When We Were Kings
Disclaimer: Narnia and its characters are the property of CS Lewis, Walden Media, and Disney. I'm just borrowing them and I promise to give them back when I'm done. Until the next story, of course.
This is dedicated to everyone who has ever helped me with my writing, my troubles, and my life, or has let me help them.
Elanor Joy has written a charming prequel to this story entitled In Search of the King. If focuses on Peter's search for Aslan in this world. It's posted here on FFN and it's definitely worth the read!
He was sitting in the small parlor of the Professor's cottage, sipping rapidly cooling tea and poring over an open book in his lap when the call came. He was alone in the house, Professor Kirke having gone into town to visit a friend and run errands with a promise that he would be back in time for tea. That time had come and gone, but Peter Pevensie didn't mind in the least. He was so absorbed in the history open before him that the first ring of the phone made him jump. Normally he would not have answered another person's phone, but the thought occurred that it might be the Professor himself. Setting aside the book, he hastened to pick up the receiver.
"Professor Kirke's residence. This is Peter Pevensie. May I help you?"
"Peter!" yelled an overly excited voice, and for a moment he yanked the phone away from his ear. "Peter, it's Edmund!"
"Ed!" he exclaimed, blossoming into a radiant smile. "How are you? How's Lucy?"
"Peter, it's the most wonderful thing!" Edmund gushed, which was very uncharacteristic of his younger brother. Whatever had happened must have been remarkable indeed. "We went home to Narnia! Lucy and I! We went home!"
He froze - stunned, overjoyed, a little envious, and more than a little thrilled.
"Are you there? Peter?"
"I - I'm here, Edmund. I'm . . . I'm astonished. Narnia. Ed, that's amazing. How? When? Tell me everything."
"We saw Caspian again and we sailed to the very end of the Eastern Sea. We were there for months and we had so many adventures - slave merchants and there was a terrific storm and Eustace got turned into a dragon - "
"Eustace?" Peter cried, scandalized that their miserable and obnoxious cousin would be permitted to pollute Narnia with his presence.
His brother laughed with pure delight. "He's changed, Peter. He . . . he's much better now. He's learned so much. You wouldn't recognize him as our cousin. Or maybe he's more our cousin now than he was before. Just like what happened with me. He met Aslan and he was very brave against the sea serpent and -"
"Wait. Wait, Ed." Peter paused to collect himself, finding himself strangely breathless. "Start at the beginning."
"I can't," protested his brother happily. "There's too much to tell and I keep remembering little bits and pieces. I could never get it all right in a letter and we'd be on the phone for days. Can you come down to Cambridge?"
"What about Aunt Alberta and Uncle Harold?"
"Eustace said he could square it all with them for a few days if you don't mind camping out on the floor of his bedroom. Please, Peter, say you'll come!"
He had rarely heard Edmund so excited. Usually he was as grave as a judge. "I'll come. Professor Kirke is out right now, but I'll speak to him when he gets home and I'll call and let you know when I'll arrive, all right?"
"Perfect. Lucy will be beside herself. It's her birthday soon, anyway. You can be her present. This will be the third time she turns eleven."
"Did . . . did you see Aslan?"
"Yes. Several times. He gave me and Lu the same notice he gave you and Susan last time, too."
"You can't return to Narnia." He couldn't keep the disappointment for his siblings out of his voice.
"It wasn't as hard to take as I thought it would be, Peter," said Edmund with perfect honesty. "I . . . I understand better how you can bear it because it's not as if Aslan loves us any less. He said he was here, in this world, and now our job was to find him here."
Peter smiled, comforted. "Have you looked?"
"Not yet. We only got back an hour or so ago."
"Well, look no further, good my king. I think I've found him."
"Peter! Where?" Edmund was aghast.
"I'll tell you when I get there."
"Agh! Come down tomorrow!"
He chuckled. "I'll call you tomorrow," he promised. "Give Lucy my love."
"She sends hers."
"And my love to you, too, Ed."
There was a pause, and then Edmund's voice came back across the phone line with words from a different time, a different life.
"My life, my love, all that I am and ever shall be, my body, my mind, the whole of my being, spirit and soul, I pledge now to thee my beloved and sovereign lord, o thou who art worthy of so much more than I in this mortal state can give. Protector and protected, teacher and pupil, master and servant, father and brother. All these things thou art to me - "
" - and I am the mirror to thee," finished Peter in a whisper. For a moment he was taken back a thousand and more years, to the glory of Narnia's Golden Age and the noble oath Edmund had recited the day Peter had made him Duke of the Lantern Waste. He could see it now, Edmund kneeling before him on the dais, his hands clasped as if in prayer, Peter's own hands holding his brother's. They had been the same ages they were now, fifteen and twelve, each of them a king in his own right. Susan and Lucy had sat on their thrones, watching and smiling. Peter squeezed his eyes tightly closed to hold back the tears that threatened to fall.
"I love you, too, Peter," Edmund finished softly, gently, aware of the impact his words would have. "I miss you terribly and so does Lucy. I'll talk to you some more tomorrow."
"Until then," he replied in a whisper, reluctant to say goodbye. "My regards to our cousin."
"You won't believe the difference. Until then, brother."
Three days later, Peter was stepping down from the train platform in Cambridgeshire, his suitcase in hand and his jacket slung over one shoulder. Professor Kirke had needed no persuading at all to let him come on his own. Indeed, Peter had been harder pressed to get things settled with Aunt Alberta and Uncle Harold and had to persuade the old man to wait a few days to finalize his plans before shuffling him out the door and onto the next train. He had made numerous promises to remember every detail his siblings and cousin told him about Narnia so he could relay the stories to the Professor.
It was warmer in Cambridge than in the Professor's northern cottage and Peter smiled to feel the sun beating down on him. It was in the late afternoon and he had to walk a mile or so down the road to meet his uncle at the gates to the college where he worked. It was a pleasant walk in a beautiful town and Peter enjoyed every step. The colleges weren't so very crowded with the war in its third year and he noticed more women about the town than on previous visits. A few men in uniform caught his attention and he watched them go by. If the war didn't end soon, he knew he would be one of those men, but the prospect held no fear for him. He knew what it meant to fight battles and wars and he would defend England with all the ardor he had used to defend Narnia.
He wasn't waiting long before he spotted his uncle heading towards the gates and he hurried over. Harold Scrubb was perfectly named. He was a thin, sallow man with thinning hair and allergies, not much taller than Peter himself and prone to twitchiness. His suit was dull and overall he was very nondescript. He barely smiled as he shook Peter's hand as if it was a distasteful ritual for more everyday men, to be dispensed with quickly.
"Uncle Harold," beamed Peter, genuinely glad to see him. He would have been glad to see anyone that could bring him a step closer to his siblings and Narnia. "Thank you for letting me stay the weekend. I know Lucy is missing Mum and Dad, especially since they'll miss her birthday."
They had latched onto that excuse for Peter's trip. A little bit of expert whining on Eustace's part was all it took and Alberta had approved the visit without even consulting her husband, much to his chagrin. While he would not have denied his son anything that would have negative impact on the development of his emotional state, Harold relished any valid excuse to brood and lecture and counsel and this eldest cousin merely represented a missed opportunity. He could not understand his son's sudden and uncharacteristic attachment to his loud and overindulged cousins, nor why Eustace would want to inflict the eldest of the Pevensie brood on his own household for a weekend.
"So," said Uncle Harold as they walked towards his car, "I suppose the trip down was horrid."
He sounded positively hopeful. Peter shrugged. "Not at all. I read most of the way."
"Ah, yes. You're studying for university under . . . what was his name?"
"Kirke, sir. Professor Digory Kirke."
"Professor of what, if I may ask?" quizzed Harold with a hint of a sneer in his voice.
"History and philosophy."
His uncle sniffed. "So you'll be applying to Cambridge, then?"
"Actually, sir, I plan on going to Oxford."
Another sniff. Peter somehow got the impression that through his disapproval, Harold Scrubb was rather glad his nephew wouldn't be anywhere near him during his university years. Peter suppressed a smile, minding his manners and determined to give neither of Eustace's parents cause for complaint even though he knew it was impossible. The ride in the car was mostly silent as Peter wisely let his uncle indulge in a fit of superiority. Uncle Harold was the kind of person that was only happy when he was unhappy or had reason to feel smug.
Edmund and Lucy were seated on the front steps of the Scrubb house and they leaped to their feet as the car pulled up. They tackled him from two sides the moment he exited the car and Peter happily embraced them, kissing Lucy on the cheeks and Edmund on the forehead. Uncle Harold muttered something about emotional displays in public places and sentimental rubbish before he stalked off for the house, leaving them to their loud and boisterous reunion. After a few minutes they calmed down enough to talk.
"Any word from Susan?"
"Barely a postcard," muttered Edmund, clearly disgusted with his older sister.
"That's more than I've gotten. You look well," said Peter, standing back and eyeing them up and down. "Vegetarianism agrees, I take it?"
Lucy made a face and Edmund groaned. "Back four days and I'm already longing for roast beef."
Peter laughed. "We'll go to lunch tomorrow, then, and you can overindulge in meat pies."
Edmund looked heavenwards and quoth, "Would it were day!"
"Can we bring Eustace?" ventured Lucy hesitantly. "Please?"
He smiled at her, able to deny her nothing and eager to see for himself what changes had been wrought upon his cousin. "Of course, Lu."
"You won't believe the difference," Edmund promised anew. "Aunt Alberta thinks we've deliberately corrupted him. You see," his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, "I got him to read some true crime stories."
Peter shook his head as he laughed. "What on earth did you give him?"
"Sherlock Holmes. The science and deductive reasoning were a smashing success. Homer is at bat next. When I get him reading Shakespearean comedy my work here will be done."
They were all laughing as the front door banged close and Eustace Clarence Scrubb, who no longer deserved his name, hurried down the steps. He stopped when he saw them, clearly not wanting to intrude uninvited. That alone proved Edmund's claim, because the old Eustace had no regard for other people or their privacy. Peter gazed at him. It had been over a year since he'd seen the younger boy and though he was still an awkward, scrawny, and pale thing, the difference Narnia made in him was evident in every aspect, from his expression to his posture to the light in his hazel eyes. This new Eustace was open and eager and no longer saw the world through a cynical, analytical lens. He had learned to believe and accept and he had discovered he did indeed possess an imagination.
"Eustace," greeted Peter, a new flood of happiness filling him as he took in his cousin's appearance.
Eustace ducked his head a bit, suddenly shy before the king that was spoken of with such awe and respect by Caspian and Reepicheep. "Hullo, Peter."
Stepping away from his brother and sister, Peter strode over to Eustace with his hand extended. Relieved at being greeted so warmly, Eustace was completely taken aback when Peter shook his hand, then pulled him into a tight embrace. He stiffened, unused to such open affection, and Peter just held him closer.
"Welcome, dear cousin," whispered Peter for Eustace's ears alone. To the younger boy's embarrassment and delight, Peter kissed him on the forehead as he had Edmund. It was more than a simple greeting. It was a blessing from the High King of Narnia. Peter had just brought him into the circle of his love and named him a friend. Eustace had matured enough to recognize it and be grateful.
"Thank you," whispered Eustace, and hugged him back.
As soon as Peter had greeted Aunt Alberta and gone through all the polite motions and conversations, he gathered the rest of the children in the house and they fled outside. If there was one nice thing about the Scrubb house, it was the garden and they settled on the grass in the shade of a dogwood tree.
"So, tell me everything," begged Peter.
"Who first?" asked Edmund.
Peter grinned. "All of you at once. Eustace, this is all newest to you. How did you get to Narnia?"
"Well, I had just followed my dear cousins into Lucy's room for a chance to tease them about this Narnia place they were always going on about when they thought no one was listening," Eustace started grandly, trying to sound like his old self. He couldn't keep it up for long because Lucy was fighting back a giggle. "There's a picture of a ship at sea in there. Alberta and Harold got it from her grandmother for their wedding and she never liked it but always kept it because she wants to be fondly remembered in the will. Anyway, as we were - ahem! conversing, the picture came to life . . ."
They talked until it was time to eat and, after a remarkably bland meal, they took a walk along the quiet roads and talked some more. When it was time to retire for the night they hurried to bed and as soon as Alberta and Harold went to sleep Lucy crept into the boys' room. Sitting on the beds, they talked in whispers far into the morning. Peter listened with equal amounts of envy and delight, occasionally filling in details of Narnia's history for Eustace's benefit.
". . . and so he sent us home through the door in the horizon, though by that point you could reach out and touch the sky where it met the earth," concluded Eustace the following afternoon. They were sitting along the River Cam eating meat pies and sandwiches and sipping ginger beer and lemonade. "I would have liked to have kept my clothes. They were wonderfully comfortable and Aslan gave them to me."
That Eustace would think anything was wonderful spoke volumes. Peter smiled.
"I know what you mean. When something surprises me, I still reach for my sword."
"I find myself looking at almost every situation from the point of view of a judge and diplomat," Edmund admitted.
Eustace snickered. "It works."
Lucy blushed. "I try to make the court dance steps fit our music. Some of the songs work. Well, almost. Remember when Susan danced with the Centaurs and Edmund acted as the back feet?"
Even their cousin laughed at the merry image.
"I was so short I couldn't see around her!" exclaimed Edmund. "That was the hardest part!"
"That night was the first time I saw Oreius laugh," Peter recalled, smiling fondly at the memory. "I mean really laugh."
"A Centaur and the general of Narnia's army," Peter said wistfully.
"I would have like to have seen a Centaur," his cousin said in like tone.
"They're a wise people. I used to ride a Unicorn in battle," the older boy replied. "His name was Flisk."
Lucy sighed. "He was so beautiful, but I was always a little afraid of him, he was so tall."
"He was gentle as a lamb, Lu!"
"Unless you were on the opposing side," Edmund added quietly.
"Did you go into battle often?" quizzed Eustace, intrigued.
Peter let out his breath, calculating in his head. "Almost every single year, for one reason or another."
"Remember Rabadash?" Lucy chimed.
"That was a bad year." Edmund looked at his cousin. "One year in particular we went to war and battle four times."
"Did you win?"
"Every time," Edmund replied, unable to keep the smug pride from his voice. "That was the year you defeated the Giants."
"That was the year the Giants almost smashed me flat, you mean," Peter laughed.
"Real Giants?" asked Eustace, dazzled.
"Some, the stupidest ones, were as tall as that tree," said Edmund. "Most were a little shorter."
"Not all were bad," Lucy added. "Some were very nice."
"But none were very bright," finished Peter. "Save one . . . The ones who loved Narnia were great allies. The others . . ."
"Were sorry they messed with you," finished Edmund, saluting with his ginger beer.
Peter blushed and ducked his head. "And you," he countered. Edmund gave him a playful shove and Peter sprawled back onto the grass, his eyes on the green canopy above. He put his hands behind his head and began to compose aloud.
"And so it was in the two thousandth, three hundredth and sixth year since the founding of Narnia, on the sixth day in the month of Greenroof that King Edmund the Just, Queen Lucy the Valiant, and their noble cousin Eustace Clarence the Un-Dragoned journeyed forth from the city of Back Oom in the Shire of Cam to join with King Caspian, tenth of that name, to sail to the very edge of the world, and then . . . step beyond . . ."
The others grinned at him and he laughed, knowing he was being silly. Eustace seemed very moved, though, and he gazed thoughtfully at his cousins. Lucy noticed first and asked,
"Eustace? Is something wrong?"
Caught, he blinked and smiled a little sheepishly. "No, Lu, I was just thinking. I - I can see that you were kings and queen, why Aslan chose you all. It's . . . well, now that I've been to Narnia I can see what great monarchs you all were. You are the High King, Peter, and you," he turned to his younger cousins, "are Just and Valiant and you were far nicer to me than I deserved. But . . . why me? I was beastly!"
Edmund snorted. "Don't talk to me about beastly, cousin. Remember what I said on Dragon Island? No one is beyond redemption unless they choose to place themselves there. Not me, not you."
"We've all had our moments, Eustace," Peter added, laying a gentle hand on his brother's shoulder. "But we've learned from those moments and we're better for it. Aslan knows this, just as he knows our hearts. As much as he's opened us up, we've opened ourselves to him."
"Speaking of which," Edmund remembered, "what did you mean when you said 'look no further' on the telephone the other night?"
"I'll show you tomorrow morning at church."
Eustace squirmed a little uncomfortably. Peter looked at him curiously.
"We don't go to church," the younger boy finally explained, and there was sadness reflected in Peter's fair eyes.
"Well, I won't go against our aunt's and uncle's wishes," Peter replied, "but surely one of the chapels here will be open. I could show you now."
"Haro- I mean, my father works at Trinity. We could go to the chapel there."
Peter smiled. "Lead on!"
"So do you really think . . . " Edmund trailed off, quietly stunned.
"Often," Peter gently teased when his brother left the thought hanging. "Professor Kirke encourages it."
"Jesus Christ?" wondered Eustace. The name did not roll off his tongue as easily as it did for his cousins. "But . . . why a Lion?"
"At the end he was also a Lamb," reminded the younger king.
"And he came to me as an Albatross," Lucy said.
Peter closed the Bible that he held and set it on the pew beside him. "Narnia's chiefest inhabitants were Animals. That was Aslan's intent until humans stumbled in. Why shouldn't he take a form his creation could best understand?"
Eustace sat back, blinking, and it was a long while before he raised his eyes to meet those of his cousin the High King. The tears were there, glistening in Eustace's hazel eyes. Peter smiled gently as if to show there was no shame in such an emotional reaction.
"Not just the Animals," Eustace admitted softly. To his relief, the Pevensies didn't laugh. Instead they nodded in understanding. When Peter pulled him close and gently kissed his brow, Eustace Scrubb was grateful beyond telling that this was his cousin, and that the High King of Narnia loved him so well. And when Lucy's slim arms wrapped around them, and then Edmund's stronger arms held them all tightly, he knew his life would never be the same again.
Nor did he ever want it to be.
"You want to what?"
"I want to go with my cousins to church."
"Eustace Clarence," Alberta Scrubb snapped, "that's going too far!"
"Why?" he demanded, brow furrowed.
"We have never ascribed to religion in this house. You know that full well."
"You and Harold got married in a church."
She sniffed, stiffening. The reminder of her past beliefs, especially from the son for whom she carried such high hopes, was not welcome in the least. Turning her back to him, she resumed chopping vegetables for soup. "Is this a game you're playing? Acting like them? Spending time with them? Or is it an experiment in being common and dull? If it is then it's gone on long enough."
"Game?" he echoed. "No game! This is . . . me," he finished, too softly for her to hear. He stared at her, speechless. Was this was what it was like to have one's feelings hurt?
"It's those cousins of yours," Alberta seethed, attacking the carrots with a knife. "Those Pevensie children! I knew they'd be a dangerous influence on you! Their commonplace habits may have rubbed off on you, but it ends here!"
"They are not 'those Pevensie children,' Alberta," snapped Eustace. "They're your sister's children! My cousins! And they are not commonplace."
She had no reply except that of a frustrated, frightened parent.
"Don't you dare contradict me, Eustace Clarence!"
"You and Harold always told me to question authority!"
Alberta hesitated, caught in her own hypocrisy. She wore her fury like a cloak, drawing it tight around her.
"Fine," was her chilling response. "Go. Go see how hollow and pointless it all is. See how shallow your cousins really are. It doesn't matter how many people are there, Eustace Clarence. The church is always empty."
"I'm sorry, Eustace."
A week ago he would have shrugged Peter's hand off and turned away at a display of affection and sympathy. A week ago he would have sneered and snickered regardless of his cousin's reaction. A week ago he would not have cared or wanted to be touched or needed the understanding looks from the three Narnians.
A week ago he had not met Aslan.
Still, his need and wants did not make acceptance easy. Not yet. That he welcomed Peter's touch and felt no disgust at Edmund's sad sigh said a great deal even to him.
Eustace swallowed. "It's not your fault, Peter."
"What do you want to do, old sport?" asked Edmund softly.
He squared his shoulders, standing straighter and looking at his cousins: Lucy, so pretty and brave, Edmund so clever and wise, Peter so noble and kind. In a rush he realized they had always been this way, but he hadn't the sense or eyes to see it.
"I want to go with you."
Peter gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Good. I'm glad."
"Told you you wouldn't believe the difference," Edmund said, and smiled.
The next morning they walked the two miles to church. Harold had been forbidden to drive them and Alberta absented herself from the house. Standing at the threshold to the little stone church, Eustace fell behind the others a few steps, studying the place and trying to get a sense of it. Despite his mother's claim, the space seemed far from empty.
Lucy turned and smiled, reaching her hand out to him. "Come on. We'll sit in the sunlight."
The rest of the day they talked of Narnia and little else or, more specifically, they spoke of Aslan and little else. Eustace listened in quiet awe of the stories they told of the Lion and was happy to tell them once again of his own meeting with Aslan. Somehow holding the rapt attention of his audience lessened the embarrassment he felt about his early conduct on the Dawn Treader. They spoke long into the night, huddled in Eustace's room, never tiring, their eyes bright with excitement and their whispered voices betraying the delight in the secrets they shared.
Harold drove them to Cambridge on Monday morning. Despite Peter's heartfelt thanks and apologies at the inconvenience, his uncle grumbled that all the children had to come, but Eustace insisted on seeing Peter off. The train back north didn't leave until after ten, and so after a quiet ride in the car, the four children took their leave of Harold at the entrance to Trinity. They would see Peter to his train and then Harold had (very grudgingly) agreed to bring his charges home during lunch.
Edmund carried Peter's suitcase and they walked slowly to the train station, reluctant to be parted. There were few people on the platform and almost all the benches were empty. Nonetheless, the four children sat close together. For a long while they shared a comfortable silence, vainly wishing the hour would not end.
"Now if you remember anything else you'll be sure to write," reminded Peter.
"Of course, Peter," Lucy promised once again.
"How about we just write anyway?" suggested Edmund with a wicked gleam in his dark eyes. "You've always been good at it . . . Nancy."
Lucy giggled at the whispered name and Peter groaned. "My own brother."
"What?" wondered Eustace, knowing he was missing something very amusing. "Who is Nancy?"
"Tell him after I'm well away," ordered the High King, hiding a smile. "But I will write. More than I have."
"Would . . . would you write to me, too?" Eustace asked hesitantly.
"Of course," Peter replied. "I'll even write you while you're at school if you send me the address."
"I will. I will. That would be nice. Especially at my school," he muttered.
Peter smiled in sympathy for the many changes Eustace had undergone. Reaching out, he pulled him closer in a one-armed hug. A distant train whistle made them all tense up. Peter looked at the direction of the sound, eyes narrowing as if to order it to hold off, then turned his full attention to the dark-haired boy beside him.
"Don't ever forget, good my cousin, that you are beloved and by whom. Aslan once told me that if I came to despair on my journey, to remember him and know that he loves me."
"It works," Edmund confirmed softly.
Another whistle. The train was visible now, spewing steam like some sort of iron dragon as it slowed to approach the station.
"I have something for you, Eustace," Peter said abruptly. "Ed, the suitcase . . ."
Edmund handed over the leather case beside him and Peter stood, setting the suitcase on the bench to open it. He moved some clothes aside and pulled out an old, leather bound book. It was at once well worn and lovingly preserved. Closing the case, Peter held the book out to his cousin.
"Here. For you."
Eustace blinked in astonishment, reaching out with both hands to receive the gift. Lucy gasped in quiet surprise and Edmund smiled as they both recognized the heirloom.
"A Bible?" wondered Eustace Clarence Scrubb. He looked up from the book to gape at Peter. "For me?"
"Not just any Bible. Read the name on the first page."
He hastened to obey as the train screeched to a halt beside the platform.
"Edmund Randall Clarence." His eyes grew wide and he looked up at Peter. "This was our grandfather's!"
"And now it's yours. Take good care of it, Eustace."
"But - but -" He looked desperately at Edmund. "This should be yours before mine!"
The Just King laughed. "Peter got grandfather's Bible. I got his name."
"And now you have both, Eustace!" Lucy clapped her hands in excitement and pleasure. "Oh!" she whined as the conductor called for people to board.
"Hurry! I have to go." Peter leaned over and kissed Lucy's cheek. "Aslan's blessings upon you, my Valiant Queen! Edmund." He kissed his brother's forehead. "Aslan between you and danger, dear brother."
"And you, my king," Edmund replied, crushing Peter in a hug.
He struggled for the right words. "Thank you, Peter. I've never had a better gift . . . except maybe being turned back from a dragon."
His blue eyes filled with amusement and delight, Peter bestowed his kiss and his blessing upon the younger boy once again. "You are welcome and welcomed, dear cousin," said the High King. "Walk with the Lion."
Reluctantly, Peter left them, scooping up the traveling bag and landing one last kiss on Lucy's cheek before darting onto the train. Leaning out a window he called,
"And Lu! Happy eleventh birthday - again!"
They all laughed then, waving until the train pulled away and was lost to sight. Standing between his cousins, Eustace gazed at the book he held.
"I can't believe he gave me this."
Edmund shrugged. "Peter's always been generous that way. He gives things he values to people he knows needs them and will treasure them just as well as he did."
"There's a story there," insisted Eustace.
Lucy laughed. "There's several stories there, actually."
"Of the days when we were kings," finished Edmund.
"You still are. Tell me as we walk back." He looked up from studying his grandfather's name. "I wonder what Alberta will say."
Lucy made a little noise of uncertainty. Edmund grimaced and suggested, "Tell her it's mine."
Eustace considered, slowly closing the cover. To hold something that had belonged to the grandfather he had never known, that had come to him from the hands of the High King chosen by Aslan, that had been presented in an act of pure love, filled him with a reverence and awe he had never before known. He clasped the Bible close and tight to his chest.
"No," he said. "I don't care what my parents say. It's mine now, and I'll tell that to the whole world."