Edmund mentally cursed when his ink pen spilt. His fingers were now covered in ink. Sighing, Edmund ignored the mess on his writing desk. He located a stray scrap of cloth and wiped his hands. This was why Edmund left writing to the badgers. They had much better writing than he did. The only reason Edmund had braved his writing desk this morning was a letter that had come in late last night. Carried by a storm petrel bird from someplace so far east it was now west. Susan had sent the letter updating Edmund on the adventures she and Nabiyah had been on. Edmund was slightly jealous of his elder sister’s chosen freedom to travel and explore. The way Susan described the places she had visited and the wonderful people she had met made Edmund long to see them all in person.
There may have been a reason why Edmund’s thin pen split. Edmund felt that his current emotions matched the age of when he was about fourteen. He was battling with intense jealousy for his siblings' lives. Edmund really hated that he still had these feelings, it was ridiculous. It had taken Edmund five years to accept that Peter was the High King and would be regarded differently to Edmund, but not necessarily because Peter was better than Edmund. In fact Edmund knew that he was better than Peter, and together they balanced each other out. Edmund had learned this years ago but all it took was one diplomatic report from Carmalon announcing Peter as grand vizier to have Edmund’s childish jealousy rear its ugly head.
The fact of the matter was that Edmund couldn’t stand hearing about how much fun his siblings were having without him. It brought out ugly thoughts and bad memories of a time Edmund had thought he was the outsider to the tight knit group of his siblings. If Edmund allowed himself to think about it, the start of his jealousy began about three months ago when Lucy and Rillian had gone deep into the northern forests.
Lucy had been wanting to visit the northern forests since last autumn and had been planning the trip. Which was new for her, usually Lucy would just decide to take off into the forests and then return whenever she wanted, whether that was after a few hours or eight months. Then Lucy had said she wanted Rillian to go with her and it made sense. Rillian was sixteen years old, his seventeenth birthday was next Wednesday and Edmund was up to his eyeballs fielding off the nobility who all had ideas for the celebration.
So Edmund was maybe a bit stressed and Lucy and Rillian had come back from their adventure in the northern forest last week. Fresh faces and happy eyes and in tow was a lovely star named Ariadne. They had met the star during one of the late night dances trees loved to have, she had decided to come down and join in the fun. It wasn't exactly rare for stars to do that, what was rare was Ariadne had decided to stay. Sure Edmund was jealous that Susan was out adventuring and Lucy got to escape into the trees whenever she fancied. But the real crux of Edmund’s jealousy was his husband. Caspian was blatantly starstruck by Ariadne.
Caspian had never met a star before, he had been gushing over Ariadne since she walked through the gates of Cair Paravel. It dug under Edmund’s skin, and he knew he was being stupid, but Edmund couldn’t stand the way Caspian lit up around Ariadne drawn to her like a flower to the sunlight. Edmund knew first hand that Caspian had a bit of an obsession with stars. When the two of them had first danced on the lawn near the How Caspian had spent a good twenty minutes proudly pointing out all the stars he knew.
So Edmund sort of maybe penned Susan a bit of a desperate letter. Possibly alluding to the inevitable breakdown of his marriage and signing off a request to live the rest of his days as a hanger on to Susan’s travels.
*Lemonade by Beyonce plays in the distance*
I mean this in a light hearted sort of way, hopefully someone out there has a similar sense of humor and gets it, otherwise, sorry I make very bad jokes :D
Chapter 2: What's worst, lookin' jealous or crazy?
Susan was looming dangerously over Caspian looking like she fully intended to murder him with a paperweight.
Susan’s reply came quick it read:
Edmund I will be back in two days. Make sure no one kills Caspian before I can.
Your ever loving sister Susan
Edmund was maybe feeling a bit worried for his husband now that he had sort of on purpose set his eldest sister on Caspian to possibly kill him. Edmund was digesting the latest crisis he had made for himself which provided excellent distraction from Rillian’s birthday plans. Edmund was not hiding in the gardens from the nobles who all wanted Edmund to personally sign invitations inviting eligible bachelors and bachelorettes to his son’s birthday celebration. No, the gardens were just very lovely at the moment.
“You know, you can’t avoid everyone forever,” Caspian said, appearing in front of the freshly styled maze. Edmund tried very hard not to appear surprised and also tried very hard not to melt at the sight of his husband.
“I am not talking to you,” Edmund said, turning away from Caspian and quickly walking down the path to the rose gardens.
“Ed,” Caspian said, following after him “Edmund”. Edmund ignored his husband; he knew he was being petty but sometimes you just had to be petty. “This is about Ariadne isn’t it?” Caspian said and yes, yes it was. Edmund decided to examine a cluster of yellow roses, he might not be talking to Caspian but that didn’t mean he wasn't going to let Caspian explain. “You know Rillian thought this might happen-” Caspian said Edmund felt a little unsure what their son had to do with Caspian’s obsession with the star.
Edmund snuck a glance at Caspian from the corner of his eye, Caspian was grinning at Edmund looking very amused. “I thought it was obvious,” Caspian continued, “that Rillian is courting Ariadne, after all they did kiss in plain sight at the last banquet”. Edmund blinked and actually he did vaguely recall seeing Rillian with a blonde girl that evening and yes actually Rillian had leaned in, to kiss the girl which was when Edmund had stopped looking. Edmund hadn’t actually realised the girl was Ariadne.
Caspian slowly stepped into Edmund’s space “-and I am sorry sweet heart”. Caspian said letting his grin turn to a soft smile “but you are just so cute when you’re mad at me”. Caspian pressed a quick kiss to Edmund’s mouth.
“You!” Edmund lightly smacked his husband’s chest in reprimand. “You let me think- And I, oh the absolute sulk I’ve been in!” Edmund cried indignantly. Edmund was still mad but now at a completely different issue. Although he was very pleased Caspian wasn’t actually crushing on a star.
“Mmmm” Caspian hummed “I think you really scared poor Trufflehunter this morning” Caspian said thoughtfully. Edmund scowled at Caspian, this was his fault for not explaining. Caspian giggled delightedly at Edmund’s scowl. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, it’s just I’ve never seen you like this before”. Edmund let Caspian wrap his arms around Edmund’s waist drawing him into a deep kiss. Edmund supposed that he would talk with Caspian about this later.
Later never actually happened. Edmund had been a bit too busy kissing his husband then the two of them had to sneak back to their room to avoid all the nobility swarming around ready to pounce. So Edmund hadn’t had a chance to call off Susan.
Edmund really wasn’t a morning person. Sometimes it was refreshing to be awake for the early dawn, but only on rare occasions. Caspian was an early morning bird so it didn’t surprise Edmund to wake up alone. No what surprised him was the loud shouting coming from somewhere in the palace. Edmund thought he heard Peter yelling for a duel, which honestly Peter- and then Edmund remembered. Edmund hurriedly sat up in bed heart beating fast and suddenly alert. Yes that was Peter shouting, and that also sounded like Susan. Edmund started throwing on clothes at random, he had completely forgotten about the letter he had sent Susan and the reply she had sent him.
Edmund ran down the stairs two at a time, rushing past concerned servants. Edmund really hoped no one had killed his husband, Edmund was very fond of him and would like Caspian to remain alive. “Oh your majesty!” the Count of the western march called after Edmund as he followed the sound of Peter trying his best to burst a blood vessel. Edmund ignored the Count and located the source of the shouting shoving open the doors to one of the smaller council rooms. Edmund was greeted with the sight of Caspian trying to talk over Peter yelling at the top of his lungs. Peter who was being held back, probably from punching Caspian or something, by a very tired looking Lord Drinian. No one was holding Susan back, and she was looming dangerously over Caspian looking like she fully intended to murder him with a paperweight.
“HE’S NOT HAVING AN AFFAIR!” Edmund shouted successfully drowning out Peter, he had years of practice.
“What?” Caspian and Peter said at the same time in the same tone of disbelief.
“Oh thank Aslan” Drinian muttered.
“Why are you confused?!” Peter angrily asked Caspian.
“He’s not?” Susan asked, still eyeing the paperweight.
“Oh”. The Count of the western march quietly said from over Edmund’s shoulder. Edmund closed his eyes and pretended that hadn’t just happened. Edmund shut the door in the Count’s face.
“No, he’s not,” Edmund said, walking further into the room.
“Rillian is courting Ariadne,” Caspian added.
“Oh well, in that case-” Susan said thankfully moving away from the paperweight. “It’s good to see you Caspian” Susan air-kissed Caspian’s cheeks.
“I don’t get it” Peter said
Edmund did his best not to sigh, after all this was sort of his mess.
Chapter 3: Stolen Princes
Eustace sucked in a deep gulp of air before braving the outside. He had travelled up to London for the week and was staying at a boarding house in the city. London air was abysmally bad, thick with smoke and foul smells that Eustace really didn’t want to put a name to. His shoe squelched in something unmentionable. Today was a particularly bad day for the family, Mr and Mrs Pevensie, Eustace’s Uncle and Aunt had died last night in a train crash. Eustace’s poor mother, Alberta was terribly upset.
Eustace wondered where the Pevensie’s had gone. It had been four years since Edmund and Lucy had stayed with Eustace and his parents. And the news that they had ‘gone missing’ in the town hall during a raid. Two more blows followed swiftly, Peter had ‘gone missing’ from his medical school the same day the underground nearby was flooded. And Susan had been in Hawaii for Christmas, there was no word following the seventh of December. She had also ‘gone missing’.
Eustace considered that it was rather grim on the other side once you chose to remain in Narnia. Although Peter had told Eustace that the first time they all went to Narnia and came back, they returned to the time they had left only a few minutes after. It was all very confusing, Susan Peter Lucy and Edmund had grown up in Narnia only to return exactly as they had left. And through the back of a wardrobe located in Digory Kirke’s house.
Eustace had so many questions. The second time his cousins had gone to Narnia was due to the magic of a horn being blown. Which, magic, Eustace supposed. But when they returned by magical archway, they had again come right back to exactly when they had left. Apparently Peter had been irritated, he had turned eighteen in Narnia. What Eustace is trying to say here is that he doesn't know what to do. When he had been eleven he had gone to Narnia with Lucy and Edmund by way of a painting (so confusing, the rules here just don’t exist). Eustace had returned with Polly and Diggory. Polly had opened a window in the house and told Eustace to climb through it. Eustace had climbed right into his bedroom at his parent’s house.
Eustace had come to several conclusions. The first was that there are no rules to how or why or go to Narnia, you just do. The second was that when you returned, you always returned to the moment you left. And third, if you did not return you ‘went missing’ and ‘died’. It was a bit grim and Eustace didn’t really want to leave his parents alone. Well, Eustace had complicated feelings about it. Eustace also really, really hated London right now. There was something unmentionable and brown all over his shoes.
Eustace turned the corner and spied the building he had been heading to. It had been hit in the raids last night. There was no longer a building. Eustace turned around back to the boarding house.
When Eustace turned Sixteen his parents decided that he needed to go to a special school. It was a boarding school called the Experiment House. Which really told Eustace everything he needed to know about what the school was going to be like. You see, Eustace’s parents considered Eustace to be ‘a bit funny in the head’. Alberta blamed the sudden deaths of Eustace’s cousins and then the death of her sister and brother-in-law. Harold, Eustace’s father, said it was because Eustace was a ’pansy’. And Harold was not having a limp wristed man be his son. Eustace may have shouted that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him and it was his parents uneducated views that were the problem. He may have said they should take a holiday in Greece and study the arts.
So yes, Eustace was an idiot. He had pissed off his parents and was currently on a steady path for lobotomy before he turns twenty. So no, Eustace was not having a great day. Jill Pole was sitting under a desk at the back of the old unused english and maths room. Eustace paused and thought about going to the science room instead. He could hide in there before classes started. Eustace could hear Jill Pole softly crying. Eustace could practically hear Lucy telling him not to leave Jill Pole alone. Eustace shut the door quietly and made his way down the row of desks to the one Jill was under. “Um, hi” Eustace said his voice was all scratchy and broken. Eustace pretended that he sounded normal.
Jill stuck her head out and peered up and Eustace. “What?” she asked bluntly, her eyes were red and puffy. Eustace tried not to feel like a gangly duck, he scratched his ear.
“Got any room under there?” Eustace asked like a weirdo. Jill looked at Eustace like he was an idiot, which yes, thank you Jill. Eusatce already knew that.
“Fine”. Jill replied and shuffled making room for Eustace. They didn’t fit under the one person table But Eustace squashed his long limbs and did his best to pretend he was five. Jill smiled and Eustace felt he had won something. “You know, you're not too bad, Scrubb”. Jill bestowed Eustace her judgement and Eustace tried not to preen.
“-wait, wait so he’s married to a man?” Jill had produced a toffee sweet and was chewing heartily away. “And your cousin’s are all alive?”. Eustace nodded. They both had definitely missed the start of classes hiding in the back of the old classroom for the past hour. Eustace liked Jill, she was an excellent listener. Jill cursed loudly, “a dragon!? Bloody hell Scrubb”.
The final bell rang drowning out all chance of continuing conversation. Eustace unglued his gangly limbs from where they had stuck to the floor and sides of the desk. “I suppose we better go” Jill sighed. Eustace's legs had fallen asleep. He couldn’t really feel his feet and it was very unpleasant standing up. “Ugh” Jill complained as she pulled herself up.
They made it to the end of the corridor and were at the top of the stairs ready to go to the dinning hall. Livingston and his gang of goons rounded the staircase and caught sight of Jill and Eustace. “Oi Scrubbs looks like you finally found a Pole to sit on” Livingston jeered crudely.
Eustace decided to try another staircase. “Come on,” Eustace quietly said to Jill turning back down the corridor.
But the goons followed Jill and Eustace. “Come on Scrubbs, tell us is Pole as big as she looks?” Livingston made a gesture indicating to Jill’s chest. Which. No. Eustace saw red.
“Eustace!” Jill cried and Eustace blinked. Livingston was on the floor, he was holding his nose. It was bleeding. The goons recovered from the shock of Eustace’s attack. “Fucking run!” Jill shouted, pulling on Eustace’s arm. And Eustace ran. Down the back staircase, out the side door and straight through the school’s gate.
There were a lot more trees and bushes and bits of greenery than Eustace thought there ought to be. And then Jill almost fell down a cliff and Eustace realised that they probably weren't in Finchley any more. “Well shit”.
“This isn’t your magical made up world where everyone who’s dead is alive and no one’s an ass about you possibly being gay is it?” Jill asked after several hours of wandering through a lot of trees and bush. “God, I'm so thirsty,” Jill said.
“-Me being what? I don’t think you’re using that word correctly”. Eustace frowned trying to get his heart to slow down, shut up and not be so loud. There wasn’t anybody for miles around, no one was going to over hear them.
“Oh shut it Scrubbs.” Jill grouched pausing to unhook her tights from a rather prickly bush. She swore heavily and announced that her tights would never be the same again.
“I think we’re in the place between worlds. The Kirke’s mentioned it once, Digory came here when he was about my age-”
“Oh my god Eustace. Get me a drink of water, I beg you. I can’t listen to you when I’m dying of thirst”.
Jill really did look rather bad, she had gone pale and her breath was short. Eustace awkwardly offered Jill his arm. She grumbled and put her own arm around Eustace’s shoulder leaning heavily on him. They didn’t have to wander too far before Eustace saw a pool up ahead. Jill made a vague nose. Eustace was practically dragging poor Jill along by now. Eustace was trying very hard not to panic.
“Come on Jill,” Eustace said, depositing Jill by the side of the pool. She groaned and drank a bit of the water and thankfully started to look a bit better.
“Absolutely worst day-” Jill muttered before she startled back. “Why am I seeing a lion Eustace?”. Jill asked faintly looking behind Eustace. Eustace turned around, and oh yes, there was a lion.
Aslan said something cryptic about destiny, stolen princes and rings and then they were sort of falling into the pool. And Jill was shouting about the lion giving her a rat skeleton and saying she never wanted a cat and her mother had been right. Cat’s do give you dead things.
Eustace spat out a mouth full of water and dragged himself out of the river. Jill was three steps ahead of him. She made a displeased sound and dropped a rat’s skeleton onto the grass. “I’m going to have nightmares for weeks,” Jill said.
“Aslan really gave you a rat?” Eustace said bending down to get a closer look. The skeleton had a bit of ribbon tied around it. There was a ring attached. Eustace gasped softly. Digory had told Eustace of his mad uncles experiments with guinea pigs and traveling between worlds. Eustace reckoned that this was one of those guinea pigs.
“Why are you wrapping the rat up in your sock?” Jill asked unimpressed.
“I’m not, it’s the ring” Eustace excitedly showed Jill the ring.
“Nerd”. Jill scoffed fondly. “Alright, we have the ring. Now where do we find a stolen prince?”
Chapter 4: Green
It was a beautiful day and Rilian was currently pretending that he was travelling in blissful silence. Unfortunately this was not the case. “-Running away!” Henry, the horse scoffed. “What are you, eight? I cannot believe how irresponsible you are. One day you will be King, and you cannot up and leave whenever you want-”.
Blissful silence. The woods were lovely, the trees were quiet. A few waved silently at Rilian as he and Henry went by. Rilian waved back. Rilian and Henry were on their way to the southern lakes for the day. They had left Cair Paravel a few hours before dawn and would most likely be back a few hours before the next one. Rilian wasn’t running away. He was just, taking a break. Henry’s a dramatic horse. “- beside themselves with worry! Absolutely devastated!”
The lakes looked like glass. Laid out blue and cool. Henry huffed noisily. “Is this because Ariadne didn’t stay?” Henry asked tentatively. Rilian rolled his eyes. Honestly he shows interest in a girl one time and suddenly everyone is drafting invitations and arranging flowers.
“No. I’ve already told you, we broke up but are still-”
“Good friends” Henry cut Rillian off, and Rillian got the feeling Henry was rolling his eyes. Riliain dismounted and took off his saddle. This was why Rilian needed a break from Cair Paravel. Ever since he and Aunt Lucy had returned from the northern forest along with Ariadne, a star who had wanted to do a bit of exploring everything had gone to shit. Well, more like really messy and extremely annoying.
The first thing had happened within minutes of them coming through the gate. Half the nobility were in hysterics because they wanted their son or daughter standing beside Rilian where Ariadne was. The other half instantly fell in love with Ariadne.
The thing about Ariadne is that well, she’s very beautiful. She has this glow which well, she’s a star, so. Anyway Rilian had a crush. He’s dated people before but he’s never taken anyone home before. Mainly because Rilian knew everyone would make a fuss. Also his parents are extremely embarrassing. Like so embarrassing. And to top it all off Rilian’s dad has always had a huge obsession with stars. He, and his two dads would go stargazing before the new moon all the time.
So Caspian had been glued to Ariadne discussing astronomy and physics for practically the entire time Ariadne had stayed. And Rilian’s other dad had sort of lost it. Edmund was Caspian’s true love (and yes Rilian felt like throwing up a little in his mouth, because ew his parents). Caspian was disgustingly in love with Edmund and vice versa. But Capisan had clearly never not had his full attention on Edmund before. Because after literally two hours of Caspian discussing quantum whatevers with Araidne. The entire court had been in melt down. Edmund hadn’t moved from his spot glaring at his husband and Rilian’s sort of maybe (they’ve kissed) girlfriend. It was so embarrassing.
And then it got worse. Lucy left (laughing) for her next trip and a day later Susan and Peter rode into Cair Paravel. The guards had been very confused because it was the High King and Queen so of course they would be greeted happily. But the King and Queen had entered as though they were leading an invading army on Cair Paravel. Peter had been loudly shouting for Caspian to come face him in a duel and waving his sword like an idiot. Rilian had died on the spot. He had been in the courtyard eating an orange for breakfast. Anyway it had all been supremely embarrassing and Rilian would very much like to pretend that his family weren’t idiots.
“Hello sweet prince,” Rilian jumped in surprise and dropped the saddle on his toes. The lady standing by the lake dressed in green laughed. Rilian tried to speak, ask her where she came from, she definitely hadn’t been there before. “Sweet prince, don’t be scared” the lady in green was suddenly a lot closer. Henry reared up and there was a sharp flash of green light blinding Rilian.
Chapter 5: Knights in shining armour and Dragons
“How do you feel about heights?” Eustace asked Jill three hours into the long walk down the river in hope of finding civilization. Jill threw Eustace a confused look.
“Why?” She asked pausing to stare at Eustace.
“Remember what I said about being a dragon-” Jill instantly caught on.
“Wait, you think you can do that whole magic thing again? Fly us somewhere?”
“I can try”. Eustace honestly had no idea if it would work. When he had first learned to use the narnian magic and turn into a dragon it had been easy. At least after Aslan had shown him how to do it. But Eustace hadn’t been in Narnia for a long time and he was worried that he had forgotten how to do it. Eustace shut his eyes and concentrated.
Eustace tried again. And again, and again. But it was like trying to catch air. Eustace could feel the magic, he knew it was there. But he just couldn’t get a grip on it. “Fuck!” Eustace shouted in frustration.
“It’s okay,” Jill said, looking concerned at Eustace's uncharacteristic outburst. Eustace breathed sharply through his nose and did his best to get a hold of his temper.
They made it up a nearby hill and there on the horizon was the very top of Cair paravel peeking out over the trees. “We need to go in that direction”. Eustace said pointing at the sea.
“Who’s that?” Jill asked, pointing down the hill at two riders in the valley below them. Eustace frowned down at the riders. He hadn't noticed them before. It was a lady in green and a knight riding beside her. The knight was wearing armour and a helmet which obscured his face.
“I don’t know…”
The lady’s head snapped up and looked straight at Eustace. Eustace felt a sudden icy chill of fear. “Oh she’s beautiful,” Jill breathed. And she was. Her hair was stunning, her mouth painted blood red and her green dress shimmered in the sunlight. She bared her teeth in what might have been mistaken for a smile. But made Eustace’s skin crawl. Jill was saying that maybe they should go say hi. Eustace was trying not to panic, torn between grabbing Jill and running or, or.
Eustace got a grip on the magic. Jill made a loud shrieking shout and Eustace suddenly felt weightless. He had done it! He was a dragon again! Eustace wanted to swoop up to the clouds and fly and fly and fly. But there was a second shout and Eustace’s attention was brought back to the two riders in the valley. The lady in green looked afraid and the knight's horse was bucking under him.
Eustace swooped down at the riders. The lady screamed and turned her horse riding quickly into the mountain caves. The knight fell off his horse. Eustace cursed. He was too big to follow the lady into the caves. Concentrating carefully, Eustace turned back into a man. Jill was shouting at him from the top of the hill. Something about being pissed that he left her up there.
The cave was dark and there was no lady in sight. Eustace could feel strange magic in the air. Before he could do anything else like see where the cave led. Eustace heard the sound of a sword being drawn and felt the pressure of a blade against the back of his neck. “Turn around, slowly” the knight instructed.
Eustace turned around. The knight's helmet must have been knocked off because Eustace found himself looking at a handsome man, who was probably a bit older than Eustace. Now really wasn't the time for Eustace not to note that the knight had lovely dark eyes and killer cheekbones. But the knight did and Eustace was noticing. The sword was pressed to Eustace’s throat. “What sort of creature are you?” the knight asked, narrowing his eyes at Eustace.
Eustace knew it looked a bit bad, turning into a dragon and swooping down on an unarmed lady and chasing after her into a cave. And he had an explanation… He had no explanation. “Erm” Eustace began eloquently trying to think up something that would sound reasonable. “I’m not dangerous,”
“Dragons breath fire” the knight cut Eustace off and pressed his sword a little harder against Eustace’s throat. Eustace took a step back.
“SCRUBB!” Jill screamed at the top of her lungs. And Eustace was made aware of the loud crashing sound of Jill probably falling down the hill. The knight froze at Jill’s scream, and Eustace wanted to laugh. He supposed she did sound a bit scary. A very disheveled Jill appeared at the caves entrance. She had half a tree in her hair and was missing her cardigan. “YOU” Jill screamed at the knight and the poor man flinched. “Back away from my best friend”.
Eustace felt a curl of surprise and joy. He hadn’t realised that Jill considered Eustace to be her best friend. The knight didn’t budge. Jill deflated a bit. “Look I know he turned into a bloody dragon and he’s a bit rude, but I would appreciate it if you took your sword away from his throat”. Eustace was not rude. The knight sheathed his sword and bowed his head to Jill. Eustace frowned.
“Apologies lady”. The knight said to Jill. Jill turned bright pink. Eustace frowned more at the knight. Alright he sees how it is, Jill gets a bloody bow and is called ‘lady’. Eustace gets a sword at his throat. People are so rude to Dragons.
Chapter 6: Dreams
It was early dawn, very early. So early that the sky was still lit with stars. Caspian was packing away his telescope in the astrology tower. Which was also the tallest tower in Cair Paravel. Caspian had built the tower alongside the dwarves and Griffins. Each brick, bit by bit with his own hands. Well not every single brick. Caspian had free time but not months of hours to spare from all the paperwork that came with being a King. But he had definitely laid at least part of the walls.
Caspian had wanted the tower and designed it with the Centaurs. Discussing the best placement had been his only way of surviving when Edmund had left. That and Rillian. Caspian didn’t like to remember the time he had spent grieving Edmund. But he had. He had grieved.
Sometimes Caspian would still awake in the middle of the night a horse cry stuck in his throat. Blinking away the images stamped into his brain.
Aslan is saying they must go. Peter agrees. The tree looms over them all, its size increasing. The doorway is an ominous dark hole. Caspian is frozen, he wants to beg Aslan not to take Edmund away.
Caspian wants to grab Edmund, steal him away. Run, get a horse and run some more. Never look back just to go. Somewhere where no one will ever ask anything of him.
Edmund walks into his arms. Caspian is frozen. He cannot move. Edmund walks away. He does not look back. And then he is gone, eaten by the dark hole. Caspian awakes before he can scream.
It had been a long time since Caspian had dreamt this particular dream. He had got up, leaving Edmund still asleep in their bed. And climbed up the astrology tower alone to gaze at the stars. To clear his mind and get his head out of the dark place it was.
Caspian knows why he had that dream. The last few months had been particularly awful. It had started just at the start of spring. He had been in the afternoons council session. Edmund beside him, Peter Susan and Lucy also in attendance. There had been a commotion in the courtyard. And then a very flustered fawn and rushed in to deliver the most terrible words Caspian had ever heard.
Rilian was missing. He had last been seen by the lakes. They had searched and searched, but there was no sign of Rilian. Caspian feared the worst, Rilian’s childhood had been full of assassination attempts. The more time that passed, the heavier Caspian’s heart was.
His cousin by blood, his adoptive nephew, his son and heir, his child.
Caspian had never felt this deep despair. It hurt him.
Caspian put his head in his hands and wept. Above him the stars swirled in the sky, dawn approaching. There were soft footsteps on the stairs. Then a hand on his shoulder, Edmund pressed a kiss to Caspian’s temple. Caspian hugged Edmund, his heart hurt.
Chapter 7: The Knight
Jill had managed to make herself look somewhat tidy, she had got rid of all the leaves. She cursed some more about the impracticality of skirts. Eustace had enjoyed Jill’s cursing. The knight had looked like a gaping fish, stunned and unsure in the face of Jill loudly swearing doom upon idiotic rules.
Unfortunately now Jill was fussing over Eustace. He had a very small cut at the back of his neck. Jill glared fiercely at the knight. “It’s fine, I’m fine” Eustace said trying to push Jill off of his shoulders.
“Nobody should go waving around sharp objects. It’s incredibly rude.” Jill muttered loudly and pointedly. The knight looked like he had eaten something that terribly disagreed with him. He was pacing back and forth and had started to look very sweaty. Jill did not take kindly to this; she immediately turned her attention to the knight. “Look here, did you mother never teach you manners?”
The knight flinched and turned to look at Eustace and Jill. His eyes were wide and he looked incredibly deranged. Jill took a step back. “I don’t have a mo-” the knight started to say before he suddenly groaned and looked like he really wanted to throw up.
“Are you alright?” Eustace found himself asking. The knight looked up and met Eustace’s gaze. Eustace suddenly was finding it difficult to breath. And for some strange reason Aslan’s voice was echoing in his head unhelpfully saying ‘destiny’.
“Where is she?” the knight spat out.
“Who? your mother?” Jill asked. The knight growled clutching his head like it pained him.
“No, my Lady. Where is my Lady?” The deranged look was back in the knight's eyes. Eustace carefully inched around Jill making sure he was in front of her. Afterall he was the one who could breathe fire. Jill was just incredibly good at swearing. Eustace absentmindedly reckoned Jill would be excellent at sword fighting if she had a few lessons.
The knight was pointing his sword at Eustace again. Eustace wondered if this was going to be a common occurrence. “Where is she?” the knight asked again. Eustace could see the sword was shaking in the knight's grip.
Eustace pushed Jill behind him, he reasoned after all, he was the one who could turn into a dragon. “We don’t know,” Eustace said carefully holding up his hands in a placating manner and maintaining eye contact with the knight.
The knight suddenly straightened up, his face cleared and he sheathed his sword. It was as though a switch had been flipped. “My apologies”. The knight said, “are you two lost?” the knight asked perfectly calmly. Eustace was a little freaked out.
“Yes actually”. Jill piped up from over Eustace’s shoulder.
The knight nodded and gestured to the cave entrance. “We are in the Deep Woods, I can help guide you to the nearest town. A day's ride away”. He smiled charmingly.
Eustace felt a niggling in his memory, there was something familiar about the shape of the knight’s smile. But it escaped Eustace floating out of his reach. “And what of your Lady?” Eustace asked haltingly.
The knight blinked a blank look passing across his face. “Oh, I need not worry. The Lady always finds me”. He sounded a little despondent about it. Jill inched a little closer to Eustace. Clearly she too thought the knight was very strange.
Chapter 8: Tea and biscuits
As there were no horses in sight the knight explained they would have to go by foot.
“What is your name?” Jill had asked the knight. The knight had looked very lost and softly said that he did not have one. Jill had looked horrified and had been calling him ‘Fred’ ever since. After her grandfather who had suffered from memory loss in his later years.
Eustace thought about offering to turn into a dragon and fly them to the town. But he decided not to. The knight had a very violent reaction the first time around. And Eustace was curious, he wanted to know more about the knight. A few days' travel with him would surely reveal more about the knight.
The knight was not entirely sure how he found himself walking through the woods with two oddly dressed people. But he supposed this was how his life was. Full of strange happenings.
The girl, Jill, had asked his name. The knight had wanted to tell her, but he didn’t know. Thinking about things like his name, or why he followed the lady or green. Or where he came from, or why he had thought he’d seen the dragon form the cute boy turned into, somewhere before. Well thinking on that too long made the knight want to hurl and bury his head in a very dark space and wait for everything to stop spinning.
It was why he had to refer to himself as ‘the knight’. Even though he knew it was daft to call yourself a title, instead of an actual name. If he tried anything else it just made his head hurt too much. He tried once. Really messed him up. He’d woken a few days later and felt as though all his organs had been taken out and then put back incorrectly. So it’s “The knight”.
“That, is not a name”. Jill scoffed pushing a stray branch away from her face. She really seemed to have bad luck with plants. Somehow there were leaves in her hair again despite earlier when she had taken them all out. The knight shrugged noncommittally. The knight’s eyes strayed to the cute boy. He was being rather silent. He had nice hair, it looked nice. Wavy and slightly auburn in the direct sunlight. He looked at the knight, and the knight looked away.
The knight blinked a little. His heart was beating fast and his stomach felt weird, but not in a bad way. It was a warm feeling, not the cold sick feeling he was so used to. The knight looked back at the boy. Just to confirm that the warm feeling was because of him. It was. Jill was speaking to the boy quietly. “-Eustace-” Jill said. Eustace. That was his name. The knight put the information away safely in his head. He didn’t want to forget Eustace’s name.
There was a rustle and approaching hooves. The knight braced himself. The green lady appeared, a red smile painted on her cold beautiful face. “My knight”. She said in her silky voice. The knight was aware of Jill swearing loudly in surprise, and Eustace bristled like a cat. The knight was sure if Eustace was a little more vocal like Jill, he would have actually hissed like an angry cat. The knight bit back a smile at the thought.
“My lady”. The knight replied in turn and sketched a bow.
Eustace was indeed unhappy to see the lady in green once more. And he probably would have been oddly pleased to know the knight thought he was cute. Of course he would have been terribly embarrassed and mortified to be compared to an adorable angry kitten. Eustace could turn into a dragon and breathe fire. He was not a cat.
The lady smiled at Eustace and Jill and invited them to rest at her home. The knight stood stiffly beside her. His face was unsettlingly blank. This upset Eustace for some reason.
“Will there be tea and biscuits?” Jill asked only half jokingly. Eustace almost laughed. Only Jill would be bold enough to ask a lady such as this lady about tea and biscuits. The lady blinked several times. It was obvious she was trying not to look affected. “Of course” the lady said in tones of suppressed emotion.
Eustace coughed to hide his laugh. He looked to one side and saw that the knight was half smiling. Eustace breath was taken away.
Chapter 9: Ginger
The lady led them to a different cave entrance and down to an underground city. Eustace was surprised to see some dwarves as well as a few other narnian people.
They did indeed have tea and biscuits. Jill had become invested in making the lady’s perfect face twitch in a certain constipated way. Eustace nibbled on a biscuit. Jill had the lady’s full attention, Jill had taken it upon herself to educate the lady in the art of profanity. The lady didn’t have much choice. It was incredibly amusing to watch the lady hold back everything she clearly wanted to say.
Eustace looked around the cavern city. It was obvious the dwarves were unhappy. Eustace could see chains on them. They were being forced to mine. Eustace swallowed down a flash of anger. Eustace settled on glaring at the lady. He didn’t like her.
Eustace was honestly very much out of his depth. He had been returned to Narnia, but had not reunited with any of his family. Eustace desperately wanted to see Edmund, Caspian, Rilian, Lucy, Peter, Susan, Anwar, Nabiyah. Diggory and Polly. All of them. Eustace wondered how long time in Narnia had been compared to time in England. He really hoped it hadn't been something stupid like a thousand years. Eustace immediately decided that was a horrible awful thought and he wasn’t going to think about time.
Eustace really wanted to turn into a dragon and fly to Cair Paravel. But he was currently very deep in the mountains and turning into a large dragon would definitely destroy some key structures of the city and endanger the narnians down here. So dragons were off the table.
Eustace wondered how the hell he was supposed to square this. The Green Lady was clearly evil, And also powerful. Eustace had felt her twist the magic to her will several times. It had felt very wrong. Eustace bet that the lady had the stolen prince Aslan had asked Eustace and Jill to rescue. He was probably locked up somewhere in the cave city.
Eustace wondered how the hell he was supposed to find this prince. What does a prince even look like? Eustace doubted the prince would be wearing a crown. The lady probably had dozens of prisoners. Knowing Eustace’s luck he’d probably end up rescuing the wrong one. Couldn’t Aslan have been more specific?
“Do you not enjoy ginger?” Eustace flung his arms out wildly. The knight blinked slowly at Eustace. Eustace pretended that he hadn’t just lept a foot in the air at being interrupted during his thought process.
“Sorry?” Eustace said. He had forgotten the knight was sitting next to him. Which was a terrible missed opportunity. Eustace could totally have been admiring the contours of the man’s face. A much better use of brain power.
“The biscuits, do you not like ginger?” The knight pointed at the plate in front of Eustace. Eustace had picked all the ginger pieces out of the biscuits and had been gathering them to one side. He’d even built a mini house out of the ginger bits. How the hell had he managed to do that whilst racking his brain to come up with some sort of plan?
Eustace knocked the ginger house down. “Um. No. I do like ginger. Actually. I like it very much”. Eustace could feel his face burning. Eustace wanted to bury his head in the ginger bits and pretend he didn’t have to communicate with other humans.
“Oh. Then is it the biscuit that is not to your taste”. The knight phrased it like a question, but said it like a statement. Eustace abandoned the shameful bits of ginger and broken biscuits in favour of staring at the knight. He had been right. It was so much better than trying to think up a good plan. The knight smiled widely at Eustace. Eustace might have dropped his plate of ginger on the floor.
“We have crystallised ginger in the kitchens”. The knight said. Eustace wondered if the knight knew just how handsome he was. “Come with me, I can show you where they are”. The knight took Eustace’s hand and Eustace found himself being led away from the tea room and down a corridor. The knight had a very warm hand. Eustace wondered if there was any trace of the sugary biscuits on the knight’s fingers. Eustace kind of wanted to lick them and find out. Which, oh worlds. Eustace shook his head. What on earth, why had he thought that? Eustace needed to calm down.
“Here we are, crystallised ginger”. During Eustace's mental meltdown, they had reached the kitchens and the knight had found the ginger. All while still holding Eustace’s hand. The knight held up a brown bag, Eustace could smell the ginger.
The knight was looking expectantly at Eustace. And well, Eustace did like crystallised ginger very much. Eustace took a handful of ginger chunks and chewed them. Ginger sugar goodness hit his taste buds. Eustace closed his eyes and savoured the treat.
Chapter 10: The silver chair
Eustace ate half the bag before he remembered he had left Jill with the evil green lady. “Shit” Eustace cursed around a mouthful of ginger. Jill, Eusatce had to take care of Jill. She was defenceless and in a strange world. Eustace grabbed at the knight who seemed a little dazed. Eustace rushed back to the tea room. The lady was approaching them. “My knight,” she was saying but Eustace ignored her.
“Are you alright?” Eusatce asked Jill, trying not to sound frantic. Eustace took Jill’s cup and put it on the table so he could hold both her hands and make sure she was fine.
“I’m okay Scrubb. What’s gotten into you?” Jill smiled. She looked fine, in fact she looked fantastic. Her hair was tidy and her clothes had the dirt brushed off them, although there were still a few tears in the material.
Eustace gripped Jill’s hands. “Sorry, I, this place gives me the creeps”. Eustace explained lowly.
Jill nodded, “it’s the closed off space isn’t it. No where to fly huh, dragon boy”. She smiled fondly at Eustace. And Eustace wondered why it still surprised him that she knew him so well.
“Children” the lady called, and Eustace realised she was addressing Jill and him. Eustace tried not to bristle but he knew he had failed. The lady gazed serenely down her nose.
“It has come to my attention that my knight is unwell”. The lady said gesturing disdainfully at the knight. Eustace met the knight’s dark eyes. He looked all blank and emotionless. Eustace was struck by how wrong it looked. Eustace hadn’t realised just how open and comfortable the knight had been earlier with him in the kitchen. And now it was screamily clear that the knight was very uncomfortable. Eustace didn’t like it.
“Mmm” Jill said. “I think Fred had a bit of a panic attack earlier”. Her statement was met with silence. Eustace remembered that Fred, was the knight. The lady looked at Jill like she had just smacked her in the face. Eustace loved Jill so much. The knight’s blank look cracked just enough for him to give Jill a soft smile.
“Fred”. The lady said as though the word pained her. The lady’s eye twitched. Jill hummed an affirmative.
“Yes, Fred, the knight”. Jill pointed to the knight giving the lady a bland smile. The same smile Jill used to give the worst teachers at the boarding school. The one that said very politely that Jill fucking hated them. “He seems to have trouble knowing what his name is, everyone has a name”. Jill said, Eustace could tell she was heavily censoring her speech. Jill definitely had left out a few fucks from that particular sentence.
“My knight, is my knight. He does not need to have a name.” The lady said in a patronizing tone. Jill’s bland smile vanished. Oh dear, Eustace was reminded of that one time the science teacher had called Eustace useless and Jill had sworn very colourfully in his defence. They both had a week’s detention after that. Eustace doubted the lady would give them detention.
“Everyone has a fucking name you bi-”
“My lady is helping me” the knight quickly cut Jill off. Eustace wondered how he knew Jill had been about to curse at the lady from the mountains to the glittering sea. “I, I am afflicted quite terribly. I apologise for my actions earlier. I had been overcome.” The knight looked dejected and wrung out. Eustace hated that expression.
“It is getting late. My knight-” Jill hissed the lady graciously ignored her. “-Is in need of rest he must go to his chair”. Eustace frowned, who slept in a chair? Wouldn’t that be uncomfortable? The lady took the knight’s arm and swept out of the tea room. Eustace and Jill followed.
The lady led them down into a circular room. Right in the center was a very large silver chair. There were chains around the chair. Eusarce had a bad feeling about this. No one slept chained to a chair because they wanted to.
“My knight suffers greatly”, The lady tilted her head. She was probably trying to look sad but it was coming off as insincere. The knight sat in the chair and helped the lady wrap him up in the chains. Eustace’s palm stung. He was digging his nails into his hands.
“If I am not restrained, I become mad and try to kill senselessly.” The knight looked so sad. “I will speak nonsense, I will try anything to get you to release me. I can be very persuasive during those moments. You must swear to not release me.” The knight looked directly at Eustace pleadingly. Eustace's stomach jumped.
“I swear”. Eustace said solemnly. This was serious. Eustace was all over the place. Had the knight been hurt, was he suffering from amnesia? Or was it an illness, dementia? Like Jill’s grandfather, Fred.
“I swear,” Jill said.
The lady secured the last chain. She held the knight’s face, “I will return in the morning, my knight”. The knight nodded and the lady swept out of the room.
“Should we go as well?” Jill asked unsure. The knight shook his head.
“I would like the company, if that’s alright”.
“Of course” Jill walked up to the chair and held the knight’s hand. Eustace flattered. His heart was beating loudly, Eustace didn’t know what to think. Jill looked back at Eustace. The knight looked at Eustace. Eustace went and held the knight’s other hand.
Chapter 11: Rings and shit
Rilian shuddered violently. He really hated the feeling of ice sweeping over his mind. When Rilian found it in himself to open his eyes he saw Jill and Eustace standing a little way off. They looked very concerned. Rilian felt a rush of affection for them. They were so nice. Eustace had always been so nice.
The last time Rilian had seen Eustace was before his father’s wedding. Eustace had been twelve. Rilian remembered his sullen face. He had been homesick and uncomfortable. Rilian remembered Eustace’s smile. They had been rather good friends, it had helped that Eustace could turn into a dragon. Any four year old would have become instantly obsessed.
However Eustace didn't look like he was in his twenties. He looked about eighteen, the same age as Rilian. Eustace should definitely be in his twenties. Unless the time thing that happened when traveling between worlds had happened again. Rilian’s fathers had told him about that.
Rilian frowned. He knew there had been something the Kirke’s had done to ensure that when Eustace returned to Narnia he wouldn’t return thousands of years later. Rilian had definitely heard his family talk about it.
“Well, he’s not screaming, anymore” Jill said tentatively. “I suppose that’s a good sign”. Rilian glanced at Jill, she was frowning. Eustace was staring at Rilian. He had that look on his face again, the one he had when he had been stacking bits of ginger. It was Eustace’s deep thinking face.
Rilian was suddenly hit with the image of Eustace moaning sinfully as he chewed ginger. Eustace had titled his head back lengthening his neck and moaned. It had been an inappropriate response to a bit of ginger. Rilian really wanted Eustace to do it again. Rilian blushed and tried to sift in the chair. The chains stopped him.
“Um, so” Rilian began, his throat was sore, probably from all the screaming. “Eustace, it’s me”. Rilian said nonsensically.
Eustace raised his eyebrows. “Hi,” he said in response.
“Fred?” Jill asked, stepping forward.
“No, Rilian.” Rilian automatically replied.
“Excuse me?” Eustace said, sounding offended.
“It’s me, Rilian, hi”. Rilain tried to wave. Eustace stared gobsmacked.
“Wait, do you know him?” Jill cut in.
“No. Rilian is a prince” Eustace started.
“Oooo! A prince! Rings! Destiny!” Jill rapidly fired off buzz words. Rilian wondered if they were playing a word game.
“No, no” Eustace glared at Jill. “Not that. Rilian is like five”.
“No, I’m eighteen. And if you mean the whole age difference thing, well that’s because of the traveling between worlds. At least that’s what dad said.”
Eustace scowled at Rilian. Rilian tried to not find it attractive. “Shush you,” Eustace pointed at Rillian. Eustace rubbed at his eyes and muttered, “he really was right about being persuasive”.
Rilian decided to ignore Eustace’s request. He still felt offended at being called five. “Look, time has definitely also passed for you because you’re not twelve any more. Is it really hard to believe I’m now eighteen, and not five”. Rilian snarcked a bit. He was not pouting.
“Oh wow, you two do know each other” Jill said in the background.
Eustace crossed his arms. “Alright, Fred,” Rilian glared at Eustace for that. “Say that I believe you. However logically six years have passed so Rilian is ten, not eighteen.”
“Eleven!” Rilian corrected. “And no it’s been thirteen years”.
“Unlucky number.” Jill chimed in “Been counting have we?” Jill winked at Rilian.
“You're still lying,” Eustace declared. “I definitely have returned to Narnia after only six years. I have a travel ring, in fact I have two”.
Oh, now Rilian remembered what the safety precautions put in place was. The Kirke’s had given Eustace a travel ring. How did he have two?
“Wait what?” Jill asked Eustace.
“The ring Aslan gave you, it’s a travel ring so you can go between worlds whenever you need to.” Eustace explained. “Otherwise it’s a bit random and tricky to find a way to narnia. My cousins have come through wardrobes, or by magical horn summoning. I went through a painting-”
“Eustace, are you telling me you had a way out the whole bloody time!?” Jill looked angry.
Eustace looked apologetic “I, well yes but it was complicated. I had conflicting feelings. I”
“Eustace it was so shitty, pure hell, why the fuck did you not dip out and come back to your amazing family!?” Jill fumed.
“You”. Eustace was looking at Jill and Rilian felt that he was intruding.
“Me?” Jill blinked stunned.
Eustace nodded. “It was shitty and pure hell, and I wasn’t going to leave you there. Jill, you're my best friend.”
“You were going to ask me if I wanted to go with you weren’t you? That day in the classroom when you told me about your family”.
Jill sniffed blinking back tears. She pulled Eustace into a bone crushing hug. “You know, you’re not too bad Scrubb”.
Chapter 12: Realisations and trails
This was not how Edmund and pictured travelling with his family. Edmund definitely had not wanted the grim silence that hung over them like an axe ready to fall. The axe which was the unmentionable reason for this particular journey.
Rilian. Edmund swallowed down the acid in his chest. Rilian was still missing. His son. Edmund's eyes were tired from crying, he didn’t think he had any tears left. Caspian tightened his hold of Edmund’s hand. Edmund glanced at his husband. Caspian didn’t smile, but his eyes were soft and Edmund understood that on any other day, Caspian would have smiled.
“Ed!” Lucy called from up ahead. “There’s news from the trees!”
“Did you come here using the ring?” The knight asked. Eustace looked at the knight. Rilian. No way. There was no way. Rilian was a tiny kid that had been too enthusiastic about hitting Eustace with makeshift swords. Rilian was not a very handsome knight who was making Eusatce feel things, okay? The knight was not Rilian. Eustace couldn’t handle that.
“No, we ran through the woods. And then nearly fell off a cliff, then almost drowned in a pool after a lion gave me a dead rat.” Jill explained smiling at the knight.
“Jill!” Eustace protested.
“What? That’s what happened?” Jill shrugged at Eustace looking pointedly at him. Eustace sighed.
“So you did not travel by ring. I am right, thirteen years have passed in Narnia”. Rili- the knight said smugly.
Lucy was holding a cardigan. It was red, and there was an embroidered badge on the front. An image of a grey school and the words ‘The Experiment House’. Edmund didn’t like the sound of that for a school.
“It’s from England,” Lucy was saying to Lord Drinian.
“Did the trees see who was wearing it?” Susan asked. Lucy grinned a little wild around the eyes. She hadn’t been getting much rest either. No one had.
“Even better, they have a trail for us.”
“Alright, Fred” Eustace said, narrowing his eyes at Rilian. “Where did we first meet?” Rillian narrowed his eyes right back at Eustace, he had forgotten that Eustace had a talent in making someone want to strangle him. Although Rilian kind of doubted other people wanted to kiss Eustace until he shut up. Rilian hoped no one else did.
“Aboard the Dawn Treader. You fainted.”
Eustace made an aborted squeaking noise, he went a bit red. Rilian smirked at him. Jill looked back and forth between Eustace and Rilian, she looked like she was holding back from laughing.
“Who's my bodyguard?” Eustace snapped.
“How did I leave Narnia?”
“You went with the Kirke’s. I hugged you.” Eustace’s face turned a deeper shade of red.
“What happened the morning before I left?”
“Polly used her glass balls to do… She said light refraction science and magic combined. She had a mirror and she did something. Then the dufflepuds and the last of the Lords appeared.” Rilian’s head hurt. He was under a very deep memory spell and talking, thinking about all this gave him a killer headache.
“What the fuck is a dufflepud? Who’s Polly? Science and Magic? That sounds so cool” Jill asked Eustace. She poked at his ribs when he didn’t answer.
Eustace had his eyes glued on Rilian. “Who taught me how to sword fight”. Eustace demanded jutting his chin forward.
Well. That’s easy. Rilian had no issue remembering a scrawny Eustace being schooled through the motions Rilian had known as easy as breathing. “Edmund, Lucy, Drinian, Ben, Caspian and me”. Rilian grinned at Eustace. Eustace pouted and grumbled under his breath. “Hey, I totally taught you how to defend from attacks aimed at your knees. Although you still haven’t learned how to not be snuck up on from behind”.
“I was distracted by the magical disappearance of the lady in green!” Eustace protested loudly. Eustace paused and looked at Rilian differently. He sighed. “Shit, it really is you isn’t it”. Rilian nodded, it really was him.
“So, you know him. It’s destiny!” Jill declared poking Eustace in the ribs again.
“Is that a hair?” Peter said with mild concern. The trees had a very clear path for them to follow through the forest. They had grabbed at the poor school girl taking bits of her school clothes, and a strand of blonde hair.
The trees had been reporting back sightings of a lady dressed in green and a helmeted knight. There was magic around the pair and the trees had difficulty tracking them. Apparently the school girl had gone with the lady and knight, the trees said the knight’s helmet had been knocked off by a dragon. The knight looked like Rilian.
“A dragon?” Caspian repeated. “Could it be-?” Caspian looked at Edmund, could it have been Eustace?
Chapter 13: Chains and swords
The sound of footsteps approaching stopped Eustace from asking Rilian (for fucks sake why was he Rilian, why did the hot knight have to be Rilian?) any more questions. Like how he got kidnapped. And who was the lady anyway?
The lady swept back into the room. “Hello dears”. She bared her teeth and went straight for Eustace.
“Eustace!” Rilian shouted.
Eustace shoved Jill behind him, the room was tiny. The dwarves outside in the caves would be crushed to death if Eustace turned into a dragon. The lady grabbed Eustace's head and there was a flash of green. Eustace's body burned. Eustace screamed.
“Get off him!” Jill yelled, Eustace could hear the terror in her voice. Rilian was shouting. The lady let Eusatce go. Eustace dropped to the floor. Jill went down with him, she held Eustace cradling him in her lap. “Fuck, are you okay?” His whole body ached.
His chest felt like it was on fire. Eustace pulled at his jumper. Jill helped him get it off. “Too hot” Eustace managed to say. There was a deep burn on Eustace’s chest. It looked like dragon’s wings spread out in flight. Jill cried out softly in distress.
“What did you do to him?!” Rilian shouted at the lady. The lady looked disdainfully at Rilian.
“Sleep time is over sweet prince” she said and Rilian slumped forward against the chains. His eyes went blank.
Eustace could feel Jill shaking. The lady directed her attention back to Eustace and Jill. Jill flinched at her stare. The lady took one step towards them, there was a loud crash like a particularly big rock had just fallen. The lady gasped and hurried out of the room.
Eustace could breathe a little easier. He got up ignoring Jill’s protests to keep fucking still, his chest had just been branded. Rilian wasn’t there any more. Eustace just had to look in his eyes to see that. The knight frowned up at Eustace. “Who are you?” he asked with Rilian’s voice. Eustace tried not to react.
“Jill” Eustace called roughly. “Help me get these chains off him”. Eustace tugged at the chains and started to unwrap them. There was a leaden weight at the bottom of Eustace’s stomach.
The trail went cold at the bottom of the mountains. The Giant’s mountains. Edmund grimaced. There was a large boulder blocking the entrance. The trees easily smashed through it. Behind the boulder was a city. They approached cautiously Edmund saw there were dwarves mining down in the caverns. At first Edmund didn’t think anything of it and then he saw the chains.
“How do we get out of here?” Eustace asked the knight. Eustace had got Rilian’s sword from where he had put it against the wall before sitting in the silver chair. Eusatce really wanted to melt the thing with dragon fire. Rilian frowned back at Eustace. He was walking in front of Eustace and Jill, at sword point.
“Why do you want to go?” the knight asked.
In the distance there was the sound of a fight. Shouting and clanging. Eustace didn’t want to know. He might be a dragon but Eustace didn’t actually ever want to be in an actual battle. Like ever. Also Jill was a vegetarian so Eustace didn’t know how she would feel about seeing Narnians good or bad, human or otherwise, die. She didn’t need to see that.
Jill burrowed closer to Eustace. She was still shaking. Eustace hated this whole situation. His chest was still aching from whatever the witch lady had done to him. Eustace swallowed hard and pushed the images flashing in the corner of his mind away. The bombings in london. Waking up every morning to a wasteland. Moving rubble and finding Mrs Whitfield’s body. Walking down the street and seeing the cat that Eustace had known since he was three dead and burnt. Not now.
Jill was still trembling. Eustace looked at her pale face and remembered it covered in ash and dirt. The morning after another air raid at the boarding school. Jill never spoke about the war. Eustace knew she had lost her elder brother to the front. Eustace also knew that the sounds of bombs made Jill breathe funny.
“There’s an exit up there,” Rilian said and pointed up an odd set of stairs. Eustace followed the line of Rilian’s arm up a roughly cut narrow street. At the end of the street were blocks of stone one on top of the other in imitation of a staircase. Eustace couldn’t see where they led but he could see daylight coming down. Each step was as high as a Eustace shoulder. They would have to climb up it.
Edmund dismounted and called down to the dwarves. He got their attention, and also the attention of some monitors he hadn’t noticed in the shadows. The monitors bellowed and attacked.
Eustace couldn’t climb the stone steps and hold Rilian at sword point. So he had put the sword in the scabbard and slung it over his back. Eustace would climb onto a step and then turn back and help Jill up. Rilian was several steps ahead, there wasn’t much Eustace could do about that.
He just hoped that whatever the lady had done to Rilian, he wouldn’t actually try to hurt Eustace or Jill.
Peter swung his sword, Susan’s arrows fired out in swift volleys. Lucy was off somewhere with a particularly active tree. Edmund and Caspian fought back to back. They were being overwhelmed. Then Edmund saw her. Jadis. She was sitting on the back of a bear and charging towards them. Nabiyah jumped in front of Edmund stopping an attack that he hadn’t seen coming. She looked back at Edmund “pay attention Ed” she said before she jumped down and started to free the dwarves from their chains.
Eustace braced himself to heave up the last step. Rilian knelt down and offered Eustace an arm up. Eustace stared at the arm, then at Rilian. The knight’s face was blank. Eustace took the arm.
They had come out of the cave city to a lovely garden. Eustace wished he could enjoy it. The grass was the lushest he’d ever seen. The flowers were the size of Eustace’s head. Vibrant colours of pinks and yellows.
Jill sat crossed legged on the grass. Her head in her hands she took deep gulping breaths. Eustace wished he had some water to give her. Or something to eat.
There was a large castle a few miles away from the stairs. Eustace wondered if it belonged to the lady. He hoped it had some water inside. Rilian gestured towards the castle. “The giants live over there, the forest is that way down the valley”.
Eustace boggled at the side of Rilian’s head. Had he just said bloody giants lived in the bloody castle a bloody stone’s throw away from where they were standing!? Forget about the water. No way was Eustace getting involved with bloody giants.
“Jill,” Eustace said to his best friend, he knelt beside her and rubbed her back. Jill looked a little better, less pale and she was breathing normally. “Can you make it to the forest?” Eustace asked. Jill nodded. She hadn’t said anything for a while. Eustace tried not to pester her. If she didn’t want to say anything, Jill didn’t have to.
The dwarves had a way out of the caves. Now that they had been freed of their chains they fought back pushing the White Witch and her army away from their tunnels. Edmund ran his eyes over the Narnian party. Everyone was there, thank Aslan. A few were injured. It had been a very poor strategy to walk into the caves with the small search party. There were thirty of them in total, against an actual army. It was sucide for them to walk right into the city. Edmund felt idiotic for not thinking it through.
Thank Aslan for the dwarves. The tunnels were long but Edmund trusted they had light at the end. Edmund found Caspian in the retreat, his husband had a cut above his eyebrow. Edmund tried not to blame himself for it. “Ed” Caspian breathed with relief and kissed Edmund’s forehead. Something warm settled contentedly in Edmund’s chest. Edmund took Caspian’s hand. He didn’t plan on letting go for sometime.
Chapter 14: Flowers and a song
“Motherfucker” Jill muttered as the three of them inched down the steep edge of the mountain down to the valley. Eustace smiled happily up at Jill. Jill was speaking again and Eustace had never been happier to hear Jill curse.
Rilian was the first down the mountain and he stood gazing ahead across the flora of the meadow. He was frowning again. Rilian turned back to Eustace and Jill “do I know you?” He asked Eustace. Eustace didn’t know what to say. Eustace didn’t know what would happen if he tried to help Rilian remember. Eustace was doing his best to think about anything other than Rilian and the way the lady had ripped out his mind.
“Yes” Jill said frankly “but you can’t remember, I think you will when it’s dark.” Eustace studied Rilian’s face. Jill groaned, stretching her arms. “Speaking of, we didn’t sleep at all last night and I’m running on biscuits.”
“The giants have food,” Rilian said.
“No,” Eustace quickly said. Nope nopity nope. No way were they facing giants.
“Why the fuck are there giants?” Jill sighed.
“There is a town about a day’s walk from here, in that direction”. Rilian said and pointed far down the valley past the meadow where the ground dipped in another hill. Eustace hoped it was less steep.
“Fuck me, a day? I don’t think you understood me Fred, I haven’t had any breakfast”.
Rilian frowned and Eustace thought he saw Rilian mouth the word ‘Fred’ to himself.
“We can eat those flowers, and there are some berries over there”. Rilian said pointing at what looked like a cluster of pansies and then at a bush of pink berries, that might just be raspberries if Eustace squinted and tilted his head.
Jill smiled gently at Fred “thanks, for a second I thought you were going to suggest murdering a rabbit and then I would have had to unfriend you”.
“Unfriend?” Rilian repeated looking adorably puzzled.
They sat and ate the berries. Eustace tried one of the flowers. Every english bone in his body revolted at the weird choice of food. But Eustace only had about two english bones left in his body; the rest of him was Narnian. England was a pile of bollocks, Eustace chewed on the flowers.
The tunnels came out into the forest. Edmund blinked against the sudden daylight blinding his eyes. He saw Nabiyah help Susan sit, she had been limping. Edmund closed his eyes again. Angry tears bit and his eyelids. They hadn’t found Rilian. A low singing startled Edmund to open his eyes. The dwarves were singing.
Edmund had only ever heard dwarves sing once. When he had come to Narnia the first time and grown up as a King. Edmund had been invited to a dwarven city, and there had been a feast. The dwarves had sung a cheerful song back then. This song was gentle, like a breeze rustling leaves. The hair on his arms stood up, Edmund breathed in. Today they had freed the dwarves from the mountains. It was a good day.
The hill was not as steep as the first one down to the valley. And after a few miles they had reached the shelter of a few trees. There were apples and chestnuts to eat from the trees, although the trees did not speak. Eustace had yet to tell Jill about the trees.
“Oh!” Jill suddenly cried. “Eustace why don’t you turn into a dragon and fly us to your home?” Eustace wordlessly pointed at his chest. Eustace had put his shirt back on at some point in the room with the silver chair, covering up the brand the lady had put there.
“I don’t want to risk it. I don’t know what she did, but I can't feel the magic anymore.”
Rilian was eating an apple. He was a few steps ahead of Eustace and Jill. Eustace could see apple juice on Rilian’s fingers. There was a swirling in the depths of Eustace’s stomach. With a stuttered breath Eustace blinked his eyes away from Rilian’s fingers. Eustace needed to get a handle on himself.
“My name isn’t Fred, is it?” Rilian asked turning back to Jill and Eustace. He had finished the apple, Eustace ignored a flutter of disappointment.
“What?” Eustace frowned.
“I’m not Fred. If I was Fred, I would be feeling a lot of pain for just saying the name. Therefore I’m not Fred." Rilian said casually.
Jill and Eustace gave Rilian matching what the fuck looks. “How much pain” Eustace managed to say. Rilian shrugged. Fuck, whatever was going on inside Rilian’s head must be incredibly dangerous magic. Eustace actually felt scared.
“No, I gave you the name because you didn’t know your name”. Jill said quietly she had gone a bit pale.
“But you know my name” Rilian said looking pleased, “you actually know who I am”. Rilian smiled at Jill and Eustace. He looked so hopeful, Eustace wanted to cry.
“Good”. Rilain smiled softly to himself and continued walking.
“Do you remember anything?” Eustace asked catching Rillian up. Rillian glanced at Eustace from the corner of his eyes.
“If I concentrate too long on anything to do with who I am and who I know my mind. It will..” Rilian gestured at his head “It won’t be good”. Eustace felt sick.
“But yes, I know that I do know some things. I just can’t think about them or it gets bad”.
“Do you know who the lady is?” Eustace asked.
Rilian tilted his head to one side. “No”.
Chapter 15: The Prince
It was getting dark. Rilian sucked in a steadying breath. He hated what was going to happen next. Rilian was unsure how long the lady had been wiping his memories. Rilian just knew that everyday he fought her magic and every night he won. It was a grueling battle, unspeakably painful. But Rilian did it anyway, even though it felt like his brain was being pulled out of his head. Rilian concentrated and he remembered.
He was Prince Rilian. His mother died protecting him, her name was Prunaprismia. His cousin, King Caspian the tenth raised him. King Edmund the Just was Caspian’s husband. Rilian remembered their wedding. The memory was like a dream at the back of his mind, and it didn’t hurt too much to remember Queen Lucy the Valiant binding his fathers hands together.
Every time Rilian won the battle against the lady’s magic. Every time Rilian remembered. It had been the only thing that had kept Rilian sane. Rilian guessed he had been trapped about two years. It had been spring when Rilian had gone with Henry (poor Henry he must beside himself with worry) to the lakes. Rilian was pretty sure he could remember two winters had passed while he was at the underground city. And now it was summer. Rilian missed his family.
Rilian paused. They were deep in the woods now. Eustace was talking quietly with Jill, Rilian’s sword slung across his back. Eustace. Rilian could hardly believe Eustace had appeared and got him away from the lady and her silver chair. Eustace was no longer the skinny twelve year old that Rilian had known. He was tall and his features had matured into the handsomeness that was common amongst the Pevensie family.
Rilian was old enough to admit that he had been a bit obsessed with the other boy. But hey, who wouldn’t? Eustace could turn into a freaking dragon. Eustace placed a gentle hand on his shirt and moved the material. And just like that Rilian’s good mood vanished. Eustace had gotten hurt because of Rilian. The lady had done something to Eustace and now Eustace didn’t want to risk switching forms. She had branded Eustace’s chest.
“I’m sorry,” Rilian said. Eustace froze and Jill jumped in surprise turning to stare at Rilian with wide eyes. “You shouldn’t have had to face what happened back in the caves, I’m sorry”. Rilian addressed Eustace and Jill. Rilian squared his shoulders and tried not to cry.
“Rilian?” Jill asked tentatively whispering Rilian’s name as though she was afraid what would happen if she dared to say it. Rilian looked at Jill and he tried to give her a smile.
Eustace made a pained wheezing gasp he was looking at Rilian with an oddly pained expression. Rilian didn't know why Eustace looked so upset, but before he could do something to take that expression away Eustace came and hugged Rilian. Rilian discovered that Eustace smelled like apples and something earthly and warm. Rilian let his hands come up and gently held onto Eustace’s back. Eustace had buried his head in Rilian’s neck and Rilian was pretty sure he was crying. “I’m sorry,” Rilian said again.
“Don’t you dare-” Eustace rasped wetly “don’t you dare apologize”. Eustace’s hair was pressed against Rilian’s cheek. Rilian let himself nuzzle against the side of Eustace’s head. Something warm settled at the centre of Rilian’s heart. He was going to be okay.
“Fuck,” Jill softly wispered in the distance. Rilian glanced up at her, Jill was wiping at her eyes. Rilian caught her gaze and raised his eyebrows hoping to wordlessy ask if she was okay. Jill waved an arm at him “I’m fine” she sniffed. Jill was smiling, so Rillian supposed she was okay.
Caspian lingered at the edges of the camp. The dwarves would be leaving for the dwarven lands in the north east. Caspian had received another message delivered by hawk, telling him to return to Cair Paravel. Caspian was aware that he had a kingdom to run, but his son was missing. Caspian tried not to despair. They would find Rilian and they would bring him home.
The trees said the knight had looked like Rilian. And the dwarves' description of the knight matched Rilian. Caspian knew in his heart that Rilian was still alive. He didn’t care how long his son had been missing.
Caspian knew that the council wouldn’t let Caspian take his army and lay siege to the mountain city. They wanted their king to forget about Rilian. They wanted him to name another heir. Sometimes Caspian really hated politics.
Edmund sat by the fire watching his husband. They didn’t have the numbers to attack the underground city and get Rilian. Anwar and the ten Calormen soldiers that had come with Anwar and Peter were the greatest number of soldiers Calormen would be willing to lend Narnia in the search for their lost Prince.
“We’re going to have to ask the giants”. Susan said. Edmund tore his eyes away from Caspian to Susan. She was sitting grimly on her cloak. “This is their mountain, so we have to approach them.”
“We’re going to have to go the long way around,” Rilian explained to Eustace and Jill, Marching quickly through the trees.“The lady will come after me, and she will be expecting me to go straight for Cair Paravel”.
“Are you kidding me?” Jill complained half heartedly. “You want me to lose more sleep?” Eustace silently agreed, sleep was definitely needed.
“We have to get off the road quickly so she can’t track us.” Rilian guided Eustace and Jill across a narrow brook. “The best way to shake her off our trail is to do the unexpected”.
“And what won’t she expect?” Eustace asked, taking Rilian’s offered hand and jumping across the rushing water. Rilian grinned at Eustace.
“Queen Lucy’s grove.”
“What?” Eustace didn’t recognise the name.
“The lady doesn’t know where the grove is and if we loop around through the whispering woods we can make it to Cair Paravel without being followed.”
Eustace really wanted to hate the fact that Rilian somehow was ten times more attractive when talking passionately. Rilian gestured a lot with his hands.
Eustace had always known he liked boys. It was just a part of him that had always existed. When he was small Eustace had never voiced this, he hadn’t known it was considered a crime. Eustace had just been naturally shy and had learned that less people looked disapprovingly at him if he kept quiet. His father had always approved of silence.
Eustace discovered that liking boys that way was, in a great number of people’s eyes, wrong. There was a boy who always bought a sticky bun at four o’clock every tuesday. He was Eustace's age and he had been devastatingly beautiful. Eustace had made the mistake of mentioning the boy to his friends at school. They had been talking about who the best looking girl was.
After that Eustace asked his mother if he could be homeschooled. And Eustace had never looked for the boy and his sticky bun again.
Eustace’s cousins came to stay not long after and by then Eustace had learned to be cruel.
The thought of Narnia and the fact that his cousins were living safe and happy had kept Eustace going at the Experiment House. Eustace knew there was nothing wrong with him, there was a whole world where it didn’t matter who loved who.
Eustace was eighteen, in Narnia and he was nursing a crush on his handsome traveling companion.
Sure, they were being pursued by an evil lady with nefarious intentions. But Eustace very much wanted to know what it felt like to kiss someone. Specifically Rilian.
They set up camp under a tree. Jill was asleep instantly. Eustace took Rilian’s sword off his back. He thought about giving it back to Rilian and then Eustace had a horrible thought, what if Rilian reverted to having no memories in the morning? Eustace kept the sword.
Chapter 16: Ethereal
It was a steep climb up to the giant's home. Caspian dug his heels into the earth and climbed with stubborn determination. Caspian was going to find Rilian and bring him home safe. Even if it killed him. “Ow!” Caspian cried out, he had just scratched his palm on the particularly thorny branch he had grabbed in his haste to get up the damn mountain.
Caspian shook his hand hoping to ease the slight sting. Edmund grabbed his wrist and exclaimed the small cut. He was scowling fiercely down at Caspian’s hand. Caspian suddenly felt about five years old.
Edmund directed his scowl at Caspian. “You were thinking something stupid weren't you”. Edmund scolded. Caspian sheepishly smiled at Edmund blinking slowly trying to appeal to his husband’s soft side.
Edmund sighed but he was fighting a smile so Caspian knew he had won. There were dark circles under Edmund’s eyes, he looked exhausted. Caspian hadn’t noticed. Caspian was an idiot. “I’m sorry” Caspian voice trembled with remorse. Edmund smiled gently, Caspian didn't deserve this wonderful beautiful man who just kept loving him.
“Caspian” Edmund breathed heartbreakingly and brushed away Caspian’s tears. Caspian kissed Edmund’s hands. “I’m sorry, I’m trying to tell you I’ve been dense-” Caspian’s voice cracked and Edmund made a soft wounded noise in return. “-And I’m making things worse.” Caspian wiped at his eyes “Crying all over you”.
Edmund huffed a quiet laugh. “You are dense, I agree”. Caspian pouted, he was trying to apologize and Edmund laughed at him? “I don’t think you slept much last night, and gods know it’s been a rough few years on everyone.”
Caspian had spent most of the night sadly looking at the stars and feeling miserable. “You’ve been under a lot of stress darling”. Edmund brushed a soft kiss against Caspian’s lips. Caspian returned Edmund’s smile and kissed his husband back.
“I don’t even care that you forgot about our wedding anniversary”. Edmund murmured and pinched gently at Caspian’s shoulder. Caspian froze. Caspian did what? Oh shit. He was a dead man.
“He does care. He was rather upset about it”. Lucy wryly chimed in.
“Shush, Lucy” Edmund said, sounding completely fine. “I’m way past it”. Edmund shrugged nonchalantly. Oh Aslan save him. Caspian was very dead.
Rilian woke to warm sunlight beaming through the leaves and onto his face. He grumbled and tried stubbornly to get back to sleep. The sun shone brighter. Rilian sighed, he wasn’t going to get anymore sleep. Rilian sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Rilian was sitting on a forest floor, and he knew exactly who he was.
Rilian laughed a little to himself. He felt like jumping at the clouds and running through the forest whooping. But Eustace and Jill were still sleeping so Rilian refrained. Eustace and Jill. Rilian examined his companions. They definitely seemed real and not a figment of his unreliable mind. Rilian felt a trickle of fear, maybe he had been imagining them this whole time.
Maybe he was still dreaming and was actually still asleep chained in the silver chair. Rilian pinched his cheek. It hurt and he didn’t wake up so this had to be real. Rilian looked back down at Eustace. Rilian experienced a warm heat expand from low in his stomach down to his toes. Eustace was curled on his side facing Rilian and breathing softly in his sleep. He looked so peaceful, Rilian didn’t want to disturb the gentle quietness that surrounded him.
The sun shone on Eustace’s softly ruffled hair. Rilian wanted to find out if it was as soft as it looked. The sunlight brought out the hints of red glinting in the daylight. Eustace looked like an ethereal being, otherworldly and hauntingly beautiful. It was only fitting. Eustace did after all come from another world. Inger-land. Rilian wondered if all the Inger-land people were as beautiful as Eustace. He highly doubted it.
Rilian lay back down on his side. Rilian didn't think he had the imagination to dream up someone so otherworldly and beautiful. Rilian reached out a slowly traced Eustace’s cheekbone. He didn’t immediately vanish under Rilian’s touch. Rilian really hoped Eustace was real.
Eustace woke to someone poking at the side of his face. Whoever it was, brushed a finger under Eustace’s eye. They tucked Eustace’s hair behind his ear. Eustace opened his eyes to find Rilian leaning over him. Rilian stared silently at Eustace. Eustace felt his face warm his heart was suddenly beating so rapidly Eustace was sure it was about to leap from his chest.
Rilian ran a finger over Eustace’s cheekbone. “Are you real?” Rilian whispered quietly like he was afraid to break the silence.
Eustace swallowed. His throat was suddenly very dry. Rilian had a touch of green around the edges of his eyes. The sunlight was framing Rilian’s face and he looked like an angel. Eustace almost asked Rilian if he was real.
“Last I checked” Eustace managed to croak out."I'm real". Rilian hummed to himself in a disbelieving tone. Rilian gently tugged at Eustace’s hair. Eustace muffled a squeak. Somehow Eustace's heart beat even faster. Honestly if Rilian kept this up Eustace was going to die from heart palpitations.
Eustace poked Rilian's cheek in revenge. "See?" Eustace said "I'm real". Rilian continued to scan his eyes over Eustace like he was going to vanish into thin air if Rilian stopped looking at him. Eustace's eyes strayed down to Rilian's lips.
“Good morning” Jill's voice cut through the delicate air slyly.
Eustace sat up in a hurry and snatched Rilian’s hand from his hair. Eustace tried to look innocent.
Jill laughed. Eustace realised he was clutching Rilian’s hand to his chest. Eustace quickly dropped Rilian’s hand.
Oh dear God what had Eustace been thinking? Eustace wanted to crawl under the tree and unexist himself. Eustace screwed his eyes shut.
“Good morning Jill”. Rilian said cheerfully. Eustace felt a finger poke his cheek again. Eustace ignored it. “Is he alright?” Rilian asked Jill. She was still laughing, traitor.
“Oh, I think he’s just fine. Mr Prince, his destiny and all that”. Jill dissolved into giggles.
Eustace groaned and buried his head in his knees. Seriously, he needed the earth to swallow him right now.
“His destiny?” Rilian repeated sounding very adorable and very confused.
“Oh yes, Aslan was very clear about that”. Eustace registered what Jill was saying. His head shot up so quickly he could practically hear it snap.
“Shut up Jill!” Eustace whined. Aslan had been vague and unhelpful, the lion had said it was Eustace’s destiny to restore Narnia to its rightful place. How was Eustace supposed to take that? And Aslan had asked Eustace to find the stolen Prince and bring him home. The key word was ask. Nothing about destiny. Eustace glared at Jill. Rilian hummed and he sounded very close. Eustace froze. It had been a mistake to reveal himself. Rilian was still sitting right next to Eustace. Rilian met Eustace's gaze and smiled softly. So softly. Eustace wanted to find out how soft his lips felt. Well, fuck him.
“Fuck me”. Rilian instantly looked surprised and Eustace remembered in excruciating detail Jill carefully and thoroughly explaining to the lady in green exactly what ‘fuck’ meant. Eustace was back to wanting the ground to swallow him and save him from his embarrassment. Jill cackled. Worst best friend (Eustace didn’t mean it).
Chapter 17: I'm all aglow
They had arrived at the giant’s castle. Edmund got the feeling that everyone was filled with trepidation. Edmund’s stomach swirled with unease. Edmund tightened his grip on Caspian’s hand. Caspian was maybe the only one in the group who wasn’t nervous about the giants. Well him and Lucy. Caspian had a completely different reason to feel worried.
Edmund smiled to himself, he supposed he should be satisfied at how bad Caspian felt about the whole missing their wedding anniversary thing. But Edmund hadn’t been kidding; he really didn’t mind. Edmund had actually forgotten himself. He had just come out of one of those long horrible meetings where the nobility tried to play power games with Edmund. As if he didn’t have thousands of years of experience to smack them all down the minute they tried.
Trufflehunter had been waiting outside the chamber, the badger was all fluffed up and incredibly anxious. “Trufflehunter? What’s wrong?” Edmund quickly soothed back the badger’s alarmed fur.
“Oh, oh, your majesty, the king is preparing to leave for another search”. Edmund blinked. Caspian had been going out every day for a whole year. Why was Trufflehunter so upset?
“Don’t worry, I’ll be joining him as always. Do you want me to stay? Is the southern Duchess giving you trouble?” Edmund tried to calm the agitated badger. Trufflehunter wrung their paws and made a small distressed noise.
“It’s your wedding anniversary your majesty”. Oh. Oh. Edmund had forgotten. A sharp pain lodged itself in Edmund’s chest, had Rilian really been missing that long?
“Oh. Well. I think perhaps we shan’t mention it”. Edmund didn’t think he could face a celebration. He didn’t think he could summon any joy, Edmund did not want to fake any smiles in front of a crowd. Trufflehunter clasped dramatically at their snot, Edmund suppressed a smile, Trufflehunter was always a little dramatic.
“But! Your majesty!”
Edmund blinked away the memory. Back then it had been so easy to despair and lose all hope of ever finding Rilian. It had been a painful and exhausting daily battle to never lose determination to keep searching for his son and bring him home.
They were so close. The very air felt full of hope. Edmund turned Caspian towards him and rubbed his thumb over Caspian’s frown. “We’ll find him. I know it”. Caspian’s eyes softened and he tenderly kissed Edmund’s hands.
“I love you” Caspian murmured against Edmund’s knuckles.
Lucy knocked on the giant’s front door and everyone held their breath.
It was about midday when Eusatce decided he ought to tell Jill about the trees. Jill took it quite well. “Okay”. Jill shrugged “magical world, talking trees, etc etc.” Extremely well. Eustace frowned at his friend
“You’re not a little bit shocked?” He asked, Jill shook her head.
“No. I’m mean, Scrubb nothing could be weirder than you turning into a bloody dragon”. Jill poked Eustace’s arm to emphasise her point. “Talking trees? They seem pretty normal really”. Eustace floundered.
“Normal!? Normal.” Eustace was feeling a bit peeved. Rilian slung an arm around Eustace’s shoulder and leaned towards Jill.
“He’s just upset because he really freaked out when he learned the trees talked,” Rillian said. Jill cooed with interest and leaned conspiratorially in. Eustace was standing right there between the two of them. Sandwiched in between. “Tell me more,” Jill laughed. Eustace bristled and tried to shrug Rilian off him. Rilian didn’t get hugs if he was going to betray Eustace’s reputation like this.
Rilian ignored Eustace’s shoving, he had the audacity to look amused and fond. Although that might have been because Eustace was holding the hand of the arm Rilian had sling over Eustace’s shoulder. Eustace wanted Rilian to stay exactly where he was.
No, Eustace was not a fan of Rilian’s lovely sexy broad shoulders engulfing Eustace’s back. Eustace might be all up close and personal with those fantastic chest muscles. And Eustace could feel Rilian’s chest expand and constrict with each breath. But Eustace wasn’t enjoying it no, not at all. Eustace was about half a second away from feeling up those muscles with his hands.
“Oooo a plum tree!” Jill said joyfully and leapt ahead to said tree. Eustace felt Rilian’s breath ghost along the back of his neck. A lightning tingle ran from his neck down to Eustace's knees. Eustace did his best to suppress a shiver and not do something mortifying like whine or stagger. Eustace tripped over a protruding tree root.
Rilian caught Eustace easily, afterall he was plastered to Eustace’s back. Rilian’s arms were now around Eustace’s stomach. “You alright?” Rilian asked. Eustace broke away from the safe encasement of Rilian’s arms. He instantly missed the warm press of Rilian’s chest across his back.
“I’m fine” Eustace stammered. He was not fine. Eustace was a quivering mess. “Thanks”. Eustace tagged on to the end of his sentence. Eustace’s knees felt like liquid, but he was determined. Eustace walked on his wobbly knees over to Jill and her plum tree.
Jill looked a bit concerned. “Do you think the tree will mind if we eat the plums? I don’t think I’d like it if people just came along and, like,” Jill mimied picking a plum “yanked a hair out or something. And then ate it”. Jill grimaced.
Eustace tried to not feel satisfied that she also found the whole talking tree thing weird as fuck. Eustace failed. “Don’t worry,” Rilian said, appearing next to Eustace and picking a plum. Eustace shut his eyes for a moment and breathed deeply and calmly.
“They're fine with it. It’s more like, if you made some bread but you don’t eat bread so you don’t mind bread eaters eating your bread”. Eustace privately thought that was a bit of a bad explanation, but Eustace honestly had no idea how trees felt about their fruit.
Rilian twirled the plum in his hands and Eustace stomach flipped over. Rilian handed the plum to Jill and then he reached out and pulled a leaf from Eustace’s hair. He waved the leaf at Eustace. “It was in your hair”. Rilian smiled tentatively at Eustace and Eustace realised he was probably acting like an ass.
There he was silently freaking out about how he really wanted to kiss Rilian, like so bad, Eustace could taste it in the back of his mouth. Instead of doing something normal like talking to Rilian.
Eustace fluttered his eyelashes apologetically at Rilian and returned his smile gratefully. Rilian seemed to go very still and the leaf crushed between his thumb and forefinger. Jill leaned towards Eustace and whispered: “I think you just broke him with that sexy eye flutter thing you just pulled”. Eustace shot Jill a glare. He had not been pulling anything. (He totally had been). Jill grinned right back at Eustace, she pointed over her shoulder “I’m gonna be over there, you guys have a chat”. Jill waved her arms encompassing Eustace and Rilian. “Very far away. Okay bye!”
Jill rushed off into the forest and the sound of her shoes faded into the distance. There was a beat. Rilian stared intensely into Eustace’s eyes, Eustace licked his bottom lip nervously and Rilian groaned and pulled Eustace into a kiss. Rilian devoured Eustace’s mouth, he kissed and bit Eustace’s lips and tongued at the inside of Eustace’s mouth.
Eustace nearly lost his footing again, but Rilian’s arm came up around Eustace’s back. Rilian’s other hand clasped gently at Eustace’s jaw bringing him in close. Eustace sunk into the kiss before breaking it with a gasp, his mind was a mess of kissing and Rilian and muscles. But Eustace managed to stammer out “shouldn’t we, like, talk, get to know each other?”
Rilian huffed in response it rumbled up through his chest, Eusatce could feel it from where he was pressed up against Rilian. “I like bread” Rilian growled and then he was kissing Eustace again.
“Yeah?” Eustace smiled against Rilian’s lips, “I should have guessed”. A blush spread over Rilian’s face and this time Eustace kissed Rilian. Eustace was worried he was too sloppy, he’d never kissed anyone before. “I’ve never… I’ve never kissed anyone before”. Eustace said.
“Oh,” Rilian leaned back so he could look Eustace in the eye. “Would you like me to teach you?”. Eustace nodded.
“Yes” yes Eustace would like that very much. Eustace grinned so hard his face hurt.
Chapter 18: My heart has wings
Chapter title from Disney Cinderella song So This Is Love
Rilian had been flying high all day. He couldn’t remember the last time he had this much fun. It was hard to make friends at Cair Paravel. He was the son of two Kings. He lived in a castle. The other people around Rilian’s age were the children of nobility. And Rilian hadn’t actually made any genuine friendships with any of them.
Of course Rilian wasn’t lonely. He did actually have friends, it was just, well. Ben was his bodyguard, Henry was a horse and Windamane was basically his mum. Windamane never failed to greet Rilian by producing a handkerchief and daping at his nose. It was just her way of showing she cared. Windamane would also always be down for an unscheduled ride through the eastern woods.
And of course there was Ariadne, she was surprisingly good at playing checkers. But she wasn’t really very present. Sure Rilian could look up at the night sky and know that she was listening to whatever he had to say. But it was just listening. One-sided conversations sort of sucked. So Rilian was ecstatic to have Jill and Eustace.
Rilian was also just so, so incredibly happy to be able to think without his brain trying to kill him. Rilian slung an easy arm over Eustace’s shoulder. Eustace latched onto his hand again like he had earlier, yanking Rilian’s hand out of his hair and pressing it against his heart. Rilian had been able to feel Eustace’s chest pounding. Rilian wondered if Eustace had done that on purpose. Rilian didn’t think Eustace had realised.
Jill grinned at Rilian, and Rilian hadn’t known her that long but he understood that she was silently saying: Eustace has a big fucking crush on you. Rilian felt that the swear word was important to mention.
Eustace cuddled into Rilian’s chest. He snuggled comfortably under Rilian’s chin and Rilian felt Eustace sigh contentedly. Again Rilian couldn’t help thinking Eustace was like a very cute kitten. Adorable, grouchy, but begging for attention. Rilian wanted to /eat/ Eustace.
“Oooo a plum tree!” Jill rushed off, and then Eustace was stumbling and nearly fell face first into the grass. Rilian automatically reached out and stopped Eustace’s fall. And then they just sort of stood there. Eustace pressed flush up against Rilian’s front. Eustace slumped back against Rilian like all the strength had left him. Eustace’s head was tilted to one side, and his neck was right there inches away from Rilian’s mouth.
“You alright?” Rilian managed to say. Eustace snatched himself out of Rilian’s arms like Rilian had just burnt him. Rilian suddenly felt cold and bereft. It was horrible.
“I’m fine. Thanks”. Eustace stammered and sort of fell stumbling towards Jill. Rilian frowned in concern at Eustace’s legs, he certainly didn’t look fine.
Jill seemed concerned over the ethics of eating fruit if the tree was alive. Rilian felt a surge of pride towards Jill. She was from another world and had been here a handful of days and she was just so considerate. Mistreatment of trees used to actually be a serious issue when Rilian was very young. His dads had made about a book’s worth of detailed laws about not chopping down trees.
But Jill didn’t need to worry about eating fruit. If a tree didn’t want people to eat it’s fruit, they just wouldn’t grow any. Rilian gave Jill a plum and tried to explain this, he tried using a metaphor about bread (he was hungry). But Rilian didn’t think it worked very well judging by the raised eyebrow Eustace gave him.
After Eustace and Jill had woken up the three of them had gone down to a low pool of water and washed the sleep from their faces. Eustace knelt down and dipped his hands into the water. He had Rilian’s sword strapped against his back. Rilian thought his sword had never looked so good on a person before. Eustace splashed his face with water. The water ran down Eustace’s face and neck wetting Eustace’s shirt. Rilian pinched his arm. He didn’t wake up so that was definitely real. Eustace shook his hair tilting his head back to the sky. Sunlight graced Eustace’s beautiful form. Rilian was very certain that Eustace was a nymph, there was no other explanation for how a person could just be that beautiful.
Water splashed against Rilian’s face. Rilian spluttered, wiping the water from his eyes. “Hey there, lover boy. Don’t forget to breathe”. Jill laughed softly and then walked over to Eustace and hit him gently on the back of his head.
“Ow! What was that for!” Eustace rubbed at his head and gave Jill a wounded look.
Rilian felt kind of nervous around Eustace. Rilian wanted to impress Eustace, Rilian wanted to hear Eustace laugh. Rilian really wanted Eustace to like him back. Something fluttered down in the corner of Rilians eye. A leaf landed softly in Eustace’s hair. Rilian reached out and picked the leaf out of Eustace’s hair before he realised what he was doing.
Eustace looked up at Rilian in question. Rilian nearly got lost in his captivating eyes. “It was in your hair”. Rilian held up the leaf in explanation. Eustace looked contemplative then he sucked his lower lip into his mouth and Rilian nearly dropped the leaf.
Eustace fluttered his eyelashes and popped his lower lip out of his mouth. Rilian crushed the leaf. Rilian vaguely noticed Jill say something and then vanish between the trees. Rilian was currently using every inch of control he had to concentrate on staying exactly where he was and not… Eustace licked his lower lip again.
Rilian tried very hard not to kiss Eustace, but Eustace tilted his head towards Rilian expectantly. The light caught the slight wet on Eustace’s lip and made it glisten. Rilian sort of broke and then that damnable lip was between Rilian’s teeth. Rilian kissed Eustace like he needed to breathe and air was Eustace’s lips.
Eustace kissed back enthusiastically, Rilian felt his arms come up around Rilian’s shoulders. And then around his arms, Eustace’s hands moved to explore over Rillian’s chest. Eustace broke away and Rilian forced himself to not chase after Eustace’s lips.
“Shouldn’t we, like, talk? Get to know each other?” Eustace asked dazedly. Rilian could talk later. They already knew each other. Rilian had known Eustace since he was four. He knew Eustace was terrible at fencing and much better at breathing fire. Rilian had once made Eustace piggyback him around the Dawn Treader. Rilian knew Eustace was also very bad at playing tag. He knew Eustace snored very cutely when he slept. Rilian knew Eustace liked crystallised ginger.
“I like bread,” Rilian said. There, now Eustace knew Rilian liked bread. Can they get back to the kissing now? Rilian kissed Eustace and Eustace laughed. Rilian suddenly wanted to hear Eustace laugh everyday.
“Yeah?” Eustace teased. “I should have guessed”. Eustace cupped Rilian’s jaw and kissed Rilian so gently that Rilian thought his chest was going to burst, his heart was so full. Eustace paused against Rilian’s mouth “I’ve never kissed anyone before”. Eustace confessed quietly like he didn’t want anyone else to overhear.
Rilian felt a rush of pure want lick through his veins. “Would you like me to teach you?”
“Peter?” Susan said. “Don’t say anything stupid.” They all stood in an awkward half circle before the massive doors to the giants castle waiting for the door to open. The soldiers were nervously thumbing their swords.
“It was one time.” Peter muttered petulantly. Anwar looked half intrigued. But honestly Edmund did not want to go into that whole political disaster. Edmund leaned back into Caspian, he would very much like to go home with his husband and his son.
“One time too many” Lucy sighed, and a few of the narnians snorted uncouthly.
Loud stomping footsteps approached and the door was opened. Everyone tensed, a poor fawn sneezed very loudly and Edmund had to fight down a hysterical giggle. A giant stood in the doorway, Edmund had almost forgotten how huge they were in real life. The giant frowned down at the group, Susan jabbed Peter in the ribs and he squealed indignantly. “Sophie!” Lucy called up to the giant getting their attention.
“Queen Lucy?” The giant instantly softened, Edmund hadn’t realised just how tense the giant had been before. “Oh come in! Come in dear”. The giant, Sophie waved the group in and leaned down to Lucy. “What are you doing up here? It’s the middle of summer?” Edmund didn’t know why the giant knew Lucy, but he should'nt be surprised, Lucy knew everyone, she was very sociable.
Everyone shuffled into the Castle’s entrance hall. “How does Lucy know the giant’s?” Peter whispered to Susan.
“She attends the giant’s winter celebrations in the northern woods.” Susan whispered back. Oh, Edmund thought, oh that did make more sense. Edmund hadn’t known about that. Caspian was making a complicated face, it made him look like he had swallowed something partially fowl. Edmund knew that look rather well, it was Caspian’s ‘what the fuck’ face.
“Just be glad the giant that opened the door was the one Lucy knows” Susan continued to hiss at Peter. She had an iron grip on Peter’s sword arm and was hovering over Peter’s shoulder like a particularly stern hawk. Susan was not taking any chances with Peter’s track record for starting wars in less than five seconds. It was a gift. A cursed gift that had given Edmund far to many headaches. Thank Aslan for Susan.
Sophie was a very lovely host, she offered them snacks and held a very complicated conversation with Lucy, which Edmund was sure was not actually in another language. But honestly it might as well have been greek for how little he got from all the rapid talking, laughing, and random segways about ice cream snacks.
Caspian, much like Edmund had also been watching Lucy converse cheerfully with Sophie. Caspian tilted his head towards Edmund “Do you think I ought to let Lucy take over all my policy making? The council wouldn’t know what hit them”. He asked softly clearly in awe of Lucy in her most terrifying element: catching up with an old friend.
“Better not. They’d end up starting a war, you’d be surprised how many Lucy started by doing just that during our first reign”. Lucy would make an excellent politician if it weren’t for the simple fact that she always won every argument and left her opponent in the dust, confused, and missing brain cells. People tended to get a bit sword happy after realising Lucy had basically robbed them in broad daylight, then got them to sign over everything in their name, several other peoples names and then they read the small print and saw they had written in their own hand writing that they were stupid. Lucy tended to get a bit carried away.
Caspian looked simultaneously impressed and horrified. “Solid no to that idea then. But still you should have brought her in when I was trying to get the council to let me have my own army join me”. There was no bite to Caspian words, he meant them half jokingly teasing Edmund brushing their noses slightly and turning his large reproachful eyes on Ed.
“But now we have a giant’s army” Nabiayah cut in, she was standing a little away from them but still in ear shot of their quiet conversation. Edmund tried to pretend he hadn’t been flirting with his husband in broad daylight right in front of everyone and Sophie’s large table of snacks. Nabiayah had her eyes trained intently on Lucy and Sophie, she seemed to be having no problem understanding what they were saying. “Lucy just got you a giant’s army” Nabiayah shot Caspain and Edmund a sharp look and raised an eyebrow, that was an entirely Susan thing to do.
Jill got as far as a couple of good long strides away from the sounds of Rilian and Eustace having some very thorough alone time, before the trees picked Jill up. Like fucking literally, one minute Jill is speed walking with no particular direction in mind. The next Jill was sitting on a sturdy branch surrounded by a bunch of literal nymphs, straight out of a painting. They were smiling at Jill and waving. It was a lot. “Hi?” Jill tried and waved back.
Eustace and Rilian had invented a very fun game, it may involve a lot of kissing, and it may just be the best idea Eustace has ever had. “It was my idea,” Rilian murmured pressing his lips against Eustace's neck.
“Joint idea” Eustace said, “mutual cleverness”. Eustace was maybe having a hard time trying to not sound totally brained. Rilian leaned back slightly to laugh, Eustace pulled him back in for another heady kiss.
A tree coughed and Eustace froze, Rilian didn’t seem affected, he pressed another kiss against Eustace’s collar bone. Eustace dug his fingers through Rilian’s hair and thought about shrugging him off but didn’t. Eustace looked around the clearing and spotted the tree nymph awkwardly hovering at the edge. The nymph shyly waved at Eustace flurrying leaves at him. Rilian leaned away turning around to see what was distracting Eustace, Eustace didn’t pout, or immediately miss Rilian’s warmth.
“Are you decent?” Jill's voice called from somewhere in the direction behind the shy nymph.
Eustace found his shame immediately blushing and leaping away from Rilian. Rilian sighed and called back, “yes!” Jill slowly edged into sight and there seemed to be a lot more active trees in the clearing than a minute ago. At least Eustace seriously hoped the trees hadn’t been this awake a minute ago.
Jill’s hair was full of leaves again, although this time it looked less chaotic and more artistic. The leaves were braided into her hair in neat pretty patterns. “Hi, so, I met the trees, they're lovely, and they found your family, and your dads”. Jill pointed at Rilian slowly walking towards Eustace, once she got close enough she yanked at Eustace's shirt. “Do your bloody buttons up Scrubb”. Eustace thought his head would drop off from the amount of blood heating his face.
Sophie led everyone further into the castle, the rest of the giants were spread out through the corridors and seemed to be preparing for a battle. Nabiayah walked with Edmund and Caspian, she explained: “the giants have been planning an attack on the mines for months, the only thing stopping them was the dwarves getting hurt in the attack. We’re basically going to piggyback off their plans and join in”.
Caspian nodded seriously a slight frown on his handsome face, “Nabiayah, would you like to be my advisor?” He offered solemnly, Nabiayah blinked in surprise and her cheeks suddenly darkened.
“Stop trying to steal my girlfriend!” Susan called back at Caspian, she pointed at Edmund “control your husband”.
Edmund laughed and looped his arm through Caspian’s “we’ll recruit the perfect council later, dear” Edmund soothed Caspain who pouted cutely and muttered something about Susan ruining his plans.
Sophie led them into the war rooms of the castle, and the plan was explained. They would attack the witch’s caves tonight.
Traveling by tree was… interesting. Eustace considered that it was probably a lot like getting stuck in a whirlwind, lots of wind rushing past your face and feeling like you needed to throw up food that wasn’t even in your stomach. Eustace wouldn’t recommend it. He much preferred flying. Rilian seemed to agree with Eustace, he was gripping onto Eustace’s hand and looked vaguely nauseous. But that might be directed at Jill who was having far too much fun, whooping loudly and asking the trees if they could go faster, and then they obliged her impossibly speeding up. Dear god, they were going to die.
Jill laughed at Eustace and Rillian’s expressions, easily navigating the distance between one end of the tree branch and the other. How in Aslan’s name did she do that? Jill was rubbish at ballet, it made no sense that she could somehow walk easily in the middle of a tempest of leaves. Jill flopped down beside Eustace, her grin was infectiously joyful. “C’mon Eustace it’s not that bad, you can fly, what’s the difference”. The difference was huge actually, monumental and had nothing to do with the fact that when flying, Eustace was a very big dragon, and not a small crushable human.
Eustace was going to say this to Jill, but then there was a searing pain in his chest and Eustace was falling out of the tree which had been moving at a very fast speed. Eustace’s chest burned. His entire body burned. His head hurt. Someone screamed his name. Eustace braced for the feeling of his back smashing into the ground but everything went dark before he felt the impact.
Cliff hanger... sorry <3
Chapter 20: The Dragon and the Knight
Rilian had been secretly enjoying the chance to hold hands with Eustace even though it was while being tossed around like pancakes. Being around Eustace made Rilian want to smile like an idiot, he vibrated with energy a mix of giddy excitement and nerves. Rilian was thinking about when he would be able to get Eustace alone again and kiss him again. Eustace suddenly jerked his hand from Rilian’s crying out and clutching his chest. Rilian flinched fear and adrenaline coursing through him, Eustace shouted, smoke was coming from Eusatce’s mouth and nose. Rilian reached out to grab Eustace but he slipped out of Rilian’s hands and tipped over the edge of the tree branch.
Jill screamed and Rilian nearly jumped straight after Eustace, his heart seemed to have been torn from his chest hurtling towards the ground with Eustace. The air twisted around Eustace and the brand on his chest burned an angry red. The scream tearing from Eustace’s throat turned into a roar and Eustace seamlessly turned from a man to a dragon.
A large fire breathing dragon, who didn’t respond to Jill calling out to Eustace. Dragon fire erupted pouring over the forest, the trees quickly moved out of range leaving bare grass where before there had been a forest. Rilian let go of Jill’s arm, he hadn’t relished he’d been clutching Jill. The tree carrying them had come to a halt, Rilian met the wide eyes of the tree spirit, “Take Jill to Queen Lucy. Get her away from here”. Jill made a wordless noise of protest but Rilian jumped down to the sparse forest floor and the tree swept away in a flash of leaves.
The dragon was circling the new grasslands snorting fire, he seemed to be having trouble keeping to the sky. Rilian picked his sword up from where it had landed on the ground. He had to stop the dragon from hurting anyone and get Eustace back.
Edmund was ready to attack the witch’s caves; they were waiting for the signal.
“Professor Kirke?!” Lucy cried in surprise from behind Edmund. Edmund turned in disbelief to see the Professor in full white bearded glory and, no, was that Mrs McCready?
“Mrs McCready?!” Susan squeaked in shock, Peter looked like he’d just been brained by a large rock. Mrs McCready dug around in her hand bag and then a young Diggory Kirke and Polly Plumber stood where the old Professor and Mrs McCready had been.
“Oh hi” Diggory said and waved cheerfully like they had bumped into each other at a store instead of, you know, before a battle, in Narnia.
“We’re here to banish Jadis” Polly added as though she was commenting on the quality of the vegetables being sold. Edmund shook his head getting rid of the whole, at the market impression in his brain.
“Oh. Well. Thanks.” Peter grouched, starting to look irritated.
The signal to attack flashed in the dark. Susan sternly told everyone to start moving and keep quiet. Edmund reflexively reached for Caspian’s hand, Caspian tangled their fingers together.
Rilian managed to lure the dragon away from the direction Jill and the trees had gone. Rilian didn’t know where he was, the forest suddenly moving away from the fire breathing dragon meant Rilian recognized nothing. Rilian could only hope he wasn’t leading the dragon towards a town.
Eustace woke up in a dark cave. He wondered what the hell had happened. There was a glow of light coming from somewhere. Eustace sat up looking around he struggled unsteadily to his feet and went in the direction of the light. Eustace stumbled through the empty maze of caves for an unknown amount of time before he realised Aslan was padding along softly beside him. The lion glanced at Eustace and smiled in the sort of non-smile that Aslan did. “Where am I?” Eustace asked Aslan.
“You are asleep. The white witch has a very powerful spell over you and is attempting to control you”. Aslan said solemnly. Eustace blinked taking in the information that did not answer his question, but what did he expect from Aslan.
“So I’m not really here?” Eustace ventured. Aslan moved his mane and Eustace supposed Aslan was nodding.
“In a way you are here” Aslan said cryptically. Eustace sighed, okay.
They continued to walk through the caves as the light got brighter. It was an odd pale light that reminded Eustace of starlight. The cave opened up to a wider space, in the middle was the source of the pale light. It was a web of bright lines hovering like constellations, under it was the familiar forms of Polly and Digory Kirke. Eustace called out to Polly and Diggory, happy to see them. “They can’t hear you Eustace,” Aslan said and Eustace remembered that he wasn’t here he was asleep somewhere else fighting the witch’s spell or something.
Aslan padded over to Diggory and Polly and Eustace trudged after him. Eustace looked around the wider space and realised that there was an opening above them, the narnian night sky was visible. Diggory said something about the stars. Eustace glanced at Aslan hoping he would explain, but he didn’t.
Edmund swung his sword cutting down another of the witch’s creations, it dissolved into thick green smoke and then immediately reformed and attacked Edmund again. Edmund hated battling against magic. They had to keep Jadis occupied until the Kirke’s were ready, Polly had said something about stars and prophecies. Edmund couldn’t help but wish they’d hurry up, fighting immortal green smoke was quickly becoming the worst battle he’d been in.
Jill made the trees put her down and she was currently running at top speed following a trail of scorched earth. There was no way she was letting Rilian fight a dragon alone. There was no way Jill was leaving her best friend behind when he was trapped in his dragon form. If Jill ever saw that green lady again she was going to smack her for messing with Jill’s best friend.
Eustace watched the sky with Diggory and Polly. He had no idea what they were waiting for, but he didn’t have much choice. Trying to hold a conversation with Aslan was impossible for anyone who wasn’t Lucy. Aslan spoke in weird riddles to everyone but Lucy.
Caspian whirled through the battlefield in the caves he was baring his teeth at the witches monsters and shouting for Rilian. Edmund scanned his eyes over the chaos of green smoke searching for any signs of Rilian.
Aslan shook his mane and roared, magic poured through the air. The Kirkes floating thing of pale light seemed to shine brighter and Eustace swore he saw the stars in the sky fall. “The doors are opened!” Polly shouted, she and Diggory moved quickly around the floating pale light.
The witch’s creatures vanished from the battlefield, Edmund braced for them to reappear and when they didn’t he looked around for the witch but she was no longer there.
The Kirke’s floating light vanished with one last bright flash. Polly and Diggory slumped in relief. “She’s gone” Digory said, voice coated in exhaustion. Eustace wondered what had just happened then a sharp pain lanced through his shoulder blade. Aslan looked at Eustace “Wake up” Aslan said and Eustace fell to his knees darkness creeping over his vision.
Rilian stood knee deep in a field of red flowers, he thought he might be near Queen Lucy’s grove. The dragon was getting more aggressive swooping down at Rilian and trying to knock Rilian off his feet. Rillian had no choice but to swing at the dragon with his sword. Rilian’s heart was pounding loudly in his chest, blood was rushing through his ears. The dragon swooped down at Rilian again this time the dragon flew closer than before, Rilian had his sword raised up in defence. Rilian could barely see what was happening, the only thing keeping Rilian on his feet was years of schooling.
Rilian had no idea what happened but the dragon wasn’t swooping away, it roared suddenly and tore itself back into the sky before tumbling and landing in the field of red flowers. Rilian felt something drip from the blade of his sword to his hand. He looked and saw that it was blood, fear crawled up from Rilian’s chest tightening his throat. What had he done. Rilian dropped his sword from his trembling hands and ran to the fallen dragon.
Eustace lay on a bed of crushed red flowers. Rilian collapsed beside him, there was a deep cut through Eustace’s shoulder, his blood was slowly seeping into the grass making the red flowers even more red. Rilian hovered his hands uselessly over Eustace’s still form. Panic blinded Rilian; he couldn’t think past the fact that he had just hurt Eustace.
Rilian’s vision was blurred with tears; he brushed his eyes and focused on the red flowers. Queen Lucy’s flowers, the fire-flowers from the mountains of the sun, the fire-flowers that could heal the sick and wounded. Rilian smacked his forehead, he was an idiot, he hurriedly grabbed a fist of flowers crushing the petals in his fingers trying to create a paste in place of the cordial Lucy usually used. Rilian spread the crushed flower petals over Eustace’s shoulder with shaking hands. He prayed it worked.
“Rilian!” a voice echoed through the grove and Jill appeared over the slight edge of rock. “Rilian!” she yelled jogging over to him. Rilian wiped away a fresh burst of tears.
“Help me Jill,” Rilian said in a broken voice tearing some more flowers from the ground and crushing them. Jill quickly copied Rilian and they smoothed the crushed flowers over Eustace's shoulder. Eusatce was still worryingly still. They covered Eustace in flower petals but he didn’t stir. Rilian sat uselessly next to his still body holding Eustace limp hand in his own. Rilian looked up at the night sky, despair creeping through his heart.
Rilian stared at the stars “help me” he whispered to the sky hoping someone was listening.
Rilian wasn’t anywhere in the caves. They searched the entire labyrinth but they couldn’t find Rilian. Edmund tried not to over think reasons why Rilian wasn’t there. Caspian was frowning heavily. A tree spirit floated up to Caspian and Edmund bowing gracefully the tree spirit spoke in a melodious voice “The Prince is with King Edmund’s cousin, they left the caves a few days ago and travelled through the forest”. The tension Edmund had been holding eased away.
“Thank you, where are they?” Caspian asked the tree spirit, tugging Edmund forward with him by their joint hands. Edmund frowned to himself thinking over what the tree spirit had said. His cousin. Eustace?
The night sky faded into the grey of early dawn. Rilian waited with Jill holding a silent vigil over Eustace still form. Dawn light slowly crept over the grove. Rilian glanced away from Eustace to see a group of softly glowing people standing in the sunlight. He recognised Ariadne. The stars had come.
Chapter 21: Fallen stars and civil wars
Caspian wanted to jump on the nearest tree with Edmund and go as quickly as possible to the place they said his son was. Caspian half thought he was dreaming and would awaken any moment to his bed in Cair Paravel, Edmund beside him and Rilian still missing. Caspian looped an arm around Edmund’s waist drawing his husband close into his side and pressing a kiss to the corner of Edmund's head. Caspian took a calming breath and waited for everyone to hurry up and get organised.
Edmund raised a hand and gently patted Caspian’s cheek. “It’s okay darling, we’re going to find Rilian” Edmund whispered softly before continuing to question the tree nymph about Rilian, Eustace and the girl called Jill that was with them. Caspian took one last deep breath before opening his eyes and looking around in the hope that things were now slightly less chaotic. He knew he was being somewhat unreasonable, a battle had just been won, a bit of reprieve was earned. But still, Caspian didn’t understand why Peter and Susan had to be interrogating the Kirks right this second.
“You’re telling me that you just decided not to wait until you were old and just magiced yourselves up in disguises and went to England to babysit the four of us?” Susan was saying in tones of loud disbelief. Nabiayah was busy taking notes of everything Polly was saying, she clearly was an avid scientist much like Polly Plummer.
“A literal disguise for you Polly!” Peter said from where he sat on a rock, looking sweaty and tired. “Unless you are going to look like Mrs McCready when you're older?” Peter attempted to be polite but it was obvious he couldn’t imagine a more terrifying concept.
“Oh no dear, we were just going by what Lucy told us” Polly said and Lucy grinned over her shoulder from where she was talking with the giants.
Caspian sighed and wondered why his family were absolutely insane. It was probably all the strange happenings in their life. And all the battles. Caspian wouldn’t change a thing about them. Edmund patted Caspian’s hand like he usually did in a rather terrible council meeting, the one that said, ‘I’ll take it from here dear’.
“Alright, everybody get on a tree, let's go find my son” Edmund said loudly and commandingly.
Jill clutched Eustace’s hand in a death grip. He had better not die on her or she was going to murder the idiotic skinny bastard who did stupid wonderful things like make Jill laugh when everything was horrible. Or stay at the awful place that was horrendously called a school because he didn’t want to leave Jill there alone. Her stupid wonderful best friend. Jill pressed her lips to Eustace’s cold knuckles and tried very hard not to lose it there and then. Somebody had to keep it together, and that wasn’t going to be poor Rilian.
The prince was near catatonic he was trembling all over and kept pressing flower petals against the awful wound on Eustace's shoulder. It made Eustace look like a male version of all those dramatic paintings of dead women artfully splayed out and covered in flowers.
Then dawn came, too soft sunlight washing over the clearing making everything seem gentle and beautiful. Jill hated it, surely the whole world should be grey and raging like she was inside, Jill didn’t want to see the sun if Eustace wasn’t here.
Rilian gasped and choked out “Ariadne” Jill thought for a moment that Rilian had snapped and gone mad. Then Jill saw the people bathed in golden light looking like a band of angels come to tell them a woman was giving birth to a boy or something. Jill’s brain may have skidded to a grinding halt. Why were angels so good looking? Shouldn’t they have lots of eyes and be terrifying?
A beautiful angel inclined her head to Rilian “Rilian,” she said melodiously, Jill had never thought a voice could sound simultaneously like chiming bells and running water. The angels gathered around Eustace glowing pale light in their hands, sinking beneath Eustace’s skin. Eustace chest heaved he suddenly sprang up spluttering around a mouthful of flower petals.
Eustace woke with a start, his heart pounding in his chest and his body buzzing with unused adrenaline. Eustace had half a mind to get up and bolt, just run and run until his lungs burned and his legs ached. The last thing he remembered was the cave with Aslan watching the Kirke’s do some sort of thing with star light and doors or something to banish Jadis from Narnia.
Eustace spat out a perplexing mouthful of flower petals, they tasted like overly strong perfume and ginger. It was weird. Arms were thrown around Eustace's neck before he could get his eyes to focus and tell him where he was. Eustace's nose was buried in the corner of someone’s neck and a familiar scent hit him, also a bit of armour biffed his chin. “Rilian?” Eustace asked and got a loud sob in response.
Eustace received the familiar but all too gentle sensation of someone jabbing at his ribs, and Jill’s voice reached his ears telling Eustace that he was never allowed to do that again. Eustace grinned craning his neck and located Jill’s tear stained face, Eustace reached out a hand and pulled his best friend into the bear hug Rilian had him wrapped up in.
Eustace didn’t know how long they all sat in the field of flowers wrapped around each other, Jill and Rilian sobbing loudly. But when they finally calmed down and let Eustace breathe a little, Eustace noticed that there was a group of glowing people standing awkwardly and watching the three of them. “Who’s that?” Eustace whispered to Jill, she wiped at her eyes and said throatily
“I have no idea, but they got you to wake up so obviously I love them,”
Eustace nodded, fair enough “do you know?” he directed to a red eyed Rilian who had produced a handkerchief and was blowing his nose.
“It’s my ex-girlfriend and some stars” Rilian said, like that was a completely normal thing to say “stars are actually very good at lifting spells” Rilian continued but no Eustace wanted to address the first half of that sentence.
“Excuse me?” Eustace cut Rilian off sounding very much like his mother did when Eustace had asked to be homeschooled.
“Oh my god you’re telling me you dated one of them!?” Jill loudly said over Eustace's shoulder.
Someone cleared their throat, Esuatce looked up to see a beautiful lady separating from the group of glowing people and walking up to where Eustace was sitting. “That would be me. My name is Ariadne”. She was stunningly beautiful. Jill sighed wistfully, which did not help the sudden jealousy rearing up in Eustace’s gut. A star. An actual star. There was no way Eustace could compete with her.
“Ariadne,” Rilian said besottedly a love sick smile on his handsome face. Okay maybe Rilian just said her name and smiled, but he smiled at her. Eustace’s stomach was full of knives, at least he’d managed to have a boyfriend for about a day and a half before it all went wrong and he ended up still being in love with his beautiful stunning ex.
“Thank you, thank you to all of you. I can’t thank you enough” Rilian was saying to the stars, Eustace vaguely noticed Rillian pressing a kiss to the back of his hand and telling the stars he couldn’t live without Eustace or something. Eustace was a bit busy self monologuing the tragic end of his first love. His first heartbreak. His first and only kiss. Eustace hadn’t even had sex-
“Oh dear, I think your lover is doing the same thing your second father did. He’s making the exact same face as King Edmund”. Ariadne frowned very prettily in concern.
“Oh shit-” Eustace’s vision was suddenly filled with Rilian’s concerned face “Eustace look at me” Rilian said his hands on either side of Eustace’s face. Eustace looked into Rilian’s lovely dark eyes, they were brimming with worry. Eustace stroked his thumb under Rilian’s mouth.
“I really liked kissing you” Eustace told Rilian sadly, he definitely wasn’t going to get to kiss Rilian again. Eustace’s eyes blurred with unfallen tears and his heart lurched painfully in his chest.
“Dammit” Rillian cursed before kissing Eustace aggressively, all teeth and tongue. Eustace made a muffled squeak but kissed back savouring the last time he would get to kiss Rilian. Rilian pushed Eustace back into the flowers and hitched Eustace’s leg around his waist. Oh, oh wow, that felt very nice. Eustace may have moaned loudly.
Jill’s face was very red, she pointedly was not looking in the direction of her best friend who was currently being very thoroughly shown how much his boyfriend wanted to still be his boyfriend. There were some things Jill didn’t want to know, there was a lewd moan followed by clothes rustling. No no no.
“Okay” Jill said hurrying past the fallen angels, goodness they are all so beautiful. “Let's leave them to have their moment”. The star Rilian had called Ariadne hummed in agreement looking guilty.
“Sorry, I tend to drive people into bouts of blind jealousy. I nearly caused a civil war with the kings at Cair Paravel”. Ariadne sighed self-deprecatingly, her beautiful face tragically sad. Jill felt like she could really do with a pair of sunglasses to protect her eyes from the beautiful woman.
“How did that happen?” Jill asked instead of offering to braid Ariadne's long luscious pale hair, everyone knew getting your hair done cheered you up.
“Oh, I was seeing Prince Rilian, romantically at the time. It was a short affair. I went to Cair Paravel for a summer festival. King Caspian is an excellent astronomer. We got into a discussion about black holes, and well, King Edmund thought his husband had fallen in love with me. He wrote a letter saying as much and sent it to Queen Susan, she and King Peter didn’t take it well. I think Queen Susan nearly murdered Caspian with a paper weight.” Ariadne explained sadly, tucking a sliver of pale hair behind a graceful ear.
Jill stared at the beautiful star in utter bewilderment and then she burst into hysterical laughter. Ariadne blushed but couldn’t help cracking a smile.
Rillian pulled clumsily at the ties holding his armour together. Eustace’s fingers joined his, loosening the ties and pulling the pieces of armour off him. Rillian had meant to verbalise how much he was not going to break up with Eustace, but he had got distracted. Rilian dived back in to capture Eustace’s mouth with his own, Eustace sneaked his warm hands up the back of Rilian's shirt. “I really like you” Rilian said into Eustace’s mouth and then again but this time without half his tongue in Eustace’s mouth.
Eustace’s face was flushed and lovely. His shirt had ridden up revealing his stomach, Eustace at some point had stuck his hand down his trousers and his hips were snapping up in short bursts. Pure want coiled in Rilians gut, he tugged at the waist band of Eustace’s trousers pulling them down pausing to cup one smooth butt cheek in his palm and give it a squeeze. Eustace made a very satisfying noise in approval.
Eustace wrapped his arms and legs around Rilian, grinding up against Rilian tugging at his hair and licking into his mouth. “Let me just-” Rilian muttered, unhooking Eustace’s legs from his waist so he could get Eustace’s trousers off. Eustace practically ripped Rilian’s shirt off and over his head, Rilian swore he felt a seam somewhere tear. Eustace tugged at Rilian’s hair again causing another impossible burst of desire Rilian gasped into Eustace’s mouth.
Together they got Rilian out of his own trousers Rilian reached for Eustace’s dick and Eustace wrapped a firm hand around Rilian's, each giving relief to the other easing the uncomfortable throbbing of desire into a delicious one. Eustace fisted his other hand at the small of Rilian’s head wrapping his fingers around Rilian’s hair. Rilian mouthed at Eustace’s neck and hand flexing around Eustace’s soft butt cheek, the other pumping up and down in tandem with Eustace’s.
Eustace panted for breath as he lay back on the grass and red flowers. Eustace's clothes were scattered around where they lay along with Rilian’s. Eustace still had a hand buried in Rilian’s hair. Rilian had one hand splayed over Eustace's chest from where he had rolled over pressed up against Eustace’s side, his face squished over Eustace’s shoulder. “Wow,” Eustace said between gasps of air.
“Yeah” Rilian agreed smugly, Eustace could feel him smile against his shoulder.
“We should definitely do that again,” Eustace told Rilian, brushing his hair out of his eyes and stretching his arm over his head in satisfaction.
“Mmm give me a minute” Rilian murmured Eustace could feel the vibrations of Rilian’s hum against his ribs where the side of Rilian’s chest was pressed close. Eustace felt a happy laugh bubble up and escape, he gently untangled his hand from Rilian’s hair.
Eustace gently slapped a hand against Rilian’s chest the sound echoed between them and Eustace very nearly did take Rilian up on a second round, but Eustace’s brain was fully functioning, the dopey clouds of sex slowly lifting and reminding Eustace he was currently very naked in the middle of a very open field.
“Come on, let's get dressed before the others decide to check on us and come back”. Eustace had some sense of shame. Not much, but some. Rilian groaned in protest, pouting very cutely at Eustace. Eustace laughed again and decided to kiss Rilian’s pout, Eustace pulled away before Rilian could turn the kiss into an extension of further sex. Rilian pouted.
Eustace grabbed a shirt off the ground and gave it a shake, a few buttons fell onto the flowers. Eustace shrugged the shirt on anyway and realised that his shirt didn’t have a lace up front. Eustace went to take the shirt off, but Rilian snacthed up what was definitely Eustace’s shirt and put it on grinning smugly at Eustace. “You look good in my clothes” Rilian said salaciously, eyeing Eustace and buttoning up Eustace shirt over his chest. Eustace pretended to scowl.
Eustace located his trousers and underwear shaking off red flower petals and quickly pulling them on before Rilian could persuade Eustace to have sex again whilst wearing each others shirts. Eustace knelt back down on the grass and helped Rilian put his armour back on, Eustace couldn't resist pressing a kiss over each section of Rilian’s shirt before covering it up with armour. Rilian let Eustace get away with it for a while before he grunted in frustration and flipped Eustace back onto the ground, kissing Eustace hungrily.
Eustace was very glad he had got them both into some semblance of decency because someone very loudly shouted Rilian’s name and then the field was filled with a whole lot of people.
The trees were as efficient as always transporting their group from the caves to the middle of a forest. Except there was now a very large chunk of empty burnt earth where before there had been a whole lot of trees. Edmund’s heart stopped painfully in his chest, worry for Rilian rushing through him. Caspian seemed to be having a similar thought process, the two of them leapt down from the tree landing feet first in the burnt soil.
“They said Eustace was with Rilian, you don’t think…” Edmund trailed off ominously, his mind jumping to a thousand different terrifying conclusions. Caspian turned wide eyed to Edmund gripping painfully tight on the hilt of his sheathed sword at his side. Edmund heard Lucy talking with the trees somewhere behind them but Edmund was a bit busy running along the path of burnt earth with his husband.
The trail of scorched grass led up to a hill of red fire flowers. They climbed the hill, something glinted in the sunshine, Caspian gasped it was Rilian’s sword lying amongst the flowers. It was stained with blood. Caspian picked up Rilian’s sword up with trembling hands. “What if he’s hurt?” Caspian said his voice stuffy with tears.
Edmund pressed his forehead against Caspian’s in wordless comfort. They continued on into the field of fire flowers climbing over the top of the hill. There were two figures rolling around in the centre of the fire flowers. Edmund blinked wondering if he was imagining things. Then Caspian roared “Rilian!” so Edmund probably wasn’t hallucinating Rilian pressing what had to be Eustace into the fire flowers and kissing Edmund’s cousin.
Rilian ripped his mouth away from Eustace’s at the sound of his father shouting his name. “Fuck” he said in suprise. Rilian’s dads were standing at the top of the hill leading to the field of flowers. Caspian had Rilian’s sword in his hand, Rilian winched and got off Eustace. Rilian’s head was a flurry of different contradicting but very strong emotions.
He was biting back a desire to run his hands all over Eustace confusingly mixed with joy at seeing his dad’s after months of being trapped and brainwashed on a daily basis. Not forgetting the heavy dose of heartstopping embarrassment of his dads finding Rilian rolling around on the ground with another boy in a rather compromising position. Thank Aslan Eustace made Rilian put his clothes back on.
Eustace sat up, his face beet red with embarrassment, “hello cousin” Eustace called across the clearing to a completely frozen Edmund.
Edmund placed a hand on Caspian’s shoulder and said something about maybe leaving them alone for a moment. Rilian smiled, his other dad was the best. Unfortunately before Edmund could herd a spluttering Caspian back down the hill the rest of Rilian’s family appeared and Rilian forgot to be embarrassed.
Jill did end up braiding Ariadne’s hair for her. Ariadne’s hair was ridiculously silky, Jill wanted to know what sort of shampoo she used, or if she used shampoo at all, being a star and everything. The rest of the stars were actually all really nice. One stupidly handsome golden haired male star produced a pack of cards from his floaty robe, and now the stars were all sitting around in a circle playing Gin Rummy. Jill's hands ached for a camera to capture the absurd scene.
Eustace wanted to bury his head in the red flowers and not come up for air until everyone went back to wherever they came from. Eustace cousins were walking over the same patch of flattened flowers that Eustace had just had very spectacular sex on. Rilian wrapped an arm around Eustace’s shoulders “I want you to meet my dads” Rilian said far too cheerfully.
“I’ve already met them, one is my cousin!” Eustace hissed back under his breath before turning to his cousins and trying to smile innocently. Eustace hoped he didn’t look like he had just been rolling around on the ground with Rilian.
“Rilian” Caspian said this time softly and heartbroken, the king looked like he was one second away from collapsing. Rilian released his hold on Eustace and immediately wrapped Caspian in a hug, “dad” Rilian said equally soft. Eustace pretended not to see that nearly everyone was tearing up. It was a bit awkward standing to one side as everyone mobbed Rilian, happy to find him safe and unharmed.
Eusatce was almost starting to feel sorry for himself, eyes trained on the shoes he had shoved badly back on. “Eustace” Edmund said in a choked off voice and then Edmund was hugging Eustace tightly and pressing a kiss against the side of Eustace’s head.
“I missed you,” Eustace confessed, blinking against the sudden blur in his eyes. He was not crying.
“Are you alright?” Edmund asked in concern, leaning back hands on Eustace’s shoulders and examining him. “I take it the trail of burnt grass was you” Edmund said and Eustace had missed this, Edmund fussing over him the way no one else ever had, well other than Jill.
“What’s?-” Edmund asked and poked at the side of Eustace’s neck which stung in protest to the pressure. “Oh...” Edmund’s face went red and he tugged up the color of Eustace’s shirt. Eustace suddenly had a visceral memory of Rilian biting and sucking on Eustace’s neck. Holy fuck, Eustace would like the ground to swallow him.
Ariadne was running her hands through Jill’s hair and complimenting the pretty twists and braids with artful leaves, flowers and intricate wooden twigs that the nymphs had done for Jill. Jill might be dead and in heaven and still dying from the fact that the most beautiful woman ever currently had her hands in Jill’s hair.
“Hi!” A nymph said happily floating up to the group of stars. “The royal family have reunited, would you like to join them?” The nymph asked Jill, smiling cheerfully. Jill blinked thinking about how she had left Eustace sucking face with Rilian, Jill wondered if they had been interrupted, poor Eustace.
Ariadne regretfully stopped stroking Jill’s hair. “Oh yes, we shall join them” she stood gracefully along with the other stars.
“We have much to celebrate” a black haired star said deeply “Narnia is finally free of the witch”.
Caspian and Edmund's early romancing was all sweet and fluffy. Eustace and Rilian's is just horny, like these two are always seconds away from nailing the other against a wall. Oops ;D
Chapter 23: So this is what makes life divine
So fluffy you might die idk
Rilian woke up early, a few hours before the sun. The sky was really not anything more than a soft grey blue. He was home. He was free. Rilian breathed in the cool early morning air drinking in his surroundings. Rilian wandered down to the empty courtyard, no one was up and about yet. Apart from maybe the kitchens, Rilian was sure if he went to the kitchens the chiefs would happily sneak Rilian some fresh bread rolls. There was nothing quite as delicious as fresh still warm from the oven, bread.
Yesterday evening had been jam packed and had exhausted Rilian in the best way. Like that feeling after a party where you're still elated but also tired. His family had found him and they had returned home all together. Rilian, his dads, his uncles and aunts, Jill the stars, some tree nymphs and Eustace. Beautiful Eustace who was currently asleep somewhere in the castle. His father, Caspian, had been rather adamant that Eustace had his own room on the opposite end of the castle from Rilian's.
Rilian totally intended to sneak into Eustace's room anyway. Rilian hadn't tried to last night knowing Caspian would be extra alert. But tonight, Rilian had plans that involved candles and crystallized ginger.
"Morning" Rilian greeted the kitchen staff cheerfully.
"Rilian! You're up already?" Windamane abandoned the pastries she had been rolling up. "I thought you might sleep in a bit, you've been through so much". The centaur brushed a hand through Rilian's hair affectionately.
“Is there any bread?” Rilian asked, peering around Windamane and looking hopefully towards the ovens. Windamane smiled and guided Rilian further into the kitchens to where freshly baked bread was cooling.
Rilian made a ridiculous noise of happiness around his mouthful of bread. “Uff so good” Rilian beamed chewing on the so good so tasty bread. Rilian piled a plate with food and bread (the bread was important) Rilian waved cheerfully at Windamane and exited the kitchen bumping open the backdoor with his foot. Rilian snuck silently across the courtyard and through a low door on the opposite end. It led to a narrow staircase which he then began to climb.
Rilian slipped past the tapestry covering the door at the top of the staircase. He had come up into one of the living rooms that were scattered about the castle. This one had an assortment of chairs pushed up against all four walls. Rilian opened a door and crept out into the corridor he stepped expertly across the floorboards carefully avoiding the ones that squeaked. Rilian turned the corner past a small window he briefly glanced outside measuring the time by the soft peaks of sunlight. Rilian was three steps away from Eustace’s bedroom door when a door he had just walked past burst open and a bleary eyed Jill wandered into the corridor. Jill blinked at Rilian, Rilian blinked back.
Jill looked at the plate of food Rilian was holding in front of his chest then at Eustace’s bedroom door. Jill slowly grinned at Rilian and she gave him a thumbs up whispering “good luck, I’m going to go downstairs”. Jill left the way Rilian had just come, floorboards creaking loudly under her feet. Rilian knocked on Eustace’s door and waited. He heard soft grumbling and then something heavy hit the floor followed by louder grumbling. The door swung open to reveal a sleep mushed Eustace. His hair was a tangled mess defying gravity sticking up and flopping sideways. There were pillow creases on Eustace’s face and he somehow had a bedsheet tangled around one foot trailing on the floor behind him.
Eustace squinted at Rilian; he grumbled something nonsensically before yanking at Rilian’s shirt and bodily dragging Rilian into the room. Rilian only just managed to shove the plate of food onto a nearby table before Eustace manhandled Rilian, very firmly for someone who was still half asleep, back into Eustace's scrambled bed of pillows and scrunched duvets.
“Too early” Eustace muttered against Rilian’s neck, snuggling himself into the bedsheets and wrapping himself around Rilian. Rilian felt a little stunned wondering what it said about him that he just let Eustace do that. Going back to bed had not been a part of his morning plan. Well. Not this sort of going back to bed. But Rilian found he didn’t mind, Eustace’s breathing evened out and he started snoring cutely. Rilian settled back comfortably on the pillows relaxing in Eustace’s hold. Rilian tucked a stray curl behind Eustace’s ear and couldn’t resist the temptation to press a kiss against Eustace’s head.
Rilian smiled privately to himself watching the sunlight creep gently over Eustace’s face. His only regret was that the plate of food was currently out of reach. Eustace had a very firm grip on Rilian, he didn’t think he was going to get to move for sometime.
Eustace woke up and it took him a second to register that the mattress was breathing. Then another to register that he was not lying on a mattress. It took Eustace a few moments to remember Rilian waking him up, standing charmingly in Eustace’s doorway with a stupidly charming lopsided smile on his handsome face.
Eustace looked up and met Rilian’s soft molten eyes. Rilian was propped up amongst the pillows on Eustace’s bed. Eustace may have pinched a few pillows from the sofa in the room, what? He had to sleep on the literal ground, Eustace did not want to repeat the experience. Once was enough for him. Eustace dug his chin a little into Rilian’s stomach “morning” Eustace said quietly into the silent air of the room.
“Do you want some breakfast?” Rilian asked, glancing meaningfully behind Eustace. Eustace rolled over and followed Rilian’s line of sight to the table in the room, where a plate of bread was sitting. Of course it was bread. Rilian slipped off the bed untangling himself from Eustace’s arms, not waiting for a reply and started to munch on a mini loaf. Eustace huffed a laugh rolling out of bed and selecting a fancy croissant off the plate before Rilian ate them all. It was a very nice croissant. Eustace collapsed onto the sofa and eyed Rilian, he looked very stupidly handsome even with a mouthful of bread which he was very unattractively scoffing.
“Aren’t you supposed to be forbidden from my room or something?” Eustace asked slyly, peeling off flakes from his croissant and popping them into his mouth. Rilian went pink.
“Nobody said those exact words”. Rilian shrugged like he hadn’t snuck into Eustace’s room. Eustace grinned and patted the cushion next to him Rilian brought the plate of bread plopping down beside Eustace. Eustace curled up next to Rilian basking in the warmth coming from him.
“But you totally made sure no one saw you didn’t you” Eustace hummed teasingly enjoying the blush darken on Rilian’s face.
Eustace put the plate of bread back onto the table ignoring Rilian’s instant protest. Eustace cupped Rilian’s square jaw and guided Rilian into a very gentle kiss. Sunlight dappled across the bedroom floor and Rilian’s hands stroked up and down Eustace’s back. Eustace kissed Rilian chasing the taste of bread on his tongue.
Eustace didn't know how long they kissed for. Everything was warm and delicate. Eustace thought briefly about continuing this back on the bed but that thought was chased away by Rilian slipping a hand down the front of Eustace’s trousers. All rational thought quickly left Eustace’s head. The lingering want that had been rolling in his gut since he had woken with his face pressed against Rilian’s stomach, built until Eustace was gasping into Rilian’s open mouth. And fumbling for the fastenings of Rilian’s own trousers. They brought each other to sloppy completion remaining in each other’s arms kissing over and over.
Rilian cleaned up the mess before lying back down, this time on top of Eustace. Who had been lazing on the sofa following Rilian’s movements through half lidded eyes. Rilian briefly smacked their lips together stealing another kiss teasing Eustace for not lifting a finger. Eustace couldn’t stop a laugh from spilling over his lips, vibrating against Rilian’s. Eustace grinded his hips up against Rilian chasing another curl of want, Rilian’s eyes darkened and he pushed Eustace back against the sofa kissing down Eustace’s chest. Rilian tugged Eustace’s trousers down and mouthed over his shaft, kissing the tip. Eustace’s eyes fell shut, he couldn’t help rocking up into the warm heat of Rilian’s mouth.
Eustace knelt between Rilian’s open legs, he carefully slid his mouth up and down allowing the weight of Rilian’s dick to settle briefly and the back of his throat.
Eustace was lounging across his bed running his hands through Rilian’s longer hair. Rilian’s head rested across his stomach and Eustace was shamelessly taking advantage. Eustace subtly plaited Rilian’s hair and hoped Rilian hadn’t figured out what Eustace was currently doing with his hair. Eustace grinned to himself imagining the prince walking around the palace with little plaits in his hair, none the wiser.
Rilian balanced himself easily on the ledge of Eustace’s window, it would be easy enough to scale the wall down into the gardens. Eustace eyed Rilian skeptically, pressing greedy kisses against the side of RIlian’s mouth. “Do you really want to go this way? You could just go back the way you came?” Eustace asked dryly.
“And risk someone figuring out how I got into your room? Never go the same way twice, the first rule of breaking and entering”. Rilian grinned, leaning in for another kiss.
“I think it’s always have an escape plan”. Eustace said, straightening Rilian’s shirt and smoothing back his hair, feeling like he was sending Rilian off to work instead of you know, out his bedroom window.
“That too” Rilian said, dropping down from the window ledge and clinging onto some very well placed vines. Rilian eased down slowly, using the vines like a rope. Eustace peered over the edge of his window sill down at Rilian. Rilian grinned up at Eustace half wanting to climb back up for another kiss. Eustace propped his chin on his hands watching Rilian’s descent. Everything was going very well until Rilian lost his footing and suddenly all of his weight was on the vines which snapped. “Shit!” Rilian gasped. Thankfully Eustace’s room wasn’t that high up and Rilian had already been very close to the ground. Rilian landed on the soft well kept grass feeling only a little winded.
Eustace managed to ask if he was alright wheezing with laughter, before Eustace dissolved into loud giggles. Rilian scrambled up dusting himself off, he was fine. Rilian glared half heartedly up at Eustace who was still laughing but blew Rilian a kiss. Rilian grinned a little besottedly and blew one back. Rilian heard soft voices in the distance so he whispered goodbye ducking behind a hedge and creeping through the gardens. He would easily make it back to the courtyard from here, and nobody but Jill would know.
“I like your new hair style,” Susan told Rilian, fighting a smile commenting on the little braids in his hair that he seemed to not be aware of.
“You’ve got some grass on your face” Lucy said through bursts of laughter.
The two Pevensie sisters had been in the gardens that morning and seen Rilian fall off the wall below Eustace’s window. They were planning on saving the story and embarrassing their nephew with over dramatic tales of his romantic exploits.
I hope you all loved this AU that went so AU it got lost in the back of a wardrobe. I hope I brought as much fluff as I could! I've loved writing this story and squealing at all your reactions <3 <3 <3 <3