Elska - Chapter 7 by Acton Bell

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"Your pardon." The inflection in L'u-cif-er Be'eth Zhazar's voice changed mid-word from House Formal First to House to un-Housed Formal Second as he caught sight of the band that both held back Kara's long red-brown hair and denoted her position. "Dsk," he added awkwardly as he bent to help her pick up the disks that had fallen from her hands when he'd bumped into her.
"Granted," she said. "And, thank you House Son." She waited for him to hand her the last disk. She wanted nothing more than to return to her rooms to work after a particularly trying encounter with the dsk of House Fe'nix. She had dealt with his kind before, a dsk who saw every other dsk as both competition and a personal challenge. Finally a threat to boycott any business dealings brokered by him had convinced him Kara wanted nothing to do with him.
But instead of handing her the disk, the young man said hesitantly, "You are Dsk Kara of House De'enth?"
Kara's brows raised for an instant in surprise, then quickly lowered. The inflection was child to House elder, an inflection used only between House members, never to one who was not a member of the family. Surely the House Heir realized he had opened himself to inexcusable intimacy. She could not answer him in the same, so she said, "True" in House neutral.
The House Heir's tawny eyes met hers for an instant then darted away. "De'enth House Daughter Ilith is...." His words trailed off. Then more firmly in House Formal to Guest he said, "Is there more that House L'u-cif-er may do to ensure De'enth House Daughter's comfort?"
Ah, thought Kara. Ilith has conquered the Heir. There was pride in the thought. Kara was not House De'enth, but she was House servant, and it pleased her that the girl she thought of in her own heart as a younger sister had caught the attention of the Heir.
It was a mutual interest. Ilith had come prepared to like the Heir, but Kara had seen that she was attracted to the young man behind the position. Zhazar had neither the firmness of character nor the charisma of Kaen, but he was both kind and intelligent. From Kara's vantage point as one of the Walking Invisible, she had seen him navigate well the hazards of House protocol the past week. He had slighted no one; no mean feat considering the disparity between the Houses present. He would make a comfortable sort of husband for the more volatile Ilith.
There was not elska between them. Kara was sure of that. Ilith had shared every nuance of every conversation and encounter she had had with the L'u-cif-er brothers. She would not have failed to mention that. No, these two would have to settle for love and affection, and not the soul-searing perfection and pain of elska.
"House Daughter Ilith is most pleased with the attention House L'u-cif-er's Heir pays to her comfort," Kara said bluntly.
House Son L'u-cif-er's face brightened, heightening his resemblance to Kaen. Kara resolutely pushed the pang of pain aside as she waited for him to speak again. He seemed about to, then stopped as if unsure of what he wanted to say.
Kara sighed inwardly. She could only hope House L'u-cif-er's heir conducted House business more confidently than he did the business of the heart. Then she softened as she looked into the young man's nervous face. It had taken great courage to approach another House's dsk on a personal matter. Though Kara was Ilith's official companion, it was not the usual order of things. "Would it please the House Heir to hear me speak of House Daughter Ilith?" she asked unconsciously using the inflection of House elder to House youth.
The wide smile that flashed over his face was his mother's. Then he sobered, saying in perfect House Formal, "It pleases the Heir."