Title: Just and Magnificent
Volume - The Border Wars
Chapter 1 - Seven Years After the Darkness
Summary: A Dream of What Might Have Been
Disclaimer: C.S. Lewis owns the characters. I just love them!
Warnings: Incest. Slash. Violence.
A/N: Rogue Warrior Chronicles will conclude once all Just and Magnificent sub-series are complete. You'll know why when it's done. This chapter is the first of a mini-series that takes place seven years after the events of Just and Magnificent's Celebration. Basically, seven years after the war. If you don't know what the war is? You probably shouldn't be reading this story. Read Just and Magnificent before you read this.
Just and Magnificent - The Border Wars
SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE DARKNESS
This story begins seven years after the end of the Dark War, the greatest war Narnia had ever known. A war that had been fought the world over, and won with the sacrifice of many. From promised ones to mighty beavers, many lost their lives in the dark days when the world almost fell to one who was many. To the creature, the being, the entity known as Lejious.
The Golden Age was in its seventh year. Narnia was in a state of peace. Though all times of peace still contain their moments of trial and hardship, for Narnia the Golden Age was truly wonderful. Under the rule of Peter the Magnificent, High King of Narnia, Susan the Gentle, Edmund the Just, and Lucy the Valiant, Narnia had staved off war with other nations and solidified its place in the world.
Lucy the Valiant had continued her role as the healer, almost mother to Narnia's people. She tended to those in need with great fervor and reveled in the merriment of her Narnian. Tumnus remained ever constant at Lucy's side, her greatest friend and chief advisor. Lucy had been oft sought after, for she was as beautiful as her older sister and her heart warmed all she met. She remained single however, claiming her people as her greatest loves.
Susan the Gentle spent a great deal of her time away from Narnia, on matters of foreign business. The Southern Alliance between Narnia, Archenland, and Calormen existed primarily due to her efforts. Though she was well known for her dedication to her duty abroad, which included being Queen Ruler over the Lone Islands, many believed the acrimonious relationship she shared with Edmund the Just was a large reason for her constant absence from Narnia.
Susan had never taken another love, another promised one. Though many had come to seek her hand, she remained faithful to her dead husband, Prince Orrin, the last of the Shian. It was a well known 'secret' that Tisroc Lash, ruler of Calormen, held secret desires for Susan. However, he respected her friendship and the fact her heart would never be another's.
Each year Susan would disappear from sight for one day: the anniversary of her wedding day. She would put aside all duty, retire to a place where no one could disturb or reach her, and she spent the day in solitude.
In contrast to Susan's continuing grief for her lost love, Peter and Edmund's love endured and flourished. Their marriage was now approaching the nine year mark and for Peter himself, he greeted the milestone with eager anticipation.
"Doubt-bucket?" Peter called from his bed as he let out a yawn.
A single sheet draped across his midsection, barely covering his naked torso. He sat up, looking out through the verandah arch to see Edmund out on the balcony. Edmund had the decency to at least clothe himself in a sarong gifted to him by the Tisroc Lash. A gold laced Sarong that had been a gift for his and Peter's fifth wedding anniversary.
Peter had to admit, he adored seeing Edmund wearing it, for he often wore nothing else with it. Peter decided to do the same, adorning his own sarong. He watched from their chambers as Edmund's lean, defined muscles rippled with each movement. Edmund was practicing a strange fighting art he'd been taught in his time as the Rogue Warrior. This time in his husband's life was something that fascinated Peter, but he had learned by now that some secrets Edmund held would remain his forever.
Edmund's bare feet moved with grace and precision, stepping back and forth along the balcony while his hands jabbed and sliced through the air. Peter stepped out onto the balcony, wrapping his arms around Edmund from behind. He kissed Edmund's shoulder and sighed in bliss.
"Good morning, Doubt-bucket." Peter smiled softly, fingers tracing along Edmund's stomach.
"Good morning, Peter." Edmund smiled back, "Come to interrupt me again?"
Edmund tuned in Peter's arms so they were face to face. He greeted Peter with a warm kiss and a content hug. For a time the two indulged in the physical manifestation of their love in the form of a soft kiss and eager tongues.
With a gasp of want that had only grown with the years, Peter's grip on Edmund tightened. He hauled Edmund up into his arms, wrapping Edmund's legs around his waist as they made their way back into the bedroom. Try as he might (and he rarely tried), Peter could not contain his desire for his husband. It was not uncommon for each morning to be filled with lovemaking, and this morning was no different
Gasps filled their as matching sarongs wound across the floor. Clasped hands and heated thrusts accompanied declarations of undying love. Sweat slicked bodies moved in time with one another as the scent of love permeated the room. Finally when love and desire were sated for at least a little while, two kings lay in each other's arms, gasping and kissing in the aftermath of their lovemaking.
"I don't think that will ever change for me." Peter said, cradling his husband protectively, "Not one day has come where I have not desired you."
"I should hope that would never change." Edmund chuckled, kissing Peter's sweat laden neck.
"It won't." Peter promised, "It won't."
ECHOES OF A PROMISE
Susan stood alone in the castle graveyard standing in front of a headstone that was now littered with moss and wear. Her eyes were filled with bittersweet emotion as she feigned a small smile. She knelt down and placed a single flower next to the headstone, before she kissed her hand and touched the headstone with it.
'Prince Orrin, Last of the Shian
To Honor, To Duty, To Love
He gave his life to all these things, He only asked for me to dream
Here lies my heart, Here lies my Prince
Goodnight my love, goodnight'
Susan read the words on the tombstone and her lips began to shudder, her eyes began to weep. She closed her eyes and smiled softly when the image of her husband filled her mind. An image of a dance, an image of a prince.
"My love, my promised one …" Susan whispered, "It has been so long. My dreams remain, but they are harder to keep. You asked me to dream for us, to live for us. I do not live. I do not live."
She sobbed tearfully, shedding herself of grief that remained for all these years. She struggled to catch her breath, to finish the words she wished to speak. She struggled to convey the feelings that burned within her weary soul. The overwhelming emotion she felt on the rare occasion she would step into this place made it nigh impossible for her to remain as eloquent and focused as she normally was.
"I still dream, my love." Susan whispered finally, "I still dream. I still dream of a home we never knew. I still dream of children who never grew. I dream of growing old with you. I dream of stories I tell our children about you. I dream of the man you never got to become. I dream of the honor, the love that you never got to show. I dream of us, my love. I dream of us."
These thoughts seemed to finally draw a smile to Susan's lips. Her dreams, her imaginings of things that could never be now filled her with enough joy to temper her grief.
"I dream of dancing." Susan sighed contently, "I do miss dancing, Orrin. Not nearly as much as I miss you." She said as her eyes began to mist up once more, "Another year passes by and the memory of you becomes a greater dream. Were you really mine? Was I ever truly that lucky? I need only look at the ring you gave me to remember the promise we made. The promise I still keep. Then it all comes back to me, Orrin. Every moment of it. As if it were yesterday. And it is in those moments of renewed clarity that my heart aches so much I believe I will die. I miss you so much." She sobbed, gasping painfully, "My prince, my sweet prince. Come home … please … come home …"
Each year she asked. Each year the same response. A void. A response in the resounding thud of silence. A miracle was not to be hers. Peter's miracle would not be hers. And so she sat, she sobbed, she grieved, and she dreamed of a dance. A dance she would never have again in this life.
A SIGN OF TROUBLE, SLIGHT AND BROODING
"The latest security reports, King Edmund." General Capies said as he stood before Edmund in the Hall of Justice.
"Thank you, General." Edmund said, taking the reports as he moved about the cartography table.
He studied the report in great detail before furrowing his brow in veiled worry. He placed a marker over the border between Ettinsmoor and Narnia, making it the third marker along the borderline. Edmund let out a sigh, before he turned to Capies.
"This is no longer an issue of isolated incidents." Edmund said with concern.
"No, Majesty." Capies agreed, "It is not."
Edmund had been Master of the Order now since the creation of the Order of Justice. It had been his duty to protect Narnia from all enemies, outside and within. For the first time since the Great War, an outside enemy was beginning to rear its head.
"The third spy in as many months, Sire." Capies said.
"Correction, General. The third spy we have managed to capture." Edmund said, still wrought with concern, "And not one has allowed us to capture them alive. All have ensured their own death in some form, before we could question them. What could invoke such actions? Do they fear us? What are they trying to hide that's worth dying for?"
"Ever since Ettinsmoor declared itself a united state under the rule of its first Giant King, they have become a growing threat." Capies said, studying the map with a growing sense of unease.
"One spy I could perhaps reason. They wish to understand the strength of their neighbors. But three spies in such a short period of time indicates a persistent effort to infiltrate our borders for reasons beyond mere reconnaissance." Edmund said as he began pacing slowly back and forth, "Why the sudden interest? Why are they so determined to procure information now that they could easily procure by sending an emissary?"
"A likely assumption would be that they are trying to ascertain the strength of our forces. They could be coming to assassinate one of the monarchs. They could be scouting in advance for an invasion force." Capies said, merely making suggestions he believed were likely and reasonable.
"Look at where we have found them though." Edmund said as he pointed to the markers on the map.
Each marker was in different areas, with the first marker being in the center, and the second third left and right of it respectively. Edmund shook his head, tapping the map as his mind worked.
"They're softening up our borders. Testing our defenses. I hardly even believe these were spies more than they were cannon fodder, but for what? General Capies, we need to understand the makeup of the Ettinsmoor army under this new king. Diplomatic channels are still an option, but surely they know we have captured their spies. We've received no communications since they declared themselves a state. I cannot help but feel that their presence is aggressive to us. Perhaps the King needs to prove himself as a worthy leader and waging war with us will do that in his challenger's eyes. Perhaps they merely believe now that they are united, they are strong enough to challenge us …"
THE SMALL THINGS
"Doubt-bucket?" Peter asked softly, kissing Edmund's shoulder from behind as they stood on their balcony, "Are you alright?"
Edmund smiled softly and turned his head to the side to face Peter, "Of course, Peter."
"Let me guess. Duty?" Peter asked with a curious eyebrow.
"I have a bad feeling from the north, Peter." Edmund sighed, "There have been … incidents on our border with Ettinsmoor."
"I know. I read your security reports. They are incredibly thorough."
"You don't seem worried." Edmund said, turning around to face Peter fully.
"I have my concerns. But I also have faith that if and when the time comes to act, we will do so in a timely and expedient fashion." Peter said sagely, kissing Edmund's temple, "And I also have faith that you are monitoring the situation closely and if you truly feel there is a matter we must address now, then you will tell me and I will listen."
"I wish I had your sense of calm, Peter." Edmund sighed softly.
"I have perspective, Doubt-bucket." Peter said, raising Edmund's chin so their eyes met, "And I try to leave duty out of our private chambers."
"Tis hard when we are both Kings and responsible for the safety of our Kingdom." Edmund said before he closed his eyes and smiled, "But you are right. This is our time."
Peter smiled brightly at this, picking Edmund up and carrying him back into the bedroom, "Then a warm cocoa and some snuggling is in order."
"Snuggling is for girls, Peter!" Edmund laughed a little as Peter placed him on the bed.
"Well then, you'll love it."
Edmund rolled onto his front, burying his head in the pillow, "I shall let you have that one, my love. For if I were to retort it with my superior intellect, you would be so upset that you would mope and find some way to get even and neither of us would have an enjoyable night's sleep."
"Move your superior intellect over, please." Peter chuckled as he handed Edmund a hot cocoa and slid onto the bed next to him, "I think this might be my favorite time of the day, Doubt-bucket."
"It's most definitely mine, Peter." Edmund smiled, taking a sip of his cocoa, "Perhaps we are getting old."
"I should hope not!"
"How old are you now, Peter?" Edmund asked with a smirk.
"We don't count such things in Narnia." Peter said, pretending to read a scroll, "We are beyond counting such inconsequential moments."
"Don't worry, Peter. You are most definitely not old and you will always be the most incredible, fantastic man that I will ever lay my eyes on."
"Going blind already then, are we?" Peter smiled, though he kissed Edmund's hand in gratitude for the compliment.
"No, Peter, just in love. That's all." Edmund sighed contently.
-- TO BE CONTINUED --
A/N: For those of you who read JaM, this will be a slower, more introspective piece of that world, as opposed to the dramatic and tense atmosphere of the JaM proper. This is a side-series that you've probably already read is set seven years after the end of the 'Celebrations' chapter in JaM. This side series, The Border Wars is not the sequel to Just and Magnificent, but rather a side story to flesh out some of the time not covered by the story proper. Beyond Magnificent is the full on sequel to Just and Magnificent. JaM was my take on LWW, Beyond Magnificent will essentially be my take on Prince Caspian and most likely be my last Narnia fic, but that won' tbe for a while yet. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading.