Author's Note: This chapter came from a response to Weekly Challenge #14: Dawn at the lj community justkingedmund. Basically a follow up to Morning Light, so I thought I'd add it as a new chapter instead of as a new story. It takes place during The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Edited: Because I stupidly referred to Edmund and Lucy as Eustace's siblings. *headdesk*
The first day that Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin, Eustace, joined Caspian on his journey on the Dawn Treader was full of chaos: laughter, the telling of old jokes, dealing with Eustace, introducing the King and Queen of old to the crew. It was not until the second day that Edmund was able to talk to Caspian alone; in the morning, a time of stillness and quiet when even those hands who were awake kept their peace, but for the occasional soft song. The young king found his friend on deck, near the bow of the ship.
Caspian smiled as they joined him. "Good morn, Edmund. What brings you here so early?" He had learned three years before, during the War of Liberation, that Edmund was not one to enjoy getting up earlier than needed.
Edmund gave an exaggerated sigh. "You disturbed Eustace when you got up. He's been moaning and groaning ever since; I thought I would find more peace out here." Caspian shook his head and apologize, valiantly managing to hold in his laughter. Only a day, and he could tell that young Eustace was quite a different character than his cousins. Edmund smiled, and continued. "I also thought it would be nice to catch up. You mentioned some of what was going on in Narnia yesterday, but then we got on the subject of where we're going…"
Three years of ruling Narnia had matured Caspian some, and he could tell what his fellow-king was thinking. Despite Narnia being so different from the Golden Age of the High King, it was still Edmund's land. And he wanted to know more of how his land and people were faring under their new king. Caspian, of course, was delighted to oblige. For quite some time – neither boy made note of the watch – the new king reported on the state of their country to the old king.
Finally, it seemed to Caspian that he had run out of things to tell Edmund. The Just King, on the other hand, had one more question. "Caspian, why did you name the ship Dawn Treader? Captain Drinian mentioned last evening, when I was asking him about the ship, that your ship-builders were taught by Galmians. I had assumed the Galmians would also have influenced the ship-naming, and, from what Drinian said, they mostly did." Of the new, small Narnian fleet, most had names such as Fortitude, Dignity, and Endurance. "But he said that you insisted on giving Dawn Treader her name. Why?"
Caspian smiled, ruefully. "I assume you will not settle for the answer I gave Drinian, that it makes sense to name her Dawn Treader since we are sailing East towards where the sun rises?" The look in Edmund's eyes was all the answer he needed. Caspian ran a hand through his hair and looked out towards the low-hanging sun. "I suppose I could say it was because of the nymphs."
"Nymphs?" Edmund asked, puzzled. Even most water nymphs he knew did not care much about ships; they left that to their kinsmen, the merpeople.
Caspian nodded. "A few weeks after the coronation, some of the Naiads, who Aslan had woken, petitioned that they be allowed to move their river's course. Apparently, after a few hundred years, they had drifted and were unhappy with their delta."
The Telmarine-born king still seemed a little perplexed about the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the relationship between Naiads and their rivers. Edmund could certainly understand his confusion; Naiads could be extremely picky about where their rivers flowed, and often used relational terms about the waters of Narnia that even Edmund couldn't understand all the time, let alone a Telmarine who had little previous experience with living water.
Edmund let Caspian continue with the story. "Anyway, I asked the Narnians who lived in the area – it's a little ways down from Cair Paravel, actually – and they said they would be fine with it, so I gave my permission. Then, a few weeks later, I thought it would be polite to follow up and see how they were doing." This little hint at the care Caspian had for the Narnians comforted Edmund; Aslan had certainly chosen a good man to be king. "I journeyed south, only to find that they had diverted the river right off a cliff!"
That sparked Edmund's memory, but he was cautious at revealing anything. "A cliff?"
Caspian nodded, not noticing Edmund's guarded tone. "Yes. Of course, then I had to figure out how to get up the cliff to talk with the Naiads. Luckily, one of the Owls in my guard mentioned that he had heard about a path that led up the cliff, which he called Salni. A family legend, I believe, but it turned out to be true. The path was rather overgrown and slippery, but I managed not to fall and break my neck. Though I did cause Trumpkin some grief when I wouldn't let anyone risk the climb with me." He shook his head, remembering the dwarf's loud remonstrations. "It ended up not leading to the top of the cliff, but to a path that went behind the waterfall that the Naiads had created. Eventually I reached a deep recess behind the falls."
The fact that the younger king was strangely silent, his face solemn with memory, did not register to Caspian, so caught up was he in his tale. "I knew I probably wouldn't get to the top of the cliff that way, so I went back and eventually we found another way up. The Naiads were happy to see us, and assured me they were very happy with their new arrangement." Caspian paused, now lost in the memory. "I asked about the cave in the cliff and one of the older Naiads…she just gave me a mysterious smile and told me to return there before dawn. I was intrigued, so the next morning I went back to Salni and went behind the waterfall right before the sun rose."
Caspian's face lit up at the memory of what happened next. "When it finally came out…Edmund, it was amazing! The light through the water…it was like the prisms Doctor Cornelius showed me, but a thousand more and a thousand times greater! And the color…pink and white and gold. The waterfall was roaring and the color was just…overwhelming, it was as if…as if…" He trailed off, uncertain if it was very proper to finish his thought.
But Edmund finished it for him. "It was as if Aslan was right there with you. Comforting you, telling you everything would be alright."
Caspian beamed, excited that his friend understood him. "Yes, exactly! I felt so…calm and refreshed afterwards." He glanced down at the deck of the ship, sheepish. "I…well, I've been there quite a few times since, when things are hard or I'm particularly frustrated. I'm not running away," Caspian hurried to add, lest Edmund think he was ignoring his responsibilities. "I just…"
"Need to get away sometimes. Need to be alone, but reassured that Aslan is still there."
"Precisely," Caspian said softly. "That's why I named this ship Dawn Treader: I've come to see the morning, see dawn as a symbol of hope and…and comfort."
Edmund nodded. "You associate dawn with Aslan and the comfort he brings. And you wanted to remember that comfort."
Caspian smiled warmly at Edmund. "I'm so glad you understand. I haven't told anyone else about watching the sunrise behind the waterfall, you know. It just seemed too personal, like my own secret that I couldn't really explain. But I thought you would understand."
Edmund looked away from Caspian to where the sun was fully risen over the horizon. He could tell Caspian that he already knew about the cave in the Cliff of Salni. He could tell Caspian that it was his cave, where he had spent many a morning watching the sun rise, feeling Aslan's presence. He could even tell Caspian that the new king was trespassing on a place that Lucy had decreed off-limits to any without the express permission of King Edmund.
But as Edmund looked back at Caspian, and remembered the joyful expression on the boy's face when he was speaking of the sunrise behind the waterfall, the king of old knew it was time to pass on yet another piece of Narnia, of himself. He had given Caspian his kingdom, his throne, his people. Now it was time to give him his dawn. "I understand well, Caspian," Edmund murmured softly. He laid a hand on Caspian's shoulder and smiled, giving him the words Lucy had spoken in ages past: "You need to be away from people sometimes and it's not easy, what with being a king and all. I don't blame you in the least for not telling anyone." He then added his own words. "Enjoy it, Caspian. Enjoy the sunrise and remember the One who tells the sun to dance each morning."
Caspian didn't know exactly what Edmund was doing, that the king of old was giving him permission to enter his own, personal sanctuary. Still, the young king felt a sense of solemnity in the moment, and his voice was low when he answered, "I shall, King Edmund."
Edmund nodded his approval before turning and walking towards the stern cabin to find Lucy, leaving Caspian behind on deck. He paused outside of Lucy's room and leaned softly against the door. He was surprised at how hard it had been to hear that Caspian had found his haven, but he was glad the young king could find comfort in the sunrise. Edmund breathed in deeply, then, standing straight again, he smiled. Besides, he might have given up one dawn; but they were sailing East. And Edmund rather fancied that they might find an even better Dawn at the end of the journey.
This started off as a plain story, and then I hit the last sentence and realized I had just made a giant metaphor without realizing it. An explanation of the metaphor is a bit long for here, but if you want you can go to my lj community, libraryofanvard, and check out the commentary I wrote on it.