Lune held his father’s hand tightly as they walked the mountain path. “Why is it so cold?”
“I shall show you why, Lune. Don’t be afraid, what you see cannot hurt us...but you need to understand.”
“Is it because I’m twelve now?” He asked, soon it would be time for him to become a squire.
“That’s part of it, but also so that if one day when you’re king, and Narnia becomes warm and free once more, you will be prepared,” His father sounded grave, this was a lesson he must learn.
“Narnia,” Lune wondered, “I’ve read about it in the history books. Do the animals and the trees truly talk there?”
“I don’t remember, Lune. I don’t remember.” There was sadness and tiredness in his father’s voice, more than he’d heard before. He’d couldn’t recall his father not knowing something. It didn’t feel right; but then, neither did the cold. Lune moved closer to his father, who rested a hand on the top of his head.
“When I was your age and younger, I went to Narnia with my parents. It was the most alive place that I had ever been. The trees waved in greeting and I saw fauns and naiads. I spent the entire time smiling and knew that here was where our family had begun.”
They reached the gap in the pass and Lune stared, he couldn’t see ahead, that wasn’t right. When they rode to the desert that kept them safe from the Calormenes, he always thought he could spy Tashbaan. It scared him how the desert seemed to reach into their mountains.
“Come closer, Lune,” In his father’s voice, he heard command and walked the last few steps to the cloudy ice barrier. It seemed to have its own wind that pushed toward them as his father reached out and rested his hand on the smooth surface “Don’t forget Narnia. Without Narnia, there would be no Archenland; and I believe that someday, Narnia will be warm once more.”
In Archenland there was dryad, naiad and oread blood, but it had been dimmed without Narnian air as well as those like him descended from King Frank and Queen Helen. From the histories, he could find no answer why the barrier pulled to them more than those who were of Calormene or Far Northern blood. It seemed as if there must be some yearning for Narnia, for him it held answers about his kingdom’s history and a much needed ally against the encroaching ambition of the Calormenes. He wasn’t the only one who was drawn to the cold wall at the pass to mourn and wonder.
Whenever the air grew warmer with hints of spring and his own birthday neared, he would watch the lines of his people going to look and hope. He’d often walk with them.
There was a young woman whose hair rustled like aspen leaves, and she smiled at him. “I dream of the trees in Narnia. They’re asleep for the Winter, but they’ll awake. My mother used to dance with them.”
“You will dance with them one day.” He put hope into his voice; it wasn’t as strong as his father’s had once been, but his father had been to Narnia.
“My kind king,” she twirled on the path ahead of him and he saw the sadness in her eyes. “We all hope.”
From her hair a leaf came loose, and he caught it. The half-dryad nodded and walked away. The leaf was fragile in his hand, almost transparent; it made him think of the nets his wife wore in her hair, gold and silver, making her hair shine.
When he returned from the walk, he slipped the leaf into her snood. “Lune, what are you doing?”
“Adorning you, my dear,” He kissed her ear as he enjoyed the play of light on her hair.
“With a leaf?” She smiled and almost laughed.
“With a leaf from a half-dryad who still hopes.”
“Oh, Lune, my love,” she hugged him and he smelled the scent of violets around her. “All I know of Narnia is that like springtime, it promised beginnings and changes. It will return.”
“It’s been so long. Even hope can fade.”
Irene touched his cheek and kissed him. “Keep hold of it.”
As he signed the last paper, he heard shouts in the courtyard and went to his balcony to look out. “What is happening?”
“Narnia!” All the voices yelling seemed to be saying the same thing, and Lune ran down the stairs. “Narnia?”
The first to reach him was a page, a boy he knew that had the blood of a river in him: it was clear in how he moved, fast and swift. “Sire, yes! The pass, it’s warm.”
“Bring my horse, I must see.”
He watched the page run off and tried to sort through all the voices around him to find out what was happening. No one seemed to know for certain; only that there was warmth in the mountains.
Irene found him and clutched his hand as they watched their people rush towards the pass “Can it be true? Has spring finally come to Narnia?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
“I will arrange for food to be set out, everyone will be hungry later,” She spoke firmly and began to look for the servants.
“You’re too good to us, my dear. And if this is true, our children will know Narnia.” He laid his hand on her round belly and she kissed his cheek.
“Go, I can see your horse is prepared and there is a crowd to take you.”
With a final kiss on her lips and a pat to his sons, he rode slowly with his people towards the pass. Voices were talking around him and he didn’t stop anyone, they were all hoping and searching. As the mountains rose before them, there was a wind which carried warmth and spring on it, and he pushed his horse to go faster until he stopped and saw melting snow. He rode to where the barrier had once been, keeping the cold in and everyone out and felt true Spring. Then he laughed as he breathed in the free air of Narnia before turning and crying out, “Narnia is open!”
On every face he saw joy and amazement. His own courtiers had found connections they had forgotten and the Narnians weren’t alone anymore. At the front of the hall were the Kings and Queens, and Lune and Irene stopped before them to bow.
They were so young. He remembered being that age when he first took his crown; in the High King Peter’s eyes he saw reflected the cares he knew well.
“It is an honor to meet you, King Lune and Queen Irene,” the High King said as the youngest Queen spoke up. “Oh, you don’t need to stand for us, Queen Irene. We must find you a comfortable chair.”
Irene laughed and Lune saw a glimpse of childhood in how Queen Lucy leaned forward to smile. It was reflected in all the siblings through the maturity of their titles, they were not yet fully grown and Irene, perhaps made them think of their own mother, “Thank you, but I can stand a little longer. My dear Lune kept me in a sedan chair the entire way here. I’m happy to walk about.”
The older Queen, Susan, smiled at her and reached out a hand. “Of course, its like being on a train too long, sometimes walking helps. Will you join us for tea after? We have so much to learn.”
Before he answered, Lune shared a glance with Irene as neither of them had any idea what a train could be other than another name for a wagon train.
“It would be an honor,” Lune said as he led Irene to the wall where she leaned against him. After them, the leader of the Wild Men of the North strode forward and Lune nodded as he saw the Kings and Queens hold their ground. He recalled when he first had to face such an array of monarchs and how alone he felt.
“I like them, but I hadn’t known they would be even younger than you were.” She gently took his hand and rubbed at a stubborn inkstain, they had still been courting when he became king.
“The High King is close to the age I was when I became King, and they are listening and kind.” And they were asking for help; that was important. He’d found that rare, even among his own court. Too often courtiers offered help for their own benefit, it had taken him many years to learn it was better to listen and ask those that were trusted. To rule alongside brothers and sisters would not be easy, Lune recalled arguments with his brother, he would help them with all the advice that he wished he might have had. High King Peter met his gaze and Lune saw the strength needed to lead Narnia. Through the great windows of Cair Paravel, he could smell flowers blooming and sea air, Spring had come to Narnia.