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The Arrangement

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"Does he know," whispered Lucy to Susan, "what Aslan did for him? Does he know what the arrangement with the Witch really was?"

"Hush! No, of course not," said Susan.

"Oughtn't he to be told?" said Lucy.

"Oh, surely not," said Susan. "It would be too awful for him. Think how you'd feel if you were he."

"All the same I think he ought to know," said Lucy.

~*~*~

In the busy time following the coronations of the four Pevensie siblings as Kings and Queens of Narnia, Lucy had very little time to think on that dreadful night when she and Susan had followed Aslan to the Stone Table. But eventually the flood of visitors to Cair Paravel slowed; the constant banquets and balls gave way to quiet family dinners, followed by the kind of evening entertainments the Pevensies were more accustomed to: card games, word games, reading, and the like. Their Majesties settled into life as kings and queens. The Badgers went home, though Mr. Tumnus stayed on at the insistence of all four Pevensies, and Lucy found herself with stretches of unoccupied time.

At first, she used that time, along with her brothers and sister, to explore Cair Paravel. They each had whole apartments to themselves; for the first time in her life, Lucy had not only a bedroom to herself, but a sitting room, a bathing room, and even audience chambers and a study on a lower floor, connected to her sitting room via a short, winding staircase. There were high towers, deep basements, great halls, winding corridors, and a vast library that took up nearly an entire floor of the castle. The grounds contained a practice yard, barracks (unoccupied), stables (occupied), orchards, gardens (both kitchen and ornamental), and, of course, the sandy shore below the castle.

Eventually, though, every nook and cranny, every stair and closet and pantry and hall were known, and Peter and Susan and Edmund and Lucy began to fall back on more solitary pursuits.

And Lucy began to think of that horrible night. At first, she remembered the cold as she and Susan followed Aslan into the darkness clad in only their nightdresses and thin cloaks. It was still early spring, after all, and chilly. She dreamed of the feeling of plunging her cold, cold hands into Aslan's warm and fragrant mane -- the scent had clung to her hands for days, and she occasionally lifted them to her face so she could breathe it in. Those dreams held an air at the same time of both happiness and melancholy. Happiness because she was close to Aslan whom she had loved from the first mention of his name, and melancholy because the Great Lion was so, so sad during that long nighttime walk.

But sometimes, she remembered crouching in terror in the bushes below the Stone Table as the whole foul army of the Witch swept past her and Susan. She was well aware of what would be their fate were they discovered there, but she could only cling to her sister and hide her eyes.

Worst of all, though, were those times when she saw the great Stone Knife descending and the gleeful cruelty in the Witch's flashing eyes. And those were the times when she remembered asking Susan if Edmund oughtn't be told of the sacrifice Aslan had made for him. Of what the bargain had been. Of not knowing what the Deeper Magic From Before The Dawn Of Time would do. Gentle Susan, of course, had been horrified at the very idea -- there were some things about which one just did not speak -- but Lucy wasn't certain that her sister was right. Still, she followed Susan's lead, and held her peace.

"Susan," she said, one glorious summer day when the boys were at weapons practice with the centaurs, and she and her elder sister were alone in the gardens.

"Mm-hmm?" Susan did not look up from the rose bush she was studying. The lush blooms were easly the size of Lucy's fist, a magnificent fall of bright yellow that put Lucy in mind of soft golden fur.

"I've been thinking about That Night."

Susan knew to which night Lucy referred without having to ask. There was only one That Night. Now she turned away from her roses with a slight frown. "Why?"

Lucy shrugged, playing with a bloom that Susan had cut for her. "I've been having dreams about it." She lifted the rose to her face and inhaled the scent. "I think you should call these roses Aslan's Mane."

Susan looked at the roses critically. "If they don't already have a name. I'll have to ask Trianta." Trianta was one of the dryads who helped Susan plan and care for the rose garden.

"Mr. Tumnus might know," Lucy said. "Mr. Tumnus knows everything."

Susan smiled. Once, she would have argued with Lucy about that, but Narnia was teaching her different ways to relate to her brothers and sister. "Perhaps he does at that." She gathered the blooms she had cut, placing them in a basket to be carried back into the castle. There was a bench nearby, and she sat on it, the basket in her lap. She looked up at Lucy, patting the seat beside her. When Lucy settled next to her, she asked, "What have you been dreaming?"

Lucy didn't answer right away. She was positive that she wasn't supposed to be having bad dreams in Narnia; bad dreams were for England where there was war and Daddy was in danger. At last, she sighed, and told Susan about her dreams.

As she related the worst of them, the nightmares, Susan's face grew grave. "You still think that we should tell Edmund."

Lucy nodded.

Susan sighed. "I know that we didn't have much time to talk about this before, Lucy, but you can't tell him something like that. He felt awful enough about...about being a traitor. You can't tell him that they actually," and here her voice fell to a whisper that Lucy had to lean in to hear, "killed Aslan."

Now it was Lucy's turn to frown. "But why, Su? Doesn't he have a right to know? Wouldn't knowing that help him from...from making the wrong decision again?"

Susan looked sharply at Lucy. "Do you really think something like that could happen again? How could you think that of your own brother, Lucy? That's horrible." And with that, Susan stood up and walked away, leaving Lucy behind on the bench, miserable that she had offended her sister, but still positive that she was right and Susan was wrong.

~*~*~

Lucy hovered near the door of Mr. Tumnus' study, watching him make notes from a huge book which lay open on his desk. A pair of spectacles perched on his nose, and he was wearing, to her delight, one of the waistcoats she had pieced together for him under Mrs. Beaver's instruction. She would never be a great seamstress, but her efforts weren't too terrible. As she watched him, she thought back to their first tea together. He would, perhaps, better understand her dilemma with regard to Edmund; he could easily have handed her over to the White Witch and gone on with his comfortable life. Instead, unlike her brother, Mr. Tumnus had faced temptation and stood firm.

She raised her hand and knocked on the door frame.

Mr. Tumnus looked up from his book, and his face softened into a smile. "Your Majesty!" he said, getting to his feet and coming out from behind his desk.

"Oh, Mr. Tumnus!" Lucy scolded, crossing the room and giving him a hug, "how many times do I have to tell you that I'm just plain Lucy?"

He held her at arms' length, looking into her eyes. "You have never been 'just plain Lucy,'" he replied. "Not here, and not to me. Whatever you were in Adam's World makes no difference. Besides, consider how much joy it gives this faun to be able to call you 'your Majesty,' instead of the White Witch, eh?"

Lucy smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Just for you, then, Mr. Tumnus."

The faun tucked her hand through his arm and drew her over to the sofa. "What can I do for you, your Majesty?"

"I had an argument with Susan a little while ago," Lucy said. She tucked her chin in and slanted a look at him through her hair, which had grown to touch her shoulders.

Mr. Tumnus raised his eyebrows. "With your sister?"

Lucy nodded.

"What on earth could you have to argue over?" He leaned forward a bit and tried to catch her eye.

Lucy shrugged, avoiding his gaze. She and Susan had never shared with anyone else what had happened That Night, not even Peter (as High King), and although Lucy opened her mouth to tell Mr. Tumnus everything, she found that she simply couldn't. It wasn't that she tried to speak and nothing came out, it was more that she knew in her heart that this wasn't a matter for just anyone, not even her oldest friend in Narnia. Instead, she found herself saying, "What would have happened if you had turned me over to the White Witch?"

Mr. Tumnus paled and shrank back into the sofa. "I would never have done such a thing!"

"You said to me that you were doing it. Right then."

Mr. Tumnus lowered his head and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, his expression was troubled. "So I did." He got up and paced across the study, stopping at his desk. He stood there a moment with his back to her, then sighed. He faced her again, leaning against the desk. "If I had let you go to sleep and handed you over to the White Witch, she would either have killed you right then and there, or she would have attempted to use you to trap your sister and brothers -- as she used King Edmund."

"Yes," Lucy said. "But what would have happened to you?"

He shook his head. "I don't know, Lucy. I don't know what would have happened to me." He walked back across the room and sat down next to her. "Why do you need to know?" he asked gently.

Lucy didn't answer him. "Have you ever had a secret, Mr. Tumnus?" she asked instead. "Something you couldn't share with anyone?"

Mr. Tumnus cocked his head. "But, your Majesty, you know that I have. We have just been speaking of it."

It was Lucy's turn to close her eyes. She was very young and she knew it, and she was fundamentally a happy person. But the sorrow in her friend's voice in that moment overcame even her youthful optimism. She leaned over and hugged the faun. "I'm sorry," she whispered, then leapt up from the sofa and ran out the door, so she did not see Mr. Tumnus frowning after her, touching the tear that trembled in his beard.

~*~*~

Lucy was quiet at dinner that night, but since Peter and Edmund spent the time boasting about their weapons practice, no one really noticed. Around the time the dessert was served, the boys finally quieted enough to ask how the girls' day had gone. Lucy's only response was that it had been all right.

Susan shot her a look, but replied that she had spent the day gardening. "Did you ask Mr. Tumnus about those roses, Lu?"

"What?" Lucy asked.

Susan frowned slightly. "The roses, Lu. Did you ask Mr. Tumnus if those roses already had a name?"

"Oh," Lucy replied. "No. I'm sorry. I forgot."

"What roses?" Peter asked. Lucy knew he was not at all interested in gardening, but he tried to be, because Susan was. Narnia was teaching him not only how to be a king, but how to be a better brother.

Edmund, meanwhile, only gave Lucy a thoughtful look, before turning his attention to Susan's description of the beautiful yellow roses.

"Lucy thinks that we should call them Aslan's Mane," Susan said.

"That sounds like a capital suggestion," Peter replied. "Good thinking, Lu."

Lucy looked up from the dessert she had been toying with. "What?"

Now it was Peter's turn to frown. "We were talking about the roses."

Lucy dropped her spoon and stood. "If your Majesties will forgive me," she said formally, "I need to be excused."

Peter nodded. Lucy heard him, as she left the room, asking Susan what was going on.

"I don't know," Susan replied.

Lucy balled her hands into fists, and ran away.

~*~*~

At the top of Cair Paravel's highest tower was an observation deck, an open space protected by a crenellated parapet. On a clear day, someone looking out on the shoreward side could almost see smudges of the closest of the Lone Islands. Looking inland, toward the rest of Narnia, one could see almost to Lantern Waste. The view was magnificent during the day, glorious at sunrise and sunset when the sun painted the sky with hues of gold and mauve and violet and peach, but breathtaking at night when the stars danced in the heavens.

As beautiful as the tower's top was, though, Lucy's favorite spot in the entire castle -- outside her own suite -- was actually the room below the observation deck. The Mosaic Room, it was called, because the walls were inlaid with shimmering mosaics of gold and gems depicting important bits of Narnia's history. On one side of the room, a parade of animals approached a man and a woman that Mr. Tumnus had explained to her were Narnia's first King and Queen, who were also Children of Adam and Eve. There were battles aplenty, but also peacetime scenes: celebrations of life and growth and harmony, and throughout all of it, Aslan. And it all ended on the eastern wall with a life-size portrait of the Great Lion that was so skillfully rendered, that Lucy sometimes fancied she could sink her hands into that golden mane as she had on That Night.

Candles and braziers always burned in the Mosaic Room. The dancing reflections of the flames made the historical figures seem to come to life. Benches cushioned in red velvet sat here and there about the walls so that one could sit and contemplate the depictions opposite them.

Lucy loved the stillness in the Mosaic Room. It was a place of peace and contemplation with the hushed quality of a church. By the time she threw herself down on the bench opposite the portrait of Aslan, she was sorely in need of peace, but she was also quite out of breath from running through the entirety of Cair Paravel and rushing up the tower's winding stair. She sat for a moment just catching her breath and listening to the silence. It was so quiet in this chamber that she could hear the occasional popping of the fuel in the braziers. When her breath quieted and her heart stopped threatening to burst, she found that her fists had also relaxed, and her hands lay lax in her lap, palms upright. She stared down at them.

She was right. She knew she was right. It was important that Edmund know what had been done for him, the sacrifice Aslan had made. She knew that Aslan would never speak of it; it was not his way. And since Susan disagreed with her on the matter, she knew her sister would never speak of it. That meant that somehow, she had to be the one to tell him.

She looked into the eyes of the mosaic lion across the room from her. "Oh, Aslan," she murmured. "I wish you were here."

"Lu?"

Lucy looked away from the mosaic to find Edmund standing hesitantly in the doorway. Once, she and Edmund had been very close -- before he went away to that awful school. If nothing else, their ages would have brought them together; Edmund was only a year older than Lucy, and so while Susan had always had Peter and was closest to him, Lucy had always had Edmund. Susan and Lucy were close by virtue of being sisters, of course, but Lucy and Edmund had shared a special bond. They were beginning to rediscover it in Narnia, so it was not really a surprise that of her three siblings, it was Edmund who had followed her.

Edmund moved into the room, and came to sit next to her. "What is it, Lu? What's troubling you?"

Lucy hesitated for a moment, but where she had been unable to bring herself to tell Mr. Tumnus the story, she had no such reticence with her brother. She opened her mouth and the whole story came tumbling forth -- how she and Susan had awakened in the night and followed Aslan, how they had seen what the Witch had done, how they had stayed with Aslan's body until dawn, and how the Stone Table had cracked, and Aslan had joyfully, miraculously, wonderfully been restored to life. Through tears, she told him what Aslan had related to her and Susan about the Deeper Magic unknown to Jadis which had wrought the miracle, how a willing victim killed in the stead of a traitor would cause time to run backwards and undo death.

Through her whole story, Edmund listened gravely, his eyes not once wavering from hers, not even when her voice cracked on the word "traitor." When she talked about the Witch's taunts, he took her cold hands in his own and held on until at last her story ended and she fell silent.

"Is that what has been bothering you?" he said at last. "Just that little thing? And Susan, too?"

Lucy sniffled and nodded...and Edmund, unbelievably, smiled at her.

"You goose," he said. "I've known it right along. Well, not the bits about the Deeper Magic, or any of that, but the very first thing the Witch told us the morning of the battle was that Aslan had sacrificed himself for me, but that she was going to kill me, anyway. Or at least make me a pretty little statue to keep in her throne room, and maybe she would kill Peter and the two of you when she found you, or maybe she would keep us all as statues as a reminder to her people who was really their Monarch."

Lucy gaped at him. "You knew? All this time, and you knew?"

Edmund nodded, his eyes dancing.

Lucy pulled her hands from his and punched him in the arm.

"Ow!" He massaged his arm with his other hand. "What was that for?"

"For not telling me!"

"How was I supposed to know that you didn't know?"

"Well, how was I supposed to know that you already knew?"

They stared at one another for a moment, then, as if both hearing the absurdity of what they had just said, they laughed. They laughed until they cried, and Lucy felt something in her chest easing.

"Pax?" Edmund asked, at last, when their laughter had trailed off into the occasional giggle.

"Pax," Lucy agreed. She looked around at the mosaics on the walls. "I love this room."

Edmund smiled. "I know what you mean. It's peaceful here. Like a church. Or it usually is, anyway," he added with a mock frown as his hand went to his arm again.

"Oh, stop," Lucy said. "I suppose I need to apologize to the others for running off."

"Oh, probably," Edmund agreed. He hesitated. "Lu, I know I've already apologized, but...I am sorry. Really. For the way I was before, and especially for the way I acted after I met the Witch."

"I know, Ed. It's all right. It really is. Everything is all right." She got to her feet and offered Edmund a hand. "C'mon. Let's go find the others. I have to apologize."

"As Your Majesty wishes," Edmund replied. He stood and tucked her proffered hand through his arm.

"Why thank you, Your Majesty," she replied, sweeping the skirt of her gown out of her way.

"Oh, no, thank you, Your Majesty."

Their bantering voices grew fainter and were eventually lost as they descended the winding stairs. On the eastern wall of the tower, the mosaic portrait of Aslan shivered and seemed to move forward into the room until a Lion stood there. He looked around at depicted history of his chosen realm, then shook his great mane, and slowly faded away, leaving behind only a portrait in winking gems and gleaming gold.