Title: Let the Children Play
Characters: Caspian, Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Susan
Summary: Caspian and the Pevensies may be kings and queens of Narnia, but first and foremost, they are just kids.
Let the Children Play
It was a warm, summer afternoon. The kind that made you want to lie back in the grass and doze away the day. The air was just that right sleepy temperature with fresh scents brought in on a light breeze. Outside, there was an eternity of blue sky, flowers bloomed between vibrant green, and the lakes and rivers sparkled with invitation.
It was a pity Caspian was stuck inside.
The newly crowned king shifted in his seat feeling every edge and corner of his wood chair. Subtly, he stretched his stiff back and neck and stifled a yawn. Laying his hands on the round table in front of him, he fought the urge to push his chair back and make a break for the door. Instead, he moved his hands to grasp tightly to the arms of his chair and tried to plaster a pleasant smile on his face. Failing that, he went for an expression of vague interest.
A beam of sunlight had managed to hit one of the windows at just the right angle to illuminate the lion’s head carved into the center of the table. Caspian looked longingly at the sunbeam. He watched the dust slowly drift through it until his eyes began to lose their focus and his head started to sag. He could almost imagine the lion looking back at him, giving him a fierce grin and winking.
Snapping his head back up, Caspian took a quick breath and decided to look at something more appropriate, like the centaur across the table who he was supposed to be listening to.
Rivenlore had come to give them the details of his star watchings. Apparently the stars were predicting an imminent catastrophe or a shortage of pomegranates. Caspian couldn’t remember which. The centaur stood proudly erect on all four hooves as he continued to drone on and on, delighting in giving them all the details of every star movement, how they related to each other and what exactly they had to do with pomegranates.
Caspian suppressed another yawn and forced himself to sit up straight. Glancing to his left, he saw the younger king and queen weren’t faring much better than him. Lucy had a dazed expression on her face as she twisted a lock of hair around her finger. Edmund was leaning back against his chair, his arms crossed across his chest and his head nodding. To the right, things were different or so they appeared. Susan sat patiently hands clasped on the table top, an open smile on her face. However, Caspian couldn’t help noticing the way every minute or so her eyes would flicker in the direction of the window. The high king was leaning forward, his ‘listening intently’ expression fixed solidly on his face, but Caspian had gotten to know Peter well enough to recognize the vacant look in his eyes indicating the high king wasn’t listening anymore than he was.
“The planets Osirus and Orelius will be in conjunction which would normally indicate fair weather or possibly a one legged man coming from the east, but since they’re meeting in the constellation of the great Phoenix…”
Caspian noticed Dr. Cornelius sending him a reproachful look over the bridge of his spectacles and the king realized his fingers had begun tapping impatiently on the arm of his char. He clasped them tightly on his lap instead. Here he was king of the combined Narnians and Telmarines, emperor of the lone islands and one reprimanding look from his old professor could still make him feel like a misbehaving child. Maybe it had been a mistake making him his chief advisor. Cornelius and Trufflehunter were the only ones who were really interested in Rivenlore’s astrologizing which is why the rest of the council had excused themselves. The kings and queens weren’t so lucky.
Suddenly, Caspian felt something hit the side of his foot. A quick peek down revealed a small hand stitched ball nestling by his feet. Glancing over, he saw the corners of Edmund’s lips were twitching and Lucy now sported a smile that was a tad too sweet. Caspian gently kicked the ball in Lucy’s direction. Her smile immediately grew several shades brighter. A slight movement from her and Edmund’s lips began twitching again.
King Edmund leaned to the side and across the table Susan gave a sudden jump. She tried to hide it by tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. Catching Caspian looking at her, the queen raised an eyebrow. With minute movements, the Telmarine king shook his head and flicked his eyes in the direction of her younger brother. Susan narrowed her eyes at Edmund. The young king sank a bit in his seat. The tiniest of smirks crossed Susan’s lips and then there was a sudden squeak from Lucy which she quickly turned into a cough.
It was not long before Caspian felt the ball bounce against his foot once more. He sent the ball on its way back to Susan who inclined her head slightly in his direction. Judging by Lucy’s smile and the way Edmund wrinkled his nose the ball had returned to the young queen and skipped Edmund once more. The youngest king scratched his nose, but Caspian noticed the curled finger was in fact surreptitiously pointing in the direction of his older brother. With a little nod, Lucy bit her lip and shifted slightly in her seat.
Caspian kept a watch on Peter out of the corner of his eye but the high king showed no reaction. He remained intently watching Rivenlore. Edmund and Caspian exchanged glances and Edmund shrugged. However, a few seconds later Caspian felt the ball hit his foot again this time from the direction of Peter. Caspian was forced to bite his cheek to suppress a grin.
The ball went several more rounds as mirth shone in their eyes and even Peter’s shoulders shook with suppressed laughter. Unfortunately, things came to an abrupt end when someone kicked the ball a little too enthusiastically. Lucy’s eyes widened as the ball swept past her and rolled out from under the table hitting the wall behind her with a dull thud.
Eyes shifting back and forth, they held their breaths but Rivenlore didn’t even pause. “And what with the moon being in the constellation of the Archer, the pomegranates should ripen very quickly, but since this is only a crescent moon they may in fact turn a light blue in colour indicating…”
Dr. Cornelius, however, cleared his throat this time directing his dark look at all the kings and queens. Caspian’s face flushed. Ducking their heads, Edmund and Lucy covered their giggles with coughs while Susan and Peter did their best to show no reaction. Trufflehunter twitched his nose at them and Cornelius shook his head before turning his attention back to the centaur.
The droning continued and Caspian’s thoughts fell back into a haze as he listened to the birds singing outside. The beam of light slowly drifted across the table until finally…
“And that concludes my predictions for next year, but I have prepared some for the following years if your majesties…”
Caspian’s fingers twitched. Over the past few minutes, Lucy had moved from playing with her hair to yanking it out. Edmund was now digging his fingers into his arms, Susan’s hands were clasped so tightly her knuckles had turned white and the high king was leaning so far over the table he was almost laying upon it.
Professor Cornelius jumped up coming to their rescue. “I believe that will do for now. I’m sure the kings and queens are very grateful for your warnings and will do their best to prevent the flooding in the upcoming spring.”
Frowning, Caspian turned to Peter. ‘Flooding?’ he mouthed.
The high king lifted one shoulder in half a shrug. “Thank you very much for your valuable information, Rivenlore,” he said out loud.
“Yes, thank you,” Caspian put in. “We’ll be sure to heed your warnings.”
The centaur bowed his head in their direction and left. As one the kings and queens let out a long sigh of relief.
Picking up the papers containing the day’s schedule, Dr. Cornelius shuffled through them hemming and hawing. “Well..,” he said and flipped through the pages again as the young leaders watched. “Well… I suppose since there’s nothing else of much importance to do today, we could…”
Before he could finish his sentence there was a scraping of chairs and a stampeding of feet and suddenly, Dr. Cornelius and Trufflehunter found themselves alone in the room.
The badger glanced up at the professor. “But I thought you wanted them to make a decision on...”
“Tomorrow,” Cornelius reassured Trufflehunter. His lips curled up into a grin. “Today, let’s let the children play.”