I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. I just have trouble keeping my little typing fingers away from them.
Author's Note: This is a sequel to my other fic, The Sea and the Siblings, but only in the sense that I might reference some events from it and reuse a few OCs. You don't have to read it to understand this, in any case. I hope I can live up to the flattery you all bestowed upon me for it. And because I really hate it when author's notes go on forever, I have nothing more to say.
"It's only a small problem," said Peter, reaching across the table to snag a cluster of grapes from the fruit platter. "Just a few villagers complaining that there's a few unsavory characters lurking about. I can deal with it tonight and be back by morning."
Edmund scowled, using the back of his hand to wipe his running nose. Lucy dished a measure of potatoes onto his plate as he had yet to take any dinner for himself.
"Eat your dinner, Edmund," Susan told him.
"I'm not that sick, I can go with you," he said, ignoring her. Peter frowned.
"It's almost winter and it's getting chilly," he said. "You may not be that sick now, but if you ride out tonight, you will be. I know you usually come along on these little adventures, Ed, but I'm not risking your health for something I can deal with perfectly well on my own."
"But what if you can't?" protested Ed, sniffing loudly. Susan prodded his plate meaningfully and he shot her an exasperated look before stuffing some potato into his mouth. Taking advantage of this, Peter continued.
"I'll be taking some soldiers with me anyway," said Peter. "And even if none of them can use a sword like you, I should think between me and a half dozen centaurs we could handle a little disturbance."
Edmund swallowed his potato and glared.
"It's not a matter of being capable," he said. "It's a matter of having someone there to make sure you don't do anything spectacularly idiotic."
"Then I'll go," interjected Susan. Before either of her brothers could interrupt, she defended herself. "I'm a good archer, and I know my way with a light sword. I haven't been out of the castle in ages, Edmund is sick, and apparently we need someone to keep Peter from killing himself. So before either of you begin any speeches no doubt grounded in gender-based stereotypes, think about that."
Lucy chuckled as Peter shrugged and resumed his supper, while Edmund floundered for a good response. Lucy knew he hated being left behind, and suggesting that Susan go probably wasn't making him feel any better. But, she reflected, Peter was right; Edmund had been on the very cusp of illness for the past week or so, and a night out in the chill could be the deciding factor that pushed it into something more serious than congestion and a bad attitude. They finished their meal with talk about other things, and finally Peter rose from his seat and nodded to Susan.
"We'll leave in about twenty minutes," he said. Then, to Edmund and Lucy, "If you want to send us off, meet us down in the courtyard then."
"All right," said Lucy amiably. She stood, pulled Edmund to his feet, linked elbows with him and marched him out of the room before he could object to anything else. He scowled but allowed himself to be steered out into one of the castle's many hallways and down a ways, until she was sure Peter and Susan had escaped to the armory. Then she let go of her brother's arm, smiled brightly, and asked, "So what would you like to do tonight?"
"Oh, bother it all," he muttered tetchily. "Maybe I'll go look at some of that paperwork I've been ignoring."
"You do that," said Lucy.
"See you later, then," he said, and turned to walk off.
"Don't forget to say goodbye to Peter and Susan," she called after him.
"They're fully capable of leaving if I'm not there," he said, turned the corner, and was gone. Sighing, Lucy wondered vaguely what she would do with the twenty minutes she had, since Mr. Tumnus had left to tidy his home before the winter came and it became much harder to do so. She decided to see if the kitchen staff could use any help with the washing up. Heading off down the hallway, she made her way through several corridors and down several staircases before she was pulling open the doors to the great kitchens. Inside it was warm and welcoming, with the towering stone fireplaces housing only smoldering embers and about a dozen servants up to their elbows in suds and chatting merrily. At Lucy's entry, they looked over and quickly took to bowing and curtseying.
"What can we do for you, Your Majesty?" a female faun with rosy cheeks asked.
"I came to help with the dishes," she said. As usual, there was a flurry of "oh no, you really needn't"s and "really, we can handle it"s, and as usual, Lucy ignored them, deflected their protests and walked over to the sinks. She rolled up her sleeves and took to drying the sudsy dishes until the servants finally gave up fluttering about and went back to work with her among them. Fifteen minutes later and with the dishes almost completed, Lucy excused herself and left the room.
She dried her hands on her skirt as she walked. Out of habit, she used her thumbs to trace the two thin scars that ran across her palms. It had been more than a year since the incident with Zale in the fallen castle, and she still carried the marks from the magic-infused glass that had cut through her hands when she had destroyed the corrupting magic within the mirror. She thought they were ugly; her siblings told her they were a symbol of her courage and resource in that desperate time, and so she bore them willingly. The wounds had ceased to inhibit her movement in any case.
Lucy stopped by her chambers to don a cloak before heading out to the courtyard. It was nearing wintertime and certainly a bit nippy, so she selected a thick woolen one and wrapped it around her shoulders, then made her way down more stairs and out into the small courtyard on the south end of the castle from which she was sure her brother and sister would be departing. Sure enough, when she arrived they were already preparing to set off. Peter and Susan were seated upon two fine horses, the former with Rhindon strapped to his hip and the latter with her bow and arrow and a short sword. Both wore armor and royal Narnian regalia. Behind them were five powerfully-built centaurs, all equipped similarly, and they bowed when Lucy came running towards the group.
"Do be safe," she implored her family, reaching up to clasp arms with first her sister and then her brother. Peter smiled warmly and bent to ruffle her hair.
"Don't worry," he said. "We'll be back in the morning. Expect us just after sunrise or so."
"Where's Edmund?" asked Susan, sounding a little hurt. Lucy frowned.
"He said he was going to look at some paperwork," she said. "Maybe it was something important."
"Oh," said Susan, seeming nonplussed, but she brought her horse around to face the open gate anyway.
"Tell him goodbye from us then, I suppose," Peter told Lucy. She told him she would, kissed both her siblings goodbye, and then they had taken off at a gallop. She stood by the gate a little longer, enveloped by the growing darkness, until she could no longer see them along the cliffs and the gatekeepers closed the Cair for the night.
Sighing, Lucy turned and headed back into the castle.