Disclaimer: I own no part of Narnia; the books belong to CS Lewis, the movies to those other people, and I therefore make no money off of them. Please don't sue me?
A/N: This is just an idea that popped into my head after seeing/reading Caspian. This is my first Narnia fic, so please read and review!
After a full turn of the seasons, the search had been called off. Reluctantly, regretfully, the Narnians were forced to concede that their Kings and Queens had left them. In some, this incited anger; how dare they turn their backs on their sacred charge? In others, there was fear; who would protect them now from the other nations, from Calormen in the South, from the Telmarines and other raiders plying the seas? But in most, there blossomed a deep and abiding sorrow, a sense of loss tempered by the continuance of seasons.
There are many forms of grief, and these Narnians who had spent a hundred years of Winter with no Christmas were familiar with most of them. But the deepest grief, the mourning that truly yearned for the other half of its soul, was not the crippling form. It was not the keening that scratched the throats from the inside out, that tore at hair and fur and draped the houses and burrows in black cloth. No, this was a quieter sensation, a stillness that manifested in the fleeting moments between tasks. It was the tempered laugh, the gleam of an eye that had not forgotten.
It was memory, memory that was a part of every breath and spoken word, every action and thought. It was not a grief that made them cease to function, but an honor to the memory of their monarchs and heroes- their friends- that they continued with their lives as they would surely have wished.
There was in particular one little faun who missed them most acutely. For Mister Tumnus, that same faun upon whom Lucy had chanced on her very first journey to Narnia, had grown very fond of the Lords and Ladies of Cair Paravel, and he missed them with the heart of family, not merely of beloved subject.
He had been, first and foremost, Lucy's dearest friend. When he should have betrayed her, he had not; neither of them had ever forgotten that. When the rulers of other lands began sending delegations, he was the one to teach her to dance the courtly steps. When she grew frustrated, he was the one she talked to, vented to. When she had her first crush on a young and useless lord of Archenland, he had been the one to comfort her when she found her first kiss to come from a mixture of pride and a dare. The first- and only- time she had beaten her sister at archery, she had come to him for celebration.
To Edmund, he was a supportive companion. He had never forgotten the sight of the scared and confused little boy thrown into the witch's gaol, the one who had betrayed his family and now didn't know what to do. But then, he remembered how close he himself had been to betraying Lucy, and he could understand. When memory or nightmares threatened to overwhelm, Edmund sought out Mister Tumnus for his quiet, nonjudgmental company. While the young king rifled through the pages of a book trying to read, the faun would play soothing tunes on his aulos, watching the nymphs dance through the flames in the hearth. Alone among the Narnians, Tumnus understood that temptation.
Susan took him with her when she left Cair Paravel, for her brothers were fiercely protective and insisted she be escorted. Tumnus wasn't a warrior, but he was highly respected by the Narnians, and it seemed a fair compromise. He showed her the land of his birth, rediscovering it from under the layers of ice and snow that had hidden it most of his life. When she grew heartsick from all the suitors seeking nothing more than her beauty and title, he made her laugh by taking her to the eyries, to watch the young gryphons learn to fly.
And for High King Peter, he was a trusted advisor. That particular eminence had taken some getting used to, but the eldest Pevensie made it quite clear that he respected Tumnus opinions, as well as his knowledge of Narnia. And he trusted his loyalty. For Tumnus, that was the greatest gift. He had questioned it himself, but Peter did not. Sometimes, when you cannot have faith in yourself, you must believe in the faith others have in you.
He loved and respected them as heroes, as kings and queens, but they were his friends, first and foremost.
And now they were gone.
Had they meant to leave? He couldn't help but wonder, as his hooves crunched through the light layer of autumn leaves blanketing the forest floor in a patchwork of pumpkin and cinnamon, gold and crimson and deep green. Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia…had they known they would have to leave, in order to return? But why wouldn't they have said anything?
So they wouldn't have to say goodbye, he told himself, trudging up the small slope. His father had done that. When he'd gone off the fight the White Witch, before she'd fully claimed Narnia, he hadn't said goodbye. If all went well, he would be back. If it didn't…well, what was the use of a word?
He'd left Cair Paravel nearly a week ago, wandering as his legs would take him, no specific destination in mind, but even so, he was startled when he ran into something. So startled, in fact, that he lost his balance and fell back onto the loam, squashing his tail beneath him. His breath hitched in a sad little laugh when he saw what it was.
No one knew where it had come from, but the Pevensies had all seem shocked to find something of their world in Narnia. To be sure, it was the only one of its kind, but it had been there since the world was very young, and not everything has a story to be passed on. They'd called it a lamp post, when they were new, but since then, they'd adopted the name everyone else used, and called the entire area LanternWaste.
The light glowed evenly from within the panes of clouded glass, never needing fuel, never sputtering or dancing as other flames did. In the endless winter, it had been a beacon, a fragile sign of hope and warmth.
And it was here he had met a brave little daughter of Eve.
Laying his hand against the cool metal, Tumnus allowed the tears to trickle down his cheeks, grieving still for his Kings and Queens. For his friends.
"Your heart is heavy, dear one."
Tumnus looked up at the deep, mellifluous voice and tried to summon a smile for the great king. "I miss them, Aslan," he said honestly, his long ears quirking downwards through the thick brown curls on his head.
"It was time for them to return." The huge lion paced closer to the lantern post, and to Tumnus, his paws passing silently over the crunching leaves. Tumnus knew without looking that he would leave no prints; he never did. "They could not stay out of their world forever."
"Couldn't they?" he asked longingly. "They were here for fifteen years."
"And not a moment passed in their world. But time cannot stand still for too long." He sat back on his haunches, the breeze rippling his heavy mane, and together, the two creatures looked out into the forest. "They will return, when the time is right."
"When?!" At Aslan's silence, Tumnus understood, and he fidgeted awkwardly with the bright scarlet fringe of his scarf. "Oh."
"Keep faith, dear one, and you will see them again. In time, all souls return to my father's lands beyond the sea, and are reunited."
The faun closed his eyes, his voice emerging small and young. "But I miss her now."
The great golden eyes blinked at him, and a sound that might have been a laugh rumbled through the twitching whiskers. "Do you suppose she misses you any less?" Aslan studied the shocked faun, his tail twitching as
he debated the wisdom of what he could say. Finally, he nuzzled the trembling creature lightly on the shoulder. "It is never an easy thing, to pass between worlds. One is never entirely certain after that which world one really belongs to. Lucy will need all her memories of you to sustain her in this transition time."
"Will they give her strength?" he sniffed, tears working down his face.
"They will," Aslan assured. His tail thumped against the lantern post, remembering when the birthing land had taken a scrap of London metal and created it. "Lucy Pevensie is a simple child in the way that is most important: she believes. She has a deep, abiding faith, one that shines through the darkest night and comes through undiminished."
"Will they know her? When she comes back? Will she have friends?" His voice was cracking, and the hot, stinging tears continued to track down his skin, but he needed to know his dear little friend would be all right.
But Aslan didn't answer for a terribly long time, his golden eyes studying Tumnus. And yet, he almost seemed to be seeing something past him, through him, as well. "Your life, dear one, has been one filled with fear and mistrust; do you regret learning love now that you have lost it?"
"I haven't lost it!" he retorted fiercely, clutching the ends of his scarf. "I love them still! And you just said memories of me would give her strength. That must mean she still loves me. No love has been lost!"
"Then why do you grieve as if you had?"
At the simple question, Tumnus could only open and shut his mouth, seeking words he couldn't find or piece together.
"Your love will give her strength. Let her love for you do the same."
Finally, Tumnus managed a small smile. It wasn't a very good smile, for Mister Tumnus was still sad, after all, but it was at least a beginning, an echo of that tremulous smile he had first given Lucy when she told him the tale of War Drobe in the mysterious land of Spare Oom. "I will always miss her."
"And you will be reunited, in time." His heavy gaze turned back out over the forest. "Everything happens for a reason, even if we cannot understand it at the time."
"Will they come back by way of War Drobe?" he asked, his smile growing slightly. He doubted there was much Aslan didn't understand!
"Things never happen the same way twice, dear one. She will return; for now, that is all I can say."
"It's where I still think about her the most, you know." He reached out and touched Aslan's coarse mane for comfort, his fingers sinking into the thick fur. "I saw her grow into a young woman on the throne of Cair Paravel, and yet whenever I think of her, it's as I first saw here, right here. As a child willing to say hello to someone she'd never seen before." And something she'd never seen before, he added silently. Lucy had told him there were no fauns in her world. How frightened she must have been, how very confused, and yet she'd smiled at him and held out her hand.
Aslan rose to all four paws, pressing his damp nose against Tumnus' brow. "Have faith, dear one. You shall see your dear little friend again." Without another word, he turned and loped off into the forest.
Tumnus watched him long after he was out of sight, his forehead burning with all the strength of a blessing. "I believe you, Aslan. I have faith. It just doesn't make me miss her any less now." Sniffling again, he drew out a handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes with it.
Two dark green letters in one corner caught his attention and he lifted it up to see it better in the light of the lantern.
LP. Lucy Pevensie. He kept giving her back her handkerchiefs, and she had kept hiding them in the chambers he'd been given in Cair Paravel. She finally lost her patience with him and flat out told him to keep them; she liked having something of hers with him always. He pressed the embroidered letters to his lips, staring up at the lantern till his eyes burned with more than years.
"I'll be here, my Queen," he promised softly. "Whenever you return, I'll be here. Even if you can't see me. I hope you know that."
Trumpkin clumped through the autumn foliage fallen over the path, an arrow held to the string of his bow. He was hunting for his dinner, though he didn't think he'd actually find anything. LanternWaste tended to be a quiet place, the entire section of forest filled with a hushed reverence. He came upon the Lantern itself and sighed, releasing the tension in the string and placing the arrow back in its quiver. He had provisions, he would simply make do with those.
After successfully weathering his time as Regent for King Caspian X, Trumpkin had requested permission to take some time to himself. He had kept the throne safe while the Dawn Treader made her journey over the seas, and had assisted through the return and wedding, but now things were settled again, and he needed to time to rest before resuming his normal duties. If the young king understood aught he didn't say, he made no mention of it.
No, Caspian had not pressed his friend and advisor, for which Trumpkin was grateful. Instead, in a mild voice, he had told the dwarf to take as much time as he needed. "I hear the woods around LanternWaste are quite peaceful," he added quietly, and then said no more about it.
He wasn't entirely sure why the king had so specifically mentioned LanternWaste. Yes, he knew that this was where the Kings and Queens of Old had first appeared- and disappeared- but they would not be able to come this way again. They would not be able to come this way at all.
And that was the real reason Trumpkin had needed time to himself. They had seen her. Oh, he had respect enough for King Edmund, he'd proven himself in battle, but Queen Lucy…They'd seen Queen Lucy, and he hadn't, and now he wouldn't see her again. She wasn't to return to Narnia.
He knew it wasn't fair for him to be jealous, but he was. It wasn't right for him to be angry, but he was. So he dragged himself off alone into the woods until he could be something other than jealous and angry. And lonely.
With another sigh, the dwarf sank down onto the loam with his back pressed against the lantern post, closing his eyes. He missed his dear little friend. Being so small herself, she had understood that his size didn't matter. He could do what anyone else could, or nearly, and so could she. DLF…he'd hated that nickname at first, until he came to understand that it wasn't meant to be cruel or patronizing. It was something meant only for him, that couldn't be confused for anyone else.
An insolently chirping bird caught his attention, and he opened his eyes to see a plucky robin perched on an upright piece of grey stone. It chirped at him again, then flipped his tail at the dwarf and flew away.
Trumpkin was thinking idly of his bow when he saw more clearly the stone upon which the cheeky creature had been sitting. He lumbered to his feet and walked over to it, brushing away the light dusting of leaves and pollen to reveal engraved letters.
The Faun, Tumnus
Beloved Friend of Queen Lucy the Valiant
They Will Meet Again
His gruff laugh spilled into the empty space, and he let his hand rest on the grave marker. "You do it to all of us, don't you, my Dear Little Friend? You take us all in." A single tear coursed down his scarred face and disappeared into his beard. "And we're all the better for it."
Narnians didn't make graves as such, though the Telmarines did. Aslan's How was the exception, but then, it was Aslan, and the following battle aside, that was where he had defeated the White Witch all those centuries ago. His foot nudged something at the foot of the marker and he knelt down to pick it up.
It was a small box, elegantly carved in fanciful curlicues, and despite the exposure to the wind and rain and all other things, it still smelled faintly of sandalwood, a luxury long forgotten and newly restored from Calormen. The lock had long since rested away, but clearly visible against the pattern was a silver inlaid L. He hesitated briefly, but decided to open it anyway.
It was a handkerchief. He almost laughed, but he saw the initials stitched carefully into one corner, and the sound faded before it had even begun. He looked again at the tombstone.
"I'll take it back there," he promised gruffly. "I'll keep it safe for her until the day I die, and see it safely back with her other things to wait for her. If she ever comes back, she'll know."
And tucking the handkerchief reverently into the inner pocket of his tunic, Trumpkin left the hollow at LanternWaste, heading back towards Cair Paravel. He'd had all the time he needed. He missed her still, and always would, but for now, he chose to have the faith he'd always found so difficult before.
They Will Meet Again.
He could wait.