Categories > Books > Chronicles of Narnia

Dearest Foolish Daughter

by peitho_x 0 reviews

One-shot: Cor and Aravis are on their first diplomatic trip to Calormen since getting married. Aravis' stepmother shows up.

Category: Chronicles of Narnia - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2020-08-08 - 1108 words - Complete

cw: implied childhood abuse

“This is odd, isn’t it?” Cor said as they rode through the streets of Tashbaan. “That we’re here just as us, not running and not dressed as beggars.”

Aravis nodded. It had been years since they were last in this hot city and many things had changed. Bree and Hwin were not with them now, certainly they were not riding them.

“Oh, look,” Cor said as they rounded yet another corner. “We are staying in the same house the Narnians were in all those years ago.”

They locked eyes and were both silent for a moment. The kings and queens of Narnia had disappeared some years ago, and it was unlikely that they would ever be found. That was a part of the reason for this visit. Tensions had been growing between Narnia and Calormen as many prominent Narniansaccused Calormen of taking their beloved monarchs. That and cor and Aravis were recently married, so a tour of the surrounding lands was in the books.

As they dismounted, a man with dark olive skin came out of the house. “Your Majesties!” he called cheerfully.

“Prince Rabadash!” Cor said, shaking hands with their host. “Thank you for these beautiful lodgings.”

“No trouble at all.” Rabadash was being overly friendly, but this was to be expected; with Aslan’s spell hanging over his head, he could not afford to make enemies. He turned to Aravis. “And Queen Aravis.” He bowed. “I am happy to see you have not abandoned your heritage.” He referred to the Calormen clothes she wore.

Aravis smiled and curtseyed in the Calormen fashion. “Of course, your highness, what could be more comfortable?”

Rabadash laughed and led them into the house. It was considerably cooler inside and Cor sighed in relief. While he had grown up in Calormen, he had lived near the sea, and he had since grown accustomed to the more temperate Archenland.

After showing them the house and inviting them to dinner, Rabadash left them.

Cor immediately went back up to the second-floor living room, gesturing for Aravis to follow him. He crossed the room to stand at a window overlooking the city.

“This is where I first met Corin,” he said as Aravis came to stand at his side.

She smiled. “What a shock that must’ve been.”

Cor smiled and opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by a servant in the doorway.

“A visitor, your majesties,” he said. “Kareema Tarkheena.”

Aravis’ face went slack. “No,” she breathed so quietly only Cor could hear it.

“What is it?” Cor asked, turning to his wife in concern.

“My stepmother,” Aravis said quietly, her eyes fixed on the doorway. She took a breath, slipping a mask of confidence over her shaken features.

A woman stepped through the doorway. She was well into her forties and stunningly beautiful, in a severe sort of way. Although she smiled widely when she saw them, her dark eyes didn’t lose their predatory glint.

“Aravis!” she exclaimed. “My sweet girl, how good it is to see you again after all this time!”

“Step-mother,” Aravis said coolly, inclining her head slightly.

Cor looked between the two, unsure of what to do. From the look in Aravis’ eyes, he knew that she could handle the situation on her own. So, he stepped aside, out of her way but ready to jump in if he was needed.

“What are you doing here?” Aravis asked.

“To see you, of course! Can a mother not wish to see her daughter?”

“Step-daughter,” Aravis snapped. “And even that was only for a very short time.”

Aravis’ stepmother stepped closer to them and Cor felt Aravis flinch away. He looked at her in worry but she didn’t seem to be afraid.

“Yes, I was said when you, ah, went away,” Kareema said delicately.

“I ran away, stepmother,” Aravis corrected. “From you and your plans to marry me off.”

“Come now, darling,” She was moving closer still and Aravis reached back to Cor and took his hand. “You know it was all for your own good.” Aravis was squeezing his hand so tightly her dark skin became almost as pale as his.

Kareema now stood so close to Aravis that she could have touched her.

“Well, as it turns out,” Aravis said. “Marrying a 60-year-old man wasn't the best for me.” There was a tremble in her voice now and she kept glancing down at Kareema’s hands.

Kareema laughed, the sound harsh and loud. “You were always a foolish girl, Aravis.”

At the word ‘foolish,’ Aravis flinched so hard, she almost bumped into the wall behind her. Cor could not stay silent any longer. “Madam, I think it would be best if you left us.” he tried to sound as kingly as he could, channelling the authority he had heard in the voice of his father.

For the first time, Kareema looked at Cor, and her smile almost became a sneer. “Perhaps he is a king now, my dear, but we both know he was raised by a mere fisherman.”

Aravis’ head snapped up and she stepped forward, dropping Cor’s hand as she did so. “And yet he is one of the bravest men I know; he thwarted an attack to Archenland without any princely training, making him better than any suitor you may have found for me.” Her head was held high, her eyes were blazing and she looked so incredibly fearless that Cor could hardly believe that Aravis was afraid of this woman.

Kareema stood silent for a moment, at a loss for words. Then she swept out of the room, her dark hair and flowing silk swinging behind her.

After she had left, Aravis let out one long breath, not moving from where she stood. Then she sank into a nearby couch, drawing her hands through her hair and staring at a spot on the floor.

Cor quickly went and sat beside her, resting a hand on her shoulder.

“Aravis,” he said quietly. “You never said your stepmother hit you.”

Aravis looked up at him, frowning a little. “How did you know?” she asked.

Cor looked down at his feet then back at Aravis’ face and shrugged. “Arsheesh… wasn’t the best parental figure either.”

She sighed and smiled a little, leaning her head on Cor’s shoulder.

Everyone always wondered how they were so close; they never said anything, but Aravis could tell. She and Cor argued often and then there was the fact of their different upbringings.

But, really, they weren’t so different. New similarities cropped up all over the place.
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