A/N: This was rather interesting to write, for it deals with Caspian's thoughts as he views a scene between the Pevensies in which he isn't interacting. I'm not sure how it worked, so read it and let me know.
Caspian bites back the nervous tension he feels and looks around him impatiently. He doesn't want to fight – although he would never admit it, he is scared to go into a true battle- but he would rather fight than wait on the edge of battle like this. The troops are ready. He is ready, or as ready as he will be. But there is no sign of the High King, or his brother and sisters. They are still deep in the How, preparing for battle.
One of the centaurs kicks his hoof against the ground impatiently, and Caspian tries not to do the same. His feet can't seem to stay still though, and after a moment's deliberation, he turns to the How and makes his way back through the torch-lit tunnels.
The sound of voices comes from a small room near the cave that holds the Stone Table. Caspian pauses outside the door, suddenly reluctant to intrude. Who is he to hurry up the Kings and Queens of Old? He hovered at the door, his arm lifted to knock, but then he heard a voice from inside the room.
"The troops are ready, it is time to depart," Edmund says in the manner of one reciting a traditional speech. Caspian wonders if it is a custom of the Kings and Queens to do such a thing before battle.
"The Magnificent is ready," states Peter solemnly. "I will lead our troops to death or glory."
"The Just is ready," says Edmund, "I will fight for our people and my King."
There is a pause, and Caspian just has time to wonder if the kings are about to leave the room when a younger voice pipes up.
Peter's harsh voice cuts the young queen off. "You are not to come, Lucy."
"What?" Edmund asks in confusion. It seems to Caspian that this differs from their traditional ways.
"Lucy is not to come," the High King repeats.
Caspian can picture Edmund's scowl at this, and the High King's glare. "She knows how to fight, Peter. Just as our skills have returned to us, so it has been for our sisters. It has been many years since we have gone into battle without the Valiant Queen."
"She is not coming," Peter says again, and from the tension in his voice, it sounds as though he is gritting his teeth.
"Lucy is no more nine than you are fourteen!" Edmund retorts hotly. "She can fight!"
"No," Peter says stubbornly. "She is too small. She-"
A soft voice interrupts him. "Brothers, I can make my own decisions."
"You will not come," Peter repeats forcefully.
But Lucy's response surprises Caspian. "No, I won't." The silence that greets her declaration indicates that the others are just as shocked as the Telmarine prince. "The Valiant Queen is not ready," Lucy continues, "But not because you command it, brother. I stay in protest."
"Protest?" Peter sounds bewildered, and Caspian can well imagine why.
"This is not what Aslan wishes," Lucy explains. "We cannot win this without Him."
"He is not here," Peter argues.
"Because we have not asked for him to come yet," the young – old? – queen replies.
There is silence again, and Caspian almost decides to announce his presence when Edmund speaks again.
"Regardless of whether Lucy wants to come or not, we need her. Our plan is that three of the four of us go. If Lucy does not come, this will not succeed."
Again, there is silence. Caspian tries to puzzle out what Edmund means. Is the Queen Susan not to come? His heart beats a little louder at the thought that something may have happened to her to prevent her help.
But then Susan speaks. "The Gentle is ready."
"Susan?" exclaim Edmund and Peter as one.
Caspian can't understand their confusion. He has seen Susan's skill with a bow, and it does not sound as if she is hurt.
"You never go to battle, Su," Peter says softly.
But why not? Caspian doesn't understand this at all. He feels lost, and wants to knock on the door to call them to battle, but still his hand won't move.
"I will go," Susan says simply.
Lucy's voice sounds child-like for the first time, reminding Caspian for the first time of her real age. "It'll kill you if you go," she whispers. "You know you can't stand fighting."
"I go to honour the memory of our Golden Age," Susan replies. Her voice catches on the last word, and Caspian can well imagine her distraught expression. Then she continues in a voice stronger than before, "I fight for my people."
The atmosphere changes again, back to the traditional feel Caspian had first noticed.
"I fight for my people," Peter repeats.
"I fight for my people," Edmund agrees.
"I care for my people," Lucy whispers, and Caspian can almost see her tiny fingers tracing her cordial vial at her hip.
After a respectful silence, the air fills with the clinking of metal, and Caspian realizes the Kings are lifting their swords. Caspian realizes he can't be caught eavesdropping, and this time knocks on the door loudly.
It is Lucy who opens the door, and Caspian sees that her eyes shine with hidden tears. Behind her the Kings are strapping their belts around their waists and checking their swords one last time, and Susan is checking her arrows and bow.
"The troops are ready," Caspian tells her, unconsciously adopting the wording Edmund had first used.
"I see," Lucy nods, and at that moment her siblings come up behind her.
"We are ready," Peter says briskly, and steps around Lucy and into the cavern. "Will you bid us farewell, Lucy?"
Lucy pauses, compassion filling her face, but she shakes her head a little. "No, Peter," she tells him. "I will wait for your return by the Stone Table."
Peter nods, as though he has expected this answer, and the three elder rulers head up the cavern. Caspian wavers, knowing it is time to leave, and yet feeling that there is something waiting for him down here.
Lucy is watching him, and as Caspian looks into her eyes he sees for a moment the wild, glorious, valiant queen of Narnia he had been told about by his nurse and tutor, back in the days before legend came to life. "You see, Caspian," Lucy says, "Susan did not go into battle in the Golden Age. It was she who stayed home at Cair Paravel, while I rode off with my brothers. I fear that this will hurt her emotionally. Be gentle with her afterwards, and try not to talk about the raid too much to her."
Caspian nods slowly, and when he looks into her eyes again, he realizes with a start that she knows he had been listening at the door. He feels his cheeks colour slightly, an bows a little before turning to make his way outside.
"Aslan be with you," Lucy calls after him, and he hears the mild amusement in her voice.
Caspian stops in place and turns back to her. "Thank you," he tells her. "As-Aslan be with you too." Then he lets his steps carry him on down the hall, away from the Valiant Queen and towards the battle.
And like I've been saying for a while, if you haven't already voted in the poll at the top of my profile on a title for my epic story coming soon (dealing with the end of the Golden Age and the Telmarine Invasion) I would love it if you would help me make a decision. And for everyone who's voted already, thank you, and I can assure you the story is coming quickly, and it shouldn't be too long before it's posted!