Disclaimer: The Pevensies and all the characters and situations in the Chronicles of Narnia belong to C. S. Lewis and not to me.
Not too long afterwards, Susan presented each of her brothers with two new pairs of thick woolen socks, both light gray. Peter's had two thin red stripes around the top. The stripes on Edmund's were blue. As she expected, both boys were extraordinarily delighted to have them, much more delighted than two young Kings ought to be about something as mundane as socks. Peter on her right and Edmund on her left, they simultaneously kissed her cheeks, and she pretended to be blissfully unaware of the mischievous looks on their faces.
"Enjoy them!" she called as they scampered off, their voices low and conspiratorial.
That evening, she sat watching them play chess after dinner, smiling sweetly at their lighthearted banter, looking as if she were immersed in her knitting and without another thought in her pretty head. After Lucy had gone to sleep and both boys went up to their rooms, Susan sat knitting well into the night. Finally, a little after midnight, she got up and pulled her cloak around her.
Cair Paravel's halls were quiet and empty, but she heard low laughter and a fair amount of shushing coming from the top of the grand stairway that led from the marble-floored ballroom up to where the Kings and Queens had their quarters. That was definitely Peter and Edmund. What were they up to?
But when she crept down that way, she saw that both of their rooms were dark. A surreptitious look inside each showed her that the two young Kings were quietly in their beds, if not asleep then at least trying to be. She walked down to the end of the corridor to the Cheetah who was on guard there.
"Your Majesty," the startled Cat said. "Good evening."
"Hello, Leander. Have you been on guard all night?"
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Is this your regular watch?" Susan asked.
"It is, Your Majesty."
"And have you been assigned here very long?"
"Since the end of summer, your Majesty." The Cheetah gave her a feline smile." It was right after my mate had our cubs."
"Oh, congratulations!" Susan gave him her sweetest smile. "And how many little ones do you have?"
She laughed softly. "They must be a handful."
"It is sometimes rather nice to have the quiet of night duty," the Cheetah told her with another of his sly smiles.
"Didn't I just see my brothers going into their rooms?"
"You did, Your Majesty, just a moment ago."
Susan lifted one delicate eyebrow. "I suppose you know everything that goes on here, being on night duty."
The Cat hesitated. "I– uh- I'm afraid it's mostly very dull, Majesty."
She put her hands innocently behind her back. "And do you know where they had been?"
The Cheetah sat very straight, his tail wrapped with military precision around his feet. "I couldn't say, Majesty."
Couldn't or wouldn't.
Susan knew very well how loyal Narnia's soldiers were to their Warrior Kings, the hand-picked palace guard doubly so. There was no use trying to get more from this one.
On a whim, she wandered back down the corridor and down the grand stairway. The ballroom was empty except for the Otter who was just starting to wax the black-and-white checkered floor.
"How do you do, Millicent?"
"Oh! Oh, Your Majesty!" The Otter stood up on her hind legs and made a curtsey. "I didn't see you there."
"It's all right, Millicent. I didn't know anyone was down here."
"Oh, yes, Your Majesty. The High King has particularly asked that we keep this floor well polished. He says it would give our guests a poor opinion of our kingdom if they were entertained in a room that was not at its sparkling best."
Susan pursed her lips. "Sparkling best" sounded a bit more like Edmund than Peter. Clearly, the two of them had discussed the matter.
"And when did His Majesty request that in particular?"
The Otter rubbed her little paws together, thinking. "It was about two weeks after Christmas, Queen Susan. Frances who helps with the floors had a very sore paw and this floor wasn't polished as it usually is. I was that ashamed, ma'am, to have the High King himself make mention of it."
"Don't let it trouble you, Millicent," Susan soothed. "We appreciate all your hard work."
"Oh, Your Majesty!"
If Otters could blush, Susan was certain this one would have.
Bidding her a quiet goodnight, Susan went to bed but not to sleep. She couldn't help remembering the tale of the twelve princesses who mysteriously wore out their dancing shoes, but the comparison made her laugh. For though her brothers could sing like angels when they chose to, she knew dancing was not something they particularly enjoyed except, perhaps, in the nimble rhythm of sword play. No, she was certain it wasn't dancing. But what were they up to?
The next night, as she had before, Susan knitted as her brothers played chess. Lucy had already gone to sleep, and Susan was a little worried about how tired her younger sister had been lately. Lucy, of course, only grinned and said she was fine and that, no, she didn't know how she had gotten the bruise on her arm. Another little mystery Susan would have to get to the bottom of someday. For now she was focused on her brothers and their odd interest in socks and more socks.
Once they had retired for the evening, Susan sat as she had before, knitting and waiting. Finally, a little earlier than the last time, she crept down the dimly lit hallway that led towards the royal chambers. This time she heard her brothers' low voices coming towards her, and she ducked out of sight.
"No, Ed, that one did not count. It didn't!"
"Shh. Not so loud, Peter. She'll hear us. And, yes, it did. I saw you, you great lummox. You were way too–"
"Susan!" Peter blinked as he turned the corner, and then he glanced at Edmund beside him. "We, um– Shouldn't you be in bed by now, Su?"
Susan put her hands on her hips. "You were way too what?"
She looked from her older brother to her younger. They were both in their nightshirts and their new socks.
"He was way too what, Edmund?"
Edmund's dark eyes were wide with perfect innocence. "Way too thirsty, Su. We were just going down to get some water."
Susan tilted her head to one side, still with her hands on her hips. "What happened to the pitchers of water your valets leave for you every night?"
"Empty," Peter said.
"Bone dry," Edmund confirmed. "We've both been pretty thirsty."
"All night," Peter said, his smile sweet and totally devoid of deception.
She stood there eyeing both of them, lips pursed.
"So, um, g'night, Susan." Edmund gave his sister a quick peck on the cheek. Then he grabbed the back of Peter's nightshirt and pulled him towards their rooms.
"But the kitchen is the other way!" Susan protested.
"Not thirsty now," Edmund called back to her, still dragging Peter along with him. "Nighty night."
Susan narrowed her eyes, watching as he shoved Peter into his room and then disappeared into his own.
"Just you wait, you little weasels. I'm going to find out what you're up to."
This time she waited an entire week before she tried again. Long enough, she expected, to lull her brothers into carelessness. This time she didn't bother with the upstairs corridor. This time, she decided, she would hide down in the ballroom. The ballroom had something to do with this, she knew it did. There was no possible way either of her brothers would have cared about the shine on the castle floors merely for the sake of cleanliness.
The ballroom was the perfect hiding place. It was decorated with gloriously worked hangings all around the walls. She picked a place on one side of the room where she would be concealed behind a gorgeous tapestry depicting the coronation of Queen Swanwhite. The Queen was surrounded by her courtiers: Lords and Ladies and a number of Beasts. Susan studied it as she waited and tried to reassure herself that the gentlemen in the picture were wearing boots and not socks.
Finally, just as she was about to give up and go to bed, she heard something stirring at the top of the stairway. Again, there was low talking, soft laughter and shushing. She could just make out Edmund and Peter, again in their nightshirts and socks, standing there, suddenly still and listening like deer at a stream.
Then, with a grin at each other, the two of them went to opposite sides of the steps and sat perched on the marble railings, eyes gleaming in anticipation.
"Ready?" Peter whispered.
"One," Edmund mouthed. "Two. Three."
On three, both of them shoved and went hurtling down the railings. Susan covered a gasp with both hands, certain her brothers would end up in a bloody, concussed heap at the foot of the stairway. Instead, they somehow landed on their socked feet and slid across the ballroom floor. They had their arms out for balance and, as they sailed past, they each grabbed a column, using the momentum to sling themselves towards the center of the room and each other.
When they finally came to a stop, wild eyed and breathless with silent laughter, they immediately started squabbling over who had won. Evidently there were rules to this game, something to do with the black and white squares on the floor and exactly where they had each landed, but Susan was too horrified to try to figure it out.
This is what they had been up to?
In a trice, they scurried back up the stairs to start the game again. She flew out of her hiding place, but by then it was too late. They were already hurtling towards her, powerless to stop themselves, Peter's mouth and blue eyes open wide, Edmund's clenched shut in hopeless resignation. Peter only brushed by her, but Edmund hit her almost head on, knocking her to her backside with a sound thump against the padding of her full skirts.
Then there was only dead silence.
"S-Su?" Peter hurried over to her, almost slipping on the highly polished floor. "Are– are you all right?"
Edmund winced and swallowed hard. "We thought you'd be asleep."
"This?" she seethed as they stood over her. " This is what you've been doing? You are supposed to be grown men! Ruling Kings of Narnia, wise in counsel and mighty in battle, legends already throughout the Kingdom, and this–"
At the patter of feet, she froze. Peter and Edmund glanced back towards the stairway and then at each other.
"Oh, no," Edmund breathed. "We should have warned–"
With a whoop, a flash of pink streaked down the stair railing and slid into them all, toppling Peter and Edmund on top of Susan.
Lucy giggled and then her eyes got very, very big. "Susan, I didn't see you there. I– I– "
Susan looked at her sister's small feet, half swallowed in light gray socks that stretched almost to her knees. One had blue stripes at the top. The other, red.
To Susan, though, everything seemed tinged with red. Her brothers and sister looked at each other, guilt and shame plain on their faces, and then Peter ducked his head.
"We're sorry, Su. We really didn't know you were there. Not until it was too late."
Lucy smiled apologetically.
"Are you all right now?" Edmund asked, and Susan vouchsafed him a stern nod.
Then, after a nudge from Peter, he gave her the tiniest hopeful little smile. "And, sometime soon, do you think you could make us some more-"
"Peter and Edmund Pevensie! That's it! No more socks!"
Author's Note: Told you it was silly fluff.
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