Thanks for the reviews. In return here is the next chapter.
For anyone equally annoyed by discrepancies between books and their film adaptions check out my other Narnia story, The Complication of Age.
Peter had been unprepared.
It was custom that at every ball the Kings and Queens were introduced with a fanfare and led the first dance. So it was that Peter and Edmund stood at the magnificent doors into the ballroom awaiting their Queen's.
It was Lucy that bounded down the stairs first, hugging her brother's in her excitement.
'You look lovely' Edmund and Peter both exclaimed, smiling affectionately at their sister as she took her place on Edmund's arm.
'Wait till you see Susan' was her reply, as she pinked at the compliment. As she spoke the woman herself came round the corner of the staircase.
Peter felt the breath catch in his throat at the sight of her. It took a long moment to come back to himself; even then it was only after he heard his name being called.
'Pete?' It was Edmund's voice, 'Sue looks beautiful, doesn't she?'
'Yes' he rasped, finding his voice, 'she does'
But he couldn't quite meet her eyes as he spoke and his hand trembled slightly as he reached to place her hand in the crook of his arm.
Shaking his head he attempted to rid himself of the delirium that seemed to be overtaking him and instead nodded to the fauns at the door.
Perfectly synchronised the doors opened revealing the crowded ballroom, which hushed at their entrance.
The fanfare sounded and as per tradition the Kings and Queens made their way to the middle of the ballroom to begin the ball.
Peter swallowed audibly as his hand rose to rest on her waist, the material soft beneath his fingers.
'Are you okay?' she whispered, her lips barely moving, conscious of the hundreds of onlookers.
'Fine' he growled, irritated with himself, as his body betrayed him with flash backs of his dreams of her.
Resolutely he took her hand in his and as the waltz echoed throughout the vast room, he led them around in the elegant dance.
All the while attempting to avoid her eyes, choosing instead to smile and nod politely to their subjects that looked on happily.
It was only as the dance ended that he was forced to meet the gaze he could feel burning into him.
Stepping back slightly from her, their eyes met as he bowed and she curtsied. He was frozen momentarily, she too seemingly trapped. He fought to turn his sharp blue eyes away from her, but found he could not.
She really was beautiful tonight. She always had been he reminded himself quickly. But tonight she looked sensual and desirable. He would defy any man or creature not to be in love with her by the end of the night. She would be impossible to resist.
But resist he must.
He forced himself to smile, causing her to smile cautiously back at him. Taking her hand he led her, as Edmund was leading Lucy, up to their thrones for the evening.
At the head of the ballroom a long table sat, draped in exotic fruits and delicacies. All intended for the amusement of the Narnian Royalty.
All eyes were on them as they took their seats, Peter the only one remaining standing.
Raising his goblet he swiftly announced that the ball in honour of the Queen's Susan and Lucy had begun. The cheers rang out and soon enough nearly the entire room was dancing; the noise building to a pleasing crescendo of laughter and chatter.
Now that the formal traditions were complete the siblings rose from their seats. Lucy was quickly claimed for a dance by Tumnus and Edmund joined Peter and Susan as they made their way over to their guests.
'King Aridian' Peter greeted as they approached the King and his family.
'Your Majesties' he replied equally jovially.
'May I introduce King Edmund and Queen Susan' Peter continued, as the Calomene King shook the hand of Edmund and kissed Susan's.
'May I say how beautiful you look tonight Queen Susan' he smiled, his eyes drifting over her form, causing her to blush, 'There is no-one to compare'
Shaking aside the flash in his gut at the King's word's Peter asked to be introduced to King Aridian's family.
'My son and daughter' Aridian gestured, 'Prince Elandir and Princess Elana'
At their introduction the Prince and Princess in question stepped forward to stand alongside their father. Their dark colouring mirrored that of their parent, with olive skins and dark hair and eyes. The Princess was lovely, exotic looking and seemed to be around 18 years of age, with her brother looking almost identical. They were twins, Peter quickly realised.
Following the example of Aridian, Peter reached forward to kiss the hand of the Princess.
'It is a pleasure to meet you' he murmured, his lips barely brushing her hand; the light touch certainly not warranting the reaction it garnered. She positively swooned.
'Your highness is too kind' she gushed, batting her eye lashes.
Oh no, he sighed internally as the young Princess looked up at him through her long dark eyelashes. There were many nymphs and dryads that had looked at him with the same expression. It always made him distinctly uncomfortable. Edmund, however, had always loved it.
He was just as tall as his brother now, but as dark as his brother was fair, sharing the colouring of his sisters. Peter had always been the odd one out. They were both dressed in colours that complimented their sisters. Edmund in a deep blue tunic with tan breaches, and knee high black boots and Peter in the same, but with a green tunic. The tunic's themselves had been a gift from one of the faun elders. They had been lovingly embroidered with gold thread, intricate patterns that framed the fabric; the colour especially suiting the elder King, complimenting his blonde hair that hung long.
'King Edmund' Peter's brother announced, stepping forward to grace the Princess' hand with a kiss.
She smiled prettily in response, but much to Peter's chagrin she did not break her eye line from him.
Maybe this was a good thing he quickly considered. This was the distraction he required.
It was the small brush of Susan's arm on his that prompted a decision.
'Would you care to dance Princess Elana?' he asked abruptly, Edmund's head snapping to him with a challenging smirk.
With the permission of her Father, they made their way out on to the dance floor. As they turned in preparation, his hand resting on the Princess' waist, the other clasping hers gently, he saw that the Prince had taken Susan onto the floor.
He felt a surge of irritation as he noticed the blush on Susan's cheeks. The dance was sedate, a Narnian dance that he had learned a number of years ago. The gentle waltz did not necessitate great movement or require much energy; the result being that it rendered conversation annoyingly easy.
'You have been High King of Narnia for over 10 years now, haven't you Sire?' Princess Elana simpered as they twirled.
'That is true' he allowed, unsure were her question was leading.
'And you have not taken a Queen in all that time?' she questioned coquettishly. As she spoke she squeezed his arm suggestively.
His eyebrows shot into his hair at her question. She was very bold for one so young. He wasn't sure how to respond, finally choosing a one word answer.
'Maybe it's time you found yourself one' she flirted, obviously looking to bag herself a King.
Peter felt awkward. He was quite unaware of what a handsome man he had become and only vaguely aware of how the kingdom talked of the young King's eligibility. He was considered quite the catch.
'You are quite beautiful my Queen' the voice of Prince Elandir drifted over. Glancing over at the dancing pair he saw Susan flush. As she blushed once again, she shifted her eye-line, suddenly meeting Peter's gaze.
He was jealous he quickly realised. It wasn't that he wanted to protect her like a brother should, he was actually jealous. The jealously one would expect of a lover.
Curse it to hell!, he mentally berated himself.
'Would you like to take a walk on the balcony?' he questioned the Princess.
Her eyes lit up at his suggestion. She thought she had seduced him, he realised. Taking her arm, he let her think that as they left the dance floor. His eyes resolutely not meeting the gaze of the Queen he left behind.
He was greeted by many of his subjects as they walked in the direction of the balcony; the Princess simpering and giggling on his arm.
When, finally, they stepped out into the refreshing night air he breathed a sigh of relief. The sun had dipped fully beneath the horizon and the soft glow of moonlight illuminated the balcony.
He led Princess Elana over to the edge of the terrace and away from the doors that spilled out light and sound.
'It is very beautiful in Narnia' she smiled, looking out across the shoreline.
'Yes, it is' he replied, surprised at the honest tone to her voice, 'I would do anything to protect it'
'And that makes you a good King my Lord'. As she spoke she turned her heart shaped face up towards him and this time he didn't find himself irritated with the look she was bestowing on him.
Taking a step towards her he placed two fingers below her chin, guiding it upwards towards his face that he was lowering to hers.
When he was 17 he had been hunting in the Southern Forest. It was a forest home to nymphs and spirits. The nymphs, especially, loved their handsome King. They had found him when he had gotten himself lost. They had kissed him, whispered salacious things in his ears and kissed him some more. When he had finally emerged from the forest he had sported a grin on his face that hadn't faded in days.
He had kept quiet about what had happened for a couple of years, until one day Edmund had returned from a hunting trip with the same look on his face. That's what nymphs were like, he had been told by men in his regiment; Oreius giving him a particularly knowing smirk.
He remembered almost being able to taste the spirit of Narnia. He had returned a few times over the years. The nymph's kisses had always been magical.
This kiss was not. She pressed her body to him, in a way she obviously thought men liked. It wasn't so much that it was unpleasant; her lips were soft, if a trifle thin. But he felt no pleasure, no excitement, no magic.
When her hands moved up to grasp his neck he was forced to grab them. Pulling them away from him, he took a step back.
'Forgive me Princess' he apologised smoothly, 'that was a mistake'
Releasing her hands, he took another step back, glancing towards the open doors. That had been foolish he quickly considered. If anyone had seen, her father Aslan forbid, he would have been forced to court or maybe even marry her. He had always considered himself an honourable man. Wars had been waged over less.
'Do you not want me?' her round eyes batting up at him, 'I could make a good Queen'
'I'm sure you could, Princess' he said kindly, 'but not mine'
'We should return to the ballroom' he continued, taking her arm into the crook of his. Her face was the picture of disappointment, she had failed.
'There is another you desire for your Queen?' she questioned as they stepped back into the soft candlelight of the ballroom.
His eyes scanned the crowd and he found her almost immediately. She was surrounded by admirers, men, faun's, and all manner of creatures alike. They were drawn to her, like moths to a flame. She burned so brightly it was hard to look away.
'No' he was getting good at lying, he thought mildly.
Handing Princess Elana back to her father, he ignored the expectant look on the King's face. It must have been his design Peter realised; a marriage between two kingdoms. While it may be politically beneficial, he considered, he would never allow himself or his family to enter into a marriage of convenience.
Leaving the disappointed King behind him he retrieved a goblet of wine from a passing attendant and settled into a seat in a secluded corner. He could observe the room from here.
Lucy was dancing with Tumnus again, the two of them smiling softly at each other. Edmund was with another of the invited Kings. King Marion if he remembered correctly. King Marion had three sons, two of which were standing talking to Edmund. The latter laughing aloud at something one of the Prince's had said.
That left Susan.
She was not hard to spot once again. She was dancing, with a man he did not know the name of. A Prince of some kind, judging from his clothing. Her dress spun as she did, twirling away from her partner. When at the last moment, her hand was grasped and she returned, the fast movement caused her to stumble into the chest of the foreign Prince.
He saw her gasp in surprise from across the room and bile rose in his throat as the Prince steadied her with a hand splayed across her back, the tips of his fingers touching the exposed skin of her shoulders.
He knew he had no right, and no place being jealous. That didn't stop the horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach though. How he wished it was just the brotherly urge to protect her. But he knew it was not.
'You alright there Pete?' Edmund questioned as he approached, sitting down alongside him, 'you look like you've swallowed a metal spike'
As he sat down, he followed Peter's eye line and thought he understood.
'I don't like him either' Edmund commented, 'but I think it would be wise to keep on good terms with King Marion. His Kingdom is nearly as large as Narnia, as almost as powerful. He could be a useful ally'.
Ah, so that was King Marion's other son. Sound advice, as per usual, from his younger brother. That didn't mean he would like it though. He wanted nothing better than to march across the ballroom, and steal Susan away. But that would beg questions to be asked. Questions, which at the moment, he had no answer too.
'Did I see you sneak off with Princess Elana?' Edmund smirked, enjoying the opportunity to tease his brother.
'I kissed her' Peter replied honestly, his gaze still trained on Susan.
'And?' Edmund prompted, 'what was it like?'
'Boring' Peter commented truthfully, taking a large gulp of wine.
'She is beautiful though. Exotic ' Edmund observed, looking over to where she was dancing with a faun from Lucy's medical corps, before continuing.
'I have it on good authority King Aridian is looking to form an alliance of marriage with us. I think you and Sue are the targets' he mused, swilling his glass.
'I gathered. The Princess wasn't exactly subtle' Peter smirked.
Turning to his brother, he observed that he looked as distracted as he was. Following his brother's frown he saw that he was staring at Lucy. She was currently dancing in the arms of Prince Elandir. She was smiling widely as she let her head hang back as they spun.
'Peter' he began, 'there is something you should know'
Peter frowned at the serious tone to Edmunds voice.
'I was down by the southern beach two days ago and I saw Lucy and Tumnus' he said with a measured breath, 'they were kissing'
'What?' Peter exclaimed loudly, causing more than a few heads to turn in his direction.
When the people had turned back away from them, he repeated his exclamation, only quieter.
'What?' he hissed at Edmund, 'why have you waited two days to tell me this?'
'I walked into a private moment, they don't know I saw them' he shrugged.
'He is almost sixteen years older than her!' he hissed again, 'not to mention a different species'
'You think I don't know this Pete!' Edmund snapped back, looking troubled.
'Does she love him?' Peter asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer.
'I don't know' Edmund allowed.
They lapsed into silence after that, each with their own thoughts spilling around their heads. Peter was well aware that Lucy wasn't a child anymore, this was in part her twentieth birthday celebration after all, but the idea of her kissing Tumnus brought out all kinds of brotherly annoyance in him. She was still his baby sister. She had always held a special place in his heart.
Before very long Edmund broke him out of his brooding, reminding him of the duties they had to perform.
He spent the next couple of hours mingling with their royal guests, being utterly charming to the women and perfectly companionable to the men. This may have been a party, but he and Edmund were well aware of the important connections being made. He was reminded again multiple times over how lucky he was to have Edmund for a brother. Edmund had a tongue of silver. When Peter stumbled Ed was there to smooth the way. He had no idea how he did it.
The ball was coming to a close when Oreius approached him.
'We haven't been able to locate Queen Susan, Sire' he said, leaning down to speak in the King's ear.
Worry flared in the pit of Peter's stomach. There were plenty of males here tonight that obviously desired Susan. Had someone lured her out of the ballroom?
'Shall I alert the guard?' the General questioned.
'No' Peter commanded resolutely, if anyone was going to be forced to find her in a compromising position, it was going to be him. He at least would be able to cover it up, no matter how painful it would be.
While he didn't have his sword, he was thankful for the dagger concealed in his boot as he made his way quickly from the room. It wasn't as if he didn't believe Susan could protect herself, but she was still a small woman, and there had been plenty of drinking going on.
Rushing out into the corridor he ignored the many whispers and giggles coming from nooks and crannies in the hallway. He could recognise her laugh a mile off and she wasn't here.
Walking swiftly from corridor to corridor he became more and more frantic. Where was she?
He had almost given up with this part of the castle when he heard a soft sigh coming from a balcony he had just passed. Turning abruptly he threw back the curtain to find Susan looking out at the ocean, alone.
'Susan' he cried, causing her to jump in surprise, her hand flying to her throat.
'Peter' she echoed.
'What are you doing up here? I was worried. I thought someone had….'he broke off.
'You thought what?' she questioned in confusion.
'You can't just go wandering off. You are a Queen' he growled, suddenly angry with her, 'there are men around that have been drinking, they could have…'
'What Peter?' she pressed again, her hackles rising as she squared up to him.
'Urgh' he groaned in frustration, 'you have no idea do you?! You walk around in dresses like that and don't expect anyone to be affected. Do you even realise how many men and Narnian's in the ballroom would have sprinted up here if they had known you were alone!'
'What's wrong with my dress?' she questioned, looking down at herself, unconsciously running her hands along the bodice.
'Nothing' he growled, deliberately keeping his eyes and thoughts away from her hands.
'Then why would you say such a thing?' her round eyes staring up at him and her full lips parted in confusion. It took all of his will power to look away.
'Come' he beckoned, 'we have to return to the ballroom for the final dance'
Without waiting for her he turned and walked from the balcony, stalking along the corridor. Moments later she caught up with him, having to almost run to keep up with his long stride.
'Peter wait' she said, her hand reaching up to clutch his arm and when he slowed she continued.
'I'm sorry I went off' she apologised unexpectedly, 'I just needed a moment to myself'
'I was worried about you' Peter admitted in turn, slowing his pace further.
Smiling softly she slipped her arm through his as they continued walking at a slow pace back to the ballroom, 'I felt so grown up earlier, I had all these men crowding round me wanting to dance. It made me feel beautiful'
'You are beautiful' he interrupted automatically before he had even processed the thought, causing her to blush.
'But it got to the point where I was being passed from Narnian to man to Narnian. Like I wasn't even a person, just something to be won. Endless compliments and implications' she paused to shudder, 'then Prince Glaon, King Marion's son, suggested we go out onto the balcony. I knew he was going to try and kiss me.'
'and did he?' Peter bit out, staring resolutely ahead.
'No' she said quietly, 'I decided earlier that I wanted to be kissed tonight. I'm twenty-three for heaven's sake, and I've never been kissed. But when he was leaning in I changed my mind. I ran away, up to the upper balcony where you found me'
'Why?' he breathed, giddy with relief.
'I realised I want more than that' she sighed, 'I want to be loved'
'Good' he said unthinkingly as they stopped at the ballroom doors, the corridor now empty and the doors closed as the guests prepared for the closing of the ball.
Turning to face her he unconsciously reached to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
'Don't throw yourself away Susan' he whispered softly, as if there was someone to overhear, 'you're the most beautiful woman I've ever known, but you deserve someone who can see what's beyond that. Someone who can see how passionate you are, how loyal and argumentative and annoying. Someone who wants you to stand alongside them and not a step behind. I'd never let anyone less than that take you away from me'
Her eyes shone as he spoke, glimmering with unshed tears. But she reined them when before she had an opportunity to reply, he took her by the hand and led her into the ballroom to the middle of the floor where Ed and Lucy were waiting.
As per tradition the Kings and Queens led the final dance of the night.
This time Peter kept eye contact with Susan throughout the dance. It was a dance that required constant contact. With one hand splayed across her back and the other clasped tightly with hers.
She was smiling at him in a way he couldn't fathom. He had been telling the truth, however shocked he was at being able to say what had been in his heart at that moment.
She wanted love, and she deserved that. He wanted her happy above all things. She was his closet friend and couldn't deny her anything.
I hope you enjoyed. Please review!