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His Faded Idol

4.

Both Harald and Zoltan had long since abandoned her, so Erszebet had determined to wander the extent of the enormous wake. She did, however, back out of some of the parlors without speaking to anyone. The one done up in extravagant Gothic draperies and lace and candles, for instance, and the one where someone was intoning that he did not drink wine.

A cheerful room, brightly lit with many people moving in and out of it and a live band playing, drew her in. A small woman with light brown skin immediately swooped upon her. "I saw you earlier with Zoltan, but couldn't break away to meet you," she said, energetically shaking Erszebet's hand. It was hard for Erszebet to guess her age -- she could have been anywhere from 200 to 800, really. "I am Juana Zalazar."

Recognition lit in the depths of Erszebet's psychic overload. "Of New Mexico?" she said, her smile warming.

"You've heard of me then?" Juana said.

"Only your name, I'm afraid," Erszebet said. "I am Erszebet Farkas, Zoltan's cousin." Part of her was still irked at the fact she was identifying herself this way to people, but most people had become friendlier upon hearing it, and so she was going to milk it for every ounce of political worth.

"I guessed you were from his family. You look like him," Juana said, linking arms with her and starting to slowly perambulate around the edges of the room.

Erszebet had no choice but to follow. "Your family is much more... energetic than most of the other families here," she said, nodding in the direction of the band.

"We believe in celebrating the life," Juana said. "And Klotild had such a life. It would be a shame to weep and wail over it."

Recalling her own family's tendency toward somberness, Erszebet could only nod and smile.

"My cousin Lucia has married one of Klotild's grandsons, you know," Juana said in a confidential tone. "And, of course, in exchange, one of her brothers -- Diego, I think -- has gone to the Lakatos family. One of Kathalin's granddaughters has taken him in."

Erszebet warmed immediately, as, no doubt, Juana expected she would. The Farkas family was related to Klotild's Lakatos family by extensive intermarriage, and the alliance between the Zalazars and Lakatos meant that she and Juana were related. Erszebet had never heard of the Spanish clans marrying beyond the German and Italian clans before, and was intrigued. "Well, I am glad to know you, cousin," she said. "But such an alliance seems so unusual."

"In these days, cousin, the world is very small," Juana said, smiling. "The Zalazars have always sought to broaden ourselves. My mother is quite firm about it."

"A laudable goal," Erszebet said, thinking of her family and its many, many traditions of marriage and bizarre algorithms for calculating relatedness.

"Your clan is still primarily in Hungary, I understand," Juana said, a very slight upturn of tone indicating an interrogative.

"Oh, yes," Erszebet said, accidentally letting some of her gloom color her emanations.

Juana patted her hand and smiled again. "Here we are at the front of the room. Do let me present you to my esteemed mother?"

Erszebet could hardly refuse, since Juana was already moving them toward the knot of people that presumably hid the ancient Doña.

The round, effervescent woman with silvered hair who was revealed as the crowd parted was nothing like what Erszebet expected. She had the loveliest dark eyes Erszebet had ever beheld, and Erszebet thought she must have shattered hearts across the world during her lifetime. She smiled and very nearly shattered Erszebet's.

"Mother," Juana said, bowing to her mother, "be pleased, if you will, to meet our cousin, Erszebet Farkas. She is Zoltan's cousin, here for the family. Erszebet, this is my mother, la Doña Consuela Zalazar."

Erszebet sank into her best curtsy and rose to be offered la Doña's extended hand. "Cousin! These events are so dreary, and so necessary," she said, her Spanish accent discernable but not distracting, "and yet, they bring us such joy in new friends." Her grip was firm, like a businesswoman's, and she patted Erszebet's arm with her free hand. "How long do you stay with us on this side of the ocean?"

Erszebet said, "My mother and aunts asked me to stay only for the funeral."

"Oh, but that is no good!" Doña Consuela said. "Will you let me call your mother Rozsa and ask her if we may abscond with you afterward for a few weeks? There is so much more of this country you should see while you are here. It is so important to see the world while you can."

"O-of course, Doña, I would be pleased to accept your hospitality if my mother allows it," Erszebet said, taken utterly aback and glancing aside at Juana for guidance. Juana smiled and nodded, giving a little shrug.

Doña Consuela leaned close and said, conspiratorially, "She probably gave you those orders because on her trip over, she was whisked away by Griselda's sister Melicent, and she had a miserable time, pobrecita. But we shall... what is the saying, Juana?"

"'Show you a good time'?" Juana offered.

"Sí, sí, we shall show you a good time," la Doña said. "I will call her in the morning, I promise."

"Thank you, Doña, thank you very much!" Erszebet said, grateful for both the attention and the promise of seeing more of the country. "I was so disappointed when my mother asked me to return so quickly."

Doña Consuela patted her cheek fondly. "Have no fear, mi corazón," she said, and turned away to greet someone new who was urgently trying to get her attention.

Juana guided a dazed Erszebet away from the great lady. "Don't worry," Juana said, "she has that effect on everyone."

---

Author's Note:

Gah! Life! It keeps happening! Well, I can't argue too much about that, because much of it is good and exciting. But still, I will bust ass to get at least one of the full readings up this week.









Date: 2012-04-03 07:00 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
I'm a little overwhelmed by all of this (as Erzsebet seems to be).

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-04-04 02:44 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
It's a big event! I'm glad I'm able to convey the confusion. :) Thanks!

Date: 2012-04-04 01:37 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Ahahah Bela ref! Yes!

OMG might the lovely E play a role in Vol 3? Maybe?

Date: 2012-04-04 02:44 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
She might be off in New Mexico having a grand old time and getting wooed by the Zalazars, you never know.

Date: 2012-05-10 03:32 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Aw, the Zalazars are so lovely! Probably my favourite of the people we've met in this story so far.

I will say it's an interesting experience being inside the head of someone I haven't taken to immediately. I'm still warming to Erszebet; I like her well enough, but it's not the instant "Eeeeh, my kinsman!" feeling that I've had with a lot of the other POV characters.

A coup!

Date: 2013-02-27 07:56 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
They should instal la Dona as Grand Matriarch instead!

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