Summary: Takes place one year after the Pevensie's coronation. Edmund finds out about the sacrifice that Aslan made for him. Lucy talks to her brother. One-shot. Reviews are appreciated. Enjoy!
A Devoted King
Lucy, Queen of Narnia was on her way to the upstairs portion of her castle to speak with her brother. She had become increasingly concerned about Edmund over the last couple of weeks. True, her brother had gone through all the motions required of him as king with as much grace as one could expect from Edmund, but Lucy had always been perceptive to others emotions and she had picked up on the fact that something was not quite right with Edmund.
In the first few months of their reign, Edmund had been happy. Perhaps happier than Lucy had ever seen him before. All four of them had been kept busy by the demands of running a kingdom which was, in many ways, newly formed. The land of Narnia as it had existed under the White Witch had hardly been what one would call a state of government, more like the Witch and a few loyal followers terrorizing Narnia into submission and the Narnian subjects into doing her bidding. The kings and queens had to start from nothing to figure out how best to rule. Lucy often wondered if Aslan chose her and her brothers and sister to be kings and queens of Narnia because their personalities were so different, each contributing to the court in his or her own way.
Lucy had always known that Peter was a natural born leader, what she had not known was what a keen military mind her oldest brother possessed. Peter always somehow knew just the strategy to take in putting down what was left of the Witch's supporters and he was quickly becoming a great warrior, even at such a young age. Susan was the diplomat. She had picked up on the vast rules of "etiquette" involved in being royalty tens times faster than the others. She also had a natural born grace that no amount of training could ever teach Lucy to master. Susan always knew just what to say to sooth hurt feelings or to put individuals in an amiable frame of mind. And she was beautiful. Lucy couldn't help the last thought from coming with a small bit of bitterness. Edmund had been better than even she could have imagined. He was very intelligent and good at problem solving and had a way of looking at the things around him that was different from most people. He was quickly becoming the person that Peter turned too for advice of most kinds. As for herself, Lucy, being a modest girl, thought that she probably didn't contribute as much as her siblings, but she liked to think that she livened things up a bit. She also had the vague impression that others thought her compassionate, but Lucy didn't see this in herself, she always just treated other people in the way she would have liked to be treated. There was also her exceptionally close connection to Aslan.
They had all been happy, they had needed Narnia just as much as Narnia needed them. Lately, however, Lucy had detected a sudden decline in her brother's mood. It was a lot of little things, really. Edmund had become quiet and detached, leaving the fabulous feasts and parties early to lounge about moodily in his room, becoming suddenly distracted while important affairs of state were being discussed, and wandering about the grounds looking melancholy. This wasn't like back in England, when Ed had began turning into a bit of a prig – in fact, if anything he seemed less temperamental than usual – it was more like he was depressed. Lucy had become increasingly concerned about him, although no one else seemed to have even noticed. She had put off talking to him, thinking that perhaps he was just in a funk and would come out of it, but she knew that she had to talk to him this evening when Aslan had attended the celebration that marked the one year anniversary of their reign and Edmund had excused himself quite early, but with moderate politeness from the festivities. As he was leaving, Aslan had turned his head toward Lucy and given her a look that she knew meant that he wanted her to do something.
Lucy found Edmund, as she expected, upstairs in his room, sitting in his large window seat and staring out the glass. His room, unlike Lucy's, faced the ocean and she could see that the scenery that was visible through the window was certainly worth looking at, the evening sun softly glinting off the white capped waves. Lucy briefly wondered why her room did not have a window seat.
Edmund looked over and gave her a half-hearted smile. "Oh, hi Lucy," he said.
"Hello," said Lucy, standing in the threshold, suddenly unsure of what she was going to say to him.
"Well, come in," he said finally as she continued to stand in the doorway uncertainly.
Lucy stepped into the room and pulled a heavily cushioned chair up to the window, facing her brother. "Nice room," she said, wondering why she was trying to make small talk. She hadn't been in Edmund's room since it had been decorated and it was nice. Like all their rooms, the decor was beautiful but not decadent, the main thing making it different from her own room was the large collection of scrolls and books in one corner.
"Uh-huh, I love the window seat," Edmund replied.
"I need to get one of those."
Edmund made a feeble attempt at laughter, and then went back to staring out the window, the silence between him and his sister becoming oppressive.
"So. . . . I noticed that you left early," Lucy began tentatively.
"I felt tired," Edmund said shortly.
"Yes," Edmund said irritably, beginning to pick up on the fact that Lucy was hinting about something.
"It's just that you've seemed out of sorts lately," Lucy explained herself.
"I told you that I've been tired."
"Oh," Lucy said, feeling awkward. She didn't know how to begin this conversation – she had a feeling that they were going to get in an argument and Lucy hated arguing. She considered just giving up, but as she watched her brother absently pluck at his tunic, she knew in her heart that something was wrong and that she needed to talk to him.
Lucy sighed. "What's wrong Edmund?" she asked suddenly, deciding that bluntness was the easiest way to approach this topic.
"Wrong?" Edmund asked. "Don't be stupid, nothing's wrong."
Lucy sighed, she had a feeling that he was going to deny and then she was going to have to fight with him about it, but she plunged ahead. "Yes there is, Ed. I can tell. You've been acting so depressed."
"Depressed?" Edmund affected light laughter. "Don't be ridiculous, why would I be depressed?"
"That's what I can't figure out. But I'm right, aren't I? You are depressed."
"I'm not depressed."
Lucy looked him straight in the eyes. "I know you, Ed. And I can tell when something is wrong, so why don't you just tell me what it is. I'm getting really worried about you."
Edmund turned his head and stared back out the window for long moments before speaking again. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" He asked finally without looking at Lucy. "I love this place. Narnia. Everything about it, I feel like I never really started living until I came here."
"Well, I think we all feel that way, Edmund. When we were back in that other place – England, I mean – I don't think that we ever really saw the world the way it was." Edmund raised his eyebrows at her. "I mean, I think that there is a whole other side to life that I never saw until I came here. Like I was walking around with my eyes closed or something."
Edmund looked at her in surprise. "I never thought that you felt that way," he said. Lucy looked at him quizzically, Edmund blushed. "I mean, for me it was that way because – you know, I was so horrible and selfish back there in England. Since I've been here, well, I guess that I've changed and I just see things in a whole new light."
"I can see that, Edmund. We all can. Peter said to me, just the other day, how much you had matured and how he doesn't know how he would get along without you now."
Edmund blushed. "Did he really say that?"
"Yes. I know that you're trying really hard. And you weren't so bad back there – when we were kids." Lucy knew that they technically still were "kids", but she certainly didn't feel like a child anymore.
Edmund gave his sister a look. "Come on, Lucy, I was horrible. To you, especially."
Lucy nodded slowly, she didn't want to be dishonest. "You honestly were quite bad last summer and when we first found out about Narnia. But I meant before that, before you started school."
"Well I was better, but I still think that I was a bratty kid."
"You were not!" Lucy objected, "you weren't perfect or anything, but I used to have so much fun playing with you. And you were nice. You just always had a temper. I think it's just part of your personality."
Edmund rolled his eyes at her.
"Ed, why are you suddenly so down on yourself?"
Edmund looked down at his feet a long time before answering. "Sometimes, when I look out this window or when I go to a feast or celebration and see everyone so happy and merry or just when I go and talk to all the quaint people who live here, I feel like I love Narnia and each creature in it so much. In fact, I love every stone, every stick, every blade of grass. I would do anything to protect this place."
"Well that's a very good feeling for a king to have," Lucy said gently, understanding somewhat, having experienced similar feelings herself.
"Yes, but I almost have destroyed it. I was a traitor, at the very worst time that I could have betrayed Narnia."
"We-ll," Lucy said slowly, thinking that she was finally getting to the core of Edmund's problems "it was bad, I won't pretend it wasn't. But it's not like you felt any connection to Narnia then like you do now."
"But I didn't just betray Narnia, I betrayed you and Susan and Peter. I don't know how you can even forgive me for that. I don't know if I would be so forgiving."
"We forgive you, Edmund. But why are you dwelling on this? I thought that you had moved on. I don't think that it will do you or Narnia or any of us any good if you keep agonizing. And I don't think that Aslan would like it much, he always says that it's no good to talk about the past or what might have been." Lucy had meant to say more, but trailed off here because at the mention of Aslan, Edmund's face had gone red and he seemed almost . . . angry. "What?" Lucy asked him.
Edmund shook his head and looked away. When he finally answered, his voice was not entirely level, in fact, he sounded like he was torn between crying and yelling. "Why – why didn't you tell me?" he mumbled.
"Tell you what?" Lucy asked, confused.
"Why didn't you or Susan tell me what happened to Aslan because of me!" he burst out.
"Oh, that," Lucy hesitated, "I wanted too, I really did." She didn't add that both Peter and Susan had told her not to tell him, sparing his feelings. "Where did you hear about that?" she asked.
"Let's just say that people know about it and that it finally got back to me. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Um . . . Susan sort of told me not to tell you and then later I asked Peter about it and he said the same thing," Lucy admitted
"What! So how long has everyone but me been talking about this?"
"I think they were just trying to protect you."
"It would have been better if they had told me."
"Lucy, how can I live with myself?" Edmund suddenly burst out.
"You can't just stop living. It's like I said before, it's not going to help anyone."
"I know, I know. It's just – everyone knows, apparently. All the people here, they tell stories about it – when Aslan died and came back to life. And somehow they all know what happened."
"Did you not want anyone to know?" Lucy asked tentatively.
Edmund appeared to think about this for a minute. "It's not so much that I mind people knowing. I don't mind admitting my mistakes. It's just that no matter how hard I try or what I do, people are always going to remember that one thing. And I can't say I blame them either."
"I don't think that people judge you as much as you seem to think."
"Why? Why wouldn't they?"
"People here . . . they're different from people in our world. Look, everyone knows that you – you were a traitor, but everyone also knows that you're sorry for it. And that you're not like that anymore."
"How could people believe that about me?"
"They do Edmund. They see everything you're doing. Listen, have you noticed anyone treating you any different than they treat me or Susan or Peter?"
"Well, no. But no one is likely to start telling off their king, now are they?"
"I still think that you would notice."
"Hmm, maybe. It just seems like anything I do is worthless. Nothing is ever going to make up for what I did before."
"I think that you should stop concentrating on 'making up for it' and start concentrating on doing the best you can."
Edmund raised his eyebrows at her.
"I mean, if you just make sure to always be good and fair to people, then they'll remember you as a great king . . . despite the fact that you got off to a bad start. Isn't that what you want? But if you mope up here in your room for the rest of your life, then that is what people will remember when they think of you."
Edmund flinched at this, but then gave Lucy a small smile. "Well then, I guess I should stop 'moping' eh?" he asked slyly.
Lucy flushed, "I didn't mean it like . . . " Then she caught a glance of her brother's expression. "Oh, stop it!" she said, punching him in the arm.
Edmund laughed, but soon became serious again. "Thank you, sister," he said, for a moment adopting the high, formal tones that they had been learning as part of their "education", but at the next moment he looked rather like a small child. He held out his arms as though to hug her, which surprised Lucy greatly, as he wasn't usually a demonstrative person. Lucy hugged her brother with relish and heard him whisper huskily in her ear. "Thanks, Lu, you've been more help than you know." He said. Lucy felt as though a great weight had been lifted off her, she had been wanting to have this conversation with her brother for a year.
Lucy let go of him, and shrugged her shoulders. "We should get back to the party, show them what a devoted king you really are."
"And what a devoted queen you are!" Edmund teased her.
"Ex-actly," Lucy laughed loftily.