Marian did most things in her life with an ineffable grace.
Mourning Robin of Locksley was not one of them.
She doesn't remember specifically what she said--"he had let her get away with far too many things said before that one, and it had been most likely a terrible slight she hadn't even thought about before or after she said it--"but she does remember that it felt like a flash of lightening singed the air when she went too far.
That Caspian spun on his heel, looking for a brief second like he wanted to strike her, before he took her shoulders and stilled her roughly. It'd only been one sentence he'd asked, Why are you doing this?, so quiet, and yet it might as well have been a scream.
The patience tapering to its end. The grey eyes of spring sea and coming storm turned flinty, dark and sharp as any weapon.
If she's been anything but utterly shocked, as he'd been understanding and patient and passive since she'd related the news, she might have done something other than stare at him blank with confusion.
Robin would not have grabbed her shoulders so simply. Robin would not have let her go this many weeks, or was it months now, unchecked. Robin would have bopped her on the head for her doldrums, made fun of her for focusing on it, pointed all the things she missed, and he'd gotten, while she kept her head in the sand, though with a quicker sharper barbed tongue to rouse her round faster.
…but he wasn't Robin. No one was. Robin was dead. Robin could never be here again.
He stared at her, hard eyed, the shield they were becoming to ward him from the damage she was now not only showing but willfully handing out, from the pain she could see she had been inflicting, and saw the truth.
That he'd never be that person. He might tease her, but he'd never mischievously torment her. He'd not get in her way if this was how she'd push him away, but he'd not let her treat him as something to be tread beneath her toes as she did it. He'd have no arrogant vanity she could wound, or win, with a smile. He'd not be childish, brash or self-serving.
His past did not give those things to him on a silver platter.
He was a king, and she did forget that when he was 'just Caspian' sometimes, but he would play no fool.
Sadly, all that happened after his question was she dissolved into tears. Again. Hating herself as she pulled away, trying to fend off one of his hands. But he wouldn't have it. Even then. Even angry, and tired beyond merit, sighing as he did it, he pulled her close to him.
She had wronged him.
He was her steadfast sanctuary in the storm that had taken her life.
She had taken that, each moment of each day he'd let her, and she'd treated it as nothing.
Yet still he didn't turn her aside or push her away, but was patiently wiping the tears off her cheeks, as she stood there, embarrassed and more than half terrified of not understanding him.
But that was a lie.
She did know him, did understand him. It was why she loved him.
Caspian was the kind of man who would always be in summer, even amidst the winter. The good king, with patience and singular determination, once his eye was set on the great goal. He would have the sea and the sun in his very being, permeating to the center of all things and endlessly aware.
He would need no charade. He'd be easy in gentle laughter like the rain through the trees. He'd be all the dreams and actions of adventures the worlds could hold. He'd be ruthlessly understanding and supporting. He'd be a good father, and, for that matter, a good husband and friend.
Had been the best friend no one would ever have the right to ask someone to be.
When he finished drying her tears, silent and still as she had been through the act, she said she was sorry.
She'd deserved the silent look he gave studying her for a long time. She didn't know what he saw when he looked at her face, surely blotchy red and wide eyed, but whatever it was made him give an impractically rueful third of a smile, tap her on the nose, and say, "I know."
Burying her head into his shoulder, she laughed.
God, how long had it been since she'd laughed last?
It must have been forever. She felt him begin to relax against her, felt the sigh fade into her hair from him as her laughter ended. And found herself almost in tears once again when he whispered that he was, too.
"I don't know how to do this," she admitted uncertainly, amid sniffling, after hugging him for a long time. "I've never--"
But the look he gave her said he knew that, too, even though she knew it wasn't intentional. She wondered what all she had missed in the weeks she hadn't noticed anything, hadn't noticed that the person next to her knew her well enough to know what she meant before she knew she was saying it.
Robin had never been that kind of man.
Strangely, newly, she found herself grateful that Caspian was the one who would understand her before she had to explain herself. She had grown dependant to a world, a man's fleeing shadow, who would never know her that way.
Caspian hadn't given her very long to ponder that thought before he slid an arm over her shoulders and they started walking. For the first time he began speaking, not of his beloved time with the Pevensies children, but, of the fallow time that had followed their leaving his life.
The shadowed reminisces, the sudden rants, the long silent nights then days, and the slow growing light, which lead to the even brighter future.
Marian listened for a long time without much commentary, while they walked and where they sat, and, in the end, laying on the ground with her head in his lap still watching his face, tinged in the removed sadness of that time, she knew she wasn't ready yet but that she should be gloriously, endlessly, tangled up in him.
In his soft voice, and his steady hands, and his sweet lips, and, most of all, his true heart.
That he should be--(would be)--the singular star in her sky; not a candle competing for light against a shadow.
He wouldn't ask for it or place himself there. He simply would be. Because it was who he was. Subtle grace, self respect and quiet understanding.