarina, or did you just come here because you were told to?”
She turned bright red.
Many people have suggested Aleksey would’ve married Princess Ileana of Romania if he’d lived, and I agree she would’ve made an excellent empress-consort for him because she was a woman of strength, intelligence, and compassion. However, they were also related twice over, and this what-if match is so popular, it’s kind of cliché and too expected. So I created Arkadiya (formerly Varya), a woman of the people with all those same great qualities.
There’s also speculation the draconian Pauline Laws would’ve finally been amended, had the monarchy been restored or put down the Revolution. Thus, morganatic marriages and marriages to royalty and nobility of lesser ranks would no longer have such harsh consequences, and indeed would even be permitted for the Tsar’s children. It’s also suggested Aleksey, like his father, would’ve announced, “This one and no one else!,” no matter what kind of royal status his intended had.