AN: (mustering up my best Charlie Brown voice) "Chreeeeestmas time is hereā€¦", which means writing time is down to about nil and has been, obviously, for the last several weeks. What with some vacation time coming up soon, hopefully that will change. In the meantime, here's a little treat for y'all to thank you most kindly for your patience! (smile)
And many thanks to PippinBaggins for putting the idea in my head (chap. 52 of I Was King of Narnia)!

Post Royale

"Peter! I can't believe you said that!"

Lucy's shocked whisper made Peter start and drew his attention from the chessboard where he was fiercely concentrating on keeping his queen safe from Edmund's encircling advance. He met her astonished gaze and frowned, puzzled. Susan looked up from her book and regarded him with a small, amused smile pulling at her lips, and Edmund sat across the table in full smirk mode, his deep brown eyes sparking with delight.

"What?" Peter asked, entirely confused and feeling pricks of irritation at their silent mirth. He knew words had come from his lips, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember their exact composition. "What did I say? What?"

Lucy closed her still open mouth, took a deep breath, and opened it again to speak when Edmund reached over and picked up a battered envelope that Peter just now noticed lay helter-skelter across the tabletop, almost as if it had been thrown. His brother held it up, waved it a bit in the air, and delicately lifted an eyebrow, that wicked little smile never leaving his face.

"The Macready just stepped in. Said we'd received a letter. And d'you know what happened?" He paused to snicker a bit, and Lucy seized her opening.

"You didn't even look," she said, "Just went on thinking. And then," she hopped up from her nest next to Susan on the settee, "you did this..."

Coming over to stand beside Peter's chair, she wrinkled up her nose and stared down at the chess pieces, clearly trying to imitate her eldest brother in the throes of total engrossment. Peter felt a sudden stab of dread as his youngest sister intoned, "Very well, Palomnus, just leave it on the table like a good faun," while waving her hand in what barely passed for a distracted dismissal.

"Oh, sweet Lion," Peter groaned, sitting back in his chair and covering his now flaming face with his hands. "I didn't."

"You did," Edmund said, glee evident in every line of his body. "And boy, was the Macready stunned. I don't think she knew quite exactly what to say - she stood there for a bit with her mouth working and her cheeks red and then tossed the letter down on the table and took her leave, still huffing. I'd be prepared to go without supper tonight if I were you."

The oldest Pevensie peeped through his fingers at his brother and uttered a deep, heart-felt sigh before letting his hands fall back in his lap. "Well, it's nothing more than We deserve for forgetting Our place," he said with a twinkle in his blue eyes.

"I'll sneak you something," Lucy promised, patting Peter's arm sympathetically.

He smiled at her and kissed her small hand. "A hero, Lu, as always," he said.

"Goodness, Ed," Susan said suddenly from the settee, "Whatever is the matter?"

Edmund had turned the letter over and was now staring pale-faced at the return address written on the front. "Well, now," he managed, and his voice was hoarse. "That's handwriting I haven't seen in years."

He glanced back up, and though his expression was composed, his lips trembled. "It's from our parents."