Title: Verdant Enchantment
Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia.
Note: The answer to challenge 3: Green. As these challenges are supposed to, well, challenge me to expand my writing, try out new things, I realized I needed to write *gulp* an original character that *bigger gulp* is involved romantically with another character without making her a Mary Sue. This was incredibly challenging as I dislike romantic OCs with a passion, but it was my goal to make a realistic OC. Though, technically, she really isn't an OC as much as a supposition of a character implied by C.S. Lewis. See, though she's never mentioned, King Rilian obviously had a wife, as they had descendents, including King Tirian. Anyway, I hope you aren't completely disgusted with me, and that I managed to keep Rilian's queen from the clutches of Mary-Suedom.
Note 2: This has a similar feel to "Soul Mate", so I suppose you could even think of it as a companion piece. However, this was actually mostly written first, but "Soul Mate" was finished first and so was posted before this fic.
In a small glade north of Cair Paravel, a man leaned against a slender ash tree, listening to the sounds of the forest. With a sigh, King Rilian, for that is who the man was, ran a hand through his pale hair. Two years into his reign, a man full-grown, and he still could not stop acting like child at times. Take his present situation: Trumpkin, his close advisor, had spoken a bit too loudly – for he is quite deaf – about the Narnians' concerns for their King's state of mind, and Rilian had unfortunately overheard. Granted, it was a valid concern since their king was still only recently disenchanted after ten years in the vile clutches of the Lady of the Green Kirtle. However, the king was quite frustrated with people forgetting the 'dis' part of disenchanted and had blown up in anger at the old dwarf before storming away from the castle. Perhaps it was not the most adult way of handling the situation, but Rilian was through with his advisors treating him like fragile glass.
Even more frustrating to the King, though, was that all of Narnia seemed to think as Trumpkin, that he was one mandolin solo away from going mad and disappearing into Underland again. His court, with the best of intentions and with thinking he had no knowledge of their actions, had taken extreme precautions against this. The gardeners got rid of every snake within sight of Cair Paravel. Windows were installed in every single room until Rilian forbade the workers to put anymore in, for fear of the castle not having enough walls to hold it together.
Worst of all was the complete removal of nearly everything green in the castle. Green flags and fabrics disappeared entirely, replaced by reds and purples. Only the yellowest of yellows and the bluest of blues were acceptable in court anymore. Even the dryads and wood-gods disappeared, mostly, with only Red Maples coming to court. No, there would be no green in Cair Paravel, the Narnians were in agreement.
Frankly, Rilian was not sure whether he was more insulted by his people thinking the color green would shatter his mind or that they thought he would not notice the changes to the home he lived in for the first twenty-odd years of his life.
With a frustrated sigh, Rilian closed his eyes and banged the back of his crowned head against the ash tree. If this kept going on, the king was fairly certain that he would go mad, if only to escape fretting advisors and concerned citizens. This thought led to more pounding of the royal head.
"Your Majesty, as honored as I am by your presence, your crown is gouging the bark of my tree and I find it very uncomfortable."
Rilian's eyes shot open. A fairly nervous-looking ash-nymph curtsied before him. Stepping aside to allow the Dryad access to her tree, he bowed politely. "My apologies, my lady. I was preoccupied by other thoughts, but that is no excuse for causing you harm."
The Dryad gave him a reassuring smile. "There is no great harm done, Your Majesty. The damage is easily fixed." Rilian watched as the nymph turned translucent as she stepped into her tree. Though not unaccustomed to the ways of the Tree People, Rilian stared with fascination as the slight scratches in the bark sealed themselves together, until one would never know an unthinking king had caused any hurt to the tree. Finished with her work, the Dryad stepped out of her ash and bowed her head in respect.
Rilian shuffled his feet slightly, still embarrassed by his thoughtlessness. "Please allow me to apologize again, Lady…"
"Lady Melia. My actions were not fitting for a King of Narnia that I should be so inconsiderate to one of my subjects. I must beg your forgiveness."
Melia lifted her head to look at her King. "If you desire my forgiveness, I gladly give it to you, Your Majesty. If I may say so, Your Majesty seemed rather preoccupied with your thoughts, for which I cannot fault a king with much to do."
Rilian grimaced, remembering why he had fled to the woods in the first place. "Yes, well, my advisers were being a little…overbearing and frustrating, and I fear I took it out on your tree, my lady."
The king was quite certain that the Dryad was ill at ease speaking closely with her sovereign, so he admired the fact that she was able to nod with dignified sympathy while only fiddling slightly with the ivy belt wrapped around her green dress. Rilian blinked as that thought rewound through his head. "You're wearing green," he blurted out, quite without meaning to do so.
Melia frowned, startled by the outburst. "Um, yes, Your Majesty."
Rilian resisted the urged to begin banging his head again, as he would not make that mistake twice. "Forgive me. I suppose you missed the decree of the King's advisors."
The ash-nymph raised an eyebrow. "Decree, Sire?"
"Yes, apparently the King's friends and advisers have decreed that there shall be no green in his presence, believing that he will revert to the enchantment of the Green Witch should he ever catch the briefest glance of that horrid color." Melia had to hold in a giggle at the frustrated sarcasm dripping from King Rilian's words, and he smiled as he felt her finally relax in his company. "Hence, my lady, why I was so shocked at the color of your raiment."
Melia curtsied deeply. "Forgive me, Your Majesty, for my breach of that unspoken law. I am not beholden to the thought that my King was anything less than completely disenchanted by those sent by Aslan to save him."
Rilian laughed, clear and strong, for the first time in too long. "I thank you for that, my lady. Now if only my advisers would believe the same."
"You have not become enchanted again now, Sire, by the color of my dress or the leaves and grasses that surround you," Melia pointed out.
"Ah, but it has only been a few moments, my lady. What is to say that I won't begin waxing eloquent about the Lady of the Green Kirtle and Underland if I stay here much longer?"
Melia paused, her brow furrowing as she searched Rilian's face and gave serious thought to his question. The king knew by the small quirk of her lips when she reached a conclusion. "Your Majesty, have your friends removed all the mirrors from Cair Paravel?"
Not knowing where the nymph was going with this train of thought, Rilian answered with a wary, "No."
"And I assume, Sire, that you are like other human males in that, while pruning the hair from your face, you look at yourself in a mirror?"
"Indeed, my lady.'
Melia smiled demurely and folded her hands in front of her. "Then, Your Majesty, I believe that you have no need to worry, for you have managed to develop an immunity to the color that vexes you so."
Rilian's arranged his face in a look of fake astonishment. "How do you mean, Lady Melia? All that was in my wardrobe of that color has mysteriously vanished."
There was a sparkle in the ash-nymph's eyes as she said, "Your eyes are green, Sire."
The simplicity of her argument stunned Rilian despite its lighthearted nature. She was right: he did have green eyes. The incredible irony of his advisors desperately trying to eradicate all traces of green when he saw it in his mirror every morning was astounding and Rilian could not stop the laughter that overtook him. In fact, he laughed so hard his side began hurting and breathing became something of a problem.
"Sire? Your Majesty, are you alright?"
Rilian struggled to bring his laughter under control, not particularly wanting to look like he actually was losing his mind. Melia looked worried enough as it is. Finally catching his breath, Rilian bowed slightly. "Forgive me, my lady. I was just amused by the fact that I have the wisest of Narnians as my advisers, and yet not one of them came to the same simple conclusion as you have. I believe I will find great delight in explaining their oversight to them…that is, if you do not wish to accompany back to Cair Paravel to explain it yourself as my new adviser?"
The ash-nymph paled. "Oh no, sire, please, I am no adviser, and I really have no wish to leave my tree for any length of time."
Rilian nodded, accepting her decision even if he thought it would be rather interesting to see her go head to head with some of the more complicated courtiers. "As you wish. May I then come and call on you when I am in need of your advice?" She agreed and they bid each other a pleasant farewell before Rilian strolled back to Cair Paravel, ready to take on Trumpkin and the others…and to bring green back to his home.
Over the next few years, Rilian managed to convince most of Narnia that he was not going to be enchanted again, and the Narnians had, however reluctantly, relented in their overbearing care. The King still found himself seeking out Lady Melia's thoughts, until he began actively creating situations so that he could call upon her more often. A mutual admiration grew between them, that over time turned into affection and then into love. Five years after their first inauspicious meeting, King Rilian took Melia the ash-nymph as his bride and queen. By that time Melia had no objection to living in Cair Paravel, though she insisted that they move her tree to the castle's garden. Together they grew in love, ruling wisely over Narnia and building a happy family of whom none were ever enchanted by strange women who turn into snakes and have a fondness for spelunking. For which the Narnians were forever thankful.
Well, that's over with. I sorta got frustrated with it at the end, so I wrapped it up in a paragraph that isn't quite good, but I didn't really want to deal with this story anymore. Though, fun fact, the Meliae (singular Melia) of Greek mythology were ash-tree nymphs.