A/N: Thanks for the constructive criticism, all. It's been a looong time since I've written anything and also, being a cartoonist, I'm better at drawing the details than describing them in writing. This is a re-write.
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No twin brothers were ever more dissimilar than the Princes Corin and Cor.
One was highly athletic, impulsive and loud. The other: studious, cautious and quiet. Corin stayed up till all hours and would sleep past noon if allowed. Cor always went to bed early and rose early.
Prince Cor valued his sleep.
That being said, he did not appreciate his younger brother bursting into his room at first light blasting a hunting horn.
"Happy eighteenth birthday to us! Get up, slug-a-bed!"
Ah, yes. Even after seven years Cor had not adjusted to this once a year ritual. Apparently, dawn was the time when he and his brother were born. The tradition of Archenland was that the family would give presents to the birthday boy or girl not only on the birth day but at the birth hour. Thus, the royal family at Anvard would assemble quietly in King Lune's study for distribution of gifts. In the evening would be the ball and other such formalities.
When Prince Cor ignored him by turning over, Corin raised one leg and promptly kicked him out of bed.
"Come along now, Cor. Everyone's waiting!"
The two princes entered the study a few minutes later. King Lune rose from his chair to greet them, embracing them both tightly.
"Happy eighteenth birthday, my sons!" King Lune's deep warm voice broke a little. Since Cor's return, he could not get through a birthday without tearing up.
Aravis, who was considered part of the family, stood behind the king, her smile interrupted by a huge yawn.
"Happy birthday, your majesties." She was already dressed in her morning gown of canary yellow. Due to Archenland weather, she had long abandoned the dress of Calormen. She discovered yellow to be her new favorite color. It enhanced the deep olive hue of her skin.
King Lune bade them to sit as the gifts were distributed. Corin first because he was impatient. Cor was content to wait and watch.
To Corin from Aravis: a portable writing desk, so he can pursue his studies even when outside the castle (Corin did not even pretend to appreciate the sentiment).
From Cor: A writing set, complete with five different colors of ink: blue, black, green, red and purple and a set of fresh quills.
"Is this some sort of hint?" Corin asked ruefully, glancing at his brother and the Tarkeena.
From King Lune, a ceremonial dagger, beautifully wrought. On the blade was etched the image of a lion. On the other side were the words "As strong as He is merciful".
To Cor, Corin gave a set of beautifully fletched arrows with linen wads wrapped around the arrowheads (Cor thought it was for safety, but Corin pointed out that they were for setting on fire).
King Lune also gave Cor a dagger. On his dagger was the likeness of a phoenix. On the other side of the blade were these words: "For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found". Cor blinked back a tear that threatened to escape. He stepped forward and hugged his father, who was on the verge of tears again. Corin would have also embraced the king, had he not thought himself too old to do such things voluntarily.
Then, came Aravis' gift for Cor.
"It's in the hall."
When Aravis returned there was perched on her wrist a sleek, regal-looking, falcon.
"Calormen's finest," she announced proudly.
The falcon fixed Cor with a sharp-eye. If it were not a dumb bird, Cor would have interpreted the look as disapproval. The smile Cor managed to muster came out as a grimace.
"You don't like her," Aravis said with definite disapproval.
Instead of admitting his fear of the bird he stammered out: "No! Of course not! She's beautiful . . . I . . . I just don't know how to handle . . ."
Corin slapped his brother's shoulder, sending him a few stumbling steps forward.
"Don't worry, I'll teach you."
Aravis took note that, four years ago, his twin's pat on the back would have sent Cor sprawling.
"You don't know a thing about the art of falconry either, Prince Corin."
"True. But, I'm sure to get a hang of it on the first try."
Aravis rolled her hazel eyes.
"You just watch, Aravis! I'll get a hawk of my own and before you can say Tere . . . Terebithia -"
"Before you can say that, I'll have mastered it before Clumsy Cor!"
Cor flushed at the uncreative nickname. He was always tripping over his own feet and now that his growth spurt had finally hit, he was even more unwieldy.
King Lune slapped his big hands against the armrests of his study chair and launched himself from his seat. Corin winced, expecting to be punished for teasing his older brother.
Instead, King Lune let out his trademark, rafter-filling laugh.
"Speaking of Terebinthia . . . I have an announcement to make."
Corin was suddenly alert. King Lune reached into the inside pocket of his robe and drew out a small envelope. Corin peered at the seal and paled, his eyes widened with horror.
"Not her!" He wailed.
"Corin!" Lune barked as his only reprimand.
Cor and Aravis turned to the king with quizzical eyes.
"We have a special guest coming to the ball this evening. The Lady Amberjill, daughter of Lord Ackley, the Duke of the island country of Terebinthia, is-"
"-Coming here!" Corin moaned.
"Yes, my son. I expect you both to give her extra special attention tonight, make her feel welcome, especially you, Cor."
"I? What for?"
"Well . . . to be frank, my boy, it is high time you start considering your future happiness. As the crown prince it would be best to have that all sorted out and an heir along the way before you become king. "
Corin stopped his expressions of agony and instead a smile spread across his face and color returned. He was off the hook. Now completely recovered, he turned to his brother and put his arm around him in a shoulder embrace. "Have I told you how much I appreciate you lately, Cor?"
Cor did not answer, but he knew that the pit of his stomach was somewhere near his ankles now.
"B-But, I-I don't . . . how should I act around her? I don't know how to act around girls."
Aravis was at his elbow, the gift bird dangerously near his face.
"Excuse me?" She said with an arched eyebrow.
Cor back-peddled figuratively and literally, stepping away from the advancing Aravis.
"You don't count-"
Cor felt King Lune's bookshelf at his back and the armchair at his side.
Cor stepped behind his father's chair to put some space between himself and the livid Tarkeena.
"No! I mean—I don't see you as-"
Corin was at his other elbow. "Keep digging and I'll be crown prince again."
King Lune finally interrupted. "What about Queen Susan and Queen Lucy? You seem at ease around them."
"Well . . . they don't seem like royalty—I mean-they do, but at the same time, they don't. There's something very easy about them that . . . I don't know . . . puts me at ease, also."
Aravis' ire abated slightly, then entirely as she became thoughtful.
"I have a thought, Cor." Her eyes brightened as the idea began to form clearer in her mind. "What you need is some instruction in courtly manners, or courtly-love, rather."
Corin snickered earning a glare from his brother. King Lune came up to Aravis and put a paternal hand around her shoulder.
"A splendid idea, Lady Aravis!"
"Why not start now?" Corin suggested mercilessly.
Aravis, absently stroked the hawk's head. "Why not?"
"Because I can't make courtish-love or whatever until I have had breakfast!" Cor protested, slipping out from behind the chair and making a beeline for the door. Aravis and Corin hurried after him to make sure he went towards the dining hall and not try to make an escape.
King Lune was left to follow after them at his leisure.
"Capital!" He exclaimed to himself, clapping his hands together. He was already picturing grand-babies bouncing on his aged knee.