The usual disclaimers apply. Sadly, none of these characters belong to me.
"That's it." He threw down his quill and dropped back in his seat. "From now on, I'm just King Ed. King Edmund is no more."
"And I'll be Queen Lu," giggled Lucy.
"Or you could be Qu Lu," teased Peter, dipping his quill in the inkstand. His blue eyes glittered mischievously. He turned to Susan. "And you could be Qu Su."
They all looked at Susan as she concentrated on writing her name. Midway through 'Susan' she pressed too hard on the pen and a pool of ink spoiled her efforts. She made a face, smiling despite herself. "I am staying Queen Susan if it takes me half an hour and four tries every time I sign my name."
They were in the library of Cair Paraval, all of them trying, with various degrees of success, to master the use of a quill. Gryphon feathers, which made the best pens, littered the table along with blotchy scraps of parchment as the Pevensie children learned to write their titles and names in flowing script, or any script at all in Edmund's and Lucy's cases. Grateful as she was that all her kings and queens could read and write, the court recorder, an elderly Centaur named Minovin, had gently but firmly suggested their majesties should learn how sign their names before they botched up any more of her official records with their efforts. Now they were all splashed with ink and despite their struggles, they were having fun, laughing at the notion of kings and queens having to do lines. Peter was having the most success and, having written 'High King Peter of Narnia' and 'Sir Peter Wolfsbane' a dozen or more times without any errant spots of ink on the paper, wandered off to look at a scroll encased in glass in the center of the library.
"Well, here's something we should know," announced Peter, glancing up. They gladly gave him all their attention. Peter cleared his throat. "It's on deportment and law, so listen up, Ed. 'The inhabitants of Narnia, Magical Creatures and Talking Animals, Walking Trees and Divine Waters, are each unto themselves their own persons, not one above the other. None shall be lord, nor give commands, save by the authority of the Lord of Cair Paravel and even then only in service to Narnia and during times of war or strife. As is the will of Aslan, none but the Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve shall rule in the land as king or queen. No being of Narnia shall ask of the other what is not willingly offered. No Trees shall be felled without the consent of the Forest, nor the course of Water be altered without the consent of the Spirits therein. Magical Creatures and Talking Animals will bear no burden nor surrender the fruits of their labor unwillingly. No Magical Creature or Talking Animal will be slain for its flesh, for that is murder, and the inhabitants of Narnia shall make no war upon each other. This law is put forth by Frank, First King of Narnia, and transcribed in the reign of his grandson, King George William, by his youngest grandson Prince Arthur, in the year 92.'"
Susan drew a deep breath. "It makes good sense."
"Be nice to each other," translated Peter with a laugh. "Very good sense, Su. It also confirms Aslan's law that only Humans can be monarchs here."
Edmund rose and joined Peter, looking at the ancient scroll for himself. It was gorgeously decorated with images of tress and water, Unicorns and Centaurs, and among the Animals was a horse that immediately reminded Edmund of...
"Oh, rot," he muttered, realizing. He looked up at his brother. "I have to go."
"Where?" wondered Peter.
He cast his sisters and brother a rueful look. "I have a Horse I have to apologize to."
Susan smiled, understanding. "Phillip isn't at all angry, Ed."
"Maybe," he agreed with a nod, "but I should still apologize. See you in a little while."
"Phillip? Phillip, are you in there?"
The Horse's chestnut head appeared over the edge of a stable door and he tossed his mane in greeting to his king. "Well met, King Edmund."
With a smile he stepped over to the stable and Phillip nosed the door open to meet him, lowering his head in what Edmund realized was a bow before nuzzling his chest gently. Edmund automatically stroked Phillip's nose as he said,
"I owe you an apology, Phillip. I didn't know it was rude to ride a Talking Horse except in times of war and I've ridden you a dozen times or more since the battle. I'm sorry."
"There is no offense, Sire."
He sighed. "I have so much to learn here."
Phillip slowly moved towards the doors so they could have more privacy out in the field and Edmund kept pace, one hand on the Horse's neck. "But you're learning, Your Majesty. If I didn't want to carry you, I wouldn't."
"So you don't mind?" worried Edmund.
He let out a whinnying chuckle. "The honor is mine, good king. I would carry you always and everywhere."
Edmund paused at the archway leading into the stable yard. His voice was earnest as he faced the Horse. "Thank you. But Phillip?"
"Please, if you see me doing something wrong or if you catch me saying anything rude, tell me. I've put my foot in my mouth a few times already and it's hard enough trying to be king and deal with...with..."
Phillip stared at him with genuine fascination, trying hard to imagine what Edmund could mean. Finally he asked seriously, "Why would you wish to put your hoof in your mouth, King Edmund?"
He blinked, caught completely off guard, then sputtered, "Oh! I don't mean really put my hoo- my foot in my mouth. It's an expression we use back where I come from."
The Horse's ears perked up. "In Spare Oom?"
"Uh, yes. I mean...um...yes." All four Pevensie children had given up trying to clarify the particulars of their home in England. As far as Narnia was concerned, they were from the city of Wardrobe in the land of Spare Oom. Lucy thought it was quite funny. Peter had been the first to capitulate to the inevitable in order to spare the feelings of Cair Paraval's historian. The old Dwarf had produced a beautifully illuminated page of a book that he was writing with the help of Tumnus and the Beavers, detailing how Narnia's kings and queens had left their Castle Finchley in the shining city of Wardrobe in the great land of Spare Oom. Edmund would never forget his brother's astonished expression, nor the pleading look in Susan's eyes, nor the sheer delight in Lucy's face. Peter finally looked at the expectant Dwarf and said the words that sealed their past forever: "This is a most masterful work, good Truskin." And from that point on, England was but a memory.
Edmund hastened to clarify for the Horse. "When we say we've put our foot in our mouth, it means we've said something stupid or embarrassing without meaning to. Usually you don't realize it until after the damage is done, though. Like me riding you without asking first."
Phillip pondered on this. "That would be uncomfortable. And taste horrid."
"Precisely," said the king.
They were standing in the green field beyond the stable yard. The breeze was heavy with moisture and smelled of rain and grass and flowers all mingled with salt air. Edmund closed his eyes, breathing in deeply.
"A storm is coming."
Edmund smiled at the Horse. "The first rain in Narnia in a hundred years, or so Mr. Tumnus says."
"It has been a time of many firsts, Majesty. Would you like to ride?"
"I've never ridden bareback." He thought of Peter on Flisk the Unicorn, and how confident and graceful his brother had been.
"Another thing you must learn, then. In battle you may not always have the luxury of time to saddle me up." He bent down and Edmund awkwardly clambered onto his back. Both felt odd without a saddle and bridle, but Phillip just spoke on. "Sit up straight. Knees in. I'll walk slowly. Feel me and move with me."
For a while they did just that, silently moving around the field as the sky grew darker with gathering clouds. After a while Phillip said, "Let go my mane and hold your arms out. Balance, King Edmund."
He obeyed, adjusting slightly. "You can call me Edmund, Phillip."
"At times such as this, I shall. But among your subjects you must always be a king." He picked up the pace the slightest bit. "What you said before about dealing with kingship..."
It was a moment before Edmund could bring himself to speak. "Actually, it wasn't being a king I was talking about, but what I did. What I caused."
Phillip stopped abruptly and Edmund struggled to keep both his poise and his seat. There was a hint of righteous anger in the Horse's voice as he said, "From what I have been told, Edmund, you are still but a foal. Anyone that would judge you by what they would have done in a like situation is a fool. At that time you were neither warrior nor king, just a foal without his sire and dame running from a war more terrible than our own."
"H-how do you...?"
"I spoke at length with Queen Susan when she went riding three days past. She worries that you will... sulk."
He sighed. "She got that right."
Distant thunder echoed off the mountains. Phillip ducked his head down to look back at the young boy. "Aslan has named you King Edmund the Just. That is a title filled with great hope for Narnia. You must always strive in all things to live up to that title. Learn, my king. Learn everything you can. Talk to the wise, talk to fools, listen to their stories and don't ever forget the lessons you carry. Apply yourself to your subjects, including your queens and especially your king. You are his balance and his anchor, and wisdom will flow from you like the waters of the Great River flow to the sea."
"Phillip..." His voice cracked and Edmund had to slide off the broad back before he fell and the moment his feet touched the ground he wrapped his arms around the Horse's neck and buried his face in the shaggy mane. His throat was tight and he fought uselessly against his tears, but he did not break down.
"You are greater than you know, Edmund. Aslan's faith is not misplaced, nor is mine."
He sniffed, leaning heavily against the Horse as the first drops of rain began to fall. "Thank you, Phillip."
From the highest, westernmost tower of Cair Paraval, Queen Susan watched the tiny figures of the Horse and her brother as Edmund clambered once again onto Phillip's back. He sat up straight and tall with his arms outstretched. She knew he was balancing, but she couldn't help but think that with this gesture Edmund was embracing the whole world.
She looked up as a drop of water touched her cheek. The storm promised to be long and loud and all the people in the castle were excited at the prospect. Susan smiled. First she'd go find Lucy, then Peter, and they'd collect Edmund and gather round the fire in the glass-domed conservatory to watch the storm. She wanted to revel in the past and plan the future in the presence of the people she loved best.