Advice from one young monarch to another

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, which released 17 July, on my primary protagonist’s real-life 100th death anniversary. Once I’ve earned enough money from sales, I’ll use some of it to make donations to the National Hemophilia Foundation and the National Hemophilia Federation, in memory of Aleksey.

I’m skipping ahead to Part IV, which is set during WWII, and focuses on Aleksey and his wife Arkadiya’s successful efforts to rescue almost the entire Jewish population of occupied Europe and bring them to safety in the Russian Empire. It’s now June 1944, and Aleksey’s second-cousin once-removed, the very young King Mihai of Romania, has come with his uncle Nicolae to discuss plans for Romania’s defection to the Allies. When Aleksey and Mihai are alone after dinner, Mihai asks if it’s okay to ask a somewhat personal question.

This has been slightly tweaked to fit 10 lines.

King Mihai, the last true surviving WWII head of state (25 October 1921–5 December 2017)

“No, it’s nothing prying.  I wanted to know when I should start feeling like the real King, and not an overgrown little kid playing at being King.  At my age, I don’t feel like I deserve to rule in my own right.  Is there a certain age or point where you began feeling you were fully in charge and entitled to make important decisions?”

Aleksey put his hand on Mihai’s shoulder. “If you’re any sort of good monarch, you’ll never have that feeling.  This is a role we were born into, not elected to; but for an accident of birth, we might’ve been much further down the line of succession, or peasants.  You should never forget this is a precious trust you were chosen by God for, and do everything in your power to prove yourself worthy.  Most people want to like, trust, and believe the best of their monarch, particularly at the start of his reign.  Never give them a reason to believe their trust is mislaid, because therein lies the road to revolution.”

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Meet some of the people in my alternative history, Part II

These are a few more of the real people who feature in my alternative history, whom I haven’t already discussed. Writing about real people as characters can feel awkward and self-conscious at first, but it gets easier if one thinks of them as characters who just happen to have been real people. They’re not sacred cows.

King Carol II of Romania (15 October 1893–4 April 1953), firstborn child of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie (one of my favouritest queens), ruled Romania from 8 June 1930–6 September 1940. Prior to that, he’d renounced his rights to the throne over his affair with commoner Magda Lupescu, who became his third wife.

Marie and Ferdinand (who was nearing the end of his life) set up a regency for Carol’s 5-year-old son Mihai. Then Carol decided he’d like to be king after all, and took the throne from his own son. This guy was a complete serpent’s tooth, megalomaniac, egomaniac, scumbag, lousy husband, dictator, fascist enabler, the works.

In my alternative history, Aleksey and his wife, Empress Arkadiya, visit Carol in late summer 1940 to negotiate the release and Russian resettlement of Romania’s half-million-strong Jewish community, along with the Romani and interred Polish nationals. They demand Bessarabia and northern Bukovina back as part of the deal, so they can protect even more of Europe’s Jewish community.

Prince Gorm of Denmark (Gorm Christian Frederik Hans Harald) (24 February 1919–26 December 1991), fourth child and firstborn son of Prince Harald and Princess Helena, paternal grandson of King Frederick VIII and Queen Louise. He was born and raised in the Jægerborghus estate.

In 1938, Gorm entered Naval service, and became an officer in the Royal Life Guard. During the Nazi occupation, in 1943, he was among the sailors who escaped to Sweden with the Danish Brigade. They were part of the Danish Resistance. His mother, meanwhile, frequently hobnobbed with Nazis, and was a source of great shame to everyone else in the Danish Royal Family.

In my alternative history, Gorm marries Aleksey’s oldest niece, Princess Isidora Igorovna, his second-cousin once-removed through Dowager Empress Mariya Fyodorovna’s paternal line. Their oldest son, Oskar, is the fifth generation stricken by hemophilia.

In real life, Gorm never married or had kids.

Princess Ileana of Romania (5 January 1909–21 January 1991), King Carol’s youngest sister. It’s widely suspected her father was Queen Marie’s lover Prince Barbu Ştirbey, not King Ferdinand. Ileana was very popular in Romania, and considered herself Romanian down to the very core of her soul. Prior to Carol forcing her out of the country, she lead Romania’s Girl Guides.

Carol, deeply jealous of her popularity, was desperate to get her out of the country, and encouraged her to marry Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany. He then claimed the people wouldn’t tolerate a Habsburg on their soil. Carol likewise refused to let her return home to give birth to her firstborn Stepan in her native land. (He also forced their brother Nicolae to leave Romania because of his morganatic marriage.)

During WWII, she was very active in nursing war wounded. In 1944, after her nephew King Mihai joined the Allies, she and her family returned to Romania. Following Mihai’s forced abdication at the end of 1947, they fled to the West. In 1961, she became a nun, and was tonsured as Mother Alexandra in 1967.

In my alternative history, Ileana is one of the princesses most strongly preferred for Aleksey, but his heart becomes set on morganatic princess Arkadiya. Ileana later appears at the meeting with Carol, where she chews him out about how he essentially tricked her into leaving the country she loves so dearly. Until the fascists in Romania are overthrown, Aleksey and Arkadiya host Ileana and her children in their palace.

WeWriWa—Saying goodbye

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when 23-year-old departing soldier Yuriy suggested to his 18-year-old crush Inga that she might be a real American girl and have a returning soldier for a boyfriend by the time they meet again.

Inga said she only wanted her old family, and Yuriy tried to cheer her up by saying the pain of longing isn’t so bad as more time passes, and that after the war she could create her own family who’ll never leave her. He then holds out his hand for a farewell handshake.

“Can’t I hug you goodbye?  You deserve more than a handshake after you’ve been so nice to me.”

Yuriy smiles as he hugs her. “You’re such a sweet girl.  Just make sure not to be too sweet with the wrong kinds of people.  You have to be strong to survive in a new country.”

Inga stands at the door and watches him walking up the street, until she can’t see him anymore.  She was given a very nice friend, what some would call a guardian angel, bearing the same name as her belovèd dedushka, to get her started in America.  But he could only do so much, just as eventually a mother bird pushes a baby from the nest so it can fly.  Now it’s up to her to make good in America.

WeWriWa—Ice-cream parlor

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a few lines after last week’s, when 23-year-old Yuriy tended to his 18-year-old crush Inga’s injured knee one final time. They’re now on their way to get ice-cream before he has to get a train back to Canada.

This has been slightly edited to fit 10 lines.

Yuriy turns into the first ice-cream parlor that appears and finds a green corner booth that almost matches his uniform. He translates the menu for Inga, and she orders a sundae with chocolate ice-cream, hot fudge, cherries, and crushed candy bars, with an orange egg cream, while Yuriy orders a humbler strawberry ice-cream float.

“I’d ask you to kill some Nazis or Japs for me, but I can see you’re a medic,” the soda jerk says when she brings over the food. “Good luck with saving as many guys as you can.”

Inga lingers over her sundae and egg cream, not sure when she’ll next be able to splurge on a little luxury like this. Once they’re done, Yuriy leaves the money on the table and walks Inga home.

“You’ll be fine,” he reassures her. “You’ve got a new family who’s eager to take care of you, and some new friends. The language comes quicker than you think, if you’re constantly immersed in it. I bet you’ll be a real American girl by the time I come to visit again, and you might have a returning soldier for a boyfriend.”

WeWriWa—One final knee inspection

Happy heavenly 123rd birthday to my favorite actor, Rudolph Valentino!


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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when 23-year-old Canadian Army medic Yuriy gave his 18-year-old crush Inga an elephant charm and invited her to get ice-cream before he has to go to the depot at the end of furlough.

Yuriy also said he’d like to inspect her injured knee one last time.

“Sure, I’ll get ice-cream with you, but you’ll have to look at my knee downstairs.  My father left instructions about how to navigate the subway, so I won’t get lost.”

“I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not a big deal to look at your knee here.  No one’s looking in the window, and there’s nothing scandalous about sitting on a bed alone, if that’s all you do.  I’m nothing like my blood father.  I hope he dies in Siberia, if he’s not dead already.”

Inga sits down and looks away as she pulls her skirt over her knee.  Yuriy unwraps yesterday’s gauze, cleans out the healing wound, dusts it with a thin layer of ointment, and wraps it back up with fresh gauze.  As soon as he’s done, he stands back up, wishing Inga weren’t almost five and a half years his junior.  Were she only a few years older, he could ask for more, and keep that nice memory with him when he’s far from home.