In which Haft explains his past to Peridan
Haft walks into the Stable.
Peridan shakes his head, “No, I am actually staying here for a few more days. Some of the wounded still need time to recover and there are a few things that require my attention.”
Avery smiles and her eyes light up a bit, but distracts herself with a piece of hay in Cyrian’s name. “That is good news.”
Peridan is focused on Adair which causes him miss her eyes lighting up, “Yes, I for one am a bit selfish and am glad for the respite.”
Haft stops at the entrance to the stable, allowing his eyes to adjust.
Avery smiles playfully. “I am glad Adair will stay on for some time. I’m hoping his presence will make Cyrian a better horse…” She looks at Peridan. “I think I can safely say your continued presence at court will also be a delight.”
Peridan rubs the back of neck, chuckling, “I don’t know about that, Lady Avery. I am sure that the Court is just fine without me. It has missed me for 14 years after all.”
Haft steps into the room. “Long time. A lot can change.”
Haft bows to Peridan and Avery.
Avery shrugs a bit. She is about to speak, but Haft beats her to it. With a simple nod, she says, “You’re right. I suppose it can…” She tilts her head. “Haft, if I’m not mistaken?”
Haft says, “Uh, yes, milady.”
Peridan looks up as Haft speaks, “Greetings, Haft.” As the two talk, Peridan leads Adair back into his stall before walking back over to the others. “How do you fare today?”
Avery nods again. “Good to make your acquaintance, I’m sure.”
Haft says, “Very well, Sir. Thank you.”
A servant girl rushes into the stable, her cheeks red. When she spots Avery, she comes up, curtseying quickly. “Oh, milady! I’ve been looking all over for you…Lady Paige requires your presence at once. You must go quickly before she–” The girl stops mid-sentence as Avery holds up a hand for silence. The Lady’s face shows a hint of embarrassment, but from what is unclear.
Peridan turns to Lady Avery, a question in his eyes, “I’m glad to hear your mother has arrived safely. Have a good day, Lady Avery.”
Haft bows respectfully again, acknowledging her leaving.
Avery turns to the others, smiling apologetically. “Yes. She certainly has…” She bites her lower lip as she curtsies. “If you would both excuse me…I should go to her…”
Peridan bows to her, “Indeed, it was a pleasure speaking with you.”
Avery gives her horse one final pet. “Same to you, Lord Peridan. Also to you, Haft.” She quickly leaves, the servant following closely.
As the Lady leaves, Peridan turns to Haft, “I was hoping to catch you, Haft.”
Haft swallows. “Uh, yes. We left our conversation unfinished the other night. I was looking for you actually. One of the pages said they had seen you headed this way.”
Peridan’s eyebrow raise, “Oh well, this is fortunate then.” He turns, moving to sit down on a stool and faces the man. “By now, you have heard that the Army is leaving tomorrow, yes?”
Haft says, “I have sir.” Haft adopts the old posture of a soldier before a commanding officer, hands clasped behind his back.
The corner of Peridan’s mouth rises a bit in a smile, but his tone of voice is his commander of the entire army tone, despite him sitting down, “I have not heard if you have been in audience with the King yet? Therefore, I am assuming that you will depart with us tomorrow.”
Haft shakes his head. “Not yet sir. I await His Majesty’s pleasure.”
Peridan stands up, assessing the man in front of him, “I, as the commander of the army, do not like to leave soldiers behind if I can help it. Therefore, I have volunteered to stay behind in order to address this issue.”
Haft looks surprised but nods his respect. “I thank you sir. I suppose, then, that we should turn to the matter of exactly whom you are…not leaving behind.”
Peridan says, “My thoughts exactly.”
Haft draws a breath, as though knowing his next request may be a little out of turn. “I wonder, first, sir…if you might fill me in on a certain matter. I have heard rumors around the castle, but gossip in the Army Barracks is muddled and I’d like to know a little more of the truth.”
Peridan tips his head, “I will try my best.”
Haft says, “Thank you. I…was wondering if you could tell me a little about the return of the crown prince, where he’s been these past fourteen years.”
Peridan assesses the man in front of him, “He has been in Calormen for the past 14 years. I do not know all the details, but I have heard that he grew up as a fisherman, met a Narnian Horse who had been captured, and they and the Lady Aravis, along with another Narnian Horse escaped to Archenland.”
Haft takes a deep breath. “I see.”
Peridan raises an eyebrow, remaining silent for now.
Haft stares at the floor for a moment. “Thank you for indulging me, milord. I did not ask idly. Anything that boy has suffered is my fault.”
Peridan physically starts but quickly regains composure, “How so?”
Haft’s jaw works for a moment, then he states, “I was formerly a member of the guard here. I was on duty the night Prince Cor was kidnapped.”
Peridan hmms, “Go on.”
Haft says, “I was outside the nursery with orders to let none pass. It was like any other night, not a peculiar order. There was no warning that anything was amiss. The nurse had turned in for the night with the boys.”
Haft hesitates as though rethinking his phrasing. “I do not mean that to sound like an excuse for what followed. I simply wish you to have a clear picture of what happened.”
Peridan says, “I do not normally pass judgement until I have all the facts. Please speak freely and know that none of what we talk about will pass outside of this room.”
Haft nods. “Yes sir.”
Haft says, “Lord Bar approached me in the hall. He said that the presence of the boys was requested downstairs by their Majesties, who were at table. A visiting cousin had just arrived from some distance, and the Queen wished to present the boys without delay.”
Haft says, “I…allowed him to pass. He emerged with Prince Cor and said that the nurse was following with Corin.”
Haft says, “By the time I realized the nurse wasn’t following and I had raised the alarm, it was too late.”
Peridan hmms, stroking his chin. “I see.”
Peridan asks, “And this exile, did the King order it?”
Haft nods. “I never blamed him. He was grieving–he and the queen both. My failure…”
Haft’s face contorts. “His eyes, when he realized the boy was lost. I’ll never forget that look.”
Peridan taps his mouth with his fingertips, thinking, “I see.” He begins to pace, lost in thought.
Peridan finally turns towards the man, “Here is what I am going to do, Haft.”
Haft stands stiffly.
Peridan says, “I can see by your admission that you know the errors of your ways. I do not tend to hold a man’s past against him if he knows that he erred and have strove to correct it. Therefore, I will vouch for you. However, I will leave the judgement to the King.”
Haft nods. “I am grateful. I confess…” he hesitates, not a man given to confidences, “I dread facing the king again. I don’t fear his justice. But there are debts that cannot be repaid or mended. When I saw Prince Cor, alive again, I was overjoyed. And perhaps Aslan has forgiven me…but the past cannot be restored.”
Peridan’s eyes soften and he takes a step towards the man, placing a hand on his shoulder, “No, the past cannot be restored. However, a wise man once said, “That even a traitor may mend.” Not that you are a traitor. I believe that you would not have let Lord Bar within 10 miles of the child if you had known what he was planning. Mistakes happen, and though they may cause pain to others, it is done. The only thing you can do is try to make it right and move on.”
Haft nods curtly, looking unconvinced.
Haft takes a deep breath and changes the subject. “Are most of the army on the mend now, milord?
Peridan says, “Haft, you have an ally.” He pauses, “Yes, the main part of the army is leaving tomorrow. The only ones who are staying are you, me, and a few others who are still too wounded to move.”
Haft asks, “Good. And…Rabadash? Again, I’ve heard rumors, but most have been absurd things, and, again, I’ve kept mostly to myself these past few days. Is he still a threat?”
Peridan chuckles, “Indeed, he-” A soldier appears, “Lord Peridan, there is another problem…” The Lord sighs, rubbing his temples, muttering. He turns to Haft, “I apologize Haft but I will need finish this conversation later. Thank you for telling me.” He nods his head to the man before following the soldier.
Peridan mumbles “… I … be glad … … … few … peace.””, to Peridan.
Peridan walks into the outer ward.