All characters belong to C S Lewis.
This fic is certainly a lot darker than my other two. It will probably only be two chapters but I'm still writing out the second.
Thanks again to those who reviewed Being an Elder Sibling, though if you liked that one because of its light and fluffiness, this one might surprise you.
The first time Caspian tried to attract the attention of the Gentle Queen he realised that someone, a man, in her past had hurt her deeply.
He had commented on her delicate hands, observing their slim fingers and dainty nails and laughed as he confided to her that those small hands scared him very much, as they could shoot the leaf off of an apple a hundred feet away when in possession of a bow and arrow. Susan had laughed with him, blushing slightly. It was when he had reached for her hand and took it gently in his own larger, rougher one, that she stiffened. He had watched, slightly hurt, as her eyes flickered to their joined fingers and she drew in a shocked breath. Hastily she had withdrawn her hand, her eyes darting everywhere but to his face.
The feel of his hand on her arm had created a tingling in the pit of her stomach. The darkness of his skin contrasted sharply with the whiteness of hers. Susan found she quite liked the look of his hand on her arm. She quite liked the look in his eye as he smiled down at her. She quite liked the way he grinned at her, like they shared a secret. She quite liked the flowery words he tossed her way so easily. She felt beautiful. And even though her sister was giving her warning looks from a few meters away, Susan smiled up at the Prince of Calormene and allowed him to walk her to her throne.
"I have to go. Peter is calling me."
And she had disappeared into the woods seconds later. Caspian encountered Peter later that eve. He had never called his younger sister that afternoon.
He wasn't sure at first, he thought maybe she was just shy, or that, heaven forbid; she wasn't interested in him at all. But then he would catch her soft gaze whilst practising swordplay with her brothers as she watched from under the shade of a nearby tree. She was interested; she was just terrified of him whenever he drew too close.
He tried harder. Tried to make her see that he wasn't whoever had hurt her. He talked with her for hours, practised archery, made her help him with his aim, his stance, anything to get her to touch him with those delicate hands. At times everything would seem normal, great, wonderful, but then he would reach out a hand to return a touch and she would stiffen and disappear, often to the safety and protective presence of her brothers.
She had danced all night, her feet ached terribly. But Susan could not wipe the smile off of her face. All night he had pursued her, chasing her relentlessly through the throngs of men who all clamoured for a favoured smile. It was thrilling, their dejected faces, as she accepted his dance request over and over. Peter had cautioned her against displaying too much sudden affection earlier in the eve but Susan felt truly alive when she danced with him, there was nothing in the world save he and her. He made her forget the pressures of being the eldest queen for just a few minutes. What thrilled her most was the easy affection he displayed, a casual touch to the shoulder, a caress of her palm, a whisper against her cheek. Shivers chased each other down her spine.
One eve, as he walked the edges of the How, contemplating his latest failure (he had gallantly asked the Gentle Lady for an evening walk, she had stared at him with wide eyes before her youngest brother jumped in and told her that Lucy had been asking for her a few moments ago), he was confronted by a rather distressed and angry older brother.
King Peter stared hard at him for a moment and Caspian tried to stand firm under his gaze.
The harried looking messenger presented the High King with a crumpled note. Peter bid the falcon rest and the bird gratefully departed. It was Lucy's writing that Peter instantly recognised. His heart sank. Lucy would never write her brother while campaigning, unless of a dire emergency.
Having arrived in Calormene, your beloved sister and brother found themselves in a most dire situation. The question of marriage had to be answered in the positive, else they be kept as prisoners indefinitely and Narnia be forced to wage war against Calormene. Do not fear just yet, dear Tumnus has proven himself a most worthy friend and given us hope with a successful plan of escape. They sail at this very moment homeward to the Cair.
Please ride home with haste, Edmund is expected to dock on the eve, however I have received word of 200 soldiers approaching the city of Anvard with murderous intentions.
I ride out to aid our friends. But pray beloved brother, that Susan is returned to us well and that we may bring the vengeance of Aslan on the Prince in the morn.
Your loving sister,
King Peter crushed the letter in his palm. Why had he allowed his sister to depart when he had been so preoccupied with the giants? He had known something like this would happen. He had seen the way Susan had been so easily won over by the foreign prince's charm and flattery. If only he had paid her more attention, addressed the matter of giving an Heir himself instead of allowing her to feel the pressure of their people's expectations. Perhaps then she would not have so easily fell for the devil of a man.
He had failed.
What on earth had Susan been forced to go through, trapped in foreign country with a mad man desperately and dangerously infatuated with her?
He had failed to protect her as he had promised his mother all those years ago.
"Look, I know you're interested in her, you've not been trying to hide it. Generally, I stay out of Su's business; she hates it when I talk to suitors." Here Peter took a deep breath and clenched his teeth as he restrained his obvious anger. "But you're making her uncomfortable, I can see that, so just stop it, keep away from her, you don't know what she's been through."
"Does she detest my presence?" Caspian challenged, not wanting to give up on the spark between he and the young queen. King Peter's jaw hardened.
"No, she doesn't, but she's not sleeping because being around you brings back memories of him, and that brings back the nightmares. Just leave her alone, for all our sakes!"
Caspian felt a surge of triumph; he had been right about the Queen. "So it was a him, I knew it! I knew someone had hurt her. What did he do? She shies from my touch, I want to know why."
Susan smiled demurely as the Prince wrapped a strong hand around her waist. Peter would get so angry if her saw the Prince taking such liberties, but Susan was pleased at his affection, it made her feel powerful. They had arrived in Calormene this morn and so far, their stay had been entirely enjoyable. Susan's smile abruptly disappeared as the Prince pulled her close tightly and buried his nose in between her shoulder and neck, inhaling deeply and ghosting his lips along her pale skin. She shied away from his suddenly out of character invasive action. His eyes darkened and his fingers tightened on her wrist at her refusal. Susan's heart began to beat erratically. There was no affection in his eyes any longer. His grip on her arm was controlling this situation. She had no power at all. This was not the man that had visited her home. He saw the confusion in her eyes and smiled cruelly.
"Welcome to my home, barbarian Queen. Here you will find that women, even noble women, are treated as their birth right dictates. You are mine."
The words were cold, possessive, they sent a different type of shiver down Susan's spine. She pried her hand out of his clenching grip. It could not be true, he could not have pretended so well, perhaps he was tired, best leave him and see how he was in the morning.
"I hear my brother calling; I will depart with regret, my Prince."
Her words were false, as was his returning smile. Susan sped away, her hands shaking.
It was probably Caspian's excited and enthused response that had been the last straw for the high strung High King and he landed a solid punch to the Prince's jaw.
"You shouldn't be touching her anyway! Just keep your hands to yourself!" Peter growled and with a last quelling glare, stalked away.
Caspian stood gasping for a few moments, his jaw aching horribly and stars swimming before his eyes. He had not meant offense, merely he was excited that he now definitely knew that something in the Queen's past was haunting her and preventing her from returning his affection. Now that he knew, he might be able to help her get past it.
Susan clucked at his swollen cheek the next morning over the breakfast table and laughed lightly when he told her he had miss-stepped and ploughed into the How's wall.
Peter glowered at him openly for the entire meal.
Two nights later, a long time past midnight, he encountered little Queen Lucy. She was sitting silently on the How's large stone entrance, her feet dangling over the edge.
"What are you doing?" he asked her.
Lucy smiled faintly but didn't turn to look at him. She watched a figure that was pacing the field below; moonlight was shimmering on the person's dark curls and silhouetting her slim figure.
"Watching over her." Lucy answered.
Susan had returned in good health, but retired to her rooms and stayed there alone, until Lucy barged her way in. She had found Susan, immaculate Gentle Queenly Susan, sitting on the bathroom floor, wrapped loosely in her bathrobe, crying heart wrenching sobs. Her skin was unnaturally red, as if she had tried to scrub away the memories. Susan glanced up at Lucy, her eyes bleak.
Lucy sank to her knees, water soaking her silken dress, and wrapped her sister in her arms. Susan's sobs renewed, her hands clutching at Lucy's shoulders as she continuously cried out her sorrow.
Caspian sat beside the little queen, his eyes riveted on her older sister. Susan paced angrily to and fro, her hands fretting with the folds of her dress. They could hear her angry mutterings from their ledge. Caspian could not see them, but heard the tears in her hitching breaths. With an anguished moan, Susan finally sunk to her knees in the grass and dropped her head to her hands. Caspian made a move to get up and go to her. But Lucy grabbed his hands and stayed his movements.
"Not you. You can't go to her when she's like this." She said firmly.
"But who –"
"Just wait." Came the curt reply.
The table was set beautifully, laden with heavy, rich foods. It made Susan's stomach clench. He stared at her hungrily. Susan knew it was not food he was after. She had tried to beg off this dinner, tried to call sick, tried to delay, tried everything, but he had insisted she come.
"Dance with me."
It was not a question. He pulled her up from the table and into his arms. The smile which had made her quiver with happiness now made her shake with nerves. She didn't like the look in his eye. Over her shoulder he nodded to the servants and one by one they obediently filed out. One young girl caught her frightened gaze. She longed to call for her, plead with her to stay.
She clenched her eyes shut as his breath moved down her neck, his hands sliding down her waist.
"Surely a little taste, before we are wed, my wife?" He whispered.
Susan pushed him away. "Let me go."
He grabbed her wrists tightly and dragged her closer. "Never. You're my barbarian prize." He pressed his mouth to her hands, grazing his teeth up her arms.
"You will wed me, for what other choice do you have? If you do not comply I will slew your brother, the little king, and send his head to the High King."
Susan fought against his clammy hands, her breath coming in gasps, if she didn't escape soon, she didn't know what he would do.
"Peter will wage war against your nation until every drop of your blood is shed."
The Prince laughed cruelly.
"What a silly little girl you are, your beauty all gone to your head, thinking you were a worthy queen. Look at the position you have placed your country in. To rescue you, they will have to declare war against the greatest empire in the world. Each and every citizen will suffer for your foolishness. Surely a worthy Queen would not have fallen for a few false smiles and a few carefully planned touches."
Susan's heart sank and she felt herself trip over his feet and landing hard on the floor. He jeered at her and suddenly Susan knew what he planned. Tears rose to her eyes unbidden. She had brought his upon herself. Her girlish affections, her silly notions of love, her need to feel desired and wanted had led her here, with a despicable man leaning over her, holding her down as he reached for her dress.
From the How came Edmund, his steps quick as he dashed to his older sister. He grabbed her shoulders in a hug. Caspian was surprised at the sudden ferocity in which Susan fought at the hold.
Of course she had struggled. She had struggled something fierce. But he was far stronger and one sharp hit to her head was enough to make her feel drowsy. Susan closed her eyes, determined not to look at him and give him the satisfaction of knowing he had broken her.
Suddenly, there was a shout and the weight over her lifted as something heavy fell into them with a crash. Susan opened her eyes and burst into relieved tears.
Edmund had arrived just in time. He was now grappling with the Prince on the ground. They separated with a yell and Edmund drew his sword. The Prince stared up at him from the ground, panting from their struggle.
"You wouldn't make it out of here alive, if you killed me, little king." He taunted.
Edmund hesitated, his face was astonishingly white, his knuckles clenched so tight around his sword, Susan thought the thing would snap. Finally he whirled and grabbed Susan. She clung to him, her life line, her saviour. Her little brother. His strength was her protection, his hands the only thing holding her upright at this moment. The prince stared after her with lust filled eyes.
"Till our wedding day, barbarian."
Susan mused at the irony of his words.
"Susan! Su it's me, it's Edmund, it's Edmund!" Edmund yelled over his sister's struggles. Susan twisted in his tight grip and stared up at his face. There was a tense moment before Susan's bearings came to her.
"Ed?" she asked in a tiny voice and when he nodded, with a great gasp fell against her little brother. Her renewed sobs were muffled on the young king's shoulder
'What happened to her?" Caspian breathed into the still night, watching Edmund sink to the grass with his sister and cradle her protectively. Even as the elder sibling, she suddenly seemed very small in his arms.
Lucy merely shook her head and raised herself to her feet. "We don't speak of it any longer. What's done is done." Lucy disappeared and a few minutes later reappeared in the moonlight, making tracks for her older sister. Caspian watched, concealed in the dark as Lucy sank down next to her brother and rocked her older sister.
The next morning, Susan was absent from the breakfast table. When Lucy entered the room she gave her brothers a small shake of her head. Peter frowned into his porridge. Edmund stared into the distance angrily.
"DAMN HIM!" he suddenly shouted, slamming his hand down on the table. Lucy and Caspian jumped. Peter merely placed a hand on his younger brother's shoulder to calm him.
"How dare he remain, thirteen hundred years later? How dare he continue to torture her like this?" Edmund threw off his brother's hand and paced restlessly.
"I wish he were still alive so that I could go and challenge him to a duel. I would challenge him to avenge my sister's sanity!" He rounded on Caspian.
"You leave her alone, you hear me? It's your ruddy fault the memories are coming back! It was getting better till you started prancing around in front of her."
"Edmund!" Lucy gasped.
"It's true! I've seen him giving her his little mooncalf eyes and she smiles back, and then she hesitates and I can see it all flooding back into her mind. I can see the memories flood her mind and I can remember them too!"
Edmund led Susan hurriedly through the over splendidly decorated halls of the palace. Eventually they came to his room and he half pulled, half carried her distraught body through the door. He locked it deftly behind him and caught her as she fell to the ground, her legs jellylike, the adrenaline leaving her and shock setting in. Edmund could hear the thundering of his own heart racing in his ears. Surely he had arrived in time. Surely the servant's tip off had made him arrive in time. Please Aslan, let him have arrived on time. He grasped Susan's face between his shaking hands.
"Susan." She didn't look at him; she wasn't even crying, just staring at the ground and taking deep shuddering breaths.
"Susan, please, Susan did he –" he couldn't even say it. The thought was unbearable.
"SUSAN." The terror in his voice made her look up at him.
"Yes, Susan it's me, it's Edmund. Susan you have to tell me – did he or didn't he touch you? Did I get there in time?"
"Edmund?" her voice had become strangely childlike, her hands clenching in his shirt powerfully.
"Yes! Susan, please, Susan just tell me!" he gave her a little shake.
Susan stared at him and suddenly, Edmund saw the tears well in her eyes again. Oh Aslan, he had been too late. He bowed his head to her shoulder, his own tears coming.
Edmund actually thought his heart might have skipped a beat with joy.
"No, he didn't touch you?"
"No, no he didn't get far enough, you stopped him." She said. A great shudder came over her body. "Oh Aslan, what have I done?"
"What have you done? Susan don't be ridiculous, it is NOT your fault."
"But he'll kill you Ed, if I don't marry him, he said he'll kill you and send your head to Peter! I've killed us all! I've brought ruin to Narnia. My foolishness, my failings have brought ruin to my people. Oh Aslan forgive me."
Edmund tightened his grip on his sister and closed his eyes, bowing his head to rest on hers.
"Don't worry Su, we'll think of something, have faith in Aslan, for he will never forsake us."
Edmund snapped his mouth shut, his chest heaving with emotion, face stark white. Lucy had tears in her eyes and pushed away her plate with a loud clank in the sudden silence. Peter in contrast had gone a deep burgundy colour and the way he eyed Caspian made the Prince gulp. But still his mind worked.
It had to have been something horrible, to upset the logical queen so. There was really only one such thing that he could think of that a man could do to a woman that could create such damage. But it was unthinkable.
"I have the purest intentions, I swear, my kings. I want to help." Caspian said hesitantly.
"Then leave her alone!" Edmund retorted, suddenly whirling back to the Prince.
"Perhaps, whatever it is, she needs to speak of it. To exorcise the demons, the memories." He tentatively answered.
"No! We don't speak of it. She requested that we don't bring it up."
The fanfare as Peter arrived home was heard all the way in Susan's chambers. She waited for her elder brother's visit, for she knew nothing would keep him away, just as she knew that Edmund would tell him what he had interrupted, the night before they had snuck away on the Splendour Hyaline. When he did appear, he said nothing at first just took her into his arms and held her tight. When he pulled away, Susan saw the worry in his eyes and she was ashamed. How selfish she had been, to place her country in such a precarious position. Peter would never do such a thing. She felt unworthy to be his sister. Unworthy to sit beside him enthroned.
"I don't want to talk about it."
He hesitated, but her stubborn eyes and tilt to her chin made him nod.
"If that's what you want. If that's what you think is best."
"I do. I just want to forget."
"Can't you see that you're making it worse?" challenged Peter in a low voice.
There was a strained silence. Edmund sat down again abruptly and pushed his food around his plate. Lucy tucked her hair behind her ears with nervousness and Peter stared stonily at the table top. Caspian suddenly understood that it affected them too. This was something with which they could not help. The Kings could not challenge the problem to a fight or banish it from their sight. Lucy could not sooth the memories with a comforting smile and hug. They saw Susan's suffering as their own failure to protect her. But it was Susan's battle alone.
"I just want to help." Caspian said softly. He knew they could not go on like this. Narnia was in too much disarray without her monarch's having their own problems.
"I will help" he reaffirmed and stood from the table. He left the kings and queen of old sitting in a miserable silence.
So what did you think of the first part? Obviously it deals with some very sensitive subjects and I struggled for a while with how to set the story out. Anyone who is really good with tense want to give me a review on my tense use? I struggled also with that during writing this chapter for some reason.