The earth felt soggy beneath his feet as he trod a cautious path through the corpses littered across the plain. Nameless, faceless martyrs, their lives laid waste for a cause as petty as any that has ever led two nations (or one, divided nation) to war. His stomach churned, and the stench of death in his nostrils was like a physical blow. He stared purposefully ahead, trying hard not to look at the carcasses of his friends and foes.
Instinct told him that he was nearing the object of his search. It was almost an hour since the Prince (King, now) had taken leave of the crowds and disappeared. Peter had let him go, content to take care of the small remaining duties for him. He had seen Caspian's face, in the aftermath of the battle – chalk white, drawn and intensely, heart-wrenchingly sad – and had understood the need to be alone. After all, he was a warrior too. He could not remember the number of times he had slunk off after a battle and given himself over to shock.
A small movement caught his eye. There was Caspian – kneeling on the ground, barely distinguishable from the fallen surrounding him, his shoulders shaking violently. Peter approached cautiously. It wasn't until he was mere feet away that he realised the young monarch was crying.
His frame was wracked by violent sobs, but not a sound escaped his lips. Salty tears streamed down his cheeks, leaving clear trails through the caked blood and grime. His hands were shaking like leaves as they clasped the grey fingers of the Telmarine corpse in front of him. Peter wanted to draw back, to give the new king some privacy in this lapse of his carefully cultivated stoicism. Something inside him, however, pushed him closer until he stood right beside the kneeling boy. That same emotion now gripped his heart, that had so often led him to Caspian's side; had filled his dreams with delightful and torturous images every night; had led him, once waking, to the other's bedside to watch him in his peaceful slumber and chastise himself for being such a fool.
Peter reached out his hand, resting it on Caspian's shoulder. For a brief moment they stayed like that, Caspian shaking in grief, Peter feeling lost and helpless and vaguely ashamed. Then, without turning to look at him, Caspian spoke.
"He was my instructor in swordplay." His voice, though hoarse and hopelessly shaky, was surprisingly flat. "He never dreamed I would use his lessons against him."
"Stand up," said Peter weakly, struggling to keep his own voice level. He had never been good with words, or comfort. That was Susan's domain. He wished, briefly, that he hadn't come out at all. Then he realised it had been necessary. For both their sakes.
Caspian did not stir. "You wouldn't understand." His voice cracked – it sounded like he was biting back a howl. He took a deep breath, attempting to steady himself before continuing. "These are my kinsfolk, Peter. Some of these men were with me from the cradle. You could never…imagine…" He faltered, breathing raggedly.
"Caspian, I need you to come inside." There was a pleading note in Peter's voice. He hated this: hated seeing people cry, hated trying to comfort them, and more than anything he hated watching Caspian suffer.
The other boy rose unsteadily to his feet, wiping his face furiously. "I must apologise," he said shakily. "You should not have had to see me in such a state."
Peter shook his head. He continued to clasp Caspian's shoulder as comfortingly as he could. He opened his mouth to dismiss the apology, but an unreadable expression came over Caspian's face. Before he could react, he had pressed his lips to Peter's and was kissing him forcefully, savagely. Caspian's hand was in his hair, holding his head firmly in place, and Peter could only stand there stunned as the other boy's taste consumed his senses.
Abruptly, Caspian wrenched himself back and pushed Peter away so violently that both of them almost lost their balance. By the time he had fully registered what was happening, Caspian was halfway across the field, the wind whipping his hair around as he stumbled blindly back to camp.
Peter, alone on the battlefield, merely gaped after him.
By the time Peter returned, Caspian had regained his composure fully and was arranging for the bodies to be cleared from the field. They didn't speak for the rest of the day, and by the time he crawled into bed that night Peter wondered if their encounter on the field had been nothing more than another hopeless dream.
A/N: I'm not as happy with this piece as I could be...it's been a tricky one to write. Constructive criticism is very welcome, so don't spare me if you think I've handled it badly. Please review, because feedback is better than my mum's self-saucing chocolate pudding. And that's saying something.
I'd also like to know if people are interested in seeing this continued. It was originally written as the first section of a three-part story, but that wasn't working so I've edited it into a stand-alone. The second section I'm going to use for a completely different pairing, but the third section involves a bit of Caspian/Peter sexiness and if you guys would like it, I'll see if I can get it up to scratch.