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His Faded Idol

10.

Erszebet slept like the dead during the next day. Apparently, even though she wasn't close to the action of the Circle of the Ancients, the work the Ancients had gone to in order to pull on the magic also pulled something -- her energy? her own magic? -- out of her. Or maybe the tension had exhausted her. She couldn't tell. She just knew that she was so very asleep that she was relatively certain she did not dream at all.

She dragged downstairs to Zoltan's apartment sometime around 4 pm, passing without comment several of his boarders, including a very striking young black man and an enormous brown-skinned woman who were chatting in the hall. She was fairly sure they stared at her, but she couldn't summon the energy to even bid them good day.

"You look terrible," Zoltan said cheerfully upon opening his door. "Come in. You need something to eat, I think."

Erszebet moved inside just enough to fold into her favorite comfortable chair in his living room. She rested her forehead on her knees and said, "I think I need someone to eat."

"You are fortunate, then, that I have a spare," Zoltan said, leaking good-natured amusement at her. He trotted off to his kitchen and returned with a handsome, clean-cut young man with pale skin and well-formed features. "Alexander here doesn't mind the affections of ladies," her host explained with a wink, and took himself back out of the room.

Erszebet rolled her head back against the chair and examined Alexander as carefully as she could in her present condition. He smiled, just a little nervously, and sat on the ottoman next to her chair. "Zoltan says that you're rather, um, depleted."

She raised her eyebrows. "You don't mind being passed to his cousin like... like..."

"A juice bag?" he said with a little laugh. "No, no, I'm, uhm, particularly interested in... in new experiences, and he, ah, knows it. He invited me over today because he thought you might be... needing a little help."

Erszebet didn't even have the energy to roll her eyes at Zoltan's imposition of thoughtfulness, and no energy to wonder about Alexander's definition of "new experiences". "I am sorry, I usually try to make this more, ah, personal, but I'm afraid my cousin is correct about my... depletion."
"Oh, no problem," he said, with an anticipatory gleam in his eye that might have put her off another time. He moved the ottoman close to the side of her chair.

She reached over, arm feeling like lead, and drew him in close. The fangs came more easily than they had since she was a young, immature 20-something. She licked his skin to anesthetize it and then punctured it neatly -- some clans preferred to nearly maul their donors, which always appalled her, but she supposed it to serve some marking service. Then she withdrew the fangs, closed her eyes, and focused on drawing his blood to her, just as the Ancients had been drawing magic (and other things) to themselves.

When the first drops spattered deliciously into her mouth, she immediately felt better, and, within a few moments, was able to slow her draw to a thin trickle that she could savor Alexander's energies seeping into her tissues. This went on for several minutes, until a whimper from him made her recall herself. She slowed the flow and then stopped it so that it could clot itself, and then pulled away from him.

He wavered there, eyes closed, a blissful expression on his face. She studied the expression curiously. She knew that various factors provided a rather enjoyable experience for both vampire and donor, but she wasn't certain she'd ever seen someone quite so... lost in the experience before.

"Are you all right?" she asked after a few more moments.

His eyes opened and he smiled slowly at her. "Oh, yeahhhh."

She leaped to her feet, suddenly very nervous around him. "Well, ah, thank you very much. Take care," she said, and fled incontinently into the kitchen. She pressed her back against the door and gave her cousin a wild look.

Zoltan smiled sympathetically. "It's a little... strange, no?"

"Is he your... your... boyfriend?" she asked, swallowing hard.

"Oh, heavens, no," Zoltan said, strolling over to her. "Just, ah, a person who has an interest in our kind. If you'll excuse me, I'll send him on his way." She stepped aside and he went into the living room.

She found a soda in the refrigerator and drank the whole thing in a few gulps. Zoltan slid back in a few moments later and found her sitting at the kitchen table, holding the cold bottle to her forehead.

"Headache?" he inquired, placing a couple of tablets next to her elbow. "Or should I say hangover?"

"It feels like a hangover," Erszebet grumbled, "but I didn't drink anything last night."

"No," Zoltan said, sitting opposite her, leaning back, and crossing his legs. "But the Ancients were just a tad heedless in their little conflict. So heedless, we could feel it at the far end of the convention center."

Erszebet downed the tablets with the last of her soda and eyed him suspiciously. "You are far too cheerful. Klotild's fears were true, no?"

"Oh, yes," Zoltan said, smiling and humming a tune.

"There will be a great civil war, then?" Erszebet said to the tabletop, feeling obscurely guilty for sharing her historical knowledge with people.

"Oh, no," Zoltan said, his smile growing.

"What?" Erszebet said, forgetting her headache.

"The entire Cotyngham Household and every associated Household decamped first thing this morning," Zoltan said. "Charming Griselda and her many daughters are en route to Chicago as we speak."

Erszebet goggled at him, still not entirely comprehending.

Zoltan took pity on her. "Griselda, I think, took the hint of the challenge. She could stand up to, say, Consuela alone. But with both Consuela AND Geneviève against her, who were proven to be her magical equals, and who are, she knows, much more connected and popular than she is? No. Instead she retires to her stronghold and continues to be a... pain in the ass for whoever the next Grand Matriarch is."

"So Klotild did underestimate her fellow Ancients," Erszebet said, a little dazed.

"Yes, I think so," Zoltan said, and grinned. "I have always thought so."

"And you are cheerful because...?" Erszebet said, though she knew.

"Because I successfully upheld my oath to Klotild," Zoltan said complacently, "and I still don't have to put up with that hateful old bat."

She got up and kissed his cheek. "I am, I think, beginning to see why my mother sent me to you."

"I have always been such a good education for young cousins," Zoltan said, kissing her cheek in return. "Go, dress. We must get to the center to find out who the new Grand Matriarch will be."

---

Author's Note:

I wanted to remind everyone that these ARE vampires we're talking about. :)








Date: 2012-05-09 11:30 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Vampires! yeah.

Date: 2012-05-10 02:03 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Whee! Vampires!

Date: 2012-05-10 02:32 am (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
Zoltan is definitely pleased with himself (and with good reason).

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-05-10 02:04 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Perhaps excessively so, but if I suddenly discovered I wasn't going to have to wrangle someone like Griselda, I'd be pretty pleased with the world too.

*sigh*

Date: 2012-05-10 07:36 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
People are always assuming a boyfriend/girlfriend where such is not the case.

Re: *sigh*

Date: 2012-05-10 02:05 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
To give her credit, Erszebet really wasn't at her best...

Re: *sigh*

Date: 2012-05-10 04:22 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Also to her credit, Zoltan did mention that he preferred to call his regular donors "boyfriends". Erszebet has no way of knowing who's a regular and who isn't.

Date: 2012-05-10 04:23 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Oh god. I've caught up. What do I do now?!

Date: 2012-05-10 11:09 pm (UTC)
akycha: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akycha
A juice bag! Oh, dear.

I can't help remembering Maelstrom's advice re: people who want to eat you.

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