Chapter 1: Prologue
Peter stirred, where am I he wondered? There was a weight on his chest. April! But, the sun was shining and a gentle breeze blew over him. Was he in Aslan's Country? If so, was April dead too?! She stirred.
"Peter!" the relief in her was palatable. She started to sob, "Oh Peter, you were dead, gone from me. How..? Oh, Aslan! It was Aslan! I saw Him! He saved you...but where? Where are we?"
They looked around, purple wildflowers bloomed all about them. Trees towered overhead...The Glade.
Peter groaned and put a hand over his eyes, "The Glade, April. We are back in our world!"
She looked stricken and then lifted up and unbuttoned his shirt so she could look at his chest. There was a scar just below his sternum, but it was healed with just the slightest bruising around it.
"I'm just so grateful you're alive...I don't care where we are!" she said with passion and then kissed the scar and then his lips.
He kissed her back but inside he cringed. He was thankful too, but she had no idea the adjustments that came with coming back from Narnia and this time it would be more complicated because of their marriage and the...
What a fool he was lying here thinking about adjustments, "April, the baby! Are you okay? That brute...he hit you so hard! Are you well?"
She looked puzzled and then panicked, "I...I feel okay, a bit sore maybe...but if Aslan healed you when He brought us back, then it would heal any damage to me and the baby, right?"
She started to cry again, "Peter! What if...?"
He sat up and crushed her to him. "Don't! Don't say it, don't think it! I...I..."
For once, he had no words for her. He started to tremble and couldn't help his own thoughts...What if?
Chapter 2: Connected
"Come with me," he said gently, standing up and pulling her up to him.
"Where are we going?" she said, wiping her tears and sniffling a little.
"To the Grove. We need to talk, and rest. Besides, I am famished!"
He gathered the picnic basket and blanket where they still sat from a moment ago. Six months ago? Oh, this part always made his head hurt.
She led the way back to the grove. Both were silent remembering their laughter and playfulness as they chased each other through this forest right after he had proposed and she accepted. They had found themselves in a strange glade and had journeyed to Narnia. It all seemed like a very bizarre dream now, especially after spending at least six months in Narnia. They would need the timeless aspect of the Grove, a magical and unique grouping of trees in The New Forest, to sort through all of their questions and to make plans.
Entering the Grove Peter shivered. There was too much for his tired brain to handle. They ate in silence and as April cleared away the mess he spread the blanket out further.
"We need to sleep, love. Then, we will talk."
She nodded and came over to lay beside him. He held her close in their favorite way to sleep together in Narnia and kissed her forehead.
"It will be okay. We will figure this out together," he said just as much to comfort himself as well as her.
They awoke much later. Of course, they had no way of knowing just how late it was, for in the Grove time stood still for those with a Narnian connection.
April sat up and wrung her hands. He was surprised she was able to sleep as well as she did with the stress they were under. She looked at her hand.
"Our rings! Peter? Yes, you still have yours too. How is that possible?"
He looked down at the wedding ring still on his finger and shook his head in wonder. "I...I'm not sure. When we came back from Narnia the first time, we had jewelry, swords, and our court clothes on and none of it came with us. We were more prepared the second time we returned so we weren't wearing any Narnian jewelry. This has to be a gift from Aslan. One I am very thankful for. It is a reminder that it...we, were not just a dream or a fantasy."
She smiled and looked around at the trees. "Peter, I need to dance. I want to wake the trees."
He stood up too and smiled at her look of surprise when he walked with her to the middle of the clearing.
"May I dance with you?" he whispered into her ear.
She shivered and looked at him with wide eyes. She couldn't speak, but she smiled a shy smile. By now, he knew the steps well enough from having danced with her in Narnia. With him fully engaged it was a slower, sensual version of the dance, where they could not take their eyes off each other and he held her closer than before, bringing their bodies to meet whenever possible. It was reminiscent of the dryad’s dance in Narnia during those late nights when the rhythm of the Narnian magic was under their feet, and the music beat in their hearts, and their bodies touched as they moved as one.
When the steps were finished they stood close together looking at each other, both knowing that one of her dreams for them had just come true. There was a rustling in the leaves above their heads and the trees were swaying, moving more than they ever had when April danced alone and before she had ever experienced Narnia in such a personal and intimate way.
They walked up to her Grandmother's tree and April knelt.
"Grandmother, I have been there...to Narnia. It is all we ever dreamed of and so much more!" She looked up at Peter with her eyes shining. "Peter and I were married by Aslan, He crowned me Queen! Grandmother, I made wonderful friends of fauns, and dryads, and..." her voice broke, "good beasts."
Peter’s hand landed on her shoulder in support. Glancing up at him she drew a deep breath and continued.
"I am carrying Peter's child."
She broke down at this point and was barely able to speak through the fast tears sliding down her cheeks, "This is the heir, the heir that will never be King or Queen!"
She could not continue, he gathered her in his arms and held her, letting her cry and shedding a few hot tears of his own. A large leaf drifted down to them, a sign that her Grandmother's "spirit" had heard and understood.
April smiled, a rainbow through her tears and Peter smiled with her.
"Come," he whispered, leading her back to the blanket and making her sit.
"Why, Peter? I don't understand! Why bring us back now? Before...why did He just not heal you there?"
"I don't know. I thought about that while you were sleeping. I think that my...our job there was done. I must have killed the pirate captain, thus finally eliminating that threat. Lucius was revealed as the traitor and Oreius will bring him to justice. The Parliamentarian Government is in place. The one piece that does not make sense, is the child. Unless, Aslan never meant for me to have an heir..."
"But," he continued, his voice gaining strength. "I am alive. I will not regret that, and we are together. He could have left you in Narnia and brought me here, would you have wanted that? To have raised our child without me?"
"No!" she cried, tears threatening again at just the thought.
"Then we have to be grateful for the time we had there. We have to take what we learned and let it bring us closer together here, to strengthen our love, our bond. We have to love in spite of being back in Spare Oom."
She smiled at his last words. "To love in spite of....that was what Aslan told us the last time we saw Him."
Peter nodde. "I have not forgotten and perhaps it was for our coming back here that he said that.”
"But what does that mean for us, now, here?"
He took her hand. "Do you want to be married to me here?"
"Yes, of course, I do," she said looking into his eyes not surprised to see them shining with love...and desire. She shivered again, the grove was working its magic of amplifying emotions.
"Then we will have our ceremony in mid-June as we had planned before Narnia." He drew her closer to him.
"But, are we still married then? I mean you were a King there, but not here. We were married there, so that means we are married here?"
Her confusion was obvious and he had no answers other than the one that he wanted to believe. Bringing his hands to her neck he pushed aside her hair and leaned to kiss her there.
"My heart," he kissed her lips, "my mind," he kissed her cheek, "my body," he kissed under her ear, and breathed the next words into her ear, "are all married to you." She sighed as his hands slid down her arms to her waist.
"Do we need to leave the Grove to have this discussion?" she asked breathlessly. He knew she felt the need to ask since the Grove amplified emotions.
"Do you want to leave?" his hands were moving up her back.
"No, but perhaps we should wait...until after the ceremony, that was our plan...before."
His hands stopped at her neck, so close to the zipper, (not buttons he thought happily), to give her the choice. "I can't even comprehend going back to just kissing you again, not after what we have experienced. I can't not touch you. Being with you is like breathing to me. But I will not force, nor coerce you. If you truly feel like we should wait, I will stop."
He pulled away to emphasize his point and to look in her eyes. He could see her reaction to the loss of his lips and hands. In her eyes he saw his desire mirrored, she had always been able to match his passion. It was one of the things he loved about her. She pulled him back to her.
"I can never say no to you Peter, nor do I want to. A life without your touch is not a life I want to live even for a few months."
He smiled and sighed and kissed her lightly. She had said yes, now he would tell her why he pushed her to make a choice.
"I love you April, and, I am married to you! Here or there, it makes no difference to me. Consequences be damned, after all...you are, already pregnant."
She giggled and he continued, his voice changing from light hearted to husky and deep, "I want to be Narnian with you at least one more time before we go back and face our world. I need to connect what we had there to this world or I think I might just unravel. The adjustments we are going to face will seem unsurmountable especially being separated and I...need...you."
As he spoke his hands were pulling the zipper down. She spoke, teasing him as she lifted her arms over her head so he could slip off the dress, "By being 'Narnian', you mean lying naked on the ground in the forest, and..."
"Exactly!" he enthused remembering the times they had done just that while in Narnia.
He had deftly removed the rest of her clothing and was running his hands slowly over her body, while she worked on his clothes.
"I love you Peter. I will always be glad to be 'Narnian' with you!"
He kissed her then and they melted together sinking to the ground like a puddle of molten metal poured out, on fire for each other with the heady knowledge that they were in a timeless, soundless, sightless bubble, only for themselves and for as long as they wanted. It was a dream come true for both of them to be together in that way in that place. How long they made love they would never know or care. Touching, feeling, loving like it was their last time together and very well could be with the circumstances that might soon separate them.
Chapter 3: Farewell
I feel the need for a little warning here. There could be triggers in this chapter for those who are struggling or who have struggled with a miscarriage or a related life event. If you are, I would be happy to talk with you. Chapter song: Faithful by Steven Curtis Chapman (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A12Ij4R1vJs)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Peter couldn't sleep. He tossed on the couch which was his bed while visiting in her home. Not only did he miss her presence beside him, but there had been too many emotions, too much trauma. April's bleeding had steadily increased. While she was not in pain yet, Miranda said that would come. Knowing that he had put her in this situation wrenched his gut. He would be the cause of her pain, and although it could be for the best, it was still his child that was dying, or had already died. He couldn't stand it. Grief as he had never known racked his body with raw edges feeling like sword blades cutting him again and again. Gladly he would have taken the actual cuts in order to spare April from this and to keep his child alive. How would they ever get past this? Not only did they have to deal with coming back from Narnia with so many unanswered questions, but to go through this as well? It was too much. Tomorrow he would have to call Edmund, perhaps they would come. He tried to pray, but the words wouldn't come. He was too confused and overwhelmed. He heard a noise and looked up.
April stood in the doorway a towel clutched to her stomach. Miranda had been warming them for her for when the pain began. She was also made to drink tons of water and to lay on her left side, of all the strange things, but Miranda knew how to make this easier for April. Peter was grateful for her help and understanding. It had been terrible facing April's father. Mr. Treed's shock at their story was doubly hard because he had never believed that Narnia was real and now he was faced with the hard evidence that it was.
April came over to him and squeezed beside him on the tiny couch. He was grateful for her warmth and presence and he put his large hand over her stomach as she cuddled her back into him. It was such a familiar gesture and one that had brought them both joy and pleasure knowing that he was holding their child that he lost control again. Not facing her was easier. But he knew she could feel his body shaking with his sobs. She was crying too, and had been off and on all day.
Of course, they had to put on brave faces around April's little sister, Elisa, who was nine and could not know all that was happening. It was stressful and in a way the sobs were a welcome release to all that had happened. He didn't know when he had ever cried like this. He had lost many friends and fellow soldiers in battle and to other circumstances in Narnia, but he had never lost a family member. He was too young when his grandmother died to remember any of that grief. But to lose his very own child, a child he would never get to hold, never get to teach sword fighting to or have a tea party with was staggering.
April put her hand over his and held on as if for dear life. He needed to be strong for her. He would have to find a way to deal with his grief in order to be what she needed him to be. He knew after this storm subsided that he not allow himself to lose control like this around her again, not about this anyway. He couldn't and stay sane.
She tensed and cried out softly. The pain had begun. Oh Aslan, help us!
He gripped her hand as they slowly walked through the forest. They were on their way to the Grove with the miniscule bundle wrapped in cloths in a small box. They were quiet, spent, and full of grief. The last days had been very difficult, so much blood and pain for April. Blood never bothered him before, he had seen too much of it on battlefields, but seeing her blood was different, it brought a panic up in him that threatened to choke him. But he pushed it aside and was there with her through it all. He would not leave her side and her parents let them be. It was exhausting, and the most difficult thing he had ever been through and he never wanted to repeat it! He recalled the events of the last day, two days? Time was a blur to him now.
He had called Edmund the morning after the pain had begun. He had to use the phone at the neighbors and talk in code, but Edmund understood and was instantly horrified and sympathetic. They were at home in Finchley, it being break for everyone, and promised they would come. That evening's train brought Edmund, Lucy and his mother. His father was gone on travel and Susan was staying with friends for the last part of break. When they arrived his mother and even Edmund hugged him. It was Lucy's reaction to April that nearly broke his resolve not to cry again. Upon entering the house, she had rushed over to April who was sitting on the couch and hugged her tight and matched April tear for tear. She then came to him.
"I am so sorry, Peter. I know how much you wanted a child in Narnia, and now to have it taken from you..." Peter folded her in his arms and she cried. He tucked his head onto hers as he had always done to comfort his baby sister and waited until her tears were spent.
Soon they sorted themselves out. Helen was pleased to finally meet Miranda and Manfred, April's parents, and they drifted to the kitchen to sit and get acquainted and most likely lament over their strange children and the adventures and trouble that seemed to follow them. It gave Peter and April a chance to start telling Lucy and Edmund of their Narnian adventures. Lucy was so excited to hear about Tumnus and the Beavers and everything they experienced. It was a great distraction and was fun to hear April tell of Narnia through her eyes. Edmund was very curious about the pirate slavers and how that conflict turned out. Both Lucy and Edmund became very angry when they heard of Lucius' treachery and horrified when Peter showed them his scars, the one on his chest and the matching one on his back.
They were all silent when the tale was done. Lucy had slipped up and curled up next to April taking her hand. Edmund put his hand on Peter's shoulder and commiserated. It helped Peter to have them know and understand. They left that evening to stay in an inn in the village and promised to return the following morning.
It was during the night that the baby was...he couldn't bear to say born. About the size of a lime, it was fully formed, tiny, yet perfect. April couldn't speak and he was rendered silent too. He held her again that night as she slept fitfully constantly having to make trips to the lavatory. She would bleed for quite a few more days according to her mother. He was thankful that Miranda had been a nurse. He would not have wanted anyone else in the village to know of their predicament, and the Treed's were grateful not to have to answer questions too.
April had tearfully asked him if they should name the baby. At first he resisted with all of his being, but seeing that she needed it, he agreed. His middle name was William, as was his father's. They decided to call him William Tumnus Pevensie. His heart broke hearing her say the name and he knew he would never be the same.
Entering the grove he felt like his heart was made of stone. Was it only a few days ago that they had shared something beautiful here? Lucy, Edmund, April and himself paused at the entrance, each dealing with their own memories of the place.
April sighed a deep sigh and walked to the center of the circle like-enclosure. "I'll need to wake the trees."
"I'll help you," Peter said softly not missing the surprised look that Edmund and Lucy exchanged.
April looked at him gratefully. "Thank you. I'm not sure I could get through this alone."
He nodded and she began the dance, he joined her at the appropriate time. This time their movements were simple yet harmonious and, of course, lacked the sensuousness of their earlier dance. When they were finished and the trees swayed alive as they could be in this world they heard Lucy's exclamation of awe.
"Oh, that was simply beautiful." She hugged Peter.
Edmund, at any other time, would have made a wisecrack, but today he simply placed a hand on Peter's shoulder and nodded. Peter was grateful for their presence and support. He felt more whole that he had since the journey to Narnia. His siblings were such a part of who he was, he missed Susan immensely. It didn't seem right that she was not here to share this with them.
April pointed out a spot and Edmund dug the hole. As Kings and Queens in Narnia they had held many funerals, or farewells as they had called them there. April, with silent tears running down her cheeks, bent and placed the box in the hole. Peter picked up some dirt and sprinkled it on the box, then stepped back, feeling choked. He felt April at his side. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her into him.
Lucy cleared her throat, they had asked her to lead the farewell. She began, "I found these words, and I hope they will be an encouragement to us all: 'God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when other have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ.’”*
Lucy spoke softly, "I know comfort seems far away, even unattainable right now, with what you both have suffered and with all the adjustments that coming back from Narnia brings, but the only true comfort you can get is from Aslan...Christ. He is the one that will help you through each day. He has suffered too, He knows what it is like."
Edmund's face was grim, especially with those last words, but he nodded. "Lucy asked me to read this, 'Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.'"**
Looking at Peter, Edmund continued, "Peter, Aslan made in choice in bringing you back. A hard one, but one that was necessary. As a purveyor of justice, it is hard to make those choices. Choosing one life over another is the hardest of all. You have to decide which impact for good will be the greatest. You still have good to do Peter, and you too April. May He comfort you and bring you to the other side of your grief."
"Thank you my brother and my sister. It means more to me than you know to have you here." Peter's voice broke and he swallowed hard. "My child...you were loved, you were wanted...very much in Narnia, but here as well. You will be missed and thought of for the rest of our lives. May the time seem short until we can meet and see you for who you were meant to be in Aslan's Country."
April sobbed softly and Peter tried to bring her to his chest, but she resisted needing to speak the words that were in her heart. She cleared her throat, but only managed a whisper, "My darling son, William Tumnus Pevensie, Prince of Narnia, may you find joy and peace in Aslan's paws and may He constantly remind you that you are missed and loved."
This time she allowed herself comfort in Peter's arms. Lucy came to them and put her arms around them both and Edmund's hand landed on Peter's shoulder and the other on April's back.
In a solemn, yet very quiet voice, Edmund spoke the words of the lament of Narnia. "We bid you farewell, little Prince. Do not let our grief keep you from your journey home. Go your way to Aslan's Paws, to His Country, at the edge between this world and the next."***
Lucy whispered, "...The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."****
Peter's back stiffened and he could feel his spirit close at Lucy's words. As they broke the embrace April looked up to Peter's eyes. They were focused on the grave that Edmund had started to fill and they were cold, an icy blue that sent shivers all the way through those who looked at them.
Thanks for reading. I love Lucy and Edmund in this chapter. The Pevensie's have such a special bond, it is a joy to write about them. I hope you have friends and family that you know will be there with you through it all.
* 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
** Lamentations 3:32-33
***The term 'farewell' for funerals in Narnia and Edmund's quote is taken directly from Rthstewart's Harold and Morgan, Not A Romance.
**** Job 1:21
"Connected enough for you?" she teased him after they woke for the second time still entwined and still very “Narnian”.
"Mmm, yes," he mumbled, nuzzling his head into her neck. "Can we stay here forever?"
"We could, but I would expect you might get hungry."
As if on cue his stomach growled, and they laughed.
She took a deep breath. "We need to get you some food, but I suppose we should talk about the baby."
Peter's handed reflexively went to her stomach. He sighed, "This child, our child, is a blessing here or there, but still creates a lot of questions. I could quit school. Your father would give me job at the stone mill."
"No!” she cried, "I have watched my parents scrape and scrimp all of their lives. I don't want that kind of stress for us. No, you need to graduate and go to University. You will need to make a living for us."
She put her hand over his and continued, her lip quivering, "I will have to quit school. They won't let me stay in this condition. Perhaps I could audition for the stage next year, although I am not sure who would take care of the baby while I danced and you study..."
"April," his voice was tender, "I don't want you to give up your dream..."
A hard edge came into her voice. She was resolved. "I don't have a choice. Things happen for a reason Peter. This is not all just some accident. And this child is not a mistake. I...we...will be fine!"
He sighed again, there was no more to be said. He hated this. This was not the way it was supposed to be. They should still be in Narnia eagerly anticipating the arrival of their child. They should not here where their child would be considered illegitimate and a burden, even if he and she, and maybe their families, knew different. At the thought of her family, he knew it was time to leave. They still had a couple more days of break left, perhaps they could come back.
"We need to leave now, let me clean us up a bit."
She smiled at his thoughtfulness but then sat straight up in alarm at his words.
"April! There is blood. Has there even been blood, before...when we? Was I too rough, was it too much?" His voice grew anguished and panicked.
She kept a level head, "No, Peter, there has never been. You were fine, you could not have caused this. It must be the coming back, perhaps the stress? I think it is time we go and talk with my Mother.
Miranda Treed, April’s mother, smiled and hummed to herself as she kneaded the dough for the loaf of bread she was making. April and Peter had just left and Peter seemed very nervous this morning. Had she ever seen that boy anything less than self-assured? She didn't think so. She smiled again. Unless she missed her mark completely, he and April would come back all smiles. She was glad that her daughter's future would be set. Peter was a good boy...man, although the whole Narnia aspect made the situation very strange, but he was perfect for April. She was glad that April would not be stuck in this small village. Even if her dancing did not work out, there would be more opportunities for her in London than here.
The dough was finished and she left it to rise. As she washed her hands she thought of the other tasks that needed to be done this morning. April and Peter would not be back until late afternoon she supposed. She was surprised to hear voices outside the kitchen door and even more shocked when they both walked in, not with the rapturous joy of the newly engaged but with worried concern on their faces.
"Mum!" April cried, running over to give her a hug. April hugged her as if she had not seen Miranda for months rather than just a few hours.
She looked at Peter over April's shoulder. He had a small smile on his face but worry was in his eyes.
"What is it April?"
April backed away and held out her hand. Miranda trembled a bit in excitement. He must have given her a true engagement ring. She looked down and had to lean against the edge of the kitchen table. There was April's promise ring with a diamond mounted in the center, but next to it was the most delicately wrought wedding ring. She looked at April in confusion and then over to Peter, who gently placed his hand over April’s revealing...his wedding band. Oh mercy! She was fumbling for a chair and then Peter was there helping her to sit.
"Mum, we have been in Narnia," as if Miranda needed that explanation. She knew about Narnia, had always known. Her family was the keeper of a book that was older than she knew. It chronicled the reign of the four legendary Kings and Queens of Narnia. It wasn't until she met Peter that she truly believed they were more than just legends. Her own Mother believed and always said that April possessed the spirit of her dryad ancestor.
"How long?" she managed to ask.
"Almost six months," Peter supplied. "We have been married all but two weeks of that."
Miranda lifted a shaking hand to her hair and looked at the two of them standing next to each other, April looked the same...yet different. She glowed with a light that was stronger than before. She matched Peter in that respect. And yet, there was still something in their concerned worry that rang familiar, all too familiar.
"And..." she prompted, terrified to receive the answer.
"I'm pregnant," April said and then her voice dropped to an anxious whisper, "and bleeding."
"Oh, my darling girl, no!" Miranda was out of her seat and holding April, sad for the journey that she was sure her baby girl, no, she was a woman now, had to face. A journey she herself had walked many years before when her own child was stillborn. A journey she had walked with others as doctor’s helper.
"How far along?"
"A little over four months," April replied.
"Is there anything you can do?" Peter asked.
Miranda stepped back and wiped the tears that were welling up in her eyes and slowly shook her head no. She invited them to sit and went to put on the tea. They would need it. She talked as she worked.
"I have thought all of my life to try to figure out the quandary of how, when you four came back from Narnia, that your bodies were the same as when you left. I questioned about sicknesses and scars that you may have and I have never asked..."
She trailed off when Peter unbuttoned his shirt and revealed to her the newest scar on his chest. She looked shocked and confused.
"It is the reason we are back, Mother, Aslan brought us back to save Peter's life."
Miranda put a fist to her mouth to keep from sobbing, she had to continue. They needed to know her theory. Miranda regained control.
"When you come back to this world your bodies are exactly as they before you left, except for just a remnant of your life there, such as a scar. April, your body has returned to the exact form that it was six months ago, except for the life that lives inside you. I am assuming your breasts are no longer rounded and tender?"
April's eyes grew wide and she stared at Peter, shocked that they hadn't noticed it earlier.
Miranda sighed. "Your body, as it is now, cannot sustain life, the hormones that readied your body for the child and gave you the ability to sustain the pregnancy, are not there any longer. The child cannot live. If you have been back longer than a few moments..." she eyed them carefully and seeing their exchanged glances knew they had been back longer, perhaps more than a day. "Then likely the child has already passed. But even if you had come to me sooner, there is nothing that I could have done to stop this. You are miscarrying, my dear."
"Oh no!" April jumped up and Peter caught her in his arms.
"It's okay, love. We will get through this," Peter said bravely. Although Miranda could see by his expression, that he was not sure how.
April ran to the lavatory and they heard her exclaim, "I had forgotten...indoor plumbing!"
Peter smiled and chuckled in spite of the situation, and said wryly. "Spare Oom does have its advantages."
"Tell me how you came back, Peter," Miranda urged.
Peter sat and briefly told the story of the struggle with the pirates, who in the middle of the night had raided their bedchamber, the traitor that was revealed, his being stabbed through the chest by the Pirate Captain, the feeling of dying and then waking up here. He told her of the 2nd mate brutally punching April in the stomach to purposefully kill his heir. He and April had hoped that damage had been healed upon their return, just as his had.
Miranda nodded and waited. Peter groaned and put his head in his hands, after a moment he lifted his head and with tears in his eyes said, "It's my fault! Aslan brought us back here to heal me, and the cost was my child. He made the choice to heal me, knowing that my child would not survive the journey."
Peter got up and started to pace, "How? How can I live with myself, knowing that I killed my child, that I get to live while he or she doesn't? I would not have chosen that!"
A voice came from the doorway. "Stop Peter! Just stop! How can you say that?! Of course, Aslan chose you to live! This is NOT your fault. It is the pirates', or even Aslan's for letting this happen! Whoever’s fault it is, the right choice was made!"
She came before him and held his chin so he would look her in the eye. Miranda was stunned watching this woman, who was her daughter, and yet was not. She could only stare in awed silence.
April's voice was strong and loud, as if it were trying to reach the darkest recesses of his mind. "It is the choice that I would have made! A child is precious, but you...are much more important. You have a mission in this world too. Our time together has just began and I would NOT want you to be taken from me!"
Her hands moved to his cheeks, and she said softly, intimately, "You...are my world Peter, my rock. I need you, now more than ever!"
Miranda, with tears running down her face, because of the situation and the beauty of the love she saw radiating from her daughter, slipped out of the room to give them the privacy they needed. If she hadn't believed they were married by seeing the rings, she knew they were now. She sat on the couch and silently sobbed thinking of what they had been through and what they had to face. She hoped their marriage would survive, for the loss of a child, by any means, was the most difficult kind of grief anyone could face. And she knew from experience, it was a grief that one could never fully overcome.
Hi, so sad! I am sorry. It was so hard to write. Sigh. What did you think of Miranda’s theory? Is it plausible at least? Stay with me. I will try to update weekly. Life is hard, too hard, but we can persevere, always!
After the ceremony they gathered in the living room, a sad silence filling the space and spreading over them. Peter settled into a corner of the couch and April cuddled up to him as if to try to draw strength from his warmth. He put his arm around her and kissed her hair.
Lucy, watching them, sighed and came over to sit next to April. Of course, she would be the one to break the silence.
"April, do you think we could look at the book?"
April looked at Peter, stunned. "I can't believe we hadn't thought to look at it yet. Oh, Peter!"
A light came into her eyes for the first time since they had left the Grove. He broke into a slight smile of his own as he remembered that there may be something exciting something in the Chronicles book that April's family had passed down from generation to generation.
April brought over the book and immediately flipped it open to the back. Edmund sat to Peter's left on the arm of the couch to see as well.
Lucy was the first to react. "Oh my!" she exclaimed, "how beautiful!"
"Peter, look!" April breathed.
Peter sucked in his breath. There before them, faded just as the rest of the illustrations in the book were, in the wonderful way that only Tumnus could capture, he and April stood on the dais of the Great Hall on their wedding day, staring into each other's eyes with a look of love passing between them that was so strong it was almost palpable.
April gently traced the outline of Peter's cloak and his arm around her involuntarily tightened. She sighed and leaned into him looking up. He met her eyes and smiled. It was if everything had faded away and the two of them were back in Narnia, alone for the first time after their wedding.
Whispering, he spoke, "You were so beautiful that day, I thought my heart would stop when I saw you coming down the aisle to me."
She touched his cheek and brought his head down for a kiss. They lingered until Edmund's horse cough broke the spell. Her cheeks reddened as she realized where they were. True to his nature, Peter just grinned and turned the page.
Tumnus had written letters knowing they would see the book. The first one was to Lucy, Susan and Edmund, reassuring them of the Narnian's safety and Narnia's wholeness and expressing how much he missed all of them.
The second letter was for Peter. Peter read it aloud, not caring if the parents gathered in the kitchen heard or knew its contents. April's sister was thankfully at a friend's house, Miranda being sensitive to the emotions of them all.
Dear High King Peter,
I trust you are well and it astounds me that you and Queen April will be reading this long after I am gone...
Both Lucy and April sniffed as the tears started to flow. Lucy grabbed April's hand and held on tight. Peter knew they would talk more later about Tumnus.
Aslan assured us that you both were safe and whole, back in Spare Oom. I cannot tell you the grief that your final night in Narnia has caused us all. We feel so responsible for not protecting you further, for allowing Lucius to become such a traitor to us all. And we miss you both more than you could ever imagine. We were all lulled into complacency and so joyously anticipating the heir...
Peter's voice broke and he swallowed hard. Then, mastering his emotion, he continued.
You will want to know all of the details. With your last breath, you did indeed kill the Pirate Captain. You may or may not have noticed that Rhinos had already killed his first mate. There were other pirates around the castle, but those that were still alive after the raid fled once they realized their leaders were dead and that Aslan, the mythical, mysterious God of the Narnians, did indeed exist. I doubt we will ever have any trouble from those particular pirates again. We have seen no sign of the Telmarines that you were so concerned about. My assumption is they have let go of their hopes to conquer Narnia for now.
Edmund interrupted, "Peter, did you tell Tumnus about the future?"
"I couldn't. I debated and almost did two or three times, but finally decided that it would do him no good to know. If the Telmarines didn't come in their lifetime, which I dearly hope they did not, then it would only worry them to no end. The only Narnian I dropped a hint about the future to was the dryad, Sabina..."
Lucy interrupted with a loud cry, "Sabina! Peter...what?” She glanced furtively at April, then back again at Peter in confusion. April's cheeks reddened again. Peter took April's hand and squeezed it.
"April knows about Sabina, she met her. She is, in fact, April's ancestor that Aslan turned human at the end of the Telemarine war, right after we left."
Lucy's mouth formed a large and silent O and Edmund chuckled. April shot him a look and he mumbled, "I bet that was awkward."
In spite of herself April giggled. "Not as much as you think. I met her before I discovered her history with Peter and she seemed to disappear after we married..."
April trailed off and Peter squeezed her hand again. "There are many questions we wanted to ask her, but she left." He sighed and picked up the book again.
Lucius confessed his crimes, and was sentenced by Aslan to hard labor for the rest of his life with the dwarves already confined to the prison. The dead pirates were taken to the depths of the bay by the merpeople, and the people...have tried to continue on with their lives. It is incredibly difficult to know that you all will never return to Narnia in our lifetime.
You will be encouraged to know that the parliamentarian system of government that you set up is going well. It has now been six months since your departure and the Prime Minister has the country well in hand. Which is a great relief to me. It may not matter to you, but Queen April might be pleased to know that paintings and tapestries have been made of her and you both as a couple. All of our people loved her dearly and not a day goes by when someone does not mention you or the Queen in loving terms. It was a joy to have you marry here and reign as King and Queen together. You had a great partnership. I have every assurance that you will continue that partnership in your world and I do hope that there is some greater good, a mission for you both there. I am assuming that is why Aslan decided to return you and not heal your injuries here.
Peter stopped reading, he sent a pleading look to April. She gently took the book and read the few remaining paragraphs in a trembling voice only stumbling a bit and breathing in relief when she discovered that Kamara, the cougar who was her guard and her friend, indeed the first one to discover she was pregnant, was only injured in the raid, but was not killed. She flipped through the rest of the illustrations showing scenes from their time there and handed the book to Edmund to read the final inscriptions. The Book only Chronicled the Pevensie reign, so Tumnus did not add any other of the other additional happenings in Narnia after they had left. Sadly, Edmund handed the book to Lucy who wanted to reread the letters.
April stood and drew Peter up off the couch and they walked slowly out to the gardens. Peter's face was stony again and April stopped and reached up a gentle hand to his cheek.
"Peter, please don't shut me out," she pleaded softly.
He shook his head sharply, breaking contact with her hand. "I don't mean to April, I just do not know what to do with this. Why would Aslan...Christ as we know Him here, allow this to happen? What kind of God would take away our child for no reason? How on this earth, in this world, am I supposed to know what to do? I am 16...17? What kind of a future will there be here for me, for us?"
Just then, Miranda called them in for dinner, their conversation left unfinished and hanging between them. Peter barely spoke at dinner and could not seem to make eye contact with April. He felt so riddled with guilt. Seeing their wedding picture and hearing the raw pain in Tumnus’ words pierced him like the sword that almost ended his life. His mind was slipping away befuddled with grief and remorse and the feeling that it should have been him. For the first time he understood what April had felt in Narnia after the dwarf attack, it was like there was a large yawning black pit in front of him. He did not want to fall in, but how could he stay out?
Later, Peter sat on the bench in the garden staring at the sunset splashed across the sky. He wished he could take joy in it, but the sky may have well been gray so heavy was his heart. The day had been difficult, but here had been some joy from Tumnus' letter. At least he could put to rest his worries over his kingdom. Narnia would be fine, at least for this generation, and that was all he had been responsible for. He could not change their future any more than he already had.
The thought of ‘putting to rest’ brought back the grief. There was a hole inside of him, a deep dark gaping wound. How fitting that he had a scar now there to always remind him of what he had caused. His chin fell to his chest, how would there ever be color in his own sky again? He heard a noise behind him and felt a strong hand on his shoulder, Edmund.
His brother sat beside him and was quiet for a long time. Edmund was good that way. Peter put his head in his hands and sighed.
“This is hard.” Edmund said simply.
“Harder than almost anything we faced in Narnia.”
Peter looked at him and caught his look, he nodded again and stood, his back to his brother.
"You know," Edmund spoke again, "we now have something else in common."
Peter turned quickly and at his sharp quizzical look, Edmund smiled sadly and explained, "Scars that run from front to back and through us."
Peter nodded. Edmund stood and paced before him. "I could never share this fully with you in Narnia, it was too painful, but I thought of it every day. I died, Peter, at the first Battle of Beruna, when the witch skewered me. I was gone, brought back only by Lucy's cordial...Every day I saw the scar and lived with the knowledge of the pain I caused you all. The blackness and depression was overwhelming at times."
Peter looked at him amazed, for Edmund never spoke of his betrayal. Edmund continued, "When you die, a piece of you dies too, no matter if you are physically whole again, part of your mind will grieve. Give yourself time to heal, not just from the death of your child but from your own death as well. April will not understand but she will want to help. I do understand, so talk to me. Don't push us all away. You always try to handle things on your own, you always have."
Peter spoke thoughtfully, "I know. I learned to share some with April in Narnia, but she has too much on her heart right now. I can't talk with her about my dying. I haven't even thought about it myself yet."
Edmund nodded in understanding encouraging Peter to continue, and he did. "It is still hard for me to think about that day at Beruna when I thought I lost you. Then when you almost died after the conflict in the Western Wood, and after both of our injuries battling the Ettin giants, I never knew such despair and heart rending grief at just the thought of losing my brother. The worst part I was helpless, I could not save you…”
Peter's voice broke, and he whispered, “I am helpless now, I could not save my child.”
“Nor were you meant to,” Edmund interjected. “You could not save me then, nor could you keep your child here. You are not God, Peter. We were kings, all powerful, and yet saving those we love in Narnia or in this world, is not up to us. I know it is hard, but this is not your fault. It was beyond your control.”
“I just feel so responsible for April. If we had never gone to Narnia, if I hadn’t gotten so comfortable there…again!”
“Don’t do this, Peter. It is not going to help. What’s done is done, now you have to move on, again. Like we always have.” Edmund’s voice caught and his next words came out as a painful whisper. “Be grateful for the time you spent there. It was a gift.”
Peter turned to look at his brother, his heart in his eyes. “I’m sorry Ed. I always do that, spout off just what I feel without thinking, without…I know being here is hard for you too. I know you have lost much as well…I’m just not thinking clearly right now.”
Edmund stood and pounded his brother on the back. “You big oaf, of course you know. Just remember it is important who we have here and now. Don’t waste the gift that is here too. There is still much to live for and we have a purpose here, we just don’t know what yet. But there is a reason, remember that.”
Edmund left him alone after and Peter struggled with the doubt and grief. There was no way he was ready to see the big picture. He just had to make it through the day. It was dark now and he heard the door to the house close. A large shape was silhouetted in the light, April’s father. He groaned inwardly.
“Peter, what you need is milk a cow. Come on son."
Peter followed Mr. Treed to the stable, grateful for something constructive to do other than think. The stable was earthy and smelled of the animals. In a lot of ways it reminded him of Narnia. He ran a hand over the cow he normally milked when he visited and sat down at the familiar stool. He supposed he needed to clear the air with her father.
"Sir, I hope it does not bother you too much about April and I being married while we were in..." he intercepted Mr. Treed's glare and rather than say Narnia, he hid a smile and finished with, "there."
Mr. Treed huffed a bit, "I had given you my blessing to propose earlier in the week, so I suppose I cannot get too upset. I am glad you married her, without us being there, you wouldn't have had to."
"Of course I had to, sir. I would not disrespect your daughter in that way."
Mr. Treed nodded and smirked, "Thank you...for that. But, you did bring her home pregnant, which was not ideal."
"It was not and I take fully responsibility for it, sir. Things were...different there. It..." Peter couldn't finish.
"Now, don't go taking responsibility where it is not yours. You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders all too often. What happened is not your fault, any more than it was hers."
Peter opened his mouth to speak, but April's father cut him off. As he spoke he came over and laid a huge hand on Peter's shoulder.
"Son, life is hard, this is not the first grief that will come your way, nor will it be the greatest."
April's father moved around the stable, finishing the rest of the chores. "Funny thing about hopes and dreams, they can be shattered in an instant, but if you remember what’s important it will make the grief easier. What’s important is that girl in there who is your responsibility. Not just because she is my daughter, but because it is your duty as a man and as a husband. You know duty, you lived it…there. Duty here and there shouldn't be any different. Don’t lose sight of it!”
"Thank you, sir."
They stood and Mr. Treed extinguished the lantern and as they walked back to the house, Peter felt encouraged. He did know duty and he could handle this. He walked into the house determined to find April. She was sitting on the couch staring at the paintings of Narnia. She stood when he came into the room and turned to look at him. He met her eyes and the deep sadness in them crushed all of his new found confidence and resolve. Seeing her so broken pushed him over the edge into the pit where darkness shrouded his heart and clouded his mind.
He took her in his arms so as not to have to see her grief painted so starkly on her pale and stricken features. He knew she was not only grieving over the loss of their child, but also of the loss of Narnia and probably of himself, as well. He knew he needed to have words for her, but they wouldn’t come. He couldn’t tell her they would get through this, because he didn’t know how. He couldn’t tell her he would be there, because he wouldn’t. In a few short days he would have to return to Hendon House for the final weeks of school. Nothing was the same here as it was in Narnia, except for his love for her. So he said the only thing he could.
“I love you April, nothing is ever going to change that.”
Then in a whisper he confessed, “I don’t do well coming back from Narnia, I never have. And knowing it was my fault that we were brought back and that our child suffered for my mistakes is something I don’t know how to deal with. I can’t promise that I can be strong for you. I don’t know if I can be strong at all anymore…”
“But we will get through this together, right?” She asked, struggling to get out of his arms to see his face. When she saw his expression and his eyes, her hands went to his cheeks.
“Oh, Peter, please. Don’t pull away from me. You made no mistakes. I…don’t regret our time together.”
His eyes focused on hers that were full of pleading. “I don’t regret it either, love. I just wanted things to be different and…I will try.”
Peter resolved to stay for two more days until his break was finished. His Mother had urged him to take an extra week and stay with April, who could not return to school until she was physically recovered, but he refused. He could do nothing more than hold her. He felt as cold as stone and longed to get back to a regular routine.
Fun messages from Narnia. I love the Chronicles Book. But…poor Peter! Is his sadness justified? Does he feel too deeply? Have a great week!
Chapter 6: Missing Him
The next day April looked around for Peter. He had gone for a walk and she had missed him as the day went on. She walked aimlessly in the forest wondering where he had gone. She found him in the glade. The beauty of the spot was so like Narnia that it hurt to look at it. He was sitting at the entrance, staring where the shimmering had been, the place where they had entered Narnia just a few days before. His back against was a tree. She touched it. How she missed seeing the Trees come to life.
“I was looking for you,” she said softly sitting beside him and taking his hand.
He looked down and smiled, but the smile did not reach his eyes.
“Peter, you have to let this go.”
“Let what go?”
“Your guilt over what happened. It is not your fault we went to Narnia. It is not your fault that we conceived there, we wanted to, remember? It is not your fault that the pirates attacked us and hurt me and nearly killed you. And, it is not your fault that our child…died.”
He flinched at the word died. “It is, April. I know you can’t see it, but it is all my fault. I am too impulsive, too trusting, then I was too complacent. I didn’t protect you or the child. I failed.”
“Peter, listen to me. You can’t always protect me. We have learned that before, many times. It is up to Aslan.”
He was silent, she let go of his hand and fiddled with her ring. “There is something I have been thinking lately that might help. I have been afraid to say it, but…maybe it is better this way.”
He turned quickly to her, shock evident on his face. “What is better this way?”
“You do believe that our child is in Aslan’s Country, right?”
He nodded tersely and she hurried to finish. “He is in a much better place than here. What kind of life could we have given him here with both of us in school?”
His eyes narrowed, but she didn’t see, she was looking at her hands, needing to get the next words out. “In a way, I am relieved. I don’t know anything about being a mother, here I am just 17 and with my dream of dancing and career on the stage...”
He stood and paced away from her. “How can you say that?! Do you mean that your dancing is more important than our child?” he demanded, his fists clenched at his side.
She jumped up too. “No! Peter, you know that is not true.”
They stared at each other for a moment. April broke the silence first.
“Peter, you can’t say that this doesn’t make it easier on us. Just how were you going to get a University degree and work to support us as well?”
“I would have figured it out!” he said with anger ringing through his voice.
“Now you are just being stubborn. I would not have chosen this, I am grieving, just as you are. But you have to see the positives in this too.” Tears began to slip down her cheeks.
“No!” he said emphatically. “Let me get this straight…our child dies because of me, and you are relieved?!”
“Peter, you aren’t listening…” she was crying in earnest now.
He turned to look at her and she whispered, “You don’t understand. I wanted our child too, more than anything. But he is gone, and I have to find a way to cope. Seeing the positives, no matter how cruel they sound, are the only thing I have right now. You…are too far away.”
He looked at her from across the clearing, she didn’t mean just physically far away, emotionally he had shut himself off. She could tell he didn’t understand her and was wrestling with himself. Habit won out and he came over and held her. She wondered if it was easier to for him to do this. He had told her the day before that looking in her pain filled eyes was like being pierced with the sword again.
He confirmed her thoughts with his next words. “It’s okay love. I’m sorry I got so upset. I know how sad you are. I see it in your eyes every time I look at you. I do not understand your relief as you do not understand my guilt. We will leave it at that.”
She nodded and soaked up his warmth, just glad to be held.
After a long moment, she asked into his shoulder, “Peter, will you kiss me?”
She had to ask. It had been so many days since he had really kissed her. Little ones here and there, but she longed for the connection with him. They had not been alone much and physically, she couldn’t do more, but she needed the proof of his love. Words were easy for him to say, but for her to know exactly where she stood in his heart, she needed his kiss.
He drew back and looked at her, and for a moment, she thought he was going to say no. But he pulled her closer and lowered his head. She sighed, it was like coming home. He still cared, and he still longed for her. She could feel his need for reassurance and his need to be loved. She kissed him back reassuring him of her own love and desire for him. He responded and she could taste his hunger. The longer they kissed the more their passion grew. He broke away abruptly with a gasp and she saw the hunger in his eyes.
She took his hand, drawing him down to the ground, and whispered, “Come here, My King.”
“I know,” she said softly, “But we can…” and whispered into his ear.
He nodded and kissed her again. She was happy to be doing what they could and to be able to give him the touch he craved. They lay cuddled close in the fading light, knowing they needed to be headed back at the house. They could have gone to the Grove to have more time together, but it held too many memories.
“April, I…thank you. How am I going to be able to breathe without you near me?”
“We will see each other soon. I will be here for two more weeks, then will be back at school. Perhaps you could come for the weekend after I get back. There is just 12 weeks until our wedding ceremony. You…do still want to have it, right?”
“Of course! Were you doubting?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “I just had to ask.”
He stood up and held out a hand. “We need to be getting back.”
She stood and they walked back to her house with fingers intertwined, his thumb tracing soothingly along her fingers and palm. He looked more peaceful and she was content for the moment. But their argument still lingered in the back of her mind. For now they were patched up, but she knew they were not repaired and a knot of anxiety settled deep within her.
April was feeling numb. Peter had just left. His embrace had been warm enough and his whispered words of love in her ear heartfelt, but he was still closed off, and broken. She was broken too, she understood some of what he felt and let him go without a fight, mostly because of the argument they had the day before. She couldn’t help but replay the scene on the train platform.
Lucy had hugged her tight and promised to write. Mrs. Pevensie also embraced April and told her they would see her often after she returned to school. Then it was Peter’s turn. He gently kissed her and held her close.
“Don’t forget me,” she had whispered.
He had assured her that he wouldn’t. But she knew all too well his tendency to get absorbed in his work, in his duties, he could close out the world very easily. She knew that was what he was going to do, it wouldn’t be intentional, but it would happen.
After Peter released her and turned to get his bags, Edmund touched her arm. She gave him a pleading look.
“I’ll take care of him,” he promised.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
She turned back to the potatoes she was peeling for her mother. The past two weeks had been peaceful. But she missed Peter. She missed him so much it hurt. She longed to just see him across the room, or to hear his voice. The nights were especially difficult. She was used to him being by her side. She didn’t realize how much comfort she gained just from his presence. She wondered how he was. She had received a brief note letting her know he arrived safely. He said that with the fencing season coming to a close and graduation activities ramping up, he was going to be busy. She was glad. He needed to be busy. He was at his best when his mind was really active. To have stayed here with her in this place of silent grief for these past two weeks would have been torture for him.
Grief….what an exhausting adventure, one that quite frankly she was tired of, but it stayed…the thoughts and images unrelenting. The only solace she had was to be outside in her Mothers beautiful gardens. She had been helping her mother tend them. While Elisa was in school, she had too much time on her hands. Working in the soil and with the plants was a balm to her weary and aching soul.
"Mum?" she asked one morning just a few days before her scheduled return to school.
"What is it April?"
"This purple flower, it looks just like the ones that grow in the glade."
"Yes. I pulled it a long time ago from there. It does quite nicely in the gardens, although it does prefer some shade."
"Do you think...would it grow...in the Grove?" April asked tentatively, an idea forming in her head.
"Why, I think it might, there are not any flowers that grow in there naturally are there?"
April shook her head no and stared off into space as she was wont to do these days.
"Here dear, take this little one, plant it there, it might help you and serve as a reminder that life always continues, even when it seems like it shouldn't."
Tears slipped out of April's eyes as she took the tiny plant and root bundle and stood to her feet looking toward the forest. She hadn't been in the forest since she found Peter in the Glade almost two weeks ago. She missed it. The New Forest had always been her playground, her comfort and peace during times of stress and whatever small griefs childhood had thrown her way.
"Thanks Mum," she whispered.
April stared out of the train window at the passing countryside reliving the past few days she had spent with her family. It was bittersweet. She loved her family, but missed Peter tremendously. She had heard nothing more from him.
As the train pulled into a stop at a tiny village she noticed some purple wildflowers growing at the edge of the platform. They reminded her of the flower that her mother had given her. She remembered her trip to the Grove that day.
The forest had been so silent around her, as if in some way it was grieving right alongside her. At the entrance to the Grove she almost lost her nerve, but then remembering that this place was like home to her she stepped in. The memories were overwhelming. From when she was a little girl learning ballet steps from her grandmother, to the first time she visited there with Peter, then to the terror of the battle with the witch, to the beauty of the love that she and Peter had shared there together before...
She glanced over to the spot of the most recent memory and a wistful, yet tender smile appeared on her face. Oh, how she would have loved to hold her child in her arms and... Suddenly in the midst of the sadness, a soft breeze blew over her, one reminiscent from the times Aslan had breathed on her and with it came a beautiful and happy thought. She would get to hold her and Peter’s child one day. Perhaps it would not be this one, but there would be a child.
A sigh escaped her and she fell to her knees next to the tiny mound and breathed deep of the forest air and the comfort that seemed to fill her lungs and surround her body. Aslan was here...Christ was here...He knew and He cared and with His help she would live and love and have a future. She smiled as she carefully planted the tiny purple wildflower over the mound and watered it with her silent tears. She would always miss this one, but life would continue. It would grow and bloom and one day it would flourish.
She looked around the Grove, the trees were still. She moved in a silent and slow version of her 'wake the trees' dance and then sat at the base of her Grandmother's tree and felt comfort and life return to her heart.
The train began to move again and so did her thoughts. She was ready to get back to a routine and to be busy. She had been stretching and trying to practice some, but she just felt so different. So…empty. Her body had returned to its normal thin and muscular state having come back from Narnia, but yet it was different too. It must be those ‘remnants’ that her mother spoke of. She hoped she would be able to handle the intensity of the physical training once again.
She thought of their cover story. It was Edmund who had devised the best one. She had been attacked in the woods over Spring Break. She hated to put her beloved forest in such a light - it seemed like betraying the trust of an old friend - but it was the only way she could account for her physical state and for her having to stay out of school for the extra two weeks. She would have to work really hard to catch up and be ready for the company auditions in July.
She then thought about Edmund. He had been very quiet during his visit here. He was strength incarnate to Peter, she could almost feel the silent bond between them tighten during the tragedy. Edmund had asked so many questions about all of the intrigue in Narnia. He didn’t share his theories with her, but probably had with Peter. She wondered what Edmund would have seen and done differently if he had been there with them. Would the pirate attacks have even occurred? Peter had shared with her how Edmund was able to determine threats against the four of them, either through his intelligence network, or just by his instincts. She knew Peter had felt very vulnerable while they were in Narnia without Edmund by his side. In many ways he was Peter’s shield and she was very glad to know that Edmund would be watching over him. Peter would need it. She was afraid that he had closed his heart, to her and to Aslan.
Chapter 7: Fighting Forgiveness
Peter's fists hit the punching bag again and again, relentlessly. He had been at this for over a half an hour. Sweat poured from his body, running into his eyes, stinging them. He didn't care and pushed himself through the pain, through the discomfort, trying to block out all life, all feelings and all emotions. He was tired of feeling, tired of hurting. He just wanted it all to go away.
He couldn't punch the pain and anger away, but this was the only time he felt some relief. He finally stepped away from the swinging bag, panting and grabbed a towel to swipe at his hair, his face, and his bare chest. Grabbing his cup of water he took a long drink, not caring that some of it splashed out, cooling as it ran down his chest.
In the quiet of the school gymnasium, in the pre-dawn hours he found the only semblance of peace after leaving April two weeks before. Throwing his towel down he started to jog the perimeter. He pushed himself more each day. As if he were trying to run from...
He jumped when the door slammed shut, but kept up his pace not caring who was watching.
"Pevensie!" A sharp voice sounded much closer than he was prepared for. Mr. Kai was the new coach. A short, thick oriental man, he spoke few words but commanded respect of all his students. Peter slowed to a walk throwing his head back, knowing he was being rude, and knowing he should not ignore an instructor.
"What you running from?"
Peter stopped dead still, his head snapped around meeting the near black eyes of the older man.
Running from? How could he-
"I know you not running toward anything. I see you in class, barely speaking, and I wonder, why you so angry? Hmm?"
Peter's eyes narrowed. It was a curious thing these days for an Asian man to be a teacher in England. He wondered at his story. With the war going on, he knew he couldn't be Japanese. Korean perhaps? He shook himself. Why did it matter? Why did anything matter?
"You don't want to know. Believe me." The short words and sullen tone were not like him. But Coach Kai had hit a nerve.
"Try me. Girl trouble right? Why else you push yourself not to feel."
Peter's eyes went wide and he collapsed on the nearby riser left out from the latest match. Looking up at he was surprised to see kindness and compassion in the man's eyes. He shook his head in despair, he couldn't talk about it. He would crack right though. Just the thought of April was torment. He knew he owed her a letter. He just couldn't write it.
He heard the creak as Coach settled near him. "You want control? You want peace? You come train with me. 5:00 a.m. tomorrow, here. Be ready."
"What?" Peter questioned but the man was already walking out the doors. Elbows on his knees, Peter sighed. He knew he had no choice and was curious. What would the man teach him? What peace could be wrought? He was desperate though and knew he would be here to find out.
"You what Pete? No, too early. I cannot and will not train with you. You are a maniac. Even worse now than when we were in Narnia."
Peter sighed and sat on his bed and stared across the room at Edmund. He had been meeting Coach, now Sensei Kai for a week. The martial arts he was learning did nothing to take the pain away, but it helped him to focus and to control his wild emotions. It allowed him to pay attention to his studies which had started to lag. He was grateful to his new coach and he wanted Edmund to experience it too.
"Ed, you should try it. At least come to watch. It is very similar to training with Orieus. It helps. I miss you there, we could spar. You could..."
"Fine. Fine. If you will shut up about it, I will be there.” Edmund glared at him. “Blast Peter! The things I do for you. ‘Curse the witch’, I wish I wasn't a light sleeper. It is bad enough your nightmares keep the sleep away, but now you are purposefully dragging me out of bed at an ungodly hour to learn something else to exhaust me! Now, let me get some sleep since you'll pull me out of bed before the roosters!"
Peter felt the corners of his lips twitching upwards. Was that a hint of a smile? It had been awhile since he had done that. Feeling a surge of affection for his brother who had been through more than he had and yet still stood beside him all the time, he allowed the grin to come. Seeing Edmunds' answering grin and nod made him feel a touch better.
The next morning Peter drug a grumbling tousle-headed Edmund out of bed and to the gym in the cold morning air. The Sensei was waiting for him and showed no surprise at seeing Edmund. He bowed in respect and started the beginning breathing and moving stretches that Peter found he craved these days. Edmund being gifted in movement himself watched for a moment and joined in effortlessly.
Sensei Kai went through the basic commands with Ed and soon he and Peter were sparing with intensity. It was very similar to Narnia and that was soothing too. Sometimes the only peace Peter had felt when first in Narnia was in the training yard sparring with the centaurs and satyrs. Those sessions he knew would save his life in the future. He hoped this training would also be a salvation of sorts.
He was so focused on the exercises that he didn't realize the advanced moves he was performing were too much for Edmund on this first day. He lost himself in the moment and suddenly he was back in his Narnian chamber with April screaming in pain and him fighting the pirate captain who had taken it all from him. The intensity grew and grew and he sensed he was winning against the pirate. The anger poured out of him and so did the words as he gave blow after blow not realizing that Edmund was no longer there.
"You damn pirate! You took everything from me. I will end you now! May you rot in Hades for the pain you have caused. Damn you and damn the Telmarines, all of them!"
"Ahhh!" Peter screamed as he felt a sharp pain in his neck and then a jolt as his knees slammed against the hard polished floor. It registered that he was not on flagstones or the soft rugs of his chamber, but at his school, panting and feeling the pain rack through his body. He stared up at his teacher through blurry eyes not realizing tears were blending with perspiration. He glanced over. Edmund was panting and breathing hard on his knees as well close to him.
"Ed?" he questioned in torment, knowing that if he hurt his brother in his madness, he would have another reason never to forgive himself.
"Fine, Pete." Edmund pushed out.
In torment, he glanced up and met the eyes of Sensei Kai who had crouched down to his level. Peter realized his sensei had pulled Ed out of the way and had taken him down with a hard jab to a pressure point.
"You must forgive," the wise man said. "You must forgive yourself. The pain in you will not leave until you do. Let go your anger and forgive!"
Peter hung his head and shook it. Impossible. There was no way. Yet he knew his stubbornness would only bring pain to those he loved, but he couldn't, not yet.
Chapter 8: Just Dance
Chapter song: “I Hope you Dance” by Lee Ann Womack (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw)
April walked into the dormitory and steeled herself to face her roommate. Cassidy was a friend but it wasn't like she could pour her heart out. Who would believe her? Besides, she didn't have the energy to explain.
She was instantly engulfed in strong arms that felt good. She breathed deeply for seemingly the first time in weeks. It felt good to be back in her room at school. Good to have something else to think about other than Peter and...
"Oh, April! I am so glad you are back. And I am so sorry about what happened. How horrible! Are you okay?"
As Cassidy gushed over her she recoiled in horror. The story they had contrived. She touched the almost faded bruise on her cheek. The evidence that something had happened. Cassidy thought she had been attacked, it was something she would have to deal with from her classmates. Was she ready?
"I am okay Cassidy. Really, I am. Just bruised a bit. They did not... Peter," his name choked out of her throat, "was there... he...I, well I am okay now." She stumbled through it and was ever so grateful that Cassidy did not push her for details. But instead pulled her back for another hug.
“I am just so glad you are back. I missed you!”
She began to unpack her things quietly listening as Cassidy rambled on about what she had missed during the weeks she was gone. She was glad and even smiled at some of the gossip that was flitting around about the other girls. But she was suddenly very tired and only wanted her bed. As Cassidy’s insistence she went to the dining room to push the food around her plate and then felt blessed relief as they returned to the room and she slept.
She tasted the sweet wine, relishing the feel of it running down her throat. She exulted in the feeling of strong arms coming around her, lips brushing her ear telling her she was more beautiful than the stars that sung in the sky above them. The sweet sweet pleasure of him touching her body in the just the right way. The breathless feeling as the familiar passion overtook her as his body pressed into hers. The waves of ecstasy that spread throughout her again and again as she cried his name. His precious name, Peter!
The light touched her eyelids as consciousness overtook her. The dream faded away but her body was throbbing, feeling even her sleep the need she had for her husband. Husband? That thought seemed so far away, so long ago. A cramp deep within reminded her body that it had been a long time, and would be longer still until she was ready for that kind of intimacy again.
Sighing, she gingerly folded herself out of bed and went over to the desk. She was well aware it would be a bit longer until her body was completely ready for the rigorous dance exercises. Using the chair for balance, she stretched a bit and the pain subsided. She would try today though to see if she could dance a little more freely, she missed it so.
She sat and grabbed a pen and paper to pour out the feelings her dream evoked to Peter. She would send it without overthinking it praying it would open up a way for them to communicate together through letters.
April stood outside of the doors to Andre's studio, half dreading and half anticipating this moment. The advanced dance class has ended 15 minutes ago and all the students were gone. She did not want an audience for this meeting. Quietly pushing the door open, she nervously adjusting her sweater over the comfortable street clothes she wore.
She felt his eyes on her immediately. Andre had become a mentor but still she felt awkward about this meeting. He seemed to be able to look into her soul at times and she always wondered if he still wanted her. She knew she was safe, Peter had taken care of that months ago, but still there was an undercurrent there. He respected her talent and pushed her harder than the other students and she had always known he could teach her things she would need to know to succeed on the stage.
"April…it is good to see you. I had heard you were back." His Spanish accent flowed over her and she closed her eyes briefly at his friendly tone. She needed a friend right now. She smiled lightly and said, "I can't fully dance yet, but I thought I would stop in..."
He nodded. "You look pale. Were you terribly hurt?"
His tender tone and look of righteous anger in his eyes comforted her. She knew she was safe and breathed deeply in relief.
"Yes, and...no. Physically, I am healing. Emotionally?" her voice trailed off.
He gestured for her to sit and begin to question her gently. The canned story poured haltingly out of her. His dark, almost black, eyes bored into her and she wondered if he could tell she was lying. If so he didn't give an indication until he asked with an arch to his brow.
She caught her breath and her eyes welled with tears against her will. "Peter...Peter is well. At his school. He....is, having a difficult time."
Andre looked at her for some time and then stood and walked over to the gramophone. The music started and he stood before her.
"Come, dance with me."
He held out his hand. She looked at it in fear. Could she?
"I..." she stood hesitating, then nodded and took off her cardigan and slipped off her shoes. She wondered if she was truly ready, but knew she had to try.
He led her in slow, basic, light and easy steps. She felt different, moved differently she knew. It reminded her of being in Narnia, when she was first pregnant and didn't know. She felt clumsy and awkward. Based on the looks Andre was giving her, he knew it too. She pulled out of his grasp and turned her back. It was not working.
"April, you must start somewhere. Finish the dance."
The dance was familiar, an easy number she was used to dancing. She tried to lose herself in the music and soon a grace appeared, as her muscles remembered even if her mind was muddled. She barely registered his hands on her lifting her gently as the chorography demanded. He set her down and the music faded away. She came back to herself and realized he was staring at her strangely.
"Um, I need to...." she felt the need to escape and moved to gather her things. She stood with her sweater and shoes ready to flee when she felt his hand on her shoulder.
She sighed and slowly walked over to the chairs pushed back against the studio walls. She looked at the floor. She heard his frustrated sigh and raised her eyes in trepidation. Andre did not sit. He was pacing across the room. He stopped and stared hard into her eyes. She swallowed a lump and tried to speak but couldn't.
His eyes were hard and angry. A confused look was on his face. Finally, he spoke.
"April, I have danced with many women. You know that. I have been with...many women. I think you know that too."
April felt a blush heat her cheeks at his admission. It was one thing to guess and another thing for a grown man to speak of these things to his student. He continued, "I know a dancer’s body and can tell when...well, I can tell lots of things."
He stopped pacing and looked into her eyes.
"I must know. Was it Peter? Was he the reason for your absence? Did he hurt you? Because if he did, sword or no sword, I will find him and bring him to justice."
April resisted the urge to giggle, she was a woman now, a Queen and lady. As hurt as she was by Peter's actions, she knew his love for her was pure. Her circumstance was exactly because of Peter but not the way Andre was thinking. She forced a gentle smile on her face and spoke slowly and softly as she had learned to do in Narnia.
"Andre, thank you for your concern. Peter did not hurt me, it is true that we..." she faltered, how on earth could she explain herself? Then the answer was clear, as much of the truth as possible and she hoped she could trust him. Andre was the key to her future career and she needed to tread carefully.
She continued, "I can see I need to tell you...I...I miscarried over the spring holiday."
She paused and watched Andre's face contort in confusion and disbelief.
"But...that would mean that you had...no April. That is not possible. Your innocence was intact, I know it. You would have moved differently. I know it sounds bizarre but I would have known."
She was puzzled at how intuitive he was, at how he knew her, when she really had shared so little with him, beyond the instruction and learning of dance.
"I know it sounds impossible, but it is true."
He sat in the chair near her and studied her. His eyes drifted over her body. He shook his head. "I don't understand. The other piece of this that puzzles me is your body is the same, lean and hard muscled like it should be. You have only been gone for three weeks. The pregnancy itself makes no sense, but the way you dance is as if you have not been dancing for months. It’s impossible.
She sucked in a hard breath. "I cannot explain. Please, you must trust me when I say that I am well, that I will work hard to get back to where I was. I want this. I want my dream...I....I need it Andre, please."
She touched his arm gently. She was pleading. He had the power to kick her out of school. She felt so embarrassed that he thought her and Peter...out of wedlock...but to tell him they were married would make it worse. Married women were not allowed to attend school here. Plus there was no license, no way to prove it was legal here. What a mess she was in. She desperately wished for Peter.
He sat searching her eyes and finally spoke. "April, you have so much talent. Making your dream come true has been my dream as well. I long to see my students succeed, even though I may not always appear that way. I will keep this between us. If the administration discovered that you had been pregnant, well, the dream would be over. Promise me you will work hard. And it will be difficult. You are different now, you know that don't you?"
She nodded with tears of gratefulness and also frustration. She had felt the difference in herself when she practiced in Narnia. But with Andre's help she could turn that difference into something even better, more powerful than what she had before. Determination filled her and she smiled.
"Yes, I will work harder than I have ever worked and we will succeed!"
He stood and smiled back at her. "Okay then, you have 4 days to finish recuperating. Meet me here on Saturday and be prepared."
"Thank you! Thank you so much!" April tried not to gush and couldn't resist hugging him.
He laughed and let her go quickly. "Just become a star. That will be all the thanks I need."
April was exhausted. She was dancing and training harder than she ever had. But her dancing was coming back, the stamina reappeared and technically she was great. There was however, a spark that was lacking, a love for dance that she seemed to have left in Narnia. She poured out her thoughts once again on paper to Peter. He had not been writing back. She knew he was hurt and upset but she was honestly just too busy and physically exhausted to think too much about it. It had only been two weeks since she returned to school. Surely, he would write to her soon.
She folded the letter and moved to snuff the candle. When she couldn't sleep at night, she would write to Peter. This night a sleepy voice called to her.
"April, you need to rest. You are working so hard, you will get sick if you don't get some sleep."
"Cassidy, sorry that I woke you. I just can't sleep. I...I miss him so much!" A sob caught and she tried to push it away, crying only made it worse. She knew that from experience.
"Oh April," Cassidy came over and hugged her friend. "Why don't you go see him? Perhaps your letters have not reached him. Perhaps he is hurting over what happened to you as much as you are?"
"He is stubborn Cassidy and I can only handle so much. I cannot take care of his emotions and mine too right now. When he is ready he will come to me."
Cassidy was silent and April knew she didn't agree with her. What she didn't know was that Cassidy was going to take action and very soon.
"Mathinson! Wake up man. You can't sleep on the job!"
Edmund's voice was clipped and harsh. His fellow student woke suddenly and looked through the wooden framed window in the lobby and sneered.
"I can if I want Pervertsie, er...excuse me Pevensie."
Peter walked up in time to see Edmund's eyes narrowed, face red and fists clenching. He had heard what the miscreant Robert Mathinson had said and had also taken offense. That he and Edmund were different from the other boys was obvious, but Mathinson and his gang had taken the teasing to a new level. When Peter put it into perspective, though he knew they would never resort to physical bullying, there would be no contest and all of them knew it. Besides, a confrontation would result in the Pevensies having to find a new school for trying not to kill the offensive boys.
"What's going on here?" he commanded.
He saw Mathinson cringe but still the boy sneered, "Oh look, here comes big brother to the rescue. Eddy here is upset because he doesn't have any mail."
"I am upset because Peter does not have any mail. I know for a fact that he should have many letters and there has not been one since spring holiday. You are charged to sort the mail. If I find that you have indeed been keeping mail from us, I will go to Dean Sanders. You know that is an offense punishable by law-"
Mathinson's raucous laughter cut Edmund off. "You are such the pretty boy. You should be a Barrister. There are no letters here. Get over it and move along, others are waiting."
Edmund opened his mouth to speak again, but Peter steered him away from the window. "You'll only make it worse, Ed."
They walked back to their room in frustrated silence.
"That miserable excuse for a human," Edmund sputtered. "If only I could challenge him to a duel that would teach him!"
Peter actually laughed at Edmund's vehement hatred of their fellow student. Back in their room now they felt comfortable to speak in those terms.
"I know, or, put him to work with the dwarves in the darkest foundry, right? That worked quite a few times back then."
Peter sighed. Thinking about Narnia was both good and bad. While it drew the brothers together, it depressed him further because now April was a part of his Narnian memories.
"I will try again tomorrow Pete, when that idiot is not there. I know she has written you."
"Stop Edmund. Why would she? She is blameless in all of this. It is I who am at fault. I should be the one writing her."
The next evening Peter got back to the room late and found Edmund pacing like a caged tiger.
"There you are! Finally! Where have you been?" Edmund demanded.
"I stopped at the gym and put in a few rounds in with Master Kai."
Ed scoffed at him, "Oh? Getting up at blasted five o'clock in the morning isn't enough torture training for you? Or is it that you actually enjoy hearing the rumors that circulate about all the time we spend with him?"
"Come off it, Ed. I don't care what these infants think and neither do you. Now, why are you looking like a tiger who has lost its meal?"
"I got a letter from Cassidy today."
Edmund sighed, "You know, April's roommate?"
That got Peter's attention. "Cassidy! Why would she write to you? Is there something wrong with April?"
"Here. Read it for yourself. She is worried, obviously."
Peter quickly scanned the short letter. Cassidy was indeed worried about April. She was sleeping little and training hard. There was a sadness about her that Cassidy didn't understand. He looked up. She hadn't confided in her, not even a little? How was April dealing with the stress alone? He shook his head as guilt overcame him.
Edmund was staring at him and he snapped. "Stop, Ed. Just stop! She needs time. I need time. When she writes to me, I will know how to respond to her. She doesn’t want to see me, since she hasn't written yet. And I am tired of talking about it!"
Peter slammed out of the room and went for a run. He couldn't stay in the room any longer. He knew that Ed was only trying to help, but he didn't want his help. Not this time.
Edmund did not speak of April again. Peter was grateful for the silence and found it simpler to just not talk about it anymore. He threw himself into his studies knowing his time at University was coming soon. He was ready to be done with this school and move on with life. However miserable it was going to be.
Two weeks later he received a letter from home. His father said there were papers that needed to be signed for the University and asked that he come home over the weekend. Peter sighed and penned a note saying that he would.
That night he lay in bed trying to not think about her. It was impossible. In the quiet and in the dark his memory betrayed him and all he could think about was their time in Narnia. It was a torture he was used to. Every time he came back from Narnia the memories of his time there would grow stronger, or perhaps because memories were all he had, he would go over and over them, so they wouldn't disappear. These memories were sweet torture. Her lovely face, her wonderful body and the physical passion they had shared were thoughts that his mind and body could not forget, nor did he want to. Deny as he might to Edmund, he missed her. Missed her so desperately that he couldn't sleep.
Peter woke suddenly and groaned, he was sweaty, and...sticky? Ugh! Curse this young body! Unfortunately his groan had been audible and Edmund, a notoriously light sleeper, heard him.
"Yeah, sorry Ed."
"You were moaning."
"So what was it about? If you are going to wake me up like this multiple times a week, I should at least get to know some details."
"Are you crazy? Go back to sleep!"
"Come on Pete, let me live vicariously here. Do you know how hard it is to be a grown man stuck in an almost 14 year old body?"
"Yes! As a matter of fact, I do! But, I am not going to have you lusting after...my wife."
Peter almost choked on the last words. It was what she was, but it was hard to think about after almost 6 six weeks of not having seen her.
"No problem, I have plenty of faces that I can substitute, besides April is too tall and blonde for me. I like shorter, curvy brunettes."
"Fine, if you will shut up and let me sleep! She was dancing for me. Are you happy?"
"No...clothed or unclothed? And dancing how?"
Peter sighed, "She was clothed at first. She danced the way she knows how best, ballet. But it was slow and entrancing, more sensual. It was always just for me, she would never dance that way in front of anyone else. These are memories Ed, not fantasies. Don't you dare tell anyone or make fun of me. Or I will wake you up every night, with ice water down your neck!"
"Ha! Understood. See, it was good for you to share. You never talk about her. Why don't you just call her, go see her?"
"I can't! It's...complicated."
"No, you are just being stubborn. Didn't you say you are going home this weekend to sign some papers for University? You will just a short bus ride away, you could-"
"Yes. No! I can't Edmund, I can't stand to see her sad, knowing that I caused her pain. I can't take it. I don't know how we are going to get through this."
"Well, you won't until you try!"
"Shut it, Ed!" Peter got up and went over to his desk, turning on a small lamp. "If you are not going to let me sleep, I might as well get some work done."
"You mean, write to her, again?"
"Fine. Yes. Where is my journal?"
"You mean the one with all the letters you pretended not to write and would never mail over the last six weeks? I...sent it to her."
"You what?" Peter roared.
Edmund sat up. "Shh! You are going to get us reprimanded. Yes, sometime love needs a little help and in your case, you both need a lot. I wrote Cassidy back and we developed a plan."
Peter gurgled a noise but Edmund cut him off. "She is your gift Peter and you are squandering it! She needs to know how you feel. If you are not brave enough to show her, then I thought I would. Don't worry, I put in a note telling her that I did it without your knowledge."
"You are in so much trouble. I could throttle you...If we were in Narnia I would throw you in gaol, or send you in the Western Wilds to fend for yourself."
"If we were in Narnia, High King Peter, then we wouldn't be in this predicament, now would we?"
As usual Edmund was right and he could never outsmart him in a game of wits. It wasn't worth the energy to fight with him. Peter turned off the light and sank back on the bed dejected and settled for honesty.
"It's hard to breathe without her Edmund." He sighed. "Sometimes when I think about her...I just can't move. I've lost my child and now my...wife. She doesn’t want me, or else she would have written to me, come to see me. We are only a 45 minute train ride apart. I know the war department discourages frivolous trips, but the rail line goes both ways!"
"Now you are being prideful and stubborn. You are letting your anger at yourself take control. You are better than this Peter."
Peter snapped off the light and said harshly, "Go back to sleep Edmund, and don't think or dream about my wife!"
"Yes, Your Majesty!"
Peter grunted. He could hear Edmund's smirk even in the pitch black darkness of their room. What was he going to do now?
Anyone else getting frustrated with Peter? He is a bit stubborn, yes? I must say Edmund is great. So much fun to write. The snarky sarcasm is a perfect opposite to Peter’s serious nature. Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week!
Chapter 10: Missing Pieces
Chapter song: “No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBKnpyoFEBo)
(A/N: Sorry this update was delayed. This chapter is dedicated to all of the mother's out there. May we all have the courage to be generous in caring and perhaps a little devious along the way. ;) Because of the delay another chapter will follow this one soon. It could be the one we have been waiting for... Happy reading!)
"April," a voice lilted," you have a visitor in the lobby."
April looked up from her desk turning toward the door but the messenger was already gone. Her heart leapt into her throat. Who would be visiting her? Could it be...Peter?
With that thought her heart dropped back into place and starting beating a steady rhythm of thumps that felt like it was trying to leap out of her chest. She slowly went down the stairs and moved cautiously into the lobby.
She wasn't sure whether to sigh with relief or cry from frustration when she saw Helen, Peter's Mother. She supposed it was the closest she could get to him.
"Oh, April, Love!" Helen pulled April into her arms and April chose to sigh. It was good to feel comfort from someone who knew everything and yet still cared.
"I've come to get you for dinner. Are you free?"
"Of course. Let me get my things."
"Mr. Pevensie is away working. I thought we could go to the little tea room down the street."
April's smile was genuine. "That would be lovely."
Inside the tea room April felt safe and again comforted as Helen's sweet face with an expression so like her son, turned to her with love and concern.
"How are you, love?"
April swallowed back the tears and talked about her dancing, her health, anything but Peter. Helen smiled and nodded and yet looked puzzled and concerned as she gently questioned April and discovered that Peter had been silent.
They parted ways with a heartfelt hug and a promise extracted from April that she would come to dinner on Friday. April cringed at the thought of being in that house without Peter, but she was ready for any semblance of home.
The next day Cassidy came puffing into the room with a package. She thrust it at April and looked at her expectantly.
April frowned and wondered at Cassidy's worrying of her lip with her. Hm, she is up to something. Taking the package she gasped when she saw Edmund's name and emptied the envelope to find a note and Peter's journal. The book fell from her shocked hands and she turned to find Cassidy looking nervous.
"Cassidy...." she said narrowing her eyes.
"What? I just, um, well. I knew you would want this package, so I got it for you."
"What do you know?"
"Oh, I um...why don't you read the note?"
April picked up the note and scanned Edmund's scrawl quickly. Her eyes turned angry. "Peter doesn't know he sent this? It is not my place to read this. I will not!"
"April, please. It is full of letters that he never sent you. Now you will know how he feels and you can be happy again."
"Cassidy!" April looked at her friend closely. Cassidy looked guilty. "How do you know that?"
"I..." Cassidy's expression turned sheepish as she busied herself about the room avoiding April's question.
"Oh, all right! I wrote to Edmund."
April sank to the bed in disbelief. "You did what?" she breathed.
Cassidy sat beside her and touched her arm. "April, I have been so worried about you. Edmund is concerned about Peter too. We thought this might be a way..."
She trailed off at April's tear filled eyes. April looked at the floor. Cassidy said in a sad voice, "Give it a chance April, at least read the last entry. It might help."
The next sound was the door closing softly as Cassidy left April to her thoughts and Peter's words.
April gingerly picked up the journal from the floor as if it might burn her fingers from just a touch. Could she read Peter's thoughts? Were they really meant for her? She stared at the brown leather bound book for a long time. Peter had let her read his journals in Narnia, surely he wouldn't mind now. Her fingers traced the binding gently, just touching something she knew he had touched recently quickened her heart. It was growing dark so she turned on the lamp and sat back on her pillows. As she opened the book she saw her fingers were trembling. Taking Cassidy’s advice she immediately turned toward the back of the book.
I wonder if I can even call you that now. It is been too long since I have seen your face. Even now I cannot get the courage to even send you the letters that I cannot help but to write. These last few weeks have been torture for me. I know they must have been for you as well, and I am deeply sorry. With every day that goes by I cannot help but feel guiltier because I am hurting you further. I miss you. I can write that here knowing you will not read it. I miss you terribly....
April gasped and a tear fell, almost hitting the paper. With blurred vision she blinked and continued.
...my heart aches when I think of you, which is constantly. I dream of you every night. I am lost here without you. Edmund would tell you I am a mess. I truly am driving him crazy. As you predicted I have been throwing myself into my studies, but that does not erase the thought of you. I have been training hard physically so I will be exhausted at the end of each day, but yet each night my body still aches for you. You are a part of me. It feels like half of my heart has been ripped out. I long to come to you, to beg your forgiveness and to be one with you again, but I cannot. I am a shell of man, you deserve more, much more...
Laying the book down April let the tears fall and felt the coldness around her heart melt away at his words. After finishing that letter she couldn't help but go to the one before. With each one she read, she told herself she would put it away and read no more. But while the cold indifference melted, she found herself becoming angrier at him than she had ever been. She couldn't stand to hear his self-loathing and rued his stubbornness. Once she threw the book across the room. Eyeing it like a ticking time bomb she refused to keep reading. That worked for a few minutes, but the book seemed to call to her and like an incredibly written novel, she couldn't resist turning page after page.
Soon she was to the very first letter. She was surprised that his journal contained only letters to her, thus her guilt over reading his private thoughts disappeared. She closed the book with a gentle hand and her heart broke. That first letter had reduced her to a puddle of tears and sadness for how much he was hurting. He needed Aslan so desperately. She longed to reach out and help him. She would strangle him first and then lovingly help to heal him. She curled up on her bed and wondered at that. She knew she was angry with him. She couldn't imagine being close to him again, like they were before. Thinking of what they had before brought more tears and she cried herself to sleep. She didn't hear Cassidy come in and never saw Cassidy's small smile at the sight of April asleep with her hand resting on the journal as if it were a treasure.
Chapter 11: Reckoning
Chapter song: “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhxELo-uD3c)
"Peter will you set the drinks on the table, please? We are ready to eat."
He sat at the table with his Mum and Dad, his Mum was still speaking, "It is so nice to have you home for a weekend."
He heard the clicking of the front door and a familiar voice coming closer saying, "I'm sorry I'm late, classes ran over and..."
Peter stared in shock as April stopped in the doorway just as stunned as he.
"April, dear. Come in, I figured you got held up. Please, take a seat," said Helen.
Peter recovered his manners and instinctively snapped into King mode, "Yes...April, here." He stood and held the chair next to him out for her. He hated how formal he sounded, but his brain just wouldn't work. She was breathtakingly beautiful and he was having trouble breathing now that he was next to her.
"Thank you, Peter," she said graciously, regally, and he instantly saw the Queen in her once again.
She sat next to him and while he was less than a foot away, it was as if they were miles apart. She began making polite conversation with his parents. He was staring at his plate, numb and confused by the sensations that she was bringing up within him. The sight of her; the light smell of her perfume, orange blossoms and ginger that reminded him of her soap scent in Narnia; and, her light, but strained laugh that echoed of brighter times and happier days when he could make her laugh so easily were making him....feel. He looked closely at her. She looked thinner than before and pale. Was she taking care of herself?
His Dad asked him a question, and he had to repeat it. His father shot him a look of pity. Had his Mum planned this on purpose? Is that why Edmund had sent his letters to her a week ago and mentioned this visit? He should have felt flattered that his family liked her enough to plan this. But instead it annoyed him. It sounded like April had been in contact with his parents, making him feel like an outsider in his own family. He could take care of his own affairs without their meddling.
Something April said snapped him out of his reverie. "I didn't know you were teaching a class!" he blurted out.
She turned to him, making eye contact for the first time, and lifted an eyebrow.
"How could you know, Peter? You haven't spoken to me in weeks," she said archly.
Then she stood and said graciously, "Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie, thank you so much for the lovely meal, but I have forgotten that I promised to meet with some students this evening and I must be returning to campus."
She got up and took her dishes to the kitchen. Peter felt a sharp kick to his shin.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"Go after her," his mother hissed, shooting him the 'do as I say, or you will live to regret it' look.
He sighed and pushed back his chair. He heard the front door click and had to run outside to catch her.
"Why, Peter? What on earth could you have to say to me?"
She had stopped and soon he was standing in front of her and found he didn't have any words at all.
"That's what I thought!" she turned and starting walking, her heels clicking quickly on the pavement.
He caught up with her as the houses turned to storefronts. There were quite a few people out on this Friday evening and some were eyeing them curiously.
Lightly taking hold of her arm he said, "Can we talk about this please?" He pulled her into the doorway area of a closed shop.
"I don't see what there is to talk about. Your silence speaks louder than anything could. Your letters were nice, but you never meant for me to read them. And seeing you now, I feel dumb for ever having thought you really missed me."
"I did...do miss you," he fumbled.
She stared at him, searching for something, waiting for more, but still he couldn't think. The emotions swirling around in his heart were too much to take in.
She shook her head at him. "Obviously, you are still angry with me for being relieved about the baby and I'm sure you still blame yourself for his death, which angers me to no end. Therefore, we should just do ourselves a favor and walk away."
She was pulling a little pouch out of her purse and placing it in his hand. His fingers felt the relief of her rings through the velvet. He looked at her hand, it was bare. When had she stopped wearing his ring? He was shocked. He didn't realize it had come this far.
"You still don't have anything to say to me?" her eyes welled with tears and he saw the mask of cool regalness slip ever so slightly and knew she still cared about him. Did he care about her? Yes! His frozen heart screamed, but his head was befuddled. She was turning away.
"Wait, please," he managed, gently turning her around. "Please, don't go. I...can't think. Can we at least go back to the house and talk about this?"
She hesitated and he saw the war between anger and love raging inside of her.
"Please, just for a bit. Let me talk to you and then you can leave if you wish."
She looked unsure but then nodded and said she would call the school to cancel her meeting when they arrived back at his house. They walked in silence. He desperately used that time to try to make sense of his thoughts and emotions, as if preparing for a difficult negotiation. What was he going to say to her? She was right. He felt angry and guilty. He killed their child and she was okay with it. How could they come back from that? Somewhere inside he knew that his thinking was flawed, but it was hard to listen to his heart.
They reached the house and let themselves in. It was quiet. He motioned her to the sofa and he popped into the kitchen. A note on the counter caught his eye. His parents were at the Sander's playing cards. They had forgotten to tell him that they were going out of town in the morning for the following week.
He went back into the living room with feelings of trepidation at what was to come. She was perched on the edge of the couch and he started to pace. He had to start somewhere.
"Are you really angry with me?"
"Yes, Peter. You refuse to believe that you are not responsible for the miscarriage. As usual, you take all the weight on your shoulders and chastise yourself for not protecting those you care about, even when the weight is not yours to carry."
"It is though!"
His voice was louder than he wanted it to be and he worked hard to control his frustration. They had this argument before. Before he left Sway to go back to school, before he abandoned his wife to the dark pit of sadness and despair that he had seen her sinking into before he left. Before he slipped into a pit of his own. Guilt was terrible burden to bear.
"How can I protect you when you are away from me, and then when you won't let me?"
"I won't let you? Did you even bother to find out how I was doing? You didn't care Peter!"
"That's not true!" he shouted, "I lov...I did...I do care, but nothing I could have done would have helped. I couldn't take us back to Narnia, I couldn't bring the child back. So, why...?"
She jumped to her feet and interrupted him, "Because I needed you, Peter. Not Narnia, not our son, just you! And you allowed school and grief to absorb your time and attention, and in your guilt and anger you forgot about me. Well, I can forget about you too!"
She stood up and looked so regal it hurt his heart. His queen, his beautiful queen, he was chasing her away.
He forced his voice to be gentler, "No, I didn't forget! Did you read the whole journal that Edmund sent?"
He saw that she had by her face. He saw a bit of her anger seep away.
He continued, "I couldn't contact you. I didn't think you would want to see me. I didn't know how to reach out, I thought you didn't care. I never heard from you, so I assumed you didn't want me."
"Never heard from me? Peter! How can you say that, I wrote to you constantly!"
Peter dropped onto the couch and put his head in his hands.
"I never got them," he forced out.
"I never got them."
She sat beside him. "How could you not receive my letters? Peter, you have never lied to me but I think you are now. If you don't want me you just need to say so."
A sob caught in her throat and she rose, moving to the door. Silent tears were running down her face. He watched her closely. It could have been over if she had truly hardened her heart against him, but she couldn't, he knew that. She had loved him even before they had met. Because of her family history, the dryad turned human generations ago, the one who loved him back during his first time in Narnia. It was in her genes, her very nature to care for him.
He stood too. "I am not lying April. I didn't know you still cared. I am so angry with myself, I assumed you were too."
That thought and her tears finally started to melt the ice around his heart. He went over to her, knowing he needed to touch her. It had been so long his hands trembled as they reached for her and barely touched her waist. She slowly and very hesitantly came close to him, almost as if she wasn't sure she could trust him. That, more than anything broke off the final parts of ice around his heart. She had always trusted him. He had let things go too far. They would have a long road ahead of them.
"I do want you," he whispered.
She laid her head on his shoulder and the floodgates opened and she sobbed against him. His arms tightened around her and he kissed her hair by reflex.
He had to take the first steps to fix this. As she began to calm, he spoke. "I love you April. I am a pompous, arrogant fool to stay away from you. Regardless of whether you wrote, I should have been man enough to approach you. I want us to be together. I am not ready to lose you, which makes me selfish too."
She pulled back and smiled through her tears. "Pompous and arrogant mean the same thing you know."
He grinned weakly. "Yes, well...then, I am doubly prideful and woefully mistaken. I have been angry with you, and you with me. You are right about the guilt. I do feel responsible. I also know I need to forgive myself. I just can't! Will you forgive me?
"Peter...you...there is nothing to forgive..."
He pulled back his eyes boring into hers with a flash of anger. "In my mind, there is. Will you forgive me or not? We cannot continue if you harbor the least bit of resentment for my not protecting you as I should have."
She touched his cheek. "No, Peter, I do not blame you at all. And yes, if you want my forgiveness, you have it. But you are only a man, a great man and a king but there are some things even you cannot do."
He drew her close, "Thank you, love, that helps more than you know. Perhaps with your help I can let this go. I know you feel dreadfully hurt. We need to talk through all of this, if you want to make the effort."
She nodded and he led her back over to the couch. She took his hand.
"What is it that you can't forgive yourself for?"
He stared at her with wide eyes at her directness. She continued, "It is the pirate attack? The brute hitting me? The Captain stabbing you with his sword? Peter, those are all circumstances that you couldn't control."
He shook his head, but she refused to stop.
"No! Listen to me, you did protect me, time and time again while we were in Narnia. If you think about it, I am at fault too. I could have insisted on greater security, more patrols. We both knew the danger we were in, we just forgot."
Her voice grew soft and wistful. She was more beautiful to him than ever in that moment. He was mesmerized just watching her.
"Peter, we just got caught up in the bliss of being married, of being at peace in those last few weeks. It was so difficult while we were there. We needed that time of rest and joy. It is not your fault that it ended Peter. It is not your fault that we came back to our world. You have to let it go!"
Her eyes were boring into his, such a beautiful shade of green. He hardly knew when she started to blur and he felt wet on his cheeks. He felt her arms around him pulling him close.
"That's it, Peter. You need to let it out. I am here."
"It is my fault," he choked.
"No, my love, it is not. Forgive yourself!"
At those tender words of love the dam broke and he cried for the first time since they returned from Narnia. He barely heard her soft words of comfort and what sounded like prayers. He calmed and rested against her. She had moved them to where her back was against the sofa and he was almost cradled in her lap. He took a deep breath and his senses were filled with her scent and a peace settled around him. He sighed at the feeling of release and knew that part of his battle was won.
He felt soft fingers brushing away the hair from his forehead. Her tender touch was like a balm.
"Better now?" she questioned.
He nodded and she smiled down at him. Tracing his cheeks and lips her fingers felt like silk. She sighed and looked away.
"I was so angry because you closed yourself off. I hate it when you do that. I lost a huge piece of us this time. I am not sure I can take it again, Peter."
He sat up quickly at the resignation in her voice. And turned her cheek to face him. His voice was solid and sure. "I am so sorry April. I know apologies are only words. Let me show you that it will be different now. I know you don't trust me and I understand why. But stay with me. With your help I can be different."
She sighed and shook her head, "I don't know..."
"Look, I know we need to talk about...the baby, and we will. We will talk about it all, I promise. Let's rebuild what we had together. You are too precious for me to lose. I can see that now."
She bit her lip in indecision and his eyes went there immediately. The urge to kiss her swept through him like a wave, but he waited. Instead he tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and ran his thumb over her cheek.
His smile was huge. In fact it felt strange to smile like that. It was like a warm wind had come to chase the dark clouds away. When her beautiful lips formed a radiant smile of her own he knew he was home. Not Narnia, not London, but simply with her...home.
Chapter 12: Reconciliation
Technically this chapter should be in April's POV, but I have to stay with Peter for this one. Enjoy! Just a little warning: things do heat up between them and get a little steamy. Chapter Song: Limbo by Ludovico Einaudi, Peter POV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y909t4hilUo
After what felt like hours Peter and April went into the kitchen. They were emotionally exhausted having worked through, sometimes not so calmly, his anger at her relief of not being pregnant in their world, her anger at his taking the blame for the miscarriage, and dealing with knowing he would have rather died and stayed in Narnia so their child could have lived.
He saw the note again and it hit him. He and April had the house to themselves, on purpose, planned by his parents! He shook his head in disbelief, and felt humbled and honored at their trust in him and love for them both. She, looking at the note, slipped her hand into his and squeezed. She flipped the paper over and he saw a note scrawled by his father, in a code his father created to play games with a much younger Peter and Edmund. Ed was always better at ciphering, which was probably why he excelled at it in Narnia. Peter remembered enough to figure this one out and went into his father's study. He was delighted by what he found there. At April's questioning, he said he would tell her later.
They got something to drink and stood looking at each other for a moment, tired and emotionally spent. But he had to make sure they were finished.
"Is there anything else we need to discuss to make things right between us?"
She shook her head. "There are some things I want to share with you. Aslan...Christ used your absence to cause me to trust in and depend on Him and I learned some things I need to talk with you about, but later. I'm tired of feeling right now."
He smiled a half smile at her. "Me too. So, what now?"
"I think I just need to be held by you, can we do that?"
"Of course, but let's go upstairs to the sitting room."
She started to move past him but he gently captured her arm. Surprised, she turned toward him. He couldn't help but stop her. It had just occurred to him what he almost lost and what he had again. He had to tell her, but how?
Her eyes were bright and sparkling as if she knew his struggle, making him lose speech for the millionth time that evening. All he could say was her name, "April." His voice was husky and his own blue eyes intense. He was like a man just rescued from the desert. He was parched and only she could quench his thirst.
He slowly pulled her into his arms. Her waist was so tiny in his large hand and he knew his grip tightened slightly as his other hand came around to her neck tenderly drawing her even closer. Her soft sigh was music to his ears as his eyes left hers and found her lips. Those lips that he knew were so sweet. Slowly he brought her to him and brushed his lips against hers. It was his turn to sigh as he pressed them gently onto hers reveling in the feeling of her again.
The electricity between them had not dimmed, in fact it was made brighter by their time apart and their struggle to find each other again. When she parted her lips the energy became even more brilliant as the passion built between them. He loved the feeling of her body against his, her lips so responsive, and her tongue dancing in perfect rhythm with his. It was bliss and love and all too soon desperation crept in. One of them moaned and she pulled back instantly looking panicked. The spell was broken and he knew it had been too much, too soon. Frustrated, he knew he had to move slower. He smiled gently at her to cover his feelings and led her up the stairs.
They settled in on the couch and he held her. It felt so nice to have her in his arms but his body wanted more. It was so difficult not to touch and kiss her where he wanted but she kept sending him signals that she was not ready. He began to get more than frustrated until it occurred him suddenly why she was acting like this.
He stood and held out his hand. Looking surprised she let him pull her off the couch. He hugged her close.
"Come on, it has been a long and emotional day, let's go to bed."
"But, Peter...I...I don't, I just..."
"Separately, love. My parents will be gone tomorrow and we will feel better after we sleep. It is okay. We will take all the time you need."
"I'm sorry...I mean, I know you..."
"It is okay, love," he said kissing her forehead. "We have lots of time."
She sighed and melted against him. "Thank you!"
He knew he had made the right decision. He pulled back to look into her eyes and said, "Don't ever forget that I love you...in spite of everything that has happened."
She gazed back at him in amazement and he realized what he had just said. Her eyes filled and her head bowed. "In spite of," she whispered. He pulled her close again in a deep hug. They both knew that Aslan had foreseen this trial for them. As curious as he was when Aslan first told him that he would need to love April...'in spite of', he would not have wanted to know what he had to go through to get to this place.
He walked her to her door and kissed her gently. "Sleep well," he whispered.
He was coming from the lavatory after readying for bed and almost ran into his Dad. His parents had just returned from their evening out.
"Hey, Dad. Thanks for your, um, gift and for giving us time this weekend. I really appreciate it. It will make things...easier."
"You're welcome son," his Dad looked at him curiously.
"We made a lot of progress tonight, but we still have a ways to go."
His father nodded and clapped him on the shoulder. "Just be patient, son. She'll come around. They always do."
Lying in his bed, frustrated and alone, he tried to sleep. He needed her, but he knew it had to be on her terms or he could do more damage to their relationship. He eventually slept, but awoke with a start hearing his door open. Ever since the pirate raid in Narnia he always jumped with alarm when someone entered his room in the night. He almost took Edmund's head off one night at school when Ed came in after studying late. This time he calmed quickly when he saw a glow of white in the dim hall light before the door closed again. His heart started beating quickly for a different reason when he heard her whisper.
"Peter? Are you awake?"
"Yes, love. Are you well?"
"Can I be near you?"
He moved over in his tiny twin-size bed and arranged the covers for her. She slipped in beside him and placed her back to his stomach. He draped his arm around her waist and pulled her into him. He sighed, very happy to have her close, especially since they were in his bed, but he pushed those thoughts aside. She was whispering.
"I don't know why I am being weird about this, I have never shied away from you before..."
And she was right. Even on their wedding day, she was responsive, almost eager and had very little hesitation since then.
"Don't be too hard on yourself. I know exactly what is happening."
"You do?" she asked, incredulous.
"You don't trust me, not like you used to. I hurt you and being the prideful fool I am, I almost let you walk away from me, from us. It will take time to rebuild that trust and as difficult as it might be, I am willing to wait until you are ready."
"Yes, I can see that. Thank you," she paused, "I love you, Peter."
His arm tightened around her as his heart constricted. It was so nice to hear her say those words again.
"And I love you."
Then they slept.
There was only one window in his room. Because of the war and with Edmund being such a light sleeper, his Mum had installed black out shades, so the room was very dim even for mid-morning. He heard his parents leave and felt a rush of exhilaration knowing they were alone. He was determined that she would not be grumpy when she woke. It had long been a joke and became a habit for him in Narnia to kiss her awake or to kiss her out of her natural inclination to wake up grumpy, since she was not a morning person. Now, how was he to accomplish that while staying true to his goal of letting her set the pace? He had to begin to rebuild the trust.
They had not moved much in the night, the bed was too small for that. He slowly moved her hair off her neck and gently kissed where her neck and shoulder met. He smiled remembering how he had discovered that spot. It was during the first night they had spent together on the sofa downstairs on that beautiful, but very platonic night. His heart skipped a beat when he remembered that it was also the first place he kissed her after they were married. She sighed and moved against him. Was she awake? He breathed on the spot and she moved again. He inwardly groaned, he really needed her.
"May I?" he whispered in her ear.
She nodded and he moved away more of her long blond hair, but her whole body tensed. So he took his time running his fingers through its soft silkiness for many minutes. She relaxed into him content with his gentle touch.
He said softly, "Let's play a game. You are the puppet-master and I am on the strings. This is your show. You tell me what to do, how to do it and I will obey. But, it is a building game. What has already been allowed can be done again and again. What do you think? Do you want to play? I know I said we would wait until you are ready, so if you say no, I will understand."
"But, you need me," she said quietly.
She was quiet and his pulse was hammering with anticipation. He had to do something to take the awkwardness away, to put her in control, and to take the pressure off. They had never played any games before.
"Yes," she said, "but, we will stop if I want us to, no matter where we are?"
She drove a hard bargain, but he had to agree.
"Yes, I know I need to earn your trust back and maybe this will help. So...what happens next in our game?"
"Kiss my neck, please?"
"Gladly!" he smiled. Only this time, he hovered over her translucent skin, slowly breathing onto the pulse point, enjoying seeing it speed up as he teased her ever so slightly. His lips were gentle and soft and then he moved to the spot he had already kissed, taking that little liberty only, seeing that it fit into the 'rules'.
That started things off nicely. She made sure he did things slowly, light touches, teasing caresses, slow and lengthy kisses. He was really enjoying himself, and he could tell she was happy with this arrangement too. She stayed relaxed and even laughed when he tickled her, on command of course. He kissed and touched exactly where and how she wanted and it was a wonderful lesson for him on how to woo her. They were at the point of almost no return for him when she suddenly stopped his hand with hers.
"I'm scared, Peter," she whispered.
"Of what, love?" he breathed.
"Of getting pregnant, I couldn't handle that again," her voice broke.
"Shh, love. It is okay." He sat up and pulled 'the gift' out of his nightstand. Her eyes opened wide.
"I should have showed you earlier," he said, handing her the box. "They are from the PX, army issue. These are your...'precautions'...as you phrased them, before we were married in Narnia."
Her sigh of relief was audible. "Do we know how to use them?"
"We will certainly find out!"
He laid her back on the bed and came down next to her. She smiled and breathed, "Kiss me Peter."
"Where?" he asked mischievously wiggling his eyebrows.
She laughed and brought his face to hers, "Here!" she whispered against his lips and kissed him.
They finished the game, both very satisfied with the outcome and both feeling like winners. He was stroking her hair again and she was stretched out against him, her head on his chest. He hoped they could play this again sometime with him directing her.
He ventured, "Do you think we could play again, later?"
"Definitely!" she said turning to look at him.
He saw a devious gleam in her eye and a coy look on her face. "But first, I happen to remember a certain someone saying in Narnia that he liked to sing in the shower?"
Chapter 13: 2nd Honeymoon, Part 1
Perhaps just a little steamier, after all they have showers in London, but still nothing explicit. April's POV - Chapter song: You And I - Bing Crosby, 1941 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ndV80n7CFA
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
April wondered if she and Peter were doing the right thing by staying physically intimate. If she hadn't had the miscarriage maybe they would have gotten married as soon as they came back, but it was pointless to wonder about those kind of 'what ifs'. Her parents had left the decision up to them and obviously Peter's parents did too. She wondered if they had talked of it together, she was sure they had.
In her heart she knew she and Peter wouldn't be able to stay away from each other, they had been too close, too 'married' in Narnia. There was no way they could go back to doing nothing, and perhaps their parents were wise not to force them to stay apart. She could see where it might do damage to their physical relationship later.
She smiled a slow dreamy smile thinking about this morning. She had missed his touch so much and he been so gentle and understanding of her misgivings. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back under the water. She ran a hand down her body reliving his touch. Where was he? He was supposed to join her.
"Peter?" she called with her eyes still closed.
"Here," he said, much closer than she expected.
Her eyes flew open and she jumped, almost slipping. He was standing at the edge of the shower watching her with a very contented look on his face. He stepped into the tub and drew her close.
"You are a beautiful sight for these very sore eyes."
She sighed, "I have missed looking at you too."
He pushed her back under the water and kissed her long and deep. She melted against him awash with sensation. The shower was a long one full of intimate touches and kisses. He washed her hair which was absolutely lovely, and then he washed the rest of her. She washed him as well. It was different than bathing with him in the small pits of hot springs that had been carved out of the rock under the castle at Cair Paravel in Narnia. That had been wonderful in its own way, but this shower, meant they were back in England, together. It was helping to cement her to him, here, in this world, something she had really struggled with and needed desperately. There was much they still needed to discuss and the adjustments to being back in Spare Oom was one of them.
It was wonderful to be alone, really alone with him. Privacy in Narnia was merely an illusion, although the good beasts were kind and sensitive enough to pretend they didn't see or hear anything.
Peter broke into her thoughts by softly singing into her ear. "Darling, you and I, know the reason why, a summer sky is blue, and why all birds in the trees sing melodies too. And my love will grow from the first hullo until the last goodbye. So to sweet romance, there is just one answer, you and I."
"Oh Peter! You have a beautiful voice!"
He knew just how to make her melt, and his singing to her was on her list of things she had always dreamed of him doing.
"It's nothing special," he said almost embarrassed.
"Don't be silly, you should sing more, especially to me."
He smiled and hugged her close. She started humming the tune, a popular one by Bing Crosby called 'You and I'. He sung the song again, and soon they were singing together in the shower. It was so much fun and amazingly made her feel even closer to him. Life, at least in this moment, was absolutely wonderful, even perfect!
She walked into his bedroom as he was pulling his t-shirt over his head.
"You're getting dressed?" she asked raising an eyebrow.
His own eyebrows shot up, "You're not?"
She held out her hand and he looked confused for a millisecond then grinned and handed her the shirt. She put it on and he groaned.
"You really know how to push my buttons, but I'm starving!"
She smiled a sweet but knowing smile at him, "I know," she simply said.
She loved being able to please and tease him at the same time. Why not just wear his t-shirt? They were alone after all. She looked at him, he bent down to grab the trousers of his pajamas, and the muscles actually rippled in his shoulders and upper back. She had noticed in the shower that he looked even more built.
"Peter? What have you been doing while we were apart?"
She looked at his chest and walked over and traced some of the new definitions. He caught his breath.
"Oh...martial arts. Come on, let's go fix breakfast and I will explain. We have a lot of catching up to do."
He took her hand and led her down the stairs, into the kitchen. His parents had left the house as if no one would be there, the shades were mostly pulled and the lights off. She started moving around the kitchen turning on small lights and getting ready to fix breakfast. She had spent some time in this kitchen and knew her way around. She stopped and looked at him, he was staring at her.
"Peter...if you want to eat, you are going to have to help and not just enjoy the view." She laughed, pleased that he liked to look at her.
He started to help and as they worked he began to talk.
"I was so angry when I left you. It turns out our physical education instructor had to leave due to the war and was replaced by a Mr. Kai. I have come to know him as Master Kai. My anger tinged everything I did, I rarely smiled or made eye contact. Edmund says that I had an edge to me that was razor sharp and people just shied away from me. Poor Ed, I really owe him an apology. I'm afraid he got the worse end of my grief."
She went over to him. "Are you angry now?"
"No, I feel better, more 'in balance' as Master Kai would say. In fact one day during the first week I was back. I pushed myself so much harder than the others, he pulled me aside and asked why I was angry. I couldn't believe it, no one else, who knew me before the spring holiday had noticed. For some reason I knew I could trust this stranger, so I told him my fiancée had a miscarriage and I wasn't dealing well with it. Just saying it out loud helped, all he did was nod and said meet him the next morning at 6:00 a.m."
He thought for moment, then continued, "And I did. I didn't care about classes, homework, other people, but I cared enough to show up. He started to train me in mostly in what people refer to Kung Fu, Chinese martial arts. It was very cathartic, and it helped me to focus the anger so I could function. I loved the discipline of it and worked at it harder than he expected. It reminded me of so many of our trainers in Narnia and it was a relief to use my body and not to have to think about you, or the...baby. So I guess there is evidence of the training."
She stopped what she was working on and came over placing her hands on his chest. "I'm glad you found something to help you. I was worried. You were so stoic those last few days. It was like you had locked away your emotions."
"I did. As I said last night, it was one of the reasons I couldn't come to see you. I couldn't face you and not think about it. I couldn't see how I would be able to function if I thought about it."
"What about now?" she asked cautiously.
"I needed to hash it out with you to make it better, I see that now. And I am so glad my family forced me to. Without you my world is so dark."
She moved her hands up his chest and around his neck thus raising the t-shirt up. He growled as his hands moved down.
"You are driving me crazy in this shirt, you know that don't you?"
"I'm sorry," she said in a way that said that she wasn't and pulled his head down to kiss her. His hands moved further down and around her. And, she found she was hungry, not only for breakfast but for his touch and his kiss. It was some time before they remembered the breakfast they were cooking. The smell of burning biscuits jolted them apart and she heard him chuckle as she rushed to rescue their food.
"Why are you laughing?"
"I was just thinking what I wouldn't give for a kitchen and service staff that would bring food to our door like before."
She smiled at that and agreed.
"Are you going to sit on my lap and feed me like before as well?"
She shot him a coquettish look that made him take steps toward her, and simply said, "Maybe..."
They ate mostly in silence, glancing at each other. When he caught her eye she could not look away. He was sending her a message that made her knees go weak. To regain her sense of balance she decided to tease him some more. She waited until he was almost done eating then stretched her leg out under the table and found his. His eyes opened wide.
She said in a low teasing voice, "You know, Peter, perhaps we should get out of the house a bit today, go shopping, and see the sights. Would you like that?"
"Perhaps someone should think about what they are doing before teasing so much?"
"Oh, is someone teasing you, your Majesty?" she smiled.
Looking at his eyes she saw them light and then turn glittery. She had seen them like that only a few times before, and it made her catch her breath. He slowly stood and came around to her side of the table. She stood up too and he quickly pulled her close.
Low into her ear he spoke. "Two can play at this game, and believe me when I say you will be begging the King for leniency before we are through."
Heat shot through her body and she was lost. Lost in his embrace, in his kiss, in the passion he poured into her. Barely aware of anything but his lips caressing hers, the touch of his warm strong hands running over her body, his whisper of words against her ear that spoke of the things he had planned for her, things meant to reduce her to putty in his adept hands. His strong arms lifted her up and she wrapped her legs around him powerless to do anything but hold on. Eventfully he placed her on the couch and was relentless in his pursuit of her pleasure, and truly ruthless in his efforts to bring her to the brink that she did indeed have to beg him for release. With kingly bearing he granted her request proving as he had said in Narnia, he was indeed 'ruthless, but never cruel'.
He held her close as she floated languidly in his embrace. She laughed and turned to him, laughing again as his smug look turned to surprise at the change of her mood.
"I love your games, Peter Pevensie, and I love you. But you had better watch out, because you never know when I might exact this same vengeance upon you!"
He laughed and kissed her. "I look forward to it, my Queen."
Part 2 of this chapter…coming soon.
Chapter 14: Part 2, Second Honeymoon
An extra-long chapter for you. If you like to play the song while you are reading wait until the cue later in the chapter. Chapter song: You Go to My Head by Ella Fitzgerald (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XS0v0lIzrg). More reconnecting... April’s POV.
"We should talk about our wedding."
"All right..." Peter said hesitantly.
They were in the kitchen cleaning up from breakfast. He leaned against the counter and she noticed his appraising look. She smiled at him and came over to him, putting her hands around his neck. He smiled into her eyes.
"I'm just ready for the day when I don't have to be separated from you."
She sighed, "Me too."
"Tell me what you are thinking about."
"Well, I haven't thought much about it, since...well, I wasn't sure it was going to happen."
She started to pull away, but he held onto her. He lifted her chin and she couldn't help the tears welling in her eyes as she remembered handing her rings back to him.
"Oh, my love...I am sorry that I gave you cause to doubt my love for you. I never stopped loving you, you know that don't you?"
She nodded, "I know that now."
His arms tightened. "I just got a little lost along the way, but I meant every word of those letters!"
"Wait, right here."
He let go of her and she sank into a chair feeling confused and unsure again. She wanted to believe his words. But it was hard to let go of the hurt.
"I'm back," he puffed, from having vaulted up and then back down the stairs.
He stood in front of her and caught his breath, then knelt down in front of her chair and opened his hand to reveal the velvet pouch she had handed him with her rings.
"Oh, Peter. No. Stand up, please!" she exclaimed, trying to rise, but he was in her way.
He looked confused and slightly hurt, he rose slowly to his feet.
"Please don't propose again. Twice is plenty! Both of your proposals are very special to me. Please don't cheapen them," she exclaimed.
Images flashed through her mind of his asking her to marry him on spring holiday just moments before they discovered the shimmering magic that took them to Narnia. Then, once there he had asked her to be his Queen.
He was frowning at her. "Then how do I fix this? How do I make you happy again?"
They stood opposite each other not touching and she felt the distance between them.
"Just be patient, Peter...not your strongest ability, I know, but like you said it will take time. But we will fix it together. Just talk to me, hold me and love me, like you already know how to do."
He stepped forward then and took her hand. He led her into the living room and sat on the couch, she sat next to him and he pulled her close.
"Okay, let's talk about the ceremony. Do you still want it to be in the gardens at your home?"
"Yes," she smiled. "Just a few people, mainly family..."
She started thinking of all the details that had to be worked through for their very large, very traditional wedding celebration they had in Narnia and a thought brightened her eyes.
"Peter!" she exclaimed sitting forward, she turned to him and saw his smile in response to hers. "We should have a Narnian wedding!"
"When we were in Narnia, we had a large traditional ceremony. I don't want that here. I'll wear a simple dress and Lucy can braid a crown of flowers into my hair."
Her tone had grown very wistful, and she saw Peter's eyes soften as he watched her animated chattering. His hand went to her hair gently touching the soft curls, she was distracted for a moment.
"Go ahead...flowers in your hair"
"We will keep the food simple, the flowers can come from the garden, and perhaps the vicar can be convinced to marry us..."
She could see him trying to follow her random train of thought, she worried her lip with her teeth some.
"What is it? Will he not marry us?"
"We are just so young. They will assume...."
Putting his hands on her waist he angled her towards him. "Let them assume! We and our families know the truth. If he won't perform the ceremony, surely your parents know someone who will. And if not Edmund can do it."
She looked at him puzzled, and he smiled. "That was one of his duties in Narnia, as a 'justice of the peace' as we would call him here. He could do the ceremony and we could do the paperwork here in London when we get back. Of course, our parents will have to sign for us. How frustrating to be in this young body!"
"Hey!" she chided, "I happen to love your young body, so none of that. We won't worry about that part anymore. Let's see, what else? Oh yes, we can stand in front of the arbor and maybe we can set up some chairs in grassy spot for the guests, or perhaps they can sit on blankets. You will want Edmund to stand up with you, right?" At his nod, she continued, "You and Edmund can wear simple shirts and slacks, maybe a sports jacket, but no tie."
She laughed at his look of relief. "And, we should go barefoot! I want Lucy to stand with me. I know she will love that!"
"She will be delighted, what about music?"
"Oh, I have a friend who plays guitar beautifully, I will write and ask her to play for us."
"Good, there is a song I want played, do you think I could write to her as well?"
She touched his cheek, he was so thoughtful, and she said very softly, "Yes, that would be fine."
He gently moved her to where she was sitting on his lap, facing him, legs straddling his. He sighed and kept his hands on her waist.
She was the one who asked what she was sure was on both of their minds. "What about afterwards?"
His grip on her waist tightened slightly and he slid her closer moving his hands to her hips. Her hands wound around his neck.
He spoke slowly, "I have thought about that, a lot."
She laughed and he grinned. "Your house will be full of people, the inn in town will be too crowded with the tourists. I was thinking that Ed and I would camp in the woods before the wedding. My internship will start the Monday after the ceremony so we won't even have a few days to ourselves, and no money to go to the shore and stay for the night. So how would you feel about camping with me...in the grove?"
She was silent and a flicker of sadness passed through her eyes, but then it cleared and she nodded, moving her face closer to his. "We could take food and supplies and..."
"Stay as long as we want," he breathed against her lips.
"Hmm..." she sighed as he kissed her slowly and with purpose. She melted against him dreaming of the day when they could be together all the time and not be separated.
As much as she enjoyed kissing him, her thoughts were still going on about the wedding, she pulled back and he looked at her with a question in his eyes.
"We should go upstairs," she said silkily.
"Oh?" he said with eyebrows raised and grin starting on his face.
"Yes," she said decidedly. "I bet you have already outgrown your clothes from the fall. We need to see if there is anything here that will fit you for the wedding."
The grin died. "You want me to get dressed?"
"Yes!" She said more forcefully, climbing off of his lap, and tugging on his hand to get him to stand up. "Oh, come on. It could be fun!" she lilted and raised an eyebrow at him.
He perked up at that and allowed her to pull him up and then decided to chase her up the stairs for good measure. She ran into his room and he tackled her landing them both onto his bed. Laughing, he tickled her until she couldn't breathe and then looked into her eyes. Breathing hard, and heart racing she looked back and saw the depth of his emotions for her. She pulled him down and kissed him then pushed away.
"This is not finding you any clothes. Let's go, High King. I want you to look...magnificent for our ceremony," she teased.
His look turned indigent, then playful and she skillfully avoided his grasp as he tried to keep her on the bed with him. Walking over to his closet, she looked inside.
"Peter, there is nothing here. Where are your clothes, at school?"
He nodded. "What little I have that actually fit. Come, let's see what my Dad might have."
She followed him into his parent’s room feeling a little guilty, like a small child playing somewhere that is forbidden. "Should we be in here, Peter?"
He looked at her curiously. "There will be no other source to find any clothes. My Mum said there were some of Dad's older things she was saving for me."
He started to rummage through the closet and pulled some items out. She sat on the bed and fingered them.
"What does your Dad do for the military?"
"I'm not really sure, something in intelligence I know. He was a professor of sorts before the war started, and at the beginning of the war he was stationed in France. He is now based in London, but as you know he travels a lot. Mum alluded to the fact that he would have to be gone more, perhaps be stationed somewhere else. I always assumed he was a strategist. It is the only reason why I could figure that strategy came so naturally to me in Narnia. I had to have gotten it from somewhere."
"What do you think?" He was talking as he was trying on clothes and he was dressed simply in navy dress pants, with a belt, white button down shirt and a khaki tweed sports jacket. Looking in the mirror he said, "Ugh, it looks too much like my uniform!"
"Here try this," she said holding up a black coat and pants. It looks a little formal, but if you don't wear a tie and unbutton this button too, it will look more casual."
She stood up and came over to him and unbuttoned the second button on his shirt giving him a more casual, rakish look. Their eyes met and she remembered when she did the same thing the last time they had dressed up and gone out dancing. His eyes lit and he reached for her.
"Oh no!" She laughed, "Not until we finish. This tweed coat is just a tag snug in the shoulders, she ran her hand over it to emphasize the point and pushed the jacket off of him. He took a deep breath and she smiled holding the other jacket out for him to shrug into. It was a perfect fit. He turned to look at her and she caught her breath.
"Nice," she said and held out the pants, "now...try these too."
He started to unbuckle his belt and her attention was riveted to his fingers. She swallowed hard. Strange that such a small thing should affect her so much. He was sliding his pants off and she thought how attractive he was in his tight briefs. She took a deep breath. She had seen him in various state of undress all day, but now...she had to look away. She felt him pause.
"April? Are you all right?"
He came over to her and she found she was trembling and didn't want to meet his eyes. This weekend, here in England, being together, was overwhelming all of a sudden. She felt the bed move and then a finger was under her chin lifting her face to look at him. Concern was written on his face, and she felt tears well in her eyes.
"What is it love?"
She shook her face free of his gentle touch. "I think it just caught up with me that we are together, here, acting married, in England doing such commonplace things as changing clothes in front of each other. I hoped, I dreamt of this. I just wasn't sure we would get here..."
She found herself folded in his strong arms. "April, my April, we are married and, of course we would get here….Speaking of changing clothes do you remember the first time you undressed me?"
She nodded, moved back and smiled at him. "How could I forget? I was bold and brave until we got to this stage," she waved her hand over his lower half, still in his undergarments, "then I completely lost my nerve."
"You were so sweet. I will never forget that day, how special you made me feel. Remember how I said it was like all the Christmas' and Birthdays wrapped up in one beautiful package?"
She nodded and he gently touched her cheek. "April, you are my gift, you always have been. These last few weeks Edmund has reminded me constantly of that and he chided me for squandering it. I have been blind and selfish."
"Peter, please stop apologizing. You are my gift too. The only one I have ever wanted. It is just going to take a while to get used to this, to us, here in England. But, I like it, very much."
She raised her eyes and gave him a smile. He kissed her briefly and took the black pants from her hands. He slipped them on, found a belt to match and then tucked in the shirt and turned holding his arms out.
"What do you think?"
"I think you look too good in a suit," she bit her lip, resisting the urge to run her hands over him. "What about shoes?"
He looked at her pointedly and she laughed. "That's right. We don't need shoes!"
He came over and knelt before her, "We could go out tonight, dinner and dancing, would you like that?"
She thought for a moment and then shook her head. "I'm not ready for that. I could cook for you and we could dance here to the wireless?"
"That sounds perfect. But you have to dress up too."
"Are you wearing that?"
"Why not? It fits," he said and chuckled. "Let's go see what is in Susan's closet for you."
Susan had always opened up her closet to April. And while April was a bit taller than her, usually the dresses fit well.
But April was faced with an unusual quandary. She found herself shy to be changing in front of him for some reason. While he had seen her many times in Narnia, the garments were different here and his gaze was hungry. As she pulled up the last nylon and attached the garter strap, she couldn't take any more ogling.
"Peter!" she finally said red-faced and a little exasperated. "You are supposed to be drooling over me when I am taking these off, not when I am putting them on."
He laughed softly and said, "You have to realize, my love, I have only seen some of these items once, when we returned from Narnia and were in the grove together. I was not paying any attention then."
His expression became pensive and she had to ask, "What else are you thinking about Peter?"
He stood and came over to her, put his hands on her bare waist and stretched them around to her back, pulling her very close. In her ear he said, "I am thinking about how much I look forward to taking them all off of you later!"
She blushed at that and closed the distance, putting her head on his shoulder. She sighed. How wonderful it felt to be in his arms.
Dressed in a flattering red dress of Susan's, she fixed a light and simple dinner. He helped her find a tablecloth and light some candles. He turned on the wireless in the living room and pulled out her chair. Sitting across from her, he smiled.
"This is nice. And, you look great!"
"Thank you. You look pretty fantastic yourself!"
"Soup and sandwiches never tasted so good."
"You are being too polite. I would have really liked to cook for you."
"I know love, and I appreciate it, but it wasn't worth the time to sort through the ration books and go to the store."
"Why?" she retorted playfully, "are you planning a full evening otherwise? Games, maybe? You and I have never played chess before."
He smiled and winked, "Chess takes too long."
"Oh, I see," she drawled, "you had other games in mind?"
"Yes!" he whispered and cleared his throat. "Are you finished?"
She stood and took their plates and bowls to the sink. He followed her and came up behind her and circled his arms around her.
"Being here this weekend, with you, is like a dream come true. Thank you for forgiving me, for being here with me, for loving me, and for letting me love you."
She turned in his arms and placed her hands on his chest, just as she knew he liked. "I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. Thank you Peter for not letting me walk away and for being patient with me."
"Shall we dance?"
"What about the dishes?"
"Let's leave them for later!"
"Perhaps I should take back that comment about patience."
He grinned and led her by the hand into the living room. He had dimmed the lights and moved a few pieces of furniture out of the way to create a space for them.
The announcer on the wireless was rattling off war news and he hugged her close waiting for the music to start. They were quiet, the news was sobering.
"Does it bother you to think of there being a war and you not involved in it?"
"Yes, in some ways, especially right after we got back. I hear the news and feel compelled to do my part. I think I felt that way even before Narnia though. Knowing I will be eligible in a few months is..."
His thoughts drifted off and she knew he didn't want to say the words that were in his head. "Peter, do you want to enlist?"
He looked at her. "Yes and no. If we hadn't patched things up...if you had walked away for good. Then, without a doubt yes. But I have you to think about now, and my father feels very strongly that I should go to University first. I...I wonder if I will feel like a coward doing that? I couldn't stand being apart from you. I would do it, but as Edmund keeps pointing out, I can't make much difference as a mere private. So, I will go to University and then perhaps enter as an officer if the war is still continuing and it sounds like it will be."
She let out the breath that she had been holding. "It was so hard to see you fighting in Narnia, and when you went away to fight the pirates, it was very difficult. I would not stop you if you felt the need to go, but I have to say that I am glad you will be with me."
He kissed her then and the wireless started playing a slow song, they were amazed to hear 'You and I', the same song they had sung in the shower. Peter started to sway with her and sang along in her ear. She was very glad they had stayed in tonight. She thought she could spend forever trapped in this very moment. The song ended and they pulled apart looking into each other's eyes. He tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear and pulled her face up for another kiss. She wondered if they would even make it through the dancing before they succumbed to the desire that was building between them.
Then, as if the wireless knew, it began to belt out "In the Mood', the most popular swing dance song of the day. He grinned at her and moved his hands. She smiled and nodded and he began to lead her through the steps. It was strange dancing like this in the living room with no one else around but fun too.
As Peter lost himself in the music her eyes drank him in. His lust for life, the passion he met everything with, even in just a simple dance, called to her. His eyes were bright and shining, hair that really needed to be cut was flopping around on his forehead. His strong arms and confident hands turning her to the next more complicated step. She had never watched him like this before and she was bewitched. He noticed her gaze and smiled as he lifted her up and around him. He pulled her closer during the dance than he was technically supposed to and chose the steps that would bring their bodies together the most. The song ended and he stopped in mid-lift with him holding her up, her legs around his waist.
She laughed, "Did you plan this?"
"Of course," he panted.
He dropped her down just a bit and she gasped as their bodies made contact, while his lips captured hers. Then an odd sound broke through their passion. It was the doorbell. A frown creased his brow and he put her down. She adjusted her clothing quickly as he made his way to the door. It was unnerving. They had been careful to keep the shades closed and the lights dim, the wireless was barely loud enough for them to hear. What would someone think to see them here together alone? She heard his voice and stepped closer to the foyer.
"Oh, Mrs. Grant. How kind of you to check on the house. Yes, my parents are gone, they will return soon. I know, they were not sure if I would be staying over the weekend. I'm sure that's why they didn't tell you I was home."
Mrs. Grant had edged her way into the doorway, and Peter couldn't keep her out without being completely rude. April could see him falter for words when Mrs. Grant saw April and was visibility startled.
"Please," he stated, finding his footing, "come meet my wife. Mrs. Grant, this is April. We eloped over the spring holiday."
Before the dumbstruck Mrs. Grant could speak April went over and held out her hand. "It is very nice to meet you. You are the Pevensie's neighbor right? You will have to excuse the lack of announcement about our marriage. In fact, it is very much a secret. Of course, our parents and siblings know, but you are the first to hear the happy news otherwise."
"Well...I..I never..." Mrs. Grant, their very kind, but nosy neighbor stammered.
Peter stepped over to April and took her hand, visibly showing off their rings. April grinned at his tactics.
"You even have rings! Well, I cannot fathom why Helen wouldn't tell me such news! You both are so...young!" She eyed April's mid-section suspiciously and April couldn't help the blush that formed at the insinuation.
Peter broke in, "Our official ceremony is not until after graduation. The wedding will be at April's home, some distance away, but I'm sure you will be getting an announcement."
He turned to April and smiled. She followed his lead and touched his cheek looking into his eyes. This performance was not unlike many they had to stage in Narnia for the doubting noblemen. Peter's tone was light, but the confidence and authority the words carried were of noble bearing and left no room for doubt or argument.
"You being our oldest and most trustworthy neighbor, having known me since I was five, will be delighted to realize that I have met the love of my life and that we married simply for love. We would welcome your congratulations."
The both looked expectantly at the neighbor who was agape. "Oh, of course...Peter...she is lovely and it is obvious you...care for each other. I will say good night then. And, do tell your mother I stopped by. Nice to meet you dear, and...congratulations."
As she spoke Mrs. Grant slipped toward and out of the door. Peter returned her goodbyes and gently closed and locked the door behind her. Slumping back against it he grinned.
"Well, I guess that cat's out of the bag! I'll have to leave a note for Mum who I am sure will get an earful when she returns. I really didn't want to tell her, but I couldn't have her thinking..."
"It's all right Peter. You made the best and only choice. Besides, it is the truth." She gave him a loving look. "It is very romantic to think about eloping in Narnia!"
He held out his hand and when April placed hers in his he pulled her to him. He stretched his arms around her waist and she molded her body to his. In a low voice he said, "You are my match in every way. Every time we have to do something like that, you never question me, it is like you can read my thoughts and know exactly what to do in order to compliment me and my efforts. It is amazing...my Queen!"
"We are one Peter, a part of each other."
She planted a kiss behind his ear and he gave a blissful sigh. Before she could continue he said, "Let's dance some more, shall we?"
She pulled back and smiled a yes. Peter gave her a wink. Another swing dance song was playing as they moved back into the living room. Peter's mood was playful and they laughed as they danced, the song ended with them spinning together.
"Whoa!" Peter exclaimed, swaying from dizziness.
She laughed at him. "That is the advantage of being a dancer, we know how to spin without getting dizzy."
Peter grinned at her. "I know how to make you dizzy."
"Oh no, you don't! You had your turn earlier!" she laughed and took a deep breath remembering his ministrations that had indeed made her head spin.
(Time to play the chapter song. ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XS0v0lIzrg )
Smooth melodic tones came from the wireless.
"Ah, perfect!" Peter breathed, taking her in his arms.
She listened closely, the song, 'You Go to my Head' was playing. The rich alto, and slow strains that talked about being intoxicated was perfect and she bit her lip as his body pressed close to hers. Everything about him radiated strength. His arms, his chest and his legs against hers. They were barely moving and she was barely breathing.
"Peter!" she whispered as his lips caressed her neck.
He pressed her even closer and she raised to her tiptoes so his lips could reach her collarbone and a bit of her shoulder that the dress didn't cover. She swallowed hard and her eyes closed as the wonderful sensations rippled through her body. His lips were moving up her throat, behind her ear and to her jaw. He teased her lips with fluttering kisses and his tongue caressed her lower lip. She was indeed starting to feel lightheaded. Then his lips were on hers, coaxing moans from her as his kissed her deeper and deeper. The things he could do with his mouth... just the thought made her tremble in his arms.
He pulled back and she almost whimpered at the loss of contact. She opened her eyes and found him grinning at her.
"Told you!" he said wickedly.
She raised both eyebrows in mock surprise, "Are you teasing me?"
"You know what the punishment for that is, right?"
"Oh, I'm counting on it!"
"Peter! You are incorrigible!"
"Yes, and you love it!"
"Well...maybe!" and with that she pulled his head down and kissed him the way that he had her. Two could play at his game!
Sometime later, in the room that she used while visiting, their room, she supposed, clothing was strewn everywhere. He had enjoyed very much undressing her and his teasing had only gotten stronger until she had to "inflict" their agreed "punishment" upon him, which he enjoyed even more. Of course, he took care of her as well, gently and tenderly making love to her until she was ready to swoon. He had laughed at that word since princesses who wanted to be Queens would literally swoon before him because of their tight corsets when he was king the first time in Narnia. She looked over, Peter was contentedly snoozing next to her. She started to move closer to him, but the moonlight was too strong and drew her to the window.
The small back garden, starting to bloom and grow as the spring grew closer to summer, was bathed in a silvery wash. She sighed, if only they could stay like this. Tomorrow was Sunday and then it would be back to school. A flash of worry went through her, surely they would not be estranged this time. She didn't think her heart could take that kind of stress again. She looked over at Peter lying with his back on the bed, arm thrown over his head, a slight smile on his peaceful face. Was he dreaming about her?
She smiled, wanting to wake him, but knowing he needed to sleep. She went over and curled up next to him. He curved around her instinctively. She sighed again this time with contentment and fell into her deepest sleep since returning from Narnia.
Chapter 15: Sharing
Sorry for the delay. I also want to apologize that there was no warning about the content in the previous chapter. Those are the most intense scenes in the book, I promise. Back to normal now, and next time I will give fair warning before things get steamy. Thanks for reading!
"Last night was incredible," he breathed in her ear.
She rolled back into him and his arms wrapped around her. Teasingly she said, "Why, thank you, I will take credit for that!"
"What? Oh no, you can't do that. It was my idea!" he teased right back and started tickling her mercilessly.
"Peter! Stop!" she cried breathlessly. When he did her fingers deftly found a spot that made him twitch and laugh.
He caught her hand in his firm grip and looked accusingly into her eyes. "Just what do you think you are doing?"
She gave him a sly smile. "I thought I found that spot last night. You have been holding out on me Peter Pevensie. You never admitted you were ticklish before."
"You never asked." He said tartly as he started in on her again.
But, the tickles soon turned to caresses and the caresses to kisses as they relaxed together like they had all the time in the world. That is, until April glanced at the clock and sat up.
"Peter, we need to get up if we are going to make it to the Mission on time."
He laid back firmly on the pillows and looked at her carefully. "I was not planning to go to the mission today." He said quietly, but with steel in his voice.
She narrowed her eyes and tilted her head as if trying to read in his eyes the meaning behind his words. "Why not?" she asked simply.
He glanced away from her searching look. "Because I have not forgiven Aslan for bringing us back the way he did." His eyes came back to hers and there was indeed anger there and also a challenge.
"I see, well," she started, searching for the words to say, "you will have to forgive Him, you know. He did spare both of our lives..."
Peter interrupted her. "Yes, but look how much he took!"
She nodded and moved to sit beside him, placing her hand on his chest where the scar was. Fingering it she said softly, "Yes, he did take much, but we are never guaranteed to have it all. What is it that Job said? Ah yes... 'He gives and He takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord'.* He is still faithful Peter. He showed that to me over and over again while we were apart. When I couldn't lean on you I had to lean on Him. He is faithful. You need to make your peace with Him, or you will never feel true peace yourself."
Peter frowned and moved to get up. He sat on the edge of the bed. "Yes, well. It is going to take some time."
She lovingly put her hand on his shoulder. "Take the time you need, Peter. But don't cheat yourself out of happiness that could easily be yours."
Feeling the need to change the subject she turned his face to hers and said, "If we are not going to the mission, what shall we do today?"
His eyes sparked with a memory and he gave her a half-hearted smile. "You mean beyond what we have been doing?"
She laughed and pinched him, just as she had in Narnia when they had this exact same exchange.
"Ow!" He grabbed the offensive fingers and brought them to his lips for a kiss. "I thought maybe we would go shopping."
"Shopping!" she exclaimed, "whatever for?"
"You...a wedding dress."
"Peter! We don't have that kind of money."
"I have a little," he countered. "During the many trips I accompanied Susan on I know where all the bargain rooms are. There may be a dress out there that needs a little mending that they will sell cheap. It is where most of Susan's came from."
"Really? You would want to do that with me?"
He still had her fingers in his hand, and brought them again to his lips. "Of course, love. Tradition states that I am not supposed to see the dress before the ceremony, but our wedding is Narnian. And, most Narnians, at least this one, does not care about that sort of stuff. Shall we go?"
"I would love that. Let's shower first."
"Great idea," he murmured, bringing his lips to hers.
He threaded his fingers with hers as they walked down the crowded street to the bus. The shopping trip had been fun and a success. The dress they had chosen did need some repairs but she was happy, floating on air, was more like it. She looked over at him and he smiled at her. He had insisted upon carrying the bag and she was so proud to be seen with him. He was confident and purposeful even in just walking down a street. There was still an edge to him though that probably only she could see. She did hope that he would make his peace with Aslan. He had to, or she knew things would get difficult, fast.
He helped her onto the crowded bus. Being the gentleman he was when seats finally opened up and more people got on, gave his up for an elderly lady, who smiled sweetly at him. He was her knight.
They stepped off the bus and walked slowly to his house. The shopping had taken longer than they expected and they had eaten at a diner during the day.
"Peter?" she questioned.
"What happens after today?"
He glanced quickly at her, eyebrows furrowed so she quickly continued, "I mean, with us. We still have weeks until graduation and the ceremony..."
He nodded. "I have a fencing tournament next Saturday, it is the last and largest of the season." His face brightened with a thought. "Why don't you come for the weekend? Lucy would love to have you stay with her, and I would love for you to be around campus again and for you to watch me fence." His voice had grown quieter as he spoke and she squeezed his hand in reassurance.
"I would love to watch you compete too. It would be wonderful to see Lucy, Edmund and Susan again. I know my parents don't like me to take the train on my own...but I think I can manage this one time at least. My goodness! What am I saying? I managed a castle in Narnia, a train ride should be simple. It...feels like Narnia was a long and strange dream sometimes. Does it feel that way to you too?"
Peter thought for a moment. "Sometimes the Narnian memories are stronger than ones from here. But, I know what you mean. I just have spent more time there than you. I know for Susan it feels only like a dream."
"I don't want it to be only a dream for me, though," she said strongly. "I can't let it be that to me, or I will be discounting all that you and I shared. But, other things that happened there are really hard to think about...sometimes."
His grip on his hand tightened. "The difficult times there, only make the good, more precious to me."
She nodded. "That is the best way to think about it. We can also take that view here as well," she said leadingly.
His lips pressed together tightly and he nodded tersely. She didn't pursue it, he would have to work it out on his own.
"Peter?" she asked.
They were straightening up the house, working on doing the laundry and dishes that they had caused, it was very domestic and April's heart was warmed immensely. She didn't have to ask him to help, he just saw what needed to be done and did it. How unusual that their only married experience took place in a castle with servants all around to do those sorts of things for them.
She smiled and then said, "I need to talk with you about some things that happened when we were apart."
He looked up, curious and said, "All right, I think we are done here. Let's go up to the sitting room and we can talk there."
She followed up him the stairs and he tucked her into him on the couch. "Now tell me."
She took a breath and told him of when she first went back to school and Andre's reaction to her and their ensuing conversation. He tensed at first, but then relaxed. When she finished, however, she saw his frown.
"Why are you frowning?"
"He took care of you, encouraged you and helped you through a time when I should have done all that. I can never get that time back and I know it has set us back some. I just wish it had been different."
"Me too," she sighed sadly, "but, if you had been there then I wouldn't have this other thing to tell you."
"What is it?"
"Aslan...Christ...I mentioned that He cared for me right?" Peter's nod was tense, she knew he didn't want to hear this. "Peter...He comforted me. Remember the verse Lucy read during the service? 'God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when other have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ.'**
April didn't wait for him to respond. "That verse made no sense at the time, but now it does. He comforts us so that we can comfort others. Perhaps I am meant to comfort you."
His arm tightened around her and she continued, "I just know somehow, that everything is the way it is supposed to be. I feel very strongly that there will be more children for us, one day, when the time is right. I know that He is in control and is working through our lives both in Narnia and especially here. I don't understand it all, and I don't have too. I just know that He is there and that is enough."
"You sound like Lucy," he said softly.
"Your sister is very wise and has a great faith."
"So do you, love. And I respect you both very much for it. Do not worry about me. I will find my way. Aslan and I always have to hash things out when I come back from Narnia. This time is more complicated because of the grief over the loss of our child and being separated from you as well. I felt like my heart was ripped out three times in a row: coming back from Narnia, the miscarriage and having to leave you in Sway to go back to school. One positive though, I made really good marks during that time." He laughed ruefully.
She smiled, "I knew you would throw yourself into your studies and everything else around you to try to block out the hurt. I understood Peter, which was the hard part. I knew exactly what you were doing and why. I think it is why I was able to forgive you so easily."
"I will spend the rest of our forever making it up to you," he said intently.
"Well...depending on the way you make it up to me, I might just let you."
"Ahh, and what would you want?" he said softly.
"I want you to tell me the story of us, the way you told our child the Narnian stories."
His face tightened and then relaxed. He smiled and his eyes lit. His other arm came around her and he lifted her gently onto his lap angling her against the pillows so she could see his face.
He began, "Once upon an age in a magical mysterious world called Narnia there was a lonely High King. He loved his Country, he loved his siblings, he loved his God, but there was something missing. There was no lady in all of the kingdom that would fit him the way he longed for. So, this High King journeyed to the far land of Wardrobe in Spare Oom to search for his bride. A long painful and difficult journey it was, so much so that his heart was weary and broken when he arrived. Who should he meet there but a beautiful girl with a spirit of Narnia inside of her? She helped to heal his heart and make it whole again. He fell deeply in love with the beautiful girl who moved as gracefully as the soul of her was gracious and he was happy and thankful for her presence. He took her back with him to his Country and there he made her his Queen. They ruled together there happily forever. He loved her with all of his heart, and showed her his love constantly with the care of her, his words, and his body. And, she responded blessing him with her kind and generous ways. He was happy, the happiest he ever could have hoped for and the land prospered and so did their union. And, although this sounds like the end of their story, it is only just beginning for the High King and his Queen are to have many more adventures together."
His voice trailed off into a kiss which she received eagerly.
"Thank you," she whispered against his lips.
"No, thank you!"
He picked her up and carried her to their bed where he did indeed show her his love with his words and his body.
** 1 Corinthians 1:3-5
Chapter 16: Back to Life
She woke the next morning to his kiss. She smiled dreamily at him.
"I love it when you do that," she said sleepily cuddling closer to him. "I can't wait until when we wake like this every day."
He smiled at her. "This weekend has been a second honeymoon for us, love. I am ready for our third!"
She laughed, "Not so many couples get this lucky."
"I know! But it is time to get you back to school and I have an appointment with the University."
"Back to reality," she sighed.
"Soon my love, we will be together all the time."
He pulled her close and kissed her. She couldn't help it, her eyes welled with tears and one slipped out and landed with a thunk on the pillow. He pulled back and a furrow appeared between his brows. He wiped the next tear away with his thumb.
"Now, what is this about?"
"I can't help it Peter. I hate saying goodbye to you!"
He laughed softly. "I don't like it either love, but..." he leaned in closer, "You will see me in a few days if you come for the fencing tournament."
She nodded and smiled, trying to dry up.
He was still talking. "After that there are two weeks and then my graduation, then your graduation and final program, then our ceremony, so we have just a few more weeks’ love! Come on let's shower, we'll only have time for a quick breakfast. I don't want you to be late."
She was running late and flew into her room almost knocking her roommate Cassidy over.
"April! There you are. I have been worried about you, are you okay?"
Cassidy steadied her arms and glanced down at April's hands.
"April! What is that on your finger?!"
"Oh! I forgot!" April exclaimed, sliding the wedding ring off and slipping it into the velvet pouch she kept it in. She smiled to herself knowing she could keep the engagement ring on and in just few short weeks would be able to wear the wedding ring for the rest of her life.
"Forgot? Forgot what? To tell me that you are married!? When did that happen?"
"Oh, Cassidy," April breathed flying around the changing into her ballet clothes and gathering her books. "I wanted to tell you so many times, Peter and I married secretly over the spring holiday."
She and Peter had agreed they would use the story they told his neighbor if directly asked.
April looked up as Cassidy's voice had grown soft and wistful.
"April, you are glowing! You look so happy. I have been so worried about you ever since the spring break and now it all makes sense! You said you and Peter had a fight, but there was more than that. You were sad because you had married him and had to be apart. I am guessing you are no longer 'apart'?"
April smiled and said, "I am happy Cassidy. I have never been happier, but we will pay for it if we are late. Come on! I will tell you all about it later!"
"Yes," April laughed happily, dragging her down the hallway. "I promise. After all, you had a hand in my happiness..."
Cassidy looked happily abashed. "Well, love does need help now and then. You were just so miserable, I had to help somehow."
"Thank you my dear friend. You and Edmund were quite the team apparently."
April glanced at Cassidy before they entered the classroom, a faint blush stained Cassidy's fair cheeks and she wondered just how close her and Edmund had become. Peter had told her about the letters and the "matchmaking" her and his family had done to bring them together for the weekend.
So she would tell Cassidy, at least what she could. Besides, she had to share it with someone or she would burst! Narnia would always be a secret, but there was no way she could hide the depth of her feelings for its High King!
She was getting dressed and watching him pull on his clothes from Friday. She couldn't help but think of how attractive he was, no matter what he was or wasn't wearing.
She came back into the room with the khaki pants and blue sport coat he had tried on over the weekend.
"You should wear these, they fit you very nicely."
He nodded, dressed quickly then disappeared. "What do you think?" he asked, walking back into the room.
She turned around and caught her breath. He had put on a tie and he looked great. Going over to him only half dressed herself she put her hands on his chest.
"I think you look..." she lowered her voice and rose on her toes to his ear and whispered, "magnificent!"
"No! I'm serious. You look great. In fact I almost added a 'Your Majesty' to the end of that statement, but that really would have made us late."
He growled a bit and pulled her back into his arms and kissed her like he wanted them to be late, but then he pulled back and settled on the bed to watch her put her nylons on.
"I must say, I love watching you do that!"
"Why?" she questioned.
"It shows your legs, which I love, and it just makes me want to take them right off of you.
She giggled at that and moved away from his grasp. Pulling her dress on, she said, "Come on now, we have to be responsible today."
She touched her lips absently until she felt a sharp nudge to her arm. She shook her head and looked over at Cassidy who slid her a note.
'Dreamy April is preferable to mopey April, but your book is upside down and Mrs. Crane has been eyeing you. Homework? Flip this over!'
"Miss Treed!" a sharp voice called. April's head flew up. It still took her a bit to realize that her name in this world was still Treed. She sighed to herself.
"Yes, Mrs. Crane?"
"The answer to number three on the homework please!"
Homework! She had done none this weekend. She almost laughed out loud because she never even gave it a thought! She flipped over the paper and sure enough Cassidy had given her the answer. She rattled it off and her teacher frowned but moved on to the next unsuspecting victim.
April breathed in relief she looked at Cassidy and mouthed a 'thank you'. Cassidy only smiled and whispered, "Later. Now you owe me!"
April's last class of the morning was the practical dance application course, Andre's class. Peter had mentioned that he might stop by if he had time before his train left. She had given him her schedule just in case. She smiled and tingled with just the thought of getting to see him one more time before he left. She practically glided into class and caught Andre's eye. She flashed him a bright smile then had to stifle a laugh at Andre's look of shock seeing her so changed from just days before.
He clapped his hands twice to get their attention. "All right ladies, stretch and warm up, we have a lot to cover today. The final performance is just weeks away and we have to fine tune those pirouettes!"
Some of the girls groaned, he meant they would have to repeat certain steps over and over until their technique was exactly to Andre's liking, which was incredibly hard to attain. When he said pirouettes, he meant Fouettes Pirouettes one of the most challenging steps. They were also known as 32 Fouettes Turns en Pointe, meaning their goal was to reach 32 of the special turns while on their toes. However, only a very accomplished ballerina could reach that number. April and Lauren, one of the other advanced students who was very competitive, especially with April, both could do around 8-10 turns.
April didn't mind the difficulty of the class. She was just happy to truly dance again with a full and happy heart. She had barely been able to go through the motions when she had first come back to school. It had gotten better as the weeks went on, but the spark had died inside of her. Today was different, the flame had been lit again. Her relationship with Peter should not have affected her dancing so, but it did. Giddy was the best word to describe her right then and it showed even in their warm ups.
When they started the pirouette practice in earnest she felt lighter than air. She started to spin and just felt like going. She counted 10 turns and broke out of it, wondering if she could do more. Concentrating on her form, focusing on the music playing in the background, and picturing herself on a stage with only Peter in the audience, her expression softened and she began to turn not realizing that the class had stopped to watch her. Andre, who had been keeping a corner of his eye on her the entire time to see what affect her changed emotional state would have on her dancing, was silently counting. When she hit ten he started to applaud and the other students did as well. It was tradition for the audience of a ballet to start applauding when a ballerina usually reached 12 turns. He had told them that sometimes just hearing the applause created momentum and the adrenaline surge was enough to keep a ballerina turning past the number she had intended. April registered the applause and went as far as she could then broke out of the pirouettes as she had been trained to do. When she stopped her classmates cheered and Andre nodded.
Walking past her, he said, "Eighteen! Good work!"
She felt more than saw Lauren's eyes narrow in jealousy at the high praise that came very rarely from the instructor Lauren was in love with. April did not have that type of relationship with Andre. It was an earned respect and Peter's doing that Andre had stopped pursuing April early on in the school year. Their relationship was now purely professional with a touch of mentorship as Andre pushed her to be her best and he proved to be a great friend too.
"All right ladies, that's enough for today. Practice, practice, practice, exams are coming! April, after class."
April nodded. She expected he would ask her to stay. He usually did ask her or Lauren. They had the lead roles in the ballet that was to be their final performance for the patrons and parents coming for graduation. The class cleared out and soon she was alone with him. Andre cocked his head and stared at her. She couldn't help the wide smile from forming.
"So, you worked things out, did you?"
April simply nodded happily.
"Was he perfectly contrite and did he beg your forgiveness?"
"Yes! He did," came a deep voice from beside the door.
"Peter!" April cried sashaying over to him. She held onto his arm and raised up on her toe, en pointe, to kiss his cheek kicking her leg up behind her. Peter had danced with her often enough to stay still, stiffen his arm and support her weight. He smiled at her. She relaxed and grabbed his arm as they walked over to Andre.
April let go of his arm as he extended his hand to Andre. The two men apprised each other and shook hands heartily.
Andre turned to April, "April, why don't you show Peter what you have been working on. The music should be on the gramophone."
April happily skipped over to the music player and started it. Strains of beautiful classical music softly filled the room. Peter and Andre moved until their backs were to the mirror and watched her begin.
Andre said in a low voice while watching April, "You know, Peter, all of us have been extremely worried about her. In fact, I told her that if you didn't come to make amends soon that I was going to find my own sword and come after you!"
Peter chuckled, but became serious very quickly. Keeping his eyes on his wife as she danced, he said quietly. "You would have had every right. I was...remiss in my duties to her. It is something I regret deeply and wish I could go back and change. Thank you for being a friend to her. I...am working to earn her trust back. We had a great weekend and hopefully it will only get better."
"I am glad to hear it. At first, I thought it was because you both are very young, but now I am not so sure. You have a maturity and mannerisms that beyond your years, and April is...well...special."
"Yes, she is. She told me of your perceptiveness. I am sure none of this has made much sense to you."
"It does not have to. My job is to create a star out of her and if you keep her happy, then my goal will be achieved. Do NOT hurt her again, or I will find a sword."
The corner of Peter's mouth turned up as the music finished. "I promise you, if I hurt her again, I will hand you my sword and you can do with me what you will!"
Andre nodded and simply said, "Deal!"
Chapter 17: Letters to a King
Chapter song: I will carry you by Michael W. Smith; Peter POV
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Mathinson!" Edmund's voice rang out laced with anger and the ring of someone betrayed and seeking justice.
"What?! Oh, it's you." Robert sneered looking up from the book he was studying in the student lounge.
Edmund, who was obvioulsy seething, held a packet of papers in his hand and worse, the Dean was standing right behind him.
"You! You miserable excuse for a human being..." Edmund would have continued except for the strong hand of Dean Sanders on his shoulder.
The Dean cleared his throat as Robert rose slowly to his feet. While he tried to look cool and nonchalent there was a trace of guilt running across his features.
"Let's walk to my office shall we..."
Peter was studying on his bed, or trying to. His mind kept straying to April and the incredible weekend they had shared. He was startled when Edmund stormed into the room and threw a bundle of papers onto Peter's lap.
"What? What are these? Why are you..."
Peter trailed off and time seemed to slow as he picked up the packet recognizing instantly the handwriting on the stack of...letters. He raised his eyes in shock and disbelief to meet Edmund's blazing glaze. He had seen that look in Ed's eyes many times on the battle field and when a weaker being was being unjustly treated in his Narnian courts. Edmund could not stand injustice of any kind. He would be a force to be reckoned with as a solicitor or court justice in this world.
"That blasted idiot, Mathinson! I knew he was withholding mail. I went to Dean Sanders and we searched the mailroom. These were in an empty slot next to your name."
Peter sat up straighter and his hands started to tremble. He looked at the letters in his hands and felt like more than a fool. He was the idiot. How could he believe that she wouldn't write to him? That she didn't care... He shook his head.
"I am a fool Ed."
"Peter! You don't understand. Mathinson deliberatly kept these from you! I was with the Dean when he confronted him. You should have seen the little sneak grovel. He claimed to have misfiled them. The Dean decided since Mathinson technically did his job, and just made a "mistake" that he wouldn't be expelled. However, he has been relieved of duty in the mailroom and his new job is," Edmund's expression changed from outrage to mirth and he started to snicker, "cleaning the loos with the janitors."
Peter laughed too at the thought of the rich and haughty boy who was such a nuisance to them doing the disgusting and menial chore. He thought it fitting and was happy he didn't have to exact justice himself. He decided Edmund was angry enough for the both of them. While he would love to pound Mathinson into the ground, he knew better. He couldn't dwell on his classmate's wrongdoing for long though before other emotions overcame him.
Looking at the letters, a sense of dismay and grief ran through him so quickly he almost couldn't breathe. He felt the bed sink next to him and sensed Edmund softening.
"Peter, you didn't know. You didn't know that she cared or that she had written."
Peter was always amazed when Edmund was able to read him so well.
"I know, but I should have been the one pushing to find these. I shouldn't have doubted her love, her committment to me. Why do I doubt so much when I come back from Narnia?"
Ed's hand landed on his shoulder. "You care too much, Peter. That's why. You love with all your heart and your entire being. It is a good thing. One I am not capable of."
"That's not true, Ed."
Peter looked at Edmund and saw him scowl and watched him move to the other side of the room. It wasn't true. Peter knew how much Edmund cared about Narnia and his family. It was evident in the way he fought for him and April. Edmund just kept his feelings guarded. Peter looked forward to the day when Edmund would find someone he loved with all of his heart and would be able to open up completely.
"Thank you Edmund. It looks like I have some reading to do."
Later, Peter strolled through his favorite area of campus thinking about the letters she had written. They had turned his insides out--made him feel guilty, loved, and grateful all at the same time. How amazing that she had forgiven him just a few days ago, when she was clearly ready to walk away. He had her forgivness. He needed to ask the same from someone much greater than them both.
Utterly humbled at the thought, he sighed and then breathed deep of the clean fresh air and paused in his walk, feeling the spring breeze blow past him and through the trees above and around him. The forest here calmed him and made him think of her...and Narnia. A pain struck his heart deep when he thought of Narnia and Aslan. He knew it was time.
Pushing deeper into the woods he found the clearing in the copse of pine trees. This was where he came to be totally alone, to think, and to pray. Sinking to the pine needles he knelt and closed his eyes. The quiet seeped into him, settled him, and soothed his ragged nerves.
"Aslan..." he whispered, his voice breaking. How he could be so mad at his God and yet so grateful at the same time amazed him.
"I am sorry, help me...to forgive. Help me to understand."
He stayed and listened to the wind whisper through the pines and felt a peace wash over him. A peace that was almost there when he reconciled with April, but not in its fullness. This was the peace that went beyond understanding. One that didn't make any sense. How could he feel peace and comfort when his heart was still in tourmoil, grieving his last visit to Narnia, and hurting over losing a child that he had longed for? This peace only came from above. And in that peaceful moment, he knew he was forgiven. A deeper understanding of 'why' might come in time. But he knew that part of it would never make sense. He just knew he had to accept what had happened. To fight against circumstances that he could not control was futile and only brought more grief.
After many long moments he rose and whispered, "Thank you Aslan, for your forgiveness and this new chance at a life here, in this world."
He turned with purpose back toward his room. He had a fencing match, finals, graduation and a life to prepare for.
I love Edmund. His fierce protectiveness of his family, especially Peter, and deep rooted desire for justice is beautiful. I hope I do him credit here. Perhaps when he is a little older, I will write a spin-off where he finds love too. And in case you don't know, or haven't experienced the peace that passes all understanding, it is real. My favorite scriptures are found in Philippians 4:4-7: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV) In this anxiety ridden world where worries are so easy for me to succumb to, writing this chapter has been a great reminder to find some time to be still, to listen to the wind, and feel His peace. May your day overflow with peace and love! Thank you for reading! Teaser: the next chapter is a long one.
Chapter 18: The Visit
April's POV; Chapter song: Come What May, sung by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in the musical Moulin Rouge, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Els5yYvFU9E
April stepped off the train, and tried to still her trembling hands. It had only been a few days, but it felt like a lifetime since she had said goodbye to Peter. Would he be here to meet the train? Would he be distant again, or would he...?
She had no more time to fret because the doors opened and she was on the platform and then engulfed in strong arms, her cheek pressed against a warm chest. She sighed. She had been worrying for nothing. He pulled away and smiled into her eyes. His were twinkling with laughter.
"You were worried," he said softly.
"Yes," she admitted bashfully.
"For nothing, my love. I am yours forever!"
She sighed again as he kissed her gently.
"All right you two," said a voice beside her.
She broke away from Peter and turned to see Edmund, standing there grinning.
Her eyes softened. "Thank you, Edmund."
She turned to him and gave him a tight hug, surprising him. Edmund let go of his sister-in-law and smiled. "Nothing to be grateful for. I couldn't stand him anymore, so I had to do something!"
April laughed and Peter punched him in the arm.
"April!" she heard her name squealed and Lucy came running up. She welcomed the hug of her friend and now sister. She looked up and saw Susan standing there. Breaking away from Lucy she stood before Susan.
April smiled and could sense the tension of the siblings around her. "I've missed you," she said to Susan, simply and softly.
To her surprise tears welled in Susan's eyes and she moved forward to hug April. "I'm so sorry April...for your loss and for your pain. Coming back from Narnia is very...difficult."
April sensed more than saw the amazement on Peter's and the others faces that Susan would mention Narnia. Susan's words meant more based on their reactions.
"Thank you," April said and then couldn't resist adding, "you are missed there too."
A tear spilled over and Susan brushed it away, and also seemed to brush away any emotion as well. The mood was broken. "Well," she said briskly, "I need to get back. I will see you soon April."
April turned to Peter. "I didn't mean to upset her."
Peter smiled gently and pulled her close. "It is hard not to upset Susan these days. What you said was perfect."
After a fun and lively dinner together, it was difficult to say goodbye to Peter for the evening, knowing he was so close, or well, at the school next door. But Lucy was very excited to catch up on 'girl talk'. So April's melancholy disappeared quickly as the younger girl settled her in her room and sat April upon her bed peppering her with questions about Narnia. April was happy to share all that she could remember with Lucy and Lucy sighed over and over again at the places April had seen and experiences she had. But then Lucy switched the subject.
"I have been so worried about Peter. I am really glad you all patched things up. We were afraid he would enlist without even asking us."
April nodded, biting her lip. She had experienced that fear as well. Soon Lucy was talked out, an amazing feat. April was finally able to lie down in the darkness and think. It had not been too long ago that she slept in a bed just like this one and she allowed herself to think of her and Peter's first days on these campuses together.
The girl's dining hall had been under construction and they took their meals with the boys at Hendon House. How handsome he had been sitting there at that table all alone day after day. She was amazed she had the courage to approach him that day. She was even more amazed when their eyes had met and something tangible flashed between them. Just thinking about it made her tingle. The electricity, the bond that she shared with him even then overwhelmed her, and made her body clinch in need and burn with desire for his touch. Would there be a way for them to be together this weekend? She doubted it very much with the rules and separations that were enforced at these schools. So, she allowed herself to go over more memories of their intimacies and found herself aching for him, her body clinching with need. Eventually she slept with the knowledge that she would at least get to see him tomorrow.
"You must be April," a voice said from behind her.
She whirled to find herself looking at an Asian gentleman a little shorter than she but very broad. He bowed, and introduced himself. "I am Master Kai."
She resisted the urge to curtsy back, squelching her Narnian etiquette. "I am pleased to meet you Master Kai."
He smiled, "Peter is much more in balance now. I am guessing that has to do with you. He is a promising student, and I am pleased to meet the woman who compliments him so well."
April was amazed at his words and blushed a bit but graciously said, "Thank you. And, thank you for providing him an outlet for his grief. I do believe you helped him greatly."
"It was my pleasure," he said.
April didn't get a chance to respond as the chime sounded signaling the fencing match was to begin. She found her seats with Lucy and Susan and scanned the teams looking for Peter and Edmund. With all of the fencers in their white matching suits, it was difficult until he turned around and began searching the crowd. She waved and caught his eye. He smiled and seemed to visibly relax. She sighed to herself at the sight of him, lean, strong, intense, and ready for any challenge, just as he was in Narnia.
The match was exciting. Lucy explained the rules and she cheered for the Hendon House team, after the referee called 'halt', of course. It was a close but the Hendon team came in first with Peter and Edmund gaining the winning points. She was happy and proud and couldn't wait to see him. Eventually, the team came out in their normal clothes. She couldn't help herself. She ran over to him and he caught and spun her around, as she was hoping he would do. Before he set her down he whispered in her ear, "I can't wait to be with you."
She trembled and smiled up at him hoping to convey her thoughts along those lines too. His family was crowding around and the words would have to wait. She congratulated Edmund on his match.
He grumbled a bit, "I was better than Peter, but then he had to go there and brush up on his skills."
Peter just smiled and ruffled Edmund's hair and said, "Come on, let's go to town and get something to eat."
The walk into the small village reminded her of the early days that she had been remembering the night before. Peter intertwined their fingers and they walked slowly behind the others.
"I thought about you last night, all night," Peter said softly.
She smiled and echoed his words.
"I have a plan," he said mysteriously.
"Oh, you do?" she teased. "Now why does that not surprise me, High King, master of strategy?"
He grinned, squeezed her hand and said, "Just wait."
They ate at the local diner and the mood was fun and festive. They wandered about the village some and then headed back to the campuses. Lucy, Susan and Edmund all found friends and ran off. April relaxed and smiled as Peter shot her a look and pulled her into Hendon's gates. She looked at him surprised and he reminded her the campus was open today due to all of the end of term sporting events.
He led her around the back of his residence hall toward a patch of woods. She was catching onto his plan and her heart began to beat a little faster. As they were passing some open windows she heard some of the boys yell.
A voice broke through above the others. "Hey, P.P. who do you have there? Do you even know what to do with her?"
Peter stopped abruptly, his face a mask of anger and indignation. April looked at him confused.
"P.P.? What is that? Who are they Peter?"
"Mathinson," he ground out his teeth gritted together, "and his gang. Twerps, all of them, wouldn't know what to do with a girl if she were handed to them."
She smiled and pulled him forward until they were almost to the edge of the woods and still in sight of the obnoxious boys. "What does P.P. stand for?"
Peter looked like he wasn't going to tell her, but she insisted.
He ground out, "It stands for Peter pervert."
She laughed, "Why on earth?"
"Because I meet Master Kai so early almost every morning. It doesn't matter than Edmund and two others train with us. They know that I am different and it drives them crazy because I don't react to their taunts."
"Maybe I am just naive, but I still don't understand..."
"They think I...like...er, enjoy the company of men too..." Peter blurted out.
April laughed, harder this time, the merry sound ringing out. "Well now...they don't know you very well, do they?" she lilted.
He rubbed the back of his neck in frustration. "They know that I am engaged, but have never seen you. They aren't so bad about it now, I have had to knock a few heads together a couple of times to get them to stop. My guess is that they have snuck in some alcohol somehow and seeing you, they couldn't resist."
He rubbed the back of his neck in frustration and continued, "But, Mathinson...he makes me so mad I cannot see straight! He kept your letters from me."
"What?" April pulled back in confusion. "Why the nerve!"
She balled up her fists and took a step forward. She felt like knocking some heads together herself. She stopped when she heard him chuckle beside her and turned to him with indignation and a furrowed brow.
"I love seeing you angry."
As she whirled away from his touch, he grabbed her hand again and laughed harder. "As long as you are not angry with me. Come on. They are not worth the trouble!"
"No," she replied and smiled as he blinked in surprise. His eyes narrowed at the look of coyness on her face.
"Well, let's just stop those taunts right now. We'll show them who you prefer. This tiny bit of revenge is going to be sweet."
She pulled him over to the very edge of the trees and leaned back against one in full sight of the second story windows with the staring and calling boys. Pulling up her skirt and bending her knee to show most of her leg, she pulled Peter into her.
"April, I'm not so sure...if we get caught, I could get kicked out."
"This close to graduation, at the top of your class? No, we'll just tell them the truth and your Dad will back us up. Now, kiss me...passionately."
She moved Peter's hands, one to rest very low on her back and the other high on her leg. He needed no more encouragement.
"You're crazy, but I love it!" he breathed into her neck.
He kissed her there slowly, taking his time to move up to her mouth. Her hands went to his back and then lower as she pulled his hips to hers. The boys' calls stopped abruptly and then got louder. His mouth on hers felt like home and everything faded away. But after a few moments, she felt his frustration boil over and it registered that they were still the cause of boyish taunts.
"Come on," he growled, taking her hand and pulling her into the forest.
She couldn't help but smile and wave at the windows and even blew them a kiss as she disappeared into the woods behind the man she loved and wanted to protect even from school boy annoyances.
She kept up with Peter's pace easily. As they sped through the forest she breathed deep, loving being among the trees again. It felt like home. Peter explained that the woods stretched to the edge of the schools property lines. There was a break in the fence and she could get back to Lucy's school through it, but he took her the opposite way, deeper in. She smiled at his foresight and planning. As comfortable in the forest as she was, she had no doubt that he knew exactly where he was going.
He stopped before a little clump of evergreen trees and pulled her inside. They were completely secluded with a soft bed of pine needles underneath their feet.
She was surprised when he pulled a blanket out from under one of the trees. His eyes twinkled at her reaction and he spread the blanket out on the pine needles. She smiled coyly, slipped off her shoes and stepped onto the blanket. She met his eyes. They were intense, but full of joy.
She smiled. "I love seeing you happy."
She then tilted her head and studied him. "You are different, even from last weekend. It's like your spirit has settled."
He stepped onto the blanket and his smile was wide as he gazed at her, touching his fingers lightly with his and gently joining their hands.
"It was in this very spot that I made my peace with Aslan a few days ago. Everything has been better since then."
"Oh, Peter. I am so glad. Without his peace..."
"I know, love. I know."
She leaned her head on his shoulder and him arms encircled her gently. They stood quietly for a few moments. She felt the silence seep into her and found it very restful and intimate to be here with him. It was like their souls communicated without words. She loved him even more in that moment. As his hands tightened on her waist, she spoke.
"The way you have planned this you would think it has been longer than four days since you have seen me."
"It has been six, since we have been together, much too long!"
He pulled back and gently touched her cheek, looking into her eyes. "That stunt you pulled back there was nuts, but...sexy as hell!"
She smiled coyly and surrendered to the intensity in his eyes. It surrounded her and she instinctively moved closer to him loving the magnetic pull that was constantly between them.
"Have I told you today how beautiful you are?" he asked as he took her hand and brought it to his lips whispering over her knuckles.
She inhaled deeply at the contact and shook her head, "No...not today."
He turned her hand over and kissed her palm and breathed over her wrist sending an involuntary shiver through her.
"When I searched the crowds this morning and saw you smiling and happy and there just for me, I couldn't breathe. You do that quite often...take my breath away."
His soft lips caressed her wrist and her breath caught. "The feeling is mutual," she whispered.
He looked up into her eyes, placed her hand on his shoulder and moved one of his hands around her waist. His other hand tucked her silky hair behind her ear, and brushed it slowly off of her neck.
Pulling her closer, his lips brushed her ear, he said, his voice low, husky with desire. "I am deeply, passionately in love with you and I plan on showing you just how much I love you, here and now."
She was grateful he had a tight hold on her, because her knees went weak at his words. She had been on the receiving end of his passion many times and she trembled at the thought of what was to come.
Her hand moved to the base of his neck and she tangled her fingers in his thick blond hair.
"Peter," she breathed as he found the spot on her neck that always make her come unglued.
He pressed her body closer to his, moving his hands firmly over her lower back. Her body responded instantly. It was as if it their bodies had a language of their own and they had become fluent in each other.
His lips traced a line up her neck, over her jaw and hesitated over her lips. Her eyes opened and found his, intense with longing, desire, and a powerful love. She smiled and with the soft breeze blowing about them, the scent of pine needles wafting around, she was instantly transported back to Narnia. She whispered, "Oh...My Magnificent King!"
Then his lips found hers and she was truly home. As he kissed her in the way she loved, she melted even further in his arms. She longed to feel him, above her, below her, inside her, filling her completely. She broke off breathless and lightheaded as she felt him moving his hands up the back of her dress, unbuttoning it. The cool air touched her skin heated by his touch. As her equilibrium started to return she began to work on his shirt buttons as anxious to see him and touch him as he was her.
As she pushed the shirt off of his broad shoulders, she traced his muscular arms and he trembled showing her that he was hungry for her touch as well. She leaned in and kissed his neck, his shoulders, his chest, reveling in the way his muscles quivered under her caress. It registered that his hands were drifting lower on her body and she instinctively raised her arms for him to slip her dress off.
Tangled in each other, loving, breathing, being...the passion flowed like fine wine, sweet, rich and full, deep and open, nothing was held back. Their trust was complete in each other, vulnerable yet free. For them to know all of each other and to give to each other with their bodies made their love grow and bloom. They had been together many times, but this was different for April. They had weathered the storm and while last weekend had been about rebuilding trust, today, here, it was as if they were truly one flesh. Speaking each other's language without words, loving so completely with everything they had. The peace on the other side was unbelievable. Afterwards he held her in his arms and whispered...
"April. My love, my darling, my Queen! I am yours from now until the end of time."