Author's Note: I had serious doubts whether as to posting this chapter or not. There are some other stories with this rating with this stuff in it. I'm just going to tell you that after the first part, things start to get a little bit graphic. You've been warned.
Warnings:Scenes of sexual nature, slight abuse of alcohol/wine, OOC-ness
Quote from Chapter: "Enjoy youself, Highne - I mean, Aglaia!"
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Aphrodisiac
"Are you sure we won't get caught?" she asked anxiously as she pulled on her dress. Thalia adjusted the straps on the Princess' dress.
"I'm quite sure," the nymph answered. "Do you remember who you are?"
"I'm a myrtle nymph whose name is Aglaia," she said dully. Thalia had insisted on taking up an alias - "You would not want your reputation ruined," she had advised.
"Good," Thalia said. She lightly rubbed flower petals on Aceline's neck and sprinkled a few on her hair. Her locks had been braided the night before and now hung in small waves, smelling of vanilla and roses (the closest she could get to smell like a nymph).
"Now come," the nymph said. Aceline took her hand, was led out of the room and towards the servants' entrance.
"Why are we going through here?" she asked.
"No one will see us," Thalia answered. They ran along the Great River, the moonlight giving the water a silvery look. She could see half a dozen nymphs a short distance away from the bend in the river. They somehow looked strange.
"Thalia!" a nymph proclaimed, with outstretched arms. Thalia giggled happily, and embraced the nymph.
"Aglaia," she said, "'tis my sister, Euphrosyne." Euphrosyne smiled at her, and - much to her surprise - kissed her cheek.
"Welcome," she said. "I do not believe I have seen you before."
"I am from the North," Aceline answered, imitating Euphrosyne's proper tone. "Near the River Shribble."
"You come a long way," one nymph remarked. "Here, have a drink." Out of nowhere, a goblet was produced, holding a wine that she thought looked a bit too thick. But she took it and drank deeply, the wine nearly scalding her throat because of its strength.
"'Tis strong, but thank you," she croaked. The nymph smiled - a beautiful smile, she thought - and laced her arm with hers. With much giggling (and drinking), they made their way to Dancing Lawn. The Princess felt deliciously giddy, and light-headed. But the wine had made her unusually clumsy (she wasn't a graceful girl while sober either, but she wasn't a klutz). She tripped on a risen tree root, and ripped her skirt. It was a pity since it had been made of a fine silk. The once ankle-length hem reached her knees.
"Oh, my dress!" she exclaimed, giggling.
"Do not worry," a Naiad said. "It shall be so dark that no one will notice." The Naiad kissed her cheeks, and Euphrosyne and Thalia took her hands. She nodded in acceptance.
"My sisters!" Euphrosyne proclaimed, looking happy. "We have arrived."
Aceline, if she strained her ears, could hear the sound of laughter mixed with singing. The small group stumbled onto Dancing Lawn. There was an assortment of fauns, and several young men were lying by bonfires, drinking many a goblet of wine. Nymphs arrived from all different directions. It was until a minute later that one faun stood - clumsily - and raised his goblet to them.
"My brothers! Our friends have arrived!" he said, and downed his wine. His speech was quite slurred, so it sounded something like, "My bruthers! Hour freinds haf arribed!" The Dryads and Naiads drifted off, and began a dance. Thalia called back to her.
"Enjoy youself, Highne - I mean, Aglaia!" She nodded, and ate a pomegranate a faun offered her.
Now, I cannot tell you what happened to Aceline in Aceline's words, simply because she couldn't remember. So, the remainder of this chapter shall be told from the only sober, and level-headed person there: Edmund.
Edmund watched the nymphs danced, transfixed. Around him, the males gazed in awe. Beside him, Peter downed his wine for the fifth time (or seventh; Edmund had lost track by now). The nymphs' skin shone like alabaster, their hair untamed, their movements graceful.
This was the brothers' first Aphrodisiac. They had overhead two fauns talking about it the alcove, and had insisted on knowing what they were talking about. After the story had been told, they had decided on going. ("But your Majesties will find it inappropriate," one faun had protested.) Peter, being High King, had overruled them, saying that they could decide that for themselves.
So, here he sat, watching nymphs as he had never seen them before.
A Dryad - she was a beautiful birch, with her pale lips curled upward and a wreath of flowers on her silvery head - walked to a faun and gently offered him her hand. He stood up, pressed her against himself, and smashed his lips on hers. They finally surfaced for air, and the faun led her away, looking triumphant. She followed submissively, but the just King had seen her face - it wore no look of defeat.
"Edmund," Peter breathed in his ear. He turned to look at his brother. The High King pointed to one of the nymphs. "She's beautiful."
He looked at the said nymph, and had to admit that she was very pretty. Her hair was dark, and somehow more tamed than the others. Rose petals from her rose crown floated down to the ground. Her skin was a creamy white. She stood in the middle of one of the circles (the nymphs had made three), and swayed to and fro, twirling with her arms aloft. The way she spun reminded him of someone...
Suddenly, she was dancing in front of them. Edmund was taken aback by the movement of her arms, and the swaying of her hips. Her hair fell in her face, making it impossible for her to be recognized.
Much to his surprise, Peter, always the true gentleman, looked at the nymph with a remarkable amount of desire. But there was something else in his expression that he couldn't really name. It was something similar to adoration. The nymph swooped down, and pressed her lips to Peter's, bold as you please. The High King's hand rose, and cupped her cheek, stroking it with his thumb. Their kiss wasn't like everyone else's; it was slower, and sweeter. They broke apart, and Peter pulled himself up, embracing her and touching her neck with his lips. Edmund smiled.
His brother led the nymph away, his hand entwined with hers. About fifteen or twenty feet away, she tossed back her hair. And in that moment, the moonlight showed a pair of violet eyes.
Violet eyes. Like Aceline's.
A crowd had unfortunately gotten in his way, so he couldn't see where Aceline and Peter had gotten to. He stood, and passed kissing and sighing couples, each new one making him feel uncomfortable. He wandered to a spot where trees were rather scarce. There, he saw something that surprised him more than anything ever could.
His brother's hands slid over his friend's hips, one hand resting on one of her legs. Her other leg was around Peter's waist. They kissed each other fervently, Peter occasionally straying to her neck, and her shoulders. He had Aceline pressed against a tree, a fact that she didn't seem to mind. The girl trailed kisses along his jaw, to which he responded by tugging on the laces on the back of her dress. The two fell to the ground, with Peter on top of Aceline.
Edmund was too shocked to move. He had known that the two loved each other. Hell, he had been the first to know. But now, as he saw them, he knew that he to do something before things got out of hand.
He ran towards them, and pulled Peter off of Aceline. The High King was irritated by this.
"Get off of me!" he yelled, wrenching himself from his brother's grip.
"Peter, you don't want to do this," Edmund said, trying to calm his brother down.
"Yes I do!" he slurred, and looked towards the lying figure of Aceline, who had crossed her legs, so her dress fell back, exposing her thighs. She was giggling. She stood up, and began to dance away. Peter lunged for her, but only caught the hem of her dress. Part of it came away in his hands, and Edmund watched him as he held the piece of blue fabric in his hands.
"Get back here!" Edmund ordered as his brother ran off after her. A second later, a fist collided with the side of his face, sending him to the ground. Peter stood over him, his eyes showing his drunken anger. He bent back his leg to kick him, but a faraway giggle made him run in the opposite direction. Edmund was dazed from the force of the punch. By the time he was standing up, they were already several hundred feet away.
Aceline and Peter seemed to be playing a game of cat and mouse. The girl twirled out of the High King's grasp everytime he came too close. But he didn't seem to mind; he was actually laughing. He finally managed to get her, tackling her to the ground. He pinned her arms down, and rained kisses on her. He, yet again, pulled Peter off of Aceline. And, yet again, Aceline giggled in that annoying way, while Peter looked ready to kill him.
"Sorry, Peter, but I have to do this." He punched Peter hard enough to knock him out. Aceline seemed to think that the two were fighting over her. She cackled merrily, and clapped her hands together. Seeing Peter on the ground, she laughed again, and made to kiss Edmund. But the King grabbed her, and drew her arms to her back. Have you ever seen a person getting arrested? It rather looked like that.
Aceline started to fight as soon as her mind registered what was going on. She tried kicking him, and almost succeeded in kneeded him in the groin. He swung the girl over his shoulder, wincing every now and again when she hit his back too hard.
"Calm down, Aceline. Look, I'm putting you down."
True enough, he set her on the ground, and she started to grin again. She tried to kiss him, but he slammed a rock to the the side of her head, causing her to become unconscious.
"Funny. I actually would have wanted that at one point," he muttered to himself. Unknown to everyone, he had actually fancied Aceline when he had met her. But he had gotten over her as soon as he realized that Peter had a crush on her.
He sat under a tree, head in his hands, making sure that neither of them woke up and chased the other. He had moved them a good distance apart, Peter under an apple tree, Aceline under a lime tree. He saw a figure approaching Aceline's tree, and promptly stood up, thinking his brother might have woken up. Edmund ran, and grabbed the person from behind. The figure gave a yell - one that was neither Aceline's nor Peter's.
"Unhand me!" The voice was female, and he knew it to be a nymph's, due to the showery tone of it. He let go, and saw that she had unruly waves of green hair, smooth green skin, a slender frame, and a slim figure. Her yellow, almond-shaped eyes grew wide as she realized who he was.
"Your Majesty, my lord - " She bowed, her green hair hiding her face. "Forgive me for my rudeness, I did not know - "
She fell silent as he raised a hand. "'Tis I who should be asking for forgiveness." His tone and voice was that he used with his courtiers. "I frightened you, and for that, I am heartily sorry. Pray tell, what is your name?"
"Thalia, Sire," she answered.
"Then, Thalia, what are you doing here?"
"Looking after my charge."
Thalia gestured towards the Princess, who laid on the ground, no longer unconscious, but asleep. Her skin had a flush, no doubt due to the wine she drank. Her short hem exposed much of her legs, and decency made Edmund look away.
"Sir, may I ask what you are doing here?"
"Looking after my royal brother, the High King. I ask you not repeat that King Peter and I were here."
"I will not, Majesty. That is why I asked Her Highness to say that her name was Aglaia, so not to ruin her reputation."
"We should have thought of that," Edmund admitted.
"I should not have brought her," Thalia whispered, sitting next to Aceline and smoothing the girl's hair away from her face. "She just...seemed so depressed. I thought the Aphrodisiac would cheer her up. She was crying when I told her about it, you see."
"The Princess was crying?" It took a lot to make Aceline cry. Something earth-shattering like Aslan's death or the rememberance ceremony had to happen. "Did she tell you why?"
"No, she did not. But she did ask me what makes men weak."
"Oh?" He winced inwardly, thinking that the girl he had known as a small boy was growing up far too quickly. (Edmund was protective - even more than Peter - of all the girls.)
"Yes," Thalia said, nodding. "I was curious, for you know she is still a girl."
"But with the bravery of a knight," he smiled.
"Yes," the nymph replied. She accepted the hand he offered her, and followed him to the tree he had been sitting under a moment ago. "Majesty, where is the High King?"
"Unconscious. He was going to make a mistake that I knew he would get regret later."
"What was he going to do, Sire?"
"He was - " Edmund stopped as he realized the uncomfortableness of it all. Thalia, however, seemed to know his answer.
"That is how the Aphrodisiac is celebrated," she said gently.
"You mean..." He cleared his throat. "I'm sure neither of them would have wanted it to happen that way. While drunk."
"I agree," Thalia answered. Edmund watched her out of the corner of his eye, and wondered what she was thinking. Did she expect him to...? But he colored up before he could complete his thought.
"Is this your first Aphrodisiac, Sire?" she asked suddenly.
"Yes, it is," he answered. "And I think my last."
"Oh." She sounded disappointed. "I'm sorry to hear that, King Edmund."
"Please, call me Edmund. My name's already long enough without adding the word 'king' to it." As he had intended, Thalia laughed, and nodded, her yellow eyes twinkling.
"All right, then...Edmund." The King liked how his name sounded coming from the showery voice of this very beautiful nymph. Thalia leaned back to lay on the grass, her green hair almost slightly darker than the lawn.
"'Tis a shame you never experienced a true Aphrodisiac, Edmund," she replied.
"Perhaps you could help me."
The weight and gravity of his words surprised them both. But Thalia sat up, and touched her lips to his. He brought her nearer to him, hoping that his brother and his friend would not wake up for a very long while.
Author's Note: -evil chuckle- Surprised with that last part? I kinda am too. But hey, Ed's a teenager with hormones, so we can't blame, can we? It was awesome to write this chapter. Let me give you a bit of background if anything is unclear.
The Aphrodisiac, sometimes called the Aphrodisia, was held in honor of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love (more sexual love than romantic love). There wasn't any date when I did my research, so I just picked the second week of June for the festival. Intercourse with her priestesses was considered as a form of worship. Pomegranates, apple and lime trees, roses and myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite - all of which are included in this chapter. (The offered pomegranate she ate, her being a myrtle nymph, wearing a rose crown, and she and Peter lying under apple and lime trees.
For the names Aglaia (or Aglaea), Euphrosyne and Thalia, they were the Charites, or Three Graces, who accompanied Aphrodite. Aglaia was Beauty, Euphrosyne was Mirth, and Thalia was Good Cheer.
Whew! Big author's note. Good news? The next chapter is almost half-written up. And the surprises are going to keep on coming. So review!