A/N: I wrote this a while ago, after seeing Prince Caspian for the second time. It's a strange mixture of book and movieverse, but hopefully it makes sense. Feedback is hugely appreciated.
The battle was won, the surviving Telmarines had surrendered, and the Narnians were already preparing to celebrate. The defences they had built up in Aslan's How were in ruins. The battlefield was scattered with the bodies of fallen soldiers, the trampled earth slick with their blood. Aslan was there – Aslan had appointed him King of Narnia. The day of his coronation was set. His comrades – he couldn't bring himself to think of them as subjects yet – swarmed around him, talking and congratulating and organizing and reminding and planning and making themselves and each other busy. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, Caspian wanted nothing more than to be alone.
It was a wish he would have to deny himself, he knew. There were plans to be made, problems to be sorted out, casualties to be taken care of, and all manner of chores to be completed in the aftermath of the battle. Caspian was all too aware of the crushing weight of the duties that came with his hard-won rank.
Out on the battlefield, little Queen Lucy was running to and fro with her bottle of healing cordial, administering doses of the precious liquid to Telmarines and Narnians alike. High King Peter was conversing with Glenstorm the Centaur, apparently taking stock of the damage that had been done to their side in the fighting. King Edmund was taking charge of the Telmarine prisoners, getting them disarmed and grouped together. And Queen Susan…but Queen Susan was approaching him, her countenance grim and exhausted but smiling slightly.
"How are you?" she asked, taking a position beside him and looking out over the commotion.
Caspian hesitated for a minute. "A little…in shock," he said at length. "It is overwhelming."
"Aslan knows what he's about, you know. He has faith in you…and so do I."
Caspian was unsure how to respond, so he remained silent and glanced sideways at his beautiful companion.
"Susan!" called Peter, approaching the summit of the hill and taking his place by his sister. "I've been looking for you. Are you ok?"
"I'm fine, Pete. Just a little tired."
Peter nodded, and turned to Caspian as if he had only just noticed the other king's presence. Caspian was not fooled. "Your Majesty."
"High King Peter."
"You need to find somewhere to put the Telmarine troops," he told him gravely. "There are too many for Miraz'…I mean, for your castle to hold. Glenstorm is waiting for your instructions. And you've got to think about a place to lay the fallen soldiers to rest."
Caspian blinked at the High King, unsuccessfully attempting to conceal his irritation at being ordered about. He respected Peter's judgement immensely, of course – his irritation arose from the knowledge that Peter viewed him as completely incompetent. "In the woods, of course," he said in a tone of forced politeness. "The fauns are readying a glade for the ceremony, I believe." With a civil bow to the old King and Queen, he took his leave to find Glenstorm.
Cleaning up after the battle took up the best part of the afternoon. When Caspian was at length granted a few minutes to attend to himself, it was only to wash the sweat and blood from his skin and change into finer clothing for the celebration that had been prepared out in the woods. Bacchus and his folk had catered for the occasion, and spectacularly at that. Just entering the glade to the sight of the Fauns and Nymphs dancing was enough to soothe his weariness, and he soon found himself swept up in the festivities as he was plied with wine and fruit and the beautiful music of the Fauns. A few minutes of this revelry was enough to restore, or rather coax out, his joy at the victory against Miraz. Half an hour, and several glasses of wine, sufficed to significantly bolster his confidence in his worth as a king. He talked and laughed and made merry with the revellers, all the while scanning the glade for any sign of a particular face. It did not take him long to catch a glimpse of what he was looking for. With a nagging suspicion that he would not have been so bold had he consumed a little less wine, he excused himself from the company and made his way over to the edge of the glade where the object of his attention was seated on a broad tree root, just slightly out of the centre of the festivities.
"May I join you, my Queen?" he asked, bowing his head to her. She smiled, shifting over on the root so that he could take a seat beside her. For a long moment they sat in comfortable silence, watching the beautiful dancers as they whirled around the clearing.
"It's a beautiful night," said Susan eventually, absently twirling a lock of hair between her nimble fingers.
Caspian toyed with the idea of voicing a supremely corny line in reply. Fortunately, Susan was spared by the arrival of Lucy and Edmund, supporting between them a distinctly un-kingly-looking Peter.
"What did I tell you?" snorted Edmund, lowering his inebriated brother onto a clump of soft, springy grass. "No head for alcohol, this one."
"I'm not drunk," slurred Peter, flopping backwards and staring up at the sky with a look of dreamy contentment smeared across his face. "Jus' happy. D'you remember our last party in Narnia, Ed?"
"Ooh, yes," piped up Lucy, as starry-eyed as Peter in spite of the fact that she had been allowed nothing stronger than cider to drink. "Dear Tumnus got drunk and went off with that Nymph…gosh, it's been so long, hasn't it?"
"It's certainly good to be back," sighed Edmund, accepting a glass of ruby-red wine from a passing Faun and taking a large gulp.
"Y'know," piped up Peter, "I think you'll make a damn good king, Caspian. Nearly as good as Ed and me here. Just gotta find a title for you…King Caspian the Magnificent!" he proposed, sounding immensely pleased with himself.
Caspian tried hard to suppress a chuckle. "That title is already taken, Highness," he said politely.
"Eh? Blast. Don't worry, Aslan'll sort it for you. I always said…"
"I think I might go for a stroll," said Susan, holding back an unladylike snort as she rose from her seat. "Anyone fancy coming with me?"
"If I may, your Majesty," Caspian offered, leaping to his feet. Edmund, noticing his eagerness, snickered.
"I'm sorry about Peter," said Susan as the two ambled down towards the great river. The water was smooth and glassy, reflecting the light of the bright Narnian stars. "He never was much good with alcohol."
"He does seem rather…companionable tonight," replied Caspian with a small smile.
They settled on a soft, sandy bank near the edge of the water. Caspian's heart pounded unreasonably fast as he regarded the beautiful lady at his side. The way she was watching him, silent and half-smiling, was making him want to do something terribly improper. He leaned unconsciously closer to her, taking in her sweet scent.
"He's going to regret it in the morning, I daresay." It took Caspian several seconds to realise that she was still talking about Peter.
"His Majesty does not seem to approve of me," he mused, cursing himself for being so candid even as the words escaped his lips.
Susan frowned thoughtfully. "It's not personal, you know," she replied. "Not really. Peter's always had a problem adjusting to change. I think part of him still believes he's the rightful King of Narnia."
"I do not mean to oppose his authority."
"That's not what I meant. It's Peter who needs to let go, not you. Our time's past, and now it's our turn to make way for a new king."
Caspian rather thought he disagreed with that last statement, but courteously bit his tongue. He was struck by how radiant Susan looked in the moonlight, how her dark hair hung about her pale face like an exquisite silk curtain. Unthinkingly, he took her slender, elegant hand, caressing her palm with his calloused fingers. The Queen turned to stare at him, then down at their intertwined hands, then back up at his face as mortification enveloped his features when he realised what he had just done.
"I apologise, my Queen," he said hastily, attempting to withdraw his hand.
"Don't." The word escaped Susan's lips before she could think.
"Queen Susan, I…" Caspian trailed off, looking at her with wide, sincere eyes. "I do not understand your meaning."
Without thinking, Susan leaned forwards and pressed her lips briefly, chastely to his. "That's what I mean," she said, attempting to keep her voice calm and collected. She had been watching the prince for so long, and she had not been blind to his advances. Nonetheless, to actually be here, so close together, expressing their feelings for once another…
Heart pounding, emboldened by the wine he had consumed earlier, Caspian found a way to express his own feelings very clearly. He cupped her soft cheek in his hand and captured her lips a second time. The world seemed to spin around him as he deepened the kiss, wrapping his free arm around her waist, all thoughts of decorum and appropriate behaviour flying out the window. Susan's hand was in his hair, their bodies pressed close together, and a blissful heat seemed to spread through his veins from every place she touched.
After what felt like an hour, though in reality it was only a couple of minutes, they pulled apart, gasping slightly. Caspian smiled, stroking her cheek with his thumb.
"Perhaps we should return to the festivities." Susan nodded; nothing else needed to be said. He helped her gently up the grassy embankment and back through the woods. The crowd was now somewhat depleted, and those who remained had drunk enough that nobody seemed to mind them slipping back to the castle. Still holding her arm, Caspian escorted Susan to her chambers. His deeply ingrained manners nudged at him again, and he gave a courteous bow as he took his leave. "Good night, your Majesty," he murmured softly.
Alone in his own bedchamber, Caspian allowed an unguarded smile to break over his face. His head was spinning pleasantly; he wasn't sure whether it was the wine, or Susan, or a mixture of the two. He felt completely present in the moment; for the time being, tomorrow ceased to exist.