A/N: Didn't leave you waiting so long this time ... ;) hope you're still enjoying this little love story. Do let me know!
Oh, and chapter 9 of What Happened At Farford is out ... I'm not sure if the email alert function worked
Early in the morning after the memorial the Narnian army broke camp at Ettinsrock and started on their way home. Much to his siblings' joy High King Peter decided to hand over the responsibility for his troops to Esther, their captain, so he could fly home with his siblings on the griphons' backs.
The small party left just after dawn, and all the time as they flew Medeha couldn't help feeling torn between looking forward to getting back to the comfort the castle provided, and dreading the moment she would have to bid her new friends – one in particular – goodbye.
They found Cair Paravel to be just as they had left it; calm and in peace. Peridan greeted them all happily in the courtyard at the main entrance and quickly updated them on the latest news. Nothing much had happened, the most significant maybe being that a letter had been received from Count Medane to High King Peter, presumably asking after his daughter's well-being, and another one to Medeha herself. Peridan handed them both each a thick roll of parchment. It was still about an hour before the royal evening meal was to be held, and so Medeha excused herself to read her letter in private.
Despite the great time she had had in Narnia, she began to feel homesick at reading her father's kind words and thought that maybe it really was time she returned home to her family. She brought up the topic when they were sitting together to eat that same evening.
"I'll have my father invite you all to stay with us for a few weeks," she proposed in between courses. "I would love to show you my home and have you be our guests for a change. And it should give you a fine opportunity to speak to my father about what happened in the north – rather than just writing to him about it. You'll be able to explain the situation with the giant I killed much better that way, don't you think?"
Peter nodded thoughtfully at her suggestion. "You're absolutely right, Medeha. I'd much rather speak to him in person about that. The only thing I'm worried about is that I wouldn't want to leave Peridan here with the responsibility of having to look after state affairs for a prolonged period of time. After all, he is probably busy enough as it is, with all the duties he currently has."
Medeha noticed that the High King was looking very weary that evening and she was suddenly reminded of the morning when she had first spoken to him – the day after the feast, when he had been sitting at breakfast, looking tired and disheveled. Now he was in no state of disarray, although very comfortable clad, but he was looking a lot more exhausted than he had on that very morning.
"That's not something you should be worried about, Sire," said Peridan. "Unless there will be more trouble rising up in the north, I feel perfectly confident about being in charge for a couple of weeks. You surely deserve – and need – a nice long period of recuperation – you've had a trying time of this winter."
"A holiday!" beamed Lucy, rising from her chair in excitement. "We've never had one since the beginning of our reign! Peter, please! Do let's go!"
Medeha smiled at Lucy. She had long since come to love the enthusiastic young queen almost like a sister and would be glad to have her around for a few weeks, this time her being the one showing her own home to her friends. She glanced over at Edmund, who was sitting next to her, wondering what he would think of it. He turned his head just in time to catch her glimpse at him and with a cheeky smirk playing around his lips, he winked at Medeha.
"It's a brilliant idea," he agreed. "I'd love to see more of Terebinthia than we did, back in the days when we went the first time. – Besides, Peter, it would be an excellent opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the counts – especially Medane, of course. But we might even get a chance to meet up with the others too."
"Well, I suppose it's settled then – we're going on a holiday," said Peter with a nod, trying but not quite succeeding to hide a happy grin at the thought. "Always assuming Medane will have us, of course."
Medeha noticed that at the idea of having a holiday, Peter, who had always seemed very serious to her, suddenly looked more relaxed than she had ever seen him. According to what Lucy had told her, he and Edmund must indeed have had a very difficult and tiring time for months. Later, when the two young ladies sat together by the fire, Lucy confirmed it once more.
"I do hope we can come and see you and your family on Terebinthia," she said. "I'd love to very much – and I know, so do my siblings." She gave an indignant snort. "Trust Edmund to come up with an argument about strengthening our relationship with the Terebinthian lords – not that there would be anything wrong with that, of course! But his most prominent motive to go would be you, there's no doubt!"
Medeha felt herself blush, and she smiled timidly. "I will talk to Father first thing when I'm home. Maybe you can come in early summer! Terebinthia is at its most beautiful then; green hills, the deep blue sea, crystal clear streams running through the woods. And –" she blushed very deeply, "– I do feel guilty about saying so, since you have been such formidable hosts yourself, but you'll just love the food! We've got a variety that I'm not sure not even Narnia could match."
Chuckling, Lucy patted her arm amiably. "I know, I remember thinking that very same thing when we visited last time. Don't worry about it, you're probably right – and I promise I'm not offended." She paused for a moment and then sighed. "Aslan knows it's all just what we need. It's been an awful time we've had of the last winter, and I long to see everyone perk up a bit. And wouldn't it do Peter some good? He's looking so haggard, did you notice?" She sighed again, looking deeply worried. "Actually it's high time you got to know his real personality. He's usually very much the merry type, you see?"
"I still find him most intimidating," Medeha admitted.
Lucy laughed. "Many do. But trust me, you won't after a couple of weeks on a holiday. He's the nicest person, really. It's just the responsibility he carries that makes him so tense and stern – especially in dire times." A conspicuous smirk suddenly appeared on the young queen's pretty face and she bent closer to Medeha and whispered, "but I shouldn't talk to you about Peter, should I, if you're really more interested in having some more time to spend with Ed."
Medeha felt her cheeks get hot, and she was sure she had blushed more deeply than she had just a moment before. But Lucy was right of course. Gladly, the kind young queen was too compassionate to tease her about it. Instead she put a gentle hand on Medeha's forearm and squeezed lightly.
"I can take you up to his chambers, if you want me to," she suggested.
"Oh no," said Medeha at once. "I couldn't be there alone with him, could I? But maybe we could send for him to be here with us."
"Not necessary," said Lucy with a grin. "He's going to be down here any moment, just after he's through with reading all the news reports from the west, that have come in during the last few days. I just thought you'd like to sit with him in his study while he's busy working through them, but since you so shy, I get to spend a little more time with you!"
"Oh …" Medeha felt a little stupid at having jumped to the wrong conclusions. "Well, I didn't know you were suggesting taking me to his study! But anyway, I wouldn't want to disturb his work."
Lucy patted her arm. "Don't worry, he'll be here soon enough! He wouldn't want to miss the opportunity of spending an evening with you now that you'll soon be off across the sea again."
Indeed, Edmund appeared around half an hour later, and not much after that, Peter and Susan came to sit with them as well.
Edmund made himself comfortable on the the settee, right next to Medeha, and their legs were touching all the way to their ankles, and when his siblings didn't look, he edged even a little closer so that she could lean against him. It was exciting, and she could feel her heart thump strongly in her chest at being so close to him.
Susan retired very early that evening, expressing her regret that she couldn't spend more time with Medeha, while secretly winking at her. Then she told Peter and Lucy that they had better get an early night too. Although it was true – the High King still had a very weary look about him – Medeha suspected that Susan just wanted to give their guest the opportunity to be alone with Edmund. Gladly, here in the kings' and queens' private sitting room it would seem perfectly innocent.
Not surprisingly, Lucy and Peter both retired shortly after their eldest sister, and Edmund shook his head at them after they had gone and chuckled. "I know they didn't want to make you uncomfortable – or me either – but still, they could just as well have said that they wanted to leave us to ourselves," he remarked. "Old dafties couldn't have been more obvious anyway."
Medeha nodded, but just as Edmund had said she was glad for the others' discreteness. Any comment on the situation would have made her highly uncomfortable. She wondered if Edmund thought the same, but he seemed more or less unfazed by his siblings' comments most of the time. Whether that was a mask or not Medeha was unable to tell.
Carefully as to not seem too cheeky she pushed herself even still a little closer to him on the settee, her slight movement causing him to turn his head and look at her.
If only she knew what he was thinking! But his face gave nothing away. Susan had told Medeha – and she had seen it for herself – how hard a time he had hiding anger or disagreement. But now, she couldn't read anything in his calm expression. She swallowed timidly and leaned in yet a little closer.
And so did he.
And then his lips brushed against hers in a brief, gentle kiss. It was little more than a peck really, but it was the sweetest sensation Medeha could remember having had so far; his lips felt soft and warm against hers and there was a faint spicy smell about him which she found immensely pleasing. She breathed it in deeply, vowing to memorise it for when she went home and keep it somehow until they were going to meet again.
It was around a fortnight after Medeha's departure that the Hyaline was due to be back. The atmosphere inside the castle of Cair Paravel had recently become a little tense again. A messenger had come from the north saying that some of the giant tribes had once more been seen along the Narnian border and there even had been a little fight here and there. Orieus had moved out again with a troop of reinforcements for the border, and the kings awaited word from him to arrive on any day now.
Peter's mood was on an all time low – he was uncharacteristically irritable and ill-tempered most of the time and Susan had mentioned several times that she feared he would decline to accompany his siblings to Terebinthia – if the invitation came.
Lucy hoped with all her heart that the uproar in the north would come to an end before summer. She didn't think it would be a proper holiday if they traveled to Terebinthia without Peter – and Aslan knew, their eldest brother needed some time to recuperate from the past months as much as the others, if not more!
Lucy was sat on a chest in the armoury, holding her bow on her lap and watching as her brothers got themselves ready for their morning training. With no guests to impress and just a light training set up by Esther, neither of the two was going for full armor. An iron-clad vest combined with iron gauntlets and a helmet were their garment of choice that morning.
"I wonder if Medeha will convince her father to invite for the summer months," said Lucy into the silence, making her brothers look at her.
Peter gave a small shrug while adjusting his gauntlets. "I hope we'll be able to accept the invitation if it comes," he replied. "There's no saying if the giants will calm until then. – Aslan's mane, Ed, do tighten the vest, it feels as if I'm going to lose it any moment," he added irritably, directed at his brother who had been doing the laces at his side.
"It's fine, Peter," said Edmund, sounding equally impatient. He had taken the most of his elder brother's grumbling lately and Lucy could tell that he was beginning to get sick of it. "If I tighten it further you won't be able to move properly and any opponent will have beaten you in a trice."
In reply Peter mumbled something under his breath that Lucy couldn't hear, but it made Edmund pull at the laces so strongly that the High King gasped.
Lucy giggled behind her hand, but stopped when Peter strode out of the armoury without so much as looking at either of his siblings.
"Lion's Grace!" said Edmund, knitting his brows. "Isn't he in a mood!"
"He needs this holiday more than any of us," said Lucy with a sigh. "To think the giants are raising up trouble again! I do hope Orieus can handle it."
"Not that if he can, that will convince Peter he won't be needed anyway," replied Edmund with a frown. "But we'll see. The Hyaline will probably be back tonight – then we'll see if there's going to be a holiday at all." He turned his side towards Lucy. "Since Pete has just stormed off, could you lace up my vest for me please, Lu?"
Lucy could and afterwards she accompanied her brother to the training grounds where she stayed to watch the whole morning training session.
It was around late afternoon when the first of the awaited messages arrived; just after the four sovereigns had sat down for their afternoon tea, Windbeater, the swallow, came with news from the north, getting in word from Orieus and his troops and assuring that all was under control.
Later a messenger was sent up from the port with news from Terebinthia. The Hyaline was indeed back and the young sailor the ship's captain had sent up to the Cair with a roll of parchment from Count Medane was greeted with joy and excitement. After the evening meal the four sovereigns sat together in their private room. Peter unrolled the parchment – as it had been addressed to him personally. He read it out loud to his siblings. After he had ended a cheerful yell escaped Lucy and she launched herself at her eldest brother.
"He invited us! Isn't it wonderful? Oh, I shall love sailing there and getting some time to explore the island. We had so little time the first time we went!"
"Yes, and it was a perfectly beautiful place to be," Susan added, a smile brightening her face.
"And Count Medane is a generous man, if I remember it correctly," Edmund added, looking very pleased too.
There was a hint of a frown on Peter's face when he replied, "Well, I suppose his generosity won't extend to not minding that we put his daughter at risk in Ettinsmore, Edmund."
"I'll explain everything to him," Edmund offered at once but Peter shook his head.
"No," he said. "I will take responsibility for that. I think it would help you building a better relationship with him if he considers me being the one who put his daughter at risk –" and at the words that followed now even Peter, who had been so ill-tempered lately, grinned broadly, "– seeing as you might end up asking him a very particular question at some point or other ..."
Edmund blushed a very deep shade of red at this, and Lucy couldn't help giggling. But before anyone else could say anything, she quickly asked, "Does this mean, Peter, that you're going to come with us for certain?"
Peter smiled at her. "I suppose I could do with a holiday. Orieus has reported that the northern border is under control, Peridan is more than capable of managing everything around the Cair … and Aslan knows I'd love to go to Terebinthia again." He winked at Susan, adding, "If I recall it correctly, there's no place – not even Narnia – where one does get better food."
"So it's settled then – we're going to Terebinthia this summer," cried Lucy happily and looked around at her siblings, seeing their faces shine.
A/N: As you might have noticed this is Edmund's and Medeha's story ... but if you like a little bit of fluff, you can read all about Peter's experiences on Terebintha in my shortfic Terebinthian Sun.