Chapter One of The Story
"Peter, High King of Narnia. Shut the Door," said Aslan softly, yet the command was clear and could not be gainsaid. Lucy squeezed her eyes closed as Peter followed the command, shutting off the last of Narnia from their sight and locking the Door with a golden key. She only opened them again when Aslan cried, "Come further in! Come further up!" and so she saw him dash away, and although there was warm daylight and laughter around them, she wept.
Lucy knew she would heed Aslan, would follow eventually, but for now she grieved. An arm wrapped around her shoulders, Peter's arm, and Lucy's tears flowed faster for she knew his would not come. She wept for both of them, for Peter had let tears fall in front of others only three times since they had lost their brother: sobbing brokenly when he came to Cambridge after being told the news, crying angrily when Susan abandoned her grief for a new joy he did not understand, and weeping with grieved happiness when he had finally relented to Aslan's call in their world.
So now Lucy wept because Peter would not, and he held her as he always had, the stoic comforter. "Lucy?" he asked softly. "Are you alright?"
Swallowing back the worst of the tears, Lucy said, "Narnia's gone, Peter. I'm sure Aslan would not try to stop me from crying, from missing it. Think of everything that's gone, dead now, frozen beyond that door."
"We saw it began and now we see it die," commented Professor Kirke near them as he placed his arm around the shoulders of a crying Polly.
"It is well to mourn," said Queen Fern the Last of Narnia, her usually strong voice quivering, "and I would not seek to stop you. But…where is the Queen Susan?"
It was then that those who were the friends of Narnia paused their mourning. Blinking, Peter looked into the distance, towards the bright sunlight and the green hills over which Aslan had bounded. "I…She's already left!" he exclaimed, wondering.
"Oh how can she?" cried Jill. "Doesn't she realize Narnia's gone?"
Eustace humphed at his friend's distress. "Jill, Susan stopped missing Narnia long ago. She found something better and is following Him now. And why aren't we, can I ask?"
For indeed, Susan had not hesitated in following Aslan, and now Peter and Lucy were running after their sister. It did not take long for Queen Fern, Eustace, Jill, Professor Kirke, and Polly to follow and catch up with the High King and Valiant Queen. It amazed them how fast they spun by the world, and yet could still see everything, every beautiful, brilliant detail. Cries of joy went up as they realized that they were inexplicably running through Narnia, for all that they had seen Narnia's end with their own eyes. They saw now, with wonder, the clear peaks of the Northern Mountains in the distance, and they ran through the fields of Whitewheat, and breathed in the fragrance of the sweet alyssum of the hills of Eveningfalls. They saw their home, thought lost, but here renewed, nay, here were the places of which Narnia had been but a faded copy, and they rejoiced to see it. But they did not stop their increasingly joyous race until they reached the Western Wood or, rather, the True Western Wood, of which the forest they remembered seemed only a shadow.
In the distance, beyond the trees, there was a Great Waterfall, rising to the sky, and on top there was a great, green wall, behind which one could see silver trees hanging with apples of gold. And Professor Kirke shouted when he saw it, for it was the Garden from which the Tree of Protection had come in the Beginning. Before the wall stood a crowd of people, that seemed to be waiting for them, anxious in manner and yet with calm joy that radiated from above.
Those still beneath the Great Waterfall could just make out faces of the people above them and beyond them, and Lucy cried out to see Reepicheep at the wondrous gates of purest gold, the Mouse standing before the rest of the gathered, the sun gleaming off the golden circlet and scarlet feather on his head. Nearby more familiar faces stood out, and there was King Caspian X and Queen Lilliandil, and Eustace and Jill exclaimed loudly and happily when they saw the two standing near them: King Edmund the Steadfast, son of Caspian, waved at them with one hand, his other arm around his wife Queen Glenna Witch-bane. Beyond them were faces that Peter and Lucy knew well from their reign, but though all these people waited, and the Garden beckoned, those in the Wood did not heed those old friends.
For before them, under the boughs of the True Western Wood, stood three figures and they were arrested by the sight of them. For surely the greatest and brightest of the figures was Aslan himself: golden, brilliant, eyes smiling with the greatest Love, beyond what any description could ever say. Next to him stood a man and a woman, arm in arm, both tall and lithe, with crowns on their dark heads and a radiant glow to their faces. They were neither young nor old, and their beauty was as like to Aslan but not ever reaching his resplendence.
The woman laughed and they realized it was Susan, but already more Susan than when she had left them moments and eons before. "Finally, you have come!" she cried out, smiling with utter joy. "I have so longed to go on, to the Garden and onward."
"But we have waited here for you: for we will go further up and further in together," said the man holding Susan's arm, and the eyes of the others were opened and they recognized him, his dark, bright eyes, and his warm smile, and his beloved face.
"Edmund!" cried out Peter and Lucy, and their feet moved in a blur as they raced towards him. They reached him as the same moment, and then he was in their arms, solid and warm and alive, so very alive. And then more arms joined them as Susan entered their embrace as well, and the Four Sovereigns of Narnia's Golden Age were reunited under Aslan's smile, their love for each other so bright that the others had to turn away from its force.
Moments and an eternity passed before Edmund was released by his siblings, so that their eyes could better drink in the sight of their brother, gone for so long and now more whole and well than he had ever been in life. There were no shadows in his eyes, no dark memories lurking in his mind, no hidden torments in his heart. He was Edmund, but more Edmund than before. Tears fell from the eyes of all four kings and queens, Peter and Lucy weeping hardest of all, but they were tears of utmost joy, with no sorrow even in memory. "But how?" choked out Peter. "You died. You've been dead, for so long."
Edmund smiled tenderly, and his smile was pure and delighted. "Oh Peter, I've been alive, so very alive. I'm more alive than I ever thought possible in the Shadowlands." He looked at Aslan. "There is no death, Peter. Not anymore. We were asleep for a while, but now it is time to live." Edmund held out his arms to his family. Behind him, the Wood merged with the Great Waterfall, and the hearts of all were turned towards that place, for Aslan was already there, beckoning them onward and upwards, further up, further in, towards Beauty and Brightness and Love.
And there was Peace as Edmund grinned and Aslan roared, welcoming them home.
For Shane (March 18, 1987-January 8, 2009). May your memory be eternal.