~Five Years Later~
It was a beautiful evening for a picnic. The sunset was a canvas; reds, pinks and blues perfectly combined. The food had been prepared that afternoon, spread out by the various families on a mess of picnic blankets that covered most of the lawn. The air was fresh and crisp as the night set in on True Narnia – it was time for some fun.
Caspian sighed as he finally allowed himself to relax. The whole picnic had been his idea, and he had been in the kitchen all afternoon trying to coordinate the food and drinks. It has turned out well, he congratulated himself. Susan waved him over to a picnic rug, smiling at him as he sat down. Little William clutched at Caspian’s hand, excited to see his father after a long day of absence.
“He’s been asking where you were all day,” Susan laughed. “It’s pretty clear that you’re the favourite.”
“I’ll tell him to take it easy on you,” Caspian winked. “You deserve a little bit of recognition every now and then.” Susan gave him a peck on the cheek. They both settled down to watch the festivities. Susan picked up a piece of bread from the basket.
“Yours?” she asked. The bread was delicious – light, fluffy and just crusty enough.
Caspian nodded. “I never thought bread baking would become a hobby, but here I am.”
Eustace and Jill were still distributing the food as the sun went down. “When did we get so many people living here?” Eustace asked. “It seemed like only yesterday that there were barely ten of us in our little group.” The stream of hungry people kept coming as Eustace worked to pack the baskets.
“Well, you know, we have had a few new additions to the families since then,” Jill pondered. “And we’re only adding to the number, so don’t you complain, mister!” Eustace smiled at his wife. He was still getting used to waking up to a pregnant Jill. Soon, he would wake up to a miniature Scrubb as well.
The sun set quickly, revealing the fairy lights strung around the trees and the castle. It was truly a sight to behold, almost as if little pieces of the sun had stayed with them. Lucy and Tumnus looked at each other, hugging and jumping up and down. “It worked! It worked!” she exclaimed. Tumnus beamed at the woman who was currently doing some kind of victory dance. I couldn’t have chosen anyone better, Tumnus thought with a sigh. “Come on Tumnus!” she called her husband. “We need to go switch on the ones on the balcony!”
“Who on earth came up with that idea?” Harriet snickered.
“I place my bet on Lucy,” Edmund whispered. “I think she loves her fairy lights more than she loves Tumnus!”
“Well, rest assured I love you more than fairy lights,” Harriet laughed, gazing down at her hand. The diamond twinkled in the faint light, reflecting the lights that twinkled above them.
Peter sat polishing swords on one of the picnic blankets, his eyes focused on the simple task. The cloth he was using slid down the sword with a strange type of accuracy that only came from experience. Caspian approached the man with a jovial grin on his face. “Don’t tell me you’re polishing swords for fun instead of socialising.”
“Well, my mother always told me there’s no rest for the wicked, and I’m quite sure I fall into that category,” Peter chuckled.
“I think you deserve some rest. Come sit with us and have a chat,” Caspian suggested. He started trying to pull Peter up off of the ground to no avail.
“Sit with you married folks and talk about kids and table settings? No thank you,” Peter refused.
“Come with me or I’ll spray you with water,” Caspian threatened. “I’ve found those gun-like water things Edmund made are very capable of the task.”
“You wouldn’t,” Peter said in disbelief.
“Try me.” Within seconds Caspian had seized a water gun from behind him and was soaking Peter to the bone. Peter spluttered as he was blasted by the jet of water, trying to move his hair out of his eyes.
“Okay, okay, I surrender. This noble bachelor can afford to spend a portion of his precious time with the married peasants,” Peter joked.
“I knew it would work,” Caspian smirked, winking at Susan as she sat behind him.
“She was in on this?” Peter spluttered.
“Of course!” Susan replied. “You seem to have forgotten that side of me, brother dearest.”
Peter felt another blast of water as little William shot him from the back. The little boy giggled as he ran away from his mother and uncle brandishing the water gun with astounding ferocity. Thankfully Edmund caught him before he could do too much harm. “What are you up to, little man?” Edmund cooed.
“Defeating you with your own weapon!” William screamed, shooting Edmund with the gun. Edmund ran for cover, reaching blindly for one of the other water guns. He would not be defeated by a three-year-old. Crouching down low, he approached the rampaging toddler from behind, hitting him with another blast of freezing cold water. Edmund Pevensie was the king of water fights, and he intended to keep his crown.
“Who are we fighting?” Harriet whispered, suddenly by his side. She wasn’t one to pass up a good water fight.
“The one and only William,” Edmund explained. “Do you have a gun?”
“Yep,” Harriet replied. “Let’s go get ’em.” The two moved out from behind the bush they were crouched behind, rolling along the lawn at an alarming speed.
“The target is in sight,” Edmund reported. “Aim, and fire in three…two…one!” The toddler was hit with twin blasts of water, a surprised look melting onto his chubby face.
“Got hi-” Harriet was cut off by a blast of water hitting her torso.
“That’s what you get for squirting my son!” Caspian cried, brandishing a gun of his own. He turned around wildly, squirting anyone that got in his way as he sprinted across the grass.
“How many of those did you make?” Harriet asked, shaking her gun slightly.
“I might’ve made one for everyone in the castle…” Edmund admitted, rubbing his neck.
“Boy, we are in deep trouble,” Harriet guffawed. The lawn had quickly turned into an impromptu battlefield, picnic baskets being abandoned in place of Edmund’s invention. Teams were formed and alliances made as guns were handed down to even the youngest Narnians.
“I think we might have started something a little too big for us,” Edmund laughed.
“Who says? Are you ready to defend our titles as king and queen of all water fights?” Harriet challenged.
“More than ready,” Edmund smiled.
The two took off in the direction of Eustace and Jill, who were the most exposed of the fighters. “Alright, sneak attacks are our best bet,” Edmund strategized. The two crept up behind Eustace and Jill, spraying them with some of their last water. Eustace turned around with a playful glint in his eyes.
“Run!” Harriet screamed. The two sprinted away from Eustace and Jill to no avail, suffering more cold water as they retreated. Edmund set his brow.
“Our next point of attack?” Edmund asked.
“Hmm, I say Caspian,” Harriet suggested. “I think he deserves payback.” Edmund nodded and pointed to where the oblivious man stood, still gloating at his victory over the two.
“Let’s do this one as a casual conversation. We chat a bit, then we shoot,” Edmund recommended. The couple walked towards Caspian, keeping their guns by their sides.
“William is so cute, isn’t he?” Harriet started. “Such a chubby face.”
Caspian let his guard down. “That’s my son alright. Takes after his father.” Edmund sprayed Caspian in the face before he could say another word.
“That’s paybackkkkkkk!” Harriet screamed as they ran away into the night.
At last, the Narnians flopped down on the grass to stargaze, soaked and happy as they watched the stars. It was truly a perfect night.
Caspian looked at the stars, then back at his friends. He really could feel no difference in the awe he felt for both things. He had grown immensely in True Narnia – here he had defeated all kinds of enemies, both physical and psychological. He had found himself, somewhere that wasn’t being a Telmarine or a Narnian, and he had found Susan. For the first time in his life, he was at rest.
Peter absorbed the moment with every fibre of his being. In True Narnia he had found a purpose and a passion, he had found a place to belong. After years of being shunted around between England, America and Narnia, he had finally gotten to the place he was meant to be. It was a good feeling.
Edmund lay under the stars with a feeling he had been awaiting for the longest time. Ever since his betrayal, Edmund had never felt truly forgiven, or truly loved. It had taken him years to overcome his demons and realise the truth – he was more loved than he could ever imagine, and was completely forgiven. And right in the moment, he could feel it surrounding him, filling his lungs.
Lucy studied the stars as she looked back at the first time she had seen stars in True Narnia. Even in Aslan’s Country, she had always found it hard to be brave. It’s been a journey, she thought with a smile. I’m sure my younger self would be proud of me. Lucy stared at the beautifully ferocious stars and had never related to them more.
Eustace admired the view with a strange sense of nostalgia. I’ve grown up, he thought. That child that last saw these stars in England is no longer who I am. I’m leading armies, I’m protecting my family now. The stars winked at Eustace in proud applause. The boy from Experiment House had become someone to look up to.
I used to be so afraid of the dark, thought Jill with a funny smile. I used to be so afraid of being alone in the dark. Something has changed for the better. In all her Narnian adventures, Jill had found light and companionship in abundance. The crying girl was gone.
Diggory and Polly looked over the mountains as the stars twinkled brightly above. It had seemed so long ago that they had seen the old version of this world formed, Aslan singing over the land they had learned to love. These years have been a lesson in belief, they thought.
Harriet took in the beautiful scenery with love materialising into a smile on her face. The world she had loved as a child had fulfilled every expectation, given her the wishes she had always kept close to her heart. True Narnia was the place where she had finally felt was hers.
Susan looked up at the glittering stars and laughed joyously, a soft twinkle of a laugh. True Narnia had filled the void in her life once and for all. This had been what she had needed, the fresh air, the green grass, the beautiful stars. England was not where she belonged. She belonged with fauns and fairies, beautiful sunsets, pristine beaches and the love of her family and friends. And here she was, fulfilling her dreams with the people she loved by her side, living a life of family, of community and most of all, a life with Aslan. Her heart had filled with so much love that it overflowed. In the end, she was glad for the unfortunate accident that had brought them to her. Aslan had always known what she needed. And all she needed, was right in front of her.
The author sat at her computer with a smile on her face. The characters waved to her from the page, old childhood friends and new muses. She had finally finished the dream, the idea, that she had created five years before. The worn Narnia books sat on a shelf down the hall, inspiring writers even decades later. The author stretched her back and smiled. One book down, hundreds to go.