Disclaimer: the initial idea for this came from a father/son video game scene, where the son is kidnapped and the father has a frantic fight to get him back, and I reimagined it with two of the Four, and then it grew to enormous proportions until that scene won't be for a few chapters. But it's the mix of two genius stories and nothing in it belongs to me.
Beta'd by trustingHim17, and thank you!
Lucy woke up quite uncomfortable. There was something digging into her head. She rolled onto her back (accidentally wrapping half her blankets around her), and reached a hand up to feel her head. There were the usual tangles in her fair hair, but those were normal, what-
Oh. Lucy blinked, feeling the hard, intricate metal of a very familiar accessory. She did not remember wearing her crown to bed.
No wonder she was uncomfortable, it had been pushing on the pillows and digging into her head. How odd that it hadn't fallen off. She curled her fingers around the front portion and tugged.
It didn't move.
Lucy sat up. She grabbed the crown with her other hand and pulled with both. The circlet still didn't budge; she could feel the entire circle above her hair, and it wasn't moving.
Lucy had the strangest feeling that this was the beginning of a new adventure. She got out of bed, or tried to, only to remember the blankets cocooning her. She fought her way out of them (without ripping them, as she knew poor Myrtle would spend all day repairing them if she did) and ran over to the mirror the Dwarves had gifted to her on her last birthday. It let her see herself from head to foot, but at the moment she only had eyes for her head.
She reached up with both hands and tugged again, watching her reflection do the same, but to no avail. Her crown stayed firmly affixed, though her face looked a bit red from her efforts. She gave up (for the moment, at least) and peered at it.
It was in the most comfortable place, just over her forehead, and the hair inside the circlet was smooth.
"I suppose I should be grateful," she told her reflection. "At least Susan won't fuss at my hair being messy when I can't fix it." She fetched her hairbrush and smoothed out the rest of her golden locks as quickly as she could, donned a favorite white dress, and hurried down to meet her siblings. This was most definitely something she'd need help with.
She checked the hall in both directions, and seeing no one, seated herself on the bannister and slid down, just like Peter and Edmund had taught her. She hit the floor with both feet, righted her dress, and walked into the breakfast room.
"I've go-" she began, only to stop, because Susan was also in the breakfast room, in a lovely blue silk dress, her hair unbraided, and, most unusually, wearing her crown. Susan did not believe formality and good manners were the same thing, and had dryly informed a stuffy Narnian ambassador that only one belonged at the breakfast table. And Susan was staring at Lucy's crown.
"You could not remove your crown this morning?" her gentle sister asked, and Lucy shook her head. Susan sighed. "Do sit down and eat, then. You'll most likely need it." Lucy sat, reaching eagerly for the apples the Dryads had brought from the nearest orchard. They were her favorite, and Susan had promised they'd plant an orchard at Cair Paravel some day.
"I say, Ed, aren't you dressed a bit formal for breakfast?" the girls heard Peter ask from just outside. Susan paused in the middle of setting toast on Edmund's plate, looking over at Lucy. Both rolled their eyes and looked towards the door, where their brother was replying as the two kings strolled in.
"You're one to talk, Peter, you've got your own crown on-" Both boys stopped short at seeing their sisters also crowned.
"To say what we must have all discovered, all of us woke this morning wearing crowns we did not remember putting on, and none of us can remove them," Susan stated, setting an apple on Peter's plate. "Sit down and eat. We'll deal with it after breakfast."
"You don't seem the least bit bothered by this," Edmund pointed out, taking his seat and scooping up the toast.
"I am very much bothered, because it's now a sure thing that my plans for the day are disrupted, and very likely my plans for the next few weeks. I would at least like to have my plans for my surprise at breakfast to happen, for it doesn't look like any of my others will. Do sit down."
"Pete, do you suppose it's happened to all of the headgear in Narnia?" Edmund asked around a mouthful to toast. He closed his mouth and swallowed it at Susan's frown,
Lucy laughed, setting down her fork as the others looked at her. "Can you just picture Oreius stuck in his helmet?"
The others began to grin. "Por and Leo in the fancy feathered hats the mice made for them as thanks."
"The Marshwiggles not noticing because we rarely see them without hats anyway."
"The baby Robins with the acorns and ribbons they used to tie them on, too heavy for their heads!" The Four were laughing so hard Peter began choking on the bite of apple he'd just taken.
"Is everything to Your Majesties' liking?" inquired a cheerful voice, and a Faun's head stuck itself inside the slightly open door. All the laughter died.
He wasn't wearing anything on his head.
"Everything is delicious this morning, and we thank you, Jolhan," Peter answered gravely. The Faun nodded and withdrew.
"Maybe he just didn't own a hat," Lucy offered. No one answered.
Susan set her silverware down and lifted the cream-colored napkin from her lap to the table. "I am no longer hungry," she explained quietly. "Peter, what are we going to do? I've never heard of anything like this before."
"If it wasn't all four of us, I'd guess Edmund was playing pranks again." The three looked at Edmund, who shook his head. They took him at his word (a blessing that still caught him by surprise at times, for it is no easy thing for a liar to take for granted), and everyone turned back to Peter. "I'd say head for the library, then, and call for the Owls, oldest Centaurs, and story-telling Dwarves. Let's see if we can figure out what this is all about."
As it turned out, they didn't have the time to do so. The three other than Susan pushed away their own plates and sent down their own napkins, but as they stood Peridan came running through the doorway.
"Your Majesties," he panted, bowing shortly. "There's been an attack on one of the Rabbit villages, and we don't know how to fight them off."
"Order our horses, we leave at once," Peter told Patterfeet, the Squirrel page who had followed Lord Peridan. He bounded off as Susan left wordlessly to gather supplies for them, and Lucy headed to the courtyard, knowing she could help best by informing their escort. Peter's question, "Why can't you fight them off?" faded behind as she moved through the corridors, Peridan's answer too faint for her to catch.
She found Orieus in the courtyard, swinging his greatsword against three Fauns. "Oreius!" she called, and he quickly stepped back, lowering his sword, turning to her and bowing. "Peter and Edmund are headed to one of Peridan's villages, there's been an attack," she rushed to tell him.
"I shall gather a troop of volunteers," he reassured her gravely, and she nodded her thanks as she ran on to the stable. She went straight to Edmund's horse, one she knew almost as well as she knew her own, for Edmund had helped her to learn to ride. She grabbed the saddle, her small arms wrapped around it as she stumbled under the weight, and climbed the stairs to settle it on the horse's back. By the time she'd finished with the rest of his tack, leading it out of the stall, the black stallion Peter used for short trips had been saddled as well. They led them outside, to find Edmund, Peter, and Peridan standing on the steps, the two Kings still crowned and all three clad in armor. Peter hugged her and kissed her forehead before mounting, settling Rhindon at his side, and Edmund hugged her as well.
"Look after Cair and Susan for us," he admonished.
"I know you said the same thing to Susan," Lucy accused, trying to smile.
"Two heads are always better than one," Edmund retorted. He swung himself up, and Lucy climbed the steps to stand by Susan.
"The blessings of the Lion on thee and thy quest," Susan said, her eyes turning from one to the other.
"And may the Lion guard thee and this home," Peter responded. They'd found the old sayings in one of the library books, and Lucy loved them enough they all began using them. Lucy held Susan's hand as they rode away.
Susan kept Lucy occupied through the long day. She set them a project, clearing out the older, unused rooms in Cair Paravel. If the attackers had not come by sea, Susan told her, they had reached far into Narnia to reach a place so near as Peridan's people, and the rooms might be needed. Lucy opened doors, dusted furniture, and laid down straw and blankets, reaching up absentmindedly throughout the day to push back a crown that wouldn't budge.
She hated wearing it, hated that her head was at least two inches taller than it should be. At one point she stood up, forgetting she was under a stone overhang, and rammed the crown into it full force. The crown transferred the force back onto her head and she sat down hard, reeling, putting a hand up and realising that despite the force the crown had not moved. Susan found her a few minutes later, sitting there blinking.
"Perhaps it's time for a break," she said quietly, sitting beside her sister and gently checking her head. "And you dented your crown!" she scolded, running her finger over the bent metal strand. Lucy scowled. Susan's crown looked perfectly at home on her beautiful head, and Lucy couldn't help feeling that it wasn't quite fair.
"I'm sorry I scolded," Susan said, noticing Lucy's scowl. "It's just—I don't like Peter and Edmund going out like this, when we don't know what's going on."
"It's all right. I'm sorry I was cross." Lucy smiled up at her. "Pax?"
Susan laughed. "A word I have not heard in some time! It's from that other place. Yes, pax. I came to find you, actually. I'm rather tired, and I thought the two of us could begin in the library, and maybe find something about this mystery of ours before the others get home, what do you think?"
So it was that the two Queens were in the library when their brothers returned.
"Peter! Edmund!" Lucy sprang to her feet, caught the book she'd jostled, and ran to her exhausted brothers. "What was attacking? Did you win?" Susan quietly pulled out chairs for them, and the two sank into them.
"It's not an army." Peter fell against the back of the chair and let his head drop onto the top. "At least not a living army."
"Statues of stone," Edmund added. He'd fallen forward, resting on the library table, and his voice was muffled by his arms. "Stone statues that move, think, and even speak, though it's a language I've never heard."
"And they can fly. They all have wings," Peter put in wearily.
"Arms as round and bodies as big as a bear's, without the fur, though, and heads shaped like a monkey's, with giant wings attached. And completely made of stone, so they don't need weapons—they just club you over the head with an arm or punch you with a stone fist."
"Can we fight them?" Susan asked.
"Only the best of the Dwarf-made swords can cut through the stone." Peter closed his eyes. "We're going to need another solution. None of the ones at Peridan's wanted to talk, and the other place they appeared, well, Lord Branther wasn't one to wait around to ask."
"How many are there?" Lucy asked quietly, out of respect for her brothers' blatant weariness.
"The best count we've had is twenty at Peridan's, and thirty-odd at Lord Branther's." The others fell silent at Peter's statement. Fifty stone creatures were enough of an army to be a serious problem. Especially stone creatures that seemed to have no interest in peace. And where had they come from?
"Why attack there?" Susan voiced
"I believe they were looking for Cair Paravel, Your Majesties." Oreius stood in the entrance. Susan and Lucy got up at once, for there was a bandage around one of his arms. "My apologies for the delay; King Peter and King Edmund insisted I have the healers look at my arm." Peter smiled a bit around the corners of his mouth, though his eyes stayed closed. Edmund snorted.
"If either of us had taken a gash to the arm like that, you'd say the same." Oreius bowed and allowed Susan to check his bandage with gentle fingers.
"It doesn't need the cordial, does it?" Lucy asked anxiously.
"No, Your Majesty. But I do believe this situation needs our attention, if Your Majesties are ready?" Lucy and Susan returned to their chairs, Oreius following. But he paused as his sharp eyes took in the four sitting in the library, a place where they would normally be less formal, and he frowned. "Why are the four of you wearing your crowns?"
A/N: So, quick poll—someone needs to be in danger in the next chapter, either Peter or Edmund. Any preference on which?
A/N2: Please remember that there is a writing challenge happening, and we've created a forum for it called Adventures in Narnia. If you would do us the great favor of checking it out, that would be lovely beyond words!