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The Pride of Kings

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He did not care much for his uncle and aunt, but about twice a week his uncle would send for him and they would walk up and down together for half an hour on the terrace at the south side of the castle.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 4: “The Dwarf Tells of Prince Caspian”


Peter finds him ghosting the path along the south terrace, solemn and pale as death – and all words of censure die on his tongue. Suddenly he knows why the newly-crowned king had slipped away from his own coronation celebrations hardly more than an hour before. He isn’t drowning himself in wine amongst the common soldiers or debauching milky-skinned maids in dark corners or committing whatever other sins against decency and protocol the courtiers had already been insinuating with careful smiles and sly innuendo before Peter had taken his own leave, determined to track down his wayward companion in order to deliver a stern lecture on the subject of duty. No, it seems that Caspian is proving, once again, that he truly is as virtuous as any man could ever hope to be.

Only a pure soul could mourn a man who would have never mourned him in return.

There are no words of greeting when Peter falls into step beside him, no stumbling explanations or unjustified accusations: just a gentle silence that whispers of shared dreams and wishes they will never speak aloud. Caspian smiles at him – a brief, pathetic, curl of his lips – and Peter warms, though his answering smile, too, is bittersweet. Any condolences would be superfluous. Companionship is the best he can offer, though he knows it’ll never be enough.

Time trickles slowly by unnoticed. They walk.

Finally, Caspian pauses in his steps and casts his eyes to the stars with a heavy sigh. For a moment Peter sees the king he will one day become in flickering shadows of his face – an old man, careworn, yet strong – but the vision quickly fades and then all he can see is a lost little boy who doesn’t know who he is anymore. “My uncle used to walk with me here,” Caspian says, closing his eyes against the memories, “when I was a child. I didn’t care for him much, never did – but…”

Peter thinks he understands: “He was all you had.”

A curt nod. A hitched breath.

“He wasn’t always– Well. He tried to be good to me, in his own way. Sometimes he even indulged my whims – with gifts, you know, and parties. It was never a secret when he was proud of me, rare as those times were…” Tears reflect in the moonlight, but Peter looks away and pretends not to notice. Kings don’t cry. “I always thought–”

Caspian’s voice falters.

Then, hesitantly: “Do you think he ever loved me?”

Peter’s heart breaks and he wishes he had an answer, could speak the words that throb in his chest, but the wisdom of kings fails him. There is no pretty lie that can make this right. All he can do is rest a steady hand on a shaking shoulder and mentally curse destiny and Aslan and the cruelty of a world that could deny a sweet-eyed boy the certainty of his worth.

How could anyone not love you?

Miraz must have had a heart of stone.