by Val Evenstar
Author's note: This is the last one, and maybe the best one... I'm not sure, I like the others a lot to. They were such fun to write; I hope you will find them just as fun to read. Upcoming works... as series of drabbles on Susan's thoughts after the crash - and then maybe some tales told in that wonderfully dry and conceited Calormene manner, I don't know.
But this is what I want to do every single day of my life...
Edmund was awakened by a warm wetness on his cheek. Groaning, he turned over and shoved a pillow over his head. Something leaped up onto the bed beside him and started pawing at his shoulder.
"Wake up, your Highness, wake up!"
Edmund buried himself deeper in the bedclothes.
"Get up, get up, get up!" The voice was now overflowing with excitement. Edmund scowled. It was too early in the morning to even think about waking up.
"Your Majesty..." the voice persisted. Finally the speaker lost patience. "Ed!" he barked, and the king jumped.
"What ever do you want?" he asked crossly, pulling the sheets off his head and staring with bleary eyes into his friend's face.
He was greeted by a fuzzy snout and enthusiastic brown eyes, as his friend panted in merriment. "Come with me, something stirs in the world – we must be off!"
"No, we must not." Edmund made an attempt to retrieve the pillow he'd removed from his head, but his friend wouldn't let him. "You, however, must be off me very shortly or I'll call the centaurs on you!"
"They're too big to catch me."
Edmund flopped back into a space that should have held a pillow. "Why the blazes did I have to get a dog that talks?" he complained to no one in particular.
"Get a dog?" the canine replied, sounding insulted. "Pardon me, your Highness, but I'd rather say I got you."
Despite himself, Edmund grinned. He loved Kehl dearly; the dog had a wit that was downright obnoxious in the early morning hours, but when Edmund was more awake he greatly appreciated it. "So what is this wondrous sight you are dragging me away to see?" he inquired, hoping to at least convince the large dog to get off his chest.
"I don't know. That's why we're going to find out! Come on!"
Edmund wheezed as the dog accidentally planted a foot on his solar plexus as he jumped off the bed. "All right, all right," he said with a massive scowl; if he'd managed to be winded so early in the morning, what worse thing could possibly come?
Kehl bounded out the door, panting briskly, as Edmund shuffled across the room in pursuit. "You could wait up," he grumbled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
"Where are we?" Edmund finally asked. He hated to admit that he was lost, especially if Peter were around. Even though the High King was absent from this madcap adventure, Edmund didn't want to be outdone by Kehl – despite the fact that the dog could track ten times better than any human.
"We're almost there!" Kehl's chestnut coat stood out among the brown tree-trunks.
"Are we going to the River?" Edmund asked.
"No, no, I don't know where we're going..."
Edmund blinked, took a deep breath, and decided not to comment. He took comfort in the fact that if they were lost, Kehl could almost certainly find a way back.
He did not recognize these woods – he felt that they were heading in the general direction of the River, or maybe parallel to its course. "Kehl, what are we doing?"
The dog looked back over his shoulder at the youngest king, incredulous. "We're following the trail!" he said.
"What trail? If you're after rabbits you should have at least let me fetch my bow."
"No – not rabbits. Hmmm, although I do love chasing those little dumb animals... No, not rabbits. Can't you feel it? The world is stirring – something's happening, or perhaps someone is coming! Whatever it is, it's important, and we must find it!"
Edmund was caught off guard by the passion in his friend's voice. He thought about saying that everything was stirring because it was almost sunrise, but he banished the thought. Whatever Kehl felt was obviously much more than that.
"Right. Well, then, lead on, there's a good fellow."
Kehl was running now, and Edmund was hard pressed to keep up. He'd been on many a wild hunt, but usually he was mounted; they only chased the game on foot when it was very close by.
They ran between the slender trunks of beeches, jumped over foxholes and aboveground roots, and pushed aside the underbrush in desperate pursuit of they knew not what.
Edmund raised his hand to push back a low-hanging branch – and then his eyes caught a flash of gold in the forest.
"Kehl, did you see that?" he cried, not trusting his own eyes.
"What? What? You saw it?" the canine asked, turning in dizzy circles as he searched the woods.
Edmund stared hard in the direction he'd seen it, then shrugged. "Nothing, I guess. I suppose it's just the sun's rays – it's getting about that time."
"It's close, though, I think," Kehl said. "Hurry! The sun might chase it away!"
They dashed on, with a new sense of urgent desperation kindled in their hearts. They knew not why, but they could not deny its existence. Something would happen... and they were determined to be there.
Kehl burst through the trees and then slid to a halt with a yelp. Edmund, hard on his heels, backpedaled hard; they'd come to one of the steep riverbanks that formed where the River joined the sea.
And then he looked up.
The sky was flooded with gold that reflected off the sea; clouds skirted the sun in an array of delicate gauzes. But that is not what enraptured the young king.
The colour of the sky and sea was nothing compared to the rich, living gold his eyes feasted on. A strangled cry fled his throat: "Aslan!"
The great Lion turned.
Edmund looked into his eyes with a desperate longing. He would jump off this ridge if it meant he could be closer to the Lion, the great Son of the Emperor-over-the-Sea.
"Aslan." This time it was a whisper.
Aslan looked at Edmund and his brown eyes smiled in wild pleasure.
"It's been so long!" Edmund cried, an untamable yearning in his voice.
The sun rose behind the Lion, and Edmund gasped as the golden mane slowly flowed together with the rays of the sun, and Aslan walked slowly down the sunlit reflection until he was one with the Sun itself.
"Oh, Aslan!" Edmund whispered, watching as the image of the Lion slowly melted into nothing.
He looked at Kehl, and there was a sorrow and yet a wonder in their faces.
A sea breeze blew suddenly hard and fierce, bathing the pair with its otherworldly ferocity. And a Lion's voice rode on the wind, full of love and passion. "My son!" it exclaimed, delighting over them.
Edmund stood beside Kehl and felt that if he jumped, he would fly.
The breeze retreated, leaving the pair in joyous celebration as a whisper echoed round:
It's been so long
Since I've seen the early morning sun
It's been so long
Since I've felt the air under my wings
Seen all of these things...