I got this idea a while ago, after having watched A Beautiful Mind. After being reminded of the scene between John and Alicia that this fic is based on, I realized how perfectly it would fit Caspian and Ramandu's Daughter. The title is taken from the beautiful song sung by Charlotte Church and composed by James Horner that plays during the end credits of the film. Anyway, hopefully this will be a refreshing break from all that Suspian nonsense out there--and I hope you enjoy. Happy reading, and please don't forget to review!
Best regards from a bookworm,
Miss Pookamonga ;-P
With all love and thanks to "Jack"
All Love Can Be
It had been quite awhile since he'd seen her after she had been whisked away from his side by none other than Drinian. He hadn't noticed just how long it had been until the three courtiers from Archenland had ended their conversation with him, and he had suddenly been left standing alone, twiddling his thumbs quite awkwardly. It was only in the direct absence of nearby companions that he realized she was missing, and frankly, it bothered him. Bothered him partly because he felt oddly lonely despite the cheerful throng of people surrounding him, partly because he suspected Drinian was intentionally keeping her from him. But the better part of him knew that Drinian would never do such a thing…so…
…perhaps he was just worried that she might be lonely without him. After all, this had been her debut at a formal Narnian ball, and she was most likely still jittery from all the pressure of the stares and whispers of curiosity. He couldn't blame her. He'd felt the same way at his coronation.
He stood on his tiptoes like a little child, straining his neck to peer over the crowd in order to catch a glimpse of her. The crowd was packed together quite nicely, but he knew that even amidst this many people, he would be able to spot her. She stood out among others, like a white star against the black backdrop of the night sky—such radiance from one single person could not easily be overlooked, especially by someone like him, who had instantly been captivated by her upon the moment he had first laid eyes on her.
And then, there, like a flash of light in the corner of his eye, he saw her, slipping out into the courtyard at the far edge of the hall.
He smiled triumphantly to himself and eagerly ducked through the crowd, muttering apologies as he wove in and out of the mass of revelers, his steps growing more determined and faster with each second. Finally, he reached the marble archways which looked out upon the terrace courtyard, and he spotted her standing at the top of the stairway leading into one of the gardens. He let out a sigh of relief. She was alone.
He was surprised at how much the atmosphere instantly changed the he minute he stepped beyond the archway boundary. All of a sudden, all the clamor, all the frenzied heat and movement and noise of celebration dissipated into the cool, quiet night air, and it was just he, Caspian, and her, isolated in the blue shadow of silent twilight. It was as if the party didn't even exist—as if it had never existed at all, that they were the only two people in the universe, and that this place, this space in time, was the only reality that had ever existed or that needed to exist.
He watched her for a few seconds as she stood alone at the edge of the steps, gazing out at the vast ocean before her as her golden hair drifted upon the soft breeze. He suddenly felt a sharp pang of pain as he realized why she was looking in that direction. And then a wave of guilt…for having taken her away from the only home she had ever known…even though it had been her choice…oh, what was he doing? He knew ought to go and join her instead of standing dumbly there and staring. But, then again, maybe she wanted to be alone. Maybe he would be disturbing her, intruding on the one last piece of personal solace that remained with her.
But she looked so…small.
So small and so out of place, standing there on those steps, her face directed towards her home, the slender frame of a lost star engulfed by the encroaching midnight. All alone and covered by the isolating blanket of dusk, like a child huddling in bed to keep safe from what lay among the shadows. And suddenly, although he didn't quite know why, he wanted to do nothing more than rush up to her and hold her against him in his arms, to never let her go, ever, not until death could pry him away from her.
But in reality, he found himself moving at a snail's pace, shivering despite the fact that it was quite warm, shaking and sweating although he was no longer in that stuffy great hall that had been choking his breath just moments before. It felt like hours before he finally was able to drag himself over to her, and days before he finally found the courage to take a deep breath and force some sort of small talk out of his dry mouth.
"So, Drinian was too much for you, I see."
She literally jumped upon hearing his voice, and spun around wildly with such a terrified look on her face that he instantly regretted not giving some kind of warning—perhaps something like clearing his throat—before speaking. But the moment she saw that it was him, her face softened and she let out a relieved sigh, her lips curling into an embarrassed smile.
"Oh, my Lord," she said quickly, blushing. "I thought you were—"
"Drinian?" he interrupted with a sly grin on his face.
She blushed even harder and dipped her chin downward. "No, no…I just, well…I—"
"It's quite alright. He can be a bit much sometimes," Caspian joked, grinning even more. She glanced up at him shyly, making his heart slam rather loudly against his chest. "I trust he was good company, though?"
She inhaled deeply and nodded. "Oh, he was, my Lord."
"Well, that's good. At least you weren't left with dear old Trumpkin. Poor fellow can get a bit tiring to be around after awhile. Even more so than Drinian."
She smiled and chuckled lightly. "If you say so, my Lord."
He suddenly found himself walking backwards down the stairs until he was a few steps below her, making his way to the marble railing and leaning against it before speaking again.
"I thought I told you to call me 'Caspian'," he said after a few moments' silence.
He turned to look at her and saw that she was blushing again and avoiding his gaze. He didn't remember her having been so bashful on his visit to the island, but then again, she had been at home then. Now, she had been plucked from there like an apple from a tree and placed in an altogether unfamiliar environment filled with hustle and bustle, excitement and confusion, at every turn. It wasn't what she was used to, and he wasn't all that surprised to see that she had receded into her shell, so-to-speak. Again, it was similar to how he had felt when he had first become king, and he didn't at all blame her reaction to the new life she had been thrust into.
"I must have forgotten," she answered quietly, but with a twinge of humor in her voice. Well, at least she hadn't lost all of her wit to changing ways.
"Well, don't forget again," he pretended to chide. "I'm not very patient with people who forget things."
She giggled again, her cheeks turning even darker. "I will try, my—Caspian," she answered, finally turning to look him in the eye. He granted her a genuine smile in response, making her blush harder and turn away again.
There was another silence between them as they both turned to gaze out at the darkened sea. The view was almost of a complete wall of dark blue and black—the only thing that really distinguished the sea from the sky were the white bubbles of foam rolling along the bottoms of the breaking waves, and the moon and stars dotting billions of patterns across the dome above. Looking out at the night sea suddenly reminded Caspian of the long journey to the End of the World and back, and of the many nights he had spent on deck gazing up at the vast expanse of stars until the wee hours of the morning. He had always been fascinated by the night sky ever since he had been a child; it never ceased to amaze him how much could be up there, gazing down upon him—at how much something so simple could make him, royalty, suddenly feel so tiny in the grand scheme of things. How he suddenly felt now, standing next to her.
She must have noticed him staring upward, for she suddenly sighed, and he turned to find her gazing up as well. Curiously, he shifted closer to her, although he could swear that his knees were about to give up on him.
"I tried to count them all once."
He cocked his head to the side inquisitively, and she chanced a small, quick glance at him. "It's silly, I know," she continued softly, shaking her head, "me, of all people, wondering about the night sky. But…there was always something about it that not even Father could tell me." Her voice was almost a whisper now. "I think…I think one time I reached 4, 348."
There was yet another silence as he stared at her wistfully searching the stars for something, her eyes glittering and gleaming as if they had absorbed all of the light from the sky themselves.
"You are…exceptionally odd."
She turned to look back at him, his face now quirked into yet another sideways grin. She returned the sentiment as he stepped closer to her. "Is that a bad thing?" she asked, the light in her eyes pouring into his heart.
"No," he answered, his grin widening, and his hand inadvertently pressing against his chest as if to capture the light she was giving him. "I often find that I am exceptionally odd myself. Or so Drinian says," he finished.
She blushed and giggled another time. Then, silence again.
He watched her eyes carefully. He could see through them, like windows to her soul—he could see the glowing light pouring forth from within her, yet at the same time he noticed that obvious empty spot, the one that had once been filled with home and family. And he once again felt pained at seeing the loss and separation in her, wanting to embrace her tightly and somehow fill the hole that he knew she was trying to hide. But he knew that would be too forward, at least now…but suddenly…
He remembered something. Something his Nurse had taught him long ago, when he had been just a tiny child.
Slowly, looking up at her, he leaned even closer to her face, close enough so that he could feel her breath on his cheeks.
"Pick a shape," he suddenly whispered.
Her eyebrows furrowed in slight confusion, and she turned her head a bit to make sure she was hearing him correctly. "What?" she asked.
His smile grew wider. "Pick a shape. An animal. Anything."
She narrowed her eyes at him curiously. "Alright…" she answered slowly. "How about…a ship."
Gently, he stepped up, coming to stand behind her, and he softly stretched his right arm alongside hers, interlocking their fingers. He could feel her shudder lightly at his touch—in fact, he himself was shuddering upon pressing his warm, rough skin against the cool softness of hers—but he restrained his mind from losing track of what it was doing. Then, slowly, he lifted her arm up with his and pointed both their index fingers at the sky, pinpointing a star straight above them. Carefully and deliberately, he began to trace a pattern among several adjacent stars, connecting the points with invisible lines until he had formed a picture of a ship very much like the Dawn Treader. He then lowered their arms back to her side and glanced at her, awaiting her response.
She was staring up in awe, as if the image of the ship was still imprinted upon the sky. The look of pure astonishment on her face sent warm tingles throughout his body, and he was instantly reminded of the first time his Nurse had drawn pictures in the stars for him. She had reacted in the same way he first had, as if she had never seen anything so simply glorious in her life.
She suddenly turned her face towards his, the childlike wonder still sparkling in her expression. "Do it again," she whispered eagerly, her smile widening. He merely smiled back, more than content with the fact that he had finally made her happy.
She nudged him when he didn't respond. "Do it again," she repeated, this time with more eagerness in her voice, and he couldn't help but chuckle at the urgent way in which she said it.
"Alright," he whispered in her ear, turning to their left and lifting his free hand to gently caress her back. "What would you like?"
"Hmm…do an octopus."
And so, he lifted their arms again and began to trace yet another picture in the stars.