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The Price of a Crown

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There were no warm words of greeting when his lover entered his study that day – no laughter, no kisses, no passion. One minute Caspian was pouring diligently over a seemingly endless compilation of military reports and the next he was looking up into the face of a familiar intruder, his welcoming smile faltering under the stony glare he received in return. His heart fell. “Peter? What is it?”

The fair-haired king was unusually silent, eyes dark with turmoil as they studied him searchingly, and Caspian swallowed thickly, wondering who had betrayed him. It was so soon, too soon. He had hoped for more time, before...

“So, it's true,” Peter murmured, finally. “You're going to marry her.” His voice, though naught but a whisper, pierced the silence like an arrow to the heart – swift and deadly – and Caspian leaned back into his chair with a ragged sigh.

“Yes,” he breathed sadly, wishing otherwise.

Peter paled, falling back with a painful moan. Worried, Caspian hurriedly circled the desk to comfort his anguished love, but Peter jerked away with a vicious snarl: “How could you?”

“The kingdom demands an heir,” came the bleak reply.

“Of course!” cried Peter. “But now? And with my sister? Just when were you planning on telling me? The day of the wedding?”

“I didn't think–”

“You didn't think I deserved to know that the man I love, with whom I've spent every night for the last year was planning to marry someone else?” Peter laughed with heaving sob. “Do you love her?”

You are the one I love.”

“Maybe so.” Caspian's blood chilled. “But you can only have one of us.” And Peter fled.

King Caspian the Tenth could only stare desperately after him, the burden of his crown weighing heavily on his heart. His eyes burned.