Summary: After returning from the edge of the world on the Dawn Treader, Caspian is in low spirits, much to the concern of his friends, Drinian, Trumpkin and Trufflehunter. Then a stranger arrives at Cair Paravel, bringing a device that will allow Caspian to visit the one place he's always longed to go.
- In the Chronicles, Caspian doesn't get a chance to see 'the other world' until the end of The Silver Chair, so this story is an alternate universe.
- Ramandu's daughter, who appears briefly in this story, has no canon name so I called her Rilami here. I saw her called 'Ramanda' in another fic which I also thought was a good idea for her name.
- I've done my best to remain true to the portrayal of Aslan in the books, however I don't feel comfortable writing Aslan as an other-worldly manifestation of Jesus (because I don't think I could do it justice), so I've pretty much ignored that aspect of his character. Hopefully he still has passing resemblance to the book incarnation.
Completed: February 2006
Modified: 25 March 2008
Dedication: Dedicated to all the Drinian fans out there.
"Do you mean to say," asked Caspian, "that you three come from a round world (round like a ball) and you've never told me! It's really too bad of you. Because we have fairy-tales in which there are round worlds and I always loved them. I never believed there were any real ones. But I've always wished there were and I've always longed to live in one. Oh, I'd give anything - I wonder why you can get into our world and we never get into yours? If only I had the chance! It must be exciting to live on a thing like a ball. Have you ever been to the parts where people walk about upside-down?"
- C. S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Chapter 1: Narnian Paparazzi
It was a paradisiacal late spring evening at Cair Paravel, but not entirely due to the random whims of nature, as a normal observer would assume. The gentle, musical cries of seagulls were deliberately pitched at tones to blend in harmoniously with the breaking of waves. The pink blossoms floating delicately on the breeze were carefully designed to give the air a faint scent and visually pleasing edge, yet not be overpowering. The branches of the trees waved gently in time to the distant waves, giving the appearance of life without being obtrusive.
This deliberate performance was lost on the young couple who walked through the gardens of the castle, but not so on the pair who stood beside the window in one of the higher towers. One was so short he had to stand on his toes to get a good view, while the other had to crouch down to avoid being seen.
"Look there!" Trumpkin said, gesturing as a pair of indigo butterflies danced through the scene. "If this doesn't give Caspian the courage to propose, nothing will! I've a good mind to propose to something myself."
"Don't look at me, my lord," Drinian said, smiling. "But I do agree, it is going perfectly." He made a quick gesture to something out the window, and within a minute, a blackbird landed on the sill.
"A request, my lord?" the bird enquired.
"Yes, Trillitook. Tell everyone to quiet down a little. We can't hear what they're saying, and I think we're nearing a breakthrough."
The bird nodded in acknowledgement, and then flew off into the garden. A moment later, the birdsong all but disappeared.
Trumpkin and Drinian leaned further out the window, now picking up Caspian's voice. Rilami laughed in response to the remark, and they shared a smile. Even if nothing came of this, Drinian felt the preparation had all been worth it just to see them getting on so well. Despite their obvious mutual attraction, there had been more than one argument on the voyage home from the eastern edges of the world. Both of them were extraordinarily naïve and inexperienced in matters of the heart. But Rilami, at least, had some excuse. She had been living in near isolation for many years. Caspian had simply found adventuring more interesting than courting.
The butterflies made another pass around them, and Rilami pointed with delight.
"Oh, look, Caspian! Are they tiny birds? What beautiful wings."
"They're butterflies," Caspian said. "A type of insect."
There was something in Caspian's voice that raised a warning flag in Drinian's mind. He gestured out the window again, but Trillitook had disappeared. Hopefully the butterflies would take the hint and gracefully depart.
"Butterflies," Rilami repeated. "A curious name. Do they like to eat butter?"
"Perhaps they used to mix them in with butter," Caspian replied, with a grin. "To give it some crunch."
Rilami looked vaguely disgusted.
"Was that supposed to be a joke?" Trumpkin whispered, glancing at Drinian.
"I believe I heard you make the same joke during the First Blossom Festival, my lord," Drinian replied.
"But not in the presence of a lady!" Trumpkin hoisted himself up higher. "Come on, Sire," he said to himself, as if urging on a competitor in the annual cheetah races.
"They're retreating further into the trees," Drinian whispered. "Curse it! We will not be able to hear."
"We need Trufflehunter," Trumpkin agreed.
"Need me for what?" came a voice behind them, with the tone of someone catching them in a misdeed. "For spying on his royal highness?"
"Shhh, keep your voice down," Drinian said.
"Why, of all the -"
"Do you want to see them engaged or not?"
Trufflehunter opened his mouth as if to continue arguing, but then silently joined them at the window. "Oh by the Lion's Mane," he said, once he had taken a glimpse. "What is going on out there? You expect the poor boy to propose when you have half of Narnia looking on?"
"Don't look at me," Trumpkin said. "This was mostly Drinian's idea. Apparently humans find this kind of atmosphere romantic."
"You were the one who suggested the blossoms, my good dwarf," Drinian said. "And the butterflies, for that matter."
"Shhh," Trufflehunter said, pointing with his paw. "They're coming this way."
Indeed, the couple had emerged from the trees, and were now walking across the lawn towards the palace. Halfway, Caspian stopped, and Rilami turned to him. She reached out to hold his hands, and their eyes met across a blossom-laden breeze.
For a moment, there was no sound. Drinian could have sworn even the badger was holding his breath. But then, Rilami suddenly let go of Caspian and pointed across the grass, towards an innocent looking bush.
"Oh, Caspian, look!"
Caspian turned, just as two fluffy white rabbits hastily jumped out of sight.
"Oh, please come back!" Rilami said, running over to where they had last been seen.
The two rabbits slowly re-emerged, looking about as apologetic as rabbits could look. They shuffled their little pink noses up and down, and twitched their whiskers. Rilami, who had clearly never seen a rabbit before, clasped her hands together in pleasure. "How adorable!"
Caspian strode up, folding his arms.
"Excuse me," he said, firmly. "This just happens to be the private garden of the King of Narnia! Mind your own business!"
The rabbits bowed their heads, and hopped away around the side of the palace.
"Caspian!" Rilami said, annoyed. "You could have at least introduced us!"
"They were spying on us!" Caspian protested.
Drinian and Trumpkin shared a nervous look.
"You didn't have to be so rude!"
"I was more than polite under the circumstances!"
"Well, there goes the proposal," Trumpkin said.
But in a moment, the proposal was the last thing they were worried about. Caspian just happened to look up at the right moment, and caught sight of all three of them, staring at him out the window. They hastily drew back, but the damage was done.
"And you call yourselves my friends!" he yelled in their direction.
"Back to the throne room, comrades," Trumpkin said.
"I agree," Trufflehunter said.
But Caspian hadn't finished. He strode into the middle of the lawn, folded his arms, and addressed the trees.
"Fellow Narnians, I ask you to listen! I wish to issue a new decree! Any creature, whether man, dwarf, beast or tree, caught spying on our royal person will spend a week in the dungeon!"
At once, there was a flurry of activity, followed by a rush of a sound like a giant wave. Hundreds of birds and insects poured out of the trees, rushing into the forests beyond the castle walls. The lawn became a blur of movement as creatures hopped and scurried out of the bushes, making their way to the palace gates. Finally, one of the bulgy bears lumbered out of the trees, insisting he was only there because he was looking for honey.
"How would one put a tree in a dungeon, I wonder?" Trumpkin asked.
Drinian and Trufflehunter both burst into snickers of laughter, but their mirth dissolved when they heard a most decidedly angry female voice.
"Well, I hope you're all happy, my dear lords!" Caspian said, storming into the throne room.
Trumpkin and Drinian looked up from their game of chess, doing their best to look innocent.
"Your highness," Trufflehunter said, jumping down off a chair and bowing. "My most humble apologies. I behaved despicably."
Caspian flopped down onto the nearest of the four thrones and sighed wearily. "It's all right, Trufflehunter. I know this wasn't your idea." He cast a pointed glance in Trumpkin and Drinian's direction.
"Where is the Lady Rilami, Sire?" Drinian asked.
"Gone?" Trumpkin repeated.
"For good?" Trufflehunter said, his ears flattening in surprise.
"No ... not for good. At least, that's what she says. She made friends with Constel the unicorn and Jooner the faun last week, and she's gone with them to meet up with Master Cornelius along the southern border. He's completing a census in those parts, and she says helping him will be a wonderful opportunity to meet all the Narnian creatures ... after I scared them away."
"Don't despair, Sire," Trufflehunter said, resting a paw on his arm. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Caspian made a grunt-like noise, and turned his head away.
"The badger's right, Sire," Drinian said. "And by the time she returns, I will have made it the priority of every creature in this court to provide you with complete and utter privacy."
"Privacy is a foreign concept in this country," Caspian said. "No one has anything better to do than gossip about the romantic lives of the royalty. Maybe we need another war."
His friends all stared in shock.
"I wasn't serious!" Caspian protested.
"And I trust his majesty was also speaking in jest when he mentioned dungeons," Trumpkin said.
"Cair Paravel doesn't even have a dungeon," Caspian said, rolling his eyes. He paused for a moment, and then said, "Maybe we should build one. I have nothing else to do until she returns, after all."
"Nonsense, Sire," Trufflehunter said. "There is plenty to do. For example - making copies of your maps of the Eastern Ocean."
"We did that two weeks ago."
"Writing to Lord Bern, Duke of the Lone Islands," Drinian suggested.
"I did that yesterday."
"Maybe you and Lord Drinian could write a book," Trumpkin suggested, waving a knight piece in the air. "About all your adventures on the Dawn Treader."
"About how we turned back and left others to see the end of the world," Caspian said, in a frosty tone.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Caspian stood up, running his hands through his hair.
"I'm sorry, friends. I'm tired ... and upset over Rilami. And ... and I miss Reep. But it is no excuse for my poor behavior. I will retire early, I think."
"Goodnight, Sire," Trufflehunter said. "Don't lose heart. She will return."
"Goodnight, Trufflehunter. Goodnight Lord Drinian, Lord Trumpkin. Drinian - don't look so concerned."
He gave Drinian a cheerful smile as he left, and it was returned. But if he stayed a moment longer, he'd have seen the smile disappear from Drinian's face.