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One Summer (To Define Forever) // Part 2 + Epilogue - alley_skywalker [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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One Summer (To Define Forever) // Part 2 + Epilogue [May. 1st, 2014|03:32 am]
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Title: One Summer (To Define Forever)
Author: alley_skywalker
Fandom: War and Peace
Paring(s): Pierre/Anatole, Dolokhov/Anatole
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Canon character death
Summary: Pierre fell in love with Anatole when he was 17. They were still boys then, living a warm, Parisian dream. It was wild and confusing and beautiful. Pierre has changed since then, but the memories haven't.


For three years they write warm, loving letters. Anatole constantly peppers his with such outrageous things that Pierre is afraid that if someone was to ever discover them they would both be ruined. At some point, about a year or so after Anatole’s departure, the letters become a little more scarce and scant in detail, the innuendoes less obvious and less frequent. Pierre doesn’t notice it at first but soon he recognizes that there has been a slight shift in tone. He does not think about it too much. After all, it would be strange if either of them had remained quite as miserable and desperate as they had been at the beginning of their separation. Anatole talks about Dolokhov a lot more in his later letters and his tone is usually that of admiration and affection. Pierre has to admit that he is somewhat jealous but Anatole signs every letter “je t’aime” and Pierre has no reason to not believe him.

When they see each other again, however, it becomes plainly obvious that things had changed. Anatole is as glamorous and beautiful as ever. He greets Pierre with an embrace and a warm smile. “I’ll introduce you to my lot here; I’m sure you’ll get on,” he says. They do get on, surprisingly even with Dolokhov who now lives with Anatole under the guise of flatmates. Anatole still kisses him when they’re both drunk but never asks him to stay or stays himself.

They’d lost something over the years, Pierre can feel it. The re-introduction of Dolokhov into Anatole’s life and Andrei Bolkonski into Pierre’s does not go without effect. Pierre struggles to understand his own feelings and fails miserably. He wants to be back in Paris where he did not have to compete for Anatole’s affection at every turn, he wants to not feel hurt and betrayed by the fact that Anatole has obviously taken a new lover. He wants to be like Andrei – collected and wise and well-respected. But Andrei looks down on him just like the rest of society – even if he means no harm or malice by this – and Anatole does not seem to love him any longer. And Pierre cannot sort out his own feelings for long enough to make sense of what he ought to do in his conundrum of a situation. He constantly feels lost and dissatisfied and Anatole is the easiest person to blame for that.


“Stop associating with Kuragin and his lot.”

Pierre looks up from the book that he has been pretending to read and meets Andrei’s steady, heavy gaze. He shuts the book and puts it down on the coffee table in front of him, regarding his old friend with a thoughtful, somewhat pitiful expression. “Why should I not want to get drunk with the only people who care about me? Everyone else sees a joke in me. At least Anatole takes me seriously.”

Andrei scoffs, pacing across the room to the window, then back to the bookshelf. “Does he, Pierre? The way he carries on with Dolokhov in front of you? Is that how seriously he takes you?”

Pierre looks down, uncertain whether to be offended or not. He is certain that Anatole and Dolokhov are involved but after three years apart he could have hardly expected someone as glamorous as Anatole to stay completely faithful. Over the past few months, Pierre has also discovered that he really is no competition for Dolokhov. Theodore is smarter, better looking, and much more daring and confident than Pierre could ever dream of being. Pierre can hardly blame Anatole for falling in love with such a man.

He also has no proof that Anatole has replaced him, nothing that he could point to, only his own observations as to how close Anatole and Dolokhov are, how Anatole looks at his long-time friend, how their own relationship has changed. Pierre does not have the best intuition in the world, but once he becomes convinced of something, he has a hard time seeing past it.

“Drop him. All of them,” Andrei insists.

Pierre stares blankly at the candle burning on the writing table, his hands playing absentmindedly with the corners of the pages of the book in his lap. The dancing candle flame throws shadows across the room. Shadows that flicker and move and shift… “You’re not being fair, Andrei,” he says softly, unable to meet his friend’s eyes. “It’s not like you would have me. You’re married, anyway. It’s selfish of you to ask me to leave someone who at least makes me happy. I know I complain a lot that Anatole does not understand me but… We have fun…and I…”

Andrei looks back and walks to him, eyes narrowed slightly. “I would tell you to leave anyone whom I did not think worthy of you, Pierre. Besides, these perversions are not honorable and I strongly suggest that you do not indulge in them. Think what sort of life you are leading.”

“Do you suggest I get married?”

Andrei makes a frustrated gesture. “No, of course not. You have so much potential; do not tie yourself down until you have reached and achieved all you can. But leading this life, allowing these depravities to control you will hinder you as much, if not more, than any marriage.”

Pierre looks down, feeling guilty and upset. He has always admired Andrei’s opinion a great deal. “They all seem happy…”

“Pierre, name me a single honorable man who indulges in all this depravity – the drinking, the hooliganisms, the actresses, the sodomy? Anatole and Dolokhov – their only goal in life is self indulgence.”

Pierre nods. He knows it is all no good. His father had told him, on his return to Russia, to make something of himself. To find a career. But in all these months, all he has done is spend his entire allowance and watch with dread as Anatole slips further away from him. It also seems that the more Pierre tries to address this, tries to tell Anatole that he isn’t happy, that he feels aimless and lost in this life they lead, that, perhaps, Anatole should at least try to put some reigns on, the more his lover draws away, bulks at every comment.

Pierre thinks of Anatole and his sweet smile and beautiful eyes, his acceptance and loving touches. He thinks of Dolokhov and his cold but intelligent and mesmerizing manner. He thinks of how careless Anatole is in showing his affection for Dolokhov in front of him and how much it hurts to know that he is slowly being displaced because he is not quite as daring and dashing and captivating. Because Anatole does not want to hear what Pierre has to say, does not want to stop and think and try to come to some sort of common understanding. Pierre feels that Anatole simply believes that everything is alright even though it’s not and Pierre does not know how to get this across without hurting anyone. Then, also, Pierre has always believed that Andrei understands people better than he does and thinks that if Andrei says someone is scum then he is right. “You know he – Anatole – invited me tonight,” Pierre says slowly, looking up into Andrei’s face. “I won’t go.”

Andrei smiles approvingly and nods, asking for his word, and Pierre feels he has made the right choice.


Pierre ends up at Anatole’s party anyway, because saying no to Anatole is hard. And besides, he had already promised.

The entire night is later a blur to Pierre. They end up extremely drunk – Dolokhov drinks an entire bottle of rum while sitting on the windowsill for a bet – and out carousing with the actresses and a pet bear. When the police come for them, they tie the policeman to the bear and throw them into the Moika. Pierre never finds out what happened to either.

It is also the first time since his return that Anatole takes him back to his flat and they end up in bed together. The sex is strangely hectic, drunken and desperate, clumsy, like they had never been with each other before. After, Pierre lies awake despite his intoxication as Anatole lies beside him, head buried into the pillow. He feels sick and isn’t sure if the feeling is caused by his impending hangover or the guilt from having lied to Andrei.

“I don’t know if this is working anymore, Anatole. I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” he mumbles, staring up at the celling. He is both happy and unhappy at the same time. He thinks of earlier that evening when they had been at the actresses’. Pierre had a girl in his lap and was preoccupied with playing with her corset lacing. He was never quite as brash as the other young men – girls scared him for some reason. He’d seen out of the corner of his eye Dolokhov pulling Anatole behind a curtain and they hadn’t emerged from there for what seemed like a very long time. Pierre hates being jealous, he doesn’t understand the feeling – it eats up at him and he wallows in it. He would do the same if he was Anatole, surely. He would leave someone as awkward and inept as himself and go for someone as dashing and daring as Dolokhov. Certainly, Anatole couldn’t be to blame for how he feels. But Pierre cannot decide if this is all in his head or in reality. And Andrei is right, very right, this life is useless and aimless and he has no idea what he wants to do with himself. He’d often dreamed of making the world a better place but has no understanding of how he can do that. But obviously drinking and fucking was not the way to go. “Anatole?” He turns to look at Anatole only to find his lover fast asleep. How terribly typical.

Pierre leaves before Anatole is awake the next morning. In the hall he runs into Dolokhov who is returning from wherever he had spent the night. They don’t say anything to each other but the disdainful look Dolokhov gives him says it all.


Pierre goes to Moscow and doesn’t see Anatole for months. Who he does see is Anatole’s sister, Helene. She is as beautiful as a woman possibly could be, a flawless female copy of her brother. She is not at all like Anatole in temperament, however. Where Anatole is impulsive, she is pragmatic, where he is carefree she is proper, where he is outgoing and charming she is withdrawn and serene. But she looks like him enough to catch Pierre’s attention. He is drawn to her physically and though he knows this is wrong, that is must be wrong, he cannot help himself. She is perfect in her cold, collected beauty and when she smiles at him it has an effect of drawing him to her like a moth is drawn to the flame.

He does not love her but he does desire her and something tells Pierre that he surely must marry her. Everyone seems to expect this of him and he has no will left of his own, it seems. After his father’s death, Anatole’s silence, the strange novelty of society’s adoration of him and all the means in the world to do whatever he pleases, Pierre simply wants stability. A marriage, especially one which everyone seems to expect of him and considers a good idea, and to a woman he desires seems like the right thing to do at the time. And on his wedding night, when Pierre takes his new wife to bed and looks into her misty grey eyes, he sees her brother and is not for one moment as conflicted about this as he rightfully should have been. It all seems like a fine right solution.

It turns out to be a horrible mistake.


“Give it back!” Pierre roars. He knows deep inside that he is acting like a bratty child, squabbling publically over a piece of paper. At least, that’s what it must look like from the outside. But deep inside, somewhere very far, in the place from where all of his present range is seeping in quantities that he has never felt before, he knows that this is not about a sheet of paper or propriety or rank or respect. It’s about something far more intimate and personal, something only they are aware of.

“I won’t,” Dolokhov says coldly, looking him straight in the eyes and Pierre knows that they are speaking of the same thing, of the same person.

And he snaps. “You’re a scoundrel, Dolokhov, and I challenge you!”

“I accept.” Dolokhov smirks and drinks his wine, knowing he can win this fight without trying. Pierre has never shot a gun, never had the need to. As he drives home, Pierre doesn’t understand himself, his state of mind is feverish and confused. He only knows that he hates Dolokhov in that moment, Dolokhov who can and has and will take everything from him. Anatole was not enough, now he wanted his wife too, his only chance for stability, for self-respect. He knows by now that Helene does not love him and he knows he does not love her. If she did betray him – she must have – then he has nothing left to hold on to in this marriage and thus it is empty.

He hates Helene too for taking away what he had left of the fragile place he had built up for himself in society and in his own mind, for showing him that it wasn’t just Anatole that he couldn’t hold on to.

After the duel, he will blame her even more than Dolokhov. Dolokhov’s motives he understands – no one could resist Anatole.

After the duel, Pierre wonders if perhaps it was all his fault to begin with.


Anatole bursts into his study without knocking and without being announced. His arrival is so sudden and unexpected that Pierre practically drops the book on freemasonry that he had been reading.

“How dare you! What gave you the right—what made you think you had the right to do that!” Anatole begins without waiting for Pierre to even acknowledge that he is there. “Of all the stupid things—Oh, Pierre, what have you done?”

“Anatole…” Pierre is so completely baffled by this outburst that he cannot even understand right away what it is that Anatole is going on about. He fixes his glasses and studies Anatole’s face intently. It’s only then he realizes that the boy has been crying. “You know then?”

“Know? Of course I know! Helene wrote to me. I won’t even go into what you have done to her – to humiliate her in front of all of society like that without even thinking—But no, no, let that be for now, but how could you?

“I didn’t want to kill anyone!” Pierre protests helplessly. He can feel it again, growing deep inside of him, that monster that had challenged Dolokhov, that had thrown the paperweight at Helene. “But I didn’t exactly have a choice!”

“You had a choice to not challenge him! A duel! Over what? Over a friendship? Do you not have friends, Pierre, who you do not sleep with? My God, and now you’ve…couldn’t you have at least thought of me? He’s my best friend. I love—“ Anatole breaks off and looks away. He is flushed and agitated and once again close to tears.

The anger in Pierre bubbles even hotter. It was Anatole that he had been thinking of. It was always about Anatole. Regardless of his anger at Helene, regardless of if she had been faithful of not – although he still believes in her adultery – it had been firstly about Anatole. And here his lover stands, shouting at him for killing – or nearly killing – his best friend, practically being only a step short of admitting that he loved the man and having no regards for Pierre’s own feelings. Having no regard for the fact that they had been in love that Pierre had built his youth around that love, had dedicated himself to it, lost his way in it.

“You should leave, Anatole,” he says bitterly, forcing himself to stay calm, to not do another violent thing he will later regret.

“Leave? You’re asking me to leave without even explaining? Pierre, what is wrong with you, I don’t understand anything…Maybe there is something Helene did not tell me, something that you know or think you know? Mon cheri, please…

The endearment is enough to make Pierre’s self-control break. “Everything is wrong, Anatole! Your friend Dolokhov has an affair with my wife, your sister has been unfaithful to me and all you can do is stand here and accuse me. Do you not see how vile it all is? Nothing but lies and betrayal! And you, you have the audacity to complain that have I been thoughtless toward you! All the time you spent with Dolokhov, did you think I would not notice? Have you...has he made love to you?” Pierre flushes at his own words but he presses on, now unable to stop, especially when Anatole does not instantly launch into a denial. “The two of you keep secrets, you write to him and not to me, did you think I would not notice?”

Anatole manages to look baffled and hurt at the same time. When he speaks again, some of the hysteria is gone from his voice and there is an edge of bitterness to his words which Pierre has never heard before. “What would you like me to say, Pierre? Ever since you have been back, you have been all over the place. You are happy one day and go on and on the next about how everything we do it wrong. You spend more time with Bolkonski than I do with Dolokhov – should I be jealous? – you tell everyone outright what a wonderful man he is but you seem to be embarrassed of me anywhere that isn’t among our mutual lot—“

“That’s not true!”

“But it is. I know how it is, Pierre. Could you blame me for turning to someone who does not judge me? I’ve never cared much what people think of me but I’d rather not associate with those who actively try to bring me down. You’ve been wanting to do something different, to stop associating with us – with me – for the longest time. You’ve simply never had the nerve or willpower to. You keep saying how the way we live is wrong, but why? Do we harm anyone? No. Well what then?”

Pierre stares at him in disbelief. These are not Anatole’ words, they couldn’t be. Anatole is not nearly that perceptive or observant… Anatole isn’t, but Dolokhov is. “Did Dolokhov tell you all this?”

“Does it matter? He is right, after all. Tell me he isn’t right, Pierre.”

He is, and Pierre finds himself at a loss. “It’s not…I never meant it like that…” he attempts weakly, looking at his lover with helpless desperation.

Anatole looks hurt. He stands in the middle of the study for a few more seconds, looking uncertainly at Pierre, obviously thinking something over, then turns on his heel and heads for the door.

Pierre collapses in his chair and breathes out, tiredly, too emotionally exhausted to panic but unable to hold the question in. “Where are you going now?”

Without looking back, Anatole says, “To Moscow.”


Almost a year later, Pierre runs into Dolokhov in Moscow. “I do hope you are enjoying peace of mind, Count, even with your wife’s absence,” Dolokhov tells him. His tone is flat, almost sincere, but Pierre cannot get past the thought that Dolokhov is baiting him again. But by this time Pierre is so deeply immersed in his freemasonry pursuits that he does not deem it well to start a fight over something that should have be forgotten and forgiven between them.

“Do you write to Anatole?” he asks instead of an answer. The words come of their own accord; Pierre had not even known how much he had wanted to ask just that until the question came tumbling out.

Dolokhov eyes him suspiciously, one eyebrow raised in question. “Yes?”

“How is he?” Pierre feels a sudden trepidation. He doesn’t know what he wants to hear but he is certain that whatever it is that Dolokhov does say will not leave him alone for the rest of the day.

“He’s well. He’s left for the army recently.” Pierre nods and is about to leave when Dolokhov calls him back. “Count? …He misses you.” Dolokhov makes a small grimace at the words as though they pain him.

Pierre does not give an answer before leaving. He sits for over an hour in his study that night, staring uncertainly at a blank page, quill in hand, unable to put a single word to paper. All his feelings are too confused. He has finally found the stability that neither his wild affair with Anatole nor his mistake of a marriage had afforded him. Freemasonry is truly a blessing and Pierre indulges himself in the search for the truth, yearns to be a better man, knows that he is now accomplishing what Andrei had always told him he is capable of, even if Andrei himself has changed his views on life as of late. But Pierre is still haunted from time to time by dreams of Anatole in the mist of a fresh Parisian morning and the ache he feels at hearing that Anatole misses him is real.

But he can’t bring himself to write, because he knows that Anatole will never change who he is, will not want to embark on the search of truth with Pierre and Pierre simply refuses to go back to the meaningless, decadent life he had led back then. He doesn’t know if these things belong in a letter and he does not wish to sound too harsh, does not wish to be misunderstood.

In the end, Pierre decides to not write. It is easier if they both forget. After all, if Anatole misses him so much, he would write first.


For the longest time, Pierre’s life takes a turn for the better. Freemasonry preoccupies him and he dedicates himself to improving the lives of others. For some time, this is enough. He feels himself useful and accomplished.

The euphoria does not last, however. Soon he begins to slowly realize that all of his reforms are fruitless, he is a stranger in his own house – his wife holds glamorous parties which Pierre finds alienating – and he becomes disillusioned not so much with freemasonry itself as with the brotherhood. There are few men there whom Pierre considers to be like himself – in constant search for truth. He has all the friends in the world, people constantly seeking his favor, but no true ones. Andrei may be the one exception but he is constantly far away and preoccupied with his own matters. Pierre feels more like a child than an equal around his old friend and although they are as close as ever, Pierre cannot bring himself to confide in Bolkonski the depth of his dismay that nothing had gone as he had wanted it to.

At some point, he stops missing Anatole and that in itself is a blessing.


Anatole re-inserts himself into Pierre’s life in a fashion that only Anatole is capable of: easily, as though this is not a strange thing to occur.

The young prince simply shows up at Pierre’s door one afternoon and asks if he can stay there for some time while he is in Moscow. Pierre hesitates but cannot quite refuse. This is Helene’s house too and Anatole is her brother, after all. They avoid each other awkwardly for a couple of days only to end up across the sitting room from each other on the third night of Anatole’s stay. Anatole has his back to Pierre, his forehead pressed against the cold glass of the window as he contemplates the darkness outside. Pierre sits on the sofa and stares thoughtfully into the fire. The silence between them is tense and pregnant with words neither of them can quite bring themselves to say.

“I never meant for things to go badly between us,” Anatole says finally without turning around.

Pierre sighs and looks down at his lap. Longing and bitterness battle deep within him. He has become so terribly disillusioned with everything he had begun to believe in as of late that he wonders if letting go of Anatole was the right choice to make. “We weren’t right for each other, I suppose.”

Anatole turns and looks at him. His expression is distant but completely open. Anatole had always been completely open and trusting that no one could ever wish to truly hurt him, that everything he did was right and honest. This confidence had always made Pierre irritated, perhaps in light of his own constant self-doubt. “Weren’t we? I remember very well being perfectly happy. Do you remember Paris at all, Pierre?”

There is tangible sadness in Anatole’s tone and Pierre flinches slightly. “We were very young, yes,” he mumbles. He remembers too clearly. He remembers his confusion and his joy and how lost he was but how he wanted to remain lost if it meant being lost with Anatole. But he has changed since then, found a truer path in life – about that Andrei was right: alcohol and sex would never make him happy. What he had with Anatole had to have been a terrible farce, a misguided indulgence. It was proved to him later, by Dolokhov and Helene and Anatole himself – that entire sordid affair. “I forgive you, you know.”

Anatole’s eyebrows shoot up. “You forgive me? For what?”

“For Dolokhov—“


“No let me finish. I don’t blame you, in fact I am a little jealous of you. You live your life so freely, without ever wondering what life is about and what the meaning of it all is.” He notices the confused look on Anatole’s face and shakes his head. He had never been able to knock down that wall. “I think that’s what I saw in Helene when I married her: she is beautiful like you and self-indulgent like you. You were right, though, I do not love her. I was willing to try but…”

Now Anatole looks both hurt and confused. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“No, of course not.”

“Pierre!” Anatole comes over and sits beside him. Frustration is bubbling up within him; Pierre can see it in his eyes. “I turned to Teddy when I felt alone, yes, after, after everything. But I had always wanted to be with you. I like being with you and I don’t give a damn if it’s wrong or right or the meaning of life. What does that even mean? Isn’t the point of life just…I don’t know…to live?”

It is so simple when Anatole puts it like that. So simple when Pierre looks into his eyes and when Anatole’s lips find his. Simple enough for Pierre to believe him, if only for a moment. Enough for him to reconsider, to start joining Anatole on his outings with their old lot, to find himself in that life he had sworn that he had abandoned. Enough to kiss Anatole in the first snow almost a month after that conversation.

“If I tell you a secret will you keep it for me?” Anatole asks, peering into Pierre’s face in the evening gloom as the snow covers the top of his head, gets tangled in his fine hair. “Can I trust you, Pierre?”

“Yes, yes, of course,” Pierre mumbles against Anatole’s neck. He doesn’t know if he wants this back, but he can’t resist it anymore. And if Anatole wants to rebuild trust, Pierre will not object.

That’s when he finds out Anatole is married. When Anatole tells him of the entire ludicrous and sad situation he probably thinks this will save them.

Instead, it tears them apart in the irreparably.


The fiasco with Natasha shatters something deep inside Pierre. He associates himself so deeply with her, with her insane infatuation with Anatole, with his betrayal of that trust, with the heartache he brings her not because he is insincere but because he is too sincere, incapable or unwilling to understand how damaging his decisions to give into his fancies are. He feels so betrayed – not just for before, but for now, for what they had started to build again – that he lashes out in the only way he can. He tells Natasha that Anatole is married and then goes to force a confrontation. Pierre could not save himself, he could not save Andrei the grief and Anatole had never wanted saving in the first place. The vengeful monster inside Pierre is once again awake and in control.

When Anatole looks at him stunned and betrayed and asks, “You told her that I am married?” as though by this Pierre as good as shot him in the head, Pierre snaps and pushes Anatole to the floor, throws every suffered-out accusation that he has. He acts distanced from the situation, all of his rage harnessed for the purpose of defending Natasha.

But when Anatole leaves, shell shocked and yet defiant and unwilling to explain himself – “you never listen anyway” – there is only one person Pierre truly hates: himself.


Pierre learns of Anatole’s death in the same minute as he learns of Andrei’s. At that moment he is too overwhelmed to think but later he thinks how incredible it is that in the same breath he lost two of the most defining people in his life, the two men he loved who constantly drove a wedge in his relationship with the other, whether knowingly or not.

He lies awake that night, his mind conjuring up visions of assassinating Napoleon whom he has come to loath, and suddenly realizes that he will never again have Andrei to stabilize him, to gift him with some wise insight or inspiration. He will also never again see Anatole and feel the pang in his stomach when the boy smiles.

Pierre had never wanted to be alone – in fact, he had always longed for companionship and love and acceptance. Something he never quite got. And now, he is completely alone, with no one to impose any moral or emotional restrictions on him but also no one to come home to.

Pierre Bezukhov is twenty-seven years old.



It was painfully obvious that no one had been to the flat for years as it had fallen into a slight state of disrepair, accumulating dust and probably a family of rats as well. Pierre still had the key, even though it had been years since he used it. The fact that he had kept it struck him as odd and the fact that Anatole had not sold the flat or had not been forced to do so was also strange. Although, perhaps Prince Vasili did not know that Anatole had retained the property; he had not known of Anatole’s marriage after all.

Pierre walked to the window and pulled back the thick curtains, flung open the shutters. Warm, bright sunlight instantly flooded the room. The golden light seemed to hang in the air, made visible by the accumulation of dust. Not much was left in their flat, but the furniture was mostly there and a few abandoned trinkets and books there and here made in undoubtable their flat.

Pierre breathed in and instantly caught the smell of croissants. A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as the memories crept up to the forefront of his mind. He had been so happy that summer. If he had ever felt at peace before his marriage to Natasha, Pierre thinks it must have been here, with Anatole’s arms firmly wound around his waist and the boy’s lips on his neck. If he had ever felt loved and accepted it must have been here.

He had changed so much in the last ten or so years but those memories had not and Pierre could not help but wonder if maybe he could have done something differently, been less afraid, perhaps. Anatole had never tried to push him away, Pierre had always done all the pushing. He realized this only now, only after he had read and re-read his old letters. The ones that Anatole had kept. Kept. He did not think that everything he did was wrong or unjustifiable or that his life came out badly. But he wondered if perhaps the hurtful things he said to Anatole at the end were righteous for all the wrong reasons; if maybe he was lashing out at his own helplessness to survive in a word that was less than perfect. If, maybe, he found a soulmate in Natasha because they had both nearly destroyed themselves by wanting something forbidden and passionate and, at the end of the day, no less pure.

Pierre took out the pack of letters Dolokhov had given him, as well as everything else he had managed to find among his old things that pertained to Anatole in any way, and laid them out on the broad windowsill. He needed to figure out who actually owned the flat and if he could sell it or needed to tell Prince Vasili about it. He needed to hurry back home from his “business trip” to his pregnant wife. But just then, just for that one morning, he wanted to remember.

It would be his apology, for all the things he had or might have done wrong.