Lily stared at herself in the mirror for a very long time. She felt as if she had forgotten to breathe.
Her friends, her dear friends, were buzzing around her, pinning her hair up and putting flowers in it. Lucy and Eris kept fawning over how beautiful she looked, for beautiful she was:
Her gown was exquisite and ornate, soft creamy white against her skin with gold threaded bordering. It flowed down her body, pooling around her on the floor. Her long dark hair was pinned up in an intricate twisted braid, Susan's doing. They pinned white stargazer lilies underneath it where a veil fell like a waterfall to the floor and trailed behind her.
"Where is Leland?" she asked quickly, looking at the door.
Susan laughed, "He's right outside. You need one more thing."
Susan went to the window where a wooden box was sitting in the bright sunshine. She opened it and took from it a silver crown, delicate and stunning. It looked as if she had woven small flowers and leaves together and dipped it into silver.
Susan placed the crown on Lily's hair and she beamed.
"Now you're ready."
Lily's heart took off like a galloping horse.
"Don't be so nervous!" Marsonia exclaimed, laughing at her friend's frightened expression.
"Surely someone as brave as you, who has fought in battles, isn't afraid of a wedding," Lucy asked, eyeing Lily suspiciously.
Lily's eyes widened, "of course not!"
Everyone laughed at her quick response.
Lily picked up her dress and stepped off the pedestal and followed Susan to the door.
"But in all honesty," Lily said gently. "I can't believe this is actually happening," She smiled up at Genia and Eris.
"You've wanted this for so long," Eris said as she kissed Lily on the cheek.
Lily looked at her questioningly.
Eris raised her eyebrows, "you're a little easier to read than you think."
Lily laughed and hugged her friend.
Susan opened the door, revealing Leland who had his back to them, his hand clasped behind him, as if he didn't have a care in the world.
But once he turned, his eyes became serious for a moment, then adoring. He was dressed in a black and hunter green tunic and pants, his dark hair pulled back at the nape of his neck. He looked handsome.
Lily smiled at him.
Leland stepped closer to her, taking her hands. His smile was broad.
"Lily," he said tenderly. Then he tilted his head to the side and she saw humor in his smile as he looked at her dress and veil, "not bad."
The girls hit him on the arms playfully, protesting his indifference.
Leland drew Lily close and kissed her on the forehead.
They walked through the castle, seeing many humans and animals as they passed through the corridors, all smiled and waved at her. She was not used to so much attention. But she knew it would take time to adjust to.
The banners had been changed for the occasion to white and gold and there were lilies and big white flowers everywhere. When the company came upon wooden doors guarded by two fauns, the doors that led to the main balcony, Lily felt a chill. He was waiting for her on the other side of those doors.
"It's time," Leland said in her ear.
Her friends smiled at her one last time and went to go through the side door. Susan handed her a bouquet of white lilies and winked at her before disappearing with her sister.
Lily exhaled slowly. She did not know why she was so nervous. It was then she realized that she no longer had to hide her feelings the way she had when she lived in the castle. They were free from danger and free to speak what had been on their hearts for a very long time.
Leland nodded to the fauns and they opened the doors, bright sunshine falling on the brother and sister.
Lily wrapped her hands around Leland's arm and he placed his hand over hers. He smiled at her before they looked out to the sea of smiling faces.
The main balcony held a hundred Narnians, if not more. Humans and animals alike smiled at Lily and she smiled naturally in return. White petals were falling from above, like snow, and tall banners fluttered in the warm breeze. The aisle was marked with a white carpet and at the end of it was Aslan, his golden mane brilliant in the sunlight. Behind him was a tree with a twisted trunk and bright green leaves. The balcony over looked the distant blue mountains, the lush forest, and the city; a breathtaking view.
But Lily did not see any of this.
Standing next to Aslan was Caspian. He looked at her like he had never looked at her before, as if he was seeing her for the first time. He was wearing white and gold as well and his crown gleamed in the sunlight. His eyes were dark and warm and they met hers as soon as he saw her.
Caspian could not believe his eyes, seeing Lily under a cascade of white petals, her presence smoothing him. Everyone was stunned by her beauty but not like him; he was overcome with emotions, emotions he had long suppressed. He smiled warmly as he watched her and Leland walk towards him. She was indescribable.
He felt a nervous wave and slight doubt that he could ever be worthy of her. But then he felt a strange warmth of strength and courage. He glanced at Aslan and the lion barely nodded his head to him.
Lily and Leland walked up the three stone steps, leading up to Aslan and Caspian. Leland kissed Lily again on the forehead before stepping down.
Lily looked up at Caspian and breathed a sigh, smiling. His smile grew.
She looked at Aslan and he looked at her kindly, his golden eyes calming her heart.
Everything became quiet and Aslan's deep voice was the only sound to be heard.
"My friends, we gather on this day not only to celebrate the freedom of Narnia, but a love that has lasted through its dark times. A love that has stood the test of hate and those who sought to destroy it."
Aslan spoke to Caspian and Lily, his voice like a soft rumble, "This journey will not be easy. There will be hardships for you both and you must face them together. For if one fails, so does the other."
He looked to Lily, "You must be his light when he is lost in darkness and a voice of truth when others try to deceive him. As Queen of Narnia, you must be gentle and good but also a pillar of strength that must not falter. You will face hardships of your own and you must not rely solely on yourself to find the answer. As you have learned to love, you must learn to trust."
Lily took a deep breath and nodded her head once slowly. On hearing the words "Queen of Narnia" she felt a wave of new strength, of grace, as she looked in to the Lion's eyes.
Aslan looked to Caspian, "You must fulfill the duties of a King but you must not forget your duties as a devoted companion. You must be her strength when she is weak and you must be there to comfort her when she is troubled. You must think of her as you would think of your people: she is devoted and relying on you to protect her and care for her. As you have learned to love, you must learn to be sure."
Caspian nodded once as well, his face solemn as he took Aslan's words to heart.
Aslan looked back to Lily, "Do you, Lily, promise to do these things and to stand by his side as Queen of Narnia?"
Lily met Caspian's eyes and a small smile appeared on her lips, "I do."
"Do you, King Caspian X, promise to do these things and to stand by her side as a devoted companion as well as King of Narnia?"
Caspian looked at her softly, "I do."
Aslan's voice rose, "Then on this day, I declare you as man and wife, King and Queen of Narnia."
The crowd roared but Caspian, unable to restrain himself, reached out and took Lily's face softly in his hands and met her lips abruptly.
Lily was surprised but all thoughts left her mind when his lips touched hers. As he kissed her softly, she felt an overwhelming emotion, one that had been quiet but was now rejoicing inside her and made her body sing.
The crowd and the crowds below in the city roared louder at this kiss, whistling and clapping, and shouting their names: "LONG LIVE KING CASPIAN! LONG LIVE QUEEN LILY!"
Caspian opened his eyes as he broke the kiss, seeing her beautiful face smiling back at him. Though he did not smile in return, Lily saw the deep love he had for her in his eyes.
They stood there for a long moment, staring at each other and could not hear the shouts of their people. Time stopped and they felt a new kind of freedom.
Caspian touched Lily's hair and her cheek, marveling at her.
She smiled beautifully at him and he kissed her passionately again. The crowd cheered louder and he wrapped his arms around her, still holding their kiss, and lifted her, spinning.
The crowd was nothing but smiles and when Caspian set Lily back on her feet, they broke away from each other and looked at Aslan.
Aslan smiled at them and then spoke to the Narnians, "But there are other things to be done on this day. Let the people of Telmar come forward."
Caspian and Lily stepped to the side behind Aslan. Caspian squeezed Lily's hand and glanced down at her.
Lily nodded; the night before, Aslan had spoken to her, Caspian, and the Pevensies about his plans for the Telmarines who did not wish to stay. But how would he do it?
A silence fell over the crowd as some Telmarines stepped forward. They had been in the castle during the ceremony and they looked nervous as they walked down the aisle towards the lion to meet their new fate. Viria was among them and she glanced up at Caspian and Lily, jealousy in her eyes. But, for once, she stayed silent.
Caspian's aunt, Prunaprismia
Aslan looked to Caspian and nodded to him. Caspian took a deep breath and stepped forward, dropping Lily's hand.
"Narnia belongs to the Narnians, just as it does to man," he said to all. "Any Telmarines who want to stay and live in peace are welcome to. But for any who wish, Aslan will return you to the home of our forefathers."
General Glozelle stepped forward and Lily recognized him as being the only general under Miraz who had a conscience.
"It's been generations since we left Telmar," he said tentatively.
"We're not referring to Telmar," Aslan said gently.
Glozelle lowered his head, not meeting Aslan's eyes.
"Your ancestors were seafaring 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. It is to that island I can return you. It is a good place for any who wish to make a new start."
General Glozelle looked down at Prunaprismia, who held her baby son close to her. There was fear in her eyes but he looked back up, meeting Aslan's eyes.
"I will go," he said.
Others spoke up, agreeing to go.
Aslan stepped closer to the tree, turning his face to it. He opened his mouth and breathed life into the tree.
The tree shook and the stone beneath it crumbled and the twisted trunk began to turn, becoming an open doorway. On the other side was the open air, a drop to the ground far below.
Lily looked at the tree, her dark brows furrowed and looked to Caspian. But he looked sure.
General Glozelle looked at Aslan with fear and confusion in his eyes.
Aslan looked at him gently, "Because you have spoken first, your future in that world shall be good."
General Glozelle seemed unsure at first but there was something in the lion's eyes that gave him courage and certainty that they would be safe. He stepped forward with Prunaprismia at his side.
They went through the opening and did not fall to the ground below but simply disappeared in thin air. Everyone gasped, some in amazement, others in fear. Caspian himself was surprised and looked through the opening.
"Where did they go?" someone shouted.
"They killed them!" another yelled.
"How do we know he is not leading us to our death?" said a Telmarine next to Viria.
"Sire," said Reepicheep, stepping forward, "If my example can be of any service, I will take eleven mice through with no delay."
Peter, standing next to his siblings with Leland, stepped forward. His light eyes were sad but he knew what had to be done.
Edmund and Lucy looked up in surprise.
Peter smiled halfheartedly, "come on. Our time's up. After all…"
He began walking up the stone steps and he looked up to Caspian and Lily.
He met Caspian's eyes, "we're not really needed here anymore."
Peter drew his sword and laid it gently in Caspian's hands. Peter looked at Caspian like a friend who was sad to say goodbye but with the grace of a king.
Caspian looked Peter in the eye, overcome with gratitude.
"I will look after it until you return."
"I'm afraid that's just it," Peter said. He looked at Aslan, who nodded to him. He looked back to answer Caspian's puzzled expression, "We're not coming back."
Lily gasped and Lucy's face fell as she stared at her brother and sister. Edmund stared at Aslan in disbelief.
"We're not?" Lucy asked with heartbreak in her voice.
"You two are," answered Susan as she looked to Lucy and Edmund. Then her brow furrowed as she looked at the lion, who was calmly watching. "At least, I think he means you two."
"But why?" Lucy asked Aslan. "Did they do something wrong?"
"Quit e the opposite, dear one," answered Aslan. "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."
Peter reached out and hugged Lucy's shoulders, "It's alright, Lu. It's not how I thought it would be…" he looked at Aslan. "But it's all right. One day you'll see too. Come on."
The Pevensies went up the steps to join Peter and Lily stepped forward. Susan looked at her and without saying a word, they both opened their arms and embraced each other.
Tears escaped Lily's eyes and Susan gently squeezed her.
"There are no words I can say that will express my gratitude for our friendship," Lily said after a long moment.
Susan looked at her and smiled, "You will be a wonderful queen…just don't be better than me."
They laughed and Lily wiped her tears. Lucy came up and hugged her too.
"I hope to see you soon," Lily said with a wide smile. She adored Lucy.
Lucy smiled, "soon."
Edmund smiled cleverly at Lily, "don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
Lily laughed and Caspian joined her at her side.
The Pevensies gathered near the door and with one last look at Aslan and the King and Queen, they vanished. And soon after them, the other Telmarines followed.
Peace was restored to Narnia and it was greater than it ever had been before. Homes were built throughout the land, both for animals and humans, and the Narnians multiplied to the thousands. Cair Paravel was restored, as Lily had promised to Susan and she finally saw the sea. And many things happened after that…but that is an entirely different story.