Disclaimer: Edmund and Peter Pevensie and all the characters and situations in the Chronicles of Narnia belong to C. S. Lewis and not to me.
EPILOGUE: JOEL 2:25
Lady Cemil sat in the cool of her garden, under the shade of the trees. It had been almost a year, a full year, but she could not help thinking of when she had last seen the boy she had come to love as her own. Edrret had promised then to return to her one day, but how could he? Here in Tashbaan, in Calormen, he was a runaway slave. He and his brother both would be captured and punished and returned to their bonds if they ever came back.
Their great Lion had rescued them, she was sure of it. He had freed them and restored them and, even now, watched over them. Just as he did the Kings of Narnia.
How He had done it, she was not certain, but somehow he had brought those Kings, the High King Peter and King Edmund the Just, back from the dead. Though they had been torn and eaten by wild beasts, He had restored them and their kingdom. It was a great wonder.
She smiled faintly, knowing that, somehow, His restoration had not stopped there. She knew–
"Way! Way for the white barbarian Kings! Way! Way! Way!"
Lady Cemil lifted her head, looking through the bars of the garden gate into the street. She knew the Kings of Narnia were here in the city to visit the Tisroc (may he live forever), and now she could see their entourage. Men and Beasts and creatures she had never before seen, creatures with the bodies of men and the legs of goats, great lions with eagles' wings, and one especially fierce creature that was half horse and half man. There were so many in the party of Narnians, she could not see the Kings themselves, and she was surprised when they all came to a halt there in front of her own house. And then Ayla hurried, wide eyed, into the garden.
"O My Mistress," she panted, kneeling. "There is a . . . messenger who requests an audience with you."
She could not imagine who of the Kings' party would wish to see her, but she was curious. "Let him come in."
"Yes, My Mistress."
Ayla scrambled to her feet and disappeared. A moment later, the messenger came into the garden.
"Most noble Lady Cemil, I bring you greetings from the Kings of Narnia, High King Peter the Magnificent and King Edmund the Just."
It was the creature who was half man and half horse, stern and formidable and very, very large.
Pulse pounding, Lady Cemil caught her breath, but she managed a serene nod. "I thank you, Sir . . . ?"
The Centaur bowed his dark head. "General Oreius, gracious lady. I am come to ask if you would grant a brief audience to my Kings. They greatly desire to speak to you."
"To me?" She put one hand over her racing heart. "Surely you mean they wish to speak to the Tarkaan, my noble son."
"No, Lady Cemil, if you will pardon me, it is you they wish to see. May I bring them to you?"
She bowed her head, bewildered and a bit afraid. Why would the Kings of Narnia wish to speak to her?
"I would be most honored."
The Centaur bowed in return and hurried through the garden gate. A moment later, he was back, several Narnians with him.
"Lady Cemil," General Oreius said, "here are my Kings."
She made a deep curtsy and then strong, gentle hands were lifting her to her feet. She looked up, and her eyes immediately filled with tears.
"Edrret! Master Perren!" Suddenly afraid, she pulled away from them and took a step back. "You are– You are King Edmund and High King Peter."
The older boy, looking every bit the golden and magnificent High King she had been told of, merely smiled at her, blue eyes warm. But his brother, smiling too, took her into his arms, hugging her tightly, kissing her forehead.
"I told you I would be back."
She put one hand to his cheek. "Edrret." Her face grew hot, and she immediately pulled away from him, head bowed. "Forgive me. King Edmund."
"No," he said, not letting her go. "Just Edmund. Please."
She looked up at him and saw there were tears in his eyes, too. With a low cry that was part laugh and part sob, she hugged him close to her, pressing kisses to his hair and to his face.
"How can it be, child? How can it be that you and your brother are the Kings of Narnia, and how is it that you were slaves here in Tashbaan?"
"We were betrayed by our enemies, Noble Lady," the High King said. "But what they meant for evil, Aslan meant for good. If we hadn't come here, if we had stayed at Cair Paravel, then we would not have been able to save our kingdom and our people. We would never have known there was a cure for the plague that was unleashed against us until after we had already been forced to surrender."
His brother smiled. "And now we have had everything that was lost restored to us."
He touched the pendant that hung around his neck, small and golden, a Lion's head on one side and some sort of runes carved into the other, and Lady Cemil realized his brother wore one just like it. It must be something sacred to them both, something from Aslan Himself.
She smiled. "And you made it safely to your home and family. Then He has heard my prayers for you." She turned to the High King. "For both of you."
"He sent us to you, Lady," he replied. "To let you know that, truly, He has heard you."
He nodded at his brother, and the younger boy reached into the pouch that hung at his belt and took out another pendant, one that was much like the ones they both wore, though this one looked freshly minted.
"Would you like to know what it says?" he asked.
She nodded, feeling almost shy around these two who were mere boys and yet Aslan's Kings.
The younger King traced his fingers over the runes. "It says, 'His and not my own.'" He looked up at her, dark eyes gleaming. "Would you care to have this one?"
"You– you brought this for me, Edr– King Edmund?"
"If you are pleased to have it, Lady, as a remembrance."
She once more touched his cheek. Dearest Edrret.
"Yes, a remembrance." She ducked her head and he fastened the pendant around her neck, and then she smiled. "A remembrance of you and of the Lion you told me of and all He has done for me."
The younger boy turned his head a little to one side, a sweet touch of a smile on his lips. "You look happy, Lady. You sound much happier than I ever remember from before."
"I have met the Lion." She traced her fingers over her new pendant, smiling through sudden tears. "I told Him all I had done, and He said He knew it already and wanted me still."
He nodded, and it was obvious he knew exactly what her meeting with Aslan had been like.
"And then–" She caught a steadying breath. "As you said, He restored what I thought never to have. My son, the mighty Tarkaan, married again some months ago. The girl, Sadei, is one he has known since they both were children, one who has long loved him. Once his faithless Tarkheena was gone, it was if he could see clearly again, and he realized Sadei was everything his first wife was not and well worth his love." All her joy bubbled up into a laugh. "They will have a child come winter, and I will again have a little one to dote upon." She looked fondly on the younger King. "One who, I hope, will not be so eager to leave me."
He hugged her once more. "I owe you more than I can ever repay, Lady. And I did not truly want to leave you."
"I know. And I realize now why you could not stay. I only wish you could have come back sooner. I have wondered for a very long time what had become of you." She smiled at the High King. "Of you both."
The older boy gave her a wry smile. "Forgive us taking so long, Lady Cemil, but we had to make certain it was safe for us to return. Your Tisroc assures us now that he was unaware of the plot his son, the late Prince Shahrivar, had hatched against us and that he wishes nothing but amity between Calormen and Narnia."
That so-familiar smirk was on his brother's face. "And there were those in our own court who made it quite clear that our return to Tashbaan without that assurance and without a full and very well-armed escort would not be allowed."
The formidable Centaur General made a slight bow and, apart from a certain archness in his expression, said nothing.
"Forgive us, Noble Lady," the High King said after a moment. "But we are due at the palace of your Tisroc and must not keep him waiting."
The younger King smiled. "Our friend Darreth, Duke Darreth now, will be accompanying us. He is representing Terebinthia, the Seven Isles and the Lone Islands in their alliance with Narnia. It seems we are not the only ones Aslan has restored."
Lady Cemil nodded. "I am content just knowing that you are safe and well where you are and that you are under the protection of the Lion Himself. It is well, my young one. It is well."
The High King took her hand and touched it with a courtly kiss. "Know, Gracious Lady, that you are always welcome at Cair Paravel and anywhere we hold power. We can never repay your kindnesses to us both."
His brother, and she could still hardly believe the boy she had once bought to serve as her page was truly King Edmund the Just of Narnia, hugged her one last time.
"When we have finished with the Tisroc, if you like, Lady, perhaps we could come back and spend a little more time with you before we return to Narnia."
She glanced at the Centaur, still rather taken aback, and then back at the younger King. "If you are able, and if your General does not object, that would please me very much. And then you can both tell me more about the Lion and all He has done."
Author's Note: And that, Gentle Reader, is the end of the tale. Thanks to LadyAlambielKnightOfNarnia for help in brainstorming. Thanks to all of you for sticking with this long and drawn out mess of a story. I'm rather sad to see it's over, but maybe now I can get caught up on my real work.
I would be more than gratified to know what you think.