A/N: Hello, everyone. Welcome to my very first Narnia fic. It's been years since I've read the books, so please forgive any mistakes. This fic was written in response to a challenge by Sapphire Warrioress (see chapters 11 and 12 of her fic Remember the Four) and the OC belongs to her. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A wayward gust of wind shook the leaves of an ancient maple.
Old and thick and strong, the tree had long out-paced others of its kind. Even its neighbors, be they oak or birch or ash or any other kind, were dwarfed in comparison to its unnatural growth. Even unusual longevity would not explain the massive proportions of the silver leaf maple.
A second blast of eastern air rattled the upper branches of the tree, quiet tremors traveling all the way down to the roots.
Something stirred faintly in the undergrowth.
And again, as the tree swayed under the increasingly harsh onslaught of eastern wind.
The wind which skimmed the tops of the trees caused old branches, clusters of nuts, and leaves to fall to the forest floor out of season.
This was the heart of the Western Woods and trees clustered tightly together, each competing for its share of sunlight and nutrients. There were no saplings in this region. Even with the winds raging above the forest, the air underneath the thick canopy was mostly still.
All was calm, save for the pitter-patter of branches and nuts striking the soft mulch-covered ground.
Even the forest life was quiet – the dumb animals had long since learned that the giant maple was not friendly to those that would tear into its bark, strip its branches, or otherwise harm it.
Of course, being dumb animals, they may learn this lesson without ever understanding or wondering why. It just was.
The tree's silent guardian, however, stirred once more – this time stretching, reaching out. After being dormant for so long, the delicate tree spirit only slowly came to realize its surroundings.
For nearly a century, the forest spirit had been aware of nothing but the life and strength of its chosen tree and, to a lesser extent, those around it. It remembered drawing into the young maple – for it had been but a sapling then, with little chance of survival in the already dense forest – succoring it, nursing it through a harsh and unnatural Winter.
Which had seemed to be without end.
The cold had settled over the woods, causing the other trees to ceasing growing; only barely managing to survive.
The sapling, however, had never slowed. With the tender care of the forest spirit, it had flourished during the imposed Winter.
The Witch's reign had not touched it.
The spirit remembered – and was pleased.
It had done well – had protected its chosen.
But now, it was over. As slowly as it had awoken, the forest spirit withdrew its consciousness from the maple, reaching out into nearby trees.
The winter was gone – vanished. Trees and bushes and flowers were growing again.
It was time to leave, time to once again walk among those who spoke with words and understood the color and smell and texture of a thing.
A roar echoed faintly in the distance as another gust of eastern wind swept overhead.
Edmund – recently crowned King Edmund the Just, Duke of Lantern Waste, and Lord of the Western Woods – bit back a rather un-kingly whimper as he ducked into the library.
With the coronation ceremony nearly a month past, the hustle and bustle at Cair Paravel had diminished slightly. Not so much that it was safe to walk the halls with one's nose in a book – or scroll, for that matter – but enough most of the guests had gone and those permanent residents were gradually falling into a new routine. Still, though, there were a few details that had yet to be dealt with.
Susan, of course, seemed to be the most concerned with these 'details'. Edmund had been ducking and slipping and otherwise avoiding his older sister for a bit over a week. She had, ten days ago, announced that each of them would need to be fitted for clothes.
He could tell by the way she spoke that the Gentle had not meant a set of clothes, or even clothes for the season. No, Susan had every intention of creating an entire wardrobe for each of her siblings.
Narnia had not seen Sons of Adam or Daughters of Eve for many, many years, so obtaining clothing that fit had proved to be somewhat of an issue.
Of course, Edmund had been fitted for his ceremonial outfit. It had not been a horrible experience – a kindly Skunk had come in with a tape one day and announced that she was to take measurements. That part had not been so bad. It was almost pleasant, really. He had been asked to stand still for a few moments while the lady Skunk ran the tape down his arms, across his chest, and such, calling out measures he didn't understand.
The next day the Skunk had come back with a formal tunic and leggings and a set of soft-soled boots. Then came the not-so-pleasant part. He was asked to don the unfinished clothes and spent the next half-hour being pulled and pricked and scolded. The clothes were taken away once again, so that the alterations could be made. When the Skunk – and her many assistants – had finished, the new suit fit him like a second skin, albeit an itchy one.
With all the activity (read: chaos) that had plagued the Cair pre-coronation ceremony, that had been the only set of clothes made for Edmund. In between, he had taken to wearing quickly altered, ill-fitting clothes originally intended for Narnian Creatures. Edmund had never bothered to ask which creature the leggings had been meant for – but he had noticed that several of the too short pairs had been stitched up in the back – as if there had been a hole that was no longer needed.
Edmund had not grown a tail – much to his relief. Narnian air was altogether of a different sort from that he'd breathed in England, even the country air there. Who knows what hidden properties it had?
Not that he worried about it…
Edmund sighed, knowing that he had put this unpleasant task off quite long enough. Any longer and Susan would be unbearable.
Besides, Lucy and Peter had already submitted – one with slightly more grace than the other – leaving only Edmund. He knew his loving sister was willing to seek him out with doggedness and determination until he was forced to surrender or take up residence in the nearby forest.
The one was the right choice, but the other was so much more appealing.
"I'm here, Susan." Edmund stepped out from behind a tall shelf crammed full with books. He clutched a few in his arms, hoping to look as if he had meant to enter the library, rather than been chased there. By Susan's lifted brow, he hadn't succeeded.
"Yes, well, come along. Skunk Amarcie has some clothes for you to try on – she used the measurements taken before the ceremony, though she isn't confident she remembered them all correctly, but you wouldn't sit for more." Here Susan leveled a reproving glare before continuing, "And some dwarves will be up shortly to measure you for shoes." Susan spoke with all the bossy authority of an older sister, and wisely waited for him to exit the room first.
He was sorely tempted to bolt.
Breathing deeply, he promised himself a trip into the woods once this task had been endured – er, completed.
As the forest spirit journeyed long from the heart of the western woods, it came to remember itself.
Trees did not care what appearance one had, nor did they hear words as rude or polite, but other creatures did.
The silver leaf maple had been far isolated from any of Narnia's Creatures – but also from the Witch's forces – and so the spirit had previously no need to worry about such things. It had spent most of the years in a dormant state, aware of its surroundings only in the manner of the trees.
But Aslan had created the spirit to fellowship with Beasts and Birds and other Creatures as much as, or more than, with the trees.
And so, as the spirit walked, it remembered.
It remembered that it should walk with two legs, like the fabled Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. It recalled that dirt and twigs and leaves should not be tangled in hair or scrunched between toes. It remembered that coverings were considered polite when around most Talking Beasts.
Also, that it had been christened Female upon its – her – first awakening.
She was a Dryad and her colony had lived near the edge of the Western Wood.
There were no others in the forest, though. She would have felt them, heard them, and spoken to them.
Occasionally, she saw evidence that a Dryad had once lived in this tree or that. Some of the trees were dead, some deserted, and others merely waiting.
The place where her colony had been, though, was dead. Whatever tragedy had occurred had taken place years ago, while she was sleeping.
Seeing this place, with trees cruelly uprooted or hacked to pieces or burnt, brought more memories. These were of family and friends. Happy days spent mingling with Aslan's creatures. Mother and Father and Sisters and Brother.
She wept at the loss.
Where would she go now?
The woods were deserted.
Morosely, the Dryad followed trails left by other Dryads and Creatures. The edge of the wood had been more heavily populated, and she even met some Creatures as they returned to their homes.
The Winter – she learned – had only recently been broken. Spring had arrived three months ago, while she was sleeping.
So much had happened while she slept.
Aslan had come and brought with him Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. The Witch had been defeated and no longer did an Evil Queen claim Narnia.
Two kings and two queens now ruled, under Aslan. They sat upon four thrones in Cair Paravel.
She remembered tales of this castle. She could taste the stories that had been told in these woods for trees never forgot.
She would see these new kings and queens.
But first, she must remember her name.
"Still alive, eh?"
"Oh, hush, you. You don't even wear clothes."
"I have a saddle."
"Were you fitted for it?"
"There was no need."
"Well, there you go. You couldn't possibly understand the depth of my suffering."
Phillip the Horse snorted at his rider's fuss. Still, he was pleased to see the new king relaxed enough to fuss. It was a rare thing – Edmund was perhaps even more conscious than his siblings of the responsibilities attached to a crown.
King Edmund had just escaped to the stables complaining of his sister, the Tyrant. He had been forced to try on dozens of clothes. Why would he even need so many?
He had four set, at the moment, and they served him just fine. In a last act of defiance, after squirming for a solid three hours, Edmund had donned his most raggedy outfit before slipping out of the castle. The guards General Oreius had set made it difficult, but not impossible.
As a younger brother and something of a trouble maker, Edmund had plenty of practice sneaking about. It stood him in good stead and he made it to the stables with no one the wiser.
There he met Phillip who, while not being exactly sympathetic to his plight, had nevertheless volunteered to carry the young human wherever he wished. Edmund had quickly thrown a saddle on the Horse, declaring him a true friend, and announced their destination to be the nearby forest.
"You Sons of Adam are a strange sort," Phillip commented. "If you don't like clothes, then why wear them? Fauns do not wear clothes."
"Well, erm." How to put it? "It's not that we don't like clothes, just… Why make a fuss of it? Can't I wear comfortable clothes?"
Phillip snorted again.
He couldn't see his rider, but he felt the moment that Edmund's thoughts drifted away from minutia like clothing. His body stiffened and he grew quiet. The Horse repressed a sigh, and continued on in silence.
He, being a Horse – and, thus, not much use inside the castle – knew only the basic facts of Edmund's time with the Witch.
Amongst the army there were many stories: rumors that attempted to flesh out the bare facts.
Some said that Edmund had been enchanted.
That Jadis had spun magic that coerced Edmund into supporting her, but that her enchantment had been broken by Aslan. The teller of this story hoped to explain away the actions of their king. Even so, Phillip knew that they were privately uncertain of the younger king.
Others, doubters, claimed that Edmund was nothing more than a reed in the wind. He'd betrayed his family of his own will because of trifles and empty promises given by the Winter Queen. That he'd only taken Aslan's side because it had been convenient at the time.
Phillip, himself, thought the truth was rather a mix of both. Watching the boy, the Horse could see a heavy burden of guilt rested on his shoulders. Guilt that led Phillip to believe that whatever enchantments the Witch might have used, Edmund still chose the Witch. But also, the guilt was a sign of repentance.
This evidence – and Aslan's say, of course – made Phillip believe that, one day, Edmund would make a good king. His loyalty would stay with Aslan and Narnia.
He only wished that Edmund could see this in himself – that, perhaps if he did, it would ease his pain somewhat.
She rested against a maple – not her tree, but familiar enough to offer some comfort.
She had been trying, for the past several days, to remember her name.
The Creatures she had spoken to did not seem to understand how she could forget such a thing. But, to them, a name was the who of a person.
Not so, for her. She remembered who she was, of course, she just did not recall what the speaking called it. Closing her eyes, she considered her essence – her who – in the manner of the trees. It had changed little over the years, except perhaps, to grow fuller and more sure.
She was meditating in this way when she felt a great regret and a lesser sorrow approach.
Forgetting, for an instance, the niceties of polite protocol, she reached out to touch the new essences so that she might know them and greet them in the manner of the trees.
"Phillip!" Edmund started out of his reverie as something ghosted past his… mind? "Did you feel that?"
"Indeed King Edmund," the Horse shuddered expressively. The sensation was both terribly alien, and yet, somehow familiar.
"I think it came from that direction." Edmund leaned down over Phillip's neck and pointed – they both having preferred to dispense with reins and bridle for this outing. "And don't ask me how I know. I just… feel it."
Phillip turned and immediately began trotting in the opposite direction.
"No, Phillip, turn around. We must investigate!"
"We must?" That with some trepidation.
"We must." And that very firmly. Kingly, even.
This time, Phillip did sigh – long and loud. He obeyed his king, but he didn't have to like it. The boy hadn't even thought to bring a sword.
As if sensing the Horse's thoughts, Edmund spoke reassuringly.
"Just think of it as a scouting mission. If it's a threat, we'll go back to Peter."
"And explain why you were wandering the woods alone?"
"I'm not alone – I have you, Phillip."
Both much younger than she, but one especially.
A child – a strange man child that carried with him the weight a kingdom of guilt, when it should be less. Responsibility and insecurity and humility. Gratefulness and determination and new, fierce loyalty.
The second – older, troubled, but strong and sure. Both a warrior and a faithful servant.
But enough, she had frightened them. She had forgotten that Beasts were not used to this manner of greeting. She must find the words for an apology.
Without a sound, she rose up from the tree.
There – she could see them now.
There was a Horse, reluctantly carrying his rider towards her. The rider was a most peculiar creature. He dressed in the manner of the dwarves, but was altogether slimmer and taller. A strange Faun? Only if Fauns had taken to wearing shoes.
The only explanation – she felt herself grow excited, for she had never seen one of these – the only explanation could be that this was a Son of Adam.
Of course, there had been some in Narnia before she slept, but these were leaving. The Witch had begun her reign of terror. So young was she then, that she did not remember the King and Queen before. It had taken the Witch near a decade to gather the power to plunge the whole land into an unending Winter.
So men had come back to Narnia and brought with them children.
The trees around her whispered.
Two Sons of Adam. Two Daughters of Eve.
Ruling now from Cair Paravel.
She swayed in place – listening, but not wholly understanding.
"Greetings, Cousin!" called the Son of Adam. The Horse snorted with displeasure. It was apparent that he would have much preferred she not become aware of their presence.
"Greetings, Cousin!" She mimicked, not familiar with this greeting, but wishing to return it.
"I'm Edmund. Is your tree here in the forest?"
The Son of Adam dismounted – with some difficulty as the Horse refused to stand still. 'Edmund's' teeth were bared and she remembered that this was a smile – a gesture of welcome.
"I have left my tree."
He was familiar enough with Dryads to know what she was.
"Oh? Is it very far away?"
"Yes, very far away."
"I thought," he began slowly, as if not sure it was polite to ask, "that your kind could not travel far from their tree?"
She smiled, but felt sad.
"Aslan, in his wisdom, has given me and some others, the power to choose. I have left my tree and would now choose another."
She sensed some understanding in this being – she reached out –
The Son of Adam started.
"That was you?" He was not accusing, but curious.
"I must apologize. I have been away from speaking Creatures for a very long time. I have forgotten many things. I had forgotten that your kind does not like to be - touched - that way."
"Touched?" She struggled with the words.
"In the manner of trees."
"I see." What did he see? "Why did you – erm, touch me? In the manner of the trees."
"I felt… an understanding in you. You have left behind a tree?"
He smiled again, but this was softer than the first. She felt understanding again.
"I don't have a tree, but I have left a home."
She supposed it was the same.
"Have you come to choose a tree near Cair Paravel?"
"Yes! I would greet the kings and queens there, but I do not know my name." This time, she sensed the same confusion the Beasts had shown. "I have slept for many years, and forgotten how to speak it. There was no need."
"Will you remember it?"
"Yes. And then I will greet the kings and queens and choose a tree."
She felt tired then, as she often did. She had left her tree with the intent to choose another. Though she might draw some strength from the forest, it was not the same. She tired easily.
The Son of Adam seemed to understand.
She heard him wish Aslan's Blessing upon her and welcome to Cair Paravel.
She found solace in the trees and rested, trying to remember.
It was several days before Edmund had another chance to sneak away into the woods.
Between lessons, kingly duties, and Susan, he had precious little time left over for himself. The time he did have left over was normally spent in the library, reading up on Narnia's past. He was usually too tired to do anything more strenuous than read.
Today, however, he was dodging Susan, who insisted that he needed a haircut. Avoiding a hair cut was quite a good reason for skipping his rhetoric class – his teacher, a Fox, would understand. Most Creatures considered the concept of a 'haircut' to be extremely odd. A Sheep might side with Susan, Edmund mused. They had their wool shorn off yearly.
Phillip, of course, didn't even ask what brought the young king to the stables. He merely asked where they'd be going.
Phillip was a good sort.
"You're a good sort, Phillip," Edmund announced aloud.
"Thank you, Sire." Phillip sounded a half-part wary and two-parts bemused. It was rather out of the blue, but Edmund felt it was something that Phillip should know.
"Do you remember where we met the Dryad last time?"
Phillips ears fell back, indicating his displeasure with the subject. He didn't fully trust the Dryad, but Edmund felt sure that she had been honest with them. She didn't have a hidden agenda, but he wasn't going to try to explain that to Phillip. The Horse would have to realize it on his own.
In the mean time, he would humor Edmund, so long as he didn't insist on doing anything too incredibly stupid.
"Yes, Sire," the admission was grudging, but honest. Edmund smiled.
"Let's go, then. I want to see if she's remembered her name."
"Yes, Sire," Phillip said, in much the same manner he had before: grudgingly.
The Young Son of Adam was coming again.
Edmund she reminded herself, but she did not like to think of names. She still could not speak her own.
The Dryad had spent the last several days becoming familiar with the trees of Cair Paravel. She had even met some of the other Dryads in the area, but conversation had been brief.
They understood what it meant to wake from a long sleep, so they left her to remembering. She would join them once she was finished.
A few forest Creatures, too, crossed her path. Some spoke of Aslan's Triumph, and others of the new kings and queens of Narnia. Some spoke kindly, some did not.
But all agreed that Aslan had chosen these four Himself.
She wondered, then, what the Son of Adam might have to say of the kings and queens. She had found, with him, more understanding in their short conversation, than she ever had from any but her own kind.
The Horse that accompanied him was different. Protective. But she knew she would not come to harm.
"Hello, Cousin!" She greeted the visitor cheerfully, before he had even become aware of her presence.
"Hello," the Son of Adam responded, with a smile. "Any luck with the remembering?"
Well, yes, she had some luck.
She remembered many things, but never the things she wanted to remember. Frustration surfaced – a quick, strong emotion that she had never experienced during her long sleep.
"I cannot recall what I must."
"You mean your name?" The boy asked softly, as if he knew the frustration she felt. "It helps to talk, you know. If you want to – just talk about the things you do remember. Let the rest come."
The wisdom in his words was startling for one so young.
He offered to listen, so she spoke.
She told the Son of Adam what she could remember of the time before Jadis had brought the Winter, of the quick skirmishes that had taken place before the Queen had amassed any true power. She shared stories of her childhood and stories from her childhood.
She admitted that she had sequestered herself in the isolated western woods - that she had refused to join any of the many rebellions that had approached her. But, also, she told how she had never withheld what aid she could give to any in need.
Once, she even spoke of her tree, the one she had left, and the sorrow and loss she still felt.
And the Son of Adam did nothing but listen.
He was right. She realized with a start, that she had been giving much more detail than she had remembered. The talking had helped.
"You knew that talking would help. How could you, a Son of Adam, know this?"
The Horse, who had been grazing quietly a short distance away, stiffened at her question. The boy shook his head, though, reassuring the Beast.
"It is easy," he answered slowly, "to forget. And sometimes, remembering is painful, even as it is necessary."
She had spoken of tragedies, as well as joys. She understood painful memories. He spoke truly, but with a depth of understanding that one so young should not bear. Even so, she was thankful that Aslan had sent her such a friend.
Perhaps she could somehow ease his burden?
Slowly, carefully, watching him for any sign of sudden movement or anger, she reached out to the Son of Adam. He allowed it, leaning quietly against a large birch.
He was remorse and guilt and sorrow. There was absolution, but it was not earned, nor deserved. A burden that was also a blessing rested heavily on his heart and his mind.
She gasped as she recognized his burden. How could one so young…
But she had already discovered that this one was not young in spirit. Not truly. Still, she did not understand.
"Why, Young Son of Adam, do you carry the weight of Narnia?"
"Aslan crowned me a king." He spoke softly, without hesitation, but she wondered if she did not detect some uncertainty. Did he not trust Aslan's choice? "And I rule alongside my brother and sisters."
"You are a king." She responded, not questioning his conviction. "I still have no name to give you."
She felt ashamed. She, a citizen of Narnia, could not even give her king her name.
He laughed. With confusion, she recognized it not to be scornful or malicious, but mirthful.
"My dear Dryad," he said gently, when his laughter had subsided, "you have already given me far more of yourself than a name ever could. You are a citizen of Narnia, and if you choose to come now to Cair Paravel, you will be received as such. A name will matter little to the Magnificent, Gentle, and Valiant."
"Well spoken, Sire," the Horse interjected. The King ducked his head, his face coloring slightly – embarrassment, if she remembered correctly. She did not reach out to him – embarrassment was uncomfortable, even if she did not understand the reason for it.
"Oh, shut it, Phillip."
She smiled, ignoring the good-natured banter between king and Horse.
She had been welcomed to Cair Paravel by one of the kings. Surely Aslan has willed this.
The next morning Edmund sat on his rather recently acquired throne, his three siblings sat also, with different miens of 'regal-ness'. Edmund stifled a chuckle. The air of grace and authority came easily to Susan, but Peter looked as if needles were sticking him. Lucy looked about as uncomfortable, but he knew she was only anxious to be out of the formal dress Susan had insisted she wear.
Edmund himself would be happy to discard his own formal tunic and boots. But for this task, he could endure stiff clothing, an uncomfortable throne, and a heavy crown.
They were all, Rulers of Narnia, gathered to greet a Dryad which Phillip had met in the forest, on one of his frequent, rambling walks. At least, that was the story given to Peter. The Dryad had come alone all the way from the heart of the Western Wilds.
There were others – Talking Animals, Dryads, Fauns, Centaurs, and other Narnian Creatures assembled to greet the stranger, although the crowd was not overwhelming. A small welcome party – although, Edmund wondered if they had gathered to greet the stranger, or simply because all four monarchs sat together in the throne room.
His ruminations were interrupted when the doors at the far end of the room opened, admitting the Dryad from the forest. Even separated by two thrones, Edmund still heard Lucy's excited gasp.
Away from the forest, the Dryad seemed even more ethereal than before. Edmund suspected it had something to do with her 'long sleep', but she just looked… closer to nature, than the other Dryads he had met. He was sure Lucy had noticed, too.
When she had reached the steps of the dais, she curtseyed respectfully, lifting her skirt woven of ivy and flowers.
Faun Tumnus, standing by Lucy's throne, announced the four seated sovereigns in a ritual Edmund had always considered somewhat redundant. The Dryad curtseyed again, waiting for permission to speak.
"Welcome, Cousin, to the Castle of Cair Paravel." Peter spoke the greeting, as he had many times before. Even though the four had only been officially crowned a month past, they had preformed this ceremony for many guests before the coronation. "We understand you have journey from the heart of the Western Wilds. If I may, what brings you so far from your home?"
"You heard truth, High King Peter. I have come from the Western Wilds to greet Aslan's chosen Four and to see, with my own eyes, that the reign of the White Witch has been broken."
"Oh!" Lucy exclaimed, clapping her hands together excitedly. "We are so glad to receive your greeting! You have come from ever so far away. Did you suffer greatly during Jadis' Winter?"
Edmund was grateful for Lucy's enthusiasm. The issue of names had yet to come up, but a glance at Susan revealed that it had not gone unnoticed.
"Nay, Majesty. I suffered only as a tree suffers, for I slept during much of it."
"You slept for a hundred years?"
Edmund smiled at his sister's wonder.
"I did, Your Majesty." The Dryad paused and, curiously enough, glanced at Edmund. Whatever she saw there must have been enough for her to gather her courage. "And during my sleep, I forgot many things."
There was a small hush – the Dryad spoke with such regret that everyone in the room recognized this as important, without understanding why.
"Dear Cousin," Susan prompted gently, already living up to her title "what have you forgotten that troubles you so?"
This time, the Dryad looked directly at Edmund when she spoke.
"I have forgotten how to speak my name."
The crowd gasped collectively and murmured that a name was such a terrible thing to forget. The Dryads present bore expressions of disapproval, and Edmund wondered if forgetting one's name held a deeper meaning to them than he understood.
"Forgotten it?" That was Peter and Edmund wished he was in kicking distance.
The Dryad looked down, wearing the same expression of shame that she had in the forest.
"Oh, don't worry so," Lucy rushed to console, "I am sure that Aslan will remind you soon enough. He could never forget any one of us." She smiled cheerfully, but the Dryad did not look up.
Edmund grimaced inwardly. He still did not like to speak in front of Narnians, as their king, but he knew it was his turn. He must speak for his siblings in this.
"Dear Dryad." She looked up cautiously. He could see that she was trembling.
Had she come before the four of them on his word alone? He was starting to realize that forgetting a name was something that would be harshly judged among her own people. Maybe, even, she was judged for sleeping through the Witch's reign as well as the Battle of Beruna. He remembered her telling him of the many times she had been approached by members of a resistance.
She had, he suddenly realized, told him so very much of her life – good and bad.
What had he done to gain such trust?
He pleaded Aslan to give him the words to say.
"We do not judge you for forgetting how to speak a name after a century of sleep. You have cared ceaselessly for the trees of the Western Wild, nourished them throughout Jadis' enchanted Winter. For this we thank you." Her eyes widened in disbelief, but he held up his hand to prevent any protest, even though none seemed forthcoming. "You have also travelled the whole distance of Narnia, to make us feel welcomed in this country, your home. Your actions tell more of you than a name ever could."
"Be welcome in Cair Paravel," Peter reiterated warmly. "Your presence is a gift to us."
Edmund grinned as Susan, not to be out done, stood and ended the audience by offering the Dryad a tour of the gardens.
Lucy immediately invited herself along, warbling as cheerfully as any song bird.
As those gathered slowly dispersed, Peter and Edmund exited the throne room through a side door. The younger realized, triumphantly, that this would be one more day that he escaped the evil haircut. Susan would be distracted for the rest of the day, at least.
He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that Peter's "nudge" nearly knocked him off his feet.
"What on earth was that for?"
"You." Peter grinned. "That was well said, Ed."
Edmund scowled, pretending that his brother's compliment meant little to him – when it really meant the world. Peter didn't need to know it, though – his ego was Magnificent enough.
Peter just laughed, no doubt seeing straight through the façade.
"Aslan chose well."
Indeed He did, Edmund thought, staring at the golden crown atop Peter's head.
Two weeks passed before she remembered.
It didn't come with a sudden rush of understanding, or flash of inspiration. It came slowly, and, when she finally realized she remembered, it was as if the knowledge had always been there.
She rose from the bench she had been lounging on, listening to the garden.
She would have King Edmund know first. It was through his friendship that she found the strength to remember.
Reaching out, she found Edmund en-route to the stables. King Edmund, alone among the inhabitants of Cair Paravel, permitted her this familiarity.
He had saddled Phillip and was waiting next to the Horse on the path to the forest when she finally caught up. King Edmund arched an eyebrow when he caught sight of her irrepressible smile.
"Well? What is it, then?" She laughed at his eagerness.
"Well, then." He coughed and straightened into a more formal posture. "I would welcome you, Arianna, to Cair Paravel." He bent forward slightly, a bow befitting both their stations.
"I thank you, King Edmund, for your kindness." She curtseyed formally.
"Right. That's done." She felt mild shock at his brusque dismissal of the matter. She had finally remembered her name. He turned and mounted Phillip.
She watched him, disbelieving. After all, he had waited patiently, for weeks, for her to remember this. And now…
"Phillip and I are off to the greenwood. Care to join us, Arianna?"
And now, nothing had changed.
Arianna knew, instinctively, that it would be the same with the other three monarchs. She had seen Narnia's monarchs treat all of Aslan's creatures equally, but she hadn't truly understood. These were not children that saw only the surface of something, of someone, but Sons and Daughters brought by Aslan to love Narnia and all who would call it home, whatever manner of Creature they be.
Aslan had chosen well.
A/N: I realize that I have only partly met Sapphire's challenge and am considering writing a sequel to address the back story of the four thrones. I would love to hear any ideas on this. Thanks for reading and please review.