I'm afraid I've crossed over to the dark side. Yes, it's true - I'm writing Susan/Caspian. I ought to warn everybody that I'm going to well and truly earn an M rating for this. There will be blood, there will be violence, there will be sex, there will be ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Only you can know what's appropriate for you to be reading.
This story is movieverse, and AU at that. I'm asking everyone to just bear with me and imagine the leaving scene at the end of Prince Caspian never happened.
Chapter 1. Falling From Grace
"Still wish that was your job, Pete?"
High King Peter narrowed his eyes, glaring at Edmund. The two Kings of Old were piled comfortably into the window seat in Peter's chambers, watching as an exhausted-looking King Caspian threw every last ounce of his energy and self-control into an admittedly impressive show of dignified enthusiasm as he gave the emissaries from Archenland a tour of the royal gardens.
"I've never resented Caspian's position, Ed," snapped Peter tersely, holding his shoulders stiff.
Edmund carefully hid a grin. "Well, I don't envy him now, that's for sure. Poor chap looks like he hasn't slept in weeks."
It wasn't very far off the truth. For the newly crowned King of Narnia, life had become a hectic scramble to get keep up with the onslaught of foreign ambassadors, civil disputes, trade agreements and, of course, a mountainous load of financial affairs that had been neglected or mishandled by Miraz. On top of that, Caspian was still trying to deal with the Lords and Nobles who had been loyal to his uncle, and who were apparently determined to make life as difficult for the new sovereign as possible. All in all, Caspian was finding it rather difficult to find any space in his schedule for sleep, and it was beginning to show.
In the distance, across from the expansive gardens, Peter caught sight of a black-clad figure emerging from the low stone archway leading down to the royal burial chambers. He frowned when he recognised the mourner.
"Lady Prunaprismia's out, it seems," he muttered disapprovingly.
Edmund gazed in the direction Peter was indicating, and shrugged as the hunched figure continued to trudge back towards the castle. "She really doesn't come out much, does she?" he mused.
"That's to be expected."
"I suppose so."
Peter had been one of the most forceful protestors of Caspian's widowed aunt and her child remaining in the castle. He thought it was dangerous, having the infant heir so close-by during such a precarious point in Caspian's reign, and Edmund was inclined to feel the same. But when they suggested to Caspian that she be relocated to a more secluded estate, he had reacted so strongly that it had very nearly come to blows.
"I would be no better than Miraz!" he had snarled, balling his fists as if readying himself for a fight. "You would have me remove my family from their rightful stations because I am threatened by them?"
"That isn't what I meant!" Peter had retorted heatedly, but there was no swaying Caspian and, after a long argument which served no purpose but to frustrate everyone involved, the High King had allowed the issue to drop. It hadn't been brought up again since.
So Prunaprismia stayed, secluding herself and her child in an out-of-the-way guest chamber and emerging only very rarely to take her meals and visit the grave of her deceased husband. Caspian had tried hard at first to maintain friendly relations with her, taking time off whenever he could to visit her, but she received him only with greatest reluctance and her addresses were so cold and unkind that eventually he just stopped trying.
The bell rang for dinner, and Edmund jumped eagerly to his feet. "About time," he said eagerly. "I've been wasting away here."
It was Peter's turn to hide a grin. "Well, do mind your table manners. I don't think Caspian's guests are quite as used to your…enthusiasm as we are." He leapt out of range of Edmund's elbow as the Just King rolled his eyes. For a moment he debated jumping on top of his brother and wrestling him, but hunger prevailed and they made their way down to the great hall where the majority of guests were already seated. Peter took his customary seat at Caspian's right, grinning sympathetically.
"You look worn out," he muttered under his breath, smiling warmly at the ambassadors he had been introduced to earlier that day.
"You have no idea."
"It'll be over in a few days. Just bear that in mind."
Caspian nodded, his gaze wandering absently over the faces of the guests to fix involuntarily on Susan. Peter rolled his eyes – of course, despite the demands on his time, the Telmarine managed to find plenty of ways of flirting with his sister. He would have said something about it, but Susan seemed even more smitten than Caspian and he didn't want to risk a huge family argument over it. He supposed it wasn't any of his business, after all. He would just have to hope Telmarines were as uptight about pre-marital intimacy as they were about everything else.
At least he didn't have to put up with too much of it during dinner, he thought grimly to himself. To accommodate the new ambassadors, seating arrangements had been shuffled so that Susan was quite a distance from the King's side. Telmarines had very strict rules about who sat where at banquets, and they bore little resemblance to the etiquette of Peter's time as King.
The meal merged smoothly into a somewhat haphazard ball in honour of the visitors. Peter danced with Lucy, and then with several of the Ladies from Archenland, all the while drinking freely from the casks of sweet, rich wine brought in by the fauns for the occasion. It was understandable, in the chaos of all the dancing and drinking and intermingling, if he failed to notice the disappearance of two of his fellow monarchs.
It was with great difficulty that Caspian had managed to extricate himself from the gaggle of Nobles all eager to get their share of his attention – a task well worth the effort, in his mind, considering the reward he was receiving for his troubles. Not that he had had anything of this sort in mind when he had slipped out of the open banquet hall and outside to the base of the West Tower. He had just wanted a break from all the noise and politics.
A pleasant shiver ran down his spine as Susan's hand caressed the back of his neck, pulling him closer to deepen the kiss. He cupped her cheek in his palm, trying to ignore the tiny but persuasive voice that was currently suggesting he push her back against the stone wall and take liberties that would end in Peter challenging him to the field of honour if he ever found out.
Pulling away for breath, he rested his forehead against hers and felt rather grateful that the shadows hid his foolish smile. Susan sank down to the grass and he followed, shifting around so that they sat side-by-side against the wall of the tower. She leaned into his shoulder, sighing comfortably.
"I do hope you're not shirking your duties," she teased, the effect ruined by her breathless tone. "Lord Peligon seemed eager to talk to you."
Caspian shook his head. "Have no fear, my lady. I take corn trade laws as seriously as their immense importance demands," he replied gravely. "It's the worst part of being King. One must occasionally lay aside one's favourite duties to make time for other pursuits."
"How very trying." She swatted his shoulder playfully.
"It is the fate Aslan has chosen for me. What can I do but obey?" He could feel her warm breath on his cheek, and her long hair fluttered lightly in the breeze and tickled his shoulder. He twisted around and pressed his lips to hers again. "You are beautiful," he murmured against her mouth.
"I've heard that one before." He felt her grin slightly.
"It is well, for otherwise I should be forced to doubt the sanity of my fellow men."
Susan did not have time to think of a suitably silly reply. An anguished cry rent the air, and Caspian was on his feet so quickly that she barely saw him move.
"What is it?" she hissed anxiously. Caspian was already backing rapidly across the lawn, neck craning to see who it was that stood at the top of the tower and the source of the outburst. His eyes widened in horror.
"Aunt!" he shouted, sounding slightly panicked. "What are you doing? Get back from the ledge!"
Susan felt panic rising in her throat as she got back far enough on the lawn that she too could see what was going on. Lady Prunaprismia was balanced precariously on the edge of the battlements, gripping the rough stone with only one hand. Susan could not discern her expression, but the hysteria in her voice was unmistakeable.
"It is over, Caspian!" she snarled, shifting her weight further forwards and swaying precariously. "You have destroyed me! I hope it plagues your conscience forever."
"Your son!" He seemed rooted to the spot, hands shaking as he stared helplessly up at the once-noble woman so many feet above him.
"Gone!" she shrieked. "I killed him. I hope you're happy with yourself, you miserable-"
She let go before she could finish the sentence. A high-pitched scream shattered the cool night air, and it took Susan a minute to realise it was coming from her own mouth. Caspian cried out, stumbling forward involuntarily, and a sickening thud shook the ground underfoot. All at once, everything was dead silent.
It only took a minute before Telmarines and Beasts alike began flooding the scene, alerted by the sounds of screaming and shouting. Susan felt like she was standing outside her own body. Someone was by her side, wrapping a hand over her eyes and pulling her back towards the hall, and she tried to struggle but couldn't make her limbs move of their own accord.
She had seen death before. She had seen murder of a most brutal and gory kind perpetrated before her very eyes.
She had never seen somebody take their own life.
Too shocked to react, she allowed herself to be led away from the tower.