Disclaimer: I own nothing in this marvelous universe; it all belongs to C. S. Lewis and Walden Media.
Author's Note: Well, folks, it's over ::grins::! It's really done—after nearly two years. This project has been a challenge and a joy, and I have never had so much fun writing a fanfic! Although Keeping the Faith has come to its closure, I'm not yet done with this universe ::grins again::. In the next several weeks I hope to have a small one-shot up called Honoring Him and it details an occurrence mentioned in the last few chapters of this fic (see if you can find it ::mischievous wink::). And I fully intend to finish Learning to Walk Blindfolded now that I have a steady base from which to work. Goodbye for now and please enjoy this final chapter!
Reviewers: One and all (and that means all 835 of you), thank you! Thank you for sticking with me, and thank you for all your reviews and PMs—they were often some of my strongest motivators. This chapter is dedicated to all of you!
Rating:T (upper end—language)
Summary: What if Lucy had decided to go across the gorge when she saw Aslan, regardless of whether her siblings came with her? At least she won't be alone…and it is not just Aslan who joins her…(AU, Book and Moviebased) (Siblingfic) (NO Slash)
(24) Prince Caspian pg. 286 in The Complete Chronicles of Narnia (Hardcover; Illustrated).
Keeping the Faith
By Sentimental Star
Epilogue: The Keepers of Faith
After that came a moment which is hard to describe, for the children seemed to be seeing three things at once. One was the mouth of a cave opening into the glaring green and blue of an island in the Pacific, where all the Telmarines would find themselves the moment they were through the door. The second was a glade in Narnia, the faces of the Dwarfs and Beasts, the deep eyes of Aslan, and the white patches of the Badger's cheeks. But the third (which rapidly swallowed up the other two) was the gray, gravelly surface of a platform in a country station, and a seat with luggage round it, where they were all sitting as if they had never moved from it—a little flat and dreary for a moment after all they had been through, but also, unexpectedly, nice in its own way, what with the familiar railway smell and the English sky and the summer term before them.
"Well!" said Peter. "We have had a time." (24)
The blast of heat and the smell of spilled gasoline and burning electricity were unwelcome, but not unexpected. Edmund coughed and nearly gagged as he stumbled forward out of the Door, leaving the crisp, fresh air of the Narnian morning behind him.
Once he oriented himself, however, he became aware that a pair of arms had slipped underneath his own and were—at the moment—the only things holding him upright. Swallowing, he glanced up, his heart in his eyes.
Before he could so much as begin to express the fierce, uncertain worry that had barreled to the forefront of his thoughts, Peter had roughly jerked him forward against his chest, hold tight. While part of his mind went absolutely light-headed with relief, the other, currently larger part was suddenly aware of their surroundings (and the unabashed stares they were receiving from their surroundings) to the last, exacting detail. "Peter!" he protested loudly, color rushing into his cheeks as he struggled to disentangle himself from his brother's arms.
Peter snorted softly. "Sorry," he murmured, gently releasing the eleven-year-old.
Edmund pulled back and scowled up at him, but it ended up looking like more of a pout—Peter knew exactly how much that reassurance meant to him, if the gleam of amusement in his older brother's eyes was anything to go by.
Edmund rolled his own eyes and turned his pout into a playful scowl as he turned it to Lucy who was trying valiantly to stifle her giggles in Susan's school jacket. "Hush up, Lu. It's not like you weren't about to ask Susan the same thing."
Lucy shrugged, grinning, but leaned back comfortably in Susan's arms, not the least embarrassed by their older sister's welcome display of affection. "So maybe I was," she laughed softly. "Boys just have too much pride, that's all."
"Yes," Susan added with a quiet laugh, "heaven forbid they actually admit to having feelings."
Edmund's expression developed into a full-fledged scowl and he crossed his arms over his chest, but Peter merely laughed and gently mussed up his dark hair. "Give it up, Ed. They know us too well."
Edmund harrumphed, but did not quite manage to conceal the rueful grin that tugged at his lips as he turned in the opposite direction.
(One Hour Later, Girls' Train)
"Are you really all right?"
The question was prompted by Susan, who had slid down into one of the seats in their compartment almost as soon as the door slid shut behind them. Its owner was Lucy, who had remained standing in the threshold—even as her older sister released a huge sigh of relief and relaxed back into the cushions.
Susan looked up at her with a warm smile. "I'm really all right, Lu," she promised softly. Her smile grew wider, "I thought you had already determined that in the Underground."
"Well, yes," a flustered Lucy smoothed back an errant strand of auburn hair from her face and came over to sit next to Susan, "but it's not going to be a year this time and-"
Susan laughed softly. "Lucy, darling, I will be perfectly fine. Given time, I am sure it won't even hurt. Peter and I have learned everything we can from Narnia—we can't give much back, really. Except our love." She smiled again, a slow, tender smile, "And you and Edmund already have that in plenty."
Lucy's cheeks pinked. Susan had said similar things before, but her sister had never seemed to mean it as much as she did now. "It's just…it's going to be so different without you and Peter there," she murmured, averting her eyes and drawing her finger along the pleats of her school jumper.
Susan's bright laughter startled her. "Well…that may be true. But, Lu, just think…you won't have any older siblings to worry about. Well, except Ed, and I'm sure he won't mind…" Her laughter had transferred to her voice now, and Lucy glanced up, frowning slightly. It had been a while, but whenever Susan sounded like this, her older sister usually had something absolutely devilish in mind.
"What do you mean?" she asked warily.
Susan gracefully waved her hand, studying her little sister out of the corner of her eye with an absolutely mischievous twinkle, "Oh, Lu…you know. If you decide to court Caspian. Really, it's all right. Boys can be positively thick about matters like this…"
As Susan had intended, Lucy completely forgot about her worry over the older girl. "What?" she shrieked. "Susan!" Her cheeks went all the way from spun-sugar pink to ripe-strawberry red.
As her older sister's unbridled laughter rang out in their compartment, Lucy tried to pout around her grin.
(An Hour and Twenty Minutes Later, Boys' Train)
"…They were giggling, Peter! If that isn't flirting, I don't know what is!"
Edmund marched through the door to an empty compartment and whirled on Peter as his older brother followed him, shutting the door behind them. "You I can understand. But Lion's Mane…! I'm only eleven!"
Peter snorted quietly, easing their suitcases up into the overhead carrier. "Use diplomacy, Ed," he offered softly.
Edmund gave him a look of clear disbelief, hands on his hips where he stood in the middle of their compartment. "Diplomacy? In case you didn't notice, Peter, your "diplomacy" didn't work on the Telmarine ladies at Caspian's coronation ball. Nor did mine, for that matter. We're lucky we weren't dragged off to be wed in some village at midnight!"
Peter smirked faintly. "Ah, but you're quite a handsome eleven." When Edmund scowled, Peter chuckled, "In any case, Ed, they're English girls and English girls are rather different from Narnian girls."
"Doesn't matter," Edmund grumped, crossing his arms over his chest, "they still eyed me like some sort of bloody prize…"
Peter smirked again, a bit more strongly. "Well, they aren't so far off the mark, are they?"
While Edmund tried to work through Peter's retort and decide whether he meant it as an insult, a tired smile flitted across his older brother's lips and the fourteen-year-old sank down into a seat. Shutting his eyes, Peter leaned his head back into its cushions with an exhausted sigh.
Hearing it, Edmund frowned, thoughtfully studying his brother and trying to ignore the fear starting to creep back into his subconscious. "Pete…?" he asked softly, reaching out to gently touch the older boy's cheek.
A small smile flitted across his brother's lips. "'M all right, Ed," he murmured, reaching up to trap the slender hand.
Edmund's frown deepened as he dropped his hand (even though Peter didn't relinquish it). "You're sure?"
"I will be."
Edmund sighed, moving to sit beside his older brother when it became apparent Peter would not let him sit elsewhere. /I wish I were as certain,/ he thought.
After a few more seconds of silence, Peter suddenly spoke up again, "We're never going to be normal…are we, Ed?"
Edmund snorted softly. "No. Would you want to be?"
Peter opened his eyes and, inclining his head with a smile, conceded his brother's point.
Edmund sighed again, "Pete…we're kings. Of course we're never going to be normal."
"Were you ever?" Peter teased softly.
Edmund scowled rather fiercely and punched his brother's shoulder. "You certainly weren't. Honestly, we should make you carry around a sign, 'Danger-prone, steer clear.' At least it would make you think twice before attempting something as damned heroic as single combat with a man twice your senior and nearly twice your height. What in Aslan's name possessed you?"
Peter smirked warmly. "And here I thought you'd forgotten all about that."
"Forgot? Forgot that you damn near gave me bloody heart failure? That's almost as bad as expecting me to forget that you almost tore your whole bloody arm off trying to dodge an errant crossbow!"
Peter raised an eyebrow. "You're exaggerating, Edmund." He paused, then smirked, "It was only my hand."
He laughed when Edmund's jaw dropped, "Only-!"
More laughter, bright and unrestrained; and although Edmund sat there, fuming, the kernel of hope that had slowly been burgeoning in his chest since the single combat now grew wings and took flight.
Everything would, indeed, be all right.
Love is patient, love is kind and not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things.—I Corinthians 13:4-7