Oh my god, I am so so so sorry for the late update, but it's the busy season for my theatre company, and I just finished with two shows. But I'm guessing you guys don't care. I can only offer up a tentative promise to do better next time.Anyways, chapter six!
Disclaimer: I own the box set of Narnia books, but nothing else except this plot.
Susan was tired. Not even the exhaustion she had felt back in England could compare to her weariness this morning. She had secretly hoped that now that she knew the identity of the man in her dreams, they would cease to plague her mind. And they had the night before. But now the dreams were back.
She thought back to the previous night, when Caspian had comforted her fears. She smiled at the memory. He had told her they hadn't abandoned Narnia, he had held her…
He had almost kissed her.
She tried to tell herself that it was not true, merely wishful thinking, but the way he had come closer to her, looking deep into her eyes, mouth coming closer still… she could hardly contain her hope that perhaps he had wanted to kiss her. If he had kissed her, she had a feeling that she'd have spent the day unable to stop smiling.
"Susan? Su?" Edmund's voice knocked her out of her reverie.
"What is it, Ed?" she asked, reluctantly leaving her daydreams behind.
He pretended not to notice the silly grin she'd had on her face. He had always teased her less than the others.
"It's time for the meeting, to discuss our plan of action now that the Telmarines have been spotted."
Susan made a face.
"Oh, joy. You know how I love war councils. They really brighten my day."
A wicked grin appeared on Edmund's face.
"Cheer up, Susan. It won't be all bad," he reassured her teasingly. "Caspian will be there."
I said he teased Susan less. I never said he didn't tease her at all.
Caspian sat against a rock, utterly bored, watching the Narnians file into the Stone Table Room. They were to discuss the appropriate plan for how to deal with the ever-approaching Telmarines. He already knew what he was going to say, so he resorted to people-watching.
Queen Susan walked into the room and he quickly stood up, unconsciously smoothing his shirt. She smiled sweetly at him, and he advanced towards her, but Peter quickly called attention, and both Caspian and Susan glared at his intrusion.
"Alright, we all know why we're here," Peter announced, and Caspian struggled to remove the dirty look from his face. "We delayed strategic planning to train and prepare our supplies. But a Faun has spotted a Telmarine soldier close to the camp. We're running out of time. Miraz's men and war machines are on their way. That means those same men aren't protecting his castle."
Caspian hoped that he was misunderstanding where Peter was going with this. Or else the boy had gone completely crazy.
"What do you propose we do, Your Majesty?" Reepicheep asked respectfully.
"We need to defend–"
"We need to attack-"
The Prince and the High King stared at each other for a tension-filled moment. A noise came from Edmund that sounded suspiciously like laughter.
Finally, Caspian nodded his head, allowing Peter to continue.
"Our only hope is to strike them before they strike us," Peter announced to the crowd. Caspian had let him speak first for this?
"That's crazy, no one has ever taken that castle," Caspian insisted.
Something remarkably close to a smug smile crossed Peter's face.
"There's always a first time," he commented. Caspian wondered whether Susan would be upset if he beat the tar out of her brother.
"We'll have the element of surprise," Trumpkin added in, and Caspian fantasized about dropkicking the little traitor.
"But we have the advantage here," he shot back, willing them to understand how hopeless their mission was.
Susan stepped forward.
"If we dig in, we could probably hold them off indefinitely." Caspian felt a warm glow spread through at the thought that Susan had defended him.
He noticed that Peter was glaring at his sister for not siding with him, and Caspian once again imagined hitting him. What a child.
"I for one feel safer underground," Trufflehunter announced.
Peter looked over at Caspian.
"Look, I appreciate what you've done here," one tiny hit couldn't do any harm, "but this isn't a fortress. It's a tomb."
"Yes," Edmund agreed, but Caspian knew that he wasn't being prejudiced, only a little battle-hungry, "and if they're smart, the Telmarines will just starve us out."
Damn, he hadn't thought of that. It was true.
"We could collect nuts," Patterwig chirped in.
"Yes, and throw them at the Telmarines," Reepicheep chimed in sarcastically. "Shut up. I think you know where I stand, Sire."
Peter looked over to Glenstorm.
"If I get your troops in, can you handle the guards?"
Caspian felt furious. Peter was going too far. He was whittling away Caspian's supporters, one by one.
Glenstorm looked regretfully at Caspian, and the young man tensed in anticipation.
"Or die trying, my Liege."
Caspian looked away from the Centaur, the one that had, only a few nights ago, pledged his loyalty to the Prince.
"That's what I'm worried about," came Lucy's small voice. They all looked over at her.
"Sorry?" Peter asked incredulously.
"We're all acting like there's only two options. Dying here, or dying there."
Caspian was amazed by the little girl's wisdom. But she wasn't really a little girl, was she?
"I'm not sure you've really been listening, Lu," Peter dismissed.
"No, you're not listening!" she argued. "Or have you forgotten who really defeated the White Witch?"
An angry look crossed the boy's face.
"I think we've for Aslan long enough. Meeting adjourned."
He walked out of the room. After a moment Susan hurried after him, looking very angry.
Edmund rushed over to Caspian.
"I know you're upset right now, but I can think of something that'll cheer you up." Even Lucy cracked a smile.
"What do you mean?" he asked, baffled by the excited looks on their faces.
"Susan never disagrees with Peter too much, when we're around other people," Lucy explained, hopping up and down. "But when the meeting's over she goes to yell at him. We listen in. it's usually very entertaining. Would you like to come as well?"
"I do not think they would approve of us being there."
A devilish smirk crossed Edmund's face.
"When did we ever say they knew we were listening?"
Before he could protest, Lucy grabbed him by the hand and they ran down the hallway. They peeked around the corner, and caught sight of Susan following Peter into a room and shutting the door.
"Run!" Edmund hissed and they all bolted towards the door, pressing their ears up against it and listening intently.
Susan's voice came through the door.
"Peter Pevensie, you are a complete and utter prat!"
That did make him feel better.
"What have I done now, Susan?"
"You are being completely juvenile! Has your silly rivalry with Caspian actually gotten to the point where you'll defend a terrible plan just to spite him?"
"Susan." Peter's voice sounded weary, as if he were dealing with a cranky child. "I proposed we attack the castle because it's the best plan."
"How could that possibly be the best plan? We've never even seen this castle, we can't strategize properly!"
"Caspian knows everything about it, I'm sure."
"Yes, all we have to do is have the army read Caspian's mind and we'll be set!"
"Susan, our other option is to wait like sitting ducks."
"It's better than rushing in blindly!"
"Caspian will help us."
"Because that's the only thing you'll allow him to do, isn't it?" Susan's voice lowered and sounded very dangerous.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that you are so very immature that you won't allow Caspian to make decisions. You can try to pawn your decisions off as better strategies, but I know what they are. It's you not letting someone else have control. You're nothing but a little boy that won't let others play with his toys!"
"Susan, I am High King of Narnia, and what I say goes!"
Edmund and Lucy's faces lit up like the sun.
"Wait for it…" Lucy whispered happily.
A muffled thump was heard, followed by a groan.
"What just happened?" Caspian whispered.
"Susan just kicked Peter!" Edmund announced quietly.
"She kicks people? The Gentle Queen?"
"Only Peter, and only when he's being stupid. She may be Susan the Gentle to the rest of the world, but to Peter she's Susan the Lead-footed."
"Shh! They're starting again!" Lucy hissed.
"Peter Pevensie, you are not the only ruler of Narnia! We get a vote, too! Lucy and I both think we shouldn't attack!"
"Edmund and I think we should."
"Caspian agrees with us!"
"The armies agree with us."
"Peter, you are such a child sometimes!"
"I'm the childish one? Come on Su, we both know the reason why you're siding with Caspian."
"Oh? And what might that reason be?"
"You're siding with Caspian because you lik-"
Because you what? Caspian thought. He wished Susan had not interrupted her brother, although he agreed wholeheartedly with her method of doing so.
Susan's voice became no more than a hiss, and three eavesdroppers had to strain their ears to listen.
"This plan is nothing but trouble, and if you carry it out it will only lead to disaster. I beg you not to do this."
"I know, Su," Peter sounded very melancholy, "but we have no other choice."
"There's really nothing else that can be done?" Susan sounded resigned to the decision.
"Nothing," Peter affirmed, sounding as resigned as his sister. "We have to fight. There's nothing else to be done."
Caspian could picture the despair on the Gentle Queen's face.
"When do we strike?" she asked quietly.
"Midnight tonight," her brother answered apologetically. "There'll be fewer guards then."
"Tonight! We can't possibly be prepared by then!"
"We really can't put this off any longer, Su."
Caspian heard a throat clear, and then Susan spoke once again, sounding more like a determined queen than a sad girl.
"I have to go dress for battle then," she announced.
"Maybe it would be better if you sat this battle out," Peter suggested. "Just this once."
"Trust me, Pete," she answered, "you'll need every warrior you can get. This is going to be a difficult battle."
Susan smoothed her battle dress, and settled herself down on top of a ledge of the How. There were hours to go until they moved in for the battle, but she was too anxious to train. She always got this way before a battle. She watched the sun set beyond the horizon, wondering grimly how many soldiers would live to see the next sunset. So many good men doomed to die. She knew the battle would not be won, but if they just waited for the Telmarines, they would all perish. And if they were all destined to die, they would die on a battlefield, with honour.
Her bleak musings were interrupted as someone settled down next to her.
"Good evening, my Queen," came Caspian's deeply accented voice. It was ridiculous how the mere sound if his voice, or even his presence affected her so strongly, reducing her to a giggling schoolgirl on the inside.
"Caspian," she greeted him, "what brings you here?"
"My Queen," he responded, a smile touching the corner of his mouth, "the Narnians are very fond of the philosophy 'Eat, drink, and be merry.' Telmarines believe in solemnity before battle. Some generals even forbid their soldiers from speaking in the hour before the fight. Admittedly, this is extreme, but I am not in the mood to celebrate. Why are you out here though?"
"I've never celebrated before going into battle. I am the Gentle Queen after all."
Caspian looked confused.
"But, your Majesty," he pressed, "you have never gone into battle before."
It was Susan's turned to be confused.
"Of course I have. Where did you get such an idea?"
"I read it in my history books, your Majesty. They said you had never fought in a war."
Susan contemplated this for a moment, and then her face lit up.
"I know what happened!" she exclaimed. "Most of the wars Narnia fought in were wars against my attempted suitors. I never fought in those, because peter and Edmund thought that if I were on the battlefield, the man would fight harder to impress me. Or simply carry me off the battlefield and force to return to his kingdom. So I stayed away during those fights. But in wars that were not directly related to me, I fought alongside the rest of my family."
Caspian looked somewhat upset about this.
"Caspian, is something wrong?" Susan inquired worriedly.
He looked bashful.
"I must confess that the idea of you on a battlefield worries me greatly," he admitted.
"Why?" Susan demanded, greatly offended. "Do you think I couldn't handle it? I'll have you know that I can deal with battle perfectly well, thank you very much."
"It is not that," he reassured her quickly. "I am just worried that someone would hurt you."
"You are not opposed to me fighting this battle," she argued.
Yes, I am! Caspian thought to himself, but responded diplomatically.
"But you will not be alone now. You will have someone looking after you."
"Who?" she asked, trying to squash the traitorous hope that filled her.
"You will have m- uh…" Caspian stammered, trying to cover up his slip. He had almost said she'd have him. He was being forward. "You will have … many men protecting you."
"I would have them anyways," she reminded him, trying to hide her disappointment. She had thought for a moment that he'd say she'd have him. It was wishful thinking.
"It is a lovely night, isn't it?" he said quickly, trying desperately to change the subject.
She looked at the horizon. The sun had disappeared entirely during their conversation, and the stars had begun peeking out. She unconsciously laid back to admire them and, after a long moment of hesitation, Caspian laid down next to her.
Susan looked at the twinkling canopy above her head. It was somewhat different from when she had lived in Narnia.
"There are some stars that have appeared since I was last here. And a few others have retired."
"Retired, my Queen?" Caspian seemed to be questioning her sanity.
"Well, you can hardly expect them to do it forever, can you? Eventually they retire and live out their days peacefully."
"The stars are balls of gas, not people, your Majesty," he corrected her. To his surprise, she laughed.
"I've met retired stars, Caspian. They're people in this world. Very special people, but people nonetheless. You know, the Telmarines would thrive back in the other world. Their beliefs match up quite nicely."
"You're welcome," She giggled slightly, and Caspian's heart melted at that. "That constellation, right above us, what do the Telmarines call it?"
He peered at it for a moment, and then recognized it from his astronomy sessions with Doctor Cornelius.
"It is the Sabre, my Queen," he answered. "You see how the line makes a blade, and the cluster makes a handle?"
Susan made a face.
"The Narnians call it the Rose. The cluster makes a flower, and the line makes a stem. I like that quite bit better than a weapon."
"Of course you would, O Gentle One," he teased, smirking mischievously.
She shoved him playfully.
"Bloodthirsty, aren't you? One would expect that of a Telmarine."
Caspian's smile faded. Susan had been joking when she had said it, of course. But he knew that if any other Narnian besides her said it, they would not be smiling. Whether they trusted him or not, the Narnians, and Peter in particular, still saw him as a bloodthirsty Telmarine, whether they were conscious of this belief or not.
Susan misinterpreted his sombre expression.
"Oh, Caspian, I'm sorry!" she cried remorsefully. "I didn't mean that! Not at all!"
Caspian quickly reassured her.
"No! That had not been what I was thinking. I was just thinking that if it had been anyone else, they would have meant it. They still see me as the vicious Telmarine."
Susan didn't respond. They contemplated the stars in complete silence for a long minute, the only sounds coming from the party indoors.
"They're wrong, you know," she spoke up at last.
"Pardon?" he asked.
"You aren't just some vicious killer," she elaborated. "I may not have known you for long, but I know that you are probably one of the kindest people I have ever met. And the Narnians will come to realize that with time. They doubt you now, but sooner or later, they'll realize that you are the best ruler for them, not a violent monster. They'll see your greatness eventually."
She smiled over at him with great warmth in her eyes, and it took all of his self-control not to grab her and kiss her then and there.
"Thank you, my Queen," he said quietly, trying not to choke on his emotions for her.
They returned to their quiet contemplation of the sky. Shortly afterwards, they nodded off.
Caspian awoke a couple of hours later to find Susan curled up against him, with his arms encircling her. They must have shifted in their sleep. He marvelled at how perfectly she fit in his arms, and found himself wishing that he could always wake up like this.
He unthinkingly dipped his head down and dropped a kiss upon the crown of the beautiful girl's head. He smiled and took in her amazing scent before it occurred to him how inappropriate their position really was. If anyone saw them, it would humiliate Susan, which he would not permit.
He knew that he should let her go and return to the Narnians. The proper thing would be to remove himself from the ledge, and Susan would be none the wiser. But a part of him refused to abandon Susan, especially with their wonderful position at the moment. In the end he compromised and carefully pulled away, but stayed on the ledge.
He could feel someone's gaze on him. He quickly turned back to see Edmund smirking at him in amusement. He had seen everything. He opened his mouth to explain, but Edmund just raised a hand to silence him. He walked over to Susan and nodded her awake.
"Come on, Sleepyhead," he prompted her, "it's time to go. We have to fight."
This roused Susan immediately. She got up and headed back inside. But before she left, she sent Caspian one more shy smile. He smiled in return. When she disappeared from view, Edmund turned to face the blushing prince, grinning broadly and sing-songing.
"Someone's in lo-"
"Oh, shut up," Caspian growled. Now was not the time for laughter.
Now was the time for battle.
It has been an appalling amount of time since my last update. I acknowledge that. But I hope this made up for it a little bit. If it helps, the finger cramps are worse than ever!If the falling asleep scene offended you, then you should really toughen up! The dang thing is rated T!
I'll love you
Please, please do!
Yay, pathetic poetry!