snacky: (narnia susan)
mr five dollar foot long's sweet caboose ([personal profile] snacky) wrote2012-09-08 12:09 pm

Narnia fic: A Parfit Gentil Knight

Title: A Parfit Gentil Knight
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: Assumes familiarity with all the books. Reepichceep/Susan romance – mostly one-sided and unrequited. A mix of bookverse and movieverse – book references, but uses events from the Prince Caspian movie.
Summary: Reepicheep always wanted to be a Knight of Narnia, in the service of the Gentle Queen.
Author's notes: Written for the 2012 Narnia Fic Exchange, for TastyAsItGets, who wanted "an unlikely pairing, something ridiculous like Puddleglum/Lady of the Green Kirtle, except not that." Thanks to Jess for the beta.


A Parfit Gentil Knight


But every now and then Lucy won because the Mouse did something quite ridiculous like sending a knight into the danger of a queen and castle combined. This happened because he had momentarily forgotten it was a game of chess and was thinking of a real battle and making the knight do what he would certainly have done in its place. For his mind was full of forlorn hopes, death-or-glory charges, and last stands. – The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

~|~|~


It is Reepicheep's very first memory. The old Willow Dryad stands over the crowded cradle, and seeks him out among all his brothers and sisters. She places her gnarled hand on his head, fur still dark and damp, and sings to him:

"Where the sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter East."


The first emotion he remembers feeling is longing. And it stays with him all his days – it takes many forms, but his heart is always yearning for something it doesn’t have.

~|~|~


Reepicheep’s Grandfather is the finest storyteller in all of Narnia. He spends every evening of his youth, tumbling and tussling with his brothers and sisters at the old Mouse’s knee, as he tells them stories of the Old Narnia.

The stories of the Golden Age are the ones he loves best – all about the High King and his kin, who ruled over Narnia, from the shining castle of Cair Paravel. It was an age of chivalry and daring, an age of adventure and glory, an age of justice and right, when the Narnians were allowed to live free in their own country, and when a young mouse could make a bold name for himself, in the court of Cair Paravel.

Reepicheep longs to be a general in the High King's army, leading the way in do-or-die charges. Or a spy under King Edmund's command, going on dangerous undercover missions to far-away countries, sneaking into places only a Mouse could hide, and returning with vital information to save the day. Some days he wishes to be as beloved as Queen Lucy, favored by Aslan and celebrated and honored by all the people of Narnia.

But most of all, Reepicheep wishes to be a knight, in the service of the Gentle Queen Susan. Queen Lucy was valiant as a lion, and did not need a knight's protection, he thinks. Reepicheep knows from the stories Grandfather tells of Queen Susan that her beauty was unrivaled, and that kings and princes of many a distant land sought her to be their bride. But a Gentle Queen needs a knight for a champion, to serve and protect, to guard her and be devoted to her all his days, and Reepicheep thinks, that if he had lived then, he would have been Queen Susan's perfect knight.

The Narnia Reepicheep grows up in is very different from the Golden Age of his Grandfather's tales. There is a king in Narnia, and a palace, and knights and lords there too. But the King is a Telmarine, and the Narnia he rules over is one of men, and there is no place for a young mouse to be a knight in the court of King Miraz.

Reepicheep often sneaks away, and steals through the dark woods, journeying all the way to the coast, to gaze upon the ocean. It's risky, to be sure - there's always the chance of being caught by Telmarines, even though they avoid the woods as much as possible - and his parents and Grandfather scold him for such reckless behavior. But it's worth the risk and the scoldings, he thinks, to go as far east as he can, to stand on the edge of the sea and stare off over the water, knowing that some day, somehow, he will sail over it, to find all that he seeks.


~|~|~



The People Who Live in Hiding gather monthly at the Dancing Lawn, for many reasons: sometimes to perform the ancient dances to mark the changes of the seasons, sometimes for a feast when there is extra bounty to share, sometimes to discuss the Centaurs’ prophecy of the changes to come, and sometimes just to remember that this is Narnia, and they are Narnians, and they may be few and they may be in hiding, but they are not alone.

But at every gathering, there are stories. The stories are the most important part of the evening, and every gathering begins with the story of Narnia’s creation, and tales are told around the fire long into the night. The tales are always told by the Beasts, because the Beasts are the ones who remember the old ways and the old stories. Reepicheep's Grandfather and the Elder Badger, and the Old She-Wolf - they are the ones who know all the lore, and who pass the stories along to the rest of the Narnians. Some of the others - the Dwarfs, mostly, but a few young Satyrs and Centaurs too- shake their heads at every mention of Aslan, and grumble about how the Great Lion of Narnia seems to have forgotten and forsaken His people for far too long, and some flat out refuse to believe in Him. But Reepicheep drinks in every story of Aslan eagerly, because just as he longs for the old days, he longs for a glimpse of the Lion, a chance to meet Him, and to prove his worth, as a loyal and true Narnian.

And at the end of every gathering, when the hour has grown very late, the final tale is told – the tale of the King-to-Come, and the days when the Narnians will defeat the Telmarines, and reclaim their country.

Reepicheep always stays until the very last story, because that is what he longs for - the days of the King-to-Come, when he will be the knight leading the charge against the Telmarines, fighting bravely for all of Narnia.


~|~|~



Reepicheep is not content to just wait for the King-to-Come. No, he seeks out the Centaurs and the Dwarfs and the Fauns and the Satyrs - all the ones who can train him in the arts of war. He learns all there is to know about swordsmanship, and knife work, and archery, so when the day comes to pledge his service to the King, he will be ready. He learns all the skills, but sword fighting is the one he's best at, and the Dwarfs make him a rapier, perfect for his size.

He goes on to recruit other Mice to his cause - some of the old folk grumble, and say Reepicheep is filling their heads with romantic nonsense, about knights and brave deeds and valor - but the other young Mice are as eager as Reepicheep is to do something, and they all train with him until their skills with sword, bow, and knives match his own.

So when King Caspian comes, Reepicheep and his people are ready, and he pledges them all in service to their new King. And they are rewarded with spy missions to the Telmarine camp and castle, leading dangerous raids to steal weapons for Caspian's army, and of course, training new recruits to use the weapons.

He, like the other Narnians, heard the sound of Queen Susan's horn when Caspian winded it. Some of the others grumble about "fairy tales" and "ridiculous old stories," when Caspian and Trufflehunter talk about the their hopes that the horn will call the High King and his kin out of the past, and to their aid.

But Reepicheep knows the stories are true - he can feel in his heart that the Kings and Queens of Old are walking in Narnia again. And when they appear in the clearing that early morning, he does not hesitate to pledge himself to the High King, just like he always dreamed he would.

And when he finally sees Queen Susan - well. She is not the delicate Gentle Queen he had imagined - she is a Queen who is brave and strong, a Queen who can fight for herself, and take charge, and lead armies into battle. This is not a Queen who needs Reepicheep's protection, but he knows that this is a Queen who needs a Knight by her side.


~|~|~



Queen Susan is as gracious and beautiful as the old stories said, and Reepicheep spends all the spare time he has in her company. He knows that she is glad for the companionship, especially when she seeks him out at meals, and sits alone with him, and talks to him about battles fought in the Golden Age, and how the Mice of her time were brave fighters, and how glad she is to see that hasn't changed.

It is not the same as his daydreams from his youth, but Reepicheep finds himself the companion he always imagined - the champion and confidant of Queen Susan. On the night of the raid on the Telmarine Castle, it is Queen Susan who gives him his orders, and who smiles at him, and tells him she knows he will succeed. And after the raid, after things have gone so terribly wrong, they walk together back to the How, and exchange accounts of the battle, and share regrets over the things that happened.

Before the duel, when Queen Susan and Queen Lucy are preparing to seek Aslan, Reepicheep searches for his Queen in Aslan's How. He finds her alone, in a quiet corridor, readying her arrows before she goes.

"Your majesty," he says, bowing low with a flourish (as he imagines the knights did in the Golden Age). "Please excuse the interruption, but I wanted to offer again: I would ride out with you and Queen Lucy, and offer you my protection."

She shakes her head, putting the last arrow in her quiver. "No, Reepicheep. Lucy and I must go alone. And you must be here, to fight for Caspian and for Narnia, if Peter …" she trails off, then clears her throat. "If things go badly with Miraz and the duel, my brothers and Caspian will need you here. And I know you will do your best for them."

Reepicheep nods. He is determined to do so, to fight as hard as he can, for King Caspian and the High King, and for Queen Susan herself. And he feels the time has come to offer himself to her. "My Queen, I pledge myself to your service, and will spend what days I have fighting for you, and for Narnia."

He is surprised when her eyes fill with tears, but then she smiles, and it is brilliant. "Good Mouse, give me your sword."

And right there, in the long, dark hallway of Aslan's How, Queen Susan knights him, and Reepicheep is, at last, Sir Reepicheep, in the service of the Gentle Queen.

Later, he waits outside the How, watching as the two Queens ride off into the woods. And Reepicheep feels the ever-present longing in his heart deepen to a painful pull, as if Queen Susan took a piece of his heart with her when she rode away.


~|~|~



After the battle is won, and Reepicheep’s tail is restored (by Aslan Himself, and oh, Reepicheep enjoys the look on Trumpkin’s face when he is faced with the Great Lion!), they are all very busy, what with dealing with the remaining Telmarines, and Caspian’s coronation, and all the work that comes with a new King.

Reepicheep never was particularly interested in politics before, or the work that goes into the day-to-day running of a kingdom – it is not exactly the daring adventures he longs for. But Susan is very involved in making sure things will go smoothly for Caspian, and Reepicheep's place is by her side, and he finds himself making suggestions and offering opinions that he never knew he had. So he is proud when Susan suggests that he join Caspian’s council as an advisor on military strategy, and pleased when Caspian accepts him in the new role.

But when he is alone with Queen Susan, he voices his doubts. “Your majesty, are you sure that I should be an advisor to the King?”

Queen Susan nods emphatically. “Yes, Reepicheep. Caspian will need advisors with experience, and you have so much to offer. And you’re a hero! You belong on his council.”

“But your majesty… will I have time? I will still have my duties to you to attend to.”

“Oh, Reepicheep…” Queen Susan smiles at him, but it is sad and brief, not like her usual brilliant smile. “Do not worry about taking care of me. You will have time for the King.”

Reepicheep hears the tone in her voice, and he recognizes it - longing. “Your majesty! What is troubling you? What can I do to help?”

She kneels by his side, and takes his hand in hers. “I’m sorry, my dear Reep. There is nothing you can do, and I will be fine. Just knowing that I have you, in my service as knight of Narnia and as my very dear friend, is all the help I need.”

Reepicheep does not understand, but he bows low and kisses the hand that holds tight to his. “Of course, your majesty. I will be by your side always.”


~|~|~



It is only a few hours later that Reepicheep does understand, as he stands in the courtyard and watches his Queen follow her siblings through a door in the air. As she disappears, he feels the tug of longing, stronger than ever, and he knows that Queen Susan took more than just a piece of his heart with her this time.


~|~|~


Three years later, after the Giant War is over, and the great castle of Cair Paravel rebuilt, Reepicheep is the first to volunteer to join the King on his voyage east. The old Dryad’s words still echo in his ears, and he knows that the time has come to follow his heart into the East.

The appearance of King Edmund and Queen Lucy in the Eastern Ocean makes Reepicheep happy, although, in his heart of hearts, he is disappointed that his Queen could not join them as well. But despite her absence, the adventures are many and glorious, and Reepicheep finds a dear friend in Eustace. But even Eustace cannot make up for the absence of Queen Susan.

When the Dawn Treader sails into the Last Sea, and Reepicheep discovers that the water is sweet, his feeling of longing only gets stronger. The others talk about the taste of the water, and the way it makes them feel, the brightness of the light, and the lovely smell – but all Reepicheep sees when he looks into the water is Queen Susan’s face, and when he inhales, it is her scent that threatens to overwhelm his senses.

At the very end of the World, when he takes leave of the others and paddles away, the longing grows stronger and stronger until he reaches the top of the wave, until it is almost unbearable. And then, with one final paddle, and no looking back, only ahead into the utter East, he goes over the top.

~|~|~


In Aslan’s Country, Reepicheep does not long for anything. He is, after all, Home at last, where he always wanted to be.

But in Aslan’s Country, Reepicheep waits. He waits for his Queen for arrive, and when Narnia is no more, it is Reepicheep who greets everyone at the Golden Gates, and when his Queen is not among all the Narnians, he waits again.

He is there to greet her, when she finally arrives, and he bows low to her, with a flourish. “My Queen. At last.”

Queen Susan smiles and reaches out to take his hand in hers. “Dear Reepicheep. Thank you for your loyalty, my brave knight.”

And Reepicheep waits no more.


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