The Intervention of the Lion
The horse and rider flew through the darkening wood as if fleeing for their very lives. The horse's eyes were wide, and the rider bent low over its neck, unable to avoid getting scratched by the branches that whizzed by. His dark hair was wild, and his eyes determined.
Suddenly, the wood ended. They were now racing up the steep incline of a boulder-speckled hill. They joined with a gravel path that led up to the fortress. The sun was setting in the west to their right.
The castle doors were open. The horse did not slow its pace as it entered the sanctuary within the walls.
The very last sellers of the market had been shutting down their stalls. They stared at the crazed rider with interest, taking in his ripped royal clothes. He ignored them completely, jumping off his horse.
A tall, thin teenage girl ran out of the building to meet them.
"Uncle Edmund!" she cried. "Is something wrong? What are you doing here?"
"Where's Saedra?" he asked, gasping for breath and coming forward.
Talia's eyes furrowed. "Strolling by the east wall, I think, but-"
Edmund brushed past her, running. He ignored those who bowed when he rushed by, thoughts only on the woman he sought. He rounded the corner of the castle, and stopped suddenly.
There was Saedra, staring out at the sea. The warm wind blew through her hair and pulled at her dress.
His eyes fell to her stomach, which was already rounded. She wasn't bothering to hide it anymore.
Sensing his presence, she turned her head to him. Tears were streaked on her cheeks. Her desolate expression changed into one of shock when she recognized him.
He walked towards her. Her mouth was slack as she stared into his smoldering eyes.
"You lied to me," he said.
She had no immediate reply.
"You lied to me, Saedra."
She nodded. "Yes," she whispered.
Relief and anguish flooded the crownless King's face.
Saedra saw in his pale, drawn, and exhausted face a reflection of what life must have become at Cair Paravel since the trial. She couldn't begin to fathom how hellish his life was now; she hadn't the courage to ask. Saedra had gotten only a small taste of the wrath of Lucy...how much worse would it be with the added wrath of Susan and Peter?
"Yes, Ed. I lied."
He stared at her, his dark eyes comprehending. Saedra realized that Peridan must have somehow let it slip what he had forced Saedra to do, no doubt during a massive row.
"Rahai never came back," he said. "I don't think I can bring myself to go back either."
Saedra walked forward and took his hand. She looked up at him with her tear-streaked face.
"Stay here with me...With us."
Edmund's eyes fell back to the place where his child was growing.
"Do you think we'll be able to bear it?" he asked. "Living with what we've done?"
"We don't have a choice," she said in an empty voice. "But I'd rather be miserable with you than without you."
The gazed hard at each other.
Saedra knew what his decision would be. He had already made it when he chose to flee to Harden.
Edmund rested his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. They took comfort in the familiar embrace and scent of the other.
It seemed like their whole lives were headed towards this moment when they were finally able to be together. The freckled-faced boy held the spoiled, spirited older girl who had won his heart.
They stood like that until after the sun was completely gone and the stars were twinkling brightly overhead.
It didn't last. It couldn't last.
The treachery of King Edmund and Princess Saedra had far-reaching consequences—far beyond just their family. The whole of Narnia was affected. Confidence was shaken. Narnians took sides, some condemning the lovers, some defending them. Fights and scuffles broke out.
Edmund's desertion only fuelled the tension. If King Edmund the Just could desert his country for a woman so easily, what could the other three do? Why didn't High King Peter come out and address the situation formally? Why were there rumors that Cair Paravel was a mess, with fighting rulers and advisors who couldn't stand to be in the same room together?
Prince Ethan, son of Queen Susan and Lord Peridan, entered the world in the midst of all this, reportedly bringing the three remaining rulers together, however tenuously.
When the news of the White Stag's appearance reached the ears of the rulers near the beginning of autumn, they set out to claim their wish...a wish that could solve all of their problems. Peter, Susan, and Lucy rode out, trying to regain elusive peace and happiness.
They never returned from chasing the White Stag. Edmund, who had been in Harden awaiting the birth of his child, also disappeared. None of them were ever seen again by those living, save for one (but that is a tale for another time).
Narnia was further thrown into chaos, and it was only with courage and resolve that Peridan established a sort of peace. He then became Regent to rule until Princess Caulitha was old enough to be Queen.
Saedra gave birth to her second daughter, Edina, in the midst of all the chaos. She continued to rule Harden for the rest of her days. She would have stayed in exile from Narnia for the rest of her life, but dire circumstances forced her to return—but that is also another story for another time.
Rahai went to find the adventurous life she had always desired, and it was years before anyone knew of her fate.
As for Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, they were sent back to England, the other world from whence they came. They became children again with children's minds...children's minds that couldn't begin to understand what adult emotions and actions had sent them away from their dear Narnia.
And yet, there would be traces of remembrance.
Peter would pass an advertisement poster with the picture of an Indian woman. He would pause, frowning, feeling like he knew her and wondering why her eyes seemed to taunt him.
Susan's best friend would consider cheating on her boyfriend, and Susan would get indecently angry, furious at the very notion as if she was being personally violated.
Edmund would become confused when, at school, there was reckless tomboy that he felt simultaneously attracted to, repulsed by, and scared of.
Lucy would read in a magazine that the Duchess of something or other was marry some Duke or other, and wouldn't realize that her lip was curling into a sneer at every instance of the word "Duchess."
It wouldn't be for many years, but the time would come when childish minds would remember, and deeds that had been forgotten would be recalled...