A.N.: Hey guys, sorry for the delay, I had a crazy busy week. I hope you enjoy this strange little chapter my mind has conjured. As always, don't forget to review and I own nothing!
And they say
She's in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since eighteen
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
Cause we're just under the upper hand
-The A Team, Ed Sheeran
7. Archery and Dreams
Peter sighed and looked up from his big book. His eyes wandered to the window and he gazed longingly to the grounds. It was a beautiful day outside, and the sun was shining, making the vibrant green of the lawns even more vivid than it already was. The shadows of the great oaks cast promised a nice place to lounge in and just lie on the grass.
It seemed he hadn't been outside in ages. His days were mostly spent studying, despite it being summer holiday. He aspired for greatness—as he had since first becoming king of Narnia—and felt much studying was needed in order to prepare him for his university entrance exams. He knew he was one of the best students of his class, and was confident in his grades, yet was still anxious his achievements were not enough.
I'm becoming like Susan, he chastised himself. It was an awful thought to realize how much he had become like his ambitious, school-loving, know-it-all younger sister.
The thought of her made his mind wander to the bow and arrow that were hidden in a secret cupboard downstairs. The professor had purchased the weapon when Peter complained about not being able to sword fight with anyone.
"I know it is not your sport, nor weapon of choice, but at least this you can do alone," the Professor had explained. Peter had learned how to use a bow and arrows; Susan had made sure of that long ago in the Golden Age of Narnia. Professor Kirke was right, and Peter knew it. So he accepted the generous present and used it to practice. The Professor and Peter both knew Mrs. Macready would make a fuss over having the weapon in the house, so they decided to hide it in the cupboard at the bottom of the stairs whose door was hidden by a large tapestry. Peter couldn't possibly fathom why the austere housekeeper had such an aversion to the weapons the Professor gave them and keeping them in the house. It was unreasonable and irrational. How were the swords hanging on the walls any different from their metal or play-wood ones?
Peter shook his head and returned his focus to his studies. But after a few minutes, he found he could not concentrate on the work anymore and marked the page, before closing the big book in defeat. H left the papers and books as they were, and nearly ran out of the library. He paced quickly through the corridors, and raced down flights of stairs, the need to breathe fresh air burning strong in his lungs. He reached the tapestry and looked around carefully before pulling it away from the wall and sliding behind it. With his hand, he felt for the doorknob of the cupboard. Once he found it, he pulled the door open just enough for him to slide through and still go unnoticed. He made sure to close the door behind him tightly, and then pulled the chord that hung from the ceiling and turned the light on. He scanned the room, until his eyes lay on what he was searching. With a small grin tugging at his lips, Peter grabbed the quiver and bow and snuck out as stealthily as he had come.
Once he could feel the soft grass under his feet, he broke into a run, grinning broadly. He slung the quiver's strap across his body and held the bow in a tight grip.
He ran around the mansion, and only stopped once he was on the lawns he saw just minutes ago from the library window. He reached the shadow of a big oak and dropped to the soft grass, lying on it and spreading out his limbs, the bow and quiver lying next to him.
He laid there for a while, breathing in the fresh air and staring up at the leaves of the tree above him swaying in the wind. Between the thick canopy of vibrant green leaves, he could just catch glimpses of the clear blue sky and the great, voluminous clouds sailing them. He watched as a brown leaf fell and slowly drifted to the ground, swaying back and forth in the light breeze. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head, and Peter leaped to his feet. He grabbed his bow and quiver and strolled north, away from the mansion and toward the orchards.
When he finally got there, he felt the satisfaction of a good exercise fill him and his eyes shone as he scanned the trees, looking for one heavy with fruits. In the distance he could hear the workers' chatter as they picked the apples. Yet he knew they could not see him, nor would they disturb him; they always began with the trees farthest from the mansion and its gardens, and made their way towards it. The whole orchard took about three to five days altogether, as they were not many men and the Professor had no wish to employ others; he didn't mind. Those men had been working in his gardens and orchards for years, and even their sons and now grandsons had come to work for him. Professor Kirke's mansion was these people's home, and both Peter and the Professor understood how important it was to let them stay there; let them come and go as they wished.
Peter strung the bow once. Then, he picked an arrow and aimed at an apple in the branches above him. He released the arrow and watched as it flew, and missed its target as the tree branch swayed in the wind. Peter did not despair and tried again and again, until all the arrows in the quiver had been used. Then, he circled the tree and collected all the arrows and two arrows he had managed to hit. He put the arrows back in the quiver, cleaned the apples on his trousers and took a bite. He seated himself in the shadow of one of the trees. He leaned on the trunk of one of the trees and continued eating.
The early afternoon air was full of the aroma of autumn, and the sweet apples in the orchard. The air had grown hotter, as the sun rose higher in the sky, and the area was filled with serene silence. Peter assumed it must be noon, and the workers had gone on their lunch break. The heat became uncomfortable, so Peter rolled up the sleeves of his white button-down shirt and removed his shoes. He let himself soak up the tranquility that surrounded him and let his mind wander off to far districts and long gone times.
Peter walked in the gardens, the flaming colors of the setting sun casting the gardens in the castle's shadows. The summer air was warm and moist, yet the breeze blowing from the ocean cooled the king off.
He reached his hand out to a beautiful white rose, and caressed its petals with the tips of his fingers.
"It's exquisite, isn't it?" a soft voice asked behind him.
Startled, Peter turned. Before him stood Susan, her porcelain skin alight by the colors of the sunset. Though he was her brother, he was also a man, and he couldn't deny she had grown up to be a bewitching woman. She was glorious; in her looks and airs as well as in her ability to rule Narnia with kindness and protect their beloved home.
"It is," Peter answered.
They stood like that for quite some time, each in their own thoughts, quietly basking in the sunset's glow and the beauty of the gardens.
"Do you-" They both began at the same time, and then laughed. His deep, rolling laugh and her bell-like giggles combined into a beautiful symphony.
"You go first," Susan said, flushed with laughter, and gestured to Peter.
"I was meaning to ask you if you had something to say, why did you come, but it seems I've stopped you from doing just that."
"Ahh," she smiled, nodding, "it seems you have."
Again, there was a long silence.
When Susan finally spoke, the sun was just disappearing into the sea. "Do you ever wish to be married?"
Peter's head snapped up to her in surprise. "Susan, is there something happening that I am not aware of?"
Susan's eyes widened in alarm. "No! No! Goodness no! It isn't anything like that!" Peter looked at her confused, yet relieved. "It's just… Look Peter, you are twenty seven and I'm twenty six. We've been king and queen for quite some time and… I think our subjects are expecting…heirs."
"Pardon me? Susan, I don't think I understand. Are you suggesting we, um, ah…h-have a child? Together?" inquired the bewildered king.
"By the Lion no!" Susan looked appalled at the thought, and Peter breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm so sorry, brother; I am being unclear and making a fool of myself. Please forgive me. What I meant to ask was…" she hesitated. "Peter, do you think I should get married so that Narnia would have an heir to the throne?"
Peter was stunned into silence. It took several moments, but he finally recovered from his shock. "Susan, if you want to marry someone, all you have to do is tell me and we'll have it arranged. But if you feel obligated to marry and have a child because of Narnia, than you should not."
She bit her lip. "Walk with me?"
And so they walked the gardens' paths, while the light in the sky faded slowly behind them, until there was nothing left but dark-blue sky and a couple of stars. All this time, they continued to speak.
"Pete, I think I want a child," she admitted sheepishly, her cheeks flaming bright crimson.
"Here me out, Peter, please," she pleaded. "Look, we're both adults here. It's normal for me to want to fall in love with someone, marry him and have his child. But…I'm afraid."
"Su, why are we talking about this? What are you afraid of?" Peter tried to stay calm, but the conversation was becoming too bizarre for him to do so.
"Peter, do you believe Aslan will let us live our whole lives here?"
Peter stopped, and Susan halted beside him. "I don't know Su."
"You asked me what I'm afraid of. Pete, I'm afraid of leaving Narnia. I'm afraid that the life I have built here would be taken away from me. If I continue to build it, I might one day lose it, and I fear that. I want that life—I want to be loved, be a wife and a mother—but I am so terribly afraid to lose it that I feel I cannot allow myself to build that life." She paused and Peter looked at her worriedly. "I've had plenty of suitors, and Aslan knows there are probably many more to come. But I can't help but feel as if, maybe, Aslan might be preventing me from falling in love with any of them; saying 'yes' to any of the courters. I don't know if I should thank him from protecting me or be angry that he'll be taking my life away from me."
"Hey lad, are you okay?"
Peter looked up and met two kind old blue eyes, surrounded by many wrinkles.
"Boy, are you alright?"
Peter felt disoriented and blinked haziness out of his eyes. He must have fallen asleep, he realized. The dream he had just had was very strange. He remembered the day, but he couldn't begin to imagine why his subconscious would bring it to the forefront of his mind and cause him to dream of that day.
"Yes, I'm alright."
Shouts distracted the two men, and they both looked to the south. "Mister Pevensie! Sir! The Professor is calling for you. He says it's urgent; you must come immediately." A young boy, several years Peter's junior, ran towards them. He looked frantic, and Peter became alert instantly. He rose to his feet, grabbed the bow, slung the quiver across his body, and hurried after the boy. Peter ran as fast as he possibly could. On and on he ran, until they reached the mansion. Peter burst through the front door and bolted up the stairs to the Professor's study. He found him there, sitting like a statue at his desk. Peter sat on the armchair across from him and caught his breath.
"We have received a letter from your brother and youngest sister. Susan has fallen ill; they ask that you come home immediately."