A/N: Thank you for all the reviews, story alerts and favs! It seems not only Aravis got some wonderful gifts ;) I hope you'll like the last part, too. Enjoy and review.
Disclaimer: I do not own Narnia.
The Gifts from the South
Fortunately for Aravis, it was always easy to find Cor. When he was not spending time with her, he was usually in his room or with his father, "honing his royal skills" (only she and Corin used that term, obviously). So she went to his chambers and there he was, immersed in a thick volume about the affairs of state or something equally boring but essential for the future king.
She was so lost in thought, trying to think of the best way to show her gratitude, that she went in without knocking and only realized it when Cor jumped up and his book landed on the floor with a thud.
"Sorry, Cor, didn't mean to startle you," she said apologetically.
"Oh, it's ok, you didn't," he replied quickly and unconvincingly.
"If you say so," she let it go without picking on his feeble lying. There were more important things to talk about. "Well, sorry to bother you, I know you have important things to do, but I just wanted to say that the gifts are wonderful, and thank you so much for them, but that wasn't necessary, and they must have been terribly expensive, and you really shouldn't have–" She paused and grimaced, when she realized she was babbling.
"How did you find out it was me?" he asked resignedly.
"Oh, come on. That picture of Tashbaan? It practically screamed it was you."
Cor looked a little embarrassed and fidgeted uncomfortably.
"But tell me, why did you do it?" she asked suddenly, unable to resist. "I mean, friends give each other presents but usually small ones and only once in a while on special occasions–"
Oh great, she was babbling again. Why was she so nervous? And why was he so nervous? If it was Corin, they would already be laughing and joking. Why didn't she feel as easy around Cor?
"Well, it's a bit complicated," he began after a pause. "You just didn't seem entirely happy. I mean, usually you seemed happy, but then there were times when you were staring into space, sighing. And then that day in the woods–"
"I hurt my ankle," she interrupted quickly, wanting him to stay under the impression that she was tough, and mentally kicking herself for not being able to hide her feelings.
"Aravis, I'm not as stupid as I look," he replied quietly and she saw he was hurt.
"I never said you were–" she protested but he shook his head and she let him continue.
"I felt something was wrong, I just didn't know what it was. So I went to my father and told him everything. He said you probably missed Calormen and I felt he was right. I asked how we could help you and he said–" he hesitated a little, "he said I knew you longest and I was the one who could think of the best way. I had no idea what I could do, so he suggested starting with this biryani for dinner and seeing your reaction. And you looked really pleased, so then I thought maybe we could give you some other bits of Calormen."
Aravis blinked. She thought of the gifts as "bits of Calormen" as well. Now that was strange… but nice, too.
"I told my father and he said he liked the idea and said he would help me get the things I wanted, so then I made a list of things I thought you would like. They were bought from Calormenian traders but the picture was being painted specially and we had to wait for it. So then Corin came up with the idea for these surprises, he said it would be more fun that way. And that's it," he concluded a bit lamely.
Aravis blinked again, trying to process everything she had heard. And then she just blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"You're the most amazing person I've ever met."
"Well, you haven't met that many people, then," Corin came into the room with a mischievous look on his face.
"Surely somebody had told you that you shouldn't eavesdrop on other people's conversations?" she asked, trying to sound stern but failing miserably, because one couldn't be angry with Corin for long. Besides, she was quite glad of the interruption. Things were getting a bit awkward.
"Oh, but I wasn't eavesdropping, I was just passing by and I thought I would drop in and check on Cor," he grinned. "But I'm too late, it seems. He has already told you everything, hasn't he? Cor, you idiot, I taught you how to lie, didn't I?"
"Oh, don't teach him how to be more like you, Corin," she begged humorously. She couldn't help joking and acting silly whenever the younger prince was around. "If he learns how to tease me back, it won't be such fun."
"But it will be a challenge, Aravis," he replied mockingly, using his favourite "mentor" tone. "If you do not hone your wit by battling with a worthy opponent, young lady, then… Oh, whatever," he added after a pause. "Besides, he's gonna be king, right? And if I don't do something, he's gonna be a lame king, so, you know, it's for the good of the country."
"Yeah, right," muttered Cor, whose face was now beet-root red.
"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Cor, but I guess you have to start somewhere." Corin patted his twin on the shoulder. "Well, see you around, kids."
Aravis felt a twinge of guilt when she saw the look on Cor's face after his twin had left the room. Teasing him was fun, but obviously he didn't stand a chance when she and Corin united forces. And he always took everything so seriously…
"Look, Cor, I'm sorry. That's not how I meant to thank you–"
"It doesn't matter," he shrugged and turned away. "I should probably get used to it."
Aravis bit her lip worriedly. What could she say now?
"You know Corin was joking, right?" she asked, trying to dismiss the whole thing as unimportant.
"Last I heard, jokes were supposed to be funny," he replied bitterly, refusing to look at her.
Well, he had a point there.
"Not the bad ones," she laughed nervously, but Cor didn't join in, so she tried tackling it from another angle; "Corin's wrong, you'll make a great king. Look what you've done for me. It shows you're kind, courteous, compassionate, thoughtful, benevolent, considerate–"
"They're all synonyms," he said gruffly.
"Well, I've been expanding my vocabulary lately," she shrugged it off and went back to the original thought; "You're courageous, and smart, and handsome, and you always do the right thing, even if it's the most difficult option, and you saved Archenland from grave danger, and you're the best friend I've ever had, and you've given me the most wonderful presents, and I'll never forget it, and I could kiss you right now, but I won't do that because you'd get all embarrassed, but I'll find a way to repay you, and I'm running out of oxygen, so I'll stop now."
Cor looked slightly taken aback, which was a definite improvement on his earlier miserable expression. Now Aravis was getting embarrassed, so she quickly started talking again:
"So, have a nice day, don't mind Corin, and remember that you're awesome. If anybody says otherwise, they'll really regret it, I promise."
She was halfway out of the room when Cor reacted.
"Yes?" she asked uncertainly, feeling more foolish with every passing second.
"I know how you can repay me," he said solemnly.
"Will you help me become a good king?" he asked shyly.
She looked at him for a moment and there was this warm and fuzzy feeling again.
"Sure, Cor. With pleasure."
A/N: I'm afraid Corin was a little mean, but these things had to be said to set up the rest of the scene. I just hope it wasn't too much out of character.