Chapter the Fifth: Blessings in Disguise
Too driven by curiosity to budge and possibly miss Susan's suitor and not at all anxious to be found by anyone less, the two kings of Narnia hunkered down to wait. Edmund ventured forth at one point to fetch more wine, but otherwise they did an excellent job of hiding for most of the day.
"So...where is he?" wondered Edmund, winning for the umpteenth time. Peter's mind was anywhere but on chess, for normally he was a formidable opponant.
"Maybe we should go find them."
"Oh, that would you endear you to Susan. Do try it, Peter."
Peter laughed. Narnia might call their elder queen 'the Gentle,' but her brothers knew better.
"I'm feeling rather dense, Ed. Exactly how do the inhabitants of Narnia get married?"
Edmund's hand paused over picking up the chess pieces again, his mouth open and his brow furrowed in a frown. "I...I honestly have no idea," he admitted, surprised with himself. "Now that you mention it, we've never been asked to an actual wedding. Not really, anyway. Just a lot of wedding feasts. Each species might have their own ceremony or maybe the feast is the ceremony. Perhaps they decide on someone they love and simply set up house together."
"That sounds far too easy. But it won't do. Not for a Daughter of Eve and a queen. Queens," Peter corrected quickly, catching himself.
"What do you mean?"
"Unless there's some type of ceremony for all the world to see, no one will believe Susan and Lucy are married in any way that's binding and we'll never see the end of the suitors."
"I'd like to see someone tell Oreius he's not married. That would be very educational for the speaker. And Tumnus - I'm certain he could get violent with that umbrella if adequately provoked." He grinned as Peter chuckled. "I'll consult the laws and histories. There has to be something in writing. If not here then in Anvard."
"Please do. If nothing suits we'll have to come up with something that does."
"Well, if I remember aright, judges could marry people in Spare Oom."
The younger king frowned, searching his memory. "Yes...and...sea captains, too."
"You'e the chief judge of Narnia's court system. You could marry them, Ed. That way everyone will be satisfied."
"I'll have to check but...it might just work. If not a king should at least have the power to wed people."
"Really. If the girls go for the whole idea of you performing the ceremony, of course."
Edmund waved a dismissive hand. "That's your job."
"Well," reasoned Peter,"they want to get married. They'll go for it."
"Then who will marry me?" squeaked Edmund.
"Lady Jule?" suggested Peter brightly.
"Will you stop going on about Lady Jule?"
"Why not? She's lovely and gracious."
"Then you marry her!"
"Certainly not! You're the one that's smitten with her, not me."
"I am not smitten."
"Well, you're certainly acting silly, so it must be love."
"All right Pevensie, that's IT!"
With a cry of mock anger he jumped to his feet, got Peter in a headlock and proceeded to mess up the High King's hair with his knuckles. Peter was laughing so hard he could offer little resistance and barely tried to defend himself against the attack. They were so intent on their horseplay that they didn't notice Oreius as he stepped up to the bower.
The Centaur stared in open astonishment as his kings acted like boys. All dignity abandoned, the two men tussled and laughed and behaved as brothers were wont to do until they were breathless. Then King Edmund realized they had an audience.
"Oreius?" Peter lifted his head too quickly and Edmund got smacked on the chin with the back of Peter's head.
Edmund let go to nurse his jaw while Peter rubbed his head.
It did not strike the Centaur as a very auspicious beginning, but he was a general and had lead armies against mighty foes, the least he could manage was to talk to these two men that had been his sovereigns, students, and friends since they had been mere boys. Taking a deep breath, he rallied himself and said, "King Peter. King Edmund. I would like-"
"Yes," Edmund interrupted, thinking to spare the incredibly, almost painfully, courteous and proper Oreius.
"And soon!" was Peter's emphatic addition.
"Peter wants his port back," teased Edmund.
"Why does everyone think I'm obsessed with the port?"
"Because you are! Why do you insist I'm in love with Jule?"
"Pax!" quoth Oreius in a stern voice, silencing them both with a demand for peace. They blinked as their call for peace amongst siblings was turned against them. Oreius clearly wished he had thought to use it years ago.
"Pax," agreed Peter.
Edmund nodded. "Pax."
They were all quiet for a moment, then Edmund said formally, "You have our blessing to marry Susan, Oreius."
Peter choked, seeing the surprised expression on the Centaur's face. Eyes wide, he hastily asked, "That is why you're here, isn't it?"
Edmund smacked a hand to his forehead, shielding his eyes as he realized his possible blunder and bracing himself for the worst, mentally planning a self-imposed exile to Archenland.
"Yes, Your Majesties. I have come to seek your blessings upon our union."
"Thank Aslan," muttered Edmund under his breath, saved.
"Indeed," Peter agreed. "Marry her, Oreius, and we wish you every happiness. All of Cair Paravel is at your disposal for the wedding."
Oreius let his breath out in a rush and the brothers realized how nervous their general had been throughout the interview. Suddenly Edmund broke into a broad grin and, smacking Peter to get up as he passed, he stepped over to the Centaur and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"Congratulations, Oreius," he said. "We wish you every happiness."
"Yes, and be welcome into our family," Peter grinned.
Oreius smiled his rare smile and they could see his pleasure and relief were genuine. "Thank you, my kings. If you will excuse me, I'll convey your happy words to your sister."
"Of course. We'll see you at dinner? Good," said Peter before the Centaur could reply. "Oh, and if you see Tumnus before we do, please send him this way so we can tell him the same thing we just told you."
"Yes, please!" chimed Edmund.
Oreius bowed, looking happy and a little confused. They watched him leave at a trot, his armor flashing in the late afternoon sun.
"Our brother wears horseshoes," Peter murmured, a little stunned as the truth of the situation settled in upon him.
Edmund snorted. "And the other brother wears a scarf in the summer. And they both have tails."
The High King smiled. "Ah, Narnia and her infinate variety."
They sat down again and Peter poured them fresh wine.
"To our dear and lovely sisters," saluted Edmund with heartfelt emotion, "and their lucky swains whom we'll get to call 'brother.'"
Peter lifted his goblet to Edmund's. "Aslan's blessing upon them and us."
"We're next, you know."
Peter raised a finger to his lips. "Shhh."
And they laughed for the pure joy if it.