For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Aksinya and Ernst are dancing at his father's New Years party. Their conversation is very personal. Ernst suggests they go to a more private location...
“Come, we will converse in private.”
Aksinya pressed her lips together again, “Not without my chaperone.”
Ernst glanced at her. He hesitated a moment, “Very well.” He led Aksinya to where Natalya sat. Aksinya made a sign to Natalya. Ernst held to Aksinya’s fingers on his arm and took her back toward the parlor. He led her through the room and to the entrance to a smaller sunroom on the other side. The music from the ballroom still sifted to them. He touched the back of a chair and glanced at Natalya, “I wish to speak privately with the Countess. Would you sit here by the door? You can still observe us though the opening.”
Natalya glanced at Aksinya. Aksinya nodded to her. Natalya sat in the chair, and Ernst led Aksinya to the end of the sunroom. The small room was like an enclosed balcony. The outer wall was glass and overlooked a courtyard within the interior of the building. A low stone wall stood at the end as though the balcony had once been open, but the glass had been added later. He rested against the edge and held Aksinya’s hands. She pulled her hands from his and leaned on the top of the wall. The top was unfinished stone with some crumbling mortar in between. She picked at the loose pieces of it, “What did you wish to say to me that you couldn’t say in the ballroom?”
“The reason I am so interested in you.”
Aksinya toyed with the mortar, “I was about to tell you… you are interested only because of the sorcery. I understand that.”
He stared out at the darkened courtyard, “It isn’t the sorcery.”
Aksinya picked at the mortar a little more fiercely, “It has always been about the sorcery.”
“Why are you trying to tell me how I feel about you?”
“It is obvious. It is because of the sorcery. Isn’t that what you told me before?”
Ernst grabbed her hands and made her look at him, “It is obvious that I love you.”
Aksinya tried to pull her hands out of his and turned her face away, “It is obvious because of the sorcery. Don’t bring in such ideas as love.”
“I’m telling you, Aksinya. It isn’t the sorcery. I love you.”
“You…you used my name.”
“Sorry, I’m telling you, it isn’t the sorcery. It never was the sorcery. That was just an excuse I used to get close to you.”
“You said you were trying to accomplish sorcery, and you wanted me to teach you.”
“You said my courtier told you about me.”
“I heard about you from your uncle. He pointed me to your courtier. I don’t know why the subject of sorcery came up with him. I have been studying it. I have been completely unsuccessful. I know I can’t really do it. It requires a faith in the world I don’t have.”
“So you took my book just to get me to go to the ballet with you.”
“Your courtier said there was no other way to convince you. I wanted to get to know you. You are an astonishing person. In my mind, you are a perfect woman.”
Aksinya mumbled, “Ha, you know nothing about me.”
“But I do know a lot about you now. Everything I know, I love.”
The private conversation...this is the kind of event a chaperone isn't supposed to prevent, but must keep in check. Aksinya shows wisdom here. The Lady Natalya comes along--we knew she would. If you haven't guessed it already, the entire party was put together to support this very event.
Ernst leads Aksinya to an enclosed balcony--how romantic. Natalya can observe them through the opening.
I give you a detailed description of the place--this is important. I won't build too much here about the meaning behind the details, but you can see for yourself the metaphors I set in place. Aksinya will not hold Ernst's hands. She rests her hands on the top and plays with the rotten mortar between the stones--there is an intentional metaphor here. She asks the obvious question: “What did you wish to say to me that you couldn’t say in the ballroom?” If you remember, it wasn't what Ernst was going to say--it was what Aksinya was about to say. Ernst gets it. He wants to tell her: “The reason I am so interested in you.”
Now Aksinya tells us what she thinks about everything that has been going on with Ernst. This is very important, but it is not new information. We knew it from the beginning: "...you are interested only because of the sorcery. I understand that.” This was the reason Ernst gave from the beginning. This was the idea that held Aksinya back. This is why she kept asking for the books.
Ernst's answer: “It isn’t the sorcery.” Doesn't surprise her, she just thinks it is a lie. Ernst is becoming angry with her. I don't tell you this, his words show you this. Aksinya calls him on his statements, and he answers her straightforwardly. He says he loves her, but she still doesn't believe it. Aksinya can't imagine that someone would love her. Love is a strange thing to Aksinya. We aren't certain she understands what love really is at all. Then...Ernst uses Aksinya's name. That is a real faux pas, and very intimate, but he thinks, perhaps that will shock her into believing him. It shocks her, but doesn't work much--at least she listens to him.
We get an explanation from Ernst about some of the events that made him seek out Aksinya. We find that most of what he told her before was a lie. It was a lie he used to get close to her, but a lie none-the-less. And Ernst admits he lied. We discover the details of Ernst's interaction with the Freiherr and with Asmodeus.
Still, everything Ernst tells us, we knew already. We realized he loves Aksinya. We realized he stole her book to get her to go out with him. He thinks she is special and perfect. We know all this is temptation--temptation for Ernst and temptation for Aksinya. The kicker here is Ernst's confession (again): “But I do know a lot about you now. Everything I know, I love.” Alas, he doesn't know much at all.
Ah, love. Aksinya is wary. Natalya is wary. Aksinya should be. Natalya knows. Tomorrow, more of the lovebirds conversation on the enclosed balcony.