The Lion's Roar
Summary: Edmund searches, seeking but never finding. . . until that one incredible day. A story of how Edmund finds Aslan in England. Prequel to "Reassurance."
Author's Note: This story was inspired by a review SpangleyPony left on "Reassurance." It's taken several months since that story, but the inspiration struck me and would not leave until I sat down and at least started writing. So thank you for the inspiration!
I also realized as I started writing this, that in "Reassurance" I said that Edmund had given Peter the bible *before* Peter studied with the professor, which meant it would have been before The Dawn Treader, which it obviously cannot be(Don't worry, I've already hit myself with a copy of the book for all true cannon fans). However, for the sake of this story I kept the mistake, and I'm claiming a small measure of creative and artistic license here. This story takes place roughly a year after the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Also, there are a few other minor points that do not quite line up exactly with what I wrote in Reassurance. They are miniscule and mostly insignificant, but one day I hope to go back and edit Reassurance to fit perfectly.
Disclaimer: I do not own Edmund, etc, any other characters. I do not own the chronicles of Narnia in any form or fashion.
"Are-are you there too, Sir?" Said Edmund.
"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."
-Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The spring air softly drifted through the window. Edmund turned his back to it, addressing his roommate. "Have a good holiday." His voice was not jolly or happy, but polite and kind all the same.
"You too." Christopher mumbled back, slinging one bag on his shoulder and rolling the bigger suitcase out of the room. They had never gotten along well, and Edmund was not very sorry to see the back of him. No matter the kind gestures or sacrifices he made for his roommate's comfort, Christopher seemed to avoid him at all cost. Edmund couldn't help but to feel sorry for Chris- it was common knowledge his father had died in the war, and now his family was struggling to finance everything. Chris had once told Edmund as an off-hand remark about how he wasn't even sure he would be able to go back to school the next term. However, Edmund felt he could only put up with so much, and this spring term had severely tested him.
As Christopher walked out, Peter's golden head popped in. "Ready yet, Ed?" He asked. Edmund just nodded, happy to finally leave. The train ride would not be swift or comfortable, but both the brothers looked forward to it.
They were both silent for the majority of the train ride. When they finally reached the station were the boys met Susan and Lucy they all hugged and started talking about the latter part of the year, but within in an hour, all were tired and had fallen asleep, save Edmund.
He leaned his head back, wondering what this summer holiday would bring. Last summer, he had witnessed the most miraculous change in his cousin, sailed abroad the Dawn Treader to the edge of Narnia, and re-meet an old friend. Somehow, he felt like nothing could quite reach that.
His mind replayed his final trip to Narnia; the words Aslan had told him and Lucy at the end. That He could be found in England, that he had a name, here, in this bleak, shadowy world. Edmund had spent the better part of the last year searching, doing anything he could. He read. He prayed. He asked questions, ever-so-subtly, to some of his favorite teachers. Sometimes, Lucy searched with him through their letters. However, Lucy had so much faith in Aslan, even in this world, that Edmund sometimes harbored a secret opinion that she didn't need to find a name for him here, that for her it simply didn't matter.
However, at the end of the year, it seemed he had nothing to show for his search. He had asked both his older siblings about it, and neither answer they gave suited him. Susan laughed at his face, then spoke something that sounded suspiciously like "And even so, he's not here, is he?" under her breath. But then, anyway, he couldn't be sure.
When he had approached Peter about it, his older brother just clasped him on the back and shook his head. "Sorry, Ed- I am no further than you." He spoke calmly.
"Aren't you frustrated?" Edmund asked, the feeling certainly starting to take a hold of him.
Peter gave a small shrug. "I have looked, and I will keep looking. I have been frustrated, yes, but it's rather pointless, don't you think? Being frustrated about something you can't change?"
While this had been good advice, it had not been exactly what Edmund had wanted to hear, and so he walked away from the encounter feeling even more annoyed and frustrated from when those conversations had begun.
And now, as he laid half-sitting, half-sprawled over the train compartment, the conversations came back to them. He looked at his sister, sleeping so gently and peacefully, like the characteristics she once carried. For when she woke she was a different person, a faint shadow of her former self. Nay; not even that. She was nothing like her former self.
Peter slept, still sitting straight up, his head gently resting on the windowsill. His brother's determination and perseverance were inspiring, but Edmund couldn't help feeling a bit jealous all the same. If only he could be that confident in the face of uncertainty.
Edmund shook his head- it would not do to dwell on this. He had done all he could, all through the school year, and he would continue, all through the summer. What needed to be found would to be found, eventually.
He leaned his head back against the window, and joined his siblings of sleeping and dreaming of the warm, summer air.
"Edmund, get up! Come on!" Lucy tugged and pulled at the blankets.
Edmund sat up, blinking his eyes and looking warily at his attacker with a suspicious look. "Lu, the sun's not even up. I see no good reason to be up with the one that brings the day with it isn't."
Lucy was in the process of finding Edmund's boots for him and as such, gave no notice of his little rant.
"Oh, come on. It's our first day of freedom. Wouldn't you like to welcome it?" She asked absent-mindedly as she started leaving the room- probably to attend to her next victim, Edmund through wryly- and she smiled back at him.
"I'd rather let it welcome me." Came Edmund's sarcastic comment, but he got up all the same. Lucy had the uncanny ability to make anyone do anything, and Lucy seemed to like using this power to wake Edmund up when he'd much rather still be asleep.
He stood outside with Peter and Lucy watching the sunrise. A few minutes later, Susan joined them, though she didn't seem as happy or delighted to welcome the summer as much as her siblings. The four of them stood there, admiring the view, but all four of them couldn't help but to compare it to the brilliant Narnian sunrises. The England skyline just lacked in ways the Narnia sky never did.
For quite awhile, the siblings just stood there long after the sun had risen. Susan was the first to move and break the enchantment that seemed to capture all of them. "I'm going back to bed." She stated. Edmund followed suit, followed by Peter and Lucy.
"She's not the same, is she?" Edmund asked as he climbed into Peter's bed- Peter's room had been closer and Edmund had seized the opportunity. Peter, unfazed by this turn of events, joined Edmund and shook his head.
"No, she's not," He agreed, "But are any of us? Even Lucy's been slightly different lately. She's just homesick. We're all homesick."
Edmund didn't answer, just yawned, but he silently agreed. At any rate, he knew he was incredibly homesick, and he contemplated this as he drifted back to sleep.
"I think I'll go to the library," Edmund announced at breakfast, after poking through the bacon and eggs in front of him. He had been uncharacteristically quiet throughout the entire meal. The other three siblings exchanged a hurried glance as Peter spoke.
"I'll go with you," He stated. Edmund granted him a smile, though he kept silent.
The air outside was unusually chilly, and the brothers donned light jackets from the closet before setting out. The library was not far, but it wasn't close either. Peter considered driving, but Edmund declined, saying he would prefer to walk.
"There's a storm brewing," Peter commented, pointing his head towards the clouds. They had gathered, ready for a brilliant show of power while lining the inky sky. Edmund followed his brother's gaze and nodded.
"We need rain." He stated. Peter agreed as he chuckled, "I've never seen England so dry before this Spring. I didn't know the rain was capable of stopping."
Indeed, the faint drizzle that had graced them as they started their trek soon turned into a powerful, steady rhythm by the time they reached the library. Acting much younger than their years, Edmund and Peter wrestled for control of the door. Laughing, Edmund stumbled into the building first, his loud and pleasant laugh echoing inside the otherwise quiet brick walls. Peter smiled, happy to see his brother so full of life again. The librarian sent them both a stern glare, which just caused Edmund to go off again and it took several minutes for him to calm down. Once Edmund could finally breathe, Peter patiently asked, "Where are you going to start?"
Edmund instantly sobered. "I'm not sure," He replied as his eyes scanned the multitude of books upon the shelves.
Peter shrugged, "Well, we can start at philosophy or religion or history- whichever you choose."
In the end, Peter started tackling history and Edmund philosophy. It was a rather insane idea, and both brothers knew it- they were groping around for a rope in the dark without even knowing if they were even in the same room as the rope. Edmund reminded himself of Peter's words and even temper the last time they had a conversation relating to this matter, took a breath, and started going through the index.
That day the brothers got nowhere, but Edmund felt relaxed in the library. He began returning their daily, sometimes joined by Peter and on rare occasions, Lucy. Susan joined him a time or two but most of the time she was too busy and her impatience made him nervous.
It was one a particular sunny day about two weeks after Edmund began his trek through the multitude of books that the librarian first approached him. He was a kind, wobbly old man whose eyesight was slowly starting to fade, but whose mind was keen and had a good memory for books.
"Doing some soul-searching?" The kind man asked as he handed Edmund one of the rarer books that graced the library. Edmund had found it in the index and had gone to ask for it.
"I've seen you in here quite a bit recently, always looking at theology and philosophy." The man continued his inquisitions.
Edmund smiled politely, "You could say that, sir." He replied.
The man chuckled as he slowly climbed down from the small step-ladder he had retrieved from the closet early.
"Everyone does it at least once in their life." The librarian responded knowledgably. "Where did you start?"
Edmund racked his brain, having trouble remembering everything he read. "In the history section, I believe."
"Ah. . ." The man nodded wisely in a way that reminded Edmund of the Professor, "Well, it's really your own journey, you know, but if I were you I would start with the bible."
Edmund blinked. The bible. His family had always gone to church until the war, but after that their involvement had declined rapidly. Before, he had been too much of a beast to ever care what was spoken about or read in church, and now the family hadn't quite settled back into a routine yet. Edmund was certain he had his own bible, somewhere in his room, but the thought of reading it had never occurred to him. Now it seemed quite logical.
Edmund's smile was now much more genuine. "Thank you, sir. I'm sorry for having you bring the book down, but I think I'll go home and try your suggestion."
The jovial man laughed again. "Good luck, young man."
The house was comfortingly quiet. Edmund made his way up the stairs slowly, glad he would have the chance for peace and silence, for their parents had gone on a short holiday to visit a family friend, Peter and Lucy had probably gone out to the London area, and Susan was with her friends.
It took him awhile to find the dusty, leather case bible- it was sitting on the bookshelf, which was the last place Edmund expected it to be. He was known for being the disorganized one of the family.
Edmund briefly reflected the temptation to flip open the book to a random page and pray for a miracle, but he visibly shook his head at the idea. This was not the way one went about these things- he must start from the beginning.
Edmund read for hours- nothing particular jumped out at him on the page, but he felt the necessity to continue. It was not until Lucy and Peter returned home that he sat the book away. Lucy came into his room, relating their adventures downtown and asking how his day was. When Edmund related what the librarian had told him, Lucy's face lit up.
"It sounds like you're getting close, Edmund." The way she spoke made Edmund wonder if she knew something he didn't, but he vanished the thought from his mind. Lucy was never good at keeping secrets, except the really important ones, and if there was a secret then Edmund knew it was important and as such, Lucy had the right to keep it.
Edmund decided not to tell Peter until he had something confirmed. Peter would never admit it, but he was wearing too. Edmund didn't want to wear him out unless it would bring comfort in the end.
It took Edmund days to continue through the bible, and he still hadn't found anything substantial. He could tell there was something important there, something that resonated within him, but he couldn't place where. It was as if he was trying to catch flowing water in the palm of his hand. He could grab it, just for a moment, and then it dripped away.
It was not until the New Testament that Edmund could feel substance coming to him- almost as if someone had once turned on a brilliant bright light and eyes had been blinking the entire time and now they were adjusting to that light. A glimmer here, a beam there, but things started to feel more alive and awake and the things he was seeing before his eyes- they mattered.
He read parables and miracles, and hope grew within him. It was as if someone was playing a beautiful, haunting, melody, and as he read, his heart started echoing the melody back. He was on the brink of it, he could feel it, the hope he had stored for so long- this was it.
He read through the Gospels. For some reason, it was at John that the slow melody that had been playing inside him erupted into a flow of passion and truth. He read, whispering the words to himself.
"So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him. . ."
Pictures flashed before his eyes. A cross. The stone table. A lion. A man. His King. That death, that sacrifice, that had all been for him.
He hadn't been present at either of the events, but the pictures were so vibrant and tragic and haunting and beautiful that he felt as if he had.
He glanced down, realizing a few tears had wet the thin pages, though he was smiling. His contradictory feelings didn't exactly made sense, but he had given up sense when he had learned the most beautiful things in his life never made sense.
He jumped up, laughter welling from his chest while the tears continued to scream. He had accomplished it, he had found what he had been seeking, and more, what had been seeking him.
"Lucy! Lucy!" He called, more excited than he could ever remember.
Lucy had been on her bed, reading a book of poetry and casting side-long glances at Susan's bed beside her own, but the despair quickly wiped off her face as Edmund entered her room.
He held up the bible, joy covering his features. "I've found Him!"
Lucy's grinned soon rivaled his. She laughed as she embraced her brother.
"You knew, didn't you? You had found him already." He whispered happily into her hair. She knew he was not upset or annoyed even in the slightest, so she truthfully replied to the affirmative.
"Should we tell Peter?" Edmund asked, ready to dart out of the room with Lucy at any second.
Lucy shook her head, her grin fading into a smaller smile, though it never left her face. "I don't think so. It's something you need to find on your own. That's why I never told you. I think it means more."
His bouncy energy faded a little, though the joy was still evident. He nodded, understanding the wisdom behind Lucy's words, even as he wanted to storm Peter's room with the news. "I don't know how I can keep this secret," Edmund proclaimed happily.
Lucy laughed. "Think of how hard it has been for me."
Edmund laughed once more, pulling his younger sister in a close hug. As they embraced, they both closed their eyes and remember another time, another life, and they heard the faint sound of Aslan's glorious roar. And as they remembered and heard, they smiled, and knew that they were not alone.