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Heroes and Kings

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There's a crown on his head and a knot in his throat.

Staring into the mirror, studying his reflection, he fancies that he looks more like a child trussed up for some extravagant masquerade party than a young man preparing for his first formal appearance as a King of Narnia. Any minute now this dream (nightmare?) will end: Alberta will make her presence known and proceed to whip out her handkerchief to rub at an imagined spot of dirt on his cheek, all the while babbling nonsense he won't really hear; after all, cowardly boys like Eustace Clarence Scrubb don't really become heroes – they don't face off against giants and witches or go plunging into the depths of Hades to rescues princes from enchantments. They don't reign over magical lands from seaside palaces, either.

Such things are better left to his cousins.

“Eustace,” a familiar voice chuckles unexpectedly. Slowly, he turns to face the intruder, scowling at the amusement glimmering in the elder man's eyes. “You're not frightened, are you? The boy who bravely sailed to the ends of the world? The boy who rushed head-long into danger to rescue some daft prince from his own stupidity? Afraid? Blasphemy!”

He knows Rilian, his beloved husband of just a few short days, is trying to cheer him up, but the knot in his throat is growing because it's all wrong! “I-I can't do this,” he chokes, turning away to hide his terrified tears. “I'm not really a hero and I don't know the first thing about ruling!

Rilian's cool hands grasping his heated cheeks force him to meet his calming gaze. Gently, but sternly, he speaks: “You're my hero, love, and if you rule this country half as well as you rule my heart, together we will make Narnia great.”