Summary: Something so tiny and defenseless – how could that belong to him? Ties into Lurking in the Shadows, sweetness and fluff.
Disclaimer: Me no own, you put them darn lawyers away.
AN: Oy vey, here's a sugar overdose.
Susan lay beside him, deeply asleep, the lamplight of her eyes shuttered, her feathered lashes brushing the tops of her cheeks. Rolling onto his side, Caspian watched her a moment, how in sleep her face would scrunch and her lips would part the tiniest amount. Sighing, Caspian tried to tell himself that he was just worrying needlessly. Everything was fine, Susan was totally safe, everyone was safe – but he stopped his internal litany. What of Rilian? Was Rilian safe? How could he be sure? Well true, there was Pior, a Leopard guarding his son for the first half of the night. Then there was the four guards that patrolled the nursery side of the hall, making sure no one came and went. But the guards would be changing in a few hours – prime opportunity for someone to steal in and hurt his son.
Containing his panic, Caspian slipped from the bed, making sure to not disturb Susan. Juggling state, family and a newborn was hard work, and Caspian helped how he could, but there were just some things he wasn't good for, having to leave those things to Susan. It wasn't like he was able to nurse Rilian himself or anything, which was why there was a wetnurse with Rilian at night, in case he got hungry. He was a very good eater, at least that's what Susan said. Rilian's feeding times didn't really coincide with times Caspian could take off to watch his wife and his child bond. That made him feel slightly left out. Pulling on a pair of leggings, not bothering with shoes, despite the cold floors of the halls, Caspian double checked on Susan one last time. Satisfied that she'd sleep and sleep well, Caspian left, nodding to the Wolf who lay near the door, ready to alert or defend his monarchs at a moment's notice.
The torches flickered, throwing deep shadows on the dark stone walls of the hallway, prime places for someone to hide. Even though the shadows weren't that deep. But Caspian knew that where there was a will, there was a way, and that anyone could sneak in and find Caspian's weak spots, those places where he wasn't able to defend that which belonged to him. And Rilian was his – no one would touch him. Not if he could help it.
A guard barely acknowledged him, in the weeks since Rilian was born, Caspian going to check on his son was a common enough sight. The door to the nursery opened with nary a squeak on its well oiled hinges. Perhaps he should order a detail of Cats and Mice to watch the nursery as well? That may be a good idea… Little got past them, and the Mice, for all their small size, were valiant warriors. Plush carpets muffled the slap of his bare feet, and Caspian moved through the nursery with practiced ease, Pior raised his head from his paws, then seeing that it was only Caspian, curled back up and dozed off. As for the nurse, she was resting comfortably on a bed, with Rilian's crib not even two steps away.
Squatting, Caspian peaked over the edge of the crib. A crib he'd carved with his very own hands, his first gift to his son, so that when he wasn't being held in someone's arms, he'd be held and kept safe by Caspian's work, cradled with loving detail, much like how Susan had cradled Rilian in her womb. It was a circle, free of sharp edges, and entirely smooth on the inside, the walls rounded so that Rilian felt secure as though he were in a nest. Rilian was asleep, small face puckered, the downy blanket that covered his tummy bunched in one fist. Reaching down, Caspian touched the chin that came close to disappearing into the chubby face, then coasted his fingers up and over the very round face, tracing the features that would later settle into something more unique.
Studying the tiny thing that had come from Susan's womb carefully, Caspian tried to come to grips with the fact that this creature was his son. This defenseless thing was soft, and needed all the protection that could be mustered to keep him safe. Caspian loved Rilian, but it was a strange distant love, Rilian was his, and so must be kept safe from all things… yet Caspian didn't feel a connection. Not the way that Susan did. He was sure that was because he didn't have the same sort of time to bond to Rilian, and he didn't like that.
Rilian shifted, huffing, feet kicking underneath the blanket, and as Caspian watched, his mouth puckered, opening and closing then huge eyes opened. Father and son stared at each other, fascinated, Rilian's brows sinking and rising, one eye seemed to drift to the side, then popped back to examine Caspian intensely. How something so small could look so curious, well Caspian didn't know. That had to be from Susan, for Caspian hadn't ever been all that curious about anything. Or at least he didn't think so. Books, he'd been curious about books, and without realizing it he must have made a face that amused Rilian for he made some sort of odd noise.
And this small being, he was very curious about it, impossibly so.
Remembering that Susan said babies liked the sound of voices, Caspian leaned even closer, and Rilian's eyes crossed, but he couldn't be sure, but Caspian thought that may have been a smile on those little ruby red lips, as he whispered, "Hello."
Of course he got no response.
"I feel… strange," voice hoarse as he kept it as quiet as he could, "talking to you. But your mother says it is good for you to hear voices. Familiar voices. I do not think you remember but I am sure we have had many conversations before, you were just very… different then. Inside your mother that is, I suppose we should try to get to know one another all over again."
Rilian wiggled, and blinked.
Taking that for acquiescence – besides who was Rilian to complain that his father was talking to him? – Caspian ran his palm over the fuzzy, nigh bald, head of his son.
"Today was eventful, but not. When you are King you will know of what I speak," his back was starting to cramp, the position by the crib hard on his scarred body, the skin of his back so tight with tissue that it limited his mobility slightly. "The Council is slowly coming to accept the realization that Susan, that would be your mother, is almost my equal in power over them. While the Consortium, that would be the Narnian version of the Council, has had a much easier time of it in coping with my presence."
A set of kicks, and opening and closing mouth, and Caspian thought perhaps Rilian would rather have this conversation while actually held in his arms, rather than in his crib.
Picking him up gingerly, Caspian was sure to hold the overlarge head in his palm, "I wonder when you will gain a neck?" Rising, for he didn't want to sit on the floor, Caspian marveled at how truly small Rilian was, absolutely dwarfed by Caspian's lanky frame, "I also wonder when you will be too big to hold like this."
Saliva dribbled on Caspian's chest, where Rilian pressed his mouth, possibly searching for milk.
"I am sorry my son, I do not have the necessary equipment," shifting Rilian around, but as there were no cries, he supposed Rilian may have only been exploring in the only way he could. Had he not often seen children put things in their mouths on many occasions and when he'd asked Susan about it before, she'd told him that that was how they learned from their surroundings. Walking around the nursery, silent, his feet not even making the barest of scuffs, "Would you like to see a new place my son? You will be King at some point, so I am sure I should familiarize you with your realm from the safety of my presence."
Padding away, Caspian left the nursery, and slipped past the guards with practiced ease. Yes, Rilian was most certainly not safe in the nursery he decided, for though the guards were good, they hadn't taken note of him at all! That was unacceptable. He didn't think about the minor fact that he was probably one of the quietest stalkers in all of Narnia, a skilled hunter without peer, or that probably not even in Archenland was there one quite as good as he on his feet.
Susan was wakened by knocking.
Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, "Caspian, Caspian? Can you get the door?" reaching over, and feeling nothing but cold bed, Susan sighed. He'd probably had one of those nights, the sort where too much was on his mind and he went to Peredur to talk. Groaning, Susan clambered from the high bed, calling out, "Just a minute!"
Picking up one of Caspian's dirty shirts, she tugged it on, then grabbed a robe, hugging it to her body shuffling to the door, "You can come in now!"
"Your Majesty," Susan wasn't sure she'd ever get used to hearing that, "Your Majesty ….there has been…"
Yawning, jaw cracking, "What's the emergency, has the Council decided to collectively hang themselves sparing the world the trouble?"
"What?" perking up, becoming utterly alert, fear blossoming in her chest, "What about Rilian?!"
"He is… he is not in his crib," the nurse cried, sobbing, wringing her hands, "I do not know where he could have –"
Shoving past the woman, Susan stormed down the hallway, not even bothering to hold her robe over her scanty covering, letting it fall, as its fluttering was too cumbersome. Barging through the door, Susan looked around. Nothing was out of place. Not a single thing.
"Oh Aslan!" biting her fist, Susan tore through the room, double checking, throwing things this way and that. "Where's Pior?!"
"He left when his shift ended Your Majesty," sobbing.
Throat tight, Susan wanted to scream, "Caspian, where's Caspian? He needs to know – you," jabbing a finger at a guard who shrank back under the onslaught of her blazing eyes, "find Inigo! I'm sure he knows who'd be capable of such a thing, then have him summon the trackers! You, go to the stables, see if Caspian is there. I'll check his study."
Uncaring of her modesty, Susan ran once more, barefoot and clad in Caspian's worn shirt, hair in loose snarls flying behind her. She had more important things to worry about. Opening the sturdy iron banded oak door, Susan halted.
There in front of the fireplace that had settled down into warm coals, was Caspian. Sprawled out on the fur rug, limbs in disarray but for one arm curled protectively over something on his chest. Approaching, she saw Rilian, sleeping and drooling on Caspian's collarbone, both of them resting peacefully. Letting out a sigh of utter painful relief, she turned waving at one of the guards that had been following in a more cautious fashion – who knew what the King would have done upon hearing news that his son and Heir were missing? – worried that Caspian would fly into a rage and take it out on the most convenient person available. The guard visibly relaxed and nodded, going to end the alarm that was no doubt about to be raised.
Closing the door behind her with a click, Susan moved to her husband and child, who both looked so innocent and young there. A tear welled up, and she touched the back of Caspian's hand were it was pressed to Rilian's round tummy. And here she'd worried that Caspian would be a distant father, for he hadn't taken much interest in interacting with their child.
"He is sleeping, careful," it was a bare whisper.
"Caspian, I was so scared that someone had taken him," throat raw, Susan's voice cracked, but she managed to keep it quiet.
To that Caspian growled, the rumble waking Rilian but their son settled down with soft soothing strokes from Caspian's long hands, "No one will ever take him. I shall keep him safe while he is so defenseless."
"How will you do that when anyone can sneak into the nursery?" whispering.
"He will stay with us," he nodded decisively, and Susan always was astounded that she could love Caspian more than she already did. "His crib will be moved into our room, and during the day some Mice should also be his guards…"
Kissing his forehead, "Thank you."
Cute interludes of Lurking:
have this image, of Caspian, Peredur and Rilian
rhionlogan: Rilian, about a yr old
rhionlogan: Peredur's like "Ah, so I finally get to meet him? It's about damn time"
Sirena Clayton: heh
rhionlogan: "Be glad Susan is not here to hear your language..."
rhionlogan: "Yes, I'm sure he's heard worse from you..."
Sirena Clayton: haha
rhionlogan: "Actually no, Susan is the one who slips up..."
rhionlogan: "Pah! Daum! Daum!"
rhionlogan: "I see he's taking after his mother, cursing your name and such..."
Sirena Clayton: haha
rhionlogan: "Oh, see I thought he was trying to say 'Peredur'"
"So you're saying he's cursing my name, not yours?"
rhionlogan: "Pah! Daum! Daum!"
rhionlogan: "Seems like it..."
rhionlogan: "Then I guess I won't let him sit on my back," presenting his rump