The first time I saw King Edmund, I threw my lyre at him. Now, it's not as violent as it may sound to you, because I assure you that it was a complete accident. It all came about as a result of my seemingly inborn clumsiness…
I had only been at Cair Paravel for a week and a day when my father, Lord Doravan of Archenland, advisor to the High King, came to my chambers with good news. I had been writing a letter to a friend in Archenland when he arrived.
"Arrania, I crave a word with you," he called, knocking on my bedchamber door. "Please?"
"Coming, Father." I folded the letter and tucked it into a drawer before adjusting the gold circlet on my brow and opening the door.
"Ah, excellent, daughter," my father said, twinkling his blue eyes at me. "May I come in?"
"Of course, Papa."
He came through the doorway and looked around my room, bright with the winter sunshine that streamed in through the east window. "I trust you are comfortable here, dear daughter?"
"Aye, Father," I replied with a smile. "It certainly isn't Archenland, but Narnia is a very beautiful country. They are kind people."
He glanced at my Narnian gown, a distinctly different style than I was used to. "I know it isn't home, but I hope it will only be a short while before you may return."
"Do you wish to get rid of me that quickly, sir?"
"Oh, of course not. Don't you start twisting my words around again," he added, shaking a finger at me.
"I wouldn't dream of it, Father."
"Very good. Well," he continued, "I see you've made good use of your time."
Indeed, I had. We had brought a fair supply of Archenlandian cloth and furniture with us to Cair Paravel, but the Narnians had showered us with many gifts. In the week or so we'd spent there, I had succeeded in making my rooms look fairly home-like, with Archenlandian bed clothes and curtains, but elegantly carved Narnian furniture. "Thank you, Father. But what did you come for? Certainly not to compliment me on my sense of design."
Father clapped his hands together. "Ah, yes. I have good news for you!"
"And what is that good news?"
"Patience, Arrania. You are much too hasty."
"Nay, Father. You are much too slow."
Father chuckled and twirled his long white beard between his fingers. "Well, I have seen to it that your lyre has been…repaired."
Such delight swelled in my heart at this that I threw my arms around Father's neck and kissed his wrinkled cheeks. "Thank you, Papa, thank you! I thought I'd never play it again after it fell into the Rush!"
"Now, now, Arrania," said Father gruffly. "Let's not have any of that. This is your nineteenth birthday present, and I won't have all your years of lady training come to nothing over a silly lyre."
I sighed and kissed his cheek again. "Do you have such little faith in me, sir? Nay, a lyre wouldn't bring about my wilding. For shame! I can be strong enough to keep ladyship until at least a new cittern."
Father tugged at a lock of my unruly brown hair. "Don't jest so, Arrania. We do not yet know how the Narnians take to ladies' humor."
"Aye, Papa," I replied, trying unsuccessfully to mask my grin.
"Now, then. I had Carilana put the lyre in your sitting room, and I—"
"Thank you, Papa," I exclaimed without letting him finish. I hurried through the door into the next room to find my beloved lyre sitting on a table. Its refinished wood shone in the light from the windows, and the water-damaged strings had been replaced with newer, stronger ones.
"Do you like it?"
"I love it, Papa! Thank you so very much!"
He smiled at me. "Well? Are you going to play for me or will I have to try to learn it myself?"
I picked up the instrument and ran my fingers across the U-shaped arms, marveling at how smooth the wood felt under my fingers, and how firmly set into the sound-chest the strings were. When I strummed a chord, three sweet, gentle notes filled the air. "Why, Father, it's even better than before it was ruined!"
"Thank King Peter's Narnian craftsmen, not me, dear daughter."
"Oh, I simply must show Mirrana—if I have your leave, of course…"
Father waved a hand in the air. "By all mean, daughter. Who am I to prevent two such young ladies from gadding away the hours while the rest of us work for our livings? What a shameful thought."
"Thank you, Papa," I called over my shoulder, for I was already almost out the door. "I shall see you later."
With that, I hastened down the corridors and through halls toward the west end of Cair Paravel, where Mirrana, the Calormin ambassador's daughter, was lodged. I was just passing over a covered, sunlit bridge when a young man in a blue tunic came around the corner just ahead of me. It was at that moment that my foot, unaccustomed to the long Narnian gowns, caught on my hem and sent me tumbling to the flagstones. My lyre, however, flew into the air, right at the young man in blue.
But the harp did not splinter on the ground, as I had feared. Instead, with agility borne of wielding swords and riding horses, the man lurched forward and caught my lyre. "Are you quite all right, my lady?" he asked when I'd regained my footing.
"Aye, my lord, and all the better for your quick action."
"It's a beautiful lyre," he acknowledged, inspecting it. "I should feel terribly guilty if it were broken."
"It is newly repaired," I admitted. The stranger had the kind voice of a wise young man, but it had a certain boyish mischievousness to it.
"Here. I know not the art of lyre playing." He gave the instrument back to me with a sheepish grin. "I should want it in the hands of someone who obviously knows it."
"Thank you, my lord, again."
"It isn't a problem at all, Lady…er…"
"Pardon me, my lord—I am Arrania Ileana, daughter of Sir Willis Doravan of Archenland."
"How do you do, Lady Arrania. I am—"
Down the hall towards us ran a girl in royal purple robes. Her brown hair fell straight down around her shoulders, or it would have if she'd been standing still. In any case, her round, shining face struck me as what a younger sister might look like.
"Hello, Lucy," the stranger said good-naturedly. "What is it?"
Lucy and I dropped curtsies to each other, but as she raised her head, it all suddenly made sense. These amiable people were none other than their royal highnesses King Edmund and Queen Lucy!
"Your Majesties," I breathed, and made the lowest and most respectful curtsy I think I have ever done in my life.
"You must be Lady Arrania," Queen Lucy said to me. "Your father is a much valued member of my brother Peter's court."
"I am very glad to hear it," I replied. "My father is a most kind man."
"Aye, that he is," King Edmund said. "And I shall be much surprised if his daughter is not the same."
To my horror, I felt a blush rising in my cheeks. "Thank you, Your Highness."
"Please," said Queen Lucy, "do call us 'King Edmund' and 'Queen Lucy'. It's so much nicer, don't you think? One tires of never being called by one's real name."
"That I shall, Queen Lucy," I said with a poorly disguised smile.
"Well, we trespass on your time no longer," King Edmund said. "But I insist upon hearing you on your lyre some time."
"Aye, King Edmund."
"And Lady Arrania," Queen Lucy said, "there is to be a grand ball tomorrow night in the great hall in honor of my eighteenth birthday. It would give me terrific honor if you would come. I would love to hear of Archenland from someone who is not an ambassador."
"Oh, aye, Queen Lucy. I would be delighted!"
"Tomorrow night, then? Aye, very good. Farewell, Lady Arrania."
King Edmund bowed and Queen Lucy curtsied, and I did the same. And as they went away from me, I decided that I rather liked Narnia's two younger monarchs.
A/N: Written solely by Sushi!