"In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas."
"Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of..."
- Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Ramandu had seen many sights in his long life. From his place in the Great Dance across the heavens, he had looked down upon some of the greatest moments in Narnian history. He had seen the times of darkness come to pass, and he had been able to sing with triumph when the darkness was vanquished. Even when he had aged enough that he needed time to rest, Ramandu had been blessed with an island on the worlds edge, let in on the secrets of the wonders few even knew existed.
None of them, however, could ever compare to what he saw now.
Much time had passed since his temporary retirement. The fireberries brought faithfully every day by the birds had done their work, and Ramandu once again danced across the sky. Many more sights did he see, and then the wonderful moment – the moment Aslan called him down from the sky once again, this time to travel to his true home.
Anyone brought to Aslan's own country could hardly help but be amazed at what met them there. Still more, though, was Ramandu's own wonder, able to see it all from a greater perspective as he danced across the new heavens, the skies above the realm of all who truly loved the Lion. As long as he had lived, he believed there was still much for him to see and discover.
In fact, one opportunity to do so was not long in coming.
Ramandu's steps in the Great Dance were drawing to a close for the moment, and as he moved to take his rest and let the other stars perform their own role, he bid a few of his companions farewell for the time being. At the same moment, a voice nearby did the same. Something in the tone of voice caught Ramandu's attention – it carried a weight to it, a certain degree of joyful importance that gave him pause.
Glancing to the source, his eyes fell upon a star not of his own world, but of another. At the moment it appeared to be nothing more than a giant flaming ball, blazing its brilliant light down to those residing on the lands, but Ramandu knew it to be more than that. Calling out a simple greeting, he awaited to see what sort of response he would get.
No words came at first, but the sphere of burning gas seemed to blaze hotter for a moment. Brighter and brighter it glowed, so dazzling that even Ramandu had trouble gazing at it straight on. Slowly the orb changed shape, shifting and growing smaller as the light became a bit more bearable to the general vicinity. No longer spherical, the star now resembled something of a man, though one that was seemingly afire and not minding in the least. It pulsed with a soft reddish-orange light, facial features dark spots in contrast to the rest of his flaming body. Now in a form more suited to conversation, it spoke its reply.
"Hello, friend. It is... Ramandu, is it not?"
A simple nod sufficed for acknowledgment of the fact. "So it is. You are a star of their world, are you not?"
Chuckling softly, the burning star nodded. "I am. It is a pleasure to dance among the stars of yours. Our steps and songs are not the same, and to see them blend together is a treasure, for both those below watching us perform, and those of us doing the performing."
Ramandu nodded in agreement, smiling himself. "That it is. As it seems you have already heard my name, might I know yours?"
"Ah, but I am sure you already know it. Over the years I have taken many names. But in my own world, I am usually known as the Star of Bethlehem."
Ramandu's eyes widened slightly at this. He did not know terribly much of the stars in that Other World where the Kings and Queens had first come from, but he knew enough. He possessed enough knowledge to know that they were more than met the eye, as he had told the young Eustace all those years ago, and he certainly knew of the Star now conversing with him. The Lion had made himself known as a man in that world, this much he knew. And as all men, He had been born as a little baby. The Star currently before him, he had been told, was the one who had the role of announcing His birth to the world. To think he would meet a Star of such renown as this admittedly made Ramandu a little dizzy. He supposed that if he had thought about it long enough, he might have come to realize such a meeting would likely occur at some point, but it made the occasion no less monumental, at least in his mind.
The Star, for his part, took the brief moment of recognition and realization in stride and humor. "Yes, the very same. It was my honor to use the gifts I had been given in one glorious burst, to announce the coming of the Great Lion to my world, to lead those who would follow to the only One who is truly worth following."
Dipping his head a little in a small bow, Ramandu spoke his thoughts. "It is an honor to meet you. What was it like, to be given such a privilege?"
Bright eyes dancing with the fire that covered him, the Star once again let loose his soft chuckle. "I did not know why I was to be the one. As I am sure you well know, stars abound, and I am but one among many. But I performed the duty I was given gladly, and to the best of my ability. To be able to see the wonder that was to come at its very beginning... that is a moment I will treasure always."
At this point, however, the Star gave his companion a mysterious smirk. "However, the question you asked is I am sure you already had an answer for."
The statement was met with confusion. "How do you mean?"
"Was it not the honor given to you and your fellow stars to dance in the heavens and proclaim the presence of the Lion? Was not the message of your song meant to be one of joy and hope, a promise for all who would listen that the Lion was there, that He loved them, and those who followed Him would always be held within His paws?"
Ramandu considered this for a moment. "It was."
"You and I are not so terribly different as some might believe. It is the nature of all Stars, no matter their place or world, to sing the praises of the One who placed them there, to shout his glory through the intricate steps of their Great Dance. We proclaim a message, and though different stars may do so in different ways, the heart of it is always the same."
Nodding slightly, the silvery star conceded this point. "I had not thought of it in that way. As old and wise as some believe me to be, it seems there is still much for me to learn."
Another chuckle, flowing from the flaming Star as melodically as the sound from a musician's harp. "Is that not the beauty of it? There is only One who can know everything, after all. For the rest of us, we may be content to revel in the continuous joy of a growing understanding of all around us."
Ramandu gave his companion another grin, and nodded. "So it would appear. Perhaps my proclamation was not as noticed as yours, but nor was it any less important."
The Star shook its head, but his expression became a little more serious. "No, it was not. There is no difference in importance for any loving declaration of the Truth we have been given. But perhaps my own proclamation was not as noticed as you might believe either."
Another questioning glance. "Was it not?"
Again the Star shook its head. "Do you not know the rest of my story? Many slept through my message. Still others heard and chose not to act upon it. Few were those who heard and responded. As it tends to be in the old worlds we once knew, I suppose."
Brow furrowed slightly in contemplation, Ramandu saw the Star's words to be true. How often had his own message been glossed over? Still he sang and still he danced, but often his message had fallen upon deaf ears. So too must it have been in the other world. He should not have found that surprising.
Solemnity soon gave way to elation, though, on the Star's blazing face as he continued. "Ah, but that is what makes my joy complete here."
The sudden turnaround of expression might have caught Ramandu by surprise in the Shadowlands, but here he found it hard for anything not to turn to joy sooner or later. "How do you mean?"
Holding up a finger, the Star replied, "There, I sang my song but once, to proclaim the arrival of the King above all Kings. And my song fell mostly upon deaf ears."
The Star's smile broadened, and he lifted his hands with his palms upward. "But here, it is a song I can sing constantly, for He is always here and deserving to be announced. And here, I am not only heard, but joined. Here I am able to use the gifts and honor I was given, and give it back in glory to the One who provided it to me. And I am able to do so to the utmost of my ability."
Ramandu found the bliss exuding from the Star to be rather infectious, and he laughed quietly as he agreed. "A true blessing indeed."
The Star nodded, countenance even brighter than the bursts of flame that radiated from him. "We are all able to sing and dance to our fullest here. He is here, He is among us, He is the Loving Lion above us all, and what can we do but express our joy at it?"
Ramandu glanced down to see his hands held in the Star's, and they were warm and strong. "Come. Dance with me. Let us take our talk and turn it into the praise we were meant to give."
Finding his own heart lifting, Ramandu nodded. Needing no more than that, the Star shot into the sky, leaving a trail of the flames surrounding his body in his wake, Ramandu following suit in a silvery stream. The Star's voice resounded across the skies, each note clear and full of joy, and his companion wove in and around and through them in a dizzying dance. Soaring higher and higher, the two poured out their love for the Lion in the way they knew best, and their exultations were heard in every corner and the joy within them spread.
And so the Song of the Stars continued – once sung to announce the birth of the Redeemer, and now sung to celebrate the birth of the Redeemed, and to celebrate the One who had made it all possible.
A/N: Ay yi yi, what did I get myself into... this plot bunny's been bouncing about in my head since LAST Christmas, and when writing it, I found myself feeling like I was attempting to write something out of my league. So many little bits to keep straight, a lot to it, and I'm still not sure I'm 100% satisfied with it, but then again, I never am. The Narnian Stars fascinate me, and the meeting of two Stars from separate worlds intrigued me. What better Star to choose than the herald of His arrival? This was what coalesced from it.
Oh, and I often make music recommendations to go along with my fics... this is no different. See if you can find Casting Crowns' "While You Were Sleeping."
I by no means pretend I know much about the affairs of Stars, nor that I have everything right in this fic. But at the very least, I hope it made you think about the Truth behind this season. May you all have a blessed Christmas.