The cheering was loud and satisfying. He had done it; he was king. It was finally his time to shine in the honor of his father, who was so incredibly wronged. But now he rightfully took the place and avenged such a thing. It was all surreal. As he stood in front of the throne, arms raised and the crown on his head, the bleary, colorful plumes of light in the sky showered harmless sparks into the ecstatic flood of roaring bodies. Watching them jump and cheer and yell joyfully was enough, but to know it was for him just made him feel so funny. He had never felt so important before. Or, at least, not to such an incredible extent.
He smiled widely, scanning the crowd. As much as he appreciated everything he saw and loved how happy everyone was, he wanted to see her. He wanted to talk to her. And so as he scanned the crowd, eyes flicking quickly from one end of the mass to the other, he looked for the dark hair and light skin. In a crowd of centaurs, dwarves, and various animals, he had expected to find her quickly. He supposed it was because there was such a large amount of everything packed into one place that he found it difficult.
He gestured politely to the crowd, bowing ever so slightly before walking into their pack, smiling and briefly speaking with whoever addressed him. If he had to walk through the entire crowd, so be it. He would find her by the end of the night. It was a little odd to reach the very back and find her brothers, smiling and nodding appreciatively. He smiled back, shaking their hands.
"Congratulations," Peter told him, his smile wide across his face. Edmund only nodded in agreement. Caspian gave him a hearty pat on the shoulder.
"Thank you, High King Peter."
"You're king now, Caspian." King Caspian… After being called Prince Caspian this whole time, it was odd (Yet not altogether uncomfortable) to be called King. He looked around him for a moment before looking back at Peter, a concerned look on his face.
"Where are your sisters?" Edmund laughed here,
"Lucy is with Aslan, probably playing in the fields. Susan decided to go to bed early." Caspian frowned in thought. It was an exciting day; it somehow wasn't surprising that she decided to sleep already. He nodded at the two of them.
"I shall go wish her goodnight," he said, turning and walking into the castle.
"Congratulations again, Caspian!" Peter called out, waving. Caspian's smile grew as he walked out of the crowd and into the cold, stone hallways of the castle. His castle.
He had appointed the four of them sleeping quarters. It was his castle, after all, and after all they had done, it was the least he could do. He knew where she was and had no difficulty identifying which room she was in; only one door was closed. Stopping and taking a deep breath, he reconsidered what he was doing. He didn't know how she felt, and he certainly didn't want to wake her or bother her while she was trying to fall asleep.
No, he thought. This is now. It's now or never. He braced himself, walking over to her door and knocking, loud enough for it to echo down the halls yet quiet enough not to alert the entire kingdom. No response. The proper thing to do would be to leave, as the chances were high that she was asleep, yet some undying fire was fueling his actions, and he knocked again. The reaction came in a soft, tired voice.
"Who is it?" Susan asked behind the wood of the door. He smiled, leaning against it.
"It's Caspian." There was a silence. Was he unwelcome? Did she not want to see him? His mind whirled with thoughts before he finally cleared his throat. "I'm sorry; this probably isn't a suitable ti—"
"No, no, don't be silly," she said, humor springing into each syllable. "What are you up to as king?" He heard her shuffle to the door and pulled away, waiting for her to open it. The latch didn't turn, and so after a few moments of waiting, he leaned against it again.
"Talking to you," he said quietly. He heard her chuckle on the other side. It made him laugh, as well.
"Well, that's obvious." They both became silent as each one waited for the other to speak. He sighed, lifting his arm to the level of his head and resting his brow against it.
"Susan, I…" He had caught her attention fully. He sounded unusually serious after having been so carefree. She pressed herself against the wood on the other side, her hands flattening against the door.
"… Yes?" she asked, her chest tightening with anticipation. When he didn't answer, her fingers bent against the door awkwardly. "W-What are you doing out there, Caspian?"
"… Thinking." She didn't press him any further. He appreciated that she didn't do so, but said nothing of it. Her hand hovered above the iron doorknob, shakily touching it with the tips of her fingers. She was tempted—so tempted—to open it, but was afraid of breaking any sort of concentration he had in doing so and kept her hand a good inch away from it. "And you?"
"Me?" she asked, her head jumping up as if she could see him. She wanted to, but again the concentration problem arose. "What about me?" He chuckled, putting his hands on both sides of the doorway.
"What are you doing in there?" She looked herself up and down, as if she had forgotten. When she looked back up, she remembered it was all in vain and looked down again, her hands clenching into fists.
"Getting ready to sleep," she said softly.
"Did the nightclothes fit you alright?" She chuckled, pushing her hair away from her neck to stop it from tickling her. After doing so, the prickling persisted and quickly spread into her stomach, making her smile goofily.
"Yes, they did. Thank you." Another uncomfortable silence took over the two. She sighed deeply, twisting her body so her back was leaning against the door. She stared at the doorknob. Should she open the door? She did want to see him face to face. However, he thought it was improper to see a woman in her nightclothes. She knew that. "So…" Her words drifted away. She didn't know what she was going to start to say and couldn't think of anything clever to pick it up with.
"Well… Goodnight, then," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. Her heart dropped.
"… Yeah. Goodnight." She heard him walking away and waited a few moments before doing the same, walking only a few steps before stopping and looking at a mirror that hung on the wall. She stared into it. Forget being proper: she was going to invite him in and she was going to talk. She wanted to. Turning back to the door, she walked briskly towards it and swung it open. She was about to lean into the hall and call after him but had no need. He was standing right in front of her, his hand raised to knock on the door that was no longer there.
"O-Oh!" he exclaimed. They both exchanged awkward, silly smiles before speaking over each other.
"I-I was just about to—"
"I thought about what I was—"
Both silenced themselves, their faces growing blank. They stared at each other and waited for the other to speak so as not to interrupt yet again. She chuckled before waving her hand towards him in a gesture to speak.
"… I-I thought about what I was thinking about earlier and…" She lifted a brow at him, curious as to what he was thinking about in the first place. He obviously had no intention of telling her at this point. "Well, I still don't know how to word it." She looked around, crossing her arms. Focusing her gaze into his, she felt the corners of her lips curl into a smile.
"… Word what?"
"How much I care for you." Her smile was practically frozen on her face. He obviously hadn't thought about how to word his introduction, as now she didn't know in what context he meant for "care for". She wanted him to go on but waited patiently, never breaking eye-contact. "I thought about a comical way to say it, and then a tender way to say it, and then even a rather stupid way to say it…" Both chuckled here, and now he finally looked down at his feet in an awkward manner. "And, well, I finally thought about how to express it." She nodded, waiting. He looked up at her now, reconnecting his gaze with hers and opening his mouth to speak. After a few moments, he closed it and walked towards her, enclosing her comfortably in his arms, holding her warmly against him. She froze in his embrace, unsure of how to react as his head leaned against hers and he nuzzled his face into her hair. "I thought this was the best way to show you…"
She blinked a few times, her hands against his chest. He was warm against her cold hands. She brushed her fingers across the velvet of his robes, watching the way her fingers caused the fabric to fold. A prickle of heat climbed up her neck and into her cheeks. As much as she enjoyed it, she pushed away and covered her cheeks to cover the blush.
"… What? I-I'm sorry, Susan, I didn't mean to—"
"No, no, that's not it. It's just…" She began to wonder. What had caused her to pull away? He noticed the blush but didn't say anything about how obvious it was, as he didn't want to be pushed away further. She lowered her hands, wringing them out nervously.
"I'm sorry," he repeated, walking towards her again. She didn't move.
"No, don't be, I…" He held her face with both hands and kissed her cheek, leaving his lips against her skin for a few moments before pulling away. They stared at each other. "… Goodnight, Caspian," she said, looking down now. He nodded.
"Goodnight, Susan," he whispered, turning and walking out. She followed him to the hallway, watching him for a few moments.
"… Goodnight!" she called after him. He stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned, looking at her.
"Goodnight," he said, raising his voice. She smiled, as did he.
"Sweet dreams." She stepped out of her room and waved at him. He chuckled.
"You, too." They both smiled at each other, Susan giggling as he simply enjoyed looking at her. "I'll see you in the morning." She nodded.
"Yeah. You, too." She giggled. "Uhm, goodnight!" She waved, smiled wider, and closed the door, disappearing from the hallway. His smile grew before he turned, walking back towards the plaza. He was sure he had gotten the point across.