St Petersburg, Russia 12 September 1916 “Nastya, your mother would like to see you downstairs,” her lady-in-waiting informed her. The strawberry blonde stood and put her book away. “I’m coming,” she told Lili and placed her book back on its shelf before going downstairs. The young Grand Duchess had been submerged in her book for hours, so long that her vision was a little blurry at far distances. She made it down the stairs with no problems and turned to her right to walk a ways to her mother’s sitting room. A servant opened the door and announced her arrival. Entering, she took a few steps in before noticing that there was a guest in the house. She curtsied lightly, greeting him politely before turning her attention back to her mother. “Yes, Mama?” Aleksandra, as well as her other four children, were in the sitting room with a handsome young man with dark hair and the bluest eyes Anastasia had ever seen, even more so than her own. He certainly was handsome, and Anastasia could see her three sisters’ interest in him. Their eyes were bright with hope. “Anastasia, this is Dimitri. He is following in his father’s footsteps to be in the Imperial Court,” the youngest daughter heard her mother say. “It’s nice to meet you, Dimitri,” she smiled brightly, curtsying as the young man bowed to her. “Your grace,” he replied in a smooth, deep voice. “Oh, please don’t call me that,” Anastasia smiled. “I get so embarrassed by my title. Please, just call me Anastasia.” Dimitri looked at her curiously. Her siblings had said the same thing. He thought the royal children would adore the attention. “As you wish,” he said with a nod. “It has been a great pleasure meeting all of you,” he said with a bow. “But I’m afraid I must join my father.” “Thank you for coming to meet us, Dimitri,” Aleksandra smiled, resting a hand on her chest to show that she was sincere in the words she spoke. “We hope you join us for tea soon.” “I would love to,” the young court man smiled, his gaze drifting to Anastasia before he turned and left to join the men for their meeting over the war. Anastasia smiled back, taking selfish pleasure in the fact that he had looked at her and not her beautiful older sisters before he left. She looked back at Olga, Tatiana, and Maria, who were all looking at her with varying expressions of jealousy. She only offered a giggle before hugging her mother and returning up to her room. Over the course of the next few weeks, Dimitri would make time to see Anastasia for tea before or after the meetings with the Tsar. Anastasia loved these meetings. He was very smart, as would be expected from who his father is. She was pleased to find that he also loved to read, and shared some of the same favorite authors as herself; this lead to exciting discussions of some of their favorite books, what they liked and didn’t like about them, and some of their favorite characters. She was delighted when he asked to court her, and accepted with much enthusiasm. Her parents approved, though her sisters took the news with bitter happiness. They were happy for their sister, of course. But Dimitri was nearly perfect, and those types of men didn’t come often. Outside of their meetings, Dimitri would reluctantly spend more and more time with his father, as the war was beginning to progress rather quickly. Anastasia would use her new alone time to visit the hospital, where she and Maria would play games and chat with the wounded soldiers to try to keep their spirits up. One day, she was leaving to refill one of the soldiers’ glasses of water when she saw three men outside. They were all ghastly pale and were covered in blood. Startled and scared, she rushed to get the doctor, though the three men were nowhere to be found when the two returned. He suggested she went home early that day, and so she did. She told Dimitri about the strange encounter at their next meeting, though she soon felt embarrassed and silly. “I must be losing my mind, forget I mentioned it,” she said with a wave of her hand as she sipped on her drink. The young court man’s brows furrowed. “That is strange,” he agreed. “Did you see any footprints, where they could have gone?” “None,” she replied, her lips turned down. “The ground was soft – there should have been some kind of indication of them standing there.” The pair batted suggestions back and forth, but could come to no conclusion. Dimitri decided to look into it. After several weeks of investigating, Dimitri finally came across the answer. Horrified, he hurried to the St Petersburg palace. But he was too late; the Romanov family was already being shipped to a different palace. In their place were the three bloodied men that Anastasia had told him about. They grinned, and he blanched at the sight; their eyes turned blood red as their canines elongated to show fangs. He smelled their horrible breath and screamed into the night as they suddenly appeared before him, grabbed him, and bit into him. A member of the Imperial Court entered. “Aleksander,” Dimitri begged. “P-Please help me,” he gasped as his hands came up to his neck, trying to stop the bleeding. The court man laughed. “Dimitri, you put your father to shame,” he spat. The sound of his shoes clacking on the marble tiled floor became louder to the bleeding young man as the older stepped forward. He stopped when he was a few inches away from the young man and bent down to get a closer look. Dimitri stared wide-eyed at the man. “You monster,” he was finally able to say after a moment. “What have you done!” Aleksander laughed, his voice echoing through the empty room. “My boy, you should have kept your nose where it belonged,” he scolded him. His hand wrapped around Dimitri’s neck and he hoisted him up, so high that his feet dangled. The younger man clawed at the arm, struggling to be let free. “You are mine now,” Aleksander said after thinking for a moment. He brought the man to him and bit into him, ignoring Dimitri’s struggles as he drank. Soon enough, Dimitri went limp and Aleksander dropped him. He took a dagger out of its sheath and sliced his hand, letting the blood drop down into Dimitri’s open mouth. Please, please, please. PM me for your comments/questions. I would really appreciate feedback on this.