A Blessing of Rain
A/N: Once again, dear readers, I must beg your indulgence. I'm grappling with writer's block, that dread affliction, and my updates will be sporadic at best. By starting this story I'm compelling myself to finish since I won't leave things half-done no matter how long it takes for my muse to return to me. If anyone spots her, though, please tell her she's sorely missed!
This story takes place in the aftermath of Thole, and reference events in that story.
Chapter One: A Request
"King Edmund, if I may."
Peter and I turned in surprise at Kanell's address, for we were on the training grounds and we had not been dismissed yet. Until the moment that General Oreius released us for the day we were not kings, but knights, as Kanell knew full well. Peter's puzzled expression must have been a mirror of my own as we turned. My surprise only increased when I saw Captain Xati standing beside Kanell, for she was not one of our instructors and rarely came here so early. They made for an interesting pair. Centaurs both, Xati was as small and bright and fiery as Kanell was massive and dark and patient. Their betrothal was the cause of much delight in Cair Paravel and it was clear even to me that they were made for each other.
"Good morn, Captain Kanell, Captain Xati," I said, unsure of what else to do. I pulled off my helmet. Even at this hour of the morning it was unbearably hot. "How may I be of service?"
Xati smiled, something she had been doing more often of late, and drawing a step or two closer to Kanell she asked, "My king, would you do us the honor of marrying us?"
That was, perhaps, the last thing I expected to be asked and I stared at them in gaping, dumbfounded silence. Marry them? Here? Now? How? Beside me, Peter blinked and slowly smiled, trying to cover my embarrassment. He put a hand on my shoulder.
"What my brother is trying to say, Captains, is that we are not familiar with the Narnian marriage ceremony," Peter replied. He spoke quietly, as surprised as I was at this unexpected request. "Perhaps you could enlighten us."
I blessed my brother a thousand times as I collected my scattered wits. "Yes, please," I managed faintly.
"'Tis a simple ceremony, King Edmund," explained the mare. "All that is required is the blessing of one the couple esteems and respects. It can be a parent or friend or teacher."
"Or a fellow knight," finished Kanell with a knowing smile.
"Right now?" I squeaked, certain I could not come up with anything appropriate on the spot.
Kanell's smile widened at my expression. "Not now, Sire, but in three days, as is tradition."
I breathed a sigh of relief. At Peter's gentle nudge I said, "I would be honored."
They bowed and thanked me before withdrawing. I stood with my brother, staring at the archway as the happy couple departed and wondering what on earth to do next. Finally I looked to my fellow king and knight, hoping that he had more ideas than I did.
"If it's anything to do with romance and celebrations," he suggested softly, even smiling a bit, "maybe Susan can help."
I could hear the amusement in his voice when he spoke. I was grateful for the sound, for it had been too long since we had any cause for merriment or diversion. Little over a month had passed since our terrible encounter with Valerlan and the Ettin Giants and my brother's spirits were recovering only very slowly, which worried me more than I could say. He tired easily and completely (though he always denied as much) and odd things startled or alarmed him. He was quieter than he had been before the Ettins had kidnaped and terrorized him and he was struggling to regain a sense of normalcy. We all were.
"Romance?" I echoed, making a face. "Ugh."
"A wedding! Here in the palace!"
The words spread like a wildfire among Susan's ladies-in-waiting, instantly stirring them into a frenzy of excitement. My older sister was little better and with a creeping chill down my spine I recognized that calculating gleam in her eyes at the notion of something as romantic as a wedding on a summer's evening. The ladies had been languishing and despairing of the heat seconds earlier, now they rallied as if for battle.
"It's their wedding, not yours!" I desperately exclaimed, but in vain. They were off, ladies with their long skirts and jewels and feathers, all of them scattering in every direction: Dryads and Nymphs and Birds and Monitors and Lynxes and Ermines and all sorts of attendants. It was a matter of moments before word reached Lucy's equally enthusiastic host of ladies and the entire Cair seemed to be in an uproar in record time. I stood helplessly by as things spiraled out of control and servants and pages happily dashed hither and yon to do Aslan only knew what.
Suddenly I was alone on the balcony where Susan and her ladies had congregated for tea. I watched a lone feather drifting down to the marble floor, the only evidence to prove that mere seconds before there had been almost twenty giggling women filling the space. Well. That hadn't worked out as planned. My eyes met those of a Red Dwarf sentry standing by the door. He shook his head in sympathy.
"You cannot give them such an opening, my king. They've had little to distract them these few days."
"La," I agreed with a sigh, already tired. I looked down as one of Peter's Cat pages trotted up to me. He sat down beside me and waited to be acknowledged, his green eyes fixed on the drifting feather. My voice sounded flat to my own ears as I asked, "Yes, Lise?"
"Your brother has sent word from the library, Majesty. He requests you join him there as soon as you're free."
The library. Why hadn't I thought of that first?
I found Peter not, as I expected, surrounded by documented accounts of various weddings for me to draw upon for inspiration, but rather he was in deep conversation with Minovin, the court recorder. My thoughts were so disrupted by Susan's reaction to my (softly worded) inquiry about Narnain weddings that I was a trifle annoyed at my brother. Still, the library was quiet and cool and dark and these factors went far towards smoothing my ruffled feathers. Peter waved me over, and rather than burden me with details, he simply said,
"Minovin was married by her father-in-law."
The elderly Centaur mare smiled gently at me. "How can I assist you, King Edmund?"
I sighed once again, relieved by her calm and willingness to instruct. "Please tell me what I need to know in order to go about this ceremony, Lady."
She spoke, we listened, and I was relieved.