AN: Technically, it's not yet midnight where I am, so my "tomorrow-ish" statement was, in fact, true. Yay technicalities!
When I say "The End", what I mean is "The End of This Story". I have two more in mind, but they'll be a few months in the making. And, um…long. Because I can't write simple things. Oh what fun we shall have together! See you then, my glorious Narnian friends!
Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. For your reviews and kind thoughts and encouragement, thanks for all of it. You're all fabulous!
They were crowned in Cair Paravel of the Four Thrones, each of them taking their rightful place. When Edmund was named the Just, his people stirred, pleased greatly by Aslan's wisdom.
When Peter was called Magnificent, Edmund's face shone with such fierce pride that Peter ducked his head, humbled and delighted.
Shortly after the festivities began, Edmund snuck away, somewhat overwhelmed. Peter found him sitting on the railing of a balcony, his crown cradled gently in his hands. He studied it solemnly, turning it so it would catch the light.
Because it could sometimes be dangerous to try and guess, Peter asked softly, "What are you thinking, Ed?"
The younger brother glanced back at him, one corner of his mouth ticking up in a sad little smile. He lifted his shoulder in a shrug, dropping his eyes to the crown again.
"Tell me," Peter ordered gently, pulling himself up onto the stone railing so he could sit by his brother.
Edmund took a deep, shaky breath, releasing it in a sigh. "Despite what others might say," he admitted quietly, "there will still be those who remember me as the Winter Prince first. I did things, things I'm not proud of, in what some will call service to her."
"You did many difficult things in service to Narnia and Aslan," Peter corrected firmly, mouth set in a stubborn line. "You sacrificed more than anyone, and I will not see you suffer more for it. You're free of her, Edmund." Peter reached out to squeeze his shoulder. Edmund leaned heavily against him. Because he could not help himself, but also because he knew how much Edmund sometimes needed it, Peter hid another affectionate kiss in the dark hair. "You did what you set out to do, what Aslan called you to do," he reminded his precious little brother. "Let it be done. Let her be gone."
"I was a prince, Peter," Edmund whispered, eyes shut against his memories. "I was the Prince."
"No," Peter laughed, shaking him gently, "I don't think you ever were. You were just waiting to be a king."
Edmund startled, pulling back to look at him. The warmth in Peter's smile, the belief and love in his eyes, melted the last of Edmund's fear, and he smiled back a touch shyly. Peter laughed again, filled with Narnian love and Narnian joy.
"Peter!" Susan called. "Edmund!" They looked back and found her smiling in the doorway to their balcony with Lucy at her side. The littlest Pevensie was giggling helplessly, buoyant with delight. Even standing still, they were bright and beautiful, queens of more grace than any before them. Susan beckoned to her brothers merrily. "Come, Lucy and I are waiting on you for the next song. We can't be expected to dance alone, you know!"
"No," Edmund laughed softly. "Queens never dance alone."
"Let's go then," Peter suggested, hopping down from their seat. He helped Edmund off as well, clasping one of his hands to lead him to their sisters.
Still smiling, Susan took the crown from Ed's hold and settled it gently upon his head. "Perfect," she said. Lucy claimed his free hand, and Susan turned all of them toward the light of the hall, where their people waited.
Surrounded by his family, it was Edmund who took the first step.