Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia.
A/N: Takes place after Peter and Ed have boarded their train at the end of Prince Caspian. Peter's POV. I guess it's bookbased, but it can be either book or movie really.
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I sat on the seat inside the train that was slowly taking me and Edmund back to school, rendered completely motionless by the emotional shocks that twinged through my body.
Never Return. The words had been echoing in my mind ever since Aslan had told Susan and me that we would never go back to Narnia. When it was time to go, Lucy and Edmund had been heartbroken, but they would go back. Susan even shed a few tears, but then when we were back in England, she was the one who immediately picked up a magazine and started scanning it for fashion tips as if the world hadn't just ended.
Me? I was strong for them. As the eldest of the four, I knew I couldn't break down, especially not in front of all the Narnians, Caspian included, who called me High King. I had to be strong. I couldn't let them see how I really felt.
But now, in the privacy of the train car that Edmund and I shared alone, with the girls headed almost the opposite direction, I couldn't mask the grief that lined my face. Edmund was snoring on the bench beside me, completely exhausted from our adventure and oblivious to my suffering.
I felt drained; completely empty. All my emotions were gone, zapped away by the horror of knowing I would never return. If I had Susan to talk to, it might have been different. We were both forbidden to return. She knew how I felt. But here, back in our world, with Edmund my only companion besides the other boys at school, no one knew.
No one knew how it felt to go from being a scared boy to a High King in just a few weeks, and to go from being a High King to a young boy again in a moment.
No one knew how it felt to go back to the place where you had reined as High King, and found that it was totally different from the place you remembered ruling. And no one knew how it felt to be told, after going back to the only place you can truly call home, that you would never ever go back. Never return.
It hurt so bad that I could hardly breathe. My breath came in short gasps as I tried to control my emotions and tell myself that it would be okay.
Aslan knew what he was doing. He knows what he's doing.
"I can't do it, Aslan!" I gasped, putting my head in my arms and wishing that I were dead, wishing that I could cry or let out the anguish that I felt in any way. "I can't go back to normal after this!"
"'ey there, what's this?"
A rough, gentle voice came from my left, from the door, and I felt a hand on my shoulder. Jerking my head up, I saw a rough faced man with kindly eyes at my eyelevel as he knelt on the floor before me.
"What's 'a matter, lad," the man said softly, gripping my shoulder a bit.
"I…I'm just homesick, I guess," I replied hoarsely.
I decided not to tell him that my home was not in England.
The man's eyes, a silvery grey, reminded me of something as they gazed back at me with compassion.
"Aye lad," he whispered. "I knows how you feel. It was tough on me going back to school the first day after the hols too."
"It's…it's just so hard to say goodbye," I choked, not sure how he would interpret my strange words, but feeling better after saying them. "I won't ever see it again!"
The man said nothing, just squeezed my shoulder once, and let go.
"'old on, lad," he said in a low voice. "It'll get better. You may think that you're in the lowest of lows right now, but it'll get better. I can guarantee you that."
You have no idea how it feels to leave everything you love, I thought angrily. No one can.
Even though I hadn't spoken the words aloud, the man nodded.
"Aye, lad. I knows it. I knows how it feels."
I looked up at him in confusion, and saw absolute certainty and understanding in his deep grey eyes. I think I even saw tears welling up in them. He pressed something into my hand, and nodded again at me. His eyes bored into mine as if he was trying to tell me something.
"This ought to 'elp. The Lion be with you."
I gasped at the familiar Narnian phrase of farewell, and looked quickly down at the thing in my hand. It was a small book with a red leather cover. I glanced back up hastily, but the man was gone; disappeared; vanished into thin air.
Edmund stirred next to me.
"You say something?" he asked sleepily.
"N-no," I replied automatically, glancing around to see if the man was anywhere in sight. "Did you hear another voice in here?"
Edmund opened his eyes wearily.
"Another voice? What on earth do you mean? I thought you were talking to yourself."
My mouth dropped open, and I stood up and went to the door of our compartment, swinging it open. An old woman sat just outside in the next compartment.
"Excuse me, ma'm," I said, approaching her.
"Yes?" she said, adjusting her glasses to see me better.
"You didn't happen to see a man go out of my compartment, did you?" I asked, feeling idiotic for asking such a question.
"The one across the aisle?" the woman asked. I nodded hastily. She thought about it for a moment, and then said, "No-o, I didn't. I've been glancing over at your door every few seconds, and no one has come out except yourself since you went in."
I was shocked speechless. Finally, I managed to stutter thanks to the woman, and then hurried back to my seat.
"What was all that about?" Edmund asked sleepily.
"Nothing," I replied, still too confused to answer him straight.
Suddenly, I remembered the book in my hand. I looked down at it, and held it up to the light of the window to see it better.
"The Holy Bible," I read the title slowly.
I cracked it open to the first page, and then gasped, yet again, in surprise and awe.
"What?" Edmund asked, fully awake now. "What is it?"
I held the book out to him, pointing at the page.
"Look! Read the inscription," I exclaimed excitedly.
Edmund grabbed the book from my shaking hands in order to see it better, and read the words slowly.
"To Peter Pevensie…a gift from The One who named you Magnificent. Once a King or Queen…always a King or Queen."
He looked up and met my amazed stare with one of his own.
"Where did you get this?" he asked breathlessly.
I grabbed the book back and began leafing through it, glancing first at one page, then at another.
"Ed," I said slowly, my heart, which had been so low just five minutes before, now soaring above the clouds as I read a verse that sounded like something I had heard previously that day, but in another world, "I think I've finally found Aslan."
"The way into my country lies across a river…but fear not, for I am the great bridge builder." Aslan
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3: 23-24