Disclaimer: Peter Pevensie and all the characters and situations in the Chronicles of Narnia belong to C. S. Lewis and not to me.
"King Peter! King Peter!"
Peter could barely hear the tiny voice over the roar of the flames. Marauding Giants had set fire to the woods, and Peter and his soldiers had worn themselves out trying to extinguish it.
"King Peter!" The Bunny stood up against his leg, unable to reach higher than his ankle. "Please, Sir, Mummy and Daddy, my brothers and sisters–"
With a crash, a tree collapsed into itself, obliterating the little rabbit warren beneath. The Bunny hid her face against Peter's boot, and he scooped her up, cuddling her against his racing heart.
"You stay with me."
Peter breathed a sigh of relief when Cair Paravel came into view. His horse had collapsed from smoke inhalation, so like most of his soldiers, he was on foot. Like all of them, he was covered with soot and grime and unspeakably weary. Still, he had to smile when he saw his sisters among the press of creatures awaiting the army's return.
Susan and Lucy threaded their way through the crowd, past an embracing Badger couple, past a Faun and his elderly parents, around a Fox and his seven Kits, until they reached their brother.
Lucy flung herself towards him, but he held her off, laughing hoarsely.
"Easy, Lu. Hold on there."
The smiles on the faces of both of his sisters immediately vanished.
"Are you hurt?" Susan reached her hand up to his cheek, blue eyes filled with concern, the same concern that was mirrored in Lucy's.
Peter only gave them a weary grin. "Nothing worth mentioning. I just didn't want you to scare her."
The girls looked at each other. "Her?"
Peter reached carefully into his sweat-stained shirt and brought out a little bundle of brown fluff not even the size of his hand.
"Oh, Peter!" Lucy squealed, reaching for it. "How sweet!"
The Bunny shrank back against Peter, brown eyes enormous, and he cuddled her in both hands against his chest.
"Let's go inside, Lu. Come on, Susan. She's scared enough without all this crowd."
The three of them made their way back into the castle and up to Peter's bedchamber.
"Now," he said, sitting on the bed. "I think it's time we had some proper introductions."
He set the Bunny on his lap, and she hid her face against him.
"We won't hurt you," Susan soothed, and Lucy smiled gently.
"We're your friends."
The Bunny peeped at them over Peter's hand.
"These are my sisters." Peter stroked one finger between the long, quivering ears. "Queen Lucy and Queen Susan. You'll like them." He gave the Bunny an encouraging smile. "Really."
She only trembled and tried to crawl back into his shirt. With an apologetic shrug, he let her.
"She's had rather a bad time of it, I'm afraid," he told the girls. "Better let me see to her."
Susan put her hand to his cheek again. "You look all in. Seriously, Peter, are you all right?"
"Nothing a bath and a good sleep won't put right." He looked reluctantly at the little bulge in his shirt, and then he reached in and brought out the Bunny again. "Will you excuse me, little one, while I take a moment to make myself presentable?"
The Bunny looked at him, wide eyed.
"I'm sure we have some lovely carrots and lettuce in the kitchen," Lucy said. "Why don't you come with us and we'll get you some."
Peter handed the Bunny to her. The tiny creature didn't struggle. She only looked at him with big, tear-filled eyes. He gave his sisters a helpless look and took her back, sheltering her once more in his shirt.
"Maybe you two should go. Let me get everything sorted here. It'll be all right."
Susan pursed her lips. "But, Peter, your bath is all ready for you and–"
"It's all right, Su." He gave her a weary grin. "But maybe you could have some food sent up. Heavy on the carrots."
Lucy looked at him uncertainly, and he squeezed her hand.
"I'll tell you about it in a bit, all right? Any word from Ed?"
"He sent a Falcon yesterday," Susan said. "Negotiations went very well, and he's on his way home. He'll likely be back by tomorrow."
Peter nodded. "Excellent. I daresay diplomatic banqueting is a sight more enjoyable than putting out forest fires."
"Poor Peter." Lucy patted his cheek, her eyes sympathetic but twinkling all the same. "And you know Edmund would have rather been here helping you."
Peter squeezed her hand and brought it briefly to his lips. "I could certainly have used the help. It was a bad blaze. Lots of Trees and Animals lost." He felt the little bundle of warmth in his shirt tremble at that, and he didn't say anything more about it right then. "We'll talk about it later, Lu. Don't worry."
She kissed his cheek. "All right. Get your bath and then get some sleep."
Susan kissed his other cheek. "I'll send up something for you both to eat."
When they had gone, Peter again took the Bunny out of his shirt and set her down on the bed. Then he removed his shirt, gingerly peeling it off the burned place across his right shoulder. He hissed softly and then smiled at his wide-eyed observer.
"Did you get burned, King Peter?" she asked, her voice barely a squeak.
Peter tossed his shirt onto the bed and cupped one comforting hand around her. "Just a little bit. It's all right."
"Burning hurts, doesn't it?"
He knew she was thinking of more than the burn on his shoulder, and he cradled her against his bare chest.
"I was wondering something," he said gently. "You know my name, but I still don't know yours."
She wriggled a little and finally nestled under his chin, whispering something he couldn't quite hear. He had to hold her up again so he could see her face.
"What was that?"
She blinked at him, still looking rather unsettled.
"It's all right," he assured her. "You don't have to tell me if you'd rather not."
"Poppy." She blinked again, her little nose twitching rapidly, and then she looked shyly away. "Poppy."
"I don't want you to be afraid here, Poppy, all right?" He stroked between her ears again. "Nobody is going to hurt you, and if you get scared, you come find me. Whatever's bothering you, I'll take care of it, okay?"
He couldn't fix what was no doubt hurting her most, but he could see she was looked after from now on.
She only nodded in response, and with another caress, he set her back down on the bed. She hopped over to nestle in his discarded shirt, watching him with round brown eyes as he unlaced his boots and kicked them off. He stood up then, meaning to remove his breeches so he could bathe, but he stopped where he was. If this had been that Other Place, he would, of course, have thought nothing of it. But they were here in Narnia, and she was a Talking Beast, albeit a tiny one. He was sure her poor mother and father would have wanted the proprieties to be observed. Well, he could always finish undressing at the tub.
He leaned down to the Bunny. "Why don't you stay right here for a bit while I get myself cleaned up? Won't be a minute."
Her fuzzy chin quivered, and once more her brown eyes filled with tears. She didn't say anything, but she didn't have to. He was already sunk. Poppy couldn't have been more than a few weeks old, but he was sure she could have taught even Lucy a thing or two about getting round a fellow.
He sighed and, with a rueful grin, stretched out on the bed. The Bunny immediately hopped over and nestled once more under his chin. He cupped both hands around her and closed his eyes.
"How about we both just have a little nap, huh?"
He felt a little tickle of whiskers against his neck and heard a tiny voice just as he was drifting into sleep.
"Are you going to send me away after a while?"
"No, Poppy," he murmured, cuddling her closer. "You stay with me."
Author's Note: One of the words in the challenge I just did was "bunny." This little sweetheart popped into my head and insisted on having more than the hundred word limit with her beloved High King. I don't know if anything more will come of it, but here it is for what it's worth.