Title: Magic of the Deep
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
Summary: All things come full circle, and Edmund gets a few unexpected visitors at Cair Paravel.
Epilogue: Here Comes the Rain Again
Here comes the rain again,
Falling on my head like a memory,
Falling on my head like a new emotion…
- Eurythmics, "Here Comes the Rain Again"
"It's raining," Edmund announced glumly as he sank into the seat across from Peter and stared morosely out the window. Great drops of water splashed against the clear glass, forming rivulets as they ran down towards the ground below.
"Rain is good," Lucy piped up, pushing her mug of hot chocolate back and forth between her hands. "It clears the air and waters all the trees."
"But it was so sunny the last few days," Edmund argued. "I miss the sun."
"It will come back," Peter promised with a faint smile for his brother. "It always does."
They had all settled into a fairly steady routine, and every day that routine began with breakfast. Susan insisted, and it had only taken Edmund a few days to realize that arguing with her was futile. Lucy might have been able to win over anyone with her smile, but Susan was not without tricks of her own, and her stubbornness could not be ignored.
Edmund took a bite of toast and reflected on the past three weeks since the Coronation. The time had begun to slowly heal any aching rifts that had existed between himself and his siblings, and now not a single day went by when he did not feel fortunate to have been reunited with them. Perhaps he would not have chosen such a terrifying and bewildering method of reuniting, but at least he was here now.
He missed Veltra, though. More than he would care to admit. The Wolf had barely been gone for more than seven days, and yet his absence was not easy to bear. He could not help but wonder how his friend was faring, and if he had been successful in finding the Wolves that he sought.
"Did it rain much in the Village?" Peter asked carelessly, spreading butter on his toast.
"No," Edmund answered. "Only snow." He smiled fondly at the memories of the Village, pleased that he could speak so easily about the past. His three siblings seemed to have finally accepted that it was a part of him, and no longer did comments about Dar, Sera, and Nasada bring strained looks or tears to their eyes.
But part of that, he knew, was because he had accepted that, though they were his family, the three Villagers were not, and never could be, Peter, Susan, or Lucy. They were his siblings, and they were always first and foremost in his mind.
After a moment, he asked, "Do we train in the rain?"
Peter nodded. "Of course. An enemy won't call of an attack because of the weather, and we must be prepared for anything. Oreius will expect us at the training ground soon."
Edmund wrinkled his nose, but accepted the wisdom in those words. He had started to train, a little cautiously at first. Holding a sword still felt odd, as did all the movements that Oreius insisted he practice. Sometimes he would watch Peter wield his sword and shield with such deft movement, and he could not help but be amazed. It was strange to think that, someday, he would be able to fight with the same grace and skill.
His first attempts with a sword had not gone quite as well as he had hoped…
Grasping the heavy metal hilt in one hand, he glanced down the length of the silver blade. It was sharp, the sun reflecting off the paper-thin edges, and smooth, as though it had been polished many times.
It was awkward in his hands.
"Hold the sword with your right hand, Sire," Oreius instructed, "and bring your left arm in front of you." The Centaur nodded as Edmund complied and added, "Widen your stance a little more. And bring your weight forward, so you are resting on the front of your feet."
Edmund shifted his weight, feeling a bit ridiculous as he did so. But Oreius smiled and nodded.
"Good. Your left arm will hold your shield, and this position will allow you freedom of movement with your sword while still protecting your body. Now… bring your sword forward in a jab, as though you mean to attack me."
Edmund obliged, thrusting the sword forward. But the weight of the sword through him off-balance, and ill-prepared for that change, he was unable to compensate appropriately. The heavy sword slid from his grasp and he tumbled forward, toppling onto the ground.
There was a silence, then, as Edmund sheepishly pulled himself back to his feet, Oreius said serenely, "Perhaps we should start with some basic balance exercises, Sire."
"I was going to go on a picnic with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver," Lucy said suddenly, her voice cutting across Edmund's thoughts. Her gaze moving quickly to the windows and then back. "But perhaps we will have tea inside instead."
"That sounds pleasant," Susan agreed.
"You should join us," Lucy invited eagerly. "It will be fun. We can have tea by the fire! Mrs. Beaver makes absolutely wonderful scones."
As the rain increased, beating harder against the thin glass, the thought of scones with clotted cream, a nice cup of tea, and a warm fire glowing in the grate was so tempting that Edmund could not keep the jealousy from passing momentarily through his eyes. Susan caught the expression and reached across the table to pat him on the hand, giving him a wink.
"Don't be so glum, Ed," she said with a grin. "Lucy and I will be thinking of you while we sip our tea."
Edmund sent her an annoyed glare as he took a large bite of toast, but Susan just laughed, and even Peter gave a bemused smile at her teasing words.
"Is Mr. Tumnus coming?" Edmund asked finally, glancing over at Lucy. "To your picnic, I mean."
Lucy shook her head. "No, he has something else he has to do this morning," she said, and Edmund, too busy looking down at the fruit on his plate, missed the conspiratorial look that passed between Lucy and Peter.
Training left Edmund wet, muddy, and tired. Still, he forced a smile, thanked Oreius, and fell into step beside Peter as they left the training ground. The rain had let up only slightly, and the sky was still covered with heavy gray clouds that stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions.
"Susan informed me that we should expect a delegation from Archenland soon," Peter said after a moment of silence. "She has already received messages from them congratulating us on your coronation."
"We are allied with Archenland," Edmund said softly, trying his best to remember the bits and pieces of the various history lessons he had received in the past few weeks. His knowledge of that land was limited, extending only to what he had learned in the Village. And as they had been cut off from the rest of the world for so long, he knew practically nothing about the current situation.
"Yes," Peter agreed. "They are good allies. There is little magic there, though."
"But it is do close to Narnia," Edmund said thoughtfully, shaking his head. "Why is there less magic?" It was the logistics of situations like these that he did not fully understand, and he thought perhaps he never would. For him, magic was everywhere, and the idea that it would not continue spreading into other lands was bewildering.
Peter shrugged. "I guess that will be a question for Silrin."
Edmund nodded, then asked, "What does having a delegation visit entail, exactly?"
Peter answered with a dry laugh, "Hard to know. Susan plans most of it. You'll have to receive them, and they'll shower you with gifts, I expect. Exchange fancy words and promises. That sort of thing."
They passed underneath the last of the gates and into the Cair itself, thankful to be out of the rain. Edmund attempted to push his soaked hair out of his eyes, but the long strands fell back into place, sticking to his pale skin. Beside him, Peter frowned as he watched the droplets of water form at the edge of his clothing and drip onto the ground. The floor was soon slick with water and muddy footprints.
Susan would not be happy.
But Edmund was far too worried about Peter's statement to think much about Susan's displeasure at their mess. "Receive them? Will I have to give another speech?" he asked, chewing his bottom lip worriedly. "It seems all I do is giving speeches."
Peter clapped him on the back. "It will be fine. You'll be fine. I promise you, it gets easier."
Edmund wrinkled his nose. "You keep saying that. It hasn't happened yet. I feel as though I am still very likely to make a fool of myself."
"You worry too much," Peter replied with a careless shrug.
Edmund looked rather disbelieving at that comment. But he accepted it in silence, not bothering to argue the point with his brother. Instead, his mind still focused almost entirely on the impending delegation with the Archenlanders, he parted ways with Peter and wandered towards his rooms to get cleaned up.
He did not see the Golden Eagle that flew past the open door behind him, did not see the way Peter turned and gave the Eagle a broad smile and quick wink.
He hadn't meant to eavesdrop, really. It had happened more by accident than anything else. After bathing and changing into clean clothes, Edmund had left his room and wandered towards the library where he knew Susan and Peter would be. The morning downpour had given way to a light drizzle of afternoon rain, and the sky was still the same endless stretch of gray.
He paused at the door of the library, listening to the sound of voices.
He hadn't meant to eavesdrop. Really.
"…getting better, I guess. Edmund's learning quickly." That was Peter's voice, quiet and weary, but laced with pride.
"Of course he is," was the reply in Susan's distinct tone. "But what about you, Peter? How are you doing?"
Edmund crept closer, holding his breath. He knew he should announce his presence and not hover outside the door, waiting to hear the conversation. But he also did not want to interrupt, not yet. Not until he at least heard Peter's answer to Susan's question.
"It's odd. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, I knew it would not be easy." There was a resigned tone to Peter's voice, as though he had long since come to terms with whatever frustrations were plaguing him.
"Very few things worth having ever come easily," Susan answered after a slight pause. "It is taking some adjusting for all of us. Edmund's presence is…" Again, a hesitation, then she started over, "Having Edmund here changes things. Changes our schedules, our routines. It is to be expected that it would be difficult to just fall into a pattern."
Edmund frowned at her words, his feelings an odd mixture of worry and relief. Worry, because it sounded as though both his older siblings felt a little wrong-footed by his being there, as though they had not yet managed to accept the changes to their lives. And relief, because it meant that he was not the only one who felt the lingering tension.
"Every now and then, he'll say something, or do something, and it is… it is so obvious that he isn't the Edmund I remember. Or the one I expected to find."
"He's been gone a long time, Peter. He's changed. We've all changed. I doubt we are the siblings he remembers."
There was the sound of soft laughter, which Edmund guessed was coming from Peter. Then he heard his brother speak with a slightly ironic tone, "True. Although he did not remember us in the beginning, so it is a slightly different set of circumstances."
The two lapsed into silence, and Edmund straightened himself, unsure as to whether he wanted to venture into the library. The conversation weighed heavily on his mind, but he did not want to confront either sibling about it quite yet. Still, could he interact with them and pretend that he had not heard anything?
But then Peter started speaking again, and Edmund found himself drawing near to the door once more.
"I see Philip spending a great deal of time with Edmund. They are growing close."
"He misses Veltra," was Susan's answer. "And Philip is a lot like the Wolf." There was the unmistakable sound of her clicking her tone against her teeth in reproach as she asked, "Did you by any chance instruct Philip to spend time with Edmund?"
It took Peter a moment to answer. "No. But I would have, if he hadn't already planned on it."
Edmund smiled faintly to himself. His brother's overprotective nature had become increasingly evident during the past few weeks, and it came as no surprise that Peter might have requested Philip to keep an eye on him had he felt it necessary. In fact, there were times when Edmund was surprised that the entire population of Cair Paravel was not following him everywhere.
"You seem to be getting along with Philip as well."
That simple statement of Susan's caught Edmund's attention. He had not missed the tension that existed between his brother and the Horse, though he did not know the cause of it. To hear Susan speak so casually of it, however, was enough to tell him that it was no secret to anyone that there was some strain in that relationship.
"Yes. We spoke, shortly after the Coronation. It was… odd."
It seemed Peter was picking his words rather carefully as he answered haltingly, "He apologized. He said… he had been judging me for far too long on what I had not done in the past… and he had come to see… that I was learning. He said he was sorry, and he should not… could not judge me any longer." There was a long, drawn-out silence, then Peter added, "I think he heard of my talk with Aslan."
"Ah… And how are you handling that?"
"I don't know, Su. I'm trying, I really am. I feel a little bit less angry each day, but… it's hard. Sometimes I still feel like I have lost my faith in Him. Other times, I can't really remember why I questioned Him so much."
"Do you love Him?"
There was not even the slightest hesitation as Peter answered, "Always."
"Change takes time, as does acceptance. And I already told you that anything worth having probably won't be easy to obtain."
"True." Again, the same ironic laughter. Then Peter said, "It helps to realize how lucky we all are. Having Edmund here again… I can handle whatever problems we will face. We can handle them. Together, as a family."
Edmund smiled to himself, Peter's words echoing in his mind.
As a family.
"What is going on?" Edmund demanded, feeling both a little annoyed and a little intrigued as his siblings excitedly dragged him towards the courtyard. "Why won't you tell me?"
"Because then it wouldn't be a surprise!" Lucy admonished, grinning from ear to ear as she danced around him. She was practically glowing, and Susan's expression reflected a softer, gentler version of Lucy's enthusiasm. Even Peter was smiling, struggling to keep back his laughter at Edmund's perplexed expression.
"It's still raining," Edmund protested as he was unceremoniously shoved outside. "I'll get wet." But his words fell on deaf ears, and he stumbled into the open, the light rain falling softly against his face. The courtyard seemed to be packed with Animals and Creatures, and Edmund could not quite fathom why so many of his subjects would be standing about in the rain, as though they were waiting for him.
And then something small and blonde had thrown itself against him, clutching him tightly around the middle and knocking all the wind from his body. Two bright blue eyes looked up at him, lips parting into an exuberant smile from which came a shriek of delight.
The young king's mouth fell open. "Nasada?"
He could barely breathe, she was hugging him so tightly. Her usual shyness around strangers seemed to have completely evaporated despite the large number of Narnians who had gathered to witness the reunion. Instead, words were pouring from her, filling the space all around.
"Edmund! You're okay! And look, you're dressed all funny! Is that silk? That's a lot of silk! You look different from. Oh, it is so good to see you! A Golden Eagle came to get us, brought an invitation from King Peter. And Mother and Father said I could come see you, even though it was a really long journey and I'd never left the Village before! And we travelled a really long way. It was so much fun. And isn't Cair Paravel spectacular? Oh, are these your sisters?"
As Nasada paused to catch her breath, Edmund looked over her head to see Sera and Dar standing a short distance from him. They looked exactly like he remembered, and their expression were filled with joy and pride.
At Edmund's side, Peter whispered, "I thought you might want to celebrate your Coronation with them. There wasn't time to bring them to the actual ceremony, but still… Better late than never, right?"
Edmund was still speechless, unable to form the right words.
So, as expected, it was Susan who stepped forward with a gracious smile. "Dar, Sera, Nasada. Welcome to Cair Paravel. I am Susan, and this is my sister Lucy. I believe you have already met Peter. Would you like to come inside, out of the rain?" Raising her voice, she added, "Come, everyone. There are refreshments in the banquet hall. Please, join us."
And then everything seemed to dissolve into chaos. The Narnians rushed forward, streaming into the Cair, and Sera was suddenly hugging Edmund fiercely while Lucy introduced herself politely to an awestruck Nasada and Dar watched with a bemused expression. Sera had tears pooling in her eyes, and Nasada was then eagerly bounding on the balls of her feet while Susan tried in vain to keep order, and Peter burst into laughter at the scene before him.
Through the frenzy of activity, the shouts of welcome, and the hazy mist of rain, Edmund turned to Peter and murmured, "Thank you. For… this. For all of it."
Peter inclined his head as he replied in a whisper, "Always."