. . .
Yeah. Here I am writing a story about a ship that doesn't exist for a musical that hardly anyone knows about. Seriously, there are barely ANY stories under this category on FanFiction, and it makes me upsetti-spaghetti. And nobody's gonna read this, why am I publishing it again?
The reason I ship Anatole and Sonya is because I feel that Sonya could teach Anatole about loyalty and love beyond sensual matters, and Anatole could help Sonya be "bold and confident." I wanted to write something that makes Anatole redeem himself as something more than a scoundrel who will go after women who appease his lecherous desires. Plus, I really like ships that involve a socially renowned, usually physically attractive male and a shy, moral female. (Sorry, people, Anatole x Dolokhov is not gonna happen.)
Also, I hate to make this author's note so long, but can we just talk about how amazing Sonya is? She's my favorite character in TGC because she's practical and down to earth, yet kind and knows her morals. I love Sonya, she should have been a character in Romeo and Juliet.
Anyway, here is Goodness Over Beauty. Sheesh, Natasha really needs that message, doesn't she?
"And when it comes to the nous pronoun, the suffix -ons will be placed at the end of any regular verb . . ."
Anatole slammed his head on his desk in the center of the French classroom, his slick blond hair dropping over his face like a wilting gold flower. The way the teacher spoke, his mannerisms, or rather a lack thereof, just seemed to make the class drag on for more than ninety minutes. Anatole was not one of those who could sit down, be quiet, and listen to a lethargic teacher lecture a mass of students for a while. He was quite decent at the language, besides conjugation for irregular verbs and remembering the French translation for some English terms, but learning it felt like being frozen in time.
As he looked around, he could see he was not alone in his apathy. Several other students were tapping their pencils on the desk, doodling, or sleeping in the back of the classroom. He might as well have worshiped those who could actually pay attention, because not even a statue could sit still for this long without groaning in boredom.
The teacher eventually moved on to the French pronoun vous, torpidly explaining that it was used as both a formal term and as a plural subject. Anatole tried to keep up with the old man's rapid writing with sloppy, slanted notes on ink-smudged paper, but to no avail. He would much rather have been gossiping and eating snacks with his peers at the back of the classroom, or flirting with girls who caught his eye. But Mr. Bolkonsky was so obsessed with silence and perfect behavior that even a cough could get you sent to detention if the practically deaf old man mistook it for a backhanded whisper.
Anatole decided it was better for him to catch up on sleep rather than be bored to death in a class he only needed to charm women in his twenties. So, he lied down, and promptly fell asleep in the midst of zoned-out students.
When the bell rang to end second period, Anatole already felt defeated, ready to collapse in his bed and rest. And the fact that his third period was P.E. only made it worse. Normally, he felt prepared and competent in the gym, since he was relatively adept at exercising and sports, but today, he entered with the bitter claim that he "should not have stayed up all night chugging energy drinks and playing video games." Well, at least his sister Hélène and his friend Dolokhov were in his class, the only motivation that brought him to stride through the hallways without falling asleep.
"Dear brother, it seems something is troubling you," Hélène cooed as Anatole entered the gym, where she had been waiting. She had deep, beautiful tanned skin in contrast to her brother's fair skin, emerald eyes, and typically had a lecherous smile or glare. Hélène was a bit notorious among her grade for wearing skimpy clothes and getting with guys and breaking up with them about two weeks later, and repeating the process.
"Sister, leave me be," Anatole said calmly, crouching on the floor and tugging a T-shirt and black shorts out of his backpack. For a moment, he looked like a dying rose, his head beginning to drape over his torso with exhaustion.
Hélène sighed, yanking her brother up off the floor. "Must be that French class of yours. Anatole. Everyone despises that Mr. Bolkonksy, he's like a man who's just emerged from an asylum."
"I stayed up all night playing games," Anatole abruptly admitted, his shoulders rolling back.
"Explains a lot." Hélène took Anatole's hand and guided him to a door near the end of the black bleachers in the gym. "Go get dressed, you know the gym coaches are strict about dressing out."
Anatole drew in a breath of reluctance and shuffled into the boys' locker room, where it smelled heavily of cologne and sweat. He often thought of himself as more refined than the other boys in his gym class, since most of them engaged in play battles using stolen materials from the janitors' closet as weapons and tossed their smelly clothes wherever. Lockers were slammed roughly to the point of almost breaking upon impact, and the cologne made it nearly impossible to breathe. Anatole quickly changed before he was pulled into a battle, which his friend Dolokhov often participated in. Indeed, Dolokhov was having fun at the front of the locker room, winning duels against other boys.
As Anatole walked out, though, Dolokhov sprinted after him just before the door could close. "Anatole, hi!"
The former turned, a bit startled. "Oh, hello, Dolokhov." He smiled a bit at Dolokhov's outwardly optimistic, confident demeanor. "Um . . . Ça a été une dure journée. . . ."
"I'm not in French class, Anatole," Dolokhov reminded his friend, frowning.
"N-never mind." The two boys proceeded to their assigned places on the gym floor, where boys' sneakers skidded across in high, shrill noises, and girls in terribly revealing shorts congregated. They had the extreme luck of being placed next to each other when the coaches had assigned them spots on the first day of school.
Soon, a lanky woman with a whistle around her neck and sunglasses shielding her eyes stepped up in front of the students, who seemed to be raging at this point, and blew a boisterous toot with the whistle. The gym students promptly scrambled to their places, some with pale faces.
"WEDNESDAY MORNING, TIME FOR CARDIO!" she boomed rapturously, throwing her hands above her. "TO THE OUTER LINES OF THE GYM, CHOP CHOP!"
"I think Miss Dmitryevna is absolutely nuts," Dolokhov subtly chuckled, leaning in towards Anatole as they walked to the edge of the gym.
The coach was known as Miss Marya Dmitryevna among students and renowned for being the most strict of the coaches. She often shouted her words, clapped when she was growing impatient, and pressed difficult cardio on children, especially Juniors and Seniors. When it was her turn to coach on Wednesdays, students braced themselves for the most gruesome of torture.
"Ras . . . Dva . . . Tri!"
From there, Marya constantly shifted from one speed to the next. It would go from jogging to walking, sprinting to running, walking to skipping, and so on. Every three minutes of it, the students had to do ten "walking lunges" and rest with a slow, relaxed walk for a minute and a half, then resume cardio. By fifteen minutes in, everyone was drained of energy, and some were so tired they almost fainted. Students flocked to the water fountains in the hallways in massive numbers as soon as the last whistle was blown.
"That was . . . insufferable," Dolokhov panted, dragging himself to the water fountain with Anatole. "I think I'm going to puke."
Anatole shook his head, looking disturbed, then bolted ahead at him with more energy than he had in cardio, startling a herd of thirsty kids. He thrust his hands at the water fountain button, and gulped down cold water for a solid minute. The others protested, urging him to move his rear end to the back of the line, while Dolokhov stared in concern.
The boy was pale, a rare thing for Dolokhov to have seen. Anatole usually seemed sensible and simple, bold and natural from afar. But now, he looked desperate for any form of sustenance, for rest, like a wolf who'd been walking around starving for days.
"I need a moment—" Anatole darted down the empty hall in a cold sweat, past quiet classrooms, his sneakers skidding in an ear-piercing echo.
"Wait!" Dolokhov shot after his friend like a whizzing bullet, inches away from colliding with a few passing girls with water bottles.
Anatole slid to a haly beside a door and jerked it open to reveal the boys' bathroom, lined with sickening urinals and stalls with vulgar black writing. He slammed his back against it to prevent anyone else from seeing him in this state. In the depth of the unsanitary, dusty bathroom mirror, he had the chance to take a slow breath for once, to get a good view of how he appeared. Dark bags lie beneath his once bright eyes, and his cheeks were deficient of any color. Anatole turned, hands clasped to his face, as he sank to his knees.
"One more day and I think I'm going to go insane."
He moved his hands from his eyes, fingers curled like a paralyzed spider. Today is absolutely not my day, he thought, quivering.
Anatole was expecting just a brief moment of alone time, but out of the blue, the boys' bathroom door burst open; Dolokhov slid down on the tiles beside Anatole, gasping. "Anatole! What happened back there?"
"I think it is not convenient to speak of it now," moaned Anatole.
"No, no, none of that, talk."
"Fine. Dol, I need help," Anatole confided, grasping his friend's shoulders promptly. "School's becoming a nightmare." He closed his eyes, sighing. "Okay, Dolokhov. . . . Admittedly, I am not good at everything in school. I think I'm failing most of my classes."
"What? Why so?" asked Dolokhov. "And why did you run away from gym class like a slacker, stop running away from your problems, man."
"I have quite the trouble listening." Anatole blinked twice and frowned. "It is my belief that I need a tutor, because I doubt any teacher is willing to review topics I've struggled with for long."
"Hmm." Dolohov tapped his chin with an empathetic grin. "I know someone who can help. She's very good at . . . well, pretty much every subject."
"Who is it? A girl?" Anatole pressed desperately. "Do tell."
"Alright, so you know that girl, Natasha Rostova?"
"Oh, her? Everyone knows her, she's that . . . that charming girl dating Mr. Bolkonsky's pessimistic son."
"Exactly, that Natasha," Dolokhov lit up, nodding. "Well, she's got a cousin, an acquaintance of mine."
"Natasha has a cousin? Who would have guessed," Anatole shrugged.
"Yes. And her name . . ."
"Her name is Sonya."
Okay, yes, I did put several references to lines in the musical, but I can't help it. It was so hard to resist doing so! With future chapters, I really want to experiment with how Sonya would react to Anatole's behavior, especially his tendency to go after girls who appeal to him.
But in the next chapter in particular, I'm planning to have Anatole meet Sonya. All we can really do is guess how their interactions would turn out.