I Will Find You
A/N: Thank you all so much for reading my work and for all the encouragement. This story's dedicated to a Lord of the Rings fanfic writer on a different site. AU so look out! What if, when Peter came back to England at the end of the Golden Age, he'd left a child?
Prologue: The Chamber Of Carvings
Is there a way I can find you/ Is there a sign I should know/ Is there a road I could follow/ To bring you back home?
--Enya, "If I Could Be Where You Are"
Narnian year 1014
Eight-year-old Victoria tossed her doll aside, sat on the floor, and drawing her knees to her chest, sobbed.
Why was she here? It was a beautiful night, and she should be roaming the courtyards of Cair Paravel, not locked away in her apartments. Where was everybody? After they'd sent her to her room, her faun and nymph attendants had flocked to her mother's apartments, whispering and worrying. Now they were still there, they had missed her dinner, and to crown it all, her father had not come back from his hunt yet.
"What is going on?" Victoria shrieked with all her small might, hoping someone, anyone, would hear and answer. Her voice echoed mockingly from the tapestry-decked walls; but eventually another sound joined the echoes. Victoria's heart swelled with relief as she heard delicate hoofbeats approaching her apartments. She stood, smoothed wrinkles out of her gown, and rubbed the tears off her face with her fist.
The massive door swung open and a faun stumbled in. "My Princess," he gasped, bowing slightly. "You must come with me at once to your mother's apartments."
"I thought I'd be in here all night!" Victoria declared happily, but stopped when she noticed the faun's demeanor. "Are you--is--is everything all right, Tumnus?"
Tumnus began to say yes, but his eyes filled, and he bit his lip and gazed with sudden interest at the wood floor. "No, it's not, Your Highness. Your mother--"
Victoria's eyes widened. "The baby?"
Without further hesitation, Victoria burst into the hallway and half-ran, half-skipped. "Yay! I'm a big sister! I'm a big sister!"
Tumnus pelted behind her. "Your Highness, wait, please--"
She thought she'd fly with sheer excitement, but she obligingly slowed and allowed Tumnus to catch up with her. "Is it a boy or a girl, Tumnus?" she demanded joyously as she walked.
Silence met this question. Victoria glacned confusedly at Tumnus's face, and was bewildered to see tears on it. "Tumnus?"
"A boy, Your Highness, but it's not..." Tumnus began, but then broke down. Victoria, with all the tenderness a child can muster, took his hands and stared into his eyes.
"What is it? Has something--" Her heart skipped a beat as she realized the awful possibility. "Has something happened?"
Tumnus did not return her stare. "Yes, Your Highness." His voice sounded distant, broken by tears.
Victoria's hands tightened around Tumnus's. "No..."
"And it's not just that, Your Higness; the birth left her very weak." Tumnus spoke as slowly and gently as he could. "And when the baby was lost..." Looking tired, he pressed his fist against his mouth and shook his head. "Victoria, I think it's time to say farewell."
Victoria's tears exploded now, wild and angry. Tumnus, crying again, held the princess close, and she clung to him while they wept.
Victoria followed Tumnus into her mother's apartments, no longer crying, feeling horribly tired and old. She stared at the ceilings as she trudged across the room. They were of solid mahogany, carved with over a million intricate pictures of the history of Narnia; they glowed warmly in the golden candlelight. Above her head, in those carvings, Aslan sang Narnia into existence; nymphs and dryads danced jigs and reels; and her father, the High King, was knighted. Queen Susan had commisioned those carvings as a brithday present for Victoria's mother. Victoria looked numbly away, knowing tonight would be the last night her mother would see them, but hoping fiercely that it would not.
At last she reached her mother. Princess Morgana lay beneath white bedspreads and the watchful eyes of her ladies-in-waiting. Her long, chestnut hair was still damp with the effort she'd put into her son's birth and the shade of her face was a frightening match with the bedspread. She turned her head to Victoria as she entered and whispered, "My child..." Her once clarion voice cracked and wheezed.
"Mother," Victoria breathed sadly. Tumnus and the ladies-in-waiting backed away quietly.
"I am so sorry," Morgana began, but stopped with a long, pained gasp. "I know how much you wanted the baby to come."
Victoria did not answer. She only stared fearfully at her mother. Never had she seen her like this.
"But darling, Aslan will care for the baby. We shall see him again, in Aslan's country," Morgana continued, but Victoria saw that each word cost her dearly.
"Madam," a strong voice emerged from the door. Victoria turned as Oreius entered the chamber, but kept a respectful distance.
"Did you find him, Oreius?" Morgana asked breathlessly, struggling to sit up. A dryad carefully pushed her back into the pillows.
"We did not, madam," Oreius admitted, shoulders slumped. "Not King Peter, or his royal brother and sisters. We only found their weapons, horses, gear, and this." He stretched his enormous hand towards Princess Morgana. On the palm, a ring glittered; it was a thin, gold band, engraved on the inside. Victoria immediately recorgnised it: her father's wedding band.
Morgana reached up, took the ring, and held it hopelessly before her face. "Peter, why do you do this to me?" she rasped almost inaudibly. Her eyes wandered to her child's shocked face, and filled. With some difficulty, Morgana unfastened a delicate gold chain from about her neck, looped it onto the ring, and held it out to Victoria. "Take it, darling."
Victoria took the jewelry, and squinted to read the words engraved inside the ring: "Love Has Taken Magnificence and Transformed It Into Splendour. For Peter, From Morgana. 1006."
"Thank you, mother," Victoria said slowly as she pulled the chain around her own neck.
"You won't pop the chain, will you?" Morgana asked slyly, a wan smile briefly softening her face.
"I hope not," Victoria tried to laugh at Morgana's allusion to her old habit of popping the necklaces of any noble she came near, stranger or no.
Morgana nodded approvingly, then reached up and cupped her daughter's face in her thin hands. "Victoria, love, promise me two things. First, promise me that you will find your father. Do whatever it takes to find him. If and when you do, give him that ring and chain. And promise me," she paused and flinched as a shudder seized her and her breath rattled, "promise me never to forget that I love you."
Victoria's tears were on Morgana's hands. "I promise."
And they were silent for nigh an hour. As the sun peeked over the Eastern Ocean, Morgana's eyelids dropped.
A little sigh.
And she was gone.
The carvings in the ceiling still shone richly in the dimming candlelight.
Love? Hate? Think I should continue? Stop? There's a purple button down there begging you to click...but not drag.