Snow was always so lonely when the dwarves were away. She enjoyed their company. And although her forest friends kept her company during the day, it wasn’t quite the same. But her chores kept her mind off lonely things and lifted her spirit. And she couldn’t very well do chores without a song to go with it! Singing was her escape. It brought her peace of mind, and it was fun too.
On this particular day, she had taken it upon herself to make a gooseberry pie for the dwarves, her usual treat to them as a thank you. She never worried about people hearing her sing. Not as far out in the woods as the cottage was. But a knock came at the door, an unusual occurrence.
She opened the door cautiously, “Hello. May I help you?”
“Uh, pardon me,” Caspain said, taking a step away from the door. He did not wish to frighten the woman. Though, he was most astounded by her beauty. He bowed to her, figuring it polite. Though, he was not sure of the customs of the area. “I am Caspian, King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands. I have come here in search of an adventure, I suppose. But I could not help but hear your voice and I became curious.” His eyes dropped to the ground, suddenly very sorry to be there.
“I see have I have interrupted something, however. If you wish it, I will move on, my lady.”
Since he’d first met the Kings and Queens of old and heard of the world they came from, Caspian had been curious. Rumors of hiccups between the dimensions were scarce and infrequent, and yet, he’d heard whispers of one the day before. And so, he stole away in the dead of night (having only informed his tutor of where he was to go) and searched for this portal. He did not think his absence would be noted. After all, time stood still for the siblings, he didn’t think it should not for him.
He found the location, stepping into the cave with an awestruck look as the world gradually changed. He stepped out into a forest, turning back to look at the cave he’d waltzed out of. Back and forth he walked several times, amazed at how the beach turned into a forest.
Finally, he stopped the childlike behavior and proceeded into the forest, stopping only when he came upon a German-styled cottage. Singing came from it, a song that sort of lured him in, causing him to linger briefly before knocking on the door.
Susan breathed a slight sigh of relief and settled more comfortably in her chair. “Well, if you insist, then I gladly accept,” she informed him, smile back on her face. She gave a tiny nod as he named the other members of his advisory council; they were all perfect choices.
She wanted to bring up other topics to discuss, but decided it was probably best to ease into them. She studied his face for a moment, noting the all too familiar worry lines. “I know the road ahead seems long and never ending, but I have faith that you will bring Narnia back to its former glory. Aslan has faith in you.”
He grinned faintly. “Aslan would not have let me rule if he thought I could not achieve such a task,” Caspian replied. He did not need words of comfort or support, he knew where he had it and where he did not. The battle would be waged within himself at this point. A battle of insecurities that would was long hard fought, the battle even still waging within him.
“What else is there that I can aid you with, Susan?” he asked, wishing to proceed with the discussion. Best get it out of the way, after all.
“I have no wish to be Queen!” Susan blurted out. She cast her eyes down to the floor in embarrassment, feeling heat spread across her cheeks in a blush. She really hadn’t thought things all the way through. There was so much to figure out politically, and the people always had to come first.
She raised her eyes back up to meet Caspian’s. “Caspian, please do not think I asked to stay in order to reclaim my previous positions. This is your kingdom, and you the rightful King. I will gladly serve in any position you bestow upon me, and will offer my counsel when asked, but beyond on that I ask for no higher station.” Her blue eyes pleaded with him to understand that she had never dreamed of trying to take his place as ruler.
“I did not think you were,” he replied, half smiling. He leaned back, still sitting up but so he was not hunched forward so in that somewhat uncomfortable position. “I insist, Susan, that you take a place amongst my lead advisors. Cornelius, my tutor, is seated there as well, so is Trumpkin and a smaller number of Telmarines. You have experience in leading the Narnians and I have been preparing to lead the Telmarines all my life; your help would be most welcome on the board of advisors,” he reminded her. Still, he wondered how he would ever be able to keep the peace.
The city would be slow to change and he imagined the Telmarines would be wary of the Narnians at first and for the first few months-possibly year-twice the number of guards would patrol the city to ensure the peace. How he would find the funds for that he was not sure.
Susan smiled again as she caught sight of some of the book’s titles; they were all about Narnia’s Golden Age. She had so many stories she could share with him from that time, but that could come later. She moved to sit in one of the chairs he gestured to, pulling her dressing gown more securely around her to ward off the nighttime chill. The direction of Caspian’s gaze wasn’t lost to her, but she hadn’t had much choice in her clothing options, seeing as how she barely had a wardrobe here.
“The events of earlier would not leave me be. I needed someone to talk to, and that someone was you.” As she said those words it dawned on her that in any other situation she would have gone to Lucy, or Edmund, or even Peter. The thought didn’t sadden her as much as she thought it would, for now she had Caspian to go to. Or at least, she hoped she did. ”I feel that there is much for us to discuss.”
He considered this, slowly nodding from his seat. The king leaned forward, his elbows resting upon his knees as his hands clasped together. She was right, they did have much to discuss. Her remaining put him in an awkward place. He was king but a queen the Narnians loved so dearly remained, an act that would likely put his throne into question. However, he hoped that Aslan’s words would discourage this.
“That we do,” he mused, rubbing the stubble upon his chin. He wasn’t sure what to say, however. He knew he didn’t want her as queen. Not only would that awkwardly imply a romantic relationship between the pair when he hardly knew what was going on, but Caspian wanted a chance to prove himself. Having Susan there to hold his hand the whole way through hardly seemed the way it should be done.
“Your position would be a place to start,” he spoke, “I was thinking it’d be more suitable for you be by an advisor as opposed to queen…”
Susan opened the door slowly, a small smile forming on her lips as she caught sight of Caspian. How was it even possible that the mere sight of him sent her heart pounding so, that the simplest of words sent shivers running down her spine? She stepped into the room, letting the door close softly behind her.
“I hope I am not interrupting,” she commented, gesturing towards the books on his desk. “I just…could not sleep.”
With a faint smile, the king shook his head. “No, you are not,” he assured her as he lifted the book into his hands, turning to place it in his bookshelf. Once the book was settled, he turned back to Susan, slightly embarrassed to see her in only a dressing gown but he was too much a gentleman to say it. Instead, he gestured to the small sitting area set up in his chambers. The seats were not particularly comfortable, but he assumed they would do for now.
“I am sorry your sleep evades you, Susan, mine has been elusive as well. Pray, why come to me, milady?”
With all that had happened earlier in the day and over the past weeks, Susan was utterly exhausted. Yet sleep would not come to her. She was staying in Narnia! She still couldn’t believe it, and her thoughts were running wild through her head. There were so many questions that she wanted to ask, and there was really only one person she could ask them to.
Finally giving up on sleep, she threw the blankets off of her and slipped on a dressing gown and slippers. She paused at the door of her new quarters, pondering the sensibility of her actions. Stealing to the King’s chambers in the dead of night certainly wasn’t proper, but she just needed to speak to him. Deciding it wouldn’t hurt to just see if he was awake, she quickly pulled the door open and stole down the hallway towards Caspian’s chambers. She wasn’t sure if it was deliberate that she had been given chambers so close to Caspian’s, but she wasn’t complaining about it now.
Seeing light flickering underneath his door, she knocked softly on his door. ”Caspian? It is Susan.”
Sleep had evaded Caspian that night. For the past week his heart had been in his throat, aching at the thought of the kings and queens of old leaving. He’d grown fond of the foursome, even Peter, with whom he hardly ever saw eye to eye with. His bond with Susan was different, though, after the display today, that was hardly something he could continue to deny. She belonged in her world, he had thought, yet Aslan permitted her to stay.
It was perplexing, to say the least. Enough to keep the king from sleeping that night. Instead he sat at his desk in his sleep attire, though, upon hearing the knock, he quickly changed into something more suitable: trousers and a white, long sleeve shirt. Out upon his desk were the books, fables of the Kings and Queens of Old, though, it had been proven that they were, in fact, far from fables. He closed them gently before looking to the door and calling, “You may enter, Susan,” while his heart raced wildly in his chest.
How was it that in one sentence from the other side of a door, a woman could still have such an effect on him–a king no less?
“Riding,” the former Telmarine prince replied. “I find it to be a practice that does well to clear my head from ill mannered thoughts and keeps my rule from turning unfair. A calm mind is necessary of a king.”