-A Treasured Past-
Disclaimer: I do not own Narnia, or her characters. All herein belongs to CS Lewis, and the CS Lewis estate.
Author's N: My many thanks to each of my dear readers for your reviews; they are muchly appreciated! I hope you enjoy this next instalment!
Sundown Temple: Summer Solstice, 1405
Rain splatters on the windows of the temple, as Lu and I hurry further inside. My heart is pounding, but for now all I care about is keeping my sister safe. I have to confess, I am somewhat shocked at how fast Her people have gathered. Her people. What a strange phrase. Once… they would have been our people. I sigh softly, shaking my head to rid myself of those thoughts. It does me no good to think of the past. A rustle behind me catches my interest, and I turn to see Lucy gathering her sword – an old thing fashioned from one we found here, in the temple – and what is left of her cordial, though much was used back when we were at Cair Paravel. In all honesty, I'm no longer sure why she still keeps it about her – I've long since lost faith in the powers of magic.
Lucy's eyes are scared, but there is a strange calm in them as she reaches my side. "What do we do?" she whispers softly. "We cannot hold them all off by ourselves, and who knows if they will even acknowledge this place as sanctuary?" I swallow hard – she does have a fair point. Part of me wants to hide here with her, to protect her, but I know that is selfish. Being a coward will not get me anywhere; I have learned that lesson too well in the past. If I had not been such a coward all that time ago, perhaps Peter would still be alive, and perhaps Susan would not have just died by my blade. With a slow breath, I turn, meeting Lucy's eyes. She is taller now than she was when this all began – now we are almost at the same height, and there is a quiet strength about my sister that only comes from terrible loss. I wish I could be more articulate, and tell her how proud I am, how honoured I am to have her as my sibling… but emotion has never been something I have been particularly good at. I have gotten better – I have had to – but even so, I am nowhere near as articulate as Peter once was.
"We trust in Aslan." I murmur. "And you trust in me." I pause, glancing up, out of the window to see Susan's army advancing on us. "Whatever you do, Lu, don't come out." Lucy frowns in confusion, before her eyes widen in understanding. She frantically shakes her head, but I press a slight finger to her lips. "No. Please, Lu. Listen to me. You're all that's left of Narnia, for me. You're the last family I have left."
"But so are you for me," She protests, and I sigh. "I'm not a wilting child anymore, Edmund. I've fought in battles before, and I've lost one brother and a sister – do not make me loose another without being able to be there to attempt to defend him." She glares at me, righteous fury in her eyes. "If we do this, Edmund, we do it together."
I hesitate briefly; at least if she were hiding, one of us could be saved. "But Lu…"
"Together, Ed." She states. "Or not at all." I stare at her, wondering whether this strong girl has come from, where my young sister went. Of course, I know the answer; but even so, it is somewhat heart-breaking to see Lucy so hardened. However, if I try to order her not to follow, the likelihood is she would anyway. After all, it's what I would've done to Peter, and Lucy is not so very different from me.
"Alright, Luce." I state, at last. "Together." I pause, pulling my sword up, tight against my body. "For Aslan?"
She shakes her head, eyes meeting mine even as her features soften, apparently seeing the slightly confused look I give her. "For Peter." She states, and I nod, a spark of sadness lighting its way in my chest, the way it always does at the sound of his name. "For Narnia."
"For Peter." I repeat. "And for Narnia."
Aslan save us.
Without his help, I truly do not know how Edmund and I will make it through this battle. Whatever lies Susan has told the remaining Narnians – although, of course, we mustn't call them that now – seems to have worked, for they truly hate us, as Edmund found out the day he went to Cair Paravel to try and talk to Susan. I have to admit, I am afraid. So much more afraid now than ever before. "Aslan," I murmur, barely aware that the words are falling from my lips even as Edmund and I descend the steps of the temple to face our foe. "Keep us safe in Your Paws, guide us to Your grace, and keep us in Your sight." The motto becomes a mantra, as I begin to repeat the words in a whisper, with Edmund soon taking them up next to me, murmuring them softly as though they were a prayer. Perhaps, to us, they are.
I seek out my remaining brother's hand, and he squeezes mine back gently, "Courage, Lu." He whispers, though I can hear the uncertainty in his own voice. How can we fight this enemy, I wonder, if we have no faith in ourselves? She has all but torn us apart, ruined us and disgraced us… and now, we are very nearly nothing. We are at the oaken door now, and my breath stills. Edmund turns to face me, face unreadable, but eyes burning fire. He is ready, but I fear I am not. "Courage, Lucy." He repeats, and I manage a somewhat shaky smile for him. Courage. Such a simple word, but oh, so very complicated in its meaning.
I lift my sword wordlessly, and nod. I cannot speak. Aslan save us. Aslan protect us. Watch over Your chosen. Edmund opens the door, and takes a breath of chilled air. Already, from here, we can hear the footsteps of the army; the clanging of metal armour brushing metal armour. He takes a deep breath, eyes wincing in the rain that is pelting down on us. "Armies of Narnia!" he shouts, his voice quivering just a little. I stare at him; what on earth is he doing? "It is not too late! Your Queen has betrayed you, and we are the Chosen of the Lion Himself! You need not turn this to war. Allow us home, and there need not be more deaths."
A few bellows of laughter from the army, and my cheeks flush in shame. What on earth is my brother playing at? I grab at his shoulder. "Edmund," I whisper, urgently. "Ed, they won't listen. You can't reason with them!" Edmund's eyes turn to me, and for a moment he looks saddened, and far older than his years – and then, the moment is gone, and there is the war-hardened warrior I know so well; the one who hardened his heart long before Peter- long before things went so bad.
"You're right Lu." He states softly, but firmly. "It was worth giving them a shot though." He swallows hard, and raises his sword, adjusting his stance, glancing at me. "We might not make it out of this," he warns softly. "But I'll not be taken and captured."
"Me neither." I assured him. "Besides which, without you, and Peter-" I dare not mention Susan's name, "there's nothing left for me here. I'd rather die in battle, fighting for my freedom." Edmund smiles quickly, nodding.
"For Narnia, and For Peter!" he turns suddenly, and rushes towards the army. I am frozen, despite wanting so to move, as I watch my remaining brother, my rock, charge into the army – every bit the Just King he was once made. I am slow to act, but I am already running forward myself; now filled with a familiar rushing of terror that comes before blades clash. As I spin to meet a blade on my right, I hear a cry of pain from somewhere that seems so very far away, but so very familiar at the same time, and I turn in horror. There, in the dirt and grime, my older brother falls to his knees, winded after a strike somewhere to his body. Before I can cry out a warning, a soldier from behind slashes his sword through Edmund's gut, tearing my brother's body apart. The sword recedes, and my world begins to blacken as I watch Edmund fall to the ground, the life leaving him.
Cair Paravel: 1403, Autumn-tide
"Susan! Susan, oh Susan, come quickly!" Running through the halls of Cair Paravel, feet lightly clothed in cotton slippers, I reached the entrance of my sister's chambers, knocking lightly before entering. Cair Paravel still held many mysteries for my family and me, but we were beginning to learn the more important routes. Oreius had even drawn up a map for us, which Edmund and Peter had poured over profusely when we first came here. Startling a laugh out of my sister, who was busy doing her hair, I smiled, toing over to her bed, and sitting lightly down on the edge, out of breath. Susan raised an eyebrow at me, rolling her eyes.
"Really, Lu, whatever can be so important that you must rush in like a drunken elephant?" She asked, though there was a smile on her face as she spoke. I laughed softly, not minding her words. Since coming here to Narnia, things between us had vastly changed. Gone was the worried features of a sister I had come to recognise, replaced by this version of Susan that we had not seen since before the war times. Peter, too, had changed – though the weight of being High King hung about him a little, he was already more sure of himself, more certain, and somehow… freer. Even Edmund was not quite as he had once been. We all had changed; and somewhat for the better. We spoke softer to each other, exchanged less words of crassness, and instead opted for honesty and kindness. I often wondered what my mother, back in England, would have thought of us if she could see us as we were now.
Shaking these dire thoughts from mind, I smiled at Susan, rolling my eyes playfully. "Firstly, I very much doubt a drunken elephant would get through your door, let alone be able to sit on your bed. For being a Queen, dear sister, you speak such nonsense at times." My sister rolled her eyes, turning to give me that one-eyebrow raised look she had so perfected. I giggled, shaking my head. "Besides, you'll not be cross when I finally tell you what I came here to say," I grinned. "The royals from Galma have arrived!"
At once, Susan was in a flurry, standing up and quickly moving about, muttering to herself. Sharply she turned to me. "Lu, where are the boys?" she asked with a frown. I hesitated, and my sister narrowed her eyes. "Lucy… please, please tell me that they are both at least dressed appropriately and are ready to receive our guests?"
"Well, technically-" I began, but Susan quickly interrupted.
"Oh, for the love of Aslan!" She sighed, shaking her head. "Well, where are they?"
"I don't know," I confessed. "I think they meant to visit the new pups that the Western bat clan had last week. Edmund seemed very eager, and I think Peter wanted a break from the castle." I faltered as Susan's eyes turned to mine. "They went with Oreius," I blurted. It wasn't strictly true, but they had gone with Oreius' knowing. Hopefully Susan would never find out they went without an escort. Why she was so protective, I wish I could know. Jadis was defeated; the Kingdom was happy, but it seemed that Susan was still a little wary – perhaps worried that the dream of Narnia would end, and we would find ourselves dull children in a warring England once more. I hesitated. "Susan, you know they will be safe. What could harm them?"
Susan sighed, sitting down, shaking her head as she began to brush her hair. "That's the issue, Luce." She said quietly. "We don't know. Really, we still don't know much of anything about Narnia. We don't know who our enemies are, we don't know Narnia's past, and we don't even know how to run this country!"
"Susan!" I reached over, putting a hand on her shoulder. "You must have faith. Aslan will guide us, and until he does, we have Oreius to guide us." Susan nodded, thoughtful for a moment, then gave me a slightly hesitant smile, drawing her hand out and placing it over mine, squeezing softly.
"You are right," she conceded. "I'm wrong to worry so. Aslan will guide us." She paused, with a smile. "Now! We must get ready for the Galmain court! They were not supposed to arrive for three more days, I think, but never mind." She paused, whirling to move to the door, opening it and catching the attention of one of the guards; a blue-tit by the name of Shira. "Shira," She said softly, as the bird alighted upon her shoulder. "Find the Kings, if you please. Tell them that the Galmain court has arrived early, and awaits their presence, as do we. Tell them they must not delay any further!" The bird twittered, and sped off.
I smiled, shaking my head. "Really, Su, you ought not to worry so much."
Susan rolled her eyes. "I know, I know. Now you should go and change into a more suitable gown, Lu. Hurry now, for goodness knows where the boys are, and at least some of us should be here to welcome the Galmain court." I nodded, reaching up to hug my sister briefly before scurrying off to my own room, curious as to where my brothers had gotten, for the visit to the Western Woods should not have taken nearly so long as it had thus far.
The Western Woods: 1403
"Ed, to your right!"
I shouted the command even as I stepped sideways, desperately trying to remember my training as they infiltrated us. Like a mist swept in from the sea, they had come from seemingly nowhere; the originally safe passage home from the Beaver's Dam was now a death trap; Edmund and I whirling about, desperately trying to fight off men who were older, more advanced in their skills than us, and obviously with some sort of a plan. Sweat was pouring down my face despite the cold of the day, and a glance towards my brother told me he was not faring too much better. If more kept coming, we would be taken. I still wasn't quite sure why we hadn't been – or even what their plan was. I did not recognise these men, but then, we still hadn't personally met the diplomatics from other countries, yet. We had started to, but we were still very much strangers to this land.
With a yelp, I started back to the present, cursing as I felt a blade slash at my elbow, hearing Edmund's alarmed cry of my name behind me. I could not spare him a glance though, for another man was soon attempting to cut me down, his fighting ways reminding me uncomfortably of a mad-man with no plan.
On and on it went, the battle becoming a blur – as battles often do, though the screams of men often stay long after they are dead. I fought as I had been taught – though admittedly with a little more mania than probably appropriate. Everything around me faded, and I gave into the battle, intent on simply getting through this. I could not say quite how long I had been fighting for, when I heard a low gasp of pain and a choking of my name; my senses returning to me as I suddenly recognised Edmund's voice.
I turned; eyes wide and wild, to see my brother keeling over, a gash of blood trailing across his lower stomach, his eyes on mine as he struggled to stay above the ground. "Edmund!" I shouted his name in horror, battling to get closer to him, seemingly growing further away, and further still. Blind in my panic, I did not see the man standing some way away, watching us with cool eyes. I did not hear the low whistle he gave, or see the bird that soared over us, or the way that the men fighting us seemed to glance up, as though looking for a sign.
I did, however, realise after a moment that they were backing away from us; inexplicably lowering their swords, and retreating. If I had had more strength, I like to think I might have gone after them – but at that time, my only thought was for my brother. I had seen him fall, but I prayed I had not seen him die. Eventually spotting Edmund through the soldiers, I hastened to his side, panting and shaking slightly from the exhilaration of what we had just been through. Kneeling at his side, I pulled him into my arms, pulling up his shirt to study the wound, barely aware now of the retreating enemy. Edmund gave me a shaky, unsteady smile, though his face was whiter than I'd seen it in a while. I told myself, firmly, that this was no worse than Beruna (for there, indeed, he'd nearly died), and that he would survive, with Lucy's cordial.
"What… happened?" he gasped out. "Why did they… l-leave?"
"I don't know," I admitted. "I don't understand it, either. But thank Aslan they did." I paused, biting my lip. "Ed, I don't know how we're going to get back to the Cair; you can't walk like this."
"Yes I can," he protested. "Just… give me a moment. I'll be fine." Which of us he was trying to convince, I wasn't quite sure. But either way, it wasn't working. I frowned at him, and Edmund sighed. "Please, Peter. Let's just get back to the girls; make sure they're alright."
My eyes widened a little. "You think it was a distraction?" He shrugged, exhausted.
"I don't know. I hope not."
I shuddered, about to open my mouth when an alarmed chirrup caught my attention. Squinting into the evening sun, I caught sight of Shira, one of the blue-tits that Susan often used to carry messages. Luckily for her, the blue-tits seemed to adore her, and were quite happy to play messenger. I swallowed, holding Edmund a little closer as I watched the animal perch atop a branch nearby. "Greetings, Shira. Do you bring news from our sisters?" I asked. The blue-tit cocked her head; the universally agreed manner in which such a creature acknowledged us.
"Indeed, sire," She stated in a quivery little voice. "Your most gracious Queen Sister sends me to inform both you and your noble brother that the Galmain court has arrived a few days early, and that you and the Just King should hasten to Cair Paravel, if it please you both." I sighed, about to say something, when I heard Edmund let out a slight curse. Looking down on him, I managed a slight smile. Even despite the circumstances, it was amusing that he found such things so awful.
"You know, Ed, one would think you'd been handed a sentence, rather than news of guests." He pulled a face, and I reached over, gently ruffling his hair. "It won't be all bad."
"I know," he conceded. "But it's still strange, and…" he glanced at Shira, falling silent. I frowned at the sudden look in his eyes, recognising the regret for what it was. Holding back a sigh, I nodded.
"I understand," I assured. I paused, glancing over at Shira. "Shira, I wonder, would you be so kind as to send a message back to the Cair, asking for Phillip-" I began, but was quickly interrupted by Edmund, talking gruffly against my sleeve.
"I can walk," he protested. I frowned, arching an eyebrow.
"Ed, you can barely move. You certainly can't walk back to the Cair." I turned to Shira. "Please, if you could, it would be most appreciated." Shira glanced at Edmund, then fluffed her wings a little, and nodded.
"Of course, your majesty," She trilled once, then took to the air. Edmund groaned, sighing softly.
"Wonderful. Susan will be so happy," He said, voice dripping in sarcasm. I chuckled softly, still keeping an arm about him, still a little wary in case our attackers returned.
"I don't she'll be angry about our lateness so much as your injury," I confessed with a sigh a shake of my head. "Lucky for Lu and her cordial. Though perhaps we should start aiming for one of us only needing it once a year – don't you worry what'll happen if it ever runs out?"
Edmund managed a weak smile, though it was accompanied by a wince. "As I keep telling you all, again and again, if it's me that's injured, just let me heal naturally."
"We would," I conceded. "If not for the fact that usually you are too injured to be able to heal naturally. Lu doesn't use the cordial without cause, Ed. You know that." My brother sighed, and turned his head away from me slightly. I frowned, sensing something off about his reaction. "Edmund?" I prompted, softly.
"It's nothing Pete. Just that… well…" He shook his head, dismissing the words he'd been about to say. "No. Never-mind." I sighed softly.
"Alright, Ed. But if you want to talk-"
"I know who to come to." He finished softly, turning back to me and managing a smile. "I know, Pete." He winced as he attempted to sit up properly, then blew out a breath of frustration. "Damn it… where on earth is Phillip?" I grinned a little at my brother's impatience.
"He'll be here soon, Ed. You know what Phillip is like; he'll be racing here, if I know him." My brother rolled his eyes, a slight smile at the edge of his lips. Despite what he often tried to deny, he and the Horse were closer than one might think. In the space of a few years, they had become all but brothers, and I knew that I owed the Horse many a time over for my brother's life.
"Actually, I rather think he'll be more irked that I've managed to get injured." With a sigh, Edmund forced himself into a sitting position, despite me attempting to push him back down. "Let off, Peter. I'm not useless. I'd rather be sitting than laying down, anyway." He sighed softly. "How angry do you think Susan will be?" I frowned, glancing down at him. Even after these last few years of ruling, there were still times when Edmund surprised me. Now was one of them. He was honestly, truly bothered about how our sister might react, and that was… well, not exactly new, but strange, certainly. Rather nice, though.
I smiled, reassuringly. "Honestly, Ed. She'll probably pretend to be angry, but instead she'll actually be just worried about you. I doubt there'll be any real anger." None of us had been really angry with each other – not for some years, not since the defeat of the White Witch, when we'd all come so very close to losing one another. After such battles, a person learns just how important people – especially family –
truly are. It made for a tighter knit family, and a more peaceful one. Part of me wondered whatever mother would think of us, if she saw us now.
"I hope you're right." Murmured the Just King, watching the horizon keenly for the appearance of his friend, eyes brightening as a neigh rang out, and in the very distance, a foggy image of Phillip, along with several of the army, came galloping towards us.
With a soft chuckle, I reached a hand up, squeezing Edmund's shoulder. "You know me, brother. I am always right."
Author's N: Comments, criticisms, and thoughts are always appreciated, as always.