Susan smiled comfortably as she lowered herself into the rose-scented bathwater. Her eyes skimmed over the purplish marks on her breasts, shoulders and thighs – souvenirs from last night's lovemaking. She wondered idly if Caspian bore any similar marks this morning. She had left him sprawled out on the bed, unconsciously hogging most of the blankets, to take care of the daily ablutions she knew he wouldn't approve of.
"Susan, love, are you sure this is sensible?" the King had asked when he walked in on her fourth bath of the week. "Your blood is sure to get diluted if you spend so much time in the water."
"Caspian, we've been over this. Water doesn't get in through my pores, and neither do those vapours you're so worried about. It's a myth. I promise, those philosophers of yours will realise that in a few centuries."
Susan didn't quite understand the pervasive Narnian fear of frequent bathing. Caspian, like most Narnian contemporaries, was perfectly happy with one bath a week. It hadn't taken long, once she had arrived, to get used to people smelling stronger than they did in England, and she barely noticed it anymore. Her brothers and Lucy all fell eagerly into Narnian bathing routines – Edmund thought it saved a lot of time in the mornings, and Lucy said it made one appreciate hot water more when one got it. Susan couldn't bear it, though. It was alright for Caspian: his scent was musky, woody and wonderfully alluring. Susan hated how she smelt when she went so long without a bath.
The worst part was shaving. There were no safety razors in Narnia. Anyone who wanted a shave had to wield a naked, lethal razorblade, so sharp and difficult to use that Susan's blood ran cold when she thought about it running over Caspian's cheeks and throat in the mornings. That didn't stop her, though, from picking it up every few days and taking it with gritted teeth to her legs.
It had never been a problem last time she'd lived in Narnia. She'd been single then, and nobody had ever had to see her without her full-length dress to hide her fuzzy legs. Now that she was sharing Caspian's bed, however, it became much more of an issue. She didn't want him to see the downy hair that grew on her calves and thighs, so off it had to come.
She held the blade flat against her ankle and dragged it slowly upwards to the curve of her knee. Little bits of stubble stuck to the blade, but her skin remained intact. Second swipe – still beautiful, smooth skin. Third swipe –
She dropped the blade on the stone floor with a loud clatter, clutching her shin irritably as a thin line of blood appeared where the razor had nicked her. It wasn't deep, and she was about to lean over and retrieve the blade to continue, but her surprised cry had woken Caspian and she heard him leap from bed and scramble for his sword.
"Susan, where are you? Is everything alright?"
"I'm fine," she called back, her voice steady. "Just a little accident. Go back to sleep."
Susan could almost feel Caspian's confused frown as he approached the door behind which Susan had had her bath drawn. "Susan, are you bathing again? Really, are you quite sure you are ok?"
"Fine, Caspian. Don't fret so much."
He pushed the door open anyway, sticking his head around the door. "Do you need any…oh." He stared at the razor, then up at his lover, plainly wondering if she had any wits at all to her name. "That is mine, love. You do not need it. Why did you do that to your leg?" He knelt by the bathtub, rubbing her calf muscle tenderly, his other hand absently swirling the hot water.
I was just shaving," explained Susan, exasperated. "Do you think you could pass it to me, while you're here?"
Caspian blinked, paying no heed to her request. "Shaving? My dear, you have no beard!"
"I just don't like being hairy," she said firmly.
A small chuckle escaped Caspian's lips. "I like it," he grinned, running his hand further up her leg. "Your skin feels strange when it is completely bare. Like a small child."
Susan rolled her eyes, smiling in spite of herself. "You have very odd taste, you know."
Caspian leaned further over the brim of the tub, planting a small kiss on her knee where it protruded from the water. "I am in love with a woman, not an infant," he said, warm chocolate eyes twinkling merrily at her. "I prefer you how you are – textured -" his lips were on her shoulder now, "Unique -" Running along her collarbone, sucking gently at a pulse point, "Natural." He nipped at her neck. "The way you scrub yourself raw and deny yourself food…it is as if you were trying to obliterate your body."
Susan flushed as she remembered her first, and only, attempt at dieting in Narnia. The first time she had refused a meal, Caspian had thought she was ill and panicked. He got so worried about her that in the end she had to accept every morsel of food he offered her to keep him satisfied, and wound up fatter than she had been before deciding to lose weight. All of a sudden she felt very stupid, and ashamed of her vanity.
"Perhaps I've been taking my hygiene a little too far," she conceded, sighing as Caspian's lips tugged at her earlobe.
"You could be doing any number of things far more enjoyable in the time it takes you to get clean and dressed each day," he muttered into her throat.
Susan giggled as his breath tickled her neck. "Oh?" she said, grinning at her lover's silly antics. "Perhaps you could tell me about some of these things?"
"I would much rather show you," he said ominously, and before Susan had time to react she found herself scooped out of the water as if she weighed no more than a feather. He set her down on the bed, a mischievous smile on his face.
By the time he had finished his demonstration and both were cuddled together, tired and satisfied, on the bed, Susan had to concede the point. There really were plenty of better things she could be doing with her time.
A/N: I've played with the timeline of hygiene principles, I'm afraid. The idea of 'vapours' and water getting in through the skin was a belief held by 16th century physicians, and in my mind Narnia is 12th century at the latest. I couldn't resist though - it was too much fun.
If you're wondering why Caspian was so worried about Susan's spending so much time in the water - as I said, in the 16th century it was a common belief that water opened the pores up to 'vapours', which were supposed to cause sickness and plague. Medieval people were actually aware that regular baths prevented the spread of illness - once a week was considered appropriate - and it wasn't until later that people would go ages and ages without washing. That's what I've ascertained from my research on the matter, at least. I'm not exactly a history buff.
Historical accuracy aside, I had fun writing this. It turned out a bit sappier than I intended - sorry about that. Please leave me a review...even if you're feeling lazy, a couple of words or even a smiley face would mean a lot to me. And constructive criticism means even more, so don't hesitate to let loose if there's something you think I could improve on.