For the prompt meme: Great Comet, Hélène and Anatole as children :)
Thanks for the prompt, my love! This turned out angsty af, hoo boy
Anatole stared at Hélène in horror. “What are you wearing?”
Hélène giggled, spinning to let her full skirts whirl around her legs. “Papa gave it to me. He told me that I should start wearing long dresses. Do you like it?”
Anatole wrinkled his nose in distaste. “No,” he said spitefully. “You look dreadful.”
He saw a pucker of hurt appear between Hélène’s eyebrows, before she schooled her face into stony blankness. “Don’t be hateful.”
Anatole sighed, frustrated. Hélène was doing this more and more now- if he said the wrong thing to her she closed him off, putting him at arms length in a way that left him scrambling to keep up. It wasn’t fair, he thought viciously, how quickly things were changing. Papa had never taken an interest in Hélène before, and all of a sudden it was as if the two of them were connected by the hip, as he introduced her to the people that came round the manse, and gave her sips of champagne. Anatole hadn’t quite deciphered what it all meant, but he had a growing sense of unease about the attention that society had suddenly decided to pay to his sister.
What was worse was how Papa’s interest was changing Hélène herself. She never seemed to have time for Anatole anymore, and when she did, she never wanted to indulge in any of their childhood games. Anatole couldn’t help but feel that he was losing his sister, and quickly, right before his eyes. The thought of being alone in this house, alone without Hélène terrified him to his core. For as long as he could remember, he had been dependent on her for almost everything. Their relationship was more than just that of regular siblings, it was one of the fundamental ways he defined himself. He would rather die than lose her completely.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “You look beautiful. You always look beautiful.”
Hélène flashed him a bright grin. “Thank you.”
“Mm?” She hummed distractedly, fidgeting with her hair.
“You’ll never stop being my sister, right?”
She shot him a vaguely bemused glance. “Of course not, Tolya.”
“I…just…so many things are changing…” he muttered, feeling a rush of embarrassment as he felt the telltale pinpricks of tears.
Hélène sighed as she opened her arms to him, feeling him rush into them, and squeezing him tightly. “Of course things are changing, Tolya”, she murmured. “I’m getting older, Papa wants me to start planning for my debut.”
Anatole nodded wretchedly, at the confirmation of his worst fears, squeezing his eyes shut. “I know,” he said softly.
“And that means that I can’t play our childish games, or avoid my tutors with you anymore,” she said firmly. She let go of him, facing the mirror, smoothing down her skirts. “When you’re older, you’ll understand.”
Anatole nodded and started to walk away, understanding that he had been dismissed. “I’ll miss it,” he said quietly. “How it used to be.”
Hélène turned to face him, a tiny, sad smile on her face. “I will too, dear brother.”