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Pondering the Stars

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"Do you ever wonder," Peter said, "why we're the kings and queens?"

"Well, Aslan--" Edmund started to say, overlapping Lucy's "The prophecy said--" and Susan's "The coronation--"

"Yes, yes," Peter interrupted them, waving one hand in dismissal, "but why us in particular? I mean, we're just children, really, if you think about it."

It was the sort of late summer night that was crisp and clear without being cold yet, and there was a bonfire blazing merrily to take any threat of chill away, and mugs of hot cider. Overhead the stars shone bright and cheerful. The constellations were different than the ones back in England, but somehow familiar anyway -- not the sort of learned knowledge that you memorise, as for lessons in school that you can recite even without understanding them and have forgotten by the next year, but the sort of deeper knowledge of a half-forgotten memory that can never be truly forgotten.

They were up past what ought to have been their bedtime (though as Edmund pointed out a bit gleefully, no one ever told kings and queens when to go to bed), but the satyrs and fauns would be doing a dance after the moon rose. All four of them wanted to see this dance, perhaps even participate in it, and it was far easier to stay up for long enough than it was to drag oneself out of a nice warm comfortable bed once one was drowsing.

"And if you think about it," Peter went on, "it's not like we were raised to this life. Narnia isn't ours, not really."

"You've got a point," Susan said. "Narnia really belongs to Aslan, and to the talking beasts, not to people."

"But what about the dwarves?" Lucy asked, "and the dryads and naiads and fauns and such? They're people."

"They're people all right," Peter said, "but they're not human. Think what a fuss everyone made about us being 'Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve'. Even the White Witch, who looked human enough. There haven't been actual humans in Narnia for at least hundreds of years -- if ever! So what gives us the right to rule?"

"Aslan gives us the right," Susan said after a moment of thought. "It would be different if we just came in and declared ourselves to be the rightful rulers, but the truth is, we didn't. It wasn't us, it was Aslan. And Aslan is -- well, he's not likely to do the wrong thing, is he?"

"But why does Aslan think that we're the right sort? Is it just that we were in the right place at the right time, and any people who fell through the wardrobe could have been crowned?"

"I don't think so," Lucy answered slowly. "There was the prophecy -- about the two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve -- and we sort of filled the prophecy, but I get the impression that the prophecy had been in place because Aslan, or someone, knew we were coming. We fit the prophecy, but the prophecy was made to fit us. If it had been someone else that came through the wardrobe and defeated the White Witch, the prophecy would have been different."

"That's a bit circular."

"Prophecy is hardly straightforward," Lucy pointed out. "It makes sense, if you think about it."

"It makes my head hurt," Edmund grumbled, not really as annoyed as he tried to sound. "If we were crowned because of a prophecy that was created in order to crown us, that doesn't really answer the question of 'why us'. It just means that the prophecy can't be used as a reason."

"We could ask Aslan, " Susan said with a bit of a laugh, since none of them had seen the lion since he made them Kings and Queens of Narnia, and since Aslan would not have been likely to give them any more useful of an answer than they already had. "If we were back-- back in England -- " She had intended to say 'back home', but of course it wasn't their home, not any more; Narnia was, and would always bee. "--we could ask the Professor." She fell silent for a minute, staring at the bonfire and the way the flames danced and crackled. "Sometimes I wonder how things are going, back there."

It took them a moment to remember England, to remember the things that had seemed so important then and were now like a mostly forgotten dream. "The war, you mean?" Peter said at last.

"Well, yes, that, but also -- we just disappeared, didn't we. No one knows where we've got to. I suppose they're all in a bother about it."

"Or else they're glad for the peace and quiet," Edmund said a bit darkly. They exchanged looks, knowing without saying it that all of them were remembering the housekeeper, who was no doubt celebrating the absence of the four children.

"I half wish we could go back," Susan said. "Oh, not permanently, of course," because the thought of leaving Narnia was almost unimaginable for all of them. "Just to let them know we're all right."

"We could show up in full armor," Peter said, laughing. "That would give them a bit of a shock."

"They'd just tell us to stop playing with the historical artifacts," Lucy said. "They'd think we were just playing dress-up and pretend."

"Like we did at first," Peter said. "When you told us about Narnia."

"I wasn't going to say it," Lucy murmured, but she smiled a little.

"Well," Edmund said, "I don't think we're going to achieve anything by just thinking about it -- and look, the first of the fauns are arriving!" And soon enough, the dance had started, and the four children mostly forgot what they were talking about.

The next day, Lucy approached Mr. Tumnus, because the faun had always given her wise counsel, and asked his opinion of why she and her siblings were the kings and queens of Narnia. But he just looked puzzled and said "Because you are." And when she pursued, asking "but why, he said, "Well, because Aslan said so."

And that was all the answer that any Narnian would give them: Aslan said so, and that made it unquestionable truth. For Aslan directed the stars in their courses, and even the stars obeyed, so why should the same not be true for Aslan's people?

And to that, Lucy had no answer.