Title: Waves and Wavering
Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia.
Note: The answer to challenge 29: Water. Inspired by a recent trip to the sea-shore. And, since I seem to have given myself a reputation, I promise that this is only sibling fluff. No one dies. No one gets hurt. Just fluff.
Note 2: Sorry it's been so long. I've been mostly working on my Prince Caspian AU chapter-fic, which is finally finished and being betaed. Once my beta is finished I'll start posting. But, until then, I hope you enjoy this little one-shot.
Queen Susan had a problem. It was not very terrible, but a problem just the same. Her problem was that she had two brothers.
Normally, this was not cause for alarm. Peter and Edmund were both well behaved, especially since becoming Kings of Narnia five years previously. They treated their sisters with respect. They always protected each other, on the battlefield and off. They were best friends, nigh inseparable.
Actually, that was the source of the problem. Because there were times when Peter and Edmund were separated.
And, as Susan knew well, part of the reason why her life was so peaceful was that her brothers kept each other occupied. For example, on a normal day spent relaxing on the shore near Cair Paravel – when official business let them off their duties – the four siblings always fell into their usual routine: Susan sat on a blanket on the sand, perhaps making a sand castle or reading a book. Meanwhile, the boys would be happily trying to drown each other in the waves. Lucy would flit between sitting with Susan on the shore and helping one brother or the other in their playful fratricide attempts.
This day, however, was not a normal day. Edmund had unfortunately been forced to remain in the castle for a meeting on some intelligence report, while his royal siblings escaped politics for the day. The absence of his younger brother and playmate left Peter floundering for something to keep him occupied.
Apparently, this something turned out to be the continual bothering of his younger sister.
"Come on, Su. The water's warm!"
Susan sighed. "Peter, I told you, I'm not coming in."
Lucy paddled around her brother as he stood waist-deep in the surf. "It really is lovely."
"When have I ever enjoyed swimming in the ocean?" The answer was, of course, never. Susan certainly could never be called a coward, especially not after the incident in the first year of their reign involving the Lone Islander, the knife, and the jar of marmalade. However, Susan just did not like thinking of all the things that were in that vast ocean. Things that she could not see through the opaque water. Things that might brush past her at any time, possibly with sharp teeth or poisonous tentacles. No, she much preferred listening to the waves than swimming in them.
Peter would not let up, though. "Susan, there is nothing in the water."
"There is plenty in the water."
"Nothing dangerous. The merpeople would never allow anything like that to get near us," answered Peter. A large wave crashed into his back, nearly toppling him.
Susan folded her arms and stepped forward so that the surf gently lapped her feet. "There. I'm in the water. Happy?"
Lucy giggled as she floated on her back. "That doesn't count!" Her giggles turned to splutters as an unruly wave crashed over her head.
"And you wonder why I do not want to go out there," Susan commented as Peter hauled Lucy to her feet so she wouldn't get pulled under. No, she was determined not to be convinced to go any closer to the deeper parts of the water. They would not dissuade her.
Unfortunately, then Peter pulled out his greatest weapon. He stared at her with a sad, blue-eyes stare, letting his lower lip pout slightly. "Please, Susan? Come play with us?"
The stare was enough to make her resolve start to falter. Susan tried to ignore it, tried to protest further. "I don't like touching the bottom when I can't see my feet," came her weak excuse. After all, who knew what she could step on?
Peter held a hand to his heart. "I promise, the ground the flat and smooth. Hardly a seashell to be felt."
Susan stepped a little farther so that the water crashed right beneath her knees. Still, she hesitated, especially when she spotted a small crab being pulled out to sea. "I really don't think…"
A blinding smile cut her off. "What if I promise you don't have to touch the bottom?"
Susan's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean, Peter?" she asked, distrustful of that grin. It usually meant trouble.
"I swear. You won't have to step one foot on the ocean floor to come out here."
That look was way too suspicious for Susan's comfort. So was Lucy's wide eyes. However, when she opened her mouth to confront them, all that came out was a shrill shriek as strong arms wrapped around her knees and back, catching her as she fell backwards into the surf.
Spluttering in shock, Susan glared at her attacker, only to throw her arms around his neck as he laughed and began carrying her out into the waves, aided by her buoyancy in the water. "Edmund!" she yelled, furious at her little brother. "Let me go!"
Dark eyes flashed with laughter. "All right, if you insist." He released his hold on her, and she began sinking into the salt water; she had to scramble to her feet to keep from going under. Standing up, Susan was fully prepared to bravely walk back to the shore with her head held high.
Then a fish brushed by her leg. Susan let out another shriek that had her three siblings wincing – and didn't they deserve it, the miscreants – and she leapt at her younger brother, grabbing him in a chokehold and pulling her knees up to her chest, as if trying to pull herself all the way out of the water.
This, of course, amused the others to no end. Lucy let out a great peal of laughter and Peter joined in, clapping Edmund on the back, congratulating him on his perfect timing. Edmund grinned and said something about being grateful for fast committee meetings.
Susan was too busy trying to glare at all three of them at once to be paying much attention. "I hate you. I hate you all."
Edmund gave her a look of mock hurt. "And here I thought I was your favorite sibling." Susan's glare did not let up. "Ah me, now I must perform some deed of heroism to get back into my lady's graces."
Peter's eyes lit up. "I'll help!" Without warning, he snatched Susan away from Edmund and threw her over his shoulder, running through the surf away from the youngest siblings.
As Susan began yelling at Peter, Lucy flung the back of her hand against her forehead. "Oh Edmund, the evil monster has kidnapped the fair maiden! What shall we do?" It would have been a more dramatic speech if she hadn't been choking on laughter the entire time.
Edmund struck a heroic poise, with his hands on his hips and chin in the air. "Why, we shall bravely step into danger and save the fair maiden, of course," he answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
With that, Edmund and Lucy began chasing after their siblings. Soon catching up, Lucy dove and pulled at Peter's knees, causing him to stumble and drop Susan. Susan screeched and went under the water, but Edmund quickly pulled her up and began racing away with her in his arms. Of course, Peter and Lucy chased him down, as the youngest queen switched sides to help the evil monster kidnap the fair maiden once more.
The game continued, Peter stealing Susan and Edmund saving her, with Lucy switching sides whenever she felt like it. Soon they became hindered in their chase by their laughter; laughter which was made worse by Susan's continual shrieking. Yet even Susan slowly grew acclimated to the game, and her position as the fair maiden to be captured and rescued. Eventually, she even began playing into it, 'beating' at her captor or 'swooning' at her knight in shining armor. Her fear of the unknown of the ocean began fading from her mind as she fell into enjoying her siblings' joyful laughter.
Finally, they all began to tire and almost wordlessly decided to abandon the sea for the shore. However, Susan still forced her older brother to carry her from the ocean. After all, he had promised she wouldn't have to touch the sea floor.
Reaching shore, Peter was the first to collapse on one of the blankets that were laid out for them by their attendants. He fell asleep almost the instant he lay on his back in the light of the mid-day sun, while Lucy curled up next to him. Edmund took one of the blankets in the shade of a tent that was set up for the more fair-skinned of the Narnian sovereigns.
After thoroughly drying her long hair, Susan shook out another blanket next to Edmund and lay down on her stomach. Nestling her head in her arms, she looked at her little brother, who was himself quickly fading from the waking world. "I don't hate you, Ed," she murmured, her own eyes beginning to feel heavy.
Edmund turned his head towards her and smiled. "I know."
Susan smiled back and closed her eyes. A moment passed before she spoke again. "That doesn't mean there are not going to be consequences for what you did."
There was a pause while Edmund carefully considered whether she was being serious. Then: "It was Peter's fault!"
Susan gave a 'hmmm' and turned her head away from her brother.
"It was just a little fun. No harm, no foul, right Susan? Susan? Su?" Not even the alarm in Edmund's voice disturbed Susan from her rest. It had been an exhausting day, and she knew she would have to regain her strength.
After all, Susan had a problem to solve. It was not a very terrible problem, but a problem just the same. She had to decide if revenge was a dish best served cold…or with the combination of a pie, a squirrel, and her two darling brothers.
See? No death! Just happy siblings.