Black as Rat and Crow

For the Narnia Fan Fiction Revolution challenge, Color. Rated T because it's just easier that way.

Chapter 1: Pretty Silver Thread That Only A Bird Can See
Chapter 2: Yellow? Or Is It Kavossed?
Chapter 3:
Purple Pink Rose, or What Happens In Archenland, Stays In Archenland

Still not King. Still don't own any of this.
Special thanks to Anastigmat, without whom this would not have been posted.

Ahem, right, this chapter probably really deserves that T rating.

Chapter 3: Purple Pink Rose, or What Happens In Archenland, Stays In Archenland

"Have you yet written the letter owed?"

"The next time, Jalur, you may try writing news of such import as that of this week to Susan, in Rat and Crow, and see how long it takes you," King Edmund grumbled. His sister would read his encrypted message and understand it. Peter, in contrast, was hopeless at this business. As his brother refused to learn the cipher, Edmund would refuse to relay the news and the High King could just wait until he either returned from the North, or a Bird could be found reliable enough to both locate Peter and accurately make the report.

"I was not referring to the letter owed to the Queen Susan," Jalur, his Tiger Guard, countered with asperity.

"I will get to all correspondence in good time," Edmund retorted. He knew what the Tiger was implying and was determined to ignore the hint. "You would do well to..."

"Queen Lucy and Briony come," Jalur interrupted suddenly.

Goodness, the Tiger sounded smug. Before Edmund could form the appropriately wry and witty observation, Jalur pinned him with a very fierce stare. "If you are teasing of the Queen Lucy in any way, I shall personally throw you to the Wolf."

So, Briony and Jalur had already consulted? He was not surprised in the least. Edmund had, quite by accident, learned personally just how devious and surreptitious their Palace Guard could be. What role Briony and Jalur might have played in the events of the last few days was supposition he would keep to himself.

Regardless, "Peter is the one more likely to make the fuss, not I."

"In which case the High King shall be thrown to the mercy of the Wolves and the Felines."

"So, you would collaborate even with a dog on this, Jalur?" Edmund taunted.

Jalur ignored him, settling back on his haunches as if nothing had been said. Nor did Edmund have the opportunity to comment further for a moment later his sister staggered into the sitting room they were sharing. Lucy's Wolf-Guard, Briony, followed.

"Well, look what the Cat dragged in."

Jalur growled faintly, showing himself to be nag and nanny goat, only seeming to be wrapped in a Tiger-shaped package. Oh, very well.

"Thank you so much, Ed," Lucy muttered through a yawn. "What ever is the time?"

"Near noon."

"Oh. That late?"

Briony looked over the room carefully and evidently finding it to her satisfaction very deliberately shoved the outer door shut with her nose, assuring her Queen's privacy.

Heeding her Guard's actions not at all, Lucy collapsed into an inelegant heap across from him at the table, and stared, dazed, at the late breakfast Edmund had kept for her. Contrary to what Jalur might have supposed, Edmund had long since chased the Archenland servants away in anticipation of Lucy's return. He had assumed all along that he, Jalur, and Briony would see to Lucy's modest service and needs themselves.



"Your gown is inside out and you will want to do something to cover that purple bruise blossoming on your neck before we make our day's courtesies to King Lune."

Her cheeks pinking, Lucy pulled the gown back up from where it had been sliding precariously off her shoulder. She started to mumble something but Edmund interrupted her with a gentle, "May I pour you some tea?"

The pink blush on her face bloomed fully. Lucy nodded gratefully. "Please." She yawned again.

Unsure if the faint, threatening growl rose from Briony or Jalur, Edmund clamped down on his own smile and poured. He had to push the cup into her hand as Lucy had gone quite dreamy and vacant again. It had become a near perpetual state for her. Briony, more than once, had had to keep her distracted Queen from falling down stairs and walking into stone walls.

Taking his cue from Briony, calmly, he continued, "Su sent a Bird, anxious for news. I have already written with the pertinent bits, smashing victory, Rabadash being an ass and all that."

"She will want to hear from me as well, I suppose." Lucy said faintly, sipping her cup. She sounded quite too flummoxed to manage a coherent reply. "Would you mind terribly, Ed, just adding something for me?"

"Not at all."

Perceiving approving nods from the assembled Guard, he jotted a few words down on the note intended for Susan and slid it over to his giddy and very tired younger sister.

"Kismat odishly happenstance," she read with a protesting complaint. "Edmund, you know I don't read Rat and Crow. You must translate that for me."

"Made the most of an unexpected opportunity. The affair was managed well and discretely. What happens in Archenland stays in Archenland."

Lucy pursed her lips in disapproval, echoed by faint growls, Feline and Canine in aspect. "Well, that sounds like something you or Peter would write and does not cover the full of my state at all."

"I see your point, sister." And observed those sharp points in the mouths of Tiger and Wolf. With far greater solemnity than he felt, Edmund drew the encrypt back, added another word, and again offered the letter for her inspection.

"Rosehips?" Lucy asked. "What does that mean?"

"That you are deliriously happy."

He saw the tension leave her frame and a slight exhalation of relief. "You don't object, do you Ed?" she asked softly.

Edmund considered this query very carefully. Lucy should not even be asking the question, yet she was, and given what had so recently occurred, he supposed trepidation was warranted. He took in with a glance Briony sitting quietly in a corner. The She-Wolf was staring balefully back at him with a slight curl in her lip, revealing a canine tooth in a classic threat display. Jalur's warning had not been idle. If he said the wrong thing, he was going to have to answer to her, the Wolf was saying.

Briony, true to her kind, was a sound judge of character, and as the Wolf was enthusiastically supportive of foot soldier Aidan of the Archenland infantry, well then so was he.

"It should not matter if I did object, Lucy, but as it happens, Rosehips for you."

She frowned, trying to work through the cipher in this context.

"I am deliriously happy for you, Lucy."

The above is the beginning of an event referred to in Chapter 11, The Stone Gryphon, Part 1wherein Mrs. Beaver, Briony the She-Wolf, and Trice the Eagle advise the Valiant Queen on matters of the heart and her betrothal to Aidan, foot soldier of Archenland.

Thank you all for the kind reviews as to Chapters 1 and 2. Herein ends my own contribution to the Narnian Fan Fiction Revolution color challenge. I've linked to the site and their fabulous podcast from my profile.

RthStewart August 2009