Title: To Be a Prince

Author: Rhion

Rating: T

Summary: Why did Caspian so desperately wish the Kings and Queens to be older? Suspian implied.

Disclaimer: Me no own, you no sue.

AN: I had this image of big giant brown floppy curls hanging loosely over huge brown eyes, and a little Prince Caspian peeking out at Professor Cornelius for the first time. It had to be written. Semi-fluffy, semi-angsty... Comforfluff. Sorta. In the middle of writing some Dark!Peter, and also continuing I Wish and all that sigh It's a bit draining. Not that I don't love every minute of it. But - I needed a bit of a psychological break from action or uh... cough severe darkness... (Dark!Peter is oh so wrong but he feels so right... And of course I'll lay off the puns to that...) So yes - a little Caspian, and why he really wanted the Kings and Queens to be older. Oh yeah and I don't know the actual time-line of when Caspian's parents died to when Miraz sent his nurse away, to when he got Dr. Cornelius. So I'm just wingin' it here people.

His nurse was being sent away, and Caspian the Tenth was notvery happy with that. But at six years old, he didn't really feel he had a say. Keeping one arm wrapped around his Uncle Miraz's leg, and his cheek pressed into it, Caspian tried not to cry. When he was three his very beautiful Mother was sent away, never to be seen again. And then when he was a little bit more than three his father's dog Beef was sent away too - to also never be seen again. As for last year - his Father had been sent away - again to never be seen hide nor hair of. Caspian was beginning to think that this whole 'going away' idea was quite bad.

Miraz leaned down, a large hand cupping his head, patting his rebellious curls, "My little Prince, come, you must not frown so much. The Professor will think you do not wish to meet him."

"Uncle," hugging his leg tightly, "it is not..." trying to find the grownup words for this, as he'd been taught to do, "it is not that I do not wish to meet him. It is that I do not like the part where everyone leaves."

"Oh?" Miraz began to tug and tuck Caspian's wavy hair, trying to make it sit properly now that once more it had refused to be tamed.

Blinking slowly, the six year old tried to formulate a 'why' that would be understood by a grownup. They didn't seem to comprehend when he just yammered out a list of questions, so he had to choose his words carefully. That's what his Father had always told him - that grownups aren't very smart sometimes, and that when a little Prince like himself wanted to know something, he had to pick and choose with great care what he said. His Father was very smart. For a grownup.

Clearing his little throat, and not fussing at his Uncle for trying to straighten his hair, "Mother was sent away you know. And I have never seen her again. She was very pretty, and would sing to me."

"Yes, she was. And she loved you very much," Miraz's eyes had softened, a sad look flashing over his face. "You look just like her."

Cocking his head, Caspian pondered that, "So if I look in the mirror I can see Mother?" obviously he got side-tracked. He was six afterall, and his Uncle had said something intelligent for a grownup.

At that Miraz laughed, giving up on his mop of hair, "Yes, I suppose you could say that!"

"Well then I shall try that later," nodding decisively. "But then Beef, Father's big dog that I liked to play with - he was my friend you know. And he had a big bark, and was warm in winter, and he smelled good, and -" realizing he'd started speaking too fast Caspian reigned himself in. Like a good little Prince. Starting over, "I mean Beef, he got sent away too. And I still have yet to see him. This makes me very sad."

Miraz, squatted down, so they were eye level, a very attentive look on his face, "You should not be sad my son, for Beef was old and he was tired. So he went away so he could rest."

"Oh," trying to hide his disappointment. "Well then I suppose he should rest if he was tired. I hope he wakes up soon, for I miss playing with him." Sighing, and shifting around Caspian continued, "Then Father went away," not noticing how his uncle's face hardened while Caspian wasn't looking, at those words, "And everyone was sad, then I had to wear black for a long time. Now he is not anywhere I look for him. At first I thought he was just playing hide-and-seek, but..." now Caspian's eyes were getting hot and he collapsed into his uncle's arms, "but I cannot find him! And now Nanna is going away too! I- I..." full on tears falling from his scrunched up little face as he rubbed it back and forth over Miraz's vest, fists tangled in his shirt.

Miraz rocked him side to side, picking Caspian up, patting his back, "It is alright Caspian. Hush..."

Wailing, "What if you are sent away too?!" uttering his worst fear.

"Oh my son, do not worry, I will not be leaving you anytime soon," a handkerchief was being run over his tear-stained face, trying to clean him up, as Miraz bounced him lightly up and down.

Gathering himself with great difficulty, Caspian looked at him wide eyed, "You promise? Please promise Uncle Miraz! I do not think I could bear it! I would be all alone, and would not know what to do..."

"If I promsie, will you try and smile so we can greet the Professor?"

Nodding rapidly, "Yes!"

"Then, I, Miraz, swear to not leave you until you no longer require me," very solemn.

Releasing a relieved sigh, Caspian wiggled signalling he was ready to be put down. Automatically his arm went around his Uncle's leg, and Caspian tried to be brave and just stand there - but as the door opened, Caspian darted to hide behind his Uncle. A very round man with a big bushy white beard started speaking with Miraz, both men ignoring him. Caspian peeked out, eyeing this new person quietly, and when this Professor person caught him, there was a gentle smile on his face. Startled, Caspian pressed his head into a leg, hiding once more. This went on for several minutes, and Caspian slowly found himself inching from behind Miraz, until he was standing infront of the Professor man. Tipping his head back, Caspian waited patiently to be acknowledged - though it took alot of concentration to not just blurt out a 'hello'.

"And this is my nephew, Prince Caspian the Tenth," Miraz's voice was regal and firm as usual.

"Good day to you, Your Highness," with a half bow - the older man couldn't go much further due to his girth.

"Hello," fidgeting, Caspian felt a very serious frown gracing his face, "You are to be my new friend? If so, you must swear to not leave until I say it is okay. I do not wish to have another person go away, and I do not want to be sad again. So - if it pleases you, please promise me? Otherwise I will not be able to be your friend."

Surprise raised the big furry caterpillars that were the Professor's eyebrows on his head, and with much effort the old man came down to six-year-old Caspian's eye level. A pudgy fingered hand - worn and warm with ink stains on it - took his very small thin one, "Your Highness, I would very much like to be your friend, and your teacher. So, I shall do my utmost to uphold your request." With a soft smile, that was bright like sun through clouds, "And so Your Highness, I promise this - I will not leave until it is time."

Cocking his dark little head, Caspian mulled that over. Then with a brief nod of acceptance, "Then that is acceptable." As if to demonstrate his pleasure at having a new friend, the young Prince gave the older man a tight hug - which was very hard considering the Professor's size, and his arms couldn't quite reach.

Caspian couldn't sleep, and was not very fond at all of this new bedroom - it was too big, and it echoed loudly. Plus to get into the bed he had had to climb up some steps to do so, but his Uncle said that Princes who were growing up no longer needed to stay in the nursery. While true it was fun to have something so big to clamber over, Caspian knew it wasn't seemly to be too rambuncious infront of adults - they always frowned at him or scolded him if he acted too young. Missing his Nanna - and his teddy-bear as well - Caspian looked at his thumb contemplatively. With a shrug he stuck it in his mouth for comfort, even knowing that only babies did such things. Afterall he felt a bit entitled - he'd not complained once during dinner where he'd been shown how to eat soup properly, and he'd not yawned even a single time during his first lessons with the Professor. Curling around a pillow, wishing it was his teddy, still chewing his thumb thoughtfully, Caspian went over his day.

He quite liked the Professor - he smiled alot, and they were nice smiles. But he smelled a bit funny - like dry paper, ink, and sand, with a hint of mothballs. Not at all like his Uncle who smelled of tobacc and wine, or like his Father who'd always smelled of sunshine and rain. A vague memory rose, that his Mother had smelled a bit like books and horses. Blinking his overlarge eyes, Caspian rubbed his cheek on the giant down pillow - it was as big as he was, and quite comfy to cuddle up with. Musing maybe it wasn't so bad to have a big Prince's bed, he started to nod off.

Just as he was drifting into dreams where a woman's lovely voice sang and pretty purple flowers scented the air, Caspian jerked awake. Staying still he stretched his senses, unsure if there was danger or not. At some point, the little boy had learned what danger was though not really the word. A click from his door opening and closing, the soft scuff of a foot. Breathing slowly, Caspian tried to figure out what to do, trying not to panic. He remembered listening to a conversation the nice General Glozelle was having once where he'd said that panic and fear were what got most people hurt. Being hurt wasn't very good, Caspian knew. Once he'd fallen off his pony and broke his arm. And another time when he was playing where he shouldn't he'd dropped a knife on his foot. The scar was very big, and the doctors had fussed over him, muttering to eachother that he may loose the foot if it got infected. So - hurts were to be avoided.

While he was muddling through all this, his bed curtains opened, and a hand covered his mouth. Jerking in shock, Caspian saw a large shadow looming, but the scent of paper and ink invaded his mind and he relaxed before a word was uttered.

"Quiet my Prince, do not fear... are you awake?"

Nodding, his fingers curled over a thick thumb, tugging, "Yes I am."

"Ah good," the Professor turned from him, flint and steel sounding as a spark was struck, lighting a candle, "I thought you and I could have a little talk, if that is alright with you, Your Highness?"

Wriggling into a sitting position, Caspian scratched at his head thinking, then came to a decision, "Call me Caspian. You use too many words otherwise."

"If you insist," it was good natured, "but you must get used to people calling you 'Your Highness' and the like. It is your duty and honour to be spoken to like that."

Scooting around, watching as the Professor dragged a chair near his bed, a large book under an arm, "You sound like my Father."

"Yes, well he was right you know."

"Of course," adamant, "he was Father, and Father was very smart. So you must be very smart too." Adding only to himself - for a grownup, because it wasn't nice to tell others that they were wrong or not as smart as himself. Pointing at the big book, forgetting it wasn't polite to point, "Why do you have such a big book?"

"That is what I am here to talk to you about," smiling as he settled his bulk in the chair.

"Books? I like books, they have pretty pictures, and sometimes there are no pictures, except on the big letters or on the sides - caliphany," showing off his knowledge, very proud of himself for recalling the large word.

There was a quiet laugh, "Yes, caligraphy is quite pretty. So, young Caspian, would you like to look at this book?"

Wrinkling his nose, Caspian thought about it, books were expensive he knew that much, and he wasn't really supposed to play with them. Shaking his head, "I do not want to break it, I broke the last one I was allowed to play with you know, and Uncle was very displeased with me. I did not get dinner that night, and that made my tummy hurt quite a bit."

"Well you are a logical one for someone so young!" Caspian's hair was ruffled, and the leather-bound book was placed on the bed infront of him anyway. "Well this is a special book Caspian, a secret book. Can you keep a secret?"

Normally Caspian didn't like people mussing about with his hair - he liked it whatever way it fell, his Mother had always run her fingers through it as he fell asleep, so he felt that his hair was a very special thing. Something for only her and himself. But she was gone, and he sometimes had to submit to others messing with it, and their hands never felt quite as nice as hers had. Chewing his lip, arms crossing and uncrossing as he tried to think of what he was supposed to say to secrets and mucking about with his hair. Which was more important? The Professor was looking at him patiently, allowing him to figure things out for himself.

That was nice he decided, and so he smiled, "I can keep a secret yes, I have several that only Bear and I know. But I cannot tell you them, for they are secrets, so I am sorry that I have no proof to give you." Reaching out to lay a hand atop of the secret book, "So I will keep a secret about a secret book - only you and I shall know until you tell me it is okay to tell others."

"Then why not open to the first page Caspian, and I will tell you a story, a secret story..."

Gingerly, with far more care than someone so young should be able to show, Caspian opened it, barely able to contain a gasp of awe. Fingers trembled at the beauty there, the people painted on the page were so lifelike he thought that the horses they rode would jump right off the paper. Touching it reverantly, tracing a very pretty woman there who was blowing a horn, only half listening as the Professor told him his secret story. It was about a very wise king, who sounded much like his Father, and an enraptured Caspian was held in thrall to the images the old man was putting in his mind. Creatures and magic, dwarves, centuars - things the like of which the little Prince had never heard. Easily the young boy made the connection, figuring that the story of High King Peter was much like how his Father was.

But the description of Queen Susan as the most beautiful woman caused him to pipe up finally, though his eyes were drooping, "How could she be the most beautiful woman when Mother was the most beautiful woman? It is not possible..."

The Professor leaned over him, tucking his covers up higher around him, and fluffing his pillow, not taking the book held in his small hands and propped up on his raised knees yet, "Your mother was very beautiful I am sure, but Queen Susan the Gentle was beauty incarnate, a gift of Aslan to Narnia and it's people."

"Oh," sighing sleepily, finger tracing her picture once more, "She has dark hair like Mother, so she must have looked like Mother, do you not think so?"

"I imagine so little Caspian," palm running over his head, soothing the prince further into sleep.

Barely awake, Caspian didn't notice that the Professor was leaving until the book was pulled gently from his grasp.

"Will you tell me a secret story again sometime Professor? Please?" yawning and snuggling under his heavy blankets.

"Yes of course, but remember -"

"I know - it is a secret, and I will not tell anyone..."

After dinner several months into his lessons with the Professor, Caspian was lurking about playing hide and seek with himself. Well, truly he was playing with Queen Lucy, who was supposed to have been very playful. Imagining that she would very much have been his friend, Caspian darted between shadows and in and out of closets when no one was looking. Sometimes he felt as though King Peter was waiting for him just around a corner too, ready to pick him up and swing him about the way his Father had. Or maybe that he'd barrel into a room and find Queen Susan sitting there, smelling of pretty things and horses, big soft skirts for him to crawl over or under hiding from his playmate Queen Lucy. Or maybe even getting a hug or kiss from the Gentle Queen, even though he would pretend to not like that - because truthfully he missed his mother's hugs and kisses. Even if little boys weren't supposed to like getting hugs and such, Caspian still missed them too much to not crave them at times. Darting under a table, ignoring the fact that the straw needed to be changed in the feast hall, Caspian peeked out looking around, waiting for a jump of shadows to signal that the Valiant Queen was on his trail.

He very much loved these games with himself and the Kings and Queens of Old. Pausing, Caspian tugged at a strand of his hair, chewing it, even if they were just stories and not really his friends, they were the only friends he had. Well other than the Professor and soon the General too - because he knew he was supposed to learn to use a sword soon. That may be fun, and he could pretend that he was sparing with King Edmund, who while a fair king was also renowned for his skill with weapons. Sitting back on his haunches, Caspian's gaze was faraway trying to imagine that the Kings and Queens were part of his family and of his life. What splendidness that would be, and of course his Uncle Miraz would be there too, and the Professor, and even the pretty Lady Prunipismia. She was going to be his aunt soon, and he liked how she would smile at him. Maybe she would hug him?

"He is such a serious child," the Professor's voice interrupted Caspian's musings.

"It is to be expected," Caspian had to think a moment to place that voice, and a quick check of feet cemented it - it was the nice General, "He has had a hard life."

Their tones were soft, the conversation not really carrying far. Tucking his chin on his knees Caspian listened attentively - not quite knowing how he knew, but sure that they were speaking of him.

"I worry for him, a little boy should not be so self contained," there was a sigh, tired and worried.

"My nephew is his age and the two are nothing alike," Glozelle agreed. "Fitz runs about like a mad rabbit, jumping from one thing to the next, shrieking fit to bring my sister's house down."

Chuckling, "I have had the pleasure of meeting young Fitz, and he is very.. lively." How the Professor said 'lively' let Caspian know it wasn't quite an insult but at the same time was somewhat.

Snorting, "Yes I had heard, and I forgot to apologize for that. I hope that your seeing glass was not too badly damaged?"

The two grownups sat down at the table Caspian was hiding under, and he scooted away enough so that their feet wouldn't accidentally kick him. He'd been kicked once by a servingman and it hadn't felt too good, of course the poor servingman was sent away and Caspian felt guilty for having cried. Caspian was still sure that the whole being sent away thing was very very very bad, and he hadn't wanted anyone to ever be sent away again. Especially not because of him. So he was very careful to not give anyone a reason - like being too tired, or kicking or making him cry. It was his honour and duty to care for others, he had to remind himself of that whenever he got mad and wanted to yell or shout or cry - because they may get sent away.

"Oh no not at all, soon I shall be taking Caspian up to see the stars at night," and Casian could almost see the Professor's smile at the thought of showing him something new. The Professor seemed to love showing him new things, and Caspian loved it almost as much as the Professor. New things were wonderful, they gave him all sorts of fun things to think about.

He was very good at thinking - that's what everyone said. 'Thinkful' or something like that - because he was full of thinking.

"Ah, interesting, are you going to teach him navigation as well? Or should I cover that?" creaking as Glozelle must be resting his elbows on the table - which Caspian knew was supposed to be rude, yet the adults did it all the time.

"Well as you know there are things he is not supposed to be taught, so maybe I should do that -"

Glozelle cut off the Professor, "I am aware of him not being allowed to know of the Deep Magic and Narnia." How the General said it sent a shiver through Caspian - he hadn't realized that he wasn't supposed to know such things. Biting his fist in fear, Caspian's eyes were big as saucers. It meant that the secret stories and book were very very secret, and he shouldn't ever tell anyone about them. Not even Bear probably!

A few days into the Professor taking over teaching him, Caspian had found the worn out teddy-bear hiding behind his pillows, and he'd been overjoyed. He had his other friend back, so he'd whispered to Bear all about pretty Queens and wonderful Kings - so now he was feeling beyond guilty. Caspian wanted to crawl out from beneath the table to cry and tell the Professor that he had been bad and absolutely horrid - he'd spilled the secret to someone, and while he was very very sure Bear wouldn't tell anyone... Bravely though, Caspian kept that to himself, for if no one knew he'd been so terrible, no one would send anyone away - not even Bear.

Containing his sob, Caspian continued to listen.

"Well then that is good," while it sounded relieved, it also didn't sound quite normal. How grownups talked was strange - so many things had so many meanings behind meanings. Why couldn't they all just talk plainly? Were they simple or something? Shoving aside the uncharitable thought Caspian, shifted as quietly as possible not wanting to alert anyone to him being there. "But you already have so much on your plate General, so why not allow me to handle such matters?"

"Oh where has that boy gotten to?" one of the servants came into the hall, grumbling to herself then stopped a respectful distance from the Professor and General. "Sirs?"

"Yes, what is it?" Glozelle sounded irritated at the interruption.

"I was wondering Sirs, if you had perchance seen the young Prince? It is his bathtime and -"

"He is most likely playing in my study," the Professor offered kindly. "In fact, allow me to assist you my dear, he is often hard to find when he is in a mood."

Caspian almost yelped after the servant and the Professor left, because Glozelle popped his head beneath the table looking at him, "If I were you Your Highness I would sneak back to my room."

Scooting from under the table, Caspian eyed the General, "How did you know I was there?"

"You are not quite as quiet as you think," smiling. "So, tell me something Your Highness - would you like to learn to play chess with me sometime?"

Ever polite, "That would be quite well with me General."

Leaning in, Glozelle whispered, "Can you keep a secret?"

"If I try real hard, yes," taking Glozelle's proffered hand and walking with him through the servants route back to his room.

"That is good then Your Highness," the General bowed to him, "Then we have much to speak of when we play chess."

The sword was quick in his hand, but not quick enough, and Caspian got a resounding 'whack' on the wrist for his troubles. Cursing, fingers smarting, Caspian dropped it.

Glozelle sighed long suffering, "Your Highness, you must not drop your sword - no matter what! In a battle you will need it, and your opponent will not give you a simple smack for loosing it - instead you will get metal through your gut or chest!"

Looking sheepish, the thirteen year old Prince bent over picking it up after shaking the kinks from his arm, "Sorry Master, I will not do it again."

"That is what you said the last twenty times," muttering, as the dark haired general shook his head. Glozelle tipped his head back, checking the position of the sun, "It matters not, practice is done for the day, and you will be late for your lessons if you do not hurry."

Yelping, Caspian slammed his sword in it's scabbard, starting to race away from the training yard, before darting back to give his Master one of his rare hugs, "Sorry! I shall do better tomorrow Master!" Calling over his shoulder as he bounded across the yard, "Chess tonight Master?"

"Of course!"

Caspian never told either man that the other was teaching him many things, for they were secret things. Glozelle spoke of legends, using them to paint pictures for tactics, a strong foundation for leading armies, and of honourably guiding or protecting the people. The Professor's stories were of magic and Aslan, acceptance and wonder. Under their tutelage Caspian flourished secretly, causing his Uncle to despair that the Prince was little more than a bookish young man with great skill in chess. As the years passed, a wedge formed between nephew and Uncle that Caspian wasn't even aware of, nor a reason for it. He loved his Uncle with all his heart, and thought that his Lady Aunt was wonderful as well - she took it to be her duty to teach him to dance, for his Uncle had two left feet, and of course all things courtly.

Gangly, not yet a man, the thirteen year old at times seemed beyond clumsy except when dancing with his Aunt or riding a horse. Only Glozelle knew how excellent Caspian's swordsmanship was, for every second night, the General would wake him, for private practice. Dirty tricks, brawling and skills with crossbow amongst other things - poisons, herbology, assasins' tricks - those were imparted in hushed whispers. As well as stories of how to take down a centaur or dwarf or minotaur or satyr or faun, their strengths and weaknesses and how those lessons would translate into a human opponent. If Miraz had any inkling of all that the young man was learning, his wrath would have known no bounds. The question Caspian never asked was whyhis Uncle didn't want him to know these things - or the other more important question - why his two teachers felt the need to instruct him thusly. It wasn't that these problems hadn't occurred to him, it was that Caspian wasn't ready to know. So he learned to hide his abilities, his thoughts, to appear nigh useless as often as possible - to protect his teachers and to protect his Uncle. And his own naivete.

Eyeing the knight on the board, these thoughts flashed through his mind like lightening, quicker than a blink. Maneuvering his rook, Caspian took the knight without a batted eyelash.

"Damn, I did not see that!" Glozelle cursed softly.

Raising an eyebrow, still studying the board, "Is there something on your mind Master that you did not see something so obvious that I could have noticed it when I was seven?"

"Ack boy, you are too perceptive by far for your own good," it was a groan. Knuckles rapped between Caspian's eyes as Glozelle tapped him, "And you live too much in that head of yours."

Smiling slightly, "Where else would I live then?"

Snorting, "In the here and now like a normal young man."

"I do not follow," pursing his lips, Caspian moved one of Glozelle's pieces, and started playing against himself - it was obvious the older man was too preoccupied with thinking to be much of a challenge tonight.

"The Lady Hilda," a light smack to his fingers, as the General tried to keep Caspian's attention.

"What of her?" flicking his eyes up, not wanting to remind his teacher that he could do two things at once yet again. Talking and playing chess - that was child's play, he'd been doing both for over half his life.

"You displayed no interest in her whatsoever," pouring a glass of wine for Caspian, and shoving it into Caspian's hand.

Shrugging, "Was I supposed to?"

"Bah! Souls of my forefathers Caspian!" rarely did Glozelle call him by name and this brought Caspian's head up, gaze narrowed - all attention locked on the older man. "There is talk Your Highness."

"So?" fingers clenching around the stem of his cup.

"There is talk," leaning forward, black eyes intense, "that you have no interest in women Caspian. If this is so, then you must hide it -"

Here Caspian barked out a laugh - he couldn't help it, "What? Of course I like women! I just have no care for the simpering sort. Besides Master I am not yet a man -"

"Most men have bedded at least a serving wench by your age Caspian," growling.

Frowning, "It is not seemly Master, why would I dishonour a woman in such a manner? Mother would roll over in her grave!" Grumbling, "I cannot even believe I am having this conversation and that between the two of us I sound the more adult." Draining his goblet, Caspian poured himself a drink on his own, "Am I to disregard my honour as my Father's Heir? What if I were to sire a bastard? What of that? I am not old enough to rule, then I must not be old enough to -"

Glozelle put his head in his hands, "You speak of a type of honour that has not been seen in almost thirteen hundred years my Prince, and while you may feel strongly about it..." Spreading his hands, palm up, "No one can afford you acting that way, it raises too many questions Caspian."

Eyes going wide, "You think you would be sent away for teaching me of honour? Of right and wrong?" alarmed, Caspian bolted up from his chair, knocking it over and pacing. "No, no - I will not have it! You may not go, I forbid it!" Rounding on the General, "Fine, if I must bed some poor woman -" then he stopped feeling very selfish. "Master I do not know what to do," wanting to wail it to the sky, to the castle. "I cannot just... It would be wrong! But... you are my friend, my teacher, and I cannot loose another person General!"

Glozelle got up, placing his hands atop Caspian's shoulders, giving him a shake, "Calm yourself!"

Feeling very young, Caspian hugged him, "What good is what you have taught me if I cannot reconcile what people expect of me, and what is right?"

"Caspian, my liege, what you know is right and good - those... those are things few believe in anymore. I have taught you these things," akwardly hugging him back, for which Caspian was grateful - he got so little contact with others, "so that you will be not just a good king, but a great one. Until you take the throne though my Prince, you must... do some things that part of you finds distasteful at times." There was a chuckle, "Though some of those things are far from unpleasant if you just relax."

"So must I go find this Lady Hilda then?" pacing back and forth, noting for the first time that he was getting taller than the kind General.

Laughing at Caspian's expense, "I am sure she would welcome you, but not in your current... state."

Glancing down ruefully, "Yes I suppose it would be even less seemly for me to approach her smelling of stables and wine." He had curried Destrier earlier until he shined, just for the simple pleasure of it.

"Tomorrow night, try to use what Lady Pruniprismia has taught you."

Cocking his head, "Sonnets and dances? That will be easy enough - but... what do I do from there?"

"Forefathers give me strength," rubbing his temples Glozelle groaned. "In this case let the good Lady guide you from there - she knows why she is here for this week and knows what goes on between the sheets."

Eighteen years of age, Caspian was no longer invited to his Uncle's study for coffee or wine and tobacc weekly. He had learned to keep to the shadows even more, knowing something was coming to a head, Glozelle was no longer his tutor in name, but only on those nights when the General could slip away. Dark tidings and darker feelings and far far darker fears lurked in Caspian's mind. Prunipismia was recently pregnant, and the only comfort Caspian had was rereading the stories of the Kings and Queens. On one hand Caspian was happy for his Lady Aunt - she had wanted children for so long, and he loved her quite alot, for she had been something of a mother to him. Naivete had been banished from Caspian though, and he had come to realize that his Uncle was not the man he had thought.

That hurt him more than any other blow.

It hurt worse than when Hilda had laughed at his proposal of marriage after two years of liaisons. And it certainly hurt worse than knowing his usefulness to Miraz was near an end. Then realization had come that what his teachers had taught him was for good reason, that he had had even better reason to hide his knowledge and capabilities from everyone. What had been the final touch was the one argument he and Miraz were having.

"Do not dare to look at me with her eyes!" hand lashing out, knocking Caspian's head back.

Shocked, Caspian had fallen back, battle instincts fighting to come to the fore - but he would not strike. Not at his uncle. Trickling of blood from his nostril, face smarting, Caspian just stared.

"What have I done to anger you so Uncle?"

Drunk, Miraz had roared at him again, "Stop looking at me like that!" Dragged forward by his shirtfront, Caspian got a face full of wine soaked breath, "I loved her you know," sounding almost reasonable. "But your father, he was king and so he got to marry her... Not me."

Staying very still, eyes wide, frightened despite the fact that in this situation he could have thrown Miraz thirty ways to the next day due to the older man's inebriation.

"She was mine! He took her!" growling, shaking Caspian about, "You - you dare to have her face! Her eyes!" Caspian was shoved back, "Power means everything nephew, those with power take from everyone else, did you not know that? Just as your father took her from me!"

Becoming agitated - because that was absurd, those with power were supposed to protect everyone else, not take from them - Caspian finally dusted himself off, "You, my dearest Uncle, are quite in your cups and know not of what you speak." There was laughter from the soused Lord, as he stormed over to his desk pouring another large goblet of wine, draining it and throwing it at Caspian. The young Prince ducked, not wanting to deal with this any longer, though not knowing how exactly to extricate himself from this situation. "The throne is for the people, and power is only a means to protect, not that you understand that at the moment," unable to stop the steel that entered his voice. Uncertain he may be of many things, and a pretend-fool more often, but Caspian couldn't stand such slander against his Father. All he had wanted was to know of his Uncle's plans for him - Caspian had asked about one of the many marriage proposals that were scattered over his guardian's desk. Instead what he got was a drunken tirade that seemed to come from no where.

"Get out!" snarling. "Leave my sight Caspian!"

As Caspian left though, a glance over his shoulder showed him Miraz, face in hands, shoulders shaking. It occurred suddenly - it was his mother's birthingday. Retreating quickly, Caspian fled to find Glozelle or the Professor - either way he needed some answers.

Storming through the castle, glowering at all who passed, Caspian was unaware the frightful sight he made. Few knew how deep and dark his thoughts could run, just the General - for that was the side he felt safe to show to him. For the Professor, Caspian allowed his vulnerability to show - each man saw him the same he was sure, but also each saw him differently. That was benificial - a lesson he'd learned early on from them, and they had yet to notice how he'd turned it on them as well. Let none know your true self, because it was dangerous to them as well as those around you. To keep others safe Caspian had hidden everything deep down, and at times had no one to tell of his fears or hates or hurts. Just Bear, who was tucked in the back of his closet, and as silly as it was, Bear comforted him. Either that or he'd stare at the wall having conversations in his mind with High King Peter or King Edmund. Daydreams nothing more, but still they were like Bear - his only truly safe friends. He didn't have to protect them, and he didn't have to hide from them.

"Oh Caspian dear, you look so harsh!" Prunipismia's voice shattered his reverie.

Spinning about on his heel, Caspian had yet to drop his angry vissage. Straightening his back and smoothing his face out with some effort, he gave her a smile, "Aunt! You are looking well, tell me what it is that our forefather's souls have done to make you so lovely - I am sure it is a -"

Prunipismia raised an eyebrow at him, a gesture he'd picked up from her at some point, "Do not give me that Caspian. Come, walk with me in the gardens, I could use a companion."

"Yes Aunt," allowing her to take his arm, despite the fact that he really needed to go vent and hack at things. Or cry - either would do. Plus the need for answers was there still.

Caspian's Aunt was tall for a woman, her head just topping his shoulder, her gait graceful as they walked together, arm in arm. Entering the gardens by a side door, the pair wound through the hedgerows, the mint green of Prunipismia's dress offsetting her radiant skin nicely. Glancing at her, Caspian felt terrible, remembering what Miraz had said about his mother. And hoping that Miraz loved Prunipismia - for it was quite frankly difficult not to in his opinion - as well. Then again, Caspian was quite aware of the fact that political marriages never contained love unless the pair was very very lucky. He had been looking forward to the knowledge that when he got married that his wife wouldn't care two bits for him other than his crown. Not that that was unexpected - only a rulers' children could fully love them. It was to be expected.

"You looked quite fiendish earlier, perhaps you should speak of it to someone," her voice was easy, soothing.

Shaking his head, "It was of not much concern."

Laughter like tinkling bells, "I highly doubt that Caspian, you are a deep man, deeper than people give you credit for."

"I know not of what you speak, my Lady Aunt, I am but a simple klutz," belied by how easily he stopped her from tripping over a loose flagstone.

She sighed, "I know you hide Caspian, I do not blame you, we all hide things." Her dark eyes darted towards Miraz's study, the window blazing out light, "Sometimes Caspian, we hide to protect others, or ourselves, and sometimes - we just hide because we do not know what else to do."

"Did you know..." stopping himself.

"That Miraz loved Helena? Yes, everyone knew, even her father - but even so your grandfather married her to your father."

"Rather than Uncle," feeling a pain that he didn't truly understand - whether it was for his Uncle, his Aunt, Mother or Father - he didn't know. But it was a pain nonetheless.

Patting his forearm where her arm linked with his, "But of course no one ever asked how she felt. That is a woman's lot, but any woman you wed -"

"I will not be wedded anytime soon," grunting, the moonlight making everything glow whitely. "My majority may be in two years, but that seems to matter little, and the fact that most men are married by now also seems to matter little as well." Caspian did not add that because of the child she carried, that his time may be running out. Though he didn't think his Uncle would go so far. "Do I truly look like her?"

"Oh my dear Caspian," Prunipismia pulled him to a stop, a hand resting on his cheek, "Yes Caspian, dear little one you do. And like her you are a beautiful soul, soft and loving in a way that is foreign to our people now." Her thumb wiped away at the drying blood on his upper lip - he'd forgotten about it - her face sad, "It is like you come from some time before, when rulers loved their people, when men were men and women were women. Do not ever loose that sweetness my dear, do not let a bitter draught poison it. It would break my heart." Unspoken, his Uncle's name, and that once he may have been much like Caspian.

Relishing the gentleness that his Aunt showed him, Caspian bowed his head to her, "I swear I shall not then, for I have no wish to break your heart Aunt. You are a kindness that is absent in these times, and I thank you for all the care you have shown me through the years."

With that they continued their walk in silence, Caspian wondering what was to be done with his life now. Part of him wanted to be angry at Lady Prunipismia for being with child, because the child was a threat to him. But he couldn't bring himself to, and Caspian had a feeling that that was how Miraz had once felt about him. Shaking that off, he didn't ever want to forget that a child was a child, and even when it was an adult - if the grown child had never done any harm to him... then it would not be harmed in turn by him. So this left him at a loss - he could not hate his Uncle, he could not hate his Aunt, nor the baby she carried. With a firm decision Caspian decided to banish the word 'hate' from his vocabulary.

It was a rather useless word anyway.

Six moths later, Caspian was riding at breakneck speeds, fleeing his home. Terrified like he'd never been terrified before - knowing it was Glozelle on his trail, knowing that there was no escaping the General. Personal feelings had to be thrown away. It didn't occur to him to wonder how the Professor knew so fast the gender of his cousin. Nor did it occur to wonder at how strong Destrier was - the horse was faster than even the finest of all the Telmarine stables. At the moment all that was running through his mind was fear and sadness. Pain, pain unlike anything he thought he could feel. This time instead of others being sent away - it was him.

The euphemism still held a place in Caspian's mind, the Prince forever scarred, and the thought that when he was six, he was very right - being sent away was the worst thing that could ever happen. Safety was an illusion, he'd known that for years, but now, now it was ripped from him, even Bear was gone. All he had was his daydream friends, for Glozelle could not be his friend now, even if feelings were still there. Professor Cornelius had most likely sacrificed himself, but maybe just maybe Miraz wouldn't realize the old man's involvement.

Hoofbeats echoed loud, and like a fool Caspian glanced behind him. Sharp agony cracked his head, and he was thrown, dragged until he managed to kick free. At the moment he just wanted to die - but he remembered, he held tightly to the memory that he was a Prince, and it was his duty and his privilege to serve the people. To serve in a way that his Uncle could not. Struggling Caspian fought for consciousness, trying to stand.

A click and Caspian was sure, so very sure he was hallucinating - for what looked like a dwarf was coming at him. Their eyes locked, then skipped down to the horn. The Horn! Queen Susan's Horn! Scrambling for it, even as the dwarf went to stand before Glozelle's soldiers, a distant part of Caspian noticed that the General was no where in sight. But now another dwarf, smaller, darker, was fast approaching. Grasping the horn finally he blew, blew with all his heart, all his might and it echoed, echoed into the far reaches of time and space. But among many things Caspian didn't know - like the fact that the Professor was half dwarf, or that Destrier was a mute Horse, or that Glozelle had been sent by the common people to train a better king so that the throne would do it's job properly and protect the people, or that Pruniprismia had had word sent to the Professor first - he was not aware of the far reaching call of the Horn. For he was out like a light, hit for a second time and dragged to relative safety.

Hours later - oddly enough not six hours, more like twelve - Caspian awoke with the worst headache he'd ever had. Not even the first time he'd gotten totally soused - with Glozelle of course - had he had such a splitting headache. Woozily he could almost hear King Edmund saying that when one got hit by a tree, headaches tended to happen. Shaking his head, Caspian winced, realizing that maybe that wasn't his best idea. Voices were muttering and Caspian froze, eyes huge.

Creeping from the odd pallet that he half hung off of due to his height, his back to a wall, he listened.

"He's a bloody Telmarine!"

"And he blew the Horn," tired and kindly the voice said for what sounded like it may have been the umpteenth time. "Besides, I just bandaged his head. Hurting him would be like hurting a guest - just not done!"

"Oy, when he wakes up and skins you, don't come crying to me," grumbling. "Oh maybe I'll just go kill him anyway."

"Enough Nikabrik," but Caspian was out, bolting for the door before the Narnian could finish speaking.

A long dagger was in the dwarf's hand, and Caspian thinking rapidly as only the over trained could, nabbed the poker from the fireplace, deflecting several blows.

"Nikabrik stop it! Oh, you two look what you made me do!" a large badger, the biggest badger Caspian had ever seen, the Prince fumbled back jaw gaping.

"Narnians.. Narnians? You're a Talking Beast! And you... you truly are a dwarf? A black dwarf?" flopping on his butt. "But you are supposed to be extinct."

Blue eyes were rolled at him, "Sorry to disappoint you."

Not really knowing how to cope with the situation, Caspian truly wished he had the Kings and Queens to help him out here - a bit of fatherly or brotherly advice would have done him a world of good. Or even a good old fashioned motherly hug, maybe even a smile from a sweet young Queen even. Caspian would give anything for their help at that moment, because he was at a true loss.

A bit less than a week later, Caspian was on patrol with Hrulf one of the minotaurs feeling much better about the Narnians. They were people just like him, and they had been wronged - and needed any and all help they could get. Plus it was something of his fault that Miraz was going to raze the forest - their Squirrel spies as well as many Birds had told them of the plans to ride the kingdom of all Narnians. So he'd taken responsibility for them, and decided to do his best and save them if not also get them the rights they so justly deserved.

Snapping twigs, and Caspian's ears pricked. Gesturing to Hrulf, "Continue, I shall circle around."

"Of course my liege," rumbling, the trust already earned.

Sinking to his haunches, Caspian moved near silent through the shadows, looking for the source of the irregular sounds. Of course it was possible that the snappings had been nothing untoward, but Caspian had this weird creepy feeling on the back of his neck. It had started some point after he'd blown the Horn, like something was coming. Plus his daydreams had gone fuzzy, which while wouldn't concern most people, it did him - for he depended on his imagined friends guidance as much as a real persons. They may not be real - though at one time they were he now knew - but knowing their stories, their histories and using his own experiences helped his mind extrapolate responses to situations he had no experience in.

What looked like what may be an Archenlander - trade was very erratic with the mountain nation - due to his blond hair, came creeping out, sward drawn heading for Hrulf. Caspian's sword didn't even rasp it was drawn so quickly and he was there - battering the blonds' weapon. Matched for strength if not speed, Caspian held his own even when disarmed, debating how best to overpower the soldier, until there was a shout.

It was female and young, frightened.


Caspian refused to be unarmed though, and wrenched the great sward from the trunk of a tree, holding it poised to strike if need be.

"Prince Caspian?"

"Yes, and who are you?" measuring the Archenlander.


Eyes widening, Caspian glanced down at the blade in his hand, then back up at the young man before him, "High King Peter?"

The sword was taken from his now limp grasp, "I believe you called."

Blinking rapidly and looking around, "Well, yes, I thought you would be," his gaze skipped back to the beautiful woman with dark hair, forcing himself not to stare, "well - but I thought you would be older."

"We could come back in a few years if you like," snarky enough to have been the Just King, Caspian thought, yet no, that was the High King before him.

Disturbed, Caspian felt shoved aside, inconsiquencial as what were his soldiers bowed to the High King. This was certainly not what he was expecting. The small hopeful child inside him had always thought of the High King as a secondary father figure, and King Edmund as a brother, and Queen Lucy as a sister. Mouth dry, his eyes slid over to the Gentle Queen, and realized - no that certainly was not his mother there, not at all. More like the mother of his children... Squashing that thought before his mind could slip further, Caspian fought to reconcile everything he had just been confronted with into neat little boxes.

It just wouldn't work though.

The High King was duly impressed with his efforts though, and while Caspian's eyes told him that Peter was younger than him, his mind and heart told him that this was a much older man. So the Prince's heart swelled with a bit of pride when the King praised his actions. It was the Queen's eyes on his back though that weighed on him the heaviest, because he was entranced by her the way he had been as a small boy - but differently. Very very differently.

Muttering as he lay beside the fire on the way to Aslan's How, "So this is what it is to be Prince..." so many things to keep track of, so many things to do, so many surprises to handle, and so beautiful of a Queen to court. If they survived the coming war.