This is my first Narnia fic, so please review!!

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ONCE A KING

The fire crackled in the fireplace, serving as the only illumination in the small, book-packed library. Mr Pevensie eased back into his armchair, taking a long pull on his pipe and closing his eyes. How often he had longed for such warmth and comfort as he had crouched, freezing, in the soggy trenches. Thank God he had made it through. Thank God he had finally been able to come home to his wife and children.

A soft knock sounded against the wood of the open door.

"You wanted to see me, Dad?"

Mr Pevensie opened his eyes and glanced around the side of his chair to see his oldest son standing on the threshold. When had he gotten so tall? His hair had lightened and lengthened, his shoulders had broadened and his voice had deepened. Mr. Pevensie also noted the two bruises marking his son's jaw and the skin around one of his vivid blue eyes. Mr Pevensie cleared his throat and tried to remember his firm, fatherly tone--it was long out out of practice.

"Yes, Peter, come in."

Peter ducked his head, then strode in and seated himself across from his father. With mixed feelings, Mr Pevensie observed how the chair no longer dwarfed him. Peter sat forward, his elbows braced on his knees, and glanced up, waiting. Mr Pevensie took his pipe out from between his teeth and met his son's eyes.

"I didn't want to talk with you about this in front of your mother, but I have of course noticed your black eye."

Peter's gaze flicked to the fire, his expression hardening.

"You've been fighting at school, haven't you, Peter?"

Now Peter's brow darkened and his countenance closed.

"Yes," he said shortly. Irritation sparked in Mr Pevensie's chest, and he set his pipe down.

"Listen, Peter--there's no call for that. Just because someone pokes fun or jostles you in the corridor does not require you to get into a fistfight! That's not how men handle things."

Peter's eyes flashed, his face growing fierce as he stared into the flickering light. His muscular shoulders tensed and his fingers tightened around each other. His anger, suddenly powerful, radiated through the room. Yet he said nothing.

Abruptly stilled, Mr Pevensie reconsidered, pondering Peter's stony visage. Chastising him was not going to work. Peter was not a little boy anymore. Mr Pevensie braced himself. He hadn't wanted to talk about this, but if it would help his son make the transition from boy to man, he was willing.

"When I first joined my regiment, I confess I felt...quite alone, wondering why I was there, why they had pulled me away from my family and my home."

Slowly, Peter hearkened to him again, drawn in by his change of tone. He went on.

"But then, as I traveled with those men, all of them in the same boat I was, I began to make friends--friends I never would have made if we hadn't been so thrown together. We were so different, from so many different places."

Gradually, Peter sat back in his armchair, his gaze growing distant. Mr Pevensie took a breath, leaning forward and clasping his own hands tightly.

"And then we joined the fighting." He shook his head. "We had so little training, and we were so afraid..." His jaw clenched. "But we were called on to fight--to fight a force of darkness, really, otherwise it would just cover the world." He held his hands out, palms up. "We had to bind together, rely on each other, and get up and go do battle, otherwise..." Mr Pevensie's brow twisted. He looked down. "Otherwise everything good in the world, everything and everyone we loved..." He swallowed hard. He spoke low. "I killed men. I lost friends. I had to make some of the most difficult decisions of my life." His emotion fought his control and he kept his gaze down. "But Peter, I knew what I had to do, and why I had to do it. I was fighting for my friends, my country...and my family. That's what's worth getting up in arms about, Peter. That's the fight you go into with your whole heart." Mr Pevensie looked up at last, expecting his son to be watching him, stunned and troubled at his father's display of emotion. Instead, it was his father who was stunned.

Unconsciously, Peter had draped his arms on top of the arm rests, his long fingers spread elegantly. His young, handsome, chiseled face carried great age, yet appeared mysteriously ageless. His hair shone in the firelight, and his golden head was turned toward the flames. Mr Pevensie had not expected Peter to comprehend, but with growing chills, he realized that he recognized the look on Peter's face as the same look of many a comrade after the war--but while Mr Pevensie's memory was still bombarded with machine guns and mortar, Peter's ears seemed to ring with noises sharper, more ancient--and in his blue eyes shone knowledge and understanding. The whole of Peter's appearance conveyed depth, sadness and nobility. He looked like a king.

Peter turned his gaze toward him and smiled faintly.

"I know," he said simply. Mr Pevensie was silent. Peter's soft smile broadened, and he rose to his feet. His majesty faded. He silently moved to the door, then halted there and halfway turned.

"I love you, Dad." Warmth and strength carried through the tone. Mr Pevensie raised his eyes to his son's.

"I love you too, Peter."

Peter watched him for just another moment, then silently left the room. Mr Pevensie stared at the empty doorway, then sat back and continued to smoke his pipe.

FIN