Tomorrow: a sun soon rising,
And yesterday is there beside us,
And it's never far away.
If you listen to the wind you can hear me again,
Even when I'm gone you can still hear the song,
High up in the trees as it moves through the leaves,
Listen to the wind.
'Listen To The Wind', Hayley Westenra
Caspian's coronation was as grand as the Pevensies had been and I felt thoroughly at home riding through the streets behind Caspian, to the cheers of the people as fireworks were let off.
I glanced around from the window where I had been watching Lucy play with some of the Telmarine children. Everything had become so much happier in those last few days, and I had felt caught up with it. Aslan stood in the doorway and crossed over to me.
"What is it?" I asked, sensing something was... not wrong, but different.
"It is time for you to grow up," Aslan said finally. I frowned at him.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You're unusual aging process was no coincidence," Aslan explained. "It was my doing for I knew what your future would hold. But Peter's time in Narnia is almost up. He has learned all he can from Narnia and must return to his own country."
I sat down slowly. I knew this would have come sooner or later but... I hadn't expected to feel like this. Like what?
"And with Peter's passing must come your own," Aslan continued. "For you too have learned and taught all you can."
"So I'm dying?" I asked, confused.
"Dear one, we are all dying, and many of us have died already," Aslan smiled. "But no, you are not to die iminently. But from now you are aging again as Caspian or any other human is."
I swallowed. It wasn't my aging I was worried about, I wasn't afraid of death.
"Peter's never coming back is he?" I whispered.
"Not yet," Aslan replied, his riddles confusing me as they often did. "He will return one day."
I rose. "I... I think I'm going to go for a walk."
Aslan nodded. "Very well. I must talk with Peter and Susan."
I nodded, and slowly left the room feeling numb.
I stood alone on the battlements, leaning my arms on the warm stone as I looked out across the land before me. Despite the happiness around me, I could only feel some small part of it. I knew that Peter's time here would soon be over as well as mine. For good. I didn't feel ready to say goodbye to him, not yet.
"Hey," a voice said behind me and I looked around in surprise, my hair tossing about my shoulders.
Peter approached and lent on the stone beside me, flicking his blonde hair out of his blue eyes.
"Hi," I murmured back.
There was a pause. I didn't know what to say...
"So its over," Peter sighed. "Narnia's free again."
I nodded. "Let's just hope it stays that way this time."
Peter looked at me, frowning. "You say that like... I don't know. Like you're not going to be here."
I looked up and held his gaze honestly but silently.
"Arneia, what's going on?" he asked, his voice concerned as he stood up and put a hand on my shoulder.
I stood up and faced him. "You're right. I'm not going to be here. My time's up. From now on, I'm just... me. I'm human again."
"You always were," Peter began earnestly but I reached up and touched his cheek.
"I'm aging again," I said gently. "No second life this time."
"You can't," Peter gasped, but I smiled sadly.
"I'm not scared Peter," I told him lightly, and it was true.
"You never are," Peter smirked suddenly.
"No, I've always had one fear," I disagreed, drawing my finger down his cheek lightly. "I was always afraid of losing you."
Peter raised his hand to his face and entwined his fingers with mine. "And now we're losing each other."
I shook my head and raised my other hand to touch the ring that hung from the chain about his neck. The wedding ring. "No, you won't have lost me. Besides, I'm almost looking forward to it. Death. I should have met it long ago, and... to be honest? I feel... tired." I bit my lip suddenly in surprise at myself. I'd never said the truth out loud before, not even to myself.
Peter swallowed and slipped an arm around my waist, then leant down and pressed his forehead against mine. I closed my eyes in relief...
"So, a career in medicine?" I said after a while.
"Oh, you heard that," Peter smiled guiltily and I laughed.
"Sorry! It's a good choice though!"
"Well, I enjoy science and helping people, although its going to be hard."
"Take some fireflower juice home, you'd never fail," I shrugged with a smile. Peter grinned.
"I think people may get a little suspicious, don't you?" he replied. "What about you, what are you going to do?"
I gazed back at the castle. "Help rebuild Narnia, look after the people. The same thing I've been doing the last one thousand years..."
Peter sighed. "Help him won't you? Caspian, I mean. He'll need you."
"You sound like Aslan," I smiled, then squeezed his hand. "You know I will. And... will look after my grandfather? If he needs help?"
"Of course," Peter nodded. I gazed up into his piercing sea-blue eyes for a moment, remembering all the times I'd managed to drown in them before.
A horn suddenly sounded below us, and Peter broke the gaze, glancing towards the sound. "It's time."
I instantly felt tears rise but I forced them back. Peter turned back to me, his grip on me suddenly more urgent. "I love you Neia. I really love you."
I laughed and placed my hands on his face gently. "I know! I love you too, Peter."
Peter leaned down and I kissed him gently, but I could sense the passion. I had to let him go...
"I'll see you again, won't I?" Peter asked desperately.
"I think so. You can't get rid of me that easily! And look after the others."
Peter nodded as another horn sounded.
I swallowed. We couldn't stay here forever. I reached up and kissed him once more, before taking his hand. "Come on."
Together, we stepped up onto the stone dais like platform and I joined Aslan while Peter moved away to stand with his brothers and sisters.
"Narnia belongs to the Narnians just as it does to man," Caspian announced and I smiled to myself. Yes. "Any Telmarnies who want to stay and live in peace are welcome to. And for any of you who wish, Aslan will return you to the home of our forefathers."
"It has been generations since we left Telmar," Lord Sirelle said.
"We are not referring to Telmar," Aslan interrupted. "Your ancestors were sea-faring brigands, pirates run aground on an island. There they found a cave, a rare chasm that brought them here from their world, the same world as our kings and queens." Aslan paused to look at the Pevensies. I frowned slightly at the idea. That the same world could give me four of the people I loved most in the world, as well as those I hated.
"It is to that island I can return you," Aslan continued. "It is a good place for any who wish to make a new start."
There was a pause as the Telmarines shared suspicious glances,
Then I heard Glozelle's voice. "I'll go. I will accept the offer."
"So will we," Prunaprismia volunteered. She stepped forward, carrying her baby in her arms, and Lord Arran followed with Glozelle to stand before Aslan.
"Because you have spoken first, your future in that world will be good," Aslan told them gently and breathed upon them in a way that was so familiar to me. Then he turned and breathed upon the twisted tree behind Caspian. The tree began to turn, the winding trunks opening up to create a kind of door. A portal. I saw Prunaprismia take a deep breath and she stepped towards it. As she passed me I gave her a small encouraging smile. Except for her race, she had never done anything to me. The two Telmarines followed her through the door in the air. And completely vanished. I heard the gathered Telmarines and Narnians gasp, though I was unphased.
"How do we know he is not leading us to our deaths?" a peseant yelled out and I saw Reepicheep turn to Aslan.
"Sire, if my example can be of any service, I will take eleven mice though with no delay," he said gallantly but Aslan looked up at the Pevensies. I swallowed and followed his gaze. It was over.
Peter stepped forward.
"We will?" Edmund asked, confused.
"Come on," Peter told him. "Our time's up." He strode over to Caspian and offered him his sword.
"After all," he added, "we're not really needed here anymore."
I swallowed. He was.
"I will look after it until your return," Caspian promised.
"I'm afraid that's just it," Susan explained stepping forward. "We're not coming back."
"We're not?" Lucy said quietly.
"You two are," Peter told her, then looked at Aslan. "At least, I think he means you to."
Lucy turned to Aslan. "But why? Did they do something wrong?"
"Quite the opposite, dear one," Aslan smiled. "But all things have their time. Your brother and sister have learned what they can from this world. Now it's time for them to live in their own."
"It's alright, Lu," Peter promised Lucy. "It's not how I thought it would be, but it's alright." He glanced briefly at me and I began chewing my bottom lip. "One day you'll see too. Come on." Peter shook Glenstorm's hand, before approaching me.
I swallowed. I'd already told him everything I had to, and I couldn't face saying the word goodbye. Peter didn't say anything either. Wordlessly, I fell into his arms and hugged him hard, burying my face in his shoulder. I felt him give me a final squeeze and pulled away slightly. He touched my face gently with a finger, before leaning down. He kissed me passionately for the last time and I almost fell to pieces.
"I love you," I whispered, as we pulled away, not trusting myself to say anything else.
Peter nodded, and pressed his forehead against mine briefly. "I know. I love you too."
And then he was gone, stepping back to Aslan. I turned my attention hurriedly to Lucy, as the little queen hugged me around the waist, and as I embraced Edmund.
Then they were both gone, joining Peter. Everyone's attention was on Susan and Caspian and I smiled through my tears at the kiss they were sharing at last.
"I'm sure when I'm older I'll understand," I heard Lucy comment.
"I'm older and don't think I want to understand," Edmund replied.
Susan turned away and joined the others, giving me a nod and a smile.
The kings and queens turned towards the door in the air, and I watched as Peter briefly looked around at me one last time. Before stepping through the arch.
Lucy took one last look back at Aslan, and then they were all four gone.
Maybe I would see Lucy and Edmund again but I knew for certain Peter and I would meet once more. Just not yet. I had my lifetime to live out first.