Sensation Returns Title: Sensation Returns
Author: Amy Fortuna (amyfortuna@yahoo.com)
Fandom: Narnia
Pairing: Rilian/Puddleglum
Rating: PG-13
Warning: This is not a parody.
Summary: King Rilian and Puddleglum find they have more in common than they thought.
Notes: Written both for the Marshwiggle slash challenge and for Xris' Bizarre Slash contest.

****

The days after King Caspian's funeral had been busy for the newly-crowned King Rilian. There was so much to attend to, not least of which was becoming used to the sun and air again. Sometimes the light would strike his eyes too hard, and he would shy away, hiding his face from the sun. Sometimes the breeze caught him at an unexpected moment, and he would stand in amazement for a little, feeling the wind against his skin.

Honors were given out, dutifully, to Trumpkin (who could hardly hear the King's speech and kept muttering about how "his royal highness' father never whispered so"), to the dancers of that midnight revel who had rescued them from the hillside, and finally, to Puddleglum.

The Marshwiggle was shy about receiving his honor, though. And at last it was Rilian who came to him, riding his horse across the land, as kings of Narnia were wont to do, in no fear of danger. He dismounted at the beginning of the marshlands, and handed his horse off to a young knight, who had ridden with him, his only companion.

"Retire to the hunting lodge not far off, friend," he said. "I will send one of the Talking Birds to fetch you, when I am ready to return."

The young noble saluted, and trotted away, leading Rilian's horse. Rilian himself stepped into the marshlands.

It wasn't hard to find Puddleglum's wigwam, situated as it was near the shore, next a small inlet. Puddleglum had become somewhat of a Narnian celebrity in the last few weeks, and had moved his wigwam so that people who were not wiggles could easily access it from shore.

Puddleglum was alone, though, and fishing in the inlet, not making a sound. He heard Rilian walk up behind him, and turned. Rilian smiled.

"Friend Puddleglum," he said, the wind blowing his hair into his eyes, "I have a charge for thee."

Puddleglum stood up. Rilian drew his sword out, and placed the tip of it against Puddleglum's shoulder, in the manner in which Narnians were made knights by all except Aslan (to whom they knelt).

"I, by the grace of Aslan, bestow upon thee and thy heirs the noble Order of the Table, to be perpetually noble as long as Narnia shall last." Rilian said it slow and solemn, as befit a king making a loyal subject into a knight.

Puddleglum's mouth dropped open, and he looked amazed. "What have I done to deserve this? Is there a war? Dragons? Calormen is attacking?"

Rilian smiled despite himself, and placed his sword back into his sheath.

"You saved my life at great risk to your own. That deed in the witch's bewilderment was bold, truly, and you should be honored for it."

"It was only what I should have done much sooner," Puddleglum said. "If I had been really on my guard, the witch never would have been able to put a spell on us."

Rilian laid a hand on the marshwiggle's shoulder. "If she could keep me cozened for ten years, think it not surprising that she fooled you for ten minutes. And I have not finished speaking all your deeds. You kept Jill and Eustace on the right track to find me. You yourself went into great danger. No doubt it would have been easier to stay in your own home, but you chose to venture into the wilds after a prince you were not sure was living any longer. You led us out of the diggings, and kept our spirits high. You deserve the highest honor I can give."

A sudden shift of the sunlight made Rilian wince as it moved directly into his line of vision. Puddleglum, seeing this, led the way into his wigwam and closed down the tent flap. It was dim in the wigwam, but not dark.

After settling down on one of the beds of straw, Rilian continued, stretching out full length on his side, facing the marshwiggle. "I would ask a question of you."

Puddleglum, looking a little nervous, nodded.

"How did you know the giants of Harfang were evil? From what I have heard, you found recipes for man-pies and marshwiggle preparation, but that was already after you had decided the place was dangerous. What made you certain?"

Puddleglum was fidgeting. "It was the Talking Stag," he said at last. "They served him for lunch. Anyone who would kill a Narnian subject and eat him is undoubtedly evil and dangerous."

Rilian looked sick to his stomach for an instant. "Ought we not wipe the earth with their dust for wantonly misusing our subjects?"

Puddleglum looked a little startled. "Is that why you knighted me, to make a warrior out of me?"

Rilian laughed, shaking his head. "No, my friend. And I see, Narnia should never attack in a war, no matter the outrage. We should, instead, instruct our subjects to be cautious and beware the North."

There was silence as they studied each other, man and marshwiggle, and each found the other beautiful. Silent thoughts turned to deeds slowly, each knew, and carefully they began to examine the worlds their minds were tracing.

Rilian was blond-haired and bright-eyed. Accounted a beauty in the first early promise of his youth, he had lived up the promise. Still his cheeks were pale with long time away from the sun, but there was laughter in his eyes and in his voice. Puddleglum thought him a king to be proud of and "the woman that wins him should be as fair as he," he whispered under his breath.

On the other hand, Puddleglum was tall, and very thin, with hands and feet that were almost webbed, and long gray hair that hung down his back. He smelled of reed and marsh, the wild free smell of the outdoors. Rilian thought him more beautiful than the river god in his splendor.

And so they watched each other, Rilian at last closing his eyes and falling asleep, for he was still exhausted from the stress of the last weeks, and Puddleglum's bed was so warm, so comfortable.

Puddleglum watched him for several moments, then turned away, muttering to himself, "it's not right, he wouldn't dream of it, it's better to keep quiet, as though any son of Adam could love you anyway."

Rilian slept for about an hour, then woke at the touch of Puddleglum's hand on his shoulder. "The sun is setting, lord king," Puddleglum said in explanation. Rilian, dewy-eyed, looked up sleepily, smiling at his friend.

"Yes?" Rilian said, and sat up. Puddleglum put out a hand to help the young king up, and Rilian took it, rising to his feet. He did not let go of the marshwiggle's hand, but walked out with it still in his possession.

The sun was setting, and it shone over the marshes with a last dying light.

"I should return," Rilian said, breathing in and turning to face Puddleglum. A sudden impulse seized him, and he put his arms around the marshwiggle's neck, drawing his face down, and kissing him, quickly, on the mouth.

They both drew back, staring at each other, the slow blood mounting into Rilian's cheeks. "Do you regret that?" he whispered at last.

"No," Puddleglum said. "Do you? After all, any relationship between us is bound not to work."

Rilian laughed. "With that attitude then, may I stay here tonight?"

They were both laughing now. "Yes," Puddleglum answered.

They took hold of hands, and ducked back into the wigwam. And before the night was over, Rilian had learned to love the smell of the marshes, and Puddleglum had admitted that maybe it would work.

END