"Excuse me?" A young centaur said. She only looked about eight years old, and her palomino body was twitching nervously. Her weight shifted from hoof to hoof, and her light colored tail twitched. "Sire, the King and Queens and Ladies are assembled for dinner," She swallowed, finding her mouth heavy. "And Queen Susan wishes to know whether Your Majesty will be joining them."
Peter looked up from his papers. Tossing the young centaur a coin and an apple, the High King said, "Thank you, Kira. Tell my sister that I will be with them shortly."
Kira nodded, and bowed as befitted the daughter of one of Peter's most trusted advisors, and left with her long blonde hair trailing behind her for a split second as her hooves clapped against the stone hallway floor. Peter could hear her teeth bite into the apple as she ran.
Peter smiled. He liked Kira, like a little sister or a young niece. She reminded him of Lucy when she was younger, though a bit more shy.
He turned his attention back to the book of law his advisors had advised him to read. Taking the throne so young, he had much to learn of Narnian law.
The High King was so absorbed in his book, he did not notice that time was ticking away.
It seemed only seconds later that Rosalie arrived, carrying a tray. Kira, who had showed her the way, whispered, "He gets hungry when he's been reading King stuff," Peter had to smile, though he wiped it off his face quickly, with some difficulty.
"Thank you, Kira," Rosalie whispered back. Kira nodded, and ran off once more.
"Your Majesty did not attend dinner," Rosalie said. "Was His Majesty busy reading fairy tales?"
"Aslan save me from fairy tales, if all are as dreadfully boring as these," Peter stretched his arms, straining the seams. The King had been growing fast, much to the amusement of his Court.
"Don't do that," Rosalie admonished, "Now sit like a good boy and eat your food," She pushed the tray in front of him, over the book of law.
It was a plate of beef stew, still warm, with a large piece of olive bread on the side.
"I can't eat," Peter said, moving the tray.
"If you don't eat, you'll be hungry later," Rosalie said like a mother. "And Susan has officially declared the kitchen closed." Grinning, she added. "No, I mean she literally closed the kitchen. She kicked out everyone, even Ms. Beaver, and she locked the door,"
"Sounds like Su," Peter admitted with a small smile. But then it vanished. "But I have to read this. Because if I don't know it, the Kingdom might suffer."
"Peter, I think you're overreacting," Rosalie said, "After all, you can still read this tomorrow, and there are two Kings and two Queens. Split everything between you four."
Peter smiled. "Fine, I'll eat," He took the tray. "But you are going to go straight to your room, and you are going to go to sleep," He ordered.
Rosalie cocked a hip and crossed her arms. "And why is that, O Great Leader of Mine?" She asked, one eyebrow raised.
Peter grinned. "Because you need to sleep, too, because tomorrow I am teaching you to fight,"
Rosalie grimaced. "I live to whack people with a stick," She drawled. "My life is filled with the joy of swinging great pieces of metal," she left.
Peter smiled, and gulped down his soup.
Edmund came to Sable's room to wake her up before dawn.
When she felt someone shake her, she turned over, onto her back and moaned, "Go away, Rosie,"
"Sable, wake up," a voice said.
"No," Sable moaned throwing an arm across her eyes.
"Um, Sable, you might want to be getting up now," Edmund said.
"Your nightgown is kinda see-through,"
Sable pulled her sheet up around her shoulders. "WHAT GIVES?" She demanded, then seemed to remember who she was talking to. "Edmund, did you ever think of coming by at a reasonable time?" A glance out the window told her it wasn't even light out yet.
"Well, because later everyone else is up, and then everyone is staring," the King said cheerfully. "Get dressed, and fast." And he left the room, closing the door behind him.
Sable groaned, and flopped back onto the bed, then got up, because she didn't want the King in her room again, not with her hair the mess it was, and her nightgown see-through, and her half asleep and yelling at the same time.
So Sable got dressed, in record time.
Somehow, Sable got the feeling that Susan wouldn't approve of this outfit. It was a pale gray tunic that was longer than a tunic was supposed to be, and black leggings, with a gold belt. She laced her feet into knee-high brown boots, and brushed her hair.
"Ready," she announced quietly, so as not to wake Rosalie.
"Good," Edmund said. "Because it's wonderful outside."
The practice courts outside were still chilly in the spring air. But it was dry, and it wasn't cold enough for there to be a cloud every time Sable breathed, so she grinned, and caught the practice sword Edmund tossed her.
Watching from a window, the Valiant Queen and the Gentle Queen looked out as Edmund and Sable practiced.
"You know we should do something about them," Susan said.
"Oh yes," Lucy agreed. "We haven't played matchmaker in a long time," they grinned at each other. It was amazing how much better they understood each other, now that they ruled together. "You know what we have to do," She added with a straight face.
"Dance lessons," And they both looked out at Sable and Edmund again. "But tomorrow," Lucy said. "Or tonight. I don't know about you, but I think they should have some time alone together,"
"When did you become the sensible one, Lu?" Susan inquired, closing the curtains.
"Easy," Lucy said. "You were busy cleaning up after Mrs. Beaver and the dryads, and the Minotaurs were arguing. I had to be stern with them," And the sisters giggled.
"So what do you think?" Susan said, picking up a gown from the bed. "Red or blue?"
Rosalie woke to find a note on her sister's bed.
Gone to practice fighting with Edmund,
Susan and Lucy said the castle is yours to explore,
Or maybe to visit the High King?
To make sure no one else would read it, Rosalie ate the note. It tasted dreadful.
Rosalie decided to go to the library, or on second thought, she'd like to see that sweet little centaur again, what was her name? Kira. She'd ask in the kitchens where to find her.
Rosalie set off, wandering the castle corridors.
Peter was not in his study. He wasn't in the gardens, or watching Edmund and Sable train. He wasn't with Susan, and he wasn't with Rosalie. He wasn't inside, so there was only one place he could be.
Lucy was there with him, now, on the balcony of the highest point in Cair Paravel. You could see Narnia from there. The view was beautiful.
"What'm I gonna do, Lu?" Peter asked, "I'm not cut out for this,"
Lucy slipped her arm into her older brother's. "Peter, you're a great King,"
"It doesn't matter, not if the people don't think so," Peter said.
Lucy leaned her head on his shoulder. "Peter, I think you're being pessimistic. You should have more faith in Aslan,"
Peter peered at his sister. "How did you bring Aslan into this conversation?"
Lucy peered right back at him. Her older brothers and sisters could be so thick sometimes. "You're Aslan's choice, we all are. We have to trust his judgment, because if we weren't supposed to be Kings and Queens, he wouldn't have made us so,"
Peter ran a finger through his hair. "Oh, now don't do that," Lucy moaned, smoothing it down, "You're teaching Rosalie to fight later, and then we have to go visit that stuffy nobleman's home for the next few days, and you don't look at all Kingly with your hair sticking up,"
"Thanks, Lu," Peter said amused. From the balcony, he could see two figures in a practice court below. "I wish I could see them better,"
Lucy passed him a pair of binoculars, the really old ones.
"Have I mentioned how much I miss binoculars?" Peter wondered rhetorically.
"Nope," Lucy said.
Peter put the binoculars to his eyes, and peered at his brother and friend.
"You know," Lucy said thoughtfully, content with watching Edmund and Sable from a distance, "Some would call this spying,"
"Others would call it snooping," Peter added.
"And others might just call it sibling rivalry," Lucy said cheerfully. "Same thing anyway,"
Sable and Edmund took a break. They were both sweaty, and panting.
Edmund had beaten Sable nineteen times out of twenty.
They were both eager to begin again, but their muscles hurt too badly.
So they laid down, frantic to rest their limbs and regain the use of their lungs before getting up.
They stared at the morning sky for a while.
"I'm been meaning to ask," Edmund said. "Do you know Narnian history?"
"Bits and pieces," Sable said. "All I know is that you defeated the White Witch Jadis. But other than that, it's all kind of fuzzy. Why?"
"No reason," Edmund said brightly. "Just wondering," But he was relieved, because that meant Sable didn't know about him and Jadis, how she had lured him with promises of power.
"You know, Edmund," Sable said, sitting. "You did promise to teach me to shoot."
Edmund sat up. "You're right," He got to his feet. "Come on,"
"Now?" Sable asked, surprised.
"Yes, now," Edmund said, and offered her a hand. She took it, finding it callused. The hands of a swordsman, she realized.
Edmund helped her up, and they headed for the archery court.
Rosalie was talking to Kira in the kitchens.
The young filly was sweet. She had all the charm of a human child, and the grace of a horse, combined with the talkative mouth of any human, and the beauty of the mermaids in the pictures Rosalie had found in her library.
" . .And my brothers chased me all the way down to the lake," Kira finished, and Rosalie laughed at the story. It was a rather long story, so I won't repeat it, because or else your eyes would hurt from the paragraphs.
"Do you have many siblings, Kira?" Rosalie asked.
Kira nodded. "I've four brothers, and a baby sister. I've an older sister, too, but I don't see her often,"
"I've only got Sable, I think," Rosalie said. She touched the bandage at her head she still wore. "But I can't remember." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "The healers say that the rocks and the corset combined knocked us out, but that the rocks made us lose our memories,"
"Can you get them back?" Kira asked. "Maybe they're just locked up somewhere, and you just need the right key?"
Rosalie smiled at her. "You have a fresh way of thinking, Kira,"
"Thank you," Kira ducked her head shyly.
A dryad blew into the room.
Her eyes searched the kitchen, to rest upon Rosalie.
"The High King requests your presence, my lady," She said. "He says to tell you it is time for you to learn to fight,"
Rosalie grimaced, but rose to follow the dryad to the High King.
"Has anyone followed you?" Bast demanded of Aurea.
"No one," Aurea said. "Why have you called this Meeting?"
"Because the Two have come," Amber said.
All four Guardians were at the top of the highest tower of Cair Paravel. There was a Seeing Glass there, and they could see their masters and mistresses outdoors, talking and sword fighting and laughing.
"But are we sure they are the Two?" Azure questioned.
"We know they are the Two," Amber said. "But has either of them been Inhabited by—"
"Do not speak the name!" Bast hissed. The black cat glanced around them. "That name brings evil," She reprimanded Amber.
"No," Azure told Amber. "Neither of them has been Inhabited. It is only a matter of time, I suppose," She said thoughtfully. "I wonder which it will be, Rosalie or Sable."
Aurea shrugged, an odd thing in an eagle. "I suppose She is not picky. She has had a year to consider her options."
"So what do we do?" Azure turned to Amber and Bast. "Is there anything to be done?"
"Watch," Bast turned her solemn eyes at each Guardian in turn. "Watch your masters and mistresses. We must be sure that She does not return to power again,"
And the Guardians dispersed.
The High King's method of teaching was somewhat different.
Rosalie was not big on combat, and the High King was an exceptional warrior, so they came up with a compromise.
The High King would show her step by step the moves, how to block, to lunge, swipe, and distract.
Away in the archery courts, Susan watched Edmund come up behind Sable to adjust her aim and stance and position of her hands.
The girl's eyes sparkled.
Susan's arrow hit the bull's eye.
As she retrieved her arrows, she thought about her brother and Sable.
The girl was a natural fighter. She was bold and quick, with a good eye and strong limbs.
She lacked patience, in Susan's opinion, but in the midst of battle, patience was not often needed.
Susan resumed her position a hundred yards from the target, and began to fire once more.
I was only too aware of Edmund's chest against my back, and his hands on my own.
"A bit higher," He said softly, and I tilted my bow upward. "A little less," He said. He took control, tilting it down a little bit.
"And let go," I did, and the arrow shot through the air with a wiz.
It thudded into the circle just outside the bull's eye, incredibly close.
I looked at Edmund, who smiled.
"Wanna try it again?" I nodded.
I was about to let the arrow fly when a voice shouted, "ED!"
I shrieked and my hand slipped. The arrow shot into the air, so Edmund and I ran for covefr, having lost the arrow in the sun.
"For the love of Aslan, Peter!" Edmund yelled at his brother.
"I bet Aslan would want us not to be late the Duke's manor," Peter reminded his brother. Rosalie clutched a sword behind him, and she looked as if she had tried to outrun a centaur, or wrestle a giant.
"What?" I asked. No one had told me about this.
Continue Third Person
Rosalie and Sable were given Talking Horses to ride on the way to the Duke's Manor.
Apparently, after the fall of the White Witch, the land where her castle had been was given to the Duke. His title was Duke of the Witchlands. Most were superstitious of such a place, but the land was rich and well, and it was where the Pevensies and Rosalie and Sable would spend the days before the ball.
The Duke's Manor was rather plain, and it was apparent in this part of Narnia that the people were not completely fond of their royalty.
"It's the Traitor King," Someone hissed.
"Time was it was the gallows for a traitor," another growled.
"Betrayer, ought to be locked up,"
But still the party faced forward, not looking at the mumblers. "Are they talking about you, Peter?" Rosalie asked quietly, riding next to him.
"No," He said, a bit sadly. "Edmund,"
"Edmund!" she whispered, turning to look at the King.
He was frozen on his horse. The swordsman's left fist was clenched around the reins, and his right was on his sword hilt.
He looked furious, but not at the mumblers, at himself. He looked ashamed, sad, distraught.
Who was he?