Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: Well, after reading your reviews from the eighth chapter, I guess Caspian's best option would be to…run for the hills! LOL! That last comment was just a joke, by the way. Of course Caspian wouldn't run away from Peter or beg for mercy at a moment like this. He would—sorry; you're going to read the chapter to find out what he does. ;) I am so sorry it took me so long to post this chapter, but school has just been insane lately. I mean, between writing papers, studying for my midterms, and preparing for presentations, I haven't had a moment to come up for air in weeks. Anyways, thanks so much to everyone who reviewed the previous chapter. Your support means the world to me! :) I hope all of you like the next installment.
Chapter Nine: If You Love Someone
After he ripped the blue curtain back so no one inside the castle would see them talking, a furious Peter stepped towards the breathless pair and pointed an accusing forefinger at Caspian.
"I told you to stay away from my sister!" he bellowed.
"Peter, stop," Susan begged, as she walked up to him, acting almost as a shield between the two young men. "Please don't do anything rash. This wasn't—"
"'Don't do anything rash?'" the High King repeated her words with indignation. "Su, have you completely forgotten what he did to you last week?"
"No, I haven't forgotten…" she spoke in just above a whisper, "…but I still love him."
"And I still love her," Caspian added, his eyes burning with passion. "I have never stopped loving your sister."
"Well, I should imagine so after what I just witnessed! You two were snogging like your whole lives depended on it! Your tongue was shoved so far down Susan's throat—"
"Peter!" the Gentle Queen cried out, praying her older brother wouldn't finish that last thought. "Stop attacking Caspian like all of this is his fault. He wasn't taking advantage of me. I kissed him back."
"It is his fault, because you never would have acted this way if we were back home. He's only confusing you, and using your love for him to get to you—"
"That is a lie!" Caspian heatedly interjected. "I would never do such a thing. I have thought of your sister every day since you left Narnia and have remained true to her memory—"
"Until you met Lilliandil," Peter cut in. "That changed everything, didn't it?"
"No, it didn't change everything, because I still love Susan. I always have, and nothing will ever change that." He turned his attention from the angry King to Susan, his eyes now filled with sadness and longing. "I swear it, my love."
"I believe you," she whispered in reply.
His heart now soaring with delight, Caspian took the Gentle Queen into his arms. He held her close and kissed the top of her head, unconcerned with the fact that her overprotective brother was watching them. He loved her and she believed him—that was the only thing in the world that matter to him at this exact moment.
"What rubbish is this?" the sandy blond spoke in outrage. "He's lied to you, Su. We watched him almost kiss Lilliandil only hours after he told you he still loves you, and now—after one kiss—you're going to believe anything he says? Just forgive and forget?"
Releasing herself from Caspian's warm embrace, Susan stepped towards Peter and replied, "He's made some mistakes in the past, but Caspian has always been honest about his feelings for me. He loves me, and I can't turn my back on that—not when I still love him. So stop acting like Father and let me make my own choices."
"I'm only trying to protect you like I promised Mum I would the day we left home for Professor Kirke's."
"And you have, Peter. You've kept your promise, but we're not children anymore. You can't protect me forever." Turning back around, she added, "And neither can you, Caspian."
"What do you mean?" the handsome Telmarine wondered, staring at her with a perplexed expression on his face.
"You can't keep lying as a means of protecting me from the truth anymore. You need to do what Aslan has asked of you and spend more time with Lilliandil, that way once you've made your final choice, you'll know you've made it with a clear conscience."
"My love, do you realize what you're asking me to do?"
"Yes, and you will do as Aslan says because it's the right thing to do. It's the only way you'll know for certain whether you want to spend the rest of your life with me or Lilliandil."
Leaving both Kings utterly stunned by her admission, the practical brunette said no more as she slowly withdrew from the courtyard to return inside for the remainder of the ball.
About to follow her back inside, Caspian only managed to take a few steps forward when he felt Peter's grip on his right arm. He turned around to find the High King's threatening glare penetrating his gaze like a snake eyeing his quivering prey in a wide, open field.
"If you do anything—anything—to break my sister's heart again, I won't stop until you're hunted down and I kill you myself."
With that, the eldest Pevensie sibling, who was tempted to shove his former rival out of the way, stepped around him, went back inside to rejoin Susan and their Narnian friends, leaving Caspian alone to muse over what had just occurred.
Halfway through the ball, Susan spotted Lilliandil, who was currently sitting and chatting with one of the lords on Caspian's council. When she came over to them, both rose upon seeing her, respectively bowed, and greeted the Gentle Queen, and then the middle-aged Telmarine politely excused himself to get some wine before leaving the two ladies.
Once he was gone, Susan and Lilliandil sat down together at the Star's fairly large, round table. It was away from the music and people chatting, topped with white silk table cloths, tall, white candles for extra lighting, golden goblets, elegant silverware, and fancy plates with half-eaten food from a half-dozen people who had previously been sitting there.
"Have you enjoyed the ball so far, my Queen?" the golden-haired beauty wondered.
"I was until I went into the courtyard and started arguing with Caspian after he followed me outside."
"Did he come to apologize for what happened last week?"
"I didn't want to listen to any of his excuses and apologizes, but regardless of how angry I was with him, Caspian still wanted me to know how sorry he was for doing what he did."
"While your upset in this situation is most understandable, you must not forget that everyone makes mistakes, even a king."
"I know…but I was just so hurt by what he did. And because it was something I never thought Caspian would do, his actions shook my faith in him."
"What happened after he made his apology?"
Now nervous, Susan was hesitant to continue any further yet knew she couldn't lie to her friend. "He told me that he loves me…and said that if I really wanted to make all of this go away, the only thing I had to do was tell him that I don't love him anymore."
"But you do still love him, do you not?"
Nodding, "When I realized that I couldn't say the words, we started kissing…at least until my brother caught us in the act."
"High King Peter found you kissing in the courtyard?"
"And he would have torn his head off if I hadn't intervened when I did. More importantly, though, I think I also managed to help Peter see my side of the story."
"That you still love King Caspian despite the errors he has recently made."
"You truly are a woman in love, my Queen," the platinum blonde replied with a sweet smile. "You should appreciate that, for true love is a rare but beautiful thing. It is what everyone hopes to find in their lifetime, yet only a small few actually do."
Unable to say anything in reply upon blushing from feeling self-conscious, Susan looked down at herself. However, her state of awkwardness was short-lived when Lilliandil asked her—
"Would I be correct in my assumption that King Caspian has made his decision? Has he chosen you to be his future wife and Queen?"
"No," she breathed out unevenly, her crystal blue eyes still averting the Star's smoky blue ones. "No, he hasn't. I wouldn't let him."
"Because no matter how much I know he loves me, none of this will end until he fulfills Aslan's request."
"Forgive me, Your Majesty, but I am afraid I do not quite follow."
"I don't want Caspian to say the words out loud until he knows for certain which one of us he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and he can't do that until he spends more time with you."
Lilliandil wanted to tell Susan that she shouldn't allow a couple of mistakes ruin her chance at happiness with the man she so obviously loves, yet the Star knew Her Majesty well enough now to know that she was doing this—stepping aside and trying to put his happiness ahead of her own—because she loves him and wanted him to be happy, even if he wasn't with her.
Laying her right hand on top of Susan's left one, almost in hopes that it would help bring her some comfort, she whispered, "I know this cannot be easy for you."
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done…but it's the only way Caspian will know who he who truly wants to be with. And it's what Aslan wants him to do. He always knows what's best, so we must have confidence in his wisdom and respect his wishes."
"If I have not said it before, you are most wise, my Queen."
The brunette gave her a weak smile. "Will you promise me something, Lilliandil?"
"Promise me that no matter where this dilemma on Caspian takes us, no matter who he ultimately chooses to be his bride, you and I will still be friends."
"I promise," she nodded her head reassuringly.
Happy to hear this, Susan smiled once more, a true smile, then leaned in and gently hugged her new friend.
Watching the two young women from a short distance, Caspian saw them embrace one another, still astonished that they managed to strike up a close bond and friendship in such a short amount of time—especially when one considered the complicated situation he had unwittingly put them in. It said a lot about their character—their willingness to befriend someone in need of a friend—which never ceased to amaze him. However, the conversation they were engaged in before hugging was what initially caught the King's eye. The different types of facial expressions Lilliandil made while Susan talked to her became the peak of his interest, as he wondered what his first love was saying to the beautiful Star. Caspian already had a fairly good guess, but now was not the time to put his investigating skills to test. Perhaps later in the evening, when he could get one of the girls alone, he could find the answers he was seeking then.
By the time Susan finally reached her private bedchambers shortly after the ball had ended, and she bid her brother good night for the evening, it was almost midnight. The moon was full, the air was cool, and the Stars were twinkling like small diamonds in the sky. With flame-lit torches in the cobblestone corridors providing the only source of light, the Gentle Queen was about to reach out and grab the brass doorknob when she heard the handsomely bearded King, who was now dressed in a cotton white nightshirt and brown leggings, whisper her name ever so softly.
Startled by his silent presence sneaking up on her, she jumped backwards and pressed against the door as her hand flew over her heart. "Caspian, you nearly scared me half to death. What are you doing here at this hour? I thought you went off to bed already."
"I could not sleep."
'I know the feeling,' she thought to herself.
"I saw you talking to Lilliandil earlier, and I was wondering if you talked to her about what you said to Peter and I in the courtyard."
"Not that it's any of your business, but, yes, I did. I thought it was only fair since she asked me and we're friends."
"What did she say when you told her?"
"She wasn't keen on the whole idea at first, but once she saw that I had a point, she understood and agreed with me."
"This isn't what you want, though."
"Of course this isn't what I want!" she shot back in a low voice. "Do you really think I want to see you in the arms of another woman? It breaks my heart just to imagine you holding Lilliandil. But something she told me last week in the gardens finally made me realize that none of this drama is going to stop until you do exactly as Aslan has instructed. You have to spend more time with her and be completely certain who it is you want to spend the rest of your life with before you make your final choices, because lies and resentment will only make matters worse."
"What about jealousy? You just said it would break your heart to see me with Lilliandil."
"And it probably will…but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make because no matter how many wrongs you've committed since Aslan sent me here, I still want you to find happiness with the right woman. You deserve true peace and love after everything Miraz stole from you since you were a child, including your father."
"Why don't you believe you're the right one for me?"
"It's not that I don't believe we could have a happy life together," she shook her head, "it's that I want you to be sure, and I think Aslan does, too. You need to be with someone who can make you smile every time she walks into the same room as you…and makes your heart jump up in your throat whenever she gets close to you. Someone who will stand by you through thick and thin…help you rule this country for many years to come…and love you unconditionally until death."
"I'm with her right now."
Taking one more step forward, Caspian slowly dipped his head forward—almost expecting Susan to reject his advance—and closed his eyes upon planting a soft, sensual kiss on her full lips. Still pressed up against her door, she kissed him back, nearly moaning in pleasure when she felt his hands grab her waist. In return, her hands made contact with his body, feeling his well-toned abs through his nightshirt. On impulse, she trailed her fingertips up to his chest, which just about drove him over the edge as he seductively whispered her sweet name in rapture.
"No…" she breathed out after gently pushing him away. "No, we can't do this again, Caspian. Not until you can look me in the eye and tell me I'm the only woman in your heart."
"It doesn't have to be this way, Susan. We can—"
"Yes, it does," the Gentle Queen interjected firmly. "You've said so yourself."
Taking a short pause, the tone of her voice quickly softened. "You may not understand why I'm asking you to follow through with Aslan's request right now, but someday you will…and when you do, you'll know it's because I wanted you to find true happiness."
Unable to utter another word without breaking down into tears in front of him, Susan grabbed the doorknob from behind, twisted it so the door would open, and let herself in. Silence and tension filled the small gap between the pair again, as they shared one more wistful gaze just before she closed the door to her private bedchambers. With her fingertips still pressed against the wood, the level-headed brunette finally let her emotions out and cried.
"I…I love you, Caspian…" she choked out in between sobs.
She continued to cry, having no idea how long the hot, fresh tears rolled down her pink cheeks, until she suddenly felt as if another presence was behind her, watching her drown in heartache and sorrow with intense scrutiny. Yet despite not knowing who was staring at her, the presence felt strangely…familiar. Susan knew this person or creature. So once she found enough strength to regain her posture and wipe away most of her tears, she turned around, only to come face-to-face with none other than…
A/N: "If you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you, they're yours."
Now if this chapter didn't scream that message, I don't know what would. Lol!