Author's note: This story is 15 moments in the lives of Austria and Hungary, as broken down in the subtitle. I'm writing it out of order to get the historical points as accurate as possible while I research, so as I finish the next moment in sequence I'll upload it. I just couldn't wait to start sharing now.
I'm uploading each moment as it's own chapter for your reading ease and convenience. Each set of moments also gets a line from my favorite sonnet, Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. Don't worry, I'll repeat the set title with each chapter. I hope you enjoy.
If any of my German is incorrect, message me and I'll update it. I do my best mais je parle français et anglais.
I'll also be bumping up the story rating as the chapters progress. Last moment we do this M style, because these two don't get enough loving.
Five things Austria and Hungary shared with the world,
Four moments they kept to themselves,
Three times they said nothing,
Two times Hungary needed Austria,
And one time Austria did something about it
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Five things Austria and Hungary shared with the world
8 June 1867
When she was little, Elizabeta used to run up and down the large rooms in Buda Castle; such childish activities wouldn't be possible wearing the dress she had been put into for today.
It wasn't that today wouldn't be good for her country; she knew it would be. Hungary would get back some of the autonomy they had lost over centuries, and be able to regain some of the importance it had once held in the world. That would be nice.
And the new queen of Hungary was lovely; Elizabeta was so glad she was waiting with her. Elizabeta quickly learned that the Austrian empress loved Hungary more than she had ever loved Austria, which had caused the Hungarian country to snicker. All of the ladies-in-waiting were Hungarian, like Elizabeta, and they all spoke in Hungarian as well. Which was helping to calm the country's nerves.
"Elizabeta, come here please my darling," the queen asked gently. Elizabeta obliged her, turning from the window where people were beginning to gather, to join her new ruler.
As she made the short journey, Elizabeta caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her hair had been piled high on her head, with jewels pinned here and there. Her dress was gorgeous, all white, every bit feminine, which only made her feel like an impostor. But it sparkled when she moved, along with the elegant jewelry that adorned her skin, and she liked that part.
The queen held out her hands, which Elizabeta took gratefully. "Are you nervous?" she whispered in Hungarian.
She allowed herself a small, nervous laugh. "A little? Should I be?"
A gentle squeeze of the hands. "Nein. No, Mr. Edelstein is reserved but good. He will demand nothing of you, and expect nothing in return."
"But-" That one word had left her lips before she could stop it. The queen raised an eyebrow on her young face; Elizabeta would have to continue. "But what if he does not like me?"
As the doors to the room were opened by a servant, the queen laughed. It did not make Elizabeta feel any better.
When the women were escorted from the room, the ladies-in-waiting accompanying them, the queen linked her arms with Elizabeta. "My darling, you have nothing to fear. I hear that Mr. Edelstein is already quite taken with you, though he will most likely not admit to such things. But he is Austrian and feels he must uphold a certain standard; do not be discouraged. Once you are married, you may spend all your time with me, while he stays with the emperor."
Married, Roderich thought as he sat next to the piano. He was going to be married. Not now, of course; during the day would be the coronation of the Emperor of Austria as the King of Hungary. The wedding was set some time later in the evening, an event Roderich could not be excited for.
The room he was in was large and beautiful decorated. A servant finished setting out tea he would be too nervous to drink before bowing and leaving, the door closing behind her. He was finally alone to think.
Days had taken to both flying by and dragging painfully slow. Some days Roderich wanted to get the wedding over with quickly, to save himself the embarrassment he knew he'd feel when he met his new wife, when she realized she didn't like him, when she'd leave him and never see him again. Other days he tried to make time stand still, to still hold onto the thought that maybe, if they could have had more time, she would actually like him.
He had been kind to her, hadn't he? In the past they had never quite been equals, and, never being a great talker, he had spent little time with her. Once, she had told him she enjoyed hearing him play the piano; Roderich's response was to tell her to stop wasting time when the house needed sweeping.
Face met palm. No, he hadn't been kind.
As they approached the bottom of the staircase, Elizabeta's heart began beating faster and faster. No one had ever noticed her this way before; and clearly, no one had ever noticed the way she had looked at Roderich Edelstein before.
The coronation had taken place without her presence; after it was over, the new queen had come to Elizabeta's room. Elizabeta had been afraid everyone would be angry with her, but the young queen had simply smiled and said it was alright to be nervous on her wedding day, and to not want to be seen until the wedding.
But there was still one more hurdle to overcome before the wedding, one that could not be avoided: the new king and queen would be presented to the public in Budapest, along with the to-be-married countries.
She had practiced this for days to ensure it went over smoothly. She'd take Roderich's arm, and together they would follow the royal couple onto the balcony, where they would wave and be presented, before being whisked away to the church to be married. After that she could return to the queen. She did not have to stay. Everything would be fine.
At the bottom of the staircase the emperor had already taken his wife's arm, and was leading her to the balcony. And there he stood, staring at his feet, that Austrian country she had both dreaded and looked forward to seeing again.
Her foot stepped off the bottom step; the moment hung in the air as she looked at him, his head coming up to finally take her in. Outside the crowds were cheering. No one was watching them; no one else saw the look on his face. No one else heard him say two words she almost thought he hadn't said.
"Verlockend schön." Beautiful.
Air caught in her lungs and she leaned forward, towards Roderich, towards something she yearned for but could not have. He caught Elizabeta's arms, steading her, a fire burning in his eyes as he took her in.
Behind them an official cleared his throat.
With that, the moment was gone. Roderich took her arm, linking it with his. The Hungarian sighed inwardly; how perfectly the two limbs fit together.
"Are you ready?" the man asked in nervous Hungarian, his Austrian accent too thick to be convincing.
"Ja," she replied, taking one last look at those caring violet eyes before turning her head forward, set on what she must do.
The crowd cheered loudly as they stepped forward. Roderich watched men take off their hats, women put down their parasols. Children were dancing.
In all his years, this was something altogether too much for him. To his right, he knew the king stood, ready to retire for the day as soon as possible. To his left, his bride waved warmly at her people.
There was an affection in those green eyes, a love that made him jealous. She looked beautiful in the low sun, her hair radiant, her jewels glistening. But it was that smile and those eyes that he would always remember.
It was the way she looked at him, noticing him and giving his hand a squeeze, so caught up in the moment, that he would always remember.