-The early hours of the morning after the party-
“Please forgive me, dear lady, for visiting at such an unholy hour and yet I simply must speak with you quite urgently.” He seemed overly happy, in a strange way that Tatyana couldn’t immediately place.
“What is the matter? What could be so urgent that you’ve come here once more after the events of this evening?” Tatyana demanded, standing at the door with it partially closed behind her. She’d seen the carriage on the road from her bedroom window and rushed down to meet him, before any of the others realised he was here.
“Tatyana Larina.” He sighed, his eyelids heavy. “What a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. Before I die, I must know you far better than I do now.” His hand cupped her cheek and in an instant, his mouth found hers in a passionate kiss. She gasped into his mouth and jerked away.
“Onegin what— I don’t understand.” Tatyana gasped, tears filling her eyes. What did he mean by this? His hands snaked around her waist and crushed her to him. She pushed her hands into his chest, not really trying. “You refused me. You don’t find me beautiful.” She took another look at him and then it dawned on her. “You—you’ve had too much to drink.” She realized she could taste the spirits on his lips and now she smelt it on him.
“Ah that’s where you’re wrong Tatyana Larina. I find you very much to my taste and now that I’ve had enough to drink I long to taste pleasure from another source.”
He bent and kissed her again and she allowed him to. His lips tasted of burning liquid and it made her light headed. She shivered in his arms. ‘Oh how dare he. How dare he do this to me.’ She thought half-heartedly.
“Tatyana, sweet, soft Tatyana. Your eyes searching every corner of my soul. Find the rake there and not the hero you long for my dear girl.”
“Onegin.” She whimpered into the edge of his lips. How she wanted this. And yet it was wrong. Her Nanya would tell her it was a sin and yet how could anything so wonderful be a sin? She should refuse him, she should tell him to leave. And yet—something dark in his eyes made her hesitate.
He took her hand before she could protest, led her inside and guided her up the stairs.
“Onegin!” She hissed trying not to speak loudly for fear of waking the household.
“I want to see where you wrote your letter to me. Your heart’s desires poured out onto paper when you wrote it. Show me where my Tatyana spends her days and nights.” He demanded.
She wondered what it was he wanted to see in her room but led him down the hall, barely breathing, all too aware that on the other side of the house, her parents and sister slept.
He shut the door behind them and pulled her to him once more. His fingers brushed her mouth gently. “Let me taste these lips again. You’ve never been kissed before, dear girl.” She felt her face heat and she looked away but he tilted her head back up and made her look at him, taking her chin with his fingers. “I can read it in your eyes as clearly you read words in your books. To know that your first kisses are mine brings me great happiness. I surely don’t have many happinesses left to me before the end.”
Again he spoke of dying. She wondered why he was so concerned with his death. Surely he had many years left before any thoughts of dying should trouble him so terribly? She wanted to ask but once more he bent to kiss her softly. He pressed his tongue to her lips and automatically she opened her mouth to him. He kissed her deeply then and she trembled and clutched at his shoulders.
His mouth then trailed kisses along the edges of her jaw, down to her neck and shoulder. She gasped and her hands found the fabric of the back of his jacket. She clung to him, feeling herself adrift. She would not refuse him. She loved him too much to refuse him what he wanted of her. Nor could she deny she wanted him desperately to continue what he was doing. She knew man and wife did such things and she feared for her virtue. Yet she did not know if the line of no return had been crossed. No one had ever told her of such things.
He unlaced her robe which covered her night gown, tearing at the cords which tied at the front. It came undone swiftly and he pushed it to the floor. She let him, silently relishing the heat of his strong hands touching her. He was most certainly under the power of the strong spirits that had been served at the party. She wondered if it was too late to tell him to stop, if they had already sinned beyond any hope of recovery. She tried to care that God would punish her for this but she loved Onegin far too much.
He pushed her backwards, walking her to the edge of the bed. Then pressed on her shoulder to seat her and then make her lie back.
“Shall I give you a gift?” he murmured, searching her clear blue eyes with his own dark ones.
“A gift?” Tatyana whispered, eyes wide in the dimly lit room.
“Shall I show you how a wife of mine would know me?”
“A cruel gift.” She murmured, eyes sliding shut.
“I did warn you when we last spoke, that I am not a kind man.” He slowly slid the hem of her white nightgown up past her thighs to expose her most secret place.
“Oh!” she gasped and her hands went to cover her mound. He took her hands and placed them above her head. “Tssk. Be a good girl now.”
He pulled the gown over her head exposing her completely and tears filled her eyes. No one had ever seen her naked save her Nanya when she was a girl.
“Sssh. It’s alright. You’ve nothing to fear.” He trailed his fingers up her side to the underside of her breast. “Exquisite. Milky skin untouched by the sun. Shall I quench my thirst?” He didn’t wait for an answer and bent his mouth to her breast, taking her nipple between his lips. She gasped and a sound she’d never known her throat could make found it’s way past her lips.
She whimpered and he lifted his head and glared playfully. “Shush now little girl. Your parents would not look kindly on us like this.”
Her eyes went wide and nodded, resolved to keep her mouth shut from now on.
He returned his lips to her breast and she bit her bottom lip, trying her best to stay quiet.
He kissed a trail up between her breasts to her neck and found her mouth again. Then he looked at her face and sighed. “You suffer so beautifully for me sweet girl.”
“Onegin. Oh. Please. What are you doing to me?”
He stood and tried to undo his belt which took longer than it should have done but he managed. His pants then went to join it on the floor. Tatyana shivered in the cold autumn air, and thought absentmindedly that she was glad the fire in her room was still lit at this hour.
He flung his coat off, tore his boots off and then pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it carelessly aside. Then coming on to the bed on his knees Tatyana shrunk away from him shyly.
“So pure. Have you never seen a man’s body before?” he sighed, almost laughing.
She shook her head ‘no’. She never had. She’d heard in naughty whispers by the maids that they had different parts than a woman, and yet, she knew nothing else. He had a long member between his thighs, thick and heavy with blood and arousal.
“Have you never explored your own body then?”
Again she shook her head ‘no’ blushing even more. She felt the heat in her face and trembled under his gaze and hands, which now held the tops of her thighs.
“Then let me educate you.” He took her hand and guided it to his member. She gasped and tried to pull away but he held her wrist. “Feel me. Feel what you do to me, Tatyana. Proof that you please me.”
“I do?” she whispered uncertainly. He felt hot and weighty in her palm.
“Now let me show you, how I would treat my wife.” His eyes still glazed with the alcohol, he slide his hand between her thighs and found her damp folds with a pleased chuckle.
“Oh you do want me, sweet girl.”
“Please.” She whimpered, her eyes sliding shut, rolling back into her head. His mouth found her neck once more and she bit her lip to muffle a moan.
He used his knees and hands to guide her thighs apart. Gently with his fingers her made sure she was very ready. He probed lower as he kissed her and she squirmed. He found what he was looking for. He pressed his finger in and she gasped and jerked against his hand.
He placed his other hand on her hip to steady her. “Hush now, I’m here. Trust me, Tatyana. Sweet Tatyana.”
He pressed in deeper and she whimpered in pain. “It will pass soon. Trust me.” He kissed her mouth again, to distract her, then after a long moment, pressed another finger into her. She couldn’t help her pained gasp and he was grateful in the fuzzy part of his mind, that he was still kissing her to cover the sound.
He began slowly working the fingers in and out of her and he felt her getting wetter under his ministrations. He saw the tears in her eyes and the confusion.
“You’re alright. Sssh. I’m here. You’re being so good for me.”
“Onegin. Please I don’t—I don’t understand. Ah. What are you doing to me?”
“I’m giving you the kind of love I can give you.”
“Oh, no. Don’t lie to me.” She sighed as his fingers continued to work in and out of her, now stretching more ever so slightly.
“Would you prefer I use the proper latin word?” he asked with a cruel glint in his eye. “What I am doing to you is called coitus. We are performing the act of coitus.”
She cringed at the word and he sighed against her breast. “You see, I prefer euphemisms but my Tatyana wanted the facts. Now let me give you your gift sweet girl.”
He aligned his member to her entrance and before she could fully register what he was going to do, he slid into her in a smooth stroke. She cried out and he covered her mouth with his hands.
It stung a bit but it wasn’t unbearable. She felt strangely full in a shockingly delicious way.
“That’s my girl. Taking me in so well.” He sighed into her ear. “A fast learner I see.” He took her hand and kissed her fingers hard.
“Onegin!” She whimpered, her eyes searching his in confusion and desire.
Then his fingers went to her clit and she bucked under him in shock at the unfamiliar burst sensation. “That’s right. That’s my girl. Feel the pleasure I can give you.” He sighed against her collarbone.
He rubbed quickly in rhythmic circles and she trembled under his touch. She felt tension building in her in a way she’d never known was possible, she never wanted it to stop but it was almost painful. He held her hips in place with his other hand and then withdrew and pushed in once.
It wasn’t painful for her so she merely gasped softly at the sensations inside her. He was inside her, she thought all at once.
Then he set a slow pace, rubbing at her clit as consistently as he could. Even while drunk, he would never let anyone call him an inconsiderate lover.
Quickly she reached her limit, the combination of being full and being touched rhythmically had her on the edge. She whimpered again as her back arched up from the mattress. He sped up his touch and felt her spasming around him quicken.
“There. That’s right. Come for me sweet girl.”
What felt like flashes of light burst behind her eyelids and ran through her entire body, radiating from her centre, contracting and releasing over and over in waves of pleasure. She couldn’t help the cries that came from her then, or the way her body snapped taught under him, pulsing and shivering. He thankfully covered her mouth as she came, and he prayed absentmindedly that she hadn’t woken anyone.
A few moments later as she lay panting and covered in a fine sheen of sweat, he heard footsteps down the hall, coming towards them.
They both froze and Tatyana’s eyes went wide once more but this time in fear.
A knock the door and a voice said “Tanya is everything alright?”
Tatyana thought quickly. It was her old Nanny thank goodness.
“Y-yes Nanya. I’m sorry, I had a bad dream. Did I wake you? I’m fine now. Go back to bed.”
“Are you sure?” she asked concernedly.
“Yes. Please, I want to sleep some more.”
“Of course Tanya. Sleep well and God bless you child.” The old woman said gently.
They waited in frozen shock till her footsteps went back down the hall and the stairs after that.
He let out a breath neither had realised he’d been holding. He laughed softly then.
“My Tatyana. Such a smart girl.” He kissed her again and when he pulled away he saw such sadness there, that it surprised him.
She smiled at him tearfully. Then she placed her hand to his cheek and kissed him boldly. She had nothing left to loose now. She was his, as she had always been. Even if he was not hers.
He quickly came back to full hardness as she kissed him so passionately. Then still inside her he began his pace again and she felt herself to be so full, yet in her heart she wept the tears she could not now shed. She had no illusions about this night. He would never marry her, she knew. At least she would have this.
He began to quicken his pace and she did her best to stay quiet despite the pleasure she felt at each of his pulsing thrusts. “Tatyana. Such a good girl. So sweet and good for me.”
He groaned and she ran her hands along his shoulders. He thrusts once more powerfully and she did cry out this time, covering her own mouth with her hand. He felt his time upon him and with some presence of mind, pulled out swiftly. Spurts of white liquid came from the tip of his member onto Tatyana’s mound and thighs. She was shocked but made no noise of protest. She did not know what it was but assumed it was merely what men did at this time.
He softened quickly after that and she observed him curiously.
“Has no one ever told you, your eyes are quite cold when you are thoughtful?” He muttered holding himself on his haunches, watching her, watching him.
She shook her head apologetically, looking away.
He chuckled softly. “Never mind dear girl. It is permitted to be curious. A keen mind is no bad thing, though heaven knows it may pain you as a woman.”
He smiled at her then and reached for a handkerchief places beside the water basin by the bed. He dipped it in the water and began to wash down her thighs and mound, and then himself and the bed as best he could.
She felt exhaustion overcome her then. She felt as though she wanted to weep but couldn’t quite manage the tears, trapped as they were in her chest. One found it’s way past her closed eyelids and she felt his fingers brush it away. He covered her with the blanket, seeing her flesh shiver in the cold air.
He stood then, and kissed her gently once more. “Don’t worry little Tanya. You’ll find someone worthy of your tears.” He reached for his discarded shirt.
“Will you leave me so soon?” She asked, dismay clear in her voice.
“I’m sorry to say that I must. I’ve an appointment tomorrow, that I fear I cannot miss... I don’t think we will see each other ever again dear one.”
“Never again?” Tatyana asked all at once doused in cold despair. “What do you mean?”
“Exactly what I say. I do not think we will meet again.”
“Please.” She said, sitting up. “Please Onegin, I’ll never speak of love to you again. But please do not deprive me of your presence in my life.”
He dressed as swiftly as he could. The liquor was wearing off now and he hoped he would meet his maker soon enough to stop the regret he now felt creeping up the back of his neck like an insect he couldn’t escape. Under the spell of far too much alcohol, he’d thought it a wonderful kindness to come here and give Tatyana a night of pleasure, and to indulge his own selfish desire for her and yet now—Now his mind was beginning to clear.
“I fear it cannot be helped.” He repeated darkly. He pulled on his discarded boots and then finally his coat, buttoning it up.
She stood with the sheet around her.
In the dim firelight, she seemed to almost have a golden glow to her hair and skin. The sky was beginning to lighten and he knew his time was short.
She came to stand near him, her hands finding his face. “Please don’t leave me.” She buried her face into his chest.
“I must.” He lifted her face to look at him, then with his fingers traced the contours of her cheek bones, her jaw. He touched her lips gently. He wanted to remember her face, before he died.
Her pale blue eyes, haunted him, so unreadable and yet expressive. He saw now they had flecks of green in them.
He kissed her softly once, then again harder. Her hands found the back of his neck and he crushed her into him. His last guilty pleasure before departing this world.
Then he released her and as quietly yet quickly as he could, he left her there with the door open, and half ran down the hall and out of the house. He wanted another drink. But he needed to meet Lensky. And for once, he hoped his friends were right about there being a God.
-After the duel-
He was alive…He could hardly believe it. This was wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He’d done his best to miss his friend. The bullet shouldn’t have hit him. It wasn’t meant to hit him. This was wrong. He was the one who was supposed to die.
His second herded him back to the carriage, and nothing felt quite real.
He remembered being re-dressed by other hands, being put to bed, and then waking up again and being made to eat. He felt hot to the touch, his thoughts clouded. ‘Fever.’ he thought.
It took several days for the illness in him to subside during which time a doctor visited and then left, saying he would be fine. Once the fever had left him, he knew he couldn’t stay here, in the country-side, or even in country itself. He had murdered his friend. He’d meant to be the one to die. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. If there was a God he knew he was being punished for his sins. Regret filled him with a kind of fear he’d never known.
He decided to head to France. He’d always wanted to see Paris where the old kings had ruled for so long. He could practice his French there.
He made the arrangements and without a thought to those he was leaving behind for more than a moment, he left for France.
He thought of Tatyana, in those final moments, of her tender gaze on him. He regretted his actions with her. He had behaved dishonourably in every way and he was all too aware of it.
“She’s a smart girl. She’s young and she will recover. She’d do better to forget me.” He muttered to himself in the carriage as it jostled down the dirt road away from the country house that no longer felt like home.
-Three months after the duel-
Tatyana felt sick and dizzy. It had been a few months since she’d learnt of the terrible events between… him and Lensky. No one said their names anymore. Olga was in pieces over the death of her beloved. Understandably so. For all her coquettishness she had truly loved Lensky. And yet now Tantyana could spare little concern for her well being. She was afraid for what was to come of her own fate.
Every morning for the past few weeks she’d been ill. Her Nanya was very concerned for her. Her mother looked at her with knowing eyes and watched her like a hawk.
“Poor Tanya.” Nanya sighed. “Poor little Tanya.” She said brushing her hair back from her face as she threw up into the bowl once more.
The two older women knew of course. They knew it who was responsible for her situation. That they did not hate her now was a blessing she had never hope for.
Her eyes glazed over with tears. She may have known little of what happens between men and women but every woman since she was old enough to have her blood had told her of the terrible morning sickness and it’s being a clear sign of pregnancy. She knew she was with child.
“Listen to me Tanya. Your mother loves you. She’s sent an invitation to an old friend of hers. This man, he is kind. He will be good to you. He has agreed to marry you.”
“What?” Tatyana asked in shock, her voice raspy from the strain. “Does he know that I—”
“No. No of course not. But he loves your mother and he is looking for a wife. You are young and pretty. If this is done soon enough he will not suspect.”
Tatyana said nothing. She felt numb. She knew it was her best hope for a life. Or else she would be forced to abandon the child which she could never bear to imagine. She longed for the arms which belonged to the man who caused her suffering.
“I tried to tell you that love was a dangerous thing Tanya. I wish you had listened.” The old woman sighed, combing strands of hair out of the younger woman’s face.
“So do I Nanya.” She said, the tears making her voice even rougher. “So do I.”
-2 years later-
Onegin arrived at the ball, not really sure why he’d agreed to attend so soon after coming back. He felt tired and sore from the long carriage ride. Yet it had been a long time since he’d been in society and his distant cousin by marriage, Prince Gremin had asked that he attend. It would have been very rude to refuse. And so he found himself surrounded by murmurs of surprise at his attendance.
The Prince was here already and had been for sometime he surmised, although in a different room. As he entered the main ball room, the usual tittering from the crowd of people announced his presence. Onegin moved in the crowd, trying to find a way to greet him. He hadn’t seen the Prince in two years after all.
He was surprised to see the old, portly Prince with a stunningly beautiful young woman on his arm. Her hair done up, and dressed in a sumptuous gown of black ruffles with intricate beading. Her neck was draped in an opulent and large diamond necklace which covered most of her chest and bosom where it peaked out from her bodice. She exuded a kind of charm that drew eyes to her. She turned her face in his direction without seeing him.
Her eyes. He knew them. He knew them as well as he knew his mother’s name.
Tatyana Larina, stood there by the Prince’s side, arm laced in his. She looked so changed he almost hadn’t recognized her. She now had a poise and elegance to her, which she’d never possessed when he’d known her. Before she’d been charmingly bookish, and reticent, eyes forever down cast. Now, she exuded confidence and calm in a way that made the hair on the back of his neck raise. He swallowed hard, as his heart rate sped up.
“Ah! Onegin my good man. How are you?” The Prince said spotting him, releasing the arm of his companion to come towards him. Her head snapped up at the name and her eyes went wide. Her eyes met his and she flinched. Her face went completely white and she stood stock still. Then the Spanish ambassador’s wife spoke to her and she turned away as though nothing were wrong.
“I am well, and I am now also well traveled my Prince.”
“Yes I imagine so. We are glad to have you back.” The older man said chuckling, shaking his hand in greeting.
“Prince, may I ask, who is that lovely lady whom you arrived with?”
“Ah, I see you’ve noticed my charming wife, the Princess Tatyana Gremina.” The older man chuckled. “Isn’t she a star?”
“You are married now my Prince?” Onegin asked, dread seizing his heart by the reins with every word.
“Oh yes, two years now, and may God forever bless our union.” He smiled, his grey moustache twitching with the motion. “She was Tatyana Larin. Lovely family. I’ve know her mother for years you see and after all my last wife passed five years ago now and I felt it was time.”
“I— yes. Of course. Congratulations. I believe I’ve met her before, years ago. We were neighbours once in the country.”
“Were you now? Oh how lovely. Let us join her then.”
Before Onegin could think of a single good reason to refuse he found himself standing before her. His heart beat was so loud in his ears he was almost certain everyone around could hear it.
“My dear, I believe you know Evgenij Onegin?” He asked, taking her hand.
“Yes, I’m delighted.” She said quietly with a cold smile.
“We met many years ago, in the country.” He managed to say, trying to seem appropriately pleased to see her rather than ridiculously delighted.
“Yes that’s right.” She agreed. She turned from him, not even daring to look him in the eye and said to her husband, “My dear, I’m tired.”
“Ah. I see. So eager to get back to our little Evgenij are you my dear? Very well. Let us head home.” He smiled at his wife who merely smiled in return.
Onegin nearly gasped when he heard the Prince say those words. “Little Evgenij?” he asked before he could stop himself.
“Our son. He’ll be two in the spring.” The Prince explained jovially. “Such a happy child.”
“In the spring?” He breathed. The thoughts running through his head were traitorous in the extreme. A child. Could it be?
“Yes. Spring children are so full of energy.” She said, her voice a little strained. “I want to be sure he’s in bed.”
“Onegin,” The Prince said, “I bid you good evening my friend.”
With a bow, Onegin bid them good night. His heart was in his throat and he could hardly believe his own thoughts. A son. Born in the spring. Tatyana. Married for two years. A mother. A son of two years. Born in the spring.
He felt his world narrow in on him and as he stood there watching the couple walk away, he knew himself to be the greatest fool to ever have lived. He was in love. Hopelessly in love. And it was far too late. He had to know if the child was his. He had to see her again as soon possible.
He felt a laugh form in his chest and he had to leave the room, only to collapse in terrible choking bursts of laughter in the hallway. And once the laughter subsided, then he felt his eyes burn with an unfamiliar sensation of tears.
“Tatyana.” He murmured through the tears he couldn’t prevent from falling. “Tatyana.”
Her sitting room was darkening with the sun setting on the streets of St. Petersburg. She held his letters in her hands, lying limply on her lap. Tears streamed down her face freely, and she shut her eyes as though doing so could shut out the pain she felt at his words.
How dare he speak to her of love, now? After all this time? She stood and tossed the letters to the chair she’d been sitting in. She paced back and forth in front of the window. How could he bear to dredge up the past like this? She felt as though he’d torn open and old wound. She felt her very soul ache at the memory of the purity of the love she’d had for him. That she still had for him.
She grit her teeth and huffed angrily. He’d left her. He’d gone and just left her like she meant nothing to him and back then she supposed that had been true but now! Now he wanted to speak of love. When it was far too late to even think of such things!
She had put away such childish hopes after the birth of her son. Their son. And oh how it pained her to acknowledge just how much he looked like his father. The same dark eyes when both she and the Prince were blue eyed. She’d said it must have come from her father’s side. Fair haired still, as most children his age were, but she had a sinking feeling he would take on his father’s brown coloured hair with age.
And his face— how he looked like Onegin even at such a young age! Surely the Prince would see it in time. She might well be chased from her home as a harlot and scorned by all society, when he did accuse her of the crime she was indeed guilty of. She shuddered at the thought of such a lonely life. They would no doubt take her beautiful boy from her. She couldn’t let that happen. Onegin may love her as much as he pleased. But she could not risk loosing her son.
A knock on the parlour door startled her. “Yes?”
“Princess, the Count Onegin is here to see you. Shall I show him in?”
Her mind screeched to a halt and she inhaled sharply. He’d come unannounced. To her home. Thank God the Prince was out taking care of business matters at the Palace.
“Yes. Show him in.” She said after what had surely been a too-long pause.
The maid curtsied and opened the door to allow the gentleman in, then left, shutting the door behind her.
“My husband is not at home Count. I am sorry to disappoint you. Perhaps you should return another day when you’ve made an appointment to meet.” She heard herself say dispassionately.
“Do I truly deserve such a cold voice Tatyana?” He asked, having the gall to look hurt.
“Don’t call me that.” She snapped. “You forget yourself.”
He came forward suddenly and fell to his knees before her and she gasped as his hands gripped her knees through her olive green velvet skirts. She hesitantly placed a hand on his shoulder, her breath unsteady at the sudden closeness of this man whom she’d long for, for so very long.
“Onegin enough.” She said, and hated the pleading note in her voice. “Stand up. I must speak to you frankly.”
He stayed stock still on his knees on the floor, looking up at her with a kind of despair she knew all too well.
“Do you remember when fate brought us together? That day in the garden when I listened so meekly to your lecture?”
“Have mercy. I ask you, have pity on me. I was so mistaken. I have been cruelly punished for my foolishness!” He said pleadingly.
Tatyana circled around him, her eyes never leaving him, the pain in them clear as day. She stood behind her chair and held onto it for support.
“Onegin, I was younger then. And a better person, I think. And I loved you, but what then? What response did I find in your heart? What response?” She demanded softly, never raising her voice. “Only severity… Am I not right in thinking that a simple young girl’s love was no novelty to you?”
She paused and took a few steps looking away from him. “Even now. Dear God…my blood run colds whenever I recall that cold look, that sermon.”
She sighed shook her head, biting her bottom lip. Then she smiled bitterly.
“But I don’t blame you. You tried to behave honourably towards me in that dreadful moment. At that time, far from society and gossip, I suppose you didn’t find me to be an attractive match. Why then do you pursue me now? Why am I now the object of such attentions?” She asked abruptly.
Not waiting for a reply from the shocked man before her, she continued, “Could it be because I now frequent the highest circles of society? Because I am rich and of the nobility? Because my husband wounded in battle, enjoys on that account the favour of the court?”
With every word she took a step towards him and he began to back away, shaking his head slightly. “Could it not be because my disgrace would now be generally remarked upon, and would confer upon you the reputation of a seducer?”
He stepped away from her walked towards the window as she spoke until he turned back to look at her in shock at that last statement.
“Dear God. Is it possible that in my humble pleading your cold eyes see nothing but the wiles of a despicable cunning? Your reproaches torment me! If only you knew how terrible it is to suffer love’s torments. To endure and constantly check the fever in my blood by reason, to hold back the longing to clasp at your knees at length, and weeping at your feet pour out prayers, avowals and reproaches, all that words can express!”
He fell to his knees again and clutched at her wrist, then took her hand and kissed it. She flinched and could not bear to look at him and so she looked up, not seeing anything for the blurring sting of the tears in her eyes.
“I’m weeping.” She murmured softly, feeling the tears she hadn’t shed in what felt like a life time, finally escape and roll down her cheeks.
“Weep then. Your tears are more precious than any treasures.”
She turned to look at him then, and placed her hands on his face, brushing her fingers at the edges of his hair.
“Oh. So close. Happiness was within our reach.” She ran the backs of her fingers along his cheek bone and he saw her agony there, in the depths of her eyes.
“We came so close, you and I. So close.” She wept as she spoke, her voice thick with the tears. She pressed her cheek to his forehead, wanting to feel him closer to her.
He held her hand to his face. He stood and placed his hands on her upper arms, holding her close as he spoke. “We did. We did come so close. So close.” He agreed, sadness and regret colouring his tone of voice.
She pulled away with fury in her expression and pain and said, “But my fate has already been decided. And irrevocably.” She swiped at the tears on her cheeks, brushing them away with her fingers. “I am married! You must— I beg you, leave me.”
“Leave you? Leave you! What—How could I leave you?”
Tatyana picked up the letters she put on the chair earlier and shoved them into his hands and he took them and crumpled them carelessly.
“No! No I won’t leave you. To see you every hour, to follow your footsteps, follow your every smile, movement, glance with loving eyes, to listen to you for hours! To understand in my soul all your perfection, to swoon before you in passionate torment, to stay with you all our days till I turn pale and pass away! That is bliss, my only dream, our only happiness!”
He stepped towards her and tried to take her in his arms but she held out a hand to stop him.
“Onegin, please remember your pride and your honour.” She said, feeling her own remembrance of both to be on shaky ground.
“I cannot leave you. Please!”
“Evgenij! You must leave me, I beg you.” She said, and her voice shook slightly on his name. Her son’s name too.
“Have you no pity?”
“Oh why hide it!” she cried, striding past him before turning back to look at him. “Why pretend? Oh God. I still love you.” She gasped and felt her knees weaken. She might have fallen if he hadn’t caught her by the waist and pressed her to his chest.
“What word was that you used? What did I just hear?” He cupped her jaw, and nearly kissed her but held back.
She clutched at his lapel, half crying, half smiling
“Oh what joy. Oh my life, you are still the Tatyana of days gone by.”
Fear coursed through her then like ice and she pulled away harshly. She was not that person anymore. She hadn’t been for years.
“No! No I’m not. The past can’t be brought back. I was given to someone else. My fate is already decided! And I shall always be true to him.” She saw the agonized expression on his face and knew she had to leave. She had to get away. She loved him too much.
She picked up her skirts and started towards the door but he quickly blocked her path and caught her wrist as she turned back away from him, shutting her eyes against the look of longing in his. She tried to walk away but he held on to her wrist and walked with her a few steps.
“Don’t send me away.” He pleaded, “You love me and I will not leave you.”
The words tore into her and she gasped a sob. She couldn’t bear it. The pain he brought into her life. Oh how she loved him. But she had her son to consider and her position and honour.
“Do not ruin both our lives for nothing. You are mine, ‘all your life you waited for me in anticipation of our union’.” He said, his voice full of unrestrained emotion.
She whimpered at the words and he took her into his arms again. She clung to his jacket swaying a little as tears choked in her throat. He was quoting her letter back to her. Her love letter to him, all those years ago.
“And rest assured, ‘I was sent to you by God to be your protector till the grave.’” She tried to pull away from him but he held on to her wrist again and she did not have the will to pull any harder. “You must forsake this loveless house, this empty society! There is no other path for us.”
He pulled her back to his chest, clutching at her with desperation. “You cannot leave me.”
“No, I must remember my vows.” She said, to him unable to escape his arms.
They sank to their knees, as he spoke, “This is the only way Tatyana. I love you. Don’t send me away from you. I love you.”
“I cannot. I was given to another by fate and I will always stay true to him.”
Deep in her heart his desperate pleas struck an answering chord, but having had to stifle the flame of her love for so long, her honour’s severity and her commitment to sacred duty made her will triumph over the passion.
“I will leave you!” She said, sobbing into his chest, clutching at him, and he to her, pain etched into both their features.
“Have mercy. I love you.” He cried, holding her tightly, touching her face, her hair, her waist.
She pushed against his chest and stood once more, with all her will power she looked him in the eye and said, “Farewell forever.” And she tore her wrist out of his hand and fled the room weeping, barely able to breathe.
She ran and ran down the hall, heading to the one place that could give her strength now. She opened the door to the nursery and went to her son who was playing on the floor with his nanny. She scooped him up in her arms and held him to her tightly. Her baby boy. Her Evgenij. Her precious little one.
She could not deprive him of the life he deserved. Not for anything in the world. Not even for love of his father.
-Two years later-
Tatyana sat in the parlour with her son, taking tea in the early afternoon, as they often did after his lessons.
“Princess!” A footman called out distressed, bursting into the room without announcement or formality. “Princess!”
“Yes?” She asked completely surprised by this unusual behaviour. “What is it?”
“My apologies, your Highness. There’s – there’s been an accident. It’s— It’s the Prince, your Highness.” The old footman said, clearly out of breath. “The hunting party— a gun went off, unexpectedly. It gave us all a start but the Prince’s heart— it couldn’t take the shock. I’m so sorry your Highness.”
She froze, unsure of what she had just heard. “The Prince? The Prince is injured?”
“No, your Highness. I’m so very sorry to tell you that the Prince has passed away. His heart gave out on the hunt. They’re carrying his body back as we speak.”
“What?” She dropped the cup of tea she’d been holding and the cup hit the floor and shattered. She covered her mouth with the back of her hand. “Oh. Oh dear God no.”
“Mama?” Evgenij asked. “Mama what’s wrong? Where is Grem?”
“Evgenij sweetie, let’s take you back to the nursery. Go with Nanya please? Mama needs to take care of some things.” She led him by the hand and his nanny took it from her gently.
The little boy pouted but nodded sullenly.
“I’ll come see you again before your bed time my darling.” She kissed his cheek quickly and let his nanny lead him away.
She turned back to the footman and said, “Tell me everything. Again. Please.”
The funeral was held the following day. The Prince was to be buried along side his many noble ancestors. She wore the darkest black of her dresses and covered her face in a translucent black veil. Little Evgenij didn’t truly understand that his dear old Grem wasn’t coming back. She’d never spoken to him of death, never imagining she would have to till he was at least a little older than three years old almost four now.
She had explained to him that his Grem had to go to heaven now, and that one day, a long long time from now, they would see him again. He’d been angry of course, demanding that he return now, and blaming her for him leaving. She told him that Grem had been sick and it was God’s will that he go to heaven now, and that Evgenij would see him again.
He clutched hard at her hand now, his little fingers getting stronger with every day or so it seemed to her.
A familiar figure strode towards the mourning party, arriving late and bearing white lilies in his arms. Of course, she had suspected that he might attend.
He came towards them and took her hand and kissed her gloved fingers as many others had done today. She lifted her veil to speak to him as was proper.
“My sincerest condolences to you, your Highness, and to you too, young Prince Gremin.” He bowed to the boy. His face was hard as a stone, and he never looked her in the eye.
“Thank you, Count Onegin. May I offer my condolences to you as well.” She managed to say, although her throat was raw from the tears she’d wept. She hadn’t loved him as a husband, and yet he’d been a very good friend to her. She had loved him as a friend.
He bowed once more to take his leave of her, and the Princeling. Then he turned and placed the lilies by the coffin along side many other bouquets. He bent his head and murmured “Rest well, dear cousin. You lived a good life. May God reward you now in heaven.”
With that he left the graveside and went to greet the other members of his family who had gathered there for the funeral.
She covered her face once more with her veil, and this time the tears were not just for the husband she had lost but the love she had lost as well.
-Three months later-
The butler knocked and entered the parlour bearing a bouquet of pale pink ranunculus and peonies and poppies, all of which she knew were out of season.
“These flowers were delivered for you Princess. From Count Onegin. He sent his man to invite you to dine with him and several friends, should you feel so inclined, for luncheon in two days time.”
“I see. Thank you Orlov. Put them in the gilded white vase I think.”
The butler bowed and went to do as she said, leaving the note that had come with them on the table by the door.
As soon as he shut the door behind him she rushed from her seat and tore open the message.
Dear Princess Tatyana Gremina,
I hope this message and bouquet find you well. Please accept my invitation to take luncheon with myself and Count Vasily Petrov, his wife and two children, on this coming Wednesday, on my property. We intend to make a picnic of it if the spring weather permits it. If it please you, bring Evgenij with you. I have many coloured kites which I bought on my travels, which a young boy might enjoy. I understand you are also very fond of horses. I have a fine stable here and would greatly appreciate your input on the breeding of this coming year, if it is no trouble to you. I fear I know little on the topic and have let my stable men have free reign for long enough. I hope to hear from you soon.
With the most respectful of affections,
Count Evgenij Onegin, the Third
Tatyana’s hands shook as she read the last line.
He wanted to see her. He hadn’t forsaken her after all. His tone in the letter confused her. At once removed and yet there was tenderness there too. She was not sure what to make of it.
She sat at her writing desk, and for the second time in her life, wrote a letter to Onegin.
She accepted his invitation.
Onegin’s picnic went remarkably well. The weather was perfect. Sunny and slightly windy. The May flowers had just come out in his garden and the swans were on the pond in all their glory.
She watched Onegin show Evgenij how to tie the strings on the kite properly and then laughed as he ran with the little boy to get the kite in the air. What a sight the pair made. They had a strong similarity in appearance, although Onegin’s prematurely bright white hair put most off the scent, or so Tatyana hoped.
Evgenij enjoyed the company of the two little girls of the Count’s friends greatly. They played with the kites and the Count’s hunting dogs on the lawn till they were called back to come eat.
After the meal, the children were left with their nannies to walk around the grounds. The other couple chose to join them. Onegin took the opportunity to ask her to visit his stable.
“Stay close to Nanya, Evgenij.” She called after them.
“Yes Mama.” Came an exasperated and cheeky reply.
She smiled after him, and the familiar fear she felt every time he wasn’t near griped her heartstrings.
“Shall we head over?” Onegin asked, holding out his arm to her.
She took it hesitantly. “Yes of course.”
She asked him what kind of animal his horses were and they spoke at length on different breeding possibilities, and other owners of fine beasts which they’d seen before. They talked about Onegin’s childhood, of how he’d grown up with horses as dear friends and loved them to lengths which often surprised people.
“Onegin?” She asked at last. “Why am I here?”
He sighed and looked away. “To enjoy good company?” He suggested weakly.
“I think not. Surely we can speak plainly.”
“If you wish.” He nodded. “I wish to court you, Princess Tatyana. In the hopes that in the not too distant future, you might accept my offer of marriage.”
Her mouth fell open, and she turned away from him abruptly. Tears stung at her eyes and swallowed hard. She flinched at the touch of his hand at her elbow.
“Will you allow me to do so?” He asked earnestly. She could see the tension in the corner of his lips, the fear floating in his eyes, and there as well, a familiar tenderness for which she longed.
“Yes. Yes you may court me, Count Onegin.”
Onegin never did ask if Evgenij was his child. She assumed it was because there truly could be no doubt. They looked far too much alike for it to be questioned. What else was there to say?
He spent the better part of a year, courting her openly. He took her to balls as her escort. He had his family and friends over for dinner and asked her to host the events with him. She held parties at her own palace and he surprised her one evening by playing the piano for her. He played very well and he took requests from her to learn new pieces. She asked that he introduce a tutor for Evgenij who had shown interest in learning.
They spent time alone every week, reading to each other, learning each other’s pasts, discussing philosophy and politics in ways that might have shocked the more puritanical of their friends.
He never crossed the line between them. The one they had drawn in the sand silently. They would not kiss or touch inappropriately again till they were wed.
He did it, to prove that his love was not just lust. She’d asked him outright once, why he did not kiss her when they were alone. She’d been surprised to learn it was to show her that he meant it when he told her he loved her. With each day that passed, she grew more certain of their love for each other.
They wed the following spring, surrounded by approving friends and family.
-1 year later-
“It’s a girl.” The midwife told Onegin from the doorway. He’d spent the last ten hours sitting by the door to his wife’s bedroom, listening to her screams. And then he heard someone else scream; An infant cried out, their first breath.
“A girl?” He gasped, getting to his feet. “A girl! May I come in? May I see them?”
He’d never been so afraid as when his wife had gone into labour in his life. He knew how many women died in the childbed and feared for her life. She was alive. She was well. The child was well. He thanked every possible God that existed for this luck.
“You may.” Called Tatyana’s voice from inside the room.
Onegin entered the bedchamber and stepped towards the bed hesitantly. Tatyana sat on it, looking disheveled and exhausted but never more radiant in his eyes. In her arms, a screaming little red bundle was wrapped in white blankets. He came forwards, feeling light headed, and sat on the edge of the bed.
“She’s perfect, Evgenij. Meet your daughter, husband.”
He laughed, seeing her little face, her perfect nose all scrunched up, still crying.
“She’s beautiful.” He bent an kissed her forehead. “She’s so beautiful. Thank you. Thank you Tanya. You’re both perfect.” He took her hand and kissed it tenderly, before pressing a kiss to her lips. She sighed against him and leaned her head on his shoulder.
“I love you, little one.” He sighed against his daughter’s forehead.
“She needs a name.” She said gently, soothing the baby, as she quieted finally.
Onegin looked at the child’s face for a long moment then said, “How do you feel about ‘Rozalina Tatyana Izolda’ after you, and our mothers?”
“It’s just right. Rozalina. Oh yes. Our little Rozalina.” She sighed.
He placed two fingers under his wife’s chin and tilted her head up. “I love you, Tatyana.”
“As I love you, Evgenij Onegin.”
He bent and kissed her tenderly, putting all his love for her into the gesture, careful of the baby in his wife’s arms. He had never felt such joy before.
The children grew up to know their parents loved each other far more intensely than was normal in most marriages. They appreciated the closeness it brought to their little family.
Tatyana tells Evgenij of his true parentage when he is old enough to understand what love does to two people. He does not mind, and in fact is very pleased to find that his true father has been in his life all a long.
Rozalina and Evgenij adore their father dearly, and they learn much from him as they grow.
Tatyana finds that her days have become filled with a kind of light, a happiness that finds every corner of her life, leaving no room for unhappiness.
She and Onegin, live happily together for many years. Onegin passed away in his sleep, at the late age of eighty. His children are both wed and happy. His wife followed him, only a week later. They say she died of a broken heart, and could not bear life without him.
They lived well, and loved deeply. They were happy.