Title: Of Food, French and Friendly Conversations
Rating: Fiction Rated: K+
Characters: Peter, Caspian
Summary: Peter confronts Caspian about his attitude, and unwittingly starts a
conversation that could have some unpleasant results. Like...friendship?
“Thank you, my good lady. This is excellent fare.”
The young faun scampered off looking immensely pleased, and
Peter scowled as he witnessed the smile drop from the Telmarine prince’s face.
Caspian wrinkled his nose, swallowing a large dollop of the stew with the air
of one trying to get something extremely unpleasant down the hatch before the
taste really kicked in. Feeling rather annoyed, he called out from his station
by the door.
“They’ve given you the best of everything, you know. You
might as well enjoy it.”
Caspian started, looking wildly around the room, up and down
and all around as one does when one is among a company of Narnians, for the
source of the voice. Rolling his eyes, Peter stepped from the shadow of the
“Ah, High King Peter.” He seemed to consider leaping to his
feet and bowing respectfully, but settled instead for shifting over on the
stone step he had made his table, and gesturing for the other boy to make
himself comfortable. Peter did, glancing at the pale stew and feeling ever so
slightly more sympathetic to the prince’s plight. To be fair, it did
look rather awful. Still, it was hot and filling, and most of the army would
have to live on far less appetizing rations while the war lasted.
“That doesn’t look too bad,” he lied, staring pointedly at
the stew. Caspian, misconstruing his meaning, held it out politely.
“Would you, ah, like some?”
Peter declined, raising an eyebrow. “I wanted to talk to
you,” he said bluntly. “About all these faces you keep pulling every time someone
tries to extend a bit of hospitality to you.”
“I am not pulling faces,” said Caspian indignantly,
simultaneously proceeding to unconsciously pull one. “The Narnians have been
very good to me. I am sincerely grateful for their hospitality.”
The issue of said hospitality was one that had been
bothering Peter for some time now. Caspian, he felt, did not seem to have
grasped that warfare meant giving up the ordinary comforts of home; in fact, he
was beginning to suspect the young monarch of being something of a spoilt brat.
It grated on his nerves to hear Caspian’s rueful sighs as he lay down on his
hard pallet at night, and to see him pick at the precious supplies the Narnians
so carefully procured for him each day.
“You don’t look very grateful for that stew,” he snapped
Caspian knitted his annoyingly aristocratic brows. “High
King, I do not follow.”
Peter sighed heavily. “I’m trying to say,” he said through
gritted teeth, “that you need to be more appreciative. There’s nobody around to
pamper you anymore, and you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself about him.”
Caspian’s eyes flashed. “You think I am pampered?” he cried,
glaring disbelievingly at Peter. “Listen, I am no spoilt and sulky child. If I
am feeling a little homesick, that is my own affair. It does not interfere with
my duty, nor impair my ability to fight.”
Peter’s eyebrows nearly disappeared beneath his hair.
“Homesickness?” His voice sounded rather sharper than he intended, but he
continued regardless. “How can you be homesick at a time like this? Do you
really miss Miraz that much?”
Caspian’s expression darkened further. “I do not miss
Miraz,” he said, his tone icy. “I miss my home, and my servants whom I was
friendly with, and I miss dining on food I could digest.” He had got to his
feet, pacing angrily and seeming to speak more to himself than to Peter. “Is it
so ridiculous to miss having a family, to miss living in a world I understand?”
At these words, Peter felt his gut clench uncomfortably. He
had embarrassingly clear memories of those long-distant nights during the
beginning of his own reign, when he would curl up under the covers of his
strange, vast bed and cry for his parents and his house and his old life in
Finchley. He felt an unwelcome stab of sympathy for the young prince.
“Tell me,” he said, guiding Caspian back to his seat firmly.
“What was it like, before…before you left?”
Caspian blinked at him, looking taken aback. “My King?”
“It helps to talk about it.” The corner of Peter’s mouth
twitched. “That’s what the girls always say, anyway. They’re better at the
whole comforting thing than I am.”
Caspian grinned at him half-heartedly. “I appreciate your
concern, King Peter, but I do not need comforting.”
“Very well, then. Tell me about it anyway.”
“Well…” Caspian swirled the stew in the bowl thoughtfully.
“Life in Telmarine court is different to how you might know it. We have
different rules, different codes of etiquette. We usually do not even speak
“Really?” Peter leaned forwards, intrigued in spite of
himself. “How did you get to be so fluent in English, then?”
“English?” Caspian looked puzzled. “That is not what we call
it.” He shrugged, smiling almost apologetically at the High King. “It is
tradition, really. You see, when our ancestors came to Narnia, they had to
learn to speak the tongue of their new neighbours to enable trades and
negotiations to go forth. Over the generations it has become the prevailing
tongue among peasants and the lower classes, but the nobility still prefer to
use our native tongue. It is a sign of respect for our heritage.”
Peter supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised, but the
knowledge still fascinated him. “I can’t even seem to get the hang of French,”
he said, feeling a little disgruntled at being so outclassed in the linguistic
“French? I have not heard of it.”
“You don’t want to,” Peter assured him earnestly. “It’s
frightfully difficult to get the hang of.”
Caspian chuckled, and Peter became aware that all their
usual awkwardness and formality had melted away in the space of this
conversation. Caspian was astonishingly easy to talk to, and Peter almost
wondered why he hadn’t tried before. “You were telling me about court,” he
prompted. “Who were your friends? Did you have playmates?”
Caspian snorted. “There were no children at court,” he said.
“Only the offspring of the servants, and I was not permitted to associate with
“Gosh.” Peter grimaced. “What did you do, then?
Didn’t you get lonely?”
To his surprise, Caspian’s cheeks flushed pink. “I…you would
think it silly,” he muttered reluctantly.
Peter’s curiosity was piqued. “No, come on. I won’t laugh.”
The other youth sighed resignedly. “Well…when I was a small
child, I used to imagine that the four of you were my playmates. My…my nurse told
me stories about you, and I always wished for you to come back to Narnia so I
could meet you.” He bit his lip awkwardly, a crooked smile quirking the corners
of his mouth.
Peter’s eyes were wide. “You played games about us?”
He allowed a huge grin to spread across his face. “Wow…I can’t imagine how
strange it must feel for you, what with us suddenly turning up in front of
you.” The thought dawned on him very suddenly, and he realised it explained a
lot of the disbelief and befuddlement he had occasionally caught Caspian
regarding them with.
“I always fancied you would make a good friend,” replied the
“Well, you can always consider me your friend.” Peter’s
voice was suddenly serious and he held Caspian’s gaze pointedly. “We’ve got a lot
in common, it seems.” He got to his feet, prodding the bowl of stew that had
stood forgotten as their conversation progressed. “Eat. You’ll need it.” He
left, casting one last smiling glance back at the prince who was once again
eyeing his meal as though it had done him great personal injury. This time,
though, the sight didn’t irritate him as much as it did before. He was starting
to think that maybe Caspian wasn’t as bad as he’d initially thought. In actual
fact, the boy was quite likeable.
Their easy camaraderie lasted all of five minutes. When
Peter next saw Caspian, they were back to their usual tense formality. Peter
still didn’t agree with any of Caspian’s opinions, and he still thought the
youth had a lot to learn about leadership. Deep down, though, he felt a small
twinge of respect that hadn’t been there before for the prince. Perhaps, when
the war was over and the tension relieved, they could grow to be proper
friends. It was a surprisingly appealing idea.