Peter was growing more and more uncomfortable by the minute in a way that had little to do with the tender soreness of his bottom (the usual result of a long night of passion) and more to do with the rather peculiar looks he had been receiving ever since he'd stumbled down for breakfast, still a little groggy from lack of sleep and in desperate need of a hot mug of coffee. Such looks from the various Telemarine nobles were nothing new, of course: the lords and ladies of the court were always studying him as if he were some newly discovered species of animal, which they weren't quite sure whether they would be better off taming or dissecting in order to see what made him tick. Although he was not precisely pleased with their scrutiny, especially so early in the morning, they were easily ignored. Even the self-satisfied glances Caspian kept throwing his way could be considered utterly unremarkable – he always looked annoyingly smug after one of their trysts.
The strange behavior of the servants, on the other hand, was not so easily disregarded.
With the head cook stumbling and stammering over their usual morning greetings as Peter slipped into the no-man's-land otherwise known as the kitchen for a proper cup of his favored brew (the watered-down coffee the nobility seemed to favor was absolute piss) and the serving girls blushing and quite studiously refusing to meet his eyes, it seemed clear that something very odd indeed was going on. Frowning pensively, he glanced down at his clothes, just to reassure himself that he hadn't put his shirt on backwards or done something similarly ridiculous in his caffeine-deprived state as he'd dressed that morning, but found all was in order: not even a wrinkle or obscure stain marred his appearance. So why all the fuss? Mentally recounting his morning since he'd slipped out of Caspian's royal apartments and into his own to prepare for the day, he recalled no irregularities. As always, the halls had been empty when he'd emerged from the king's chambers and he had washed and groomed himself just as he always had, if a little quicker than usual due to having overslept a bit. Unfortunately, he hadn't bothered to pause for even a cursory glance in the mirror, which suddenly seemed to have been a very bad choice.
As casually as possibly, Peter leaned to the left to question his lover in a quiet hiss: “Is there something on my face? Is my hair mused? Or my clothes. What about my clothes? Am I wearing something inappropriate?”
“You look absolutely ravishing,” the young king soothed, patting Peter's hand comfortingly, lips quirking in silent amusement. “What has got you so worked up at such an early hour?”
“Well, everyone's staring – or trying not to stare, which is probably worse,” Peter grumbled, scowling at the two lords chattering across the table from them, both of whom were very deliberately casting their eyes in every direction but his.
“Just ignore them,” Caspian advised with a chuckle. “You've never had a problem managing that before.”
Peter might have argued, but the lord to Caspian's left hailed his king's attention regarding the much-debated issue of land rights, which quickly garnered the interest of the rest of the table and resulted in some rather heated arguments. This had the advantageous effect of diverting everyone's attention away from him, but also left him no closer to figuring out what in the world was going on.
Paranoid and suspicious, Peter attacked his eggs and monitored the debate without enthusiasm.
Needless to say, the High King was never happier to see the end of one of these dratted so-called “casual” state breakfasts. Almost as soon as the meal was officially concluded he was on his feet and, with a hasty bow and a few muttered words of farewell, flying threw the castle to the safety of his private chambers. Once there, however, he did not pause – no, he marched directly and purposely towards the looking glass situated on the far wall.
He did not have to inspect his reflection very hard to see just what it was that had upset the maids, intrigued the nobles, and amused Caspian. There, just above his collar bone and peaking teasingly out from the lace of his tunic's collar, was the source of his humiliation: undeniable proof of his indiscretion in all its blotchy red and purple glory.
A hickey, after all the thousands of times he'd warned his lover not to mark him, not to give people cause to talk.
“Dammit, Caspian!” he screeched, the sound of his fury echoing off the stone walls and traveling fast to warn the entire castle of his ire. “You're a dead man!”
From the other side of the castle, where the cause of Peter's agony was settling in to entertain some very important guests, King Caspian the Tenth threw his head back and laughed madly, tears of mirth pooling in the corners of his eyes. His advisors exchanged rueful glances and wondered what they had ever done to deserve two such crazy kings. Would they never stop baiting each other? And for goodness sake, when would they finally settle down and pick a wedding date? Pretending not to notice the way they acted around each other was so exhausting, love marks or no love marks.
“Well, gentlemen,” the king said, his hearty roar having quieted to a rumbling chuckle, “I do believe that was my cue to make myself scarce. What say you all to a pleasant ride down to the Beaver's Dam? Else it sounds as though Narnia may be short one king before the day is out!”
Well, one thing was certain: life had never been this interesting when Miraz reigned.