Author's Note: I just found this on my computer and was surprised to see I never posted it. Written in May of 2010.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
The battle-wearied Narnians headed toward Aslan's How. High King Peter was silent. The cries of the trapped soldiers echoed in his mind. They were just on the other side of the gate, but there was no way to help them. There was no way to save them as they were slaughtered. Nothing could have been done to save them.
It was all Prince Caspian's fault. He had not kept to the plan; he had wasted valuable time.
But the guards had been alerted. Peter could have called the confrontation off, and no one would have died. It was his fault that those Narnians had been killed. It was his fault that the centaur by his side would be returning without his son. It was all his fault…
They approached Aslan's How. Peter saw Lucy's face as she looked at the dejected, small group that was returning from the castle.
"Ask him," the king said bitterly, nodding toward Prince Caspian.
Caspian glared intensely at him. "Me?"
Before Peter knew it, he and Caspian had their swords in each other's faces, their eyes flashing with anger. Sweat trickled down Peter's brow – he was ready to fight more if necessary.
"Stop it!" Edmund shouted.
It was not long after this that Peter faced the White Witch. All she needed was a drop of his blood, and she would help defeat the Telmarines. He had prevented Caspian from the temptation – but he was tempted himself.
Again, Edmund interfered, this time stabbing the White Witch and preventing Peter from doing something incredibly rash.
"I know. You had it sorted." And Peter and Caspian had been left alone in shame.
Peter collapsed onto the Stone Table and put his head in his hands. The fight in the subway station flashed through his mind. The boy who bumped into him; the guys who tried to make Peter apologize; the anger at being treated like a child when he remembers years of being a king.
Yet Edmund always had to come in and save the day. And this time, there was no saving. The dead bodies of dwarves, fawns, centaurs, Minotaurs; all Narnian warriors, lay dead in Miraz's castle, all because Peter thought that he could take a castle that had never been defeated before. Peter had believed that he could do it, that he could lead Narnia to a great victory over the Telmarines.
He failed every time. He was no longer Peter the Magnificent. He was Peter the Failure, the Fraud – the King who destroyed Narnia.
Peter looked up at the image of Aslan carved beyond the Stone Table. Although it was just a carving, Peter was certain that Aslan was gazing at him with disappointment. Tears came to Peter's eyes as he realized everything he had done.
Peter swallowed at the sound of the voice, but did not turn to see the prince.
"Your Majesty?" Prince Caspian walked to the far side of the Stone Table where Peter sat. The Telmarine's dark eyes studied Peter carefully. "May I speak with you?"
Peter blinked away his tears and tore his eyes away from the image of Aslan. "What do you want?" He hesitantly met Caspian's gaze, only to quickly drop his eyes to his hands.
Caspian stepped closer. "I wanted to make certain you were all right, after what happened…" Caspian paused. "After all that's happened," he added under his breath.
"I'm as well as to be expected."
Peter uncertainly met the prince's gaze again. Caspian's eyes were dark and deep, it seemed one could get lost just looking into them. "How could I have been so stupid? How could all this have gone so wrong? I was a good king."
"You still are."
Peter laughed shortly. "How can you, of all people, say that? I blamed you for the deaths of those warriors. I, too, was tempted by the White Witch."
"You have made mistakes. Everyone does."
Peter looked down at his hands. "And my mistakes have particularly great consequences." Peter waited for Caspian to respond, and was surprised when Caspian sat down next to him.
"Have you learned from them?" Peter arched his brow as he turned to Caspian, whose eyes flickered strikingly in the firelight. "Have you learned from your mistakes?" the prince clarified.
"That I can't do anything right? That I am a disgrace?"
"No, no!" Caspian responded quickly. Peter jerked in surprise as he felt a warm arm about his shoulders. "Perhaps that pride leads to disgrace. Maybe…maybe it was your pride in who you were that led you to believe that you could achieve the impossible. Maybe it was that you had not been treated as a king, and you wanted to prove that you are a king. Just as my emotions led me to disgrace…I should have gone to the gatehouse as planned…I should not have yelled at you…"
Peter turned to look at Caspian. They gazed silently into each other's eyes, both suddenly understanding their anger, their hate, and their fear…
Peter brushed some of Caspian's dark hair from his eyes. Caspian put his free hand on Peter's cheek. They leaned a little closer, continuing to stare intently into each other's souls.
"Sounds like we both need to work on our tempers," Peter said with an awkward grin. Caspian blinked, the spell broken, and nodded with a shy smile.
"We can do it. You are High King Peter, after all."
"And you are Prince Caspian, future king of Narnia."