Title: Possesion
Rating: NC-17
Author: Rhion
Summary: He was powerful. Charismatic... Magnificent. All that he surveyed bowed before him at one point or another. And when he wanted something, he would come to possess it - by cunning, skill, diplomacy, violence, or manipulation. Eventually - because he'll have earned it.
AN: I wanted to do another Dark!Peter - you know... the kind you wanna rip me apart for, yet for some reason can't quite manage... because you get sucked in. evil cackle


He'd always watched her, it was impossible not to. For oh so long he'd held out. Done nothing more than guide her, be there for her - be strong for her. Love her. Somehow he took a misstep, but by this point he no longer cared. It had started out simple enough, as many things are wont to do, maybe it had started when they were little and she would insist on going wherever he went, carrying her teddy-bear with her at all times. Or possibly when she got chickenpox - and told him to protect Mr. Bear for her so he wouldn't get sick. Then of course there were the endless games of house, where Susan would cry if he didn't play. Peter of course couldn't stand Susan crying, it was a terrible sound, that while not as horrific as nails on a chalkboard for most people - just the start of a sob from her was enough to set Peter on edge.

Then of course... maybe it was when they got a touch older, when she'd gone from looking so much like a small porcelain doll into something more feminine. Energy was at a premium, so they used to take baths together, and the changes his sister was going through were as obvious as his. Still he hadn't ever said a word. Though sometimes... sometimes she'd look at him and blush as though she knew what he was thinking, crossing her arms modestly. Even so, on cold nights or when she had a nightmare, Susan would still come to him as always, no longer clutching a teddy-bear, but only hugging herself until he replaced her arms with his own. Of course nothing ever happened, Peter was a good brother, simply made sure to ease her fears, comforting her how he was supposed to. And when she slept, if he pressed a kiss to the corner of those plump lips? That was his business.

War tore their country asunder, their lives and their family - and there was Peter, standing tall, even when uncertain - doing whatever he must. Taking his father's place in the caring for Lucy and doing his best with Edmund - the trouble truly started there when Ed, half asleep after a nightmare he was soothing him from, had called him 'Dad'. The next day, Edmund had glared at him, as though it was all Peter's fault that the details of their father were slipping away. Susan tried to help Peter, to pick up the slack, and she did a terrific job. Still barely more than children, they were the adults in the house, the ones who stood firm and let their mother mourn however she must the absence of their father, the ones who did bedtime, the laundry, dinner, pack lunches and make breakfasts. When the call came for the Pevensies to go to the countryside, to stay with the Professor - well, by then Lucy couldn't really remember their father, and definitely didn't remember what it was like for Mother to be Mother. All roles were filled to capacity, and still Susan continued to bloom.

The arch of Susan's neck would distract Peter whenever she pulled her hair up into a too neat bun, all he wanted was to press his nose there, to brush his lips over it. Still, and still - he never did anything untoward. When other boys were playing games of soldier, Peter was not playing games at all - he was both a father and a husband to his family. Susan would kiss him before bed and after breakfast - a chaste thing on his cheek. And at times, Peter would turn his head just the barest amount seemingly by accident, so that those lips pressed to his instead. It was as far as he would let himself go. When the radio would play a waltz, Susan would gaze longingly at the floor in front of the little box, and Peter would grin. In those moments he held her in his arms, dancing clumsily until he got the rhythm, making her smile. For that he got a kiss on the mouth - happy, yet chaste as ever. If she had any idea the effect she had on his body, he wondered if she would have still leaned her head on his shoulder sighing, breath sending shivers down his spine.

Narnia happened, with Lucy and Edmund both coming to treat him as their father and Susan as their mother. The dresses Susan wore, those were hard for him to bear - accentuating her hourglass figure, showing the tops of her cleavage, and clinging just so to her bottom as she walked. Hips all asway, perfect curve to her back, with tresses so long that they hung far below her waist. Sometimes he'd sit in her room talking with her before bed, watching as she brushed those silken locks, and if he was lucky her arms would get tired, the brush then offered to him with a tiny smile. Peter relished those times, his fingers stroking each wave before he'd pass the brush through it. Those times were also when he'd take the opportunity to run his fingertips over the back of her neck, pushing her hair aside, to lay a soft kiss to Susan's nape. That would always make her giggle, swatting him, telling him that it tickled. Smiling he'd rest his chin on her shoulder, looking at her in the mirror, not letting her see how much he'd love to tickle her everywhere.

At some point though, Peter couldn't hold back any longer, couldn't be the good brother. When Susan came to his room one night - as she did once every week or so - wrapped in soft silk, crying, having dropped the strong front she wore around everyone else, his control snapped. But not so she noticed. When he held her tight, his hands rubbed circles in her back as they had always done before - but now they spread as well, kneading her hips and shoulders as he pressed feather light kisses over her face, removing the salty tears. Peter wasn't aware of it at first either, but the next night, when he lay in bed he could remember what her waist felt like beneath silk, of what the small of her back was like under his fingertips. Not much had happened, yet still - it was too late and he didn't know it.

XXX

A knock and he was at his door, opening it. Susan stood there, hugging herself. Allowing her to pass by soundlessly, Peter's face was stony as he closed the door. Glancing down at his hand where it was steady as a rock on the knob, cocking his head, studying it, somehow disconnected from everything. Flicking the lock as though it were nothing more than an afterthought, Peter went over to his table, pouring a small glass of wine for Susan.

Sipping from it, letting the bitter tart taste roll around in his mouth, Peter watched as Susan slid under his covers waiting for him. Swallowing, Peter sank beside her, holding the glass out.

It was taken gratefully, as Susan propped up against his side, "Thank you."

Without a word, Peter nodded, brushing her hair from her shoulders, then resting his hand on the dip of her back. She was so warm. Leaning in, Peter inhaled the scent of honeysuckle and jasmine, rocking from side to side gently, doing his best to ease whatever it was that made her cry this night.

Taking the goblet from her, "What happened?" his voice easy, normal.

But control was gone, Peter was gone, but he was there, unable to even remember to stop his hand from cupping her cheek.

"Nightmare," leaning into the touch.

Maybe if she hadn't done that he would have regained some of his senses.

"About what?" it was a simple matter to pull Susan to his chest as he lay back.

"White Witch," two words that spoke volumes.

For some reason he had gone to bed in nothing but a pair of loose leggings, as though part of him knew Susan would come. The downy softness of her cheek on his chest branded him. His blood quickened, laying thick between his thighs. Yet he didn't do anything. Humming tunelessly deep in his throat, rubbing lazy circles on her back and hip, that dragged the skirt of her nightgown up in a careless fashion, Peter just did his ever present job. It had changed whether or not either of them had noticed. In fact - Peter's role had changed long ago, diverged from that of older brother, to that of protector and of husband. And now it was time he eased his wife in all but name, and eased himself. Patience had worn down, been thrown away - Susan was seventeen now, he was eighteen - the years in Narnia had erased all inner taboo in Peter by now. For all this time it had been mere habit that kept his control intact.

Gentle touches, soft kisses, it seemed so natural. Susan was half asleep, nightmare forgotten by the time Peter had the hem of her shift at her hips, and his fingers had been trailing up and down the outside of her thigh. Part of Peter had anticipated this, and he'd practiced several times on females from the outlying countries that sent emissaries, so at least he knew he would be able to make this good for her. If he ever got to it.

Quirking his lips in a half grin, tilting Susan's face up, "Susan?"

Blinking sleepily, her hand running unconsciously over his chest, "Hmmm?"

"I love you," nuzzling at her face.

"Love you too," scrunching her nose with a smile.

That was all he needed to hear to strengthen his resolve. This night, Susan was his, she loved him, he loved her - this.. this was right and good and natural. Kissing her mouth, moving his lips over hers slowly, reminding himself to keep it light, to keep control, to not snap and just take her, sucking on the plump flesh, containing somehow his groan of desire. Susan's blue eyes opened in surprise, but the emotion was drowned out as Peter continued to kiss her, licking at her mouth begging entrance. She let out a tiny sound as she blushed, her hands fluttering to his shoulders while he rolled them over onto her back. Keeping his weight off of her - Peter didn't want to scare her with how hard he was, just wanted to make this good, make this gentle for her - his lips traveling over her cheeks and finally to her neck. That was almost his undoing, he'd always loved her neck, the length of it, the smoothness of it, the paleness of her skin - and it's taste was sweeter than he'd ever imagined. Somehow Peter managed to not nip at her, to hold off on such desires until next time, slipping down her body, tugging the shoulders of her nightdress down, continuing his study of all her creamy flesh.

"P-peter?" it was soft and uncertain.

"Shh, it's okay Su," reassuring her.

"Wh-what are you...?" the words broke off into a quiet sigh as Peter pushed his knee between her legs, rubbing her groin with his thigh to give her a taste of pleasure.

Stroking her cheek, "It's okay Su, let me love you."

"O-okay.."

Untying the top of her shift, he spread it open, even when her eyes widened at the action, Peter soothed her with another press of lips, "Do you trust me, Su?"

"Yes," her hand atop his having halted his movement.

Giving her fingers a significant look, raising an eyebrow, "Then don't worry, it's just me. Lay back and enjoy, okay? It'll feel good I promise."

"Promise?" still she hesitated, fingers flexing around his hand.

"I love you, Su, I wouldn't lie to you, it's okay, just trust me," smiling at her just so - in that way that always banished fear in others. He knew what he was doing after all.

[REDACTED]

Cuddling Susan, sweaty and spent Peter fell asleep knowing that she was all his. He'd claimed her and would never let her go.

XXX

It had taken much doing, but eventually Peter had convinced Susan to no longer sleep in her rooms, but only in his. Lucy had been ecstatic - what with her Mother and Father finally sharing the same room. Endless questions were issued by Lucy as she played asking when she'd have a little brother or sister. Peter would laugh giving her a tight hug before sending her Susan's way telling her to suggest to Susan that the High King and Queen should get on that post haste.

Things went like this for some time, Peter was happy, as happy as any man could ever hope to be, except for two tiny little snafus. Susan wouldn't marry him - thus allowing all the foreign suitors to court her, and for some strange reason... they had yet to produce a child. If Peter had only known that Susan, still practical and logical, was taking the root of the jilail bush to prevent such a thing, he would have been furious. As well as concerned. Of course. Though of course whenever he would complain to Susan of the suitors, of course never mentioning the childlessness for he'd never wish to insinuate that she were barren for that'd be cruel - she'd only point out the fact that Narnia was a small kingdom, and being able to use her as a possible bargaining chip was to the good. For without a doubt Lucy was not ever going to be used in such a manner - neither adult would allow it.

On a sunny afternoon, the benevolent High King changed.

He'd seen something that made his blood run to ice, a frozen fury lacing his veins, and lashing at him. Peter had been looking through an orchard, and there he saw an Archenlander - yet another of the endless number of suitors - kissing - kissing his beloved. Holding in his fury, Peter approached the pair, and told the young man - one Peridin - that he was no longer welcome in Cair Paravel. After the Archenlander left, Peter's anger still was not slacked. Turning away from Susan the ever so Magnificent King had made sure in no uncertain terms that her time as a bargaining chip was over. Somehow though the ties with Archenland remained strong, even though Peter no longer allowed anyone to entertain such thoughts as to Queen Susan's eligibility as a wife. Possessive would have been a kind description. Edmund would wear a worried frown at times as he watched Susan pass, not able to quite place his finger on what was wrong. Lucy was just as perceptive, but any questions asked to either of her parents was thoroughly rebuffed.

No one knew the exact why of any of it, but no one said anything either.

XXX

Susan was pacing from one end of the sitting room to the other, like a caged cat, her hair in tangles. Peter was unmoved. When she rounded on him, tears in her eyes, even still - Peter didn't react. He just sat there, deceptively calm, leg over one knee, watching, a small bag that he'd found recently held loosely in his hand.

"No right! You have no right!" she'd gone from reason, to anger, to fear, to tears and back again.

"Don't I?" Peter's tone was mild, his blue eyes measuring. Cocking his head, "You do realize that your histrionics mean absolutely nothing to me at this point, don't you?"

Her hands raked through her hair, mussing it further, "I don't want to have a baby!" Then things escalated - she threw a chair across the room breaking it, as she screamed, "And I don't want to marry you!"

That was when he lost it, rising from his seat, he found himself picking Susan up and shaking her so hard, as he hissed, "You will marry me! And you will have children as a wife is supposed to!"

Susan's cerulean eyes narrowed, her voice as sharp and cold as a frozen tundra, "No."

Of its own accord Peter's hand lashed out, striking her cheek, then held the small bag of powdered jilail root infront of her eyes, "And this will not continue Susan. I forbid it."

Tears of anger and pain and shock fell from her eyes, fingers held trembling to her cheek, "I'll kill myself."

"You'll do no such thing Susan," with a snort as he released her with a shove. "Don't be so damnably mellowdramatic. As is you have enough guards to sink a ship, don't make me add to them."

"I'm a queen in my own right Peter, you can't just order me to do something..." drawing on that reserve of bravery that she showed rarely. Most times he thought she was beautiful - but right now, she was being difficult. By now she should know when to bow to his will.

Throwing the little bag into the fire, his back turned, "I'm the High King, Susan - and you will do as I say. I'm done allowing you to prance about, you've squandered your freedom. Now it's time to do things your way. The way you've forced them to be." Bracing a hand on the lintel, Peter ignored how his eyes burnt, maybe from smoke or heat, certainly not from tears of grief. There went the foolish thought that she'd loved him. "We did things my way, you had everything you wanted and more, but this whole time you've been lying to me. How many of your suitors have you lain with? Has it been in our bed? Were they any good? Huh? Tell me that Susan. I will not be cuckolded in my own home. Not ever again. The next man who lays a hand on you dies, Susan."

"I do love you," it was a strangled sound. "Peridin was nice to me Peter. It was just a kiss. And that was weeks ago." He could hear her moving closer, could almost see her hands held out to him, entreating, "I've always been faithful to you."

His grip on the fireplace went white, "Somehow I doubt that." Growling, "Go bathe. Now. And be prepared for me in bed. I'm going to go say goodnight to Lucy and Edmund." Giving her a dismissive glance, "For both of us."

XXXX

Peter had taken a walk to calm his nerves, gathering a few flowers to give to Susan as a weak gift of truce. He didn't really think she'd ever been unfaithful, and logically he knew what he'd seen with Peridin was nothing - truly nothing more than a brush of lips over her cheek. But the jilail powder - that was what had driven him to madness. Yes, that was it. How could she not want to bear his children? They loved each other, and they loved Lucy and Edmund. Shouldn't they fill Cair Paravel with the sound of happy giggles? Taking a deep breath, Peter struggled to maintain his cool, he didn't want to go back to his chambers angry. It would take some coaxing, and he owed her profuse apologies, because he'd hit her - something he'd never thought he'd do - but Peter was sure that Susan would see reason. A little bit of time, that's all it would take - and they'd be wed. And she'd be with child.

Plucking several beautiful blue roses and lavender ones, Peter made a tiny bouquet, smelling those wonderful Narnian blooms. Nodding to one of the guards as he ascended the steps from the garden he noticed Edmund standing there, frowning out into the night, arms crossed. Raising an eyebrow at the young man, Peter came to a stop, head cocked.

"You look as though you have deep thoughts, Ed."

"What was all the shouting about Pete?" dark brown eyes focused on him. "And why didn't Su come say goodnight?"

Sighing, "She wasn't feeling well - I told you earlier."

"Hmph," the young Just King looked doubtful.

Deciding to clarify, "She and I just had an argument, nothing more. Afterwards she said she was tired and went to bed. That's all - you needn't worry yourself."

Chewing his lip, Edmund ran a hand through his shaggy black hair, "Maybe she'd like to go for a ride tomorrow to make her feel better?"

"No, I haven't the time to escort her, there's the emissaries from -"

"Since when does Su need an escort, Pete? She's the best archer in all of Narnia, she can hold her own just fine," while it sounded so reasonable, Peter didn't like it. Not at all.

Nostrils flaring, "It's not seemly Edmund, what of bandits? What of those who're not satisfied with the fact that her hand isn't on the table for marriage anymore? No - it's too risky and it's far from appropriate."

Edmund pushed off the wall, piercing him with his gaze, "If you say so, I'll bow to your better judgement. But - it's not good for Su to stay so cooped up," with that, and without so much as a by-your-leave, he walked away.

Mulling it over as he made his way back to their chambers, Peter decided that maybe Edmund was right, and maybe he shouldn't just take for granted that Susan loved him. He should woo her as he once had, remind her that she was his and that it was a good thing. Opening the door to their rooms, he found them quiet and dark. Closing the door with a click, Peter let his eyes adjust to the gloom - even the fire was out.

"Su?" calling out softly, not wanting to wake her if she were asleep.

There was a snap as a spark was struck lighting a candle, revealing Susan sitting by the hearth, wrapped in a large blanket. She didn't say a word, just dropped the cloth and walked to their bedroom. Following closely with a worried look, Peter saw that she was wearing nothing at all. Setting the candle down, Susan didn't look at him, just got on the bed, waiting, staring at the ceiling.

Sitting next to her, "Susan? What's wrong?"

She just turned her head, looking at him finally, and her eyes were puffy and red, worn out from crying, "Nothing at all. I bathed my King and I am in bed, as you commanded." An angry bruise graced the left side of her face, bottom lip split, and Peter was disgusted with himself.
He'd done this to her.

Pursing his lips, he glanced down at the bundle of flowers he'd collected - they seemed paltry and silly in comparison to what he'd done. Holding them up though, for it was all he had to give, "I picked these for you."

"Thank you," it was quiet, unobtrusive. Emotionless.

Offering, "Would you like to put them somewhere?"

"Wherever you like is more than satisfactory for me," sitting up and taking them from him. "You tell me where, and that's where they'll go."

Becoming frightened - who was this mechanical creature standing before him - Peter used his gentlest voice, "Well where would you like to put them?"

Susan ducked her head, then put them in a small vase that already held several flowers, rearranging them quickly. With a rapid shuffle she was back to the bed, but instead of climbing in it, she knelt, laying her forehead on his knee, hair hanging in loose waves over her back and shoulders. He didn't like this, where was the strong woman he loved? She certainly wasn't this creature who was silent for the most part, this suddenly wholly subservient Susan didn't jive with his perception of her at all. Normally Susan was capable, diplomatic, graceful, gentle, practical - and never vulnerable, except with him. Stroking the back of her head, Peter found himself alternately worried then angry. The anger...he wasn't sure where it was directed at - at her or himself.

"Talk to me Su," something was buffeting at his control, trying to take possession of him. Peter needed her to distract him.

Not looking up, "It will take a few months for me to be fertile again, and then I should become pregnant quickly. Would you like the wedding before or after I'm with child?"

Flinching, "Susan."

"Yes my King?" furtive glance to his face, then her gaze was dropped just as fast.

"Peter, my name is Peter," clenching his teeth.

"Yes, Peter," turning her face on his leg, so he wouldn't see the ravaged part of her cheek.

Closing his eyes, Peter stood up, turning his back on her to pace. Allowing his gaze to go back to her for a moment, he saw Susan kneeling there, hands clasped in her lap, head bowed. Wincing, he strode over to her, taking Susan by the shoulders and forcing her to rise. Examining her face, Peter tried to find something other than this mask she wore.

Tilting her chin with a finger, "Would you like to go for a ride tomorrow?"

"If it pleases you Peter, I should like to stay indoors, so that I may be here if you require," though her bottom lip trembled.

"I'll go get Lucy's cordial," keeping her naked body pressed to his clothed one with his hand at the small of her back. She was shaking, and he could see how rapid her pulse was from the vein in her neck.

"Why?" and she flinched when his grip tightened on her.

Tipping his head down, Peter pressed his face into the side of her throat, "Because you're hurt. I want to fix that."

Susan's hands came around him, and he could feel her uncertainty, hear it in her voice, touch it in how she trembled, smell it in the salt that still clung to her skin, "There is nothing to fix, Peter, I am well." As though to acknowledge the fact that he'd struck her would anger him, and it dawned slowly - Susan was afraid.

Of him.

XXX

That night, and many others, Peter did not sleep in his chambers with Susan. And the Gentle Queen no longer went for long rides, even when Edmund or Lucy asked her to accompany them, saying she wasn't in the mood. Peter watched from shadows when he could, trying to figure out how to fix his beloved, to get back what they had. Sometimes he'd glare at his hands, as though seeing them as belonging to some stranger. Other times his angry gaze would land on the Queen, but no one really noticed when this happened. No wedding came, nor a pregnancy. The Queen's wine was dosed with shaking fingers by the High King, the root of the jilail bush once more in her system. If he could strike her, Peter reasoned, then he was not fit to be a father.

Battle was a relief, Calormen attacked, and Peter threw himself into it. None could stand before his blade, and Rhindon dripped not just blood but offal and gore. Edmund was leading by his side, so to the enemies of Narnia - it looked as though Cair Paravel was undefended. At night Susan would pace the corridors, sending messages, planning relief regiments and caring for the wounded - a general in her own right. Just as strong and mighty as the two kings. It didn't seem odd to anyone - for in public life, the Queen was her usual self, with only minor changes. When the attack on Cair Paravel came - Peter was far away with the bulk of the standing army, and Edmund was at sea with the whole of the navy.

The Gentle Queen earned her other title - Mistress of War - and the attacking armies were ground to so much mulch on the walls of Cair Paravel. Peter was proud when he heard, heart swelling, knowing that his beloved must have returned to normal. And that she would need his strength to sooth the nightmares this war would cause her when he returned. It was the only time he was grateful to the thought of her dreams, for it would provide a bridge, something for him to cross so that all would be well once more. As the victorious army was returning, Peter's entourage was attacked - and he was severely wounded trying to save one of his commanders.

Carried back to the gates of Cair Paravel, the High King was born in a stretcher and was met by a frantic Susan, who in retaliation, sent Edmund to wreak vengeance upon Calormen for their audacity. Peter refused to drink any of Lucy's cordial, saying it was better saved for those in deathly need. So, Susan nursed him back to health quietly and without reservation. At night he woke sometimes to hear her crying infront of the fireplace, and it tore at his heart. When he was well enough Susan started helping him to his armchair at the fireplace, a blanket tucked around him firmly as the season had turned chilly. Things changed for them once more because of this.

XXX

He was feeling frustrated and while he was enjoying the way Susan was caring for him - Peter had been deemed not strong enough to do his husband's duty. And that was irking him to no end. Though it wasn't as though he'd demanded it all that often before he'd been wounded - Susan wouldn't look at him, and that would make him angry, driving him near to striking her. So Peter hadn't been doing much of that earlier anyway, but it was high time they got back to normal.

Catching hold of her hand as she passed, "Su?"

"Yes Peter?" squeezing his fingers, a distracted smile on her face, "What can I do for you?"

"Make love to me," gazing up at her, kissing the back of her hand. "Please."

Frowning just the tiniest amount, "But the doctors said you aren't healed enough."

Shaking his head, "It doesn't matter Susan, I need you." Managing to lever himself up, Peter wrapped his arms around Susan's waist, "I want to make love to you, I miss you Susan." Kissing her, tasting winter applewine on her lips, wanting to show her how much he craved all of her still. As he pulled away resting his lips on her forehead, "I want you to be my wife, and I want you to be happy. I want usto be happy again Su." Looking into her soft blue eyes, "Please tell me it's possible."

"I... I am happy," but it rang false, that weird note that had been there the last year or so tinting the words.

"Susan - tell me how to make you happy. Don't -" cutting her off before she spoke, "don't tell me you are when you aren't. I know you aren't happy at all - I watch you all the time Su, you never smile anymore, you don't laugh, you don't do anything anymore, not really." Stroking his thumb over her cheek, long healed, yet still he could see the angry marks there though they were gone, "I know it's my fault. Tell me how to fix it, to fix you, to fix us. I'll do whatever it takes."

Sighing as she touched his lips, "I don't know Peter." That was her voice, the first time he'd heard it in forever directed at him. Those long round vowels, the inflection - it felt like an eternity since she'd spoken like this. The candidness in her face, "I do love you and I am.. content."

Peter's leg was still weak, and his side was sore, but it didn't stop him from dropping to his knees before her, head bowed over her hand, "Then whatever it takes, I'll set things right Susan. I swear it in Aslan's name."

"It's not like that Peter," sounding panicked as she knelt next to him.

"Then tell me what it's like," ignoring the pain in his body, pleading. Susan looked down, uncertainty that was so different, like she wasn't trying to just please him. This was what he wanted. "Su, you can tell me anything. Anything at all. Do.." shoving aside the fact that this thought hurt him horribly, "do you want to have suitors again?" The look she gave him was appalled, which was a relief. Leaning in he kissed her gratefully, and Peter was even more grateful for her returning it sweetly. Like she used to.

"Peter - careful!" when he swayed trying to regain his feet. Susan's grip was firm, he'd forgotten at times that beneath all that soft skin she was well muscled, that for all her daintiness - she was more able-bodied then most men. "Seriously, Peter - sometimes I worry about you," it came out less cross and more concerned, which made Peter want to smile.

"Yes well, what sort of king leads his troops directly into battle?" leaning on Susan's shoulder, asking rhetorically.

Archly, "The same kind that goes and runs headlong into an ambush." Then with a kiss Peter found himself on their bed being settled in, "And the same who rules his people fairly." Long fingers were untying his tunic, checking his wounds, "As well as the same kind who does foolish things for love."

Grunting when she prodded at his side, "What? Like dropping to his knees while wounded?"

"Yes," hands sweeping his shirt all the way open.

Managing to hide his surprise, when Susan leaned in kissing him shyly, her hands pressing on his shoulders gently, Peter repressed a hungry groan as her lips parted. Tangling a fist in her hair encouraging her with wordless entreaty, opening his mouth so her tongue could sweep the cavern. This was definitely what he wanted. It was an effort to not yank her back to him when she pulled away, but Peter had had enough of forcing Susan to do his will. It hadn't worked out very well. So it was time for patience and diplomacy.

Licking his lips, a small smile gracing his face, eyes twinkling, "If that's the sort of reward I get for doing foolish things - I think I'll do them more often." Looking around in mock speculation, "Now let's see... what sort of trouble can I get into from here?"

"Please don't Peter," a desperate note entered Susan's voice, completely uncalled for considering how playful things had been there for a few moments.

Looking at her sharply, "Su? What's wrong?"

Her forehead was pressed into the center of his chest, right over his heart, and wetness fell there like blazing rain, "Don't do dangerous things just for me. I can't stand you being hurt." Susan's fingers raked lightly through his chest hair, "Do you have any idea Peter...? Any at all?"

"About what?" gathering her hair into a thick ponytail with one hand, holding it away from her face.

"When they said you'd been attacked... no one knew if you lived or not," Susan's eyes were clenched, a muscle straining in her jaw, hands becoming fists, "And all I could think was that I hadn't made you happy, that I hadn't been doing what you wanted me to do, that you had probably died thinking that I didn't love you. So.. when I saw you... breathing, alive - I vowed that I would do whatever it was you asked of me. No matter what, and... and I tried before Peter, but I promise I'll try harder now. Even though I don't know what you want or need from me, I'll keep trying until I get it right. There's no way... no way I can live without you."

Saying softly, bringing her chin up so he could gaze into her deep blue eyes, "Is that why you cry at night in front of the fireplace?"

"Because I did wrong, and I can't bear to hurt you again. And I don't know what I'm doing, but I have to try, and if I try hard enough - maybe I'll get it right."

"Su..." Peter's throat was tight, constricting, her words were his feelings. "Susan, I hurt you and.. yes you hurt me too. But what I did was worse Su, I scared you, and you changed because of it. I just want us to be whole again, and I want us to be us. More than that though - I don't... I don't want to hit you or be angry at you, or feel ashamed each time I look at you." Sighing, "But each time you just.. bow to whatever I want without a word, without an opinion... Sometimes it makes me so frustrated Su, and then I feel shame because it takes all my willpower to not strike you. We shouldn't be like this, we love each other - and that's a good thing."

"I didn't know!" choking on a sob. "I thought I was doing what you wanted... " Her mouth came down on his, fingers tangling in his hair, begging him to forgive her. "Please Peter, I'm sorry, let's... let's get married, let's have children... Let's be happy, anything... anything you want, you need, I'm here, I swear!"

Moaning, Peter wrapped his arms around her, disregarding the pressure her weight put on the gash in his side. Breaking free of the kiss, panting, "I only want you. All of you. And to be happy.. that's all. I want to make you happy. I want you to need me."

"I do need you, I do..." and he believed she did.

[REDACTED]

Making a low sound in his throat, "I love you."

Her answering smile was bashful, "I love you too. Was.. was it okay...?" Without urgency motivating her actions, Susan was starting to retreat again.

"It was more than okay," gathering his strength, he rolled them over, "I told you - I want you to need me. To want me, to love me." Hiding a wince, as his wound stretched, "Because I need you Su, I always have. Always, I can't remember a day in my life ever that I didn't love you or want you or need you. Not ever."

Something shadowy was hiding in the back of his mind when he said that. It didn't take much to shove that aside, because it almost felt as though whatever it was would put a damper on things. And that wouldn't do at all. So tucked away, whatever that thing was, stayed well hidden. After all - it couldn't matter that much.

XXX

A courtship began between the High King and his Queen. It was a strange dance, for many had thought the High King had long since earned the Gentle Queen's hand. Though everyone smiled, because he was smiling, and because Susan was smiling. Peter found himself bringing her flowers, randomly sending a note to wherever she was telling her of his love, or that he had thought of her and smiled. In return there were small things on his person, a small dried flower here from one of his bouquets, sometimes one of her earrings was fastened into the collar of his tunic against his skin. Or the times when Susan would rise before him, Peter would waken to have his clothes laid out for him, a folded piece of paper with nothing more than 'For you' written in neat script on it. Sachets of lavender and orange were sewn in silky lace, hung in his wardrobe, to scent his clothes. Times were happy once more, and all was well.

Yet still the High King continued to give the order for the Gentle Queen's wine to be dosed.

Eventually Peter could take it no longer, and he asked Susan to marry him. She said yes, her smile radiant. They had ruled for seven years side by side with Lucy and Edmund, and no one, not anywhere, could remember a time before. The White Witch was all but forgotten, things were known intellectually, but had slipped away in meaning long since. Lucy was a shining point of loving brilliance as she walked down the aisle before her Queenly Mother, and Edmund, stood by the High King's side, back straight. So many things people never seemed to notice, from Edmund's tiny frown as Susan and Peter kissed after saying their vows for all to hear, or to the timidity of the High Queen earlier in their reign. Little things here and there, yet, and yet all felt well, all seemed well, so all was well.

Susan began to act strangely after the wedding, and each month she would cry near silent tears in her bath. Peter would hear, but didn't let himself think about the why of it. Each night he'd pour her a glass of wine, and one for himself - but hers would contain the smallest dose of jilail. Just insurance. Of course the question of what sort of insurance it was, or against what... well against pregnancy obviously. As he'd pass her the glass watching her sip it with a smile, holding his hand, Peter would wage an inner battle against knocking it from her grasp. Why didn't he want her with child? So long he'd wanted to see her round with his children, to give playmates to Lucy - who was now too old for them.

Then for some strange reason, Susan started to cease drinking wine. Any wine at all. When he'd try to offer her some, she'd shake her head telling him that she didn't feel like having any. Water, always water, fresh and cool, that's all her pitcher ever held. Peter began to pull out when they made love, though Susan's queries put a stop to that quickly. Soon, the monthly tears ceased, and dread instead of joy weighed Peter's heart. For three months, there were no tears, and his wife said not a word. And for two of those three months, Peter would awaken to the sounds of illness, as Susan's body protested.

XXX

Sitting in his study, the High King went over the same paragraph four times on a trade agreement with Galma. Resting his forehead on his palm, Peter tried to concentrate. It was impossible, too much weighed on his mind. There were treaties, policy, laws, agreements, disagreements, all clamouring for his emotional, and mental attention. Not only that - Susan had yet to speak to him about the child that was growing within her body.

"You look irritated," Edmund walked in unannounced as was his habit, and flopped in a chair, boots softly thunking on Peter's desk.

Raising an eyebrow, "I take it that's your way of asking me what's on my mind?"

Snorting, "Hardly." Hands crossed over his stomach as Edmund sank lower in the chair, "I just wanted to ask you about the tournament next week."

"The answer's still no," setting the papers aside for later when his mind wouldn't wander so badly.

"Why not? We've lost the last four, ever since Su asked you not to compete." Gesturing expansively, "Calormen has been eyeing the Lone Islands, and we don't really want another war, do we? So - a little show of strength would do some good." Shrugging, "It's a small price to pay, Pete. Just let me join -"

"You're not old enough!" snapping.

"Ha! That's rich!" pursing his lips. "You know I'm peerless. And besides, how old were you in your first joust? Eh? Fifteen? I'm older than that, I'm seventeen."

"Your mother doesn't want you in the lists," sighing. "And neither do I. Just think of how it'd break her heart if you were wounded..."

Edmund got up, muttering, "Not as badly as you broke hers," spinning on a heel and stalking away.

"More troublesome everyday," groaning, though something niggled, something dark, on the edges of his mind. 'You're not Father! You'll never replace him!'

Wincing, Peter shoved the voice away - reminding himself it meant nothing. Nothing at all. That was just a distant nightmare. That's all. That's all it could be. Gritting his teeth, Peter got up, fists clenched, pacing back and forth behind his desk, a pale track already worn there from years of similar bouts. Spur of the moment, the High King decided to throw all caution to the wind, and wrote several quick notes to his captains. He'd champion his kingdom for the first time since he was wounded. Another note was sent to Edmund, requesting two extra hours of practice a day, to brush up his skills. And a last note was sent to his wife, saying he'd love to have a private dinner with her that evening instead of one in the feasting hall.

XXX

Utensils clinked on their plates, though for the most part it was only Peter eating.

"Do you not care for the fish?" frowning at Susan's near untouched meal.

"Oh no it's... it looks good," smiling tightly, yet her eyes were fixated on it like she expected it to get up and eat her nose.

Reaching over, he switched their plates, and cut off a large chunk of flaky pink flesh. Examining it with a shrug, he tried his piece, then made gagging noises, hands going to his throat. Susan got up panicked, but Peter straightened up with a grin, waving her to be seated once more. Tucking into it, smiling as Susan rolled her eyes at him, "Well, it tastes fairly good. But I take it you're not in the mood for fish." Patting his lips with his napkin, he leaned over, cutting up several bites of venison for her, "Try this then, maybe it'll be more agreeable to your pallet."

Eying it warily, Susan opened her mouth when he held the fork to her lips, "You know I don't really like red meat."

"Try it anyway," placing the morsel between her lips, watching as Susan's full lips wrapped around the fork. Slipping it back out, saying absentmindedly, "I hear that things a woman doesn't normally like, tend to be devoured while with child. The stranger and less liked... the more the mother to be enjoys them."

"I..." she looked away, fidgeting.

Scooting his chair closer to her, Peter touched her chin with a finger, turning her to face him, holding up another forkful of food, "You need to keep up your strength."

Silent minutes passed with the High King feeding his wife by hand, encouraging her to eat until he was satisfied she'd consumed a healthful amount. His fingers trailed over the apple of her cheeks, eyes always locked on hers or her mouth. Inside the part of him that was primitive, delighted in caring for his mate in such a manner, making sure that Susan was well fed and that the food was at least somewhat pleasing to her.

When her plate was mostly empty, Peter turned back to the rest of his food, waiting her out. She'd speak when she was ready. Pouring himself another glass of wine, he concentrated on appearing nonchalant, carefully cutting off bits of the fish, watching for the small bones.

"Are you mad at me?" small voice.

"No, of course I'm not mad." A sip of wine, tart and acrid, followed by buttery dill fish, "I just wonder why you didn't say anything."

Susan fidgeted, tucking and untucking a strand of hair from behind an ear, "What if I lost the baby?" It was a whisper, "I didn't want to disappoint you."

Pushing his plate away, Peter's brow beetled in thought, "You wouldn't disappoint me Su." The thumb of his left hand rotated his wedding band around his ring finger, while he stared at it, "I just wish you had seen fit to tell me, that's all."

"It took me so long Peter, I just.. I had to be absolutely sure... and it would have broken me Peter, if I'd gotten your hopes up and then dashed them."

Forcing a smile, "Su, I've told you before, all I need really is you. Everything else - it's just icing on the cake. A bit of extra goodness, that doesn't fill the void that would be there without you." He didn't mention the fact that he had been medicating her at any point - better to not court extra trouble.