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fanfiction critiques > sonya | a matter of time (Hamilton/Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812)

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message 1: by Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (last edited Jun 11, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Characters look the way they do in their respective musicals, so Natasha is half Asian, Dolokhov is Indian, Angelica and Burr are African-American, etc.

If you're confused, refer to this list of characters referenced

ALEXANDER HAMILTON - at story's start, 17, late of St. Croix, the Carribean
SOFIA (SONYA) ROSTOVA - at story's start 18 or 19, late of Otradnoie, living temporarily in Moscow with
NATALYA (NATASHA) ROSTOVA - at story's start 16 or 17, also late of Otradnoie
PIERRE BEZUKHOV - about 30, lives in Moscow
ANATOLE KURAGIN - his friend, Helene's brother
RODION, a rogue traveller and former friend of Pierre
ANDREY BOLKONSKY, who "isn't here" - Natasha's fiancé
MARYA AKHROSIMOVA, Natasha's godmother, lives in Moscow

ANGELICA CHURCH, née Schuyler - a woman Natasha meets on a ship in 1780, potentially Helene's alter ego
JOHN CHURCH, her husband
ELIZA(BETH) and MARGARITA (PEGGY) SCHUYLER - her sisters, the former being Natasha's lookalike, spirit-clone, and Hamilton's future wife
PHILIP SCHUYLER - their father
AARON BURR, At story's start, Hamilton's friend. That will change.

One ~ In The Eye of a Hurricane___________

The waves rocked the ship back and forth in way that gave Alexander Hamilton a great deal of trouble sleeping. The ship was supposed to leave about four weeks ago, but a number of things had delayed it. Winter, Alexander ventured, would come soon, and with it winter storms. That wouldn’t be good. He glanced across the room at the rest of the people on board, all asleep. The ship jerked forward. Alexander was restless. He might as well see what was going on.

Silently, he tiptoed out onto the deck and peered over the edge. A huge whirlpool had formed in front of him. He reached forward.

It pulled him in.

He arrived in a bar. Even though it was noon, men had already begun getting drunk and standing on tables. Maybe he had arrived in New York, where he was supposed to go on that ship. Maybe all that happened with the storm on the ship was really just a nightmare.

He found a man a bit older than him standing away from the drunken hordes. His face was red and he had a shot glass next to his book that he held in shaking hands.

The other men in the room were chattering in an unintelligible manner. They must all have been drunk because Alexander couldn’t make out a single world they said.

He approached the man with the book.
“Pardon me,” he asked, “but are you Aaron Burr, sir?"
“Nyet,” he replied.
Alexander furrowed for a second, taking in more of the drunken men’s speech. It was then he realized they were not merely drunk but drunk in a foreign language and even the partially sane man with the book was speaking Russian.

He frowned. “Alexander… Hamilton, eh? You must be English, only you appear more likely to be Spanish.”
Alexander gazed puzzled around the bar.
“Where am I?”

message 2: by Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (last edited Jun 11, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Two ~ Welcome to Moscow_______________

     The man with the book sighed. “Welcome to Moscow. I’m Pierre Bezukhov.” He held out his shaking hand. “There’s a war going on.” He paused. “You’re Alexander, huh? Like our Tsar.”

     “Tsar?” Alexander asked. “Isn’t Catherine the Great still empress?”
     Pierre looked puzzled.
      “You’re lying.” He said. “Either that or wherever you came from must be incredibly backward. The year is 1812 and Napoleon is nearing Moscow closer and closer every day.”

     Alexander’s head spun with the shock. First of all, he found himself in a bar in Russia and then it turned out to be forty years in the future. How did he not notice that before? The men were not wearing wigs of any sort and their coats and breeches looked a good deal different from what he’d seen in St. Croix or what he had expected to see in New York. There was something in the way they talked and carried themselves that also differed from anything Alexander had seen.

      “I don’t know where I am,” Alexander told Pierre. “I don’t even know how I got here. I was on a boat to New York and there was this big storm in the Caribbean that blew our ship off course and I fell into the water… only to get here. And I suddenly realize I’m not wet. And I’m standing here. I guess it must have taken me into the future.”

      Pierre nodded. “Caribbean, eh? So that’s where you’re from. English colonies, I presume.”
     Alexander nodded. “We were bound for New York. But then as storm came and I was pulled into the water. I guess it must have brought me here.”

     “You’re not drunk?” He asked.
      “I’ve never been,” Alexander replied.
      Pierre held Alexander’s hands in his larger, hairier ones. “You’re not shaking either.”
      Several heads turned around to stare.

     “Kto ti?” a man asked drowsily.
     “Ya ne vi ponimayet,” muttered another man.
     “I suggest you get out of here, son,” Pierre grumbled. “I should too. This is no place for an idealistic young man like you. Come with me.”

      Alexander nodded slowly. “Will most people here understand me?” He asked.

     Pierre sighed deeply. “This is a world where people reject their heritage. They don’t want to be Russian, like the peasants who eke out a living tied to the land. They’re forced to work for the landlords who get all the crops they harvest…”

      “That’s unbelievable! Why do they do that?”
      Pierre shook his head. “I was like you once,” he muttered to himself. “But that’s the way it’s always been. We never had a renaissance here. But no one has the heart to change things ….”
      “So will they understand me?” Alexander asked again.

      Pierre nodded. “Sadly, most people here have rejected their heritage and most speak English and French to seem advanced. Even though we’re so far behind. Ignore the glitter, Mr… Hamilton, this world is broken.”

message 3: by Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (last edited Jun 11, 2016 11:20AM) (new)

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Three ~ The Carriage ______________

      Pierre’s wife, Helene greeted them at the door of his house.
      “Ohh…” She said, “Vous êtes charmante. Tu t’appelles comment?”
      “What?” Alexander asked.
      “She’s asking what your name is,” Pierre said.

      “ Alexander Hamilton ,” He said. “My name is Alexander Hamilton.”
      “Ohh....,” Helene replied. “Well, there is a new opera coming demain, tomorrow.” Perhaps you would enjoy seeing it with Dolokhov and myself.”
      Alexander nodded. “Alright.”

      For the present, he would be occupied with the Bezukhov library. It would take a while for him to read everything he could get his hands on.
      The carriage was bigger than anything Alexander had ever ridden in. Not to say that the carts one rides in St. Croix are all that big. The seats were plush and red and actually comfortable to sit in. From what he had seen on the map on Pierre’s desk, the opera was a few blocks from their house. However, Helene stopped a bit before the halfway point between their house and the theater. She stepped out of the carriage and knocked on the front door of some house.
      A few minutes later, she came out with a man, who kissed her hand and started talking amiably with her in French. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on.

     “Is my brother coming, Dolokhov?” she asked.
      The man Alexander presumed to be Dolokhov shrugged. “He’ll probably be late.”
      Alexander looked around to find the carriage driver gone.
      “Could you…” Helene began.
      Alexander nodded. Even though he didn’t know the next thing about carriage driving.
      No one said anything the rest of the walk towards his carriage.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments
Four: The Opera_____________

      The carriage rocked back and forth. Alexander felt a sickening sensation in my stomach as if the meager supper he had the night of the storm had made its way back up to his mouth. Then a crash noise came as he heard the squeak of the carriage hitting something.
      “Ow,” said a male voice, higher than Dolokhov’s
      “Anatole?” Helene asked.
      “Y-yes,” Anatole squeaked.
      “Is he alright?” Alexander asked.
      “I-I broke my arm,” he replied. “I-I’ll have to miss out on the opera tonight, tell me what it’s like.” (view spoiler)


Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Five ~ The Curtain Rises __________________
      The Opera was not to start for another few minutes, but everyone came early to share the latest gossip in their respective boxes. Sofia, “Sonya” Rostova had arrived a few moments before with her cousin Natalya, “Natasha” and Natasha’s godmother Marya Dmitrievna. It was Marya’s place to gossip, she supposed.

      “Countess Bezukhova isn’t here, eh?” Marya asked. “Good riddance.”

      Sonya nodded reluctantly. It was common knowledge that Helene Bezukhova had been cheating on her drunken husband Pierre with the younger, more dashing Fedya Dolokhov, only no one said it out loud. Probably most everyone had been cheating on their spouses too. As a widowed old maid, Marya had the right to gossip about it.

      The last few patrons spilled in, among them Countess Bezukhova. Dolokhov, who she knew, was close behind, but next to Helene stood a stranger perhaps about her age, who Sonya didn’t recognize, as she and Natasha made their way into the foyer.


      “...A pity,” Helene was saying to an associate of hers. “Anatole was hit by a carriage.”

      ”Ah, quel dommage!" exclaimed her friend. “But who is this?” She gestured toward the stranger.

      “My name is Alexander Hamilton,” he replied. “I have only come to Moscow recently.”

      Helene, her friend and the stranger continued making their way through the crowd, the rest of their conversation obscured by its noise. Natasha found Sonya soon after she spotted the conversation with the stranger, apparently called Alexander Hamilton. As they girls made a bit of unremarkable small talk, Helene came toward them.

      “The two remarkably pretty girls,” she gushed, holding Dolokhov’s arm as they showed themselves off to the world while Alexander approached them.

      “So, Helene was talking about you,” he said.

      “How do you know Helene?” Sonya asked.

      “It’s complicated,” he replied. “I’ll tell you when we’re out of the foyer.” he held his hand out. “Alexander Hamilton.”

[Dolokhov and Helene]

      She nodded. “Where’s your family from?”
      “Unimportant, there’s a million things I haven’t done.”
      “Sofia Rostova,” she said.
      “Natalya Rostova,” said Natasha.
      “My cousin,” Sonya added.
      “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said.
      A chime announced the start of the opera.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Six ~ Grotesque and Amazing _____________

It would be impossible to say Alexander knew what to expect from an “avant-garde opera” when the curtain rose on a stage set with three oddly placed chairs and an upside-down table. The crowd buzzed with excitement. According to Helene’s friend Marina, if it were a miserable failure she could relate all the horrors that befell her ears as she watched. If it were a success, she could boast about how she was one of the first ones to see and love it.

      Was this the new fad, Alexander wondered, or simply the traditional behavior of what appeared to be Moscow’s well-to-do?

["The Opera"]

      The leading lady, in a strange costume where she had half a jacket attached to a dress, belted a note that reminded him of a doorhinge. She then extinguished a few candles as a chorus entered. The cello line became more pronounced. The instruments suddenly seemed out of tune while the music itself jumped around and invaded the ears with a storm of screeching violins that would never leave his head.

      Strangely, when Alexander turned around, Helene and Marina both looked pleased, applauding mechanically as if in a trance everyone had fallen under except for him. He blamed it on the drinks they had brought into the box and quickly downed, leaving several empty glasses on the table.

      Alexander’s focus shifted to Natalya, who stood behind her cousin Sofia deeply in trance. Though the music affected all but him and Sofia, it was Natalya who Alexander found himself drawn to every time he stared back at them.

      Maybe it was the way her small dark eyes reflected the candlelight or perhaps the thing called fate so many people talked to me about that he never paid heed to was real.

      But he had only met her.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Six ~ Helpless ______________

There was an instrumental break mid-act, but the patrons were told to stay in their seats.
      “Amazing,” Natasha said. “I feel so…. Helpless.”

      The curtains to Marya’s box opened.
      “Oh, Alexander,” Sonya said.
      Natasha waved. “Hello, Alexander.”
      She ushered the stranger into the box while Sonya sat down in the chair opposite his.

      “So, you said you’d explain everything when we were out of the foyer,” Sonya began. “Is now the time?”

      “Well, I suppose,” he answered, “but I doubt you’ll believe me. And could you close the box curtains?”
      “Sure,” Sonya replied.
      He sighed deeply.
      “It isn’t a huge deal for you, is it?” she asked.
      “Like I said, I don’t think you’ll believe me.”

      A sighing riff from an accordion signaled that the second act would begin. The flimsy wooden backdrops had changed to a moonlit night in which the characters chased each other around a maze of tombstones. Marya stared with a strange entranced gaze at the stage but whatever she felt was doubled in its effect on Natasha, her eyes so wide her pupils looked like islands of brown in a sea of white. During a point in the show, she stood up in the box and began wailing with the chorus, an act that somehow did not seem unusual. As a matter of fact, several other ladies began standing up and joining her.

      Whatever it was that possessed them, Sonya could not understand.

      Alexander stood at the edge of the Bezukhovs’ box, gripping the edge of the railing and staring out over the silent house.

      It was like a watershed, that one second when she laid her eyes on him staring over the railing. All Sonya could say was that he had something, some look in his eye, that made me keep staring at him in a way I would never do with any other man.

      She felt her chest begin to tighten.
Only a little.

      They were the only ones not in a state of trance.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Seven ~ Another Round Tonight___________

      After the opera, Alexander returned to the library. There had been a strange book which caught his attention just as they left. Really, everything caught his attention in Moscow. So rich. So overwhelming. So relieving not to fear death and disease anymore. Maybe he would be in 1812 to stay.

      He pulled the book off the shelf where it lay on top of several others and turned around to see Pierre at the desk behind him.

      "Good evening, Pierre," Alexander said.
      "Good evening to you, too."

      Alexander held the book up to Pierre.

      "What is this one? I've been curious."
      Pierre regarded the book with distrust.

      "Time-travelling, it says, eh? Must've been a book from my idealistic days bought from some crazy Frenchman or something of the like. I doubt it'll teach you anything, though."

      Alexander shrugged. "Might as well. You could be proven wrong."
      "We're all mortal, my son."

      A knock was heard at the door an Alexander rushed to open it.

      "Hello, Pierre," said Dolokhov.

      Alexander had seen Helene's purported lover, but only then did he really observe the man's features. He was medium height and quite tan, with black hair and a small beard that covered his chin but not more. Like most of the men in 1812, he wore no wig and walked around with just a vest over his shirt unless it was cold.

      After a few moments, Pierre looked back up at Dolokhov, who had brought Helene close to him, but not close enough to be suspicious.
      "Good evening, Fedya," Pierre responded at last. It was beyond Alexander why Pierre would call Dolokhov anything other than his given name, which Marina had said was Feodor, but he could probably figure it out in due time.

      "We're off to the club tonight," Dolokhov announced. "Will you come?"
      Pierre shrugged. "Might as well when there's so little to do."
      "May I come?" Alexander asked.
      "I wouldn't recommend it," Pierre replied.
      Dolokhov slapped Pierre on the back.
      "Let him come, don't be a hypocrite."
      Pierre sighed, "Fine."

      They took off in a carriage and arrived sooner than expected. Across the club, people sung, danced, and drank various spirits. Vodka? Wine? Champagne? It all depended on what one could afford. Alexander had drunken rum once on St. Croix and found it all right, but the sheer manner in which people drank prompted him to abstinence.

      In the midst of all the chaos, Alexander stood by the side of the room, writing and observing. So Moscow had looked beautiful on the outside. So did many other places. In due time, one always found the dark side of things.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Eight ~ The Duel ____________
As the night progressed, Alexander found his spot at the side of the room a good viewpoint from which to observe the crowd and pick up their chatter, if he ever understood it.

      After a few more moments, Dolokhov walked toward the center of the room near where a band had been playing, only to desert their music and drink. He raised a glass.

      "To the Health of married women!" He cried over a few people still conversing.
      "To the health of Married women!" The crowd roared.
      "And their lovers!" Dolokhov added.

      They way they say it with such vigor prompts one to question whether they know what has come from their lips, Alexander wrote. Or is it merely the way of Moscow society to have lovers?

      And, whatever the crowd's reasons for responding to the toast, it was enough excuse for Dolokhov to grab Helene and give her a kiss.

      "How dare you touch her!" Pierre roared.
      "You-" Dolokhov began.
      "Enough!" Pierre cried, "I challenge you!"
      "Oh, a duel." Dolokhov smiled.
      Helene shook her head and sighed something inaudible.
      Pierre approached Alexander.
      "Will you be my second? I have enough clear thought in me yet to know I can't shoot straight.
      Alexander set his notebook down. "I suppose. Even though I've never had experience with a duel myself."
      "Just hand me my gun and tell me when to shoot."

      Dolokhov smirked at them from a few paces away.
      "Shall we begin?"
      "Alright," Pierre sighed.

A servant stepped up to the spot where Pierre and Dolokhov stood.
     "The adversaries have refused a reconciliation. We shall please proceed with the duel. But first, let us recite the Ten Duel Commandments. Number one."
     "The challenge demands satisfaction," Pierre growled.
      "If they apologize, no need for further action," Dolokhov continued.

      "Number -"
     "We have our seconds," Dolokhov interrupted. "Get on with it!"

     "That brings us to five."
      "Duel before the sun is in the sky," Pierre sighed. "Pick a place to die where it's high and dry."

People can, apparently, still rhyme while drunk. Alexander noted between the duel commandments.

     "Number six!"
     "Leave a note fore your next of kin, tell 'em where you've been...."
     "Pray that hell or heaven lets you in," Pierre finished. "Let's get on with it. Skip to number nine."
     "Look 'em in the eye, aim no higher," Dolokhov replied.
"Summon all the courage you require, then count."


Unaware that there was still counting or, perhaps simply rebelling against the rules, Dolokhov reached out with a trembling arm and shot, the bullet bouncing off the wall.

     "Missed," He sighed, muttering unintelligible things.
     "Missed," Pierre grumbled.
     Helene simply sighed.
     "To think I married a man like him. Let's go."

message 10: by Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (last edited Jun 11, 2016 11:36AM) (new)

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Nine ~ Enter The Stranger________

Alexander took charge of escorting a whining Helene and drunken Pierre out of the club and back to the carriage. Once they made it home, he returned to the library and picked up the time travel book again as Pierre stumbled over to his desk and flopped over onto its surface.
    "Can I help you?" Alexander asked.
   "What do I want in life?" Pierre mumbled into the table.

    Someone knocked on the door.
   "Don't speak to me, wife."
   Alexander furrowed. "I'm not sure it's your wife."
    The door creaked open.
   "Well, Pierre," said the entering stranger. "It appears you haven't changed much."
    "Rodion," grumbled Pierre. "Take your leave."
    Rodion walked towards Alexander and the time-travel book.
   "Still not recognizing the dangers of time-travelling spirit-clones."
   "How do you know the boy is a spirit-clone?" Pierre demanded.

    Rodion sighed. "'The boy' was one of two people at the opera not entranced by the music's hypnotic powers. How can he not be?" He took a few more steps toward Alexander.

    "This boy is a breach of nature," Rodion continued. "As are you, Pierre, unless you knock some sense into your drunken self and use your time travel powers to wipe out these unnatural creatures."

    Alexander stood up.
   "You speak of these people as if they are monsters. Not innocents. No one can help being a spirit-clone, connected to other souls spread across time. Pierre refuses to follow your groundless fanaticism because he still has a heart."

    Both men stared at him with amazement.
    "He told you to take your leave," Alexander said. "So go."

    Rodion remained.
    "I don't listen to the words of drunken men an unnatural creatures."
    Alexander felt the rage within him start to burn.
    "Why do you continue meddling with us?"

   "That is wholly my business," Rodion replied, with no evident change in tone.

    He drew a gun from his sleeve. "You have no more defenses left you."

    The time-travelling book slammed into Rodion's forehead.
    "I do," Alexander said, as a stray gunshot hit the ceiling.

    "What are you doing with my book?" Pierre demanded.
    Alexander slapped Rodion with the book again and then stood.

    "What's more important, this book or your life? In my world, life is precious and fragile like porcelain. Sometimes we need to fight for it and fight hard. The knowledge within this book is important, and knowledge has brought me to where I am now, but it would've never happened had I not fought every step of the way. And I didn't damage the book. Maybe I am impulsive, but it does me more good than harm."

   "We'll see about that," Pierre sighed.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Ten ~ Sunday Morning____________
The next morning, Natasha stood up from the chair she had been sitting in near the window.
      Has Andrey arrived?” She asked, referring to her fiance who had left for the war.

      “I don’t know,” replied the maid who had come to sweep the bookshelf. Every day was like this, ever since we’d arrived in Moscow and moved into our guest room at Marya’s house.

Maybe he’s come and no one knows,” Natasha said.
      “I’ll tell you if I know,” replied the maid.
      “Come to church dears!” Marya called from the front of the house.

      Natasha and Sonya threw on their pelisses and rushed outside into the foggy morning. A carriage awaited them.


     Most of church that day disappeared from Sonya’s memory. It felt like there was something that needed to happen which never did, as if it were meant to reach out to plain orphans with no dowry like her, but they were all ignored. If everyone became equal in Christ, then how come all the old ladies who claimed to be the most devout overlooked the less fortunate while they basked in opulence? How much was corrupted between what God wanted and what ended up happening in churches on Earth?

     However, the strangest miracle that seemed to occur on Sunday mornings was how the most hedonistic of Moscow society somehow morphed into innocent parishioners and then went back to being their usual selves as soon as they left the church. Helene came, on Dolokhov’s arm, of course. Pierre did come, but they sat in separate pews. Alexander followed him, which surprised me, considering he seemed to speak only English and was definitely not from here, meaning he was probably not Orthodox. Yet again, perhaps he had come to get acquainted with Moscow society.

      Most likely they knew nothing about Alexander other than his presence at the Bezukhovs’ box on Saturday, but nevertheless his name seemed to flow frequently from the lips of Marya’s old prude friends.

[warning, adult themes]
     Has Helene been cheating on Dolokhov?
     Does she take two lovers to her bed, one on odd nights and one on evens?
     But he’s standing with Pierre.
     Would that mean something else?

     The last lady was promptly shushed as the service started. Sonya would normally pay decent enough attention to service but instead found myself staring at a pew across the aisle and a bit in front of hers, even though he never looked back, yet the more she looked at him the more Sonya noticed the tight feeling in her gut. It had been a long time since she’d felt that way, but she knew better than to instantly turn into a scatterbrained schoolgirl.

     Natasha tapped her on the shoulder.
      “Sonya?” She asked.
      “Soniushka, you don’t have a fever do you?” Marya asked.

      A few hushed whispers passed through the women in the pew behind them, but it seemed awfully self-centered for Sonya to think they were whispering about her. Orphans with no dowry were not worth their gossip.

     Service continued as usual.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments Eleven ~ Sunday Afternoon __________

After church, Marya left for a visit with Natasha’s future in-laws, the Bolkonskys, leaving Natasha and Sonya alone in the white-paneled, Age-of Enlightenment-era parlor with its thin white curtains and gilt-decorated wall panels. They ate a few biscuits in a strange kind of silence until a servant entered with a letter.

     “For Sofia Alexandrovna,” he announced.
     Sonya stood up.
     “He asks you to come and visit him,” the servant added.

Taking the letter as the servant left the room, she tore open the envelope and unfolded the contents.

Soғια, or Soɴyα ιғ yoυ preғer,
     Lαѕт ɴιɢнт, Pιerre αɴd I were vιѕιтed вy αɴ odd ѕтrαɴɢer. I wιѕн ɴoт тo вore yoυ wιтн deтαιlѕ, вυт тнe eveɴтѕ нαve мαde Pιerre qυιтe worrιed αɴd нe wιѕнeѕ тo ѕee yoυ ιɴ тнe Bezυĸнov lιвrαry αѕ ѕooɴ αѕ poѕѕιвle.

     I ѕнoυld тell yoυ ɴoт тo worry, вυт I ғeαr тнαт woυld вe qυιтe ιɴ vαιɴ.

     She turned to Natasha. “I suppose I should go.”
     Natasha made a few more stitches in her embroidery, then nodded.
     “I believe I should return in a little while.”

     These words having been said, Sonya turned and walked a bit down the hall to the foyer and the front door. A carriage stood outside the house below the stairs. Alexander waved and opened the carriage door.

     “Come quickly!”
     Sonya nodded and began walking down the stairs.

     “What’s the hurry?” she asked.

     “Pierre has many things to explain, step inside.”

     Sonya did so and closed the door as the coachman brought the horses into a fast gallop.

     “I fear what people would think of the speed,” Sonya sighed as they took off.
     Alexander shrugged. “I’ve seen this happen several times. Most likely they’ll see it and then forget about it soon after.”

     “I suppose,” Sonya mumbled. “It won’t be long now.”
     And as she said those words, the house came into view and the horses slowed a bit to a trot.

     “Just a few more sazhens!” called the coachman, whipping the horses back to a steady gallop. Wind blew through the window cracks and by their ears.
     “So who exactly was this ‘odd stranger’?” Sonya asked.

     “I don’t know,” Alexander replied. “Though he seemed to know Pierre somehow. I’ll leave the explaining to him. What I do know is that it pertains somewhat to my time-travel abilities and the fact that neither of us were hypnotized by Saturday’s opera.”

     “Unlike Natasha,” Sonya sighed.

     “Natasha?” Alexander asked.

     “Natalya. Natasha’s a pet name.”

     “One of those Russian things I have yet to understand, eh?”
     Sonya stared up at the trees lining the avenue. “One could put it that way.”

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