Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Narnia or its Four Sovereigns. Only Palomnus is mine. So suing will get you nowhere and no money, 'cause I don't have any.
A Cup of Cambric Tea
He was suffocating. The blow of a giant's war club had crushed his chest, and he was suffocating, drowning in his own blood, dying. The world around him faded, graying into a horrible shade, dirty-white and foggy. He fought, straining through his agony for breath, the pressure inexorable and the pain unbelievable. He knew his lips moved as he struggled to speak, but the words circling in and around him were not of final wisdom or parting command. Can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe…
Slowly, through the heaviness in his chest and the panic in his mind, he felt the dream beginning to loose its hold and the mist beginning to clear. His eyes opened abruptly and he lay still for several long moments, his sanity scrabbling for purchase against his nightmare. Long, strong fingers gripped the silken bedclothes, the knuckles whitened, and beneath the sheets, a powerful body curled in upon itself, wracked with tension.
Minutes ticked by, and Peter, High King over all kings in Narnia, gradually began to relax as his surroundings became real to him once more. Eventually, the young warrior sat up in bed, one hand massaging the muscles of his chest in a vain effort to relieve the painful effects of his recent injuries. A dull weight remained, however, and Peter fell back onto his pillows with a sigh. The court doctors had advised him to rest as much as possible when suffering these attacks and to bathe in warm, lavender or peppermint-scented water while inhaling the steam, but he refused to wake his valet, Palomnus, over something as foolish as a bad dream.
Sitting once more, Peter rested his elbows on his updrawn knees and tried to focus his thoughts on something other than the mechanics of breathing. Moonlight poured in through the multi-faceted windowpanes of his bedchamber, casting odd shadows over the stone walls and parquet floors. His eyes moved restlessly over the furnishings and décor surrounding him, seeing but uncomprehending the shadows of his cloak carelessly tossed over a chair, maps and instruments littering the small campaign table that had been with him through countless engagements and crusades, the solid mass of his wardrobe across the room; dark shapes of hanging tapestries. He took a sudden, deep breath, feeling sweet oxygen enter his lungs for a fleeting instant, but it was not enough.
"Oh, Aslan, most merciful," he found himself praying, with a tinge of desperation, "grant me peace. Help me." As he always did when distressed, Peter thought of being with the Lion face to face and looking into his fathomless golden eyes. The love he found there never ceased to bring him comfort. He swung his legs out from under the cool silk and stood, stretching to his full height with his hands clasped over his head. Undoing the catch of the windowpane was but the work of a moment, and the High King braced his arms on the sill, gratefully leaning out into the brisk night, far-flung sea spume tickling his nose.
He did not know how long he stayed there, feeling the light breeze brush against his skin, watching the Narnian stars burn in the heavens. He found could breathe a bit easier in the fragrant air, and he felt himself calming, the aftershocks of his nightmare vanishing. A night bird sang in the distance, and Peter smiled. He would gladly sustain a thousand such wounds and endure myriad horrors if it meant keeping his kingdom and his people safe. By the Lion's Mane, how he loved Narnia!
A soft creak broke through his musing, and Peter turned, startled, to see his door open bit by bit, as if the person behind it was being very careful of making too much noise. A hand gripping a lit taper came through first, followed by the lithe figure of a young woman, clad in a soft dressing gown. The flickering candlelight glinted in her light brown hair, which was bound back in a long braid, and her blue eyes looked curiously towards Peter's canopied bed, surprised to see it empty.
"Lu?" he asked, confusion lacing his question, "Is something amiss?"
"No, my lord," she replied, seeing him finally and moving to join him, "I was simply unable to sleep and felt I would see if you were resting quietly. You have not been yourself in these past few days."
Peter turned back to the window, supposing he shouldn't be surprised that his sister would notice and come to see what she could do to help. His chest hitched slightly as he wrestled with inhaling, and Lucy put her hand on his arm. "Peter?" she queried, concerned. "Are you well?"
He shook his head decisively. "Yes!" he managed, bracing himself against the stone windowsill, "I am in no danger, madam. Please don't worry for me."
"But I must, Peter," she said, and amusement now colored her voice, "For you certainly do not worry for yourself!"
He gave her an irritated look, which she returned with a merry smile, "Come, my lord," she said, "If you will stubbornly snub a steam-bath, then let us go down to the kitchens. I will make you a cup of cambric tea, after which you will breathe freely and sleep as soundly as a newborn babe."
"Which in truth isn't very sound," the High King retorted, reaching for his dressing gown and shrugging it over his broad shoulders. "For they cry constantly to be fed."
Lucy, leading the way to the door, cast him a teasing glance over her shoulder. "And the difference is…?" she asked, laughing softly. Peter rolled his eyes. "The wit of a jester, my sister," he complained good-naturedly, following her out.
As the two entered the passageway, the young queen turned to her right and spoke. "Here he is, Palomnus," she said, and another figure carrying a lit candle stepped forward.
"How now, what's this?" Peter asked, although he had half expected to see the entire household waiting outside his bedchamber. To his mind, the members of his court had taken of late a rather inordinate interest in their High King's health, and their passionate concern simultaneously frustrated and touched him deeply.
"Forgive my forward actions, your highness," his valet said, bowing from the waist, "but I woke suddenly and could not avoid hearing some small sounds of distress from your royal majesty's chamber. As I perceived you might treat more gently with an offer of aid from your valiant sister than from your pesky servant, I appealed to her tender heart, and of her kindness, she went in to you."
Peter had folded his arms sternly during the faun's speech, but his attempts at a rebuking expression were failing miserably. Lucy was smiling openly behind her taper at her eldest brother's consternation. "He didn't disturb me," she said, "I spoke truly when I told you I was unable to sleep."
"Conspiracy and plots against me," Peter threw up his hands, "By the Lion, what king has ever had such subjects?"
"Or sisters," Lucy responded, taking hold of his arm, "but come, beloved, the kitchens await."