Author's note: Due to a review, I'm wondering if this story is too predictable, so let me know what you think. Thanks! Reviews are much loved my dear readers.
There was something extremely aggravating about relentless attempts to catch his attention. And Peter seemed plagued by them. He was forced, as King, to welcome and host their guests, which meant putting up with the constant annoyance with a smile and a laugh.
Of course, these girls were too focused on catching his attention to noticed how stiff his smiles became after a few hours or how forced his laughs were. But his siblings noticed, and he found sympathy coming from only the girls. Edmund, being Edmund, just hid his amusement. Eventually, Peter managed to slip away and join his sisters on the dais, where none of the girls were brave enough to leave the throng of guests to approach him.
He dimly thought that she'd be brave enough, but she wasn't here to see his need for distraction. At least that's what he thought.
He didn't look at the small doorway behind the line of sight from the thrones, so he never saw her talking to the guard stationed there. He never saw her watching the crowd for signs of a threat or trouble. He never saw her eyes narrow at the forced smiles or laughs. He never saw her assessing his every move, trying to find where he needed her.
She knew instantly the first time she heard the High King laugh during the ball that he was becoming strained. She could see it in the line of his broad shoulders. This was one of the places where he needed her. He didn't believe he was a good enough host, or that he handled the attention properly. Feeling his need, actually feeling it like a tug on her arm, she slipped back into the hall and made her way to another doorway, where she slipped into the crowd.
Spirit's presence beside her kept away anyone who would have stopped her normally, but one girl did have the audacity to stop her as she moved through the crowd. The other girl, who she guessed to be a lady, smiled with faked cheerfulness as she said, "And you are?"
"I'm Lady Evelyn. Might I have the honor of knowing who's asking?" she replied, and her smile was so real that the lady was rather guilty. She'd known! She knew her name! So she didn't need to remember; she already knew! The name just flowed from her lips and she knew it to be right.
"Lady Kathryn, daughter of Lord Loren. What is your business here, Lady Evelyn? I know you are not of Calormen," the lady replied. There was a hint of malice under her voice and her dark hazel eyes were cold.
"I am not a visitor here, Lady Kathryn. Right now, my business is delivering a message to the High King. What is your business with the Kings and Queens?" Evelyn asked, running her eyes over Kathryn's trying dark pink gown with its plunging neckline and layered skirts.
"I am here, like the other ladies in my company, to gain the blonde's favor," Kathryn replied, smoothing the dark coil that was her hair.
"He is High King Peter to you," Evelyn replied coolly, the smile dropping off her face. She would not stand by and listen to her king be insulted. Not while she was supposed to be lifting his already low self esteem. "I wish you luck with your quest," she added, starting to move passed the other girl.
But she would not have that. Kathryn's hand closed around Evelyn's wrist in a supposed to be vice like grip. But to Evelyn, it was weak and pathetic. "Do not interfere with us," Kathryn snapped in a low voice that was also supposed to be threatening.
"Do not touch me, foolish girl. Petty threats and empty promises do nothing to intimidate me. I intend to be civil to you, while you are their Majesties' guests. Do not make me break that intention," Evelyn said in an equally low voice. However, her's carried the power Kathryn's did not. Instantly, Kathryn let go and backed away, and Spirit stepped between the two girls, reminding the Calormen woman of her presence.
Evelyn raised her chin as she moved away from Kathryn, and she moved through the crowd without trouble. She got within sight of the dais steps and she moved towards the wall so she approached her king from the side. When she set foot on the bottom step, she caught Peter's attention and he rose from his throne to offer her his hand up the stairs. She refused to notice the looks they were getting as she curtsied. "Your Majesty," she murmured, keeping her voice low and for his ears only.
"Milady, I thought you were not going to join me tonight," he replied, keeping his voice just as low as he raised her hand to brush his lips over the back of her knuckles. A faint color appeared in her cheeks and a smile so beautiful it took away his breath lit up her face.
"I know! Your Majesty, I know my name!" she told him delightedly.
"Well, tell me," he teased gently, smiling.
"Evelyn. My name is Evelyn," she replied, using her free hand to straighten a lock of golden hair.
"Evelyn. I guess that means you're not milady anymore. Now you're my Lady Evelyn," he smiled, and caught her hand as she took it away from his hair. "Do you know your full name?" he inquired.
"I think it's Evelyn Summers. And please don't laugh, Your Majesty, but I'm fairly certain my middle name is Gold," she told him, ducking her head sheepishly.
He began to laugh, drawing smiling looks from his sisters, a fond eye roll from his brother, and jealous looks from the Calormen women. To Evelyn, he glowed with an inner golden light, and his eyes shone with merriment. She blushed furiously and smiled self consciously. "Come, Lady Evelyn, I want to ask my adviser a question about you," he told her, releasing one hand to pull her down the dais and into the crowd. The white leopard sitting beside his throne followed as Spirit moved ahead of them.
The High King's adviser turned out to be an old Talking Badger. "Dumas, I'd like you to meet Evelyn," the King told the badger, pulling her forward. She curtsied quickly to the badger and he bowed back to her. She was surprised to find that he walked on his hind legs. "Is it possible to make her the first noble of Narnia?" the King asked.
"Of course, Sire. What rank noble are you thinking? Are you thinking a duchess? Or perhaps you're thinking an Earl? But maybe you're thinking a Lord? Of course, we'd make her the female equivalent," Dumas replied.
"I'm thinking a Lady. The equivalent to a lord is what I'm thinking. Narnia has never had an earl, and I think perhaps, she'd prefer lady over duchess. Besides that, I do not know of any territory we could make her the duchess of, but we can make her the Lady of Cair Paravel," Peter informed him.
He felt slight pressure on his hand, and he turned to see them being approached by several young knights from the Calormen delegation. To both the shock of Evelyn and Peter, they ignored the High King after bowing respectfully, and instead focused their attention on the girl. "Milady, won't you do us the honor of a dance?" one asked.
"I'm afraid, sir knight, that I am recovering from an injury, and cannot dance," she replied evenly, being extremely careful to be polite.
"Just one dance, milady," another protested, moving closer as the denied one moved to the back of the small group.
"I'd rather not, sir," she took a step back as they moved closer, and instantly they moved in around her. She squeezed the hand that still held hers and Peter turned from Dumas instantly. He moved between Evelyn and the knights, and it wasn't his rank but his aura of power that drove them away.
While most of the knights got the hint that Evelyn was the High King's, and therefore not to be played with, there was one who refused to let such a prize get away. He saw her only as a pretty face to keep on his arm, since most women in Calormen were happy with that, but he had no idea what Narnian women could be like.
Because he wasn't truly from Calormen. But that was a secret buried beneath lies and deceit and if he had anything to say about it, it would stay a secret.