Welcome back to WIPpet Wednesday, hosted by K.L. Schwengel, a weekly blog hop wherein participants share excerpts from their WIPs related in some way to the date. For the 17th of the month, I’m sharing 17 lines.
At this point in my alternative history, it’s September 1918, and the Tsar and Tsaritsa are being laid to rest in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, not everyone gathered there can put aside their personal feelings, not even when their new underage Tsar is within earshot. Fourteen-year-old Aleksey can’t believe what some of his own relatives think of the mother he adored.
It’s absolutely NOT my intent to portray anyone as a bad person (particularly not the Dowager Empress, who has some choice words for both of her daughters-in-law), but there’s no tiptoeing around the fact that Alix was extremely unpopular and hated. Grand Duke Mikhail and his wife Natalya weren’t off the hook either, since not only was their marriage morganatic, but Natalya was twice-divorced, and their child Georgiy was born when she was still legally married to her second husband.
These people, most of all the Dowager Empress, lived what they knew, and that included royalty marrying other royalty, autocracy, raising children a certain way, coming to lots of court functions, and strictly obeying the draconian House Laws. This was also a rather decadent, dysfunctional family. It was rather rare to find normal, low-key, close-knit branches like Nicholas II’s family and the family of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich the elder.
He accepted the lit candle extended by one of the assistant priests, and tried to focus on the familiar, comforting words of Divine Liturgy. Though he’d always loved going to church and praying, right now he felt an extreme disconnect from the service. He still believed very much in God, but wasn’t in much of a mood to offer praise and thanks to God after losing his parents. All he could think of was that nightmarish night in the cellar, and how he’d come precariously close to losing his life before he’d really gotten the chance to live and experience life to the fullest.
When Communion was offered, he still remained seated, ignoring the looks the priests exchanged at his refusal to stand up and get in line with the other worshippers. Finally one of them came over to him and gave him the bread and wine.
“You know, this is all that German bitch’s fault,” he heard one of his distant relatives smugly whispering to another equally-distant relative. “If it weren’t for her meddling, we never would’ve had this near-complete disaster. Thank God only she and her husband died, not the children as well.”
“What did you just say about my mother? At her own funeral service?”
“It’s the truth, like it or not,” the other relative sniffed. “You’ll learn what really happened when you’re a little older. It’s all your mother’s fault your father was deposed and you were almost murdered along with them.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself to talk like that at her funeral. You shouldn’t have even come if you hate her so much.”
“Well, this is also your father’s funeral, and he was somewhat more innocent than she was.”