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Nor Love So Sweet

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I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.
~C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

---

There was once in the land of Narnia a boy named Prince Rilian. He was a bright young boy, with fair hair and the blood of stars in his veins and a heart that loved his father dearly. His father, Caspian the Tenth, Caspian the Seafarer, was a great king, and someday, the young prince was sure, he would be just like his father.

Prince Rilian's first memory was of being a very little boy and sitting on his father's lap, warm in the firelight and wide-eyed as a Faun performed for their Majesties a tale of long-ago Narnia and the four great Kings and Queens from another world. In later years Rilian would still remember how the story made him feel. The High King Peter filled him with awe, Queen Susan with admiration, King Edmund with respect -- but for young Queen Lucy the Valiant, the boy Rilian felt inexpressible joy.

That night, after his mother had pressed a loving kiss to his forehead and his father had tucked him snugly in bed, young Prince Rilian said sleepily, "I should very much like to have met them, Father."

King Caspian, who understood what his son was feeling better than the little boy yet could, sat on the edge of the bed and took Rilian's small hand in his, saying, "And I have."

If King Caspian explained these peculiar words, Rilian could not later recall. The specific memory of Caspian's explanation did not matter; what mattered was the knowledge Rilian carried with him throughout his childhood, that his father had overthrown his evil uncle Miraz with help from the four Kings and Queens, that his father had voyaged to the end of the world and that he had done so with King Edmund and Queen Lucy and their noble cousin Eustace. Often when he was young and could not sleep, Rilian slipped through his bedroom window, clambered down the side of the castle wall, and sat watching the moon rise out over the calm wine-dark Sea. He sometimes imagined the path of silver moonlight ran directly from his feet all the way to Aslan's Country, and that if only he could close his eyes and give himself over entirely to faith and to longing, he might walk that path of moonlight until he found a country full of railways and strange clothing and dumb beasts. There he might also find Queen Lucy, as young as she ever was and laughing in delight to see him. I am Rilian, son of Caspian, he would say, perfectly gallant, and her smile would not be for his father but for him.

Rilian never did try walking the path of moonlight. He was a good swimmer but he did not have the faith to test that path nor the strength to swim a thousand leagues.

---

The day Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace returned from Narnia to their own world, Lucy felt the most terrible mixture of joy and immeasurable sadness.

"Buck up, Lu," Edmund said quietly over their supper that night. Aunt Alberta had seen how peculiar Lucy was feeling, and after recommending all sorts of things like fresh air and exercise and a new sort of underwear, she had allowed Lucy and Edmund to eat in Lucy's room. After a few minutes Eustace had crept upstairs too and had even brought along a bit of custard, which did not really make Lucy feel any better, nor any worse, because she was not sure how she felt. She appreciated the gesture nonetheless.

"I'll be all right," she told Edmund. "Really I will. It just seems so awful, not being able to go back."

"You heard Aslan," Edmund said after a moment. "It's not goodbye forever, not to him. Just to Narnia."

"Oh, I know, but I'm still going to miss it," Lucy said. "Dear Caspian, and all the sailors, and the air, and the Talking Beasts..."

"I think -- I think I'll miss Reep the most," Eustace offered, which was his way of saying sorry, and honest besides.

Lucy smiled at that, and might have even thrown her arms around him were it not for the table between them and the spoonful of custard wobbling in Eustace's grasp. She said, "He never said you couldn't go back, Eustace. Think of it! You might see Narnia again."

Eustace brightened. "I jolly well might!"

"If you do," Lucy said, very earnestly, "you must tell me everything."

---

Rilian's mother the Queen Tarielle died when Rilian was sixteen. It broke his heart, and as is often the case, a thing broken is greatly weakened.

He no longer imagined that one day King Edmund and Queen Lucy and their noble cousin Eustace might return to Narnia from their own world: his mother's hour of need had come and no one had been there to aid her. His father fell into sorrow but not into anger and Rilian could not understand. Again and again he saw in his mind's eye the cursed green serpent that had taken his mother's life; he thought of it gliding away into thick bushes where he could not reach it, and he thought of his mother's helpless face as she grew steadily more pale and could speak no final words. It came to Rilian that there was precious little justice in the world, for how else could the good Queen's death be explained? He thought of the White Witch and the Hundred-Year Winter, and he wondered why Aslan had stayed his return for so long, and why he had not summoned the four Kings and Queens sooner. He thought of his own grandfather, usurped by Caspian's uncle Miraz, and of the suffering the Talking Beasts had undergone in hiding. And as Prince Rilian thought these things another more terrible thought came into his head: perhaps the great Aslan sometimes abandoned his subjects. Perhaps it was all a dreadful game. Rilian thought this, and could not shake it from his mind, and he wept.

Every day for a month he rode to the north of Narnia to seek the murderous serpent, and the vengeance in his heart was terrible.

---

When the fall term was over, Lucy went home to her parents' house in Finchley for the Christmas holidays. Peter wouldn't be turning up until Christmas Eve, because he was busy helping the Professor with his research, but Edmund and Susan were both home on the same day as Lucy.

Susan had friends in other parts of London who would be throwing the most wonderful Christmas parties. "You'd like them very much, Lucy," she assured her sister on their first evening back. The two girls were sharing a room. Sometime in the years since the war their mother had hung a full-length mirror on the inside of the wardrobe door, and Susan thought it made a delightful looking-glass for trying on all the dresses she might wear to the parties. "Which do you like best, Lucy, the green or the blue?"

"The green," Lucy said decidedly. She was lying on her bed with her chin in her hands and her stocking feet in the air, and she had suddenly remembered being in the house of the magician on the island of the Dufflepuds, jealous of Susan's beauty. Her sister was beautiful, growing into the lady Lucy remembered from their days as Queens. "The first Narnian dress you ever wore was green."

"Was it?" Susan murmured. "No, I think I'd rather the blue."

Lucy's heart sank, although she couldn't say why.

The Christmas party held by Susan's friends was very nice, but Lucy rather wished Susan hadn't brought her along. It was all very well for Edmund, who waved serious-looking books at Susan and shut himself up in his room with only a single pitying glance at Lucy; Susan didn't mind him not going, as she found it far more fun to fuss with Lucy's hair and lipstick, forcing her to wear curlers for most of the day. Lucy didn't mind the curlers very much, since they made her hair bob just as their mother's did, but the party itself was bothersome. Susan introduced Lucy to all sorts of sophisticated-looking people Susan's own age; Lucy smiled and shook hands and felt very young and not at all Queenly. Her nylons itched and she smeared her lipstick. She didn't know the steps to any of the dances.

She wished she might dance with Mr. Tumnus, who had known all sorts of clever dance steps that always made her laugh with delight. She watched Susan dancing with a young man with fair hair and she thought of Caspian. She had never danced with him, neither battles nor ship decks being suitable for dancing, but he must have been good at it. Lucy thought of the Tarkaans and Lords of Archenland who had danced with her at midnight parties, a warm hand in hers and a warm hand at her waist, and she wished she might dance with someone with Caspian's fair hair and Caspian's smile.

On Boxing Day snow came down like sifting sugar and Lucy begged her brothers and sister to come outside and have a proper snowball fight. Peter laughed. "I don't think there's enough snow for it, Lu." Susan laughed too. "Aren't you a bit too old for snowball fights?" Edmund saw the look beginning on Lucy's face and he turned to the other two and said, "Come on, it will be just like winter in Narnia." Peter laughed again and said that it was all very well but it just wouldn't be the same. Susan didn't laugh this time but she did say she couldn't imagine why they all had to keep bringing up Narnia like this, so Edmund and Lucy put on hats and scarves and walked out alone to Victoria Park. Two wasn't enough for a snowball fight so they sat together on a bench and watched all the people who were outside enjoying Boxing Day and the fine weather.

"Do you still --" Lucy started, and Edmund said, "Yes, more than ever," and they were quiet for a long while.

"I'm sure happiness is much nicer once you've been sad first and can appreciate it," Lucy said finally. Edmund nodded.

Neither of them said they were quite ready for the sadness to be over and the happiness to begin.

---

Rilian rode always to the north of Narnia, and always he found nothing. His horse, a fine young stallion called Coalblack, ate clover and drank from sweet streams. Rilian tried not to begrudge his good mount his contentment. He fought his way through thickets, always with his sword drawn, always watching the ground and the trees for a flash of poisonous green-- but always nothing.

Then one day, in the very glade in which his mother was slain, Rilian saw a vision.

She was the most beautiful thing he had ever beheld. She was tall, and in her eyes was such wisdom that Rilian could hardly breathe. She shone. Her garment was thin and green as emeralds. That first day, she did not see him, but merely moved through the glade, drinking from the fountain with one cupped ivory hand. Each gesture was by itself perfect, and together the lady was beyond perfection. Rilian felt dizzy and transported.

When she vanished, the only thought in his head was to come again the next day at the same hour in the hopes of seeing her again.

She was there the following day, and Rilian had never felt so grateful for anything in his life. Every day after, he returned to the glade. Food lost its taste. All colors save the green of her mantle lost their brilliance of hue. He felt feverish when he was apart from her, as though he had a sickness only she might cure, and he felt feverish when he looked upon her, but this feverishness was wonderful for it made him forget everything in the world but her.

The Lord Drinian, King Caspian's friend and the captain of his great voyage, saw the fever in Prince Rilian's eyes. Rilian, not so far gone that he had forgotten the love he held for his father's friend, saw no reason to hide this new cause for his rides to the north of Narnia, so at the end of the week Rilian and Drinian rode together and looked upon the lady. That was the first time she met Rilian's eyes, although he knew she had been aware of his presence for days. She beckoned to him and his heart thrilled, but a moment later she vanished. Rilian and Drinian rode back to Cair Paravel together in silence; in any other mood, the prince might have worried at that silence, but his mind had only thoughts for the green lady.

One of the maids left a window ajar in Prince Rilian's room that night. If Rilian had gone to shut it, he might have looked out upon the Sea and chanced to catch a glimmer of moonlight stretching to the horizon. If he had done so, he might then have recalled his father's voyage, and his desire for just vengeance, and his remembrance of his childhood thoughts of the Queen Lucy. But that night the Sea air hardly disturbed the curtains, and Rilian did not arise, and his eyes saw nothing but the black ceiling of his own room.

He rode out again the next morning alone, and when he alighted from Coalblack in the glade she was waiting for him. It was the first time he had stood before her, and his knees trembled with awe. "My lady," he stammered.

She laughed, a laugh like small bells. "Well met, young knight," she said, holding out a perfect hand. He took it in his own shaking one and pressed his lips to it, although it caused him to blush. The moment he did so he knew he wanted nothing else in all the world but to give some cause that might allow him to kiss even her hand again. She smiled at him, although he had done nothing, although he would die to be granted such a smile. "What, I prithee, is thy name?"

Drowning in her beauty, the young knight could think of nothing but her smile and her hand in his. She laughed again. The laugh made him dizzy. He could not breathe and she touched his cheek and he forgot breathing had ever been necessary. "Back on thy horse, my knight," she whispered, "and we will away."

By the time Ettinsmoor stretched before them, the young knight had forgotten there was ever such a land as Narnia.

---

Lucy spent the Easter hols in Finchley as well, just her and Susan this time. Peter was at the Professor's house again, and Edmund was staying with some mates out in the country. "What fun we shall have," Susan said happily, embracing Lucy at the station.

Susan's idea of fun involved running about London and trying on dresses, which was all very well; Lucy didn't mind trying on pretty clothes, even if they weren't half so fine as good Narnian clothes had been. She did mind the way Susan pulled at the dresses to make them tighter, glaring at her own figure in the mirror, or snatching Lucy's choices from her hands and suggesting others. Eventually Lucy, nearing the end of her patience, said, "Oh Susan, you know you'll look lovely whatever you wear. In a few years you'll look just as you did when that poor silly Rabadash tried to court you, and all sorts of Calormen and Archenlanders were asking for your hand."

"Why do you go on about that?" Susan said, but she sighed. "All right, supposing all those silly Narnian people were falling over themselves for me. We still have to make sure you look all right."

Lucy laughed. "We don't! You were the pretty one. I rode to battle."

"Yes, well, you can't do that here in London," Susan said briskly, and adjusted the sleeve of the dress Lucy was trying on. Lucy thought the dress was rather too short, as it nearly showed off her knobby knees, but she allowed Susan to scrutinize it. "That might do," her sister pronounced. "But really, Lucy, you might fix yourself up a bit and stop looking like a little girl."

Little girl. Lucy thought of sea serpents and staircases, dark islands and the not-blinding light at the world's end. Lucy thought of following Aslan through wild country when no one else could see. Lucy thought of living statues, traitorous trees, terrible giants, the swell of an army; she thought of kneeling to talk with Dwarfs and Badgers, of standing straight and tall, Queen Lucy the Valiant, firing arrows until her arms burned and loving Narnia with all her heart. She thought of a young Lord of Archenland who had once called her brighter than the sun.

"Come on," Susan said, unbuttoning the back of the dress, "we'll try something else if you don't like that one."

The young Lord of Archenland had come up to her during the feast at Anvard after the defeat of Rabadash's army. My Lady, he had said, blushing a very little in the firelight, for many years I have been gathering the... courage to say this to thee. When I was a boy, I once found myself lost in the pass above Anvard, and in the land of terrible winter. I am lucky to have escaped with my life. He had looked around then, to see that no one overheard what they said, and went on, in a bare murmur, I saw a woman there, upon a sledge. Thou mayst well guess who it was I beheld, but I tell thee, she was the most beautiful woman I had seen in my life, and so it has ever been-- until now. Thou art as the sun, my Lady, and her memory melts before my mind's eye as ice does before a great light. He had bowed, pressed a kiss to her hand, and Lucy had not known quite what to do; flatterers, sincere or otherwise, had always been Queen Susan's domain. Little girl.

She undressed and returned to her own clothes in distraction, and she heard Susan say, "Anyway, I do wish you would stop going on about Narnia."

"Oh, I don't --" Lucy said, and caught sight of herself in the mirror. She was beginning to look the way she remembered once looking, Queen Lucy the Valiant starting to shine forth from behind her eyes. "I don't go on about it because I need to go back," Lucy said. "I do understand. That's still no reason to stop talking about something wonderful."

"It is," Susan said patiently, "if it's been nearly a year, Lucy. I really am starting to get tired of this make-believe."

"Oh," said Lucy. "Oh, I see," because she did.

Lucy did not cry to herself that night, but she did whisper into her pillow, long after Susan was sound asleep, "I'm so sorry, Aslan. I'm so sorry."

She dreamt of Narnia that night, of searching all the way from Cauldron Pool in the West to Cair Paravel in the East, Anvard Pass in the South to Ettinsmoor in the North, though she did not know or could not recall the object of her search. She stood on the flat of a salty marsh, wind in her hair and a quiver of arrows reassuringly heavy against her back, and she knew she must keep traveling North, but she awoke before she could begin her journey.

---

The young knight slept soundly, a black sleep without dreams like all of Underland. Prince Rilian did not sleep, for Prince Rilian only lived an hour a night (or day; there was no time in Underland, and he might have been there for a thousand years) but while Prince Rilian lived he felt himself in a nightmare.

Sometimes, on the worst nights, he would only scream for his sword. The Witch-Queen of Underland stood and watched him with such a look of poisonous pity that he marveled he had ever found her beautiful. He screamed himself hoarse. He sobbed in fear and anger, missing Narnia, horrified to think of his father losing him only a month after Queen Tarielle's death. He begged the Witch to let him see the sky, feel the wind, taste clear water from a stream, to just for a moment be out under the open sky while not imprisoned in armor. Sometimes he longed for things from the world above so fiercely he could almost see them and hear and feel them; moonlight on the ocean outside Cair Paravel, the feel of the wind in the marshes, flowers in springtime in the Lantern Waste, the sharp cold scent of pine in the pass to Archenland, a little pool in the woods with trees reflected deep in it and deeper still the blue of the sky.

On one night the vision of the Eastern Sea came to Prince Rilian so strongly that he could nearly hear the lapping waves and smell the wind-and-salt smell of the Sea. He was dimly aware of the bonds tying him close to his silver enchanted chair, but in that moment for the first time in perhaps years Rilian remembered sitting on the rocks below Cair Paravel, gazing out to Sea and wishing that he might someday bow over Queen Lucy's hand and say his name, clear and proud. Instead he had kissed the hand of an enchantress and she had taken his name from him. A longing welled up suddenly in Prince Rilian such as he had never known, and following the longing was a rage unlike any rage he had ever felt, for it was not hot and helpless but somehow clear and cool and like a peculiar fierce joy. On that night Prince Rilian broke his bonds and fell forth from the accursed chair, and if he had come by his sword he might well have escaped, but the Witch was between him and it and when she held his wrists in her hands and whispered soft words of confusion, he felt the strength and rage being sapped from him. His vision of Queen Lucy flickered for a moment in his mind's eye and fell once more into blackness.

---

That summer Lucy met the Lady Polly. Both Peter and Professor Kirke called her that, and Lucy thought it suited her; Lady Polly was as old as the Professor, but she had wise and merry eyes and a smile that made Lucy want to smile too. Polly took to her at once, and so on her second afternoon at the Professor's cottage in the country Lucy found herself sitting out behind the house, talking with Polly over the drone of early-summer bees in the wooded fields between the house and the station.

"I thought at first I was imagining it," Lucy said, watching a breeze ripple the stems of long grasses. It reminded her a little of the Sea. "Susan never really liked to talk about anything that wasn't important at that moment."

"Silly girl," Polly said. "Aslan never told me I was too old for Narnia. I never did go back but that's no reason for me to have forgotten, not when I had Digory around to remind me" (for Digory was Professor Kirke's first name) "and she had you and your brothers. She's been terribly lucky, too. She was Queen for years and years and she even got to go back a second time."

"I think that might be the problem," Lucy said after a moment. "I... remember all sorts of things. We ruled Narnia for fifteen years, Polly. I remember being grown up, and then one day falling out of the wardrobe and being... a little girl again." It was the first time she had said it aloud, but if anyone was going to understand it was the Lady Polly. "Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I feel as though everything should be a bit shorter, and it's been nearly years now. I don't think Susan wants to grow up twice."

The smile Polly gave her was admiring. "Possibly your body has to grow up twice," she said, "but I don't think the rest of you needs to worry."

They gazed out at the dimming fields together. The sun shone in Lucy's eyes. After a long moment she asked, quietly, "How do you manage having only been once?"

"I remember that I saw Narnia in the morning of the world," Polly said simply. "Hundreds of years on this world would be worth that."

---

His deliverance was a miracle.

Rilian was too drunk with joy and clear-headed with lack of enchantment to realize at the time what the boy's words meant. I am Eustace who sailed with the King to the island of Ramandu, he said, and Rilian was so dizzy with relief to hear of his father, and so busy in the ensuing excitement, that it was not until that night stretched out on a pallet in the cold Narnian air next to a good Narnian fire that Rilian's mind slowed enough for the full wonder of his rescue to come upon him.

When it did, Rilian sat up and looked across the fire to the children from another world. The Lady Pole was sleeping, but the young Lord Eustace was awake, staring at nothing with the firelight reflected in his eyes. "Eustace," Rilian said.

Eustace jumped a little but looked over at Rilian. "Still awake too, your Majesty?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer went on, "I should jolly well think so, after being down in the dark for so long."

"Ten long years, they tell me," Rilian murmured. "How long ago was it you sailed with my father?"

"Months," Eustace whispered.

His next question, How fares your cousin the Queen? died on Rilian's lips before he could give voice to it. If the Lord Eustace was a boy, might not the Queen Lucy be but a child? He could not bear to think it. In the morning, perhaps, he would have the courage to ask; in the meantime it was enough to know that one of the Queen's blood had taken part in his rescue. He said only, "Tomorrow then you must greet my father," and closed his eyes to Eustace's murmur of assent.

The following morning at dawn Rilian was served a hearty breakfast by a Faun named Orruns. Some Dwarfs had already saddled Coalblack; as soon as he was finished eating Rilian rode at once to Cair Paravel with instructions to send the children from another world after him as swiftly as they were able, once they had slept and eaten their fill. In the clear light of day, his eagerness for knowledge far outweighed his fear of poor answers; his head whirled with the questions he might put to the noble Eustace and his friend Jill, about their world and about the great Kings and Queens. But his thoughts were now chiefly of his father. When he arrived at Cair Paravel, hands and paws and wings and muzzles were pressed into his hands in greeting by the courtiers and Talking Beasts; Rilian smiled as best he could, changed into such clothes as befit a prince rather than a prisoner, and with the Lord Regent Trumpkin beside him and Narnia and all its love at his back, he faced Eastward into the rising sun and awaited his father's return.

If he had eyes for anything but King Caspian's ship sailing up the river from the Sea, Rilian might have seen the two children from another world sitting atop Centaurs at the edge of the crowd. Instead he saw only a Lord -- not his father -- come down the gangway when the ship was moored. This Lord knelt to Rilian and Trumpkin, his face pale, and said, "Your Highness -- Lord Regent -- the King is dying. He can no longer walk."

Rilian thought of the all the expectant faces in the crowd and said, in stern command, "Bring his Majesty down. His voyage was not in vain and I will not have him die before seeing his son." The Lord hesitated, and even Trumpkin looked uncomfortable, but Rilian said softly, "That is my final word," and the King was brought forth. Rilian knelt beside him and embraced him. It was the love in Caspian's eyes, and not his death scant moments later, that caused Rilian to weep, and he wept with joy. He had not thought to see his father again, and for this one moment he might have suffered a thousand years in Underland.

For that moment, too, he suffered his questions unanswered, for when he next looked the Lord Eustace and the Lady Pole were forever gone.

---

"And he was jolly magnificent with a sword," Eustace said.

"I liked his face," Jill said. "I mean, not at first, but the moment he was trapped in that awful chair he stopped looking like such a horrid big baby and became the sort of person you might want to know."

"Enchantments," Lucy explained. "Almost all of them can turn you -- something in your face -- terribly ugly, even if you're quite wonderful away from them."

"He was," Eustace, not to be silenced for long, put in. "The moment he was free of it he knew all about Narnia. He probably had a thousand questions for us but he just worried about getting us all out of there safely. And he was wonderful when he thought we were going to die, he wasn't afraid for a moment." He thought about this. "He wasn't sad about that, but there was something sad about him."

"Like Hamlet," Jill said, looking very solemn.

"And you think he'll be a good King," Edmund asked, "now Caspian's dead?"

"Well, I should hope so," said Jill. "Anyone who can get through what poor Rilian went through must come out of it a very wise person."

After supper Lucy managed to catch Jill alone, but when she had she felt suddenly quite as young as Jill and wasn't sure what to ask. She thought of Rilian, King Caspian's son, and she imagined that he must look a little like Caspian, and a little like Ramandu's daughter, and that his face must be full of the same sort of wonder and courage she had seen on Edmund's in the days following his return to them from the White Witch. She said, "Ten years and he was still all right?"

"I don't know if I'd be all right down in the dark for ten years," Jill said, shuddering. "But I think he managed. Whenever he was a bit himself, I think, he remembered Narnia. And I know the Witch took him out sometimes; we met him outside of Ettinsmoor, near the Ruined City of the Giants."

Lucy then remembered dreaming of Ettinsmoor. She couldn't have said why, but she felt suddenly as she had over sweet water aboard the Dawn Treader, racing ever closer to something inevitable and beautiful. "Remembering Narnia in the dark," she said, and smiled. "Yes, I think he must be all right after all."

---

Narnia reeled at joy and tragedy so intermingled. The King is dead, rang from Cair Paravel to the Lantern Waste; from Archenland to Ettinsmoor, long live the King.

Rilian did not imagine he might be such a king as his father was. Whatever songs in his heart, for the fires of the land of Bism countless fathoms below or the fires of the sunlit waters of the utter East, he knew he could not abandon Narnia again for even so much as a moment, not of his own whim.

A year after his return to Narnia, nearing threescore years, King Rilian did leave, though only through Anvard Pass. At the castle at Anvard the King Rilian played court to Archenland's fine Ladies, and did them the courtesy of comparing none to his numinous imaginings of Queen Lucy. After a fortnight he chose the King's niece, for convenience but for affection also. Her name was Livana; her hair was the color of the sky at midnight and her smile was one of innocent joy. She was nothing like the Queen of Underland and Rilian loved her for it.

She died but shortly after giving birth to their son, called Drinian after King Rilian's old friend. He took the loss less hard than he might have, for a son is not like a serpent and young Prince Drinian brought Rilian nothing but joy. He did not think to blame Aslan; he understood now how his delight with his son was all the stronger for the loss of his Queen.

As the histories chronicle it, King Rilian's reign was a long one, and happy. He lived to see Drinian married, lived even to see his granddaughter for a short time, the first Narnian King in a thousand years to do so. Often in the twilight of his years he dreamed of the Sea and of Bism, sometimes both at once so that in his mind's eye he saw nothing but a great and glorious conflagration of light.

In Aslan's Country, that real Narnia beyond the Shadowlands' end, Rilian met Livana again, and embraced her. She smiled at him, the same smile of innocent joy as always, and when their son the King Drinian joined them, she embraced him too and spoke of her love for him. There was no need then to stay; in that country, as in Underland, time had no meaning, but here there was no end to it, and if Rilian desired he might return to his Queen as swiftly as speaking the intention.

So Rilian kissed her, and turned to new joys; he breathed deep of the air and looked out across the shining Sea and, as his father before him had done, gathered a crew of great Narnians to him and set sail for wonders.

---

Lucy sat upon the shore with Cair Paravel behind her and her bare feet trailing in the water. The water was wonderfully clear, clearer than any water she had yet seen, even on her voyage to the end of the world when the water had become clear and sweet. Soon, Lucy knew, she would get to her feet, not caring if they were still wet, and wander until she found some new ocean yet clearer and more brilliant. But not yet. Now she breathed in the wonderful Sea air and listened to the cries of gulls and of mermaids singing in the distance, and it was then she saw the speck of a ship upon the horizon. She climbed to her feet and when she looked more closely she saw the minute detail of its rigging and the sailors, men and Talking Beasts. At the prow stood a young man with fair hair; in the Shadowlands Lucy would have seen none of this, but here she could tell at a glance that he saw her and recognized her, though they had never met before.

She waited for a time; dusk set in, and the moon was rising as the ship moored and the fair-haired young man leapt from deck to shore. Lucy found herself smiling, with as pure a joy as could ever be found in this most real of places.

They regarded one another for a long moment. Then he took her hand in his and pressed a kiss to it, as befit a Lord greeting a Queen of Narnia. "I am Rilian, son of Caspian," he said, and Lucy laughed merrily.

"Yes," she said. "Yes, I've been waiting."