Chapter 1: The Beginning
A lone figure dashed across the snowy ground, cloak billowing out behind it. Moving so fast between the shadows, anyone who saw it might have thought it a mere trick of the moonlight. However, it wasn’t; the “apparition” was a person, and they weren’t running for the fun of it. This particular person had a specific mission, and they were hurrying to complete it. Running up a hill, they came across a distinctly grassy area, no form of snow or ice anywhere. It was as warm as a pleasant spring day, and just as happy. With a grin peeking out under the hood of their cloak, the person set off at a slower pace, waving at the friends and allies they passed. Going up to the royal tent at the head of the camp, they nodded in greeting to the guard standing there. “Is he here?” they asked.
“Yes, he is waiting for you inside,” the guard replied. With a nod, the figure slipped inside on silent feet.
“So you have returned, my child,” a warm voice greeted them.
“Yes, sir, I have,” the person replied, kneeling with head bowed, the hood covering their face.
“Rise, child, and tell me what you have learned.” Standing up only to sit on a nearby chair, they smiled at the great lion in front of them.
“Nothing you don’t already know, I’m sure,” they said with a hint of teasing in their voice.
“Perhaps,” the lion chuckled. “Tell me then to confirm my knowledge, if you wish.” The figure laughed slightly.
“A Daughter of Eve and Son of Adam entered the woods, but they have both returned from whence they came. She met the boy, but the girl went off with Tumnus the faun. They will both return soon, I believe.”
“Thank you, child. Now, you have been running a long time. Go and rest for a bit.”
“Aslan, you know that I do not tire as others do,” they said to the great lion.
“No, you do not, but even I need to rest from time to time, which means that you are no exception. Go, child.”
“Yes, sir,” the figure said, slipping out of the tent and heading to their own tent, laying down to sleep.
The same lone figure dashed across the quickly-melting snowy ground again a week later, heading again into the camp to meet with Aslan and tell him of what they had seen. They met him atop of a nearby hill. “What have you seen this time, child?”
“Two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve entered the woods not a day ago. The boy who came first left the others and went to her palace. I lost him after he entered. The other three are with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, heading this way. They should be here in two days, at least.”
“Thank you, child. Go and prepare a place for them to stay.”
“And, Teresa,” the lion said, causing the figure to turn around.
“It will be up to you and Oreius to train them. They will need to be ready to fight.”
“Yes, Aslan,” the girl said, bowing slightly. “I will make sure they are ready.”
“I know you will, child. Now, go.” The girl scurried off, cloak flapping behind her as she hurried to get two tents set up for the children.
Chapter 2: Arrival
Teresa had actually foregone the cloak today, leaving her appearance open for all to see. Not that she wasn’t a sight to behold regardless, according to Aslan anyway. Her dark brown hair hung down to her hips when it wasn’t up in some braid or such style. Her green eyes seemed to glow slightly, they were so vivid. Her skin was tanned from spending so much time outside in the sun, and her body was toned from fighting and running. She was dressed in a loose green tunic that came down to her knees and a pair of black leggings, along with brown boots that came up to her knees. She was currently sparring with a centaur friend of hers when a distinct murmuring began to run through the army gathered in Aslan’s camp. The two stopped and looked around. Teresa saw three people, a boy and two girls, along with two beavers, walking up the middle path of the camp.
“Who are they?” her friend asked quietly.
“Humans,” she answered just as hushed. “The ones from the Prophecy, I believe.” The tiny group stopped in front of Aslan’s tent, where Oreius, the guard, was watching them carefully. The boy drew his sword and held it high, but Teresa could see his hand shaking ever-so slightly.
“We have come to see Aslan,” he said, and Teresa smiled at the slight nervousness in his voice. She, along with the other Narnians, bowed low to the ground before the great lion appeared. The humans bowed, or curtseyed in the girls’ case.
“Welcome, Peter, Adam’s son,” the King of Narnia greeted. “Welcome, Susan and Lucy, Daughters of Eve. Welcome, Beavers. You have my thanks, but where is the fourth?” Teresa resisted the urge to scoff a bit. As if he truly didn’t know. She had been doing her job, after all.
“That’s why we are here,” the boy, Peter, answered, standing up.
“We had a little trouble along the way,” the eldest girl, Susan, added.
“He’s been captured by the White Witch,” Peter said. The crowd gasped.
“He betrayed them, your Excellence!” Mr. Beaver explained.
“Then he has betrayed us all!” Oreius declared loudly.
“Peace, Oreius,” Aslan said.
“It’s my fault, really,” Peter said quietly. “I was too hard on him.”
“We all were,” Susan added. Teresa smiled. It was good that they were sharing the blame.
“Sir, he’s our brother,” the littlest one, Lucy, said in an adorable little voice that caused Teresa to grin even wider.
“I know, dear, and that makes the betrayal all the worse. It may be harder than you think.” The rest of the Narnians gradually dispersed and went back to what they were doing, leaving the Pevensie children, Aslan, Teresa, and Oreius the only ones nearby. “For now,” Aslan said, “you may rest, children. You have had a long journey to reach this place. Do not worry. We will do what we can for your brother.” The children went with the Beavers to find their tents, Lucy looking back and smiling at Aslan before continuing on. “Teresa,” Aslan called. She walked up to him.
“I want you to begin training them after they get settled in. We must be ready.” She nodded her head.
“Yes, Aslan. I will.” With a nod, Aslan walked off, probably to go talk to Peter. Teresa and her centaur friend began to practice again, talking about the children as they did.
Peter saw the great lion approaching him while he watched a girl practice with a centaur. She was doing quite well for what Peter thought her age was. She looked like she was almost as old as he was, but he couldn’t be sure. “Hello, Peter,” Aslan greeted.
“Hello, Aslan,” he answered. “Who is that girl over there? She’s the first human I’ve seen in Narnia.”
“She has been the only one until your sister first came here. Teresa has been around for a very long time. She came here shortly after Cair Paravel was built, many years ago.”
“But she doesn’t look any older than Edmund,” Peter protested.
“Looks can be deceiving, Peter. She is many years older than you, even older than some Dryads in the forest. She just does not mature at the same rate others do. If you wish to know more about her, she will be willing to talk, I’m sure. She enjoys making friends. Now come with me, Peter, I wish to speak with you about some things.” Peter cast one last glance over his shoulder at her before following the lion outside of camp.
Teresa was talking with a badger when a horn sounded through the camp, causing all heads to look up. That was no horn she had ever heard before, but she had seen Susan with one when she entered camp. With a hurried goodbye, she leapt to her feet and took off towards the river, where the girls had been going earlier. She met Peter as they ran. Screams could be heard, as well as growls. “Wolves,” Teresa said, her voice dangerously low. The two splashed across the river to the tree the girls were in, trying to avoid the jumping wolves’ jaws.
“Calm down, little king,” the wolf growled, looking at him with cold eyes.
“Leave him alone, Maugrim,” Teresa growled just as lowly.
“Ah, Aslan’s little pet. Glad to see you’re still around,” the head of the White Witch’s secret police greeted bitterly.
“Sad to see you’re still breathing,” she replied. The other wolf attacked, but both people dodged. Aslan came up behind them and pinned it to the ground with his massive paw.
“Stay back,” Aslan said, giving Teresa a pointed look. “This is Peter’s battle.” Teresa forcibly blocked out Maugrim’s taunts, knowing she’d attack him herself if she listened to them. With a growl, the wolf lunged at Peter, who toppled under the wolf’s weight.
“Peter!” the three girls exclaimed. Teresa reached him first and shoved Maugrim off of him, not caring if the wolf was still alive or not. Peter sat up and gave a disgusted look at the dead wolf. As the three siblings hugged each other and Teresa smiled smugly at the dead wolf, Aslan let the other wolf up, which took off, yelping loudly.
“Follow him,” Aslan commanded. “He’ll lead you to Edmund.” Pulling her hood over her head, Teresa took off, jumping onto Oreius’s back as he chased the wolf, a cheetah and several fauns following behind them. The group silently went through the White Witch’s camp, killing several of the army without making a sound. Oreius stopped in front of a boy tied to a tree; he was unconscious.
“Think that’s him?” Teresa asked from under her hood. Oreius nodded. “Well, he is the only other human I’ve seen.” She slid off of the centaur’s back, untied the boy, helped lift him up onto the centaur’s back, and climbed up in front of him. “Don’t stop running, no matter what,” she instructed, putting the boy’s arms tightly around her waist. She clung to the boy’s hands as Oreius galloped off; they got back in the middle of the night. Teresa helped the boy down from the centaur’s back and supported him to her tent, where she let him take the bed. She was going to sleep outside tonight. Climbing into a tree, she supported herself against the trunk and slipped off to sleep.
Chapter 3: New Friends
Teresa giggled the next morning at the four siblings around the table, where Edmund was devouring his breakfast. He probably hadn’t slept or eaten in days from the state he was in when she and Oreius found him, and he still needed a good bath. His face, which was already pale, was smudged with dirt, and his black hair was matted on his forehead. He was wearing a change of clothes that Teresa had brought him that morning after Aslan had spoken to him. For the first time, Teresa got to take a really good look at the siblings since they had arrived. Peter, the oldest, was probably a bit taller than she was, though she wasn’t very tall to begin with. He had blonde hair and bright blue eyes that he shared with his little sister Lucy. He probably hadn’t hit his growth-spurt yet, because he still had a very rounded face, but Teresa expected that would change in the near future. Susan was the second oldest, and Teresa knew that she would grow into a beautiful woman the moment she had first laid eyes on her. She was fair-skinned, but it was off-set by the sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Pitch black hair that both she and Edmund had fell down past her shoulders in gentle curls. Her eyes were definitely the most unique of the family’s, being a greyish-green color that matched her pale skin perfectly. While definitely the most practical of the siblings, she seemed to have a good heart. Edmund was the youngest boy, and despite his past decisions, he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. He had been tricked, by no fault of his own, and Teresa didn’t blame him. The White Witch was a cunning woman and had no doubt played on his insecurities to bring him to her side. He was also pale, like Susan, but he didn’t have as many freckles to even it out. He probably had more color in him, but he had been in the presence of the White Witch for a long while now, and that was enough to take the color out of even the sun itself. It probably also didn’t help any that his eyes and hair were the darkest out of the siblings. She had faith that he’d probably sprout into a handsome young man when he grew up as well, just like his brother. Lucy was the youngest, and she was, not to sound cliché, adorable. It was obvious the older three wanted to keep her safe and happy to the best of their ability after doubting her before. She had brown hair, and eyes the color of Peter’s, but she was slightly tanner than any of her siblings. She seemed to lighten up the rest of her siblings’ lives with her innocence and joy, and Teresa vowed to keep it that way. The little group giggled at something Lucy said before turning to Peter, who was being serious again. He had a tendency to do that, and Teresa figured that he’d be a great guy, if he wasn’t so infuriatingly solemn so much. She decided to go introduce herself to the group.
“So we’re going home?” Susan asked, causing Teresa to almost miss a step, but she regained her balance.
“You are,” Peter answered. “I promised Mum I’d keep you three safe, but there’s no reason I can’t stay and help.”
“But they need us!” Lucy protested. “All four of us!”
“Lucy, it’s too dangerous,” Peter said, trying to convince her. “You almost drowned; Edmund was almost killed!”
“Which is why we have to stay,” Edmund said firmly, surprisingly everyone. “I’ve seen what the White Witch can do, and I’ve helped her do it, and we can’t leave these people
behind to suffer for it!” Teresa smiled. She knew he had a brain in that head of his.
“Well, I guess that’s it then,” Susan said, standing up.
“Where are you going?” Peter asked. Picking up her bow and quiver, Susan looked at her brother with a smug grin.
“To get in some practice.”
“May I help you with that?” Teresa asked, stepping over to the four. “Hi, I’m Teresa,” she said, smiling at the four.
“I’m Susan, that’s Peter, Edmund, and Lucy,” Susan introduced them.
“Nice to meet you. Now, may I help you practice? I doubt you’ve held a bow before, or that either of you two know how to really operate a sword.” With sheepish grins, Susan and Edmund shook their heads.
“I killed that wolf,” Peter defended himself. Teresa smiled a bit.
“Well, that just makes you ready to take on Oreius then, doesn’t it?” she said with a lilt in her voice that teased him. Peter deflated a bit.
“I suppose not.”
“Oh, don’t feel bad, Peter. Aslan told me himself to make sure that you all were ready for battle. No need to get upset.”
“Will you help us, then?” Lucy asked. Teresa nodded.
“Narnia is my home. I will protect it to my dying breath.”
“Come on now, Edmund, keep your blade up!” Teresa instructed as she came at him with her practice sword. She and Oreius had each taken one of the Pevensie boys and showed them how to use a sword while one of the fauns showed Susan how to shoot a bow. Three hours later, Edmund had drastically improved. Teresa hadn’t looked over to see how his other siblings were fairing, but she expected that they were about the same. A hawk flew overhead and screeched twice at her before landing on a nearby rock. “Aright, that’s enough for now,” Teresa said, stopping her attack and holding out a hand for Edmund’s sword. “You did well for your first day,” she complimented, putting the swords up. Peter and Oreius kept going at Peter’s insistence, but the girls went off to do something, leaving Teresa and Edmund to themselves. He opened his mouth to say something, but appeared to think better of it and closed it again. “What’s on your mind, Edmund?”
“Why are you so nice to me?” he asked quietly, looking at her in bewilderment. “All of the others give me dirty looks, mostly. Why are you different?”
“Oh, Edmund,” she said with a small smile. “Come on. Let’s go somewhere better to talk. This sun is cooking my brain.” She led him over to the riverbank where a log hung out over the river. Slipping off her shoes, she splashed over to the log and hopped up, letting her feet dangle in the cool water. Edmund followed her example and sat quietly, waiting for an answer. “To answer your question, I understand where you have been. Most Narnians haven’t even seen Jadis, only lived in fear of her power. I, however, have seen, served, fought for, and rebelled against her. Only those who have truly witnessed her power can understand what it is like, and I have. I know how she works. If anything, I pity you.” Edmund gave her a bit of a harsh look at that statement. “No, not like that. I pity that she chose you, of all people, to turn against your family.”
“Who else would she have used?” Edmund asked bitterly, looking down into the water.
“She has no shortage of allies,” Teresa replied. “While Aslan’s army is bigger in strength of heart, Jadis’s army is bigger in number. She has ogres and such on her side; Aslan has the fauns and centaurs on his. I spied on you when you first got to Narnia and was back at the Stone Table in a day’s time to report to Aslan; it would not have taken much for her to get information on you and your siblings to lure you to her clutches. Instead, she chose to use you, enchant you with her magic, and entice you to act as you did. I don’t fault you for anything, Edmund, because there is nothing to fault you with. You didn’t know any better, and I intend to be your friend while you are here. I will be your only one, if that is how it will be, but I will be on your side. I promise.” Edmund sat quietly for a while, watching the water rush past his feet as he thought on what she had said.
“Thanks,” he finally said.
Later that night, after dinner, Teresa and the Pevensies sat around on fire, talking about this and that. “So, Teresa,” Susan finally said after a break in the conversation. “How did you end up in Narnia?” Teresa took a deep breath.
“I fell,” she said simply.
“What?” Lucy asked, tilting her head in confusion.
“I fell into Narnia. I fell into a pool and ended up in Narnia. Since then, I haven’t been able to get back, not that I want to. This place is more of a home than my old one ever was. Aslan is like a father to me, and I have many friends here, more than I ever had before. Even if I could go back, I wouldn’t.”
“How long have you been here?” Peter asked. Teresa actually started counting on her fingers.
“Around one thousand years, I think. Possibly more. I lost count somewhere after the first century,” she said finally, looking up at the siblings, whose eyes had all gone wide at her announcement.
“But you can’t be more than ten,” Susan protested. Teresa nodded.
“I know, and there’s really only one explanation I have so far. There’s an old prophecy that’s been around since I got here. It says something along the lines of ‘The girl who into Narnia falls shall only grow when love conquers all’ or something like that. Aslan says that that particular prophecy pertains to me, but I have no idea what that last part means. Until then, I’m stuck like this. Not that I mind. The mind of a thousand-and-something year old in the body of a nine year old is rather helpful on the battlefield.” Lucy yawned suddenly, as did Peter, though he tried to hide it. “I think that’s enough story-telling for one night,” Teresa said with a grin. “Goodnight.” With that, she stood up and entered her tent, quickly slipping off to sleep.
Two days later, she and the siblings were at the training field. Peter and Edmund were fighting on horseback while Susan and Lucy were over by the targets. Teresa grinned as Lucy did better than Susan did. “Peter!” a voice called frantically, bringing all of the children’s attention to Mr. Beaver, who was moving very quickly for a beaver on land. Edmund’s horse reared, causing Edmund to grip onto its mane.
“Whoa, horsey!” he cried. The horse sighed.
“My name is Philip,” the horse said in an overly-patient voice.
“Oh, sorry,” Edmund apologized, causing Teresa to giggle behind her hand.
“You better come quick,” Mr. Beaver said to the tiny group. “The White Witch has requested a meeting with Aslan. She’s on her way here!” Teresa hopped up onto Philip behind Edmund, while Lucy climbed on in front of Peter and Susan began to run back to camp.
“Let’s go, Philip,” Edmund said, gently kicking the horse forward. Teresa held on tight as the horses galloped off back to camp. A centaur had scooped up Susan onto his back, and the group made it back to camp. Teresa slid off of Philip and hurried over to the front of the crowd, the Pevensies in her wake. A path had cleared down the middle of the camp, and the White Witch’s caravan was coming towards where Aslan stood, amid the cries of hatred from the Narnian army.
“All hail Jadis!” a dwarf cried. “Hail the Queen of Narnia!”
“More like the Queen of Bad Hair Days,” Teresa muttered, causing Edmund and Lucy to snicker. Peter gave her a look that said “keep your mouth shut.” The Witch dismounted and stood before Aslam.
“You have a traitor in your midst, Aslan,” she said haughtily. As the crowd gasped, Teresa’s hand went to her sword, her green eyes flickering dangerously in anger.
“His offence was not against you,” Aslan replied firmly.
“Have you forgotten the laws upon which Narnia was built?”
“Do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch,” Aslan said, a growl in his voice. “I was there when it was written.”
“Then you will know that every traitor belongs to me!” The White Witch turned to face the crowd. “His blood is my property.” Teresa and Peter stepped forward.
“Come and take him then,” Peter challenged.
“I’d like to see you try,” Teresa said, her voice almost as fierce as Aslan’s growl-like voice had been.
“You think that a simple threat will deny me my right, little king?” Jadis taunted. “Aslan and your little pet know that unless I have blood, as the law demands, all of Narnia will be
overturned and perish in fire and water.” She pointed a pale finger at Edmund, who shrank back. “That boy, will die on the Stone Table, as is tradition. You dare not refuse me!” Aslan gave a small roar, bringing the Witch’s attention back to him.
“Enough! I shall talk with you alone.” The two entered the tent.
Half an hour had passed, and barely a word had been spoken among the Narnians. Teresa hadn’t stopped pacing and grinding her teeth together. She didn’t care what he had done; Edmund was her friend, and a good one at that. She would fight the White Witch herself if it would settle the need for blood. She wasn’t going to let Edmund go without a fight. Edmund watched Teresa pace from where he sat on the ground. “Teresa,” he said, catching her attention. She looked at him. “Sit down,” he said, covering his surprise poorly. She shook her head.
“I can’t,” she replied quietly. “I have to keep moving. I’ll go stir crazy if I don’t.” She went back to pacing, and Edmund looked down at the ground to where Lucy and Susan were uprooting grass in their boredom. Teresa felt like punching one of the ogres that had carried the Witch here. She wanted to scream her frustrations to the heavens. She needed to run until her legs wobbled, then run some more. Instead, she paced quietly, her teeth grinding and her fists clenching and unclenching. Finally, the tent door opened, and Aslan and Jadis exited. The Pevensies jumped to their feet, and Teresa looked towards Aslan anxiously. Surely he wouldn’t let Edmund be killed. The Witch headed towards her carriage as Aslan addressed the Narnians, who all stood in anxious silence.
“She has renounced her claim on the Son of Adam’s blood.” The Narnians broke out into cheers. Lucy hugged Edmund, and Teresa felt a weight lift off of her shoulders.
“How will I know your promise will be kept?” the White Witch asked Aslan. In response, Aslan let out a fierce roar. She paled slightly, which was saying something for the White Witch, and sat down, letting herself be carried away. Teresa locked eyes with Aslan, a smile on her face, but it quickly disappeared. The great lion looked so sad, and Teresa was instantly worried. Aslan let out a sigh and entered his tent.
“Isn’t it wonderful, Teresa?” Lucy asked, bouncing up to her. Teresa slipped on a mask of emotions and smiled at the young girl.
“Yes, Lucy, it is,” she replied, looking up at Edmund, who looked beyond relieved. “Will you excuse me for a moment?” she asked the siblings. Edmund’s brow creased a bit, and his face asked her silently what was wrong. She shook her head slightly, gripped his hand tightly for a half-second, and walked off to Aslan’s tent. “Aslan?” she called. “May I come in?”
“Yes, child.” She slipped in, and the noise from outside was instantly lessened. The great lion sat and looked at her with eyes that looked full of sorrow. “How may I help you, dear one?” Teresa came and sat at his feet, as she had often done over the years she had known the great lion.
“Aslan, what’s wrong?” she asked gently. “You look so sad.” He gave her a gentle look and wrapped a paw around her shoulders.
“My dear Teresa, one day you will understand,” he replied. Teresa felt her heart drop to her stomach. Something was very wrong.
“How can I understand if you won’t tell me?” she asked, burying her face in his soft mane. A gentle chuckle made his chest rumble against her shoulder.
“My dearest Teresa, you have obeyed me for all of these years. I need you to obey me now. Do not worry, dear one. All will be well.”
“Can’t you at least tell me what you are going to do?” she asked, looking up at him with big eyes.
“No, my child, I cannot.”
“Can I come with you?” she asked.
“No, dear one.” Teresa felt tears spill down her cheeks.
“I have this terrible feeling that something awful is going to happen to you now,” she confessed, burying her face in his mane and flinging her arms around his neck. The paw that was wrapped around her tightened, and Aslan’s muzzle pressed against her back.
“Trust me, dear Teresa. All will turn out as it should.” Teresa remained where she was until her tears had dried. All was quiet outside, and the clanging of pots and pans could be heard. It was almost dinnertime, but Teresa found that she wasn’t hungry anymore. “I have a job for you, Teresa,” Aslan said after she had stopped crying.
“Anything, Aslan,” she replied, looking up at him lovingly.
“Go to Cair Paravel and make sure that all is ready for the new kings and queens. They will need everything to be ready for their coronation in a few days.”
“Aslan, Jadis’s army—”
“Will be taken care of, dear one. You must leave after dark tonight.”
“I can’t even say goodbye?”
“This will not be the last time you see them, dear Teresa. You must trust me.”
“I do, Aslan. Of course I do. It’s just that—” she trailed off.
“You wish to help Edmund,” Aslan finished. Teresa nodded. “He is fortunate to have a friend such as you, Teresa.”
“I’ve had dreams these past few nights, Aslan. Horrible ones. Edmund is dying, and there’s nothing I can do to help him. I can’t help but think that it will come true.”
“Dear Teresa, do you not believe me when I say all will be well?”
“Yes, sir. I do,” she said quietly, looking at the ground.
“Then go. Do as I have asked. You will be reunited with your friends soon.” Teresa nodded and kissed Aslan’s head before walking out of the tent, heading towards her own tent to pack her things. She felt as if the weight that had lifted off of her shoulders when Aslan said the Witch had let Edmund go had been multiplied tenfold. Something horrible was going to happen to the only true father she had ever known, and it hurt her heart. She managed to get some of the leftovers from dinner before tying her cloak around her neck and heading towards the hill where Cair Paravel could be seen far off in the distance, shining like a beacon in the moonlight. She heard a voice call her name, and she recognized who is was instantly. Tears welled up in her eyes again as she turned back to look at who it was. Edmund looked up at her from the bottom of the hill, confusion and hurt across his face. She gave him a watery smile and a small wave before she put her hood up over her head and took off down the hill, tears streaming down her face again. She had an idea of what Aslan was going to do, and she mourned for the great lion who had been like a father to her all of these years. She thought of Peter and Edmund, how they would do in the fight against the Witch’s army with so little training. She hoped for their success. She thought of noble Susan and brave little Lucy and what they would go through in the next few hours. She longed to keep them safe and happy. She thought of her friends, old and new, who would surely face many hardships the next morning. She ached to turn around and return to help them, the only family she had ever really known, but she would honor Aslan’s request. Cair Paravel would be ready when Peter and Edmund returned victorious from the battle, Susan and Lucy at their sides.
It was almost midnight, and Teresa stopped at a stream to drink, her lungs burning in her chest. She still had a long way to go before she reached the Cair. Suddenly, something inside of her broke, and she fell to her knees with a cry of pain and sorrow. Heavy sobs ripped themselves from her chest, and she hugged herself tightly as she cried, rocking herself back and forth. It was done. The blood debt to the White Witch was paid. Aslan was gone. She allowed herself to mourn for a few more minutes before she rose, wiping her face on her sleeve and splashing her face with some of the water. A water nymph looked up at her from the river, giving her a sad smile. Teresa gave a small smile in return before she hurried across the river and took off once again. Aslan’s words came back to her. “Don’t worry. All will be well.” She had no choice but to believe those words. Somehow, someway, everything would turn out alright.
Chapter 4: Homecoming
It didn’t take long for Teresa to get Cair Paravel ready for the Pevensies. With her magic and a few dryads to help her, the castle fairly sparkled inside and out. Left with nothing else to do, Teresa sat on a balcony facing out towards the ocean. She had felt the pulse of magic that ran through Narnia at sunrise, and she was in high spirits now. “All is as you asked, Aslan,” she said into the wind, knowing that he somehow would hear her. “The Cair is ready for its kings and queens.” Late in the afternoon, the sound of trumpets blaring caught her attention, and she hurried out to the front gates. There, she stood with the other Narnians that had been in the Cair, ready to greet their new rulers. Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy were all riding horses, beaming at one another and looking in awe at their new home. Teresa bowed low as they came up to the front door of the castle. “Welcome home, Your Majesties,” she said, a smile pulling at her lips.
“Teresa!” Lucy exclaimed, her voice full of excitement. Tumnus helped her down from her horse, and the little queen ran to give her a hug.
“Hello, Lucy,” Teresa said, smiling down at her friend. “I’m glad to see you again.”
“Teresa, the White Witch! She’s dead!” Lucy said happily.
“That’s wonderful, Lucy. I’m so glad.” A throat cleared behind her, and Teresa turned to see Oreius giving her a look. “Oh! Where are my manners? Come along, Lucy. I’ll show you to your new room.”
“Oh! I get my own room?”
“Yes, Lucy,” Teresa said, smiling as the girl took her hand, “you have a room all to yourself.” A second pair of feet began to follow them down the hallway. Turning, Teresa saw Edmund behind her, looking like he wanted to say something. “Garden,” Teresa mouthed at him. “Ten minutes.” Edmund nodded and walked off to wander the castle. Teresa took Lucy down corridor after corridor, all the while listening happily to Lucy’s constant stream of chatter as the girl told her all about what she had missed while she had been following Aslan’s orders.
“…and then Aslan leaped on top of the White Witch and killed her,” Lucy finished. “He and I went around healing the injured and the Narnians that she had turned into statues, and then we came here!”
“Wow, Lucy. That’s quite the adventure you’ve had today,” Teresa said with a smile.
“Is it much farther, Teresa?”
“Not much, Lucy, but I got to pick your room, and I wanted to give you the best view in the whole castle.” They passed three more rooms before Teresa stopped at a rosewood door with flowers and trees carved into it. “Here we are. Welcome to your new room, Lucy.” With an exaggerated flourish that made Lucy laugh, Teresa pushed open the door. Lucy squealed in excitement and ran around her room, looking at all of the decorations and furniture.
“Oh, it’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. “I’ve never seen a more beautiful room in all my life! Thank you, Teresa! I love it!” She ran over and hugged Teresa fiercely.
“I’m glad you like it so much, Lucy, but there’s a few more things in here I want to show you.” She led her over to another door and pulled it open. “Here’s your closet,” she said, making a grand gesture to the emptiness. “A seamstress will be along in an hour or two to start making dresses for you. And over here,” Teresa pushed open another door, “is your bathroom with a tub big enough to do laps in.” That was, of course, an exaggeration, but it was huge compared to most tubs. Lucy giggled before taking her hand again.
“You said you gave me the best view. Where is it?”
“Right this way, little queen,” Teresa said with a smile. Walking over to two giant, glass-paned, double doors, Teresa pulled them open, letting a warm breeze fill the room. Lucy gasped in awe.
“It’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. And she was right. The balcony overlooked the ocean shore, the view stretching on for miles in all directions.
“Do you like it?” Teresa asked.
“It’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me,” Lucy said, “Thank you so much, Teresa.”
“You’re welcome, Lucy.”
“Lucy,” a voice called from the other side of the door, “may I come in?”
“Yes, of course!” Lucy called. The door opened to reveal Aslan, who padded in with a smile on his face. “Oh, Aslan, have you ever seen such a magnificent room?” Lucy exclaimed, rushing over to hug the lion.
“No, I have not, dear one. Teresa did a wonderful job, don’t you think?”
“Teresa,” Aslan said to her, “I believe there are some other things you need to do today. Go. I will keep Lucy company.”
“Yes, sir,” Teresa said with a small bow.
“Thank you again, Teresa,” Lucy said, hugging her again.
“You are most welcome, little queen.” With that, Teresa slipped out the door and hurried down the hallways.
“You’re late,” Edmund said, looking at her as she ducked into the little grove in the garden he had sat down in.
“My apologies,” Teresa said with a grin, “I was showing your little sister around her new room.”
“Oh, as long as it’s a good excuse,” Edmund teased.
“Go ask her yourself if you don’t believe me!” Teresa exclaimed, failing to keep any indignation in her voice whatsoever. “Now, what did you want to talk to me about?” Edmund got really quiet. “Edmund?” Teresa asked in concern.
“I almost died today,” he finally said quietly. Teresa gasped.
“Oh, Edmund, are you alright?” she asked.
“I’m fine; Lucy’s cordial healed me, but—” He trailed off.
“It was still scary,” Teresa finished. Edmund nodded. “It’s okay to be a bit shaken up, Edmund. Brushes with death are hard to shake off.”
“You sound as if you’ve had a close call yourself,” he said, looking at her out of the corner of his eye.
“I have, several times. It took me a while to get back to normal every time. It’s fine, and there’s no need to feel bad about it. I’m sure your siblings are just as shaken up at the thought of losing you as you are about almost dying.” Edmund smiled a bit and looked up at her full in the face.
“Thanks, Reese,” he said.
“’Reese?’ When did that come up?” she asked, smiling at him.
“Well, all of us have nicknames. Why shouldn’t you? Do you not like it?”
“Oh, no! I do! It’s just, nobody’s even really given me a nickname before.”
“Nobody?” Edmund asked.
“No. In case you haven’t noticed, most Narnians are very formal. It took me half a century to get them to call me ‘Teresa’ instead of ‘miss’ or ‘ma’am.’”
“Yeah, I noticed. I’m just surprised, is all.” The two sat in silence for a bit longer before Teresa piped up again.
“So, do I get to call you ‘Ed’ now?” Edmund huffed a laugh
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Alright then.” Suddenly, a voice was heard calling their names from the garden entrance. “Ooh, you have to go get cleaned up!” she exclaimed, shooing him off. “Big things to do! Go on, Ed! Hurry!” With a laugh, Edmund hurried off towards the castle to go get ready for his coronation.
Teresa stood at the edge of the raised dais inside the castle. Four elegant thrones sat atop it, and each of the four Pevensies stood in front of one, dressed in royal clothing. She winked at Edmund, who was fidgeting a bit in his clothes. “Be still,” she mouthed at him, a grin on her face. He glared at her a bit, but kept still. Aslan turned to face the crowd of Narnians in the throne room and outside. Somehow, Teresa knew that all of Narnia would hear what he said next.
“To the Glistening Eastern Sea, I give you Queen Lucy the Valiant,” he said. Mr. Tumnus the faun and the Beavers stepped forward, and Tumnus placed a delicate crown of white yarrow leaves on Lucy’s head as the two shared a smile. “To the Great Western Wood, King Edmund the Just.” Edmund was grinning widely as a silver-leaf crown was put on his head. He and Teresa shot each other excited looks, having a silent conversation.
Isn’t it cool? His eyes asked.
I know, right? Teresa caught Aslan looking at her out of the corner of her eye, and she straightened a bit before looking back at Edmund.
Pay attention! We’re getting in trouble! The two instantly looked away from each other, though smiles pulled at the edges of their mouths.
“To the radiant Southern Sun, Queen Susan the Gentle.” A crown of golden daffodils was placed on Susan’s head, and she somehow looked even more regal and beautiful than before. “And to the clear Northern Sky, I give you King Peter the Magnificent.” Peter stood up much straighter than before after a crown of golden leaves was placed atop his head, looking every bit the king Teresa knew he could be. “Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen,” Aslan proclaimed. “May your wisdom grace us until the stars rain down from the heavens!” The crowd began to chant loudly, happiness almost tangible in the air. Teresa joined in on the cry, beaming at her friends.
“Long live King Peter! Long live Queen Susan! Long live King Edmund! Long live Queen Lucy!” The crowd, along with the kings and queens, began to move about the hall as the coronation party began. Edmund caught Teresa’s eye, but she had something she needed to do.
“Terrace, Twenty minutes,” she mouthed to him. With a fond eye-roll, Edmund nodded and turned to talk to some Narnians. Teresa worked her way through the crowd and out to the walkway that headed to the beach. There, Aslan was waiting for her, as he knew that she would find him. “You’re leaving, then?” she asked.
“Yes, dear one. It is time for me to leave.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“And I you, dearest Teresa.”
“You will be back for my birthday, though?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, my child. Now, I must go.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his mane, kissing him lightly before pulling away.
“Until we meet again, Aslan.”
“Until then, my sweet Teresa.” With that, he turned and started to walk off down the beach.
“Aslan?” Teresa called suddenly. The lion turned back around.
“What is it, dear one?” he asked.
“Will I ever start to grow again? I have friends now, and I don’t want to out-live them.”
“Don’t worry, my child. All will turn out as it should.” The lion gave her a gentle look before continuing on his way. With a small smile and a nod, Teresa went back into the castle, only a bit sad that he was leaving so soon after returning. However, she found solace in something that a friend had told her once long ago.
“After all, Teresa, he’s not a tame lion.”
“And I’m so ever glad he’s not,” she said to herself.
Chapter 5: Nightmares
It had been ten months since the Pevensies had become kings and queens of Narnia. The four had adjusted quite well to their new roles, and the entire country adored their new rulers. Peter’s first act as king had been to knight Teresa, much to her happiness and excitement. He had also insisted, along with his youngest sister, that Teresa have her own room in the castle, not that she minded. Winter was now returning to Narnia, and Teresa stood quietly atop a cliff that overlooked the ocean, a crisp breeze making her cheeks and nose turn red. “What are you doing out here, Reese?” Edmund’s voice asked from behind her. She turned around and looked at her friend as he walked up next to her.
“Looking out at the ocean. It’s a lovely view.”
“Yes, but couldn’t you look at it from inside? It’s cold out here.”
“Nobody asked you to come here. You could have stayed inside.”
“But I wanted to talk to you.”
“Oh, alright. Let’s go in, then. Wouldn’t want you to catch your death of cold. Susan would never let me hear the end of it.” The two children walked into the warm kitchen, huddling around the oven to warm up slightly before heading farther into the castle. Teresa followed Edmund into his room, and the two plopped down on the soft rug in front of the roaring fireplace. “What did you want to talk about, Ed?” Teresa asked once they were comfortable amid a pile of pillows and blankets.
“You told me once that you knew what it was like to serve the White Witch,” he said nervously.
“What did you mean by that?” Teresa furrowed her brow in concern.
“Why do you ask?”
“Please, just tell me first. I’ll explain later.”
“Well, when I first came to Narnia, Jadis had been around for several years. Narnia had been around for about the same amount of time, and the Dryads that were around were only a few decades old. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of stumbling upon a friendly faun like Lucy. I walked right into her dungeons. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well for her.” Edmund shuddered a bit at the memory of that awful place.
“What did she do?”
“At first, she was content to turn me into stone to decorate her garden. She had no use for a young human girl, and I was only taking up space she could be using for her other prisoners. However, one of her dwarves—you didn’t meet this one—suggested that she use me as a scout of sorts. No one in Narnia knew what a ‘girl’ was, and I was small enough to pass for a dwarven child. I could go all kinds of places and learn all kinds of things without raising any suspicion. After all, who pays attention to a child? Of course, the entire time that they were discussing my fate, I was locked up in one of the cells, freezing and crying and shaking from fear and cold. All I knew was that I wasn’t home anymore, and I couldn’t decide which place was worse: the place I had come from or the world that I had stumbled into. Eventually, the Witch herself came down into the dungeon and gave me a choice. I could remain here for the rest of my life, or I could gather information for her and get enough food and clothes to last me a lifetime. Obviously, I chose the food and clothes. For ten years, I worked for her, getting paid in new, warm clothes and hot food. I was miserable. I made friends only to betray them when I got what I needed and watch them get turned to stone and decorate the courtyard. It wasn’t at all the life I wanted, but I didn’t know how to get out of it. I had no true friends, and nowhere else to go. Then, one day, as I was walking through the outer woods, I came across a patch of grass. Naturally, I stopped to investigate.”
“What’s so special about a bit of grass?”
“As long as I had been in Narnia, it had been winter. This was the first green thing I had seen since my arrival. Even stranger was the fact that the snow around this particular bit of grass had melted to look like a giant paw. In fact, there were several of them leading to the edge of a stream. When I reached the bank, I heard a voice call my name. When I looked up, a giant, magnificent lion stood on the other side of the river, looking at me. Instantly, everything that I had done, all of the friends I had betrayed and watched die, every mean and horrible thing that I had ever said came rushing into my memory, and I started to cry. I fell to my knees and sobbed. I couldn’t even look at the lion again, and I didn’t want to. After all, what right had I, this horrible person, to look at such a wonderous creature? As I knelt there, on that river bank, I felt a warm breeze caress my face. When I looked up, the lion stood there, looking at me with great sadness, but there was love in those eyes as well.
‘What do you want from me?’ Teresa asked, raising her tear-stained face to look up into the lion’s eyes.
‘Nothing at all, my child. Only that you turn from your ways and come with me.’
‘But I have nowhere else to go,’ Teresa choked out. ‘I have no friends or family here. Only the White Witch.’
‘Come with me, child, and I will give you more than you could ever hope for.’
‘She will want me dead.’
‘If you will only follow me, she will have no claim on you, for you will have my name and serve me alone.’ Teresa looked up into the face of the lion and felt more tears trickle down her face.
‘But I’ve done so many things. I don’t deserve anything better than what I have. I don’t deserve to live.’
‘My dear Teresa, you have value beyond that which you see before you. You are strong, and brave, but you have believed Jadis’s lies for too long. You must not listen to her words any longer. Will you come with me?’ Teresa sat and looked at the lion, thinking over all that he had said. Then, she nodded.
‘I will come with you. I will follow you for the rest of my days, if you will have a broken person such as me.’
‘Dear child, you will find as you come with me, that the broken people are the ones I use the most, for they are the ones that will change the world.’
“I’ve been following Aslan ever since,” Teresa finished, looking up and Edmund from where she lay on the floor. “Now, will you tell me what’s wrong, Ed?”
“Do you ever have dreams, nightmares, about when you served her?”
“Frequently. They have gotten better over the years, but it still happens. Why?”
“She’s been in my dreams. She wants me to come back to her and help her reclaim Narnia. It gets harder and harder to say no. I don’t want to go back to how it was, Teresa.” Teresa threw her arms around her friend and held him tightly.
“Don’t worry, Ed. It won’t. They’re just dreams.”
“But when I wake up, I’m so cold. It’s like I’m back in her castle all over again.” Teresa pulled away and thought for a bit.
“I’ll think about what to do, Ed. Come talk to me tomorrow, okay? We’ll get through this together. Just keep telling her no. She has no power here anymore. Aslan defeated her, remember?” He nodded and smiled a bit at her.
“Thank you, Reese.”
“You’re welcome, Ed.”
Teresa blinked open her eyes, shivering and shaking even though the fire in her room burned merrily. She sat up, eyes wide, and whimpered into the empty air. A knock sounded on her door. "Come in," she called. A familiar dark head poked into her room.
"Reese? Are you okay?" Edmund asked. "I heard you scream." She nodded slightly, drawing the blankets up around her shoulders as she shook.
"I'm alright, Ed. Just a nightmare." Edmund gave her a long look, his dark eyes sizing her up.
"It was about Her, wasn't it?" Teresa nodded after a moment. She couldn't lie to Edmund; she never had been able to. Edmund closed the door behind him and crawled into her bed. "It's alright, Reese. I'm here now." He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and held her to him. "It's okay." He rocked her slightly and continued to murmur reassurances into her ear until she calmed down. "Better?" he asked. She nodded against his shoulder.
"Edmund?" she asked in a small voice.
"Would you stay with me here tonight?"
"Of course." The two children curled up under the covers, tangled together like a couple of puppies, and drifted off to sleep.
"Edmund, I thought I heard--Edmund!" Teresa flew from the doorway and to her friend's side, dashing the burning stick from his hands. "What in Aslan's name has come over you?
Why would you--Edmund, you're shaking."
"S-s-so c-c-c-c-cold," Edmund stuttered through chattering teeth. Teresa pulled him back to bed and covered him up while she went back and stoked the fire. Once it was blazing again, she climbed under the covers with Edmund, holding onto him tightly.
"Don't you ever do that again, Edmund Pevensie. You have another nightmare and wake up freezing, come find me. Don't you EVER do that again." Edmund nodded, his shivering body clinging to her warm one.
"I didn't want to bother you," he said quietly.
"You aren't a bother, Ed. Not to me. Best friends, remember?" Edmund nodded.
"The very best," he agreed.
"Right. Now try to sleep, Ed. I'll stay with you until you wake up." The two went to sleep again, and from then on, whenever one of them had a nightmare that reminded them of
their darker days, they would go to the other's room and cling to their warmth, chasing the cold and dark images away.
Chapter 6: Late-Night Adventures
“Lucy! Peter! Come quick!” Teresa yelled through the castle halls, her voice echoing off the walls. Hurried footsteps came towards her, and Lucy came running, picking up her dress skirts to keep from tripping on them. Peter came from the other direction, eyes wide with worry.
“What is it? What’s happened?” Peter asked, looking her over for injury.
“Lucy, where’s your cordial?” Teresa asked frantically.
“In my room.”
“Hurry and go get it. It’s important!”
“Teresa, what’s happened?” Peter asked again, taking hold of her shoulders while Lucy took off again.
“I was walking through the forest on my way back from visiting the Beavers. The river was frozen over, so I was crossing it to take a shortcut. When I reached the other side, I heard a crash from down the river. Something had fallen in. I’ve sent Lillian and Ginna to go get him, because I couldn’t carry him back here, and he was nearly frozen to death.”
“Who? Who was nearly frozen, Teresa?”
“A wolf! A giant wolf, Peter! Only, he wasn’t cruel like the others, and I just had to help him, and oh Peter, I’m so scared for him!”
“There, there,” Peter said, pulling her to him as she started to cry. “Don’t worry, Lucy’s cordial will soon set him right. How far away is he?”
“About three miles upriver,” she said in between sobs.
“And you ran all that way?” She nodded.
“’ve run farther,” she sniffled.
“Well, Lillian and Ginna are fast runners. I’m sure they’ll get him back here soon. Don’t worry, Teresa.”
“I don’t want him to die, Peter. He’s so kind for a wolf.”
“Don’t worry. Everything’ll turn out alright.”
“I’ve got it, Teresa!” Lucy said, skidding to a stop next to the two. “Who needs it?”
“He’s not here yet, Lu,” Peter answered for her. “Go to the healing room and wait for Lillian and Ginna there. It’s a half-frozen wolf.”
“A wolf!” Lucy exclaimed.
“Teresa said he fell in, and that we should help him first.” Lucy nodded and scampered off. Susan, who had been watching from the hallway, came forward and gently took her form Peter’s arms and pulled her into her own.
“Come on, Teresa,” she said gently, leading her down the hall. “Let’s get you out of those wet clothes before you catch pneumonia.” Teresa, who was still sniffling slightly, allowed herself to be pampered by Susan and dressed in a warm, thick dress and thick wool stocking. A cup of hot tea was placed in her shaking hands, and Susan made her drink a few sips immediately. Just as Teresa started to warm up, a knock came at the door. “Who is it?” Susan called.
“Come in, Ed.” Edmund’s dark head poked into the room, and he gave Teresa a small smile.
“Reese, your wolf is here. Lillian and Ginna just returned. Peter thought you might want to know.” Faster than Susan could catch her, Teresa had put down her tea and raced out the door, almost hitting Edmund on her way out.
“That girl,” Susan said fondly, smiling a bit while shaking her head.
Teresa padded along the castle’s hallways, careful not to make too much noise. She couldn’t sleep, so she had pulled on some of her scouting clothes and slipped out of her room, planning to wander the woods near the castle until she felt tired. Her cloak billowed slightly behind her as she walked out into the gardens and headed towards the wall surrounding it. Climbing a tree near the edge, she hopped onto the top of the wall and dropped down to the ground behind it. With silent feet, she rushed off into the woods, the cool night air nipping gently at her cheeks and nose. Autumn would soon come to Narnia, and it was bringing the chilly air with it. As she ran, she heard the slight sound of someone, or something following her. It was almost as quiet as she was as it ran behind her, but she smiled a fond smile. She knew who it was, what it was. With this knowledge in mind, she slowed her gait a bit, but continued on until she reached a stream, where she then stopped and sat down on a nearby rock. “You can come out now,” she said after a few minutes of silence. “I know you’re there.” The pad of silent feet came from the woods behind her, and a majestic timber wolf sat down next to her, its golden-brown eyes sharp in the moonlight.
“You left without telling anyone,” the wolf said in a deep, rough voice. There was a note of condescending in its tone.
“I didn’t want to be a bother,” Teresa replied. “I was going to come right back, anyway. There was no need to follow me.”
“I am assigned to keep you out of trouble. Following you in my job. I owe you my life.”
“Shunkaha, you owe me nothing. I would have done the same thing for anyone else, and you know it.”
“The fact still remains: you left and did not tell me. What if something had happened to you? Who would be the first one High King Peter called?”
“You,” Teresa said with a sigh.
“And do you know what he would say?”
“’Why were you not with her?’ in his very kingly voice,” Teresa answered.
“You must tell me where you go, Teresa,” Shunkaha said in a voice that was border-line pleading. It wasn’t actually pleading, because her friend/guard did not plead. He merely asked in a way that left no room for disobedience.
“I’m sorry, ‘Kaha. It won’t happen again. I’m just not used to be tied down so much, you know? With the party that Susan’s planning and helping Lucy with her lessons and training the soldiers with Edmund, I hardly have time to myself anymore! On top of that, I heard that Peter was thinking about making me head of the guard in Cair Paravel! I just couldn’t sleep and needed some peace and quiet.”
“I’m sure if you talked to King Peter about it, he would understand that you did not want to be head of his guard. I’m sure Oreius would be glad for the security of his position.” Teresa huffed a laugh.
“Yes, I suppose he would. You’re right, as usual, ‘Kaha. What would I ever do without you?”
“Get lost a lot more often.”
“Ooh, look who’s so smart! Well, Mr. Know-It-All, I bet I can beat you back to the castle!”
“The front gate, or the way you left?”
“The front gate, you big meanie.” With a playful growl, Shunkaha stood up on all fours and bounded off through the woods when she said, “Go!” Of course, neither one truly won, because they skidded to a halt outside the gate, where a rather irritated High King Peter stood with his hands on his hips. “Uh-oh,” Teresa said quietly. Shunkaha nodded and stood next to her, allowing her to bury her fingers in his soft fur.
“And just where have you two been?” Peter asked, frowning deeply.
“A stream out in the woods. I’m sorry, Peter, I couldn’t sleep, and I just wanted to get out of the castle for a bit. I had every intention to be back by morning, I promise!”
“We will discuss your late night excursions later, Teresa. Right now, I need my most knowledgeable scout in the meeting room.”
“What’s happened?” she asked as she and Shunkaha followed the High King back into the castle.
“We’ve received a request for help from a colony to the north. They have been attacked by a country across the sea and need aid.” As they entered the meeting room, Teresa saw a very sleepy-looking Edmund at the large table, along with Oreius, Tumnus, and a few of the kings’ other trusted Narnians. Teresa slid into the seat next to Edmund and smiled at him.
“Hello, Ed,” she said quietly. Edmund grunted in a very un-kingly manner, still in the process of waking up. For a twenty year-old, he woke up very much like a toddler. Teresa smiled and wiggled her fingers a bit. Instantly, he perked up and winked at her subtly. Shunkaha gave a disapproving growl, and the two shrugged at him. “A little wake-up magic never hurt anyone,” she said to her “guard” under her breath.
“Behave,” was all he replied. She looked over at Edmund, and the two of them began to have a silent conversation.
Why were you so late?
No, Ed, I’m fine.
We’ll talk later.
Fine. Peter cleared his throat at the two of them, and they straightened up and turned back to the meeting at hand. Teresa gave her input about the colony to the north and its surrounding landscape, but that was all she could contribute to the meeting. Edmund added his two cents every so often with a possible battle strategy, but that was all he could do as well. Thankfully, Peter and the rest of the council made a decision, and the meeting was dismissed. “Thank Aslan,” Teresa sighed as she and Edmund left the hall, Shunkaha and Manadu, Edmund’s personal guard, a large Bengal tiger, following behind. Lucy often called the four of them the strangest collection of creatures in all of Narnia. True, it was strange to see a timber wolf, Bengal tiger, younger king, and female knight of Narnia all together, but Teresa thrived on being unnatural. “I thought Peter was never going to release us.”
“You make it sound like he threw us in the dungeons,” Edmund said with a small laugh.
“He might as well have. He caught me coming back from the woods at the gate before the meeting.”
“Speaking of, what were you doing that had you so late? You had the castle in a near-panic.” Teresa chose not to address the fact that—oh who was she kidding? She was going to address it.
“Edmund, the only people awake are the two kings of Narnia, their loyal guards, the night patrol, and me. That’s hardly the whole castle. Besides, I think Peter was more annoyed than worried when he found me.” Edmund rubbed his neck while giving her a sheepish grin.
“Alright. I was worried. But you didn’t answer my question. What were you doing out in the woods in the middle of the night?”
“Thinking. Being alone, well, I was until ‘Kaha followed me.”
“What were you thinking about?”
“Lots of things. Do you realize it’s been eight years since you and your siblings became rulers of Narnia?”
“Gosh, has it been that long? Its feels like it’s only been a month or two.”
“Exactly! Lucy will be turning sixteen in a month!”
“See? Time is flying, and I don’t even know what to do about it!”
“Well, that’s not all bad, is it? I mean, you’re happy here, aren’t you?” Teresa’s eyes widened.
“Of course. Ed, I love it here! It’s just, I haven’t had much time to myself lately. Susan’s planning parties, and I’m helping Lucy with her classes, and I make it a point to talk to you every day, and I try to do my job as a knight of Narnia, and I just needed some time to sit and think.”
“You don’t have to come talk to me every day, you know,” Edmund said as they reached their little alcove of the garden. “Missing one or two days won’t hurt my feelings.”
“But I like talking to you, Ed! That’s the point!”
“Oh, shut up, you!” She punched him playfully, and he feigned injury.
“Ooh, ouch! Ow, that smarts!” he said while grabbing at his shoulder, a grin pulling at him lips.
“Oh, my poor king! Do you want me to magic it better? Perhaps a nice silencing spell will do the trick.” She grinned at him with a mischievous gleam in her eye.
“Actually, it doesn’t really hurt all that much anymore. It’s okay, Reese.”
“Are you sure? I’d hate to be the reason you get hurt, Ed.”
“No, I’m fine. Really.”
“Alright, I’ll take your word for it.” The two of them dissolved into laughter while their two guards shook their head.
“How long do you suppose it will be until they realize it, Shunakaha?” Manadu asked quietly.
“At the rate they are going now? Probably not until they are much older in age.”
“It is quite enjoyable to watch, however.”
“Indeed it is, my friend. Indeed it is. And may Aslan have mercy on all of us when the two of them finally realize the truth. We will indeed have a storm on our hands.”
Chapter 7: Budding Romance
“Where on earth are you taking me, Edmund?” Teresa asked with a laugh as he dragged her through the castle halls.
“Nope. It’s a surprise. Come on, it’ll be fun, I promise!” Teresa rolled her eyes and giggled. Nine years had passed since the Pevensies arrived in Narnia and helped defeat the White Witch. Edmund’s nightmares had all but disappeared, as well as Teresa’s. The two were closer than friends, and Lucy was constantly teasing them about it. Of course, Edmund and Teresa were good sports about it, laughing at Lucy’s insinuations before going off to do something together. Peter and Susan had long since stopped trying to encourage the two of them to find a suitable partner and marry them. Edmund and Teresa just wouldn’t hear of it.
“Susan, I can’t marry Lord Valler. He just doesn’t make me happy!”
“Pete, Lady Helen is a wonderful person, but I just don’t love her.”
“Peter, I’m sure Sir Ronald is a wonderful man, but I don’t want to move to the Lone Islands. Besides, he’s almost eleven years older than me!”
“Susan, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but Lady Marie is horrid!” The two eldest Pevensies had just given up on them, saying that they would die old and alone. To which Teresa had replied,
“I may die old, but I refuse to be alone! If I’m going out, Ed’s going out with me!” Thank Aslan that Peter and Susan had dropped the subject after that. What none of the other Pevensies knew, however, was that both of them had found a person they were willing to spend the rest of their lives with. In fact, they had been meeting with them in secret for almost a year now. Edmund pulled Teresa out of her thoughts by lifting her up onto Donner, her favorite mount, a Kiger Mustang. He swung up onto Philip and urged him out of the stables.
“Come on, Reese!” he called. Teresa laughed and chased him out the castle gates and into the forest. The two rode all the way to a field of flowers overlooking the ocean, where they dismounted. Edmund helped her off of Donner, spinning her around with a wide grin before setting her down. “Oh, I thought we’d never get out of there,” he said, smiling down at her.
“You’re telling me! I had to practically beg Susan to let me out of needlepoint today!”
“She knows you hate sewing.”
“That makes it worse! She claims it’s the only way she can get me still long enough to talk to her.”
“Well, she’s not all wrong. You do have a tendency to fidget while you sit.”
“I blame my magic. It’s always jumpy and eager to get out.”
“I think you’re just too hyper.”
“That is also a possibility.” With a giggle, she slipped out of Edmund’s hold and took off through the field.
“Hey!” Edmund cried, chasing after her.
“Come on, Ed! I thought you were faster than that!” she called, the wind blowing her long hair out behind her like a brown wave. The two ran through the field, their laughter echoing around them. Finally, Edmund caught her and dragged her to the ground. The two lay on the ground, gasping for breath. Edmund had her pinned on the ground, her hair fanning out around her head. “About time you caught me,” she panted.
“Thought I’d let you tire yourself out before I got you,” he replied, his dark eyes twinkling. She smiled up at him, running a hand through his mop of black hair.
“Sure you did, Ed. Keep telling yourself that.”
“Aren’t you snarky today?” he teased.
“Must be this guy I’ve been meeting with.”
“Oh?” Edmund asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
“Yeah. He’s so sarcastic sometimes. He must have rubbed off on me.”
“Really? Have I met this man?”
“Perhaps. You’d like him, I think.”
“Would I now?”
“Oh yes. He’s a respectable young man. Peter’d approve of him. And he’s such a gentleman. He doesn’t tackle young girls just for sport.”
“Oh, then I’d hate him,” Edmund replied.
“Oh, how upsetting,” Teresa said, sighing heavily. “I really wanted you to. I like him a lot.”
“Do you now? How much?” Edmund asked, a smirk on his lips.
“So much that I’d risk Susan’s wrath to go frolic in a flower field with him.”
“Oh, that is a lot. He must mean a lot to you.”
“Oh, he does.” Edmund bent down suddenly and slanted his lips over hers. He pulled away a few seconds after, looking down at her fondly.
“Could we please stop talking about me in the third person? It’s weird.”
“Sure, Ed. We can do that,” Teresa answered, leaning up to peck his lips again before squirming on the ground. “Can you get off of me, now? A rock is digging into my spine.” He hopped up and pulled her to her feet, dusting the grass out of her hair.
“Why didn’t you say something sooner?” Edmund asked.
“It wasn’t that bad, Ed. I promise I would have said something if it was really hurting me.” That seemed to do little to ease Edmund’s guilt at having her uncomfortable, but the two
quickly lightened up again when he picked a flower for her. An hour later, Teresa stood near the edge of the cliff looking out at the ocean, the flower Edmund gave her tucked behind her ear. Edmund came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“What are you doing?”
“Just looking at the ocean. Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yeah, it is. Not as beautiful as you, though.”
“You’re being sappy again.”
“Sorry. Can’t help it sometimes. I sort of lose my head around you.”
“You did alright when Peter almost caught us yesterday.”
“Barely. If you hadn’t pinched my arm, it would have been worse.”
“Don’t worry, Ed. I won’t leave you defenseless against Peter’s wrath.”
“Thanks, Reese. I appreciate it.” The two were silent for a few minutes longer, looking out at the waves. “I love you,” Edmund finally said, his voice barely heard as the wind picked up.
“I love you too,” she replied leaning back against his chest as the salty wind kissed their cheeks before moving on.
Chapter 8: Surprise!
“Lucy, can I open my eyes now?”
“No! Keep them closed! Don’t you dare peek!”
“I won’t, I promise! Just don’t walk me into any walls!”
“Teresa, I would never!”
“Where are we even going? Are you trying to get me disoriented?”
“Maylie, I think she’s onto us.”
“Indeed so, my queen,” Lucy’s guardian snow leopard said in her velvety voice.
“Don’t worry. We’re almost there.” Teresa smiled and shook her head a bit, keeping a tight hold on Lucy’s hand.
“Okay we’re here. Don’t open your eyes until I tell you too, okay?”
“Lucy, I promise to keep my eyes closed!” There was silence for a minute, and she tried to figure out where she was. She could feel the sun on her face, so she was outside, or at least in front of a window. A breeze caressed her face, so either the window was open, or she really was outside.
“Okay, open them!” Teresa’s eyes flew open, and she gasped, her jaw dropping.
“Surprise!” the group in front of her cheered. Teresa began to giggle in delight.
“Happy Birthday, Teresa!” Lucy exclaimed, giving her a tight hug.
“Thank you, Lucy. Thank you so much.”
“Do you like it? Are you surprised?” Lucy asked eagerly, pulling back to search her face with bright eyes.
“I love it! It’s a wonderful surprise! I didn’t think you had remembered.”
“Of course we remembered,” Susan said, gliding forward to hug Teresa. “You’re our closest friend, Teresa. We would never forget your birthday.”
“Thank you, Susan. You didn’t have to do all this, though. The garden looks amazing!” It was true. Flowers, banners, ribbons, and other festive decorations filled the garden. It had the elegant touch of Susan everywhere, but Teresa could tell where Lucy had added her own special flair to the decorating.”
“Of course she had to,” Peter said, catching her up in a tight hug. “It’s Susan, after all.”
“Oh, Peter,” Susan said with an eye roll. Teresa and Lucy giggled.
“Thank you, Peter,” Teresa said in between giggles. Suddenly, a tiny voice pulled Teresa’s attention away from her friends.
“’Resa, ‘Resa, ‘Resa!” She instinctively turned and dropped down to her knees, catching the wolf pup up her arms and hugging it tightly.
“Hello, Rumero,” she said fondly, scratching the pup between his ears. Happy licks were placed all over her face amid happy giggles from the king and queens behind her.
“Rumero, where are your manners?” Shunakaha scolded as he came up to the two.
“Oh. Sorry, Father,” Rumero said, dropping down out of Teresa’s arms and bowing to the kings and queens. “Hello, Your Majesties.”
“Hello there,” Lucy said with a gentle smile.
“Don’t blame him, ‘Kaha,” Teresa said. “He’s just excited, I’m sure. Too much energy to match his big heart.”
“Happy Birthday, ‘Resa!” Rumero said brightly.
“Thank you, Rumero.”
“I got you a present!” he said excitedly.
“You did? Oh, what is it?”
“Silly ‘Resa! I can’t tell you! That takes all the fun out of it!”
“And we don’t want that,” Peter said gravely. Rumero shook his head seriously.
“Rumero,” a gentle voice said as another wolf padded up to Shunkaha’s side, “Tamera is looking for you. Why don’t you go say hello?”
“Yes, Mama.” Giving Teresa one final lick, the pup scampered off on his too-big paws.
“Hello, Danika. Thank you for coming and for bringing darling little Rumero.”
“It was nothing. How old are you now, dear?”
“Literally or physically?”
“Whatever makes you comfortable.”
“Is that so? My, how you’ve grown.”
“Thank you.” Teresa looked down, feeling her cheeks flush in embarrassment. She was getting too much attention. The two wolves padded off after chatting a bit longer to check on their son. Susan and Peter left soon after, going to talk with some of the other Narnians gathered in the garden. Teresa noticed that Lucy must have done the invitations because only her very close friends there. “Thank you, Lucy, for being so thoughtful with the guest list.”
“I thought that perhaps you wouldn’t want too many people here.”
“You thought correctly. It means a lot to me. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Teresa.” Lucy left to go talk to a dryad friend of hers, and Teresa stood off to the side, watching the guests with a smile on her face. She had greeting everyone and accepted all of their birthday wishes, but she couldn’t find the one person she really wanted to see. Where on earth was Edmund? She had even checked their little spot in the garden, but he was nowhere to be found. She knew he was there; Manadu had spoken to her only a few minutes ago and assured her that he was. Suddenly, she was grabbed from behind and pulled close against a firm chest.
“You didn’t think I’d miss your birthday?” a voice asked into her ear.
“Truthfully? Your strange absence gave me pause.” There was a sass in her tone on purpose.
“I’m offended.” She was released and spun around. “Did you really think that I wouldn’t wish my best friend in all of Narnia happy birthday?”
“No, of course not. I just wondered where you were hiding.”
“Right there,” he said, pointing to a bench next to the door to the castle. “Didn’t think to look there, did you?”
“Of course not, you prat!”
“Oh, a prat, am I? Well, we’ll see about that!” With that, he picked her up and spun her around, making her squeal in delight. When he put her down again, she was giggling madly, bent over and dizzy.
“You’re still a prat, but you’re forgiven for hiding from me.”
“Thank you, milady,” he said with an exaggerated bow.
“Oh, you.” She hit his arm playfully. The rest of her afternoon was spent playing with the young Narnian children that had attended her party, as well as talking with her friends. By the time night fell, everyone was exhausted, and the guests wished her a happy birthday and a goodnight. Soon, it was only Teresa, the Pevensies, and their respective guards. “Thank you, everyone. Really.”
“You’re our friend, Teresa,” Susan said. “There’s no need for thanks.”
“Still, humor me, Susan. No one has ever done something like this for me.”
“Aren’t you going to open your presents?” Lucy asked, grinning a bit.
“I was going to, a bit later.”
“Why don’t you do it now?” Peter asked. “We’re all here, and it is your birthday.” It didn’t take much more encouragement from them to get Teresa to open her presents. Shunkaha and his family had given her a new fur coat (she chose not to wonder how the fur had been acquired) for the winter months. With a giggle, she admired the different kinds of jewelry that her other friends had given her. Was she really that easy to read? It was all simple, but elegant necklaces and unique bracelets.
“Am I that much of an open book?” she asked with a small laugh.
“Yes, you are, Reese,” Edmund said with a grin.
“Everyone in Narnia knows you enjoy the simple, beautiful things in life,” Lucy giggled. Susan had given her a small collection of books containing Narnian legends and fairytales, while Peter gifted her with a new outfit, including the softest pair of leggings she’d ever seen, a large brown belt, an emerald green shirt that would reach to mid-thigh, and a mahogany cloak with gold embroidery around the edges.
“Thank you, Susan, Peter. Peter, this is most beautiful cloak I’ve ever seen! Where on earth did you get it?”
“That’s for me to know, and you to never find out. How else am I going to surprise you with presents if you know where I get them?”
“It’s been said.” Teresa rolled her eyes and placed her gifts back into their packages. Lucy handed her another package, her eyes gleaming in excitement.
“Let me guess,” Teresa said with a smile, “this one in from Oreius.”
“Just open it!” Lucy exclaimed. Teresa giggled and began to slowly tear the parchment surrounding her gift. “Teresa!”
“Alright, alright, I’m sorry.” She proceeded to rip open the rest of the paper and gasped at what she saw inside. “Oh, Lucy! It’s beautiful!” With gentle hands, she pulled out a jeweled hairpin in the shape of a peacock. The little gems glittered in the fading sunlight. “Thank you, Lucy, I love it.”
“I’m glad you like it.” That was the last of the packages, and Teresa tried not to be too disappointed that Edmund hadn’t gotten her anything. He had been rather busy lately; several younger Narnians were being trained for the guard, and Edmund was Oreius’s right-hand man for that job.
“Edmund, didn’t you get her anything?” Susan asked, looking at Edmund with a sharp gleam in her eye.
“Oh, I did, but I could hardly wrap it up for her.” There was a glint of mischief in his eyes.
“Where is it?” Lucy asked.
“That will have to wait for tomorrow. Here, Reese.” With that, he handed her a folded envelope. “Don’t open it until you get to your room,” he said with a grin.
“Edmund,” she said, a hint of trepidation in her voice.
“What? Don’t you trust me?”
“Not since the first time you almost knocked my favorite book out the window.” The group laughed a bit before Edmund got serious.
“I promise, Teresa, you’ll love it. Now, I think I’ll go to bed. Goodnight.” He kissed the back of her hand with a cheeky grin before heading off into the castle.
“What do you think it is?” Lucy asked her as the two of them walked down the hallway towards their rooms.
“Knowing Edmund, it could be anything from a toad to a new dress.”
“He knows you hate dresses, though.”
“Well, maybe he’ll actually get you something nice.”
“Perhaps. Goodnight, Lu.”
“Night, Teresa.” Teresa slipped into her room and closed the door, Shunkaha behind her.
“What do you think he got me, Kaha?” she asked, slipping behind her dressing screen and changing into her nightclothes, which consisted of black pants that were too short and a loose white shirt that the sleeves had ripped off.
“I have no idea.”
“Well,” she said, going over and hopping up onto her bed, “I hope it’s something nice. He picks on me so much that it’d be a present for him to be nice to me for a change.” She opened the envelope and turned it towards the candle next to her bed.
“What does it say?” Shunakah asked.
“It’s a poem of some kind.”
Geraniums wither and fade
Rosemary cures the shivers
We haven’t got much time, my dear
The moon shall not love us forever.
“How strange,” Teresa said, putting the paper on her bedside table. “I’ve heard that before.”
“I believe it comes from a book you’ve read,” her friend replied. She thought about it some more before sitting up straight.
“You’re right, Kaha! I know what it’s from!”
“Does the note say anything else?”
I’m sure you’ve figured out where that poem came from, you clever girl, but now comes the fun part, for me anyway. Wait until morning, then go find that book in the library. You’ll find your next clue in this place: 4, 23, 6. See you tomorrow!
“That boy and his riddles,” she said, shaking her head with a smile. “How does he expect me to sleep when I’m so excited?”
“I’m sure you’ll manage,” Kaha said with a hint of fondness in his tone. He was right, as he usually was. She was asleep within minutes.
Something cold and wet tickled her hand, waking Teresa from a perfectly good dream. “Five more minutes,” she groaned, trying to pull her hand away.
“Don’t you want to find out what King Edmund gave you?” Shunkaha asked, humor lacing his voice. Teresa was instantly awake and out of bed, hurrying to her closet for clothes. Inside, she found another note.
I took the liberty of picking out your outfit for the day. By the way, you’re cute when you sleep.
“Kaha! Why didn’t you tell me that Edmund had been here?”
“He asked me not to,” the wolf replied simply. Teresa rolled her eyes and began to change, slipping on her outfit. Black leggings hugged her legs, and a white button-up shirt billowed around her arms. An emerald green vest went over the shirt, and brown boots finished the outfit. She braided her hair down one side and left the other side loose, tying it up at the nape of her neck. Quickly, she scarfed down the breakfast of strawberries, bacon, and biscuits before hurrying down to the library. Walking through the shelves, Shunkaha following her, she reached the spot where the book A Little White Horse was kept and pulled it out. She flipped to the fourth chapter’s twenty-third paragraph and looked at the sixth line.
“This is where Maria finds the kitchen in Moonacre Manor,” she said to Shunakaha.
“Where do you think that clue leads then?”
“Probably the kitchen, unless I’m wrong, which has been known to happen.”
“I do not think that King Edmund would make this too hard on you,” Shunakaha said.
“I supposed not, but he loves to tease me.”
“I think the kitchen would be your best course of action.” With that, the two headed down to the kitchen where the bustling cook greeted them warmly.
“Ah, Teresa! Good morning, dear!”
“Hello, Mary Anne. Breakfast was delicious this morning, as always.”
“Thank you, dear. Now, what can I help you with?”
“Our just king has decided to send me on a scavenger hunt to get my birthday present. The last clue said to come here, I think. Do you have something for me?”
“Ah, yes! King Edmund said that you would be by. He told me to tell you ‘Long John Silver has a present for you,’ whatever that means. Does that help you?” Teresa smiled and nodded.
“Yes, it does. Goodbye, Mary Anne!”
“Goodbye, Teresa! Have fun!”
“Where are we going now?” Shunkaha asked as she walked along.
“Long John Silver is a character from the book Treasure Island. In it, he gives the main character an apple. Our next stop is Lucy’s apple orchard.”
“How will you know where to look? There are many trees in the orchard, and it would take all day to search them all.”
“Edmund likes to test my knowledge and find little things to trip me up on. In the book, only one apple was offered. The man’s name was Long John Silver. How many apples will a piece of silver buy?”
“Ten to thirteen, I would think.”
“That’s what I thought, too. So, we’ll check those apple trees.” Sure enough, there was an envelope in the twelfth tree.
Good job! I hoped you’d find this one. This is both good and bad. I’m glad you got the clue, but now I have less time to get your present fully completed. Only two more clues after this, but they’re going to get harder. Think you’re up to it? Here’s the next one. What do these have in common? Black, Satan, Bonfire, Flame, Eclipse
“What on earth?” Teresa exclaimed. “Those things have nothing to do with each other!”
“May I offer a suggestion?”
“Let me try to figure this one out on my own first, Kaha. I’ll ask you for help if I can’t think of anything else.”
Thirty minutes and two apples later, Teresa sighed and looked down from her perch in the apple tree at her friend. “I give up, Kaha. I have no idea what these things have in common. What’s your suggestion?”
“All of the clues King Edmund has given you so far have been from books, correct?”
“It stands to reason that those things are from books as well then.” Teresa looked over the names again and thought hard. Suddenly, her face lit up, and she grinned. Dropping down from her branch, she kissed the top of Shunkaha’s head.
“You, my friend, are a genius! These are all the names of horses from books by Walter Farley!”
“I suppose we should go to the stables, then?” Teresa nodded and took off, wolf at her heels. She entered the stables and saw that Philip was missing.
“Philip isn’t here,” Teresa said. “That must mean that Edmund’s out riding.”
“Are you looking for King Edmund?” a palomino horse named Daisy asked.
“Yes, I am,” Teresa said. “Did he leave a clue with you?”
“He did. It’s hidden in tack room.”
“Thank you,” Teresa said, handing Daisy the other apple she had picked.
“Good luck, Teresa,” Daisy called as the girl walked to the tack room. Looking around, she saw an envelope balanced delicately on the stand for Edmund’s saddle.
“Here it is!” Teresa exclaimed, hurriedly opening it.
Congrats, Reese. Didn’t know if you’d get that last one. Here’s your final clue. It’ll lead you straight to your present. One of them, at least. Odette and Derek had only the night; Belle and the Beast had a terrible fright. To find your present follow the path that’s left by this story *ribbit ribbit*
“Where on earth does he gets these rhyme schemes?” Teresa said with a little laugh. “A poet, he is not.”
“What does that last line mean?” Shunkaha asked.
“I guess he figured he’d make the last one easy on me. Odette and Derek had only the night because Odette turned into a swan in the daytime. Belle and the Beast had a terrible fright because the Beast almost died before Belle’s love could turn him human again. Each of those stories had an animal in them. The *ribbit ribbit* is the sound a frog makes, which means the Princess and the Frog.”
“Back to the library, then?”
“No, I don’t think so. The story has a path in it. The frog goes from the well to the front door of the castle. From there, it goes to the dinner table and the princess’s bedroom.”
“Perhaps we should start from the well and go back to your room?”
“If it were Peter leaving these clues, then yes. But this is Edmund we’re talking about here. Start at the bedroom and go backwards.” So they did. Teresa and Shunkaha went back to her room, going in and looking around. “Oh, Kaha, look!” Sitting on her bed, atop her pillow, was a large book. The cover was a dark blue, decorated with gold swirls and letters. “Fairytales, Myths, and Other Stories,” Teresa said, flipping to the front page. “Oh, Kaha, it has all of my favorite fairytales in it!” Placing the book back on her bed, she turned to the wolf. “Edmund is leaving presents for me in all of the places in the story!” she exclaimed.
“The dining hall, then?” Teresa nodded happily and hurried down the hallway, stopping at her seat at the table. “What did he leave you here?” Kaha asked.
“It’s a bracelet,” she replied, picking it up and putting it on. Polished stones various colors of blue and green wrapped around her wrist, shining in the light from the windows.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, gently running her fingers over it. She didn’t say anything else as she walked to the front door of Cair Paravel, stepping outside and looking around. She spotted something poking out from behind one of the statues at the entrance of castle. Going over, she picked up a small package and unwrapped it. With a gasp, she nearly dropped it.
“What is it, Teresa?” Shunkaha asked. With shaking hands, she gently pulled out a sparkling ring. It was a simple ring, but the design was unique and beautiful. The band was a simple silver one. The setting for the stones in it was what made it unique, however. It was designed to look like a spout of water that curled up at the top to cradle the blue and green stones atop it. “What a marvelous ring,” Shunkaha said quietly.
“I—I drew this for him once,” she said shakily. “I told him that if I ever was to be engaged, this would be the ring I would want. Oh, Kaha, do you think—?” She hardly dared to finish the question. “But wait, we don’t have a well,” she said, putting the ring on her right hand, for fear that it meant something different than what she hoped.
“Perhaps he meant something else?” Shunkaha suggested. Teresa shook her head in confusion, walking down to the castle gates. There, to her surprise, was Donner, saddled and ready to go riding.
“Donner? What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I’m to take you somewhere, Teresa,” he replied, nudging her gently with his muzzle.
“It’s a surprise, Teresa. Now get on.” With a small smile, Teresa mounted the horse and held on as it galloped off into the woods, Shunkaha following behind. The three went on for quite a while, until Teresa couldn’t see Cair Paravel anymore. Then, they kept going.
“Donner, where are you taking me?” she asked over the rush of the wind in her ears.
“You’ll see.” Teresa groaned at the teasing tone in his voice but didn’t press for answers anymore. Instead, she picked the much more fun method.
“Are we there yet?”
“No.” Ten minutes passed.
“Are we there yet?”
“No, Teresa. Almost but not yet.” She counted to thirty in her head.
“Are we there yet?”
“Alright, alright! I’m sorry!” Finally, Donner slowed to a halt tossed his head.
“Here. Get off and follow the path,” he said, pointed his nose towards a deer trail nearby. Teresa slid off of his back and pet his nose.
“Thank you, Donner. I know I was a bother on the way here.”
“I’m used to your actions by now, Teresa. You don’t bother me so much anymore.”
“Oh you.” She kissed him gently and headed towards the trail, ducking to avoid low-hanging branches. Shunkaha was following her, but he was much farther back than he usually was. After walking for a good ten minutes, she broke through the tree line into a small clearing. The grass was springy beneath her feet, and a brook babbled happily through the middle of it. An outcropping of rock hung over one edge of the brook, providing the perfect spot for a picnic, which is apparently was Edmund planned to do, as he was standing next to the blanket that was spread out atop the rock. “Edmund!” Teresa exclaimed, running and jumping up into his arms.
“About time you got here,” Edmund teased, spinning her around a bit before putting her down. “I’ve been waiting for two hours!”
“Well, you were the one that left clues all around the castle! You could have just as easily left me a note and told me where to go.”
“Yes, but I wanted it to be special. Do you like your present?”
“Why, a picnic with me! Away from the prying eyes of my siblings. Nobody except for Donner, Kaha, and Manadu knows where we are, or even how to get here. It’s just us.” Teresa smiled and kissed his cheek.
“In that case, I love it. Thank you, Ed. It’s a wonderful present.”
“You’re welcome, Reese. Happy Birthday. Now, shall we eat? It’s way past lunchtime, and I’m starving!” Teresa giggled and sat down on the blanket next to Edmund. From where the two sat, she could see Shunkaha and Manadu watching them silently from the edge of the forest, but just far enough away to have some semblance of privacy.
“How long did it take you to plan all of this?” she asked as she nibbled on a cookie.
“Long enough, thank you. I wanted it to be perfect.”
“My little perfectionist,” Teresa cooed, smirking at him. “Somebody’s been spending too much time with Susan again.”
“It’s not my fault! She wanted help with your birthday decorations! How could I say no?”
“Oh, poor Edmund,” Teresa said in mock-sympathy. “Such sacrifice for little ol’ me.” Edmund huffed and looked away, pretending to pout, but she could see the smile that pulled at his lips. “Come here, you prat.” She turned his head back to her and kissed him, feeling his mouth turn up in a smile before she pulled away. “Thank you, Edmund. Really. You didn’t have to do all this. The book you gave me would have been enough.”
“Oh, you found that, did you? Did you like it?”
“Yes! How in Aslan’s name did you find it?”
“I have my sources,” Edmund said, looking very proud of himself.
“Oh really? And who might these sources be?”
“A rich brother and resourceful little sister?”
“That’ll do,” Teresa said with a laugh. “I loved the book, Edmund. It’s perfect.”
“And the other present?” Edmund asked, glancing down at her hands where the ring sparkled in the sun.
“That was much more confusing.” Edmund’s brow furrowed.
“Ed, don’t you remember what I told you when I drew this ring for you?”
“Yes, of course I do.”
“Well, what am I to think when you give it to me for my birthday?”
“Well, I would like to think that you would get the message rather easily because of what you told me, but you can hand me the ring for a moment if I need to clarify it for you.”
“Clarify? Edmund, what do you—?” Edmund sighed a bit and ran a hand through his hair.
“I was hoping you’d understand and I wouldn’t have to do this. I hate making a spectacle of myself,” he muttered.
“Ed, you said it yourself, there’s nobody here but us, and Kaha and Manadu won’t say anything.”
“I know, it’s just—Aslan help me. Let me see the ring, Reese. I’ll do this properly.” Teresa shakily pulled the ring off of her hand and gave it to Edmund, who nervously knelt on one knee in front of her. “Teresa, you’ve been my best friend and confidant since I first came to Narnia. You’ve been there for me in ways no one else has or ever could be. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if it wasn’t for you. All of our talks late into the night and all of the times we would curl up in front of the fireplace because we were so cold and scared after our nightmares and just fall asleep in a pile of blankets and pillows because we were so tired are treasured memories. You know me better than anyone, and I love you so much, I can’t even begin to explain it. I don’t ever want to not have you in my life. Would you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?” Teresa had tears spilling down her cheeks and couldn’t speak from her throat closing up. She nodded enthusiastically and flung her arms around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder.
“Yes,” she managed to choke out. “Yes, I will.” Edmund let out a whoosh of air and clung to her, laughing slightly.
“I love you,” he said. “I’ll never stop telling you how much I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she said, pulling back and smiling at him as he slipped the ring onto her left ring finger. “Forever and always.”
Chapter 9: The White Stag
It is safe to say that the other Pevensie children were ecstatic when the two of them returned home. Susan and Lucy especially freaked out when they saw the ring sparkling on Teresa’s hand. Peter was happy too, of course, but he was a man, and High King of Narnia at that; he wouldn’t be that crazy. At least, not where there were ten guards in the room. The moment the kings, queens, and knight retreated to Peter’s private office, the mask fell off, and he pulled Teresa into a minotaur-sized hug with a large smile on his face. “Congratulations!” Peter exclaimed. “And when were you two going to tell us about this affair of yours?”
“Right after we got married, of course!” Teresa teased, ducking away from Peter’s hand that was surely coming to ruffle her hair.
“Honestly, Peter,” Edmund spoke up, “we were going to tell you all.”
“It was just so much fun to watch you and Susan get exasperated at us when we turned down your ‘suitable matches,’” Teresa explained.
“You two, are imps,” Susan scolded with no malice whatsoever.
“We know,” Teresa said, trying her hardest to look contritely at Edmund, but failing miserably when Lucy was at her side gushing about her ring the whole time.
“Oh, Edmund, it’s beautiful!” Lucy exclaimed. “Wherever did you get it?”
“A dwarf near Whispering Woods. He’s very good, don’t you think?”
“Oh, yes!” Not much long afterwards, Susan and Lucy dragged her off to start ideas for the wedding, leaving Edmund and Peter laughing as Teresa mouthed “help me” over her shoulder at them.
“Now, we need to set a date,” Susan said, sitting down with paper and quill at the desk in her room. “How about next spring?”
“Ooh, or right at the beginning of summer!” Lucy suggested.
“Actually, Edmund and I already talked about it,” Teresa said, trying not to offend the sisters.
“And?” Susan prompted.
“We wanted to have the wedding the day before the fifteen anniversary of your reign.”
“Teresa, that’s four years away!” Lucy exclaimed.
“We’re in no hurry,” Teresa said. “Besides, it was Ed’s suggestion. Take it up with him. Don’t shoot the messenger.”
“Did you get no say in this whatsoever?” Susan asked.
“Oh, I will, believe me. I get the cake design, dress, guest list, color scheme, decorations, all of that. He just wanted the date. Everything else was ‘Whatever you want, Reese. You’re only going to get married once.’ It was kind of sweet, actually.”
“You two are adorable,” Lucy gushed.
“Lucy, please,” Teresa pleaded.
“What? You are.”
“She’s right, Teresa,” Susan piped up. “The two of you are quite the pair.” Teresa sighed.
“Look, if I have to deal with that for four years, I’m just going to kidnap Ed and elope. I mean it!” The queens didn’t ooze with how cute the two of them after that. Edmund got his wish, and the wedding date was set for the day before the Pevensies’ fifteenth year of ruling Narnia. A week before the wedding, Tumnus came and told the kings and queens that the White Stag had been spotted in Narnia. The four were practically giddy with excitement.
“Isn’t this exciting?” Lucy asked. “This must be a good sign, the Stag appearing so close to your wedding, Teresa.”
“Perhaps,” she replied.
“Peter wants us to set out tomorrow morning to go find it,” Edmund said. Teresa nodded and went to go tell Donner. Edmund went after her.
“You don’t have to come with me, Ed. I’m just going to see Donner.”
“But I want to, Reese. Doesn’t that count for something?”
“Of course it does, Ed. I was just saying that if you wanted to go somewhere else, you could.”
“But I want to be with my soon-to-be-wife.” He slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him. “Is that too much to ask?”
“So close to the wedding? Probably,” Teresa answered, giggling at his put-out expression. “But I’ll make an exception this once.”
“Oh, thank you, my love,” Edmund said with exaggerated relief. “Whatever would I do without your approval?”
“Go to Lucy for self-esteem,” Teresa replied, slipping away and going to tell Donner the news of tomorrow’s trip, pointedly ignoring Edmund.
“I’ll look forward to the hunt tomorrow,” Donner said. “It’s not often the White Stag comes through Narnia. What will you wish for?” Teresa stopped and thought for a moment.
“I don’t honestly know,” she confessed. “I have everything I want right now. I’m going to marry Edmund next week; peace is throughout Narnia; I’m happy.”
“I know what I’ll wish for,” Edmund said, hugging her from behind.
“And what is that?”
“That I’ll never have to live without you, ever. I want you to always be by my side.”
“Perhaps I should wish that for myself as well, then,” she said, smiling at the loving look in Edmund’s eye, “for that is what I wish as well.”
Unfortunately, Teresa wouldn’t get the chance to make her wish. During the night, she got viciously ill. However, she insisted that Edmund go with his siblings on the hunt. “Go, Ed, I’ll be fine on my own for a bit. Kaha and Danika will look after me.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to leave you when you’re not feeling well.”
“Ed, I’ll be fine. It’ll probably be better in a day or so. Go on; have fun with your family. I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back, I promise.”
“Very well.” He kissed her gently and pulled away. “I’ll be home before you know it.”
“Be safe,” she said as he hurried off down the hall, “and kept Peter straight! You know how he gets!”
“I will!” he called back. “I love you!”
“I love you, too! Hurry back!” She watched from the balcony as the four rode off into the early-morning light. She was reclining in her room when something hit her. It was nothing physical, just a feeling, but she cried out in agony at it.
“Teresa! What’s wrong?” Danika asked, hurrying over to her.
“Don’t—know!” Teresa choked out, clutching her chest in pain.
“Danika, go get Lillian!” The she-wolf padded quickly out the door, and Shunkaha came up to her. “Teresa, what hurts?”
“My—my chest! Kaha, make it stop!” The wolf and the faun came back in at that moment. Lillian came and looked her over, brows creased in worry.
“I don’t know what the cause is,” she confessed. “Is your magic flaring up?” Teresa shook her head. “Did you eat something strange?” Another shake.
“She said her chest hurts.”
“I do not know what is going on. I can give you something to help with the pain, but that is all.” Teresa nodded and held out a shaking hand. “No, no, just open your mouth.” Eagerly, she obeyed and swallowed the medicine. She was asleep not five minutes later, discomfort clear on her face.
When Teresa opened her eyes again, she realized that the pain had gone, but a dull ache still remained. She sat up and put a shaky hand to her head. Looking around, she saw that it was nighttime, as the candles in her room had been lit. She began to rise from her bed, but a voice stopped her. “Rest, child, you have been through much this day.”
“Aslan?” Teresa asked, looking up as the great lion entered her room.
“Hello, dear Teresa. I heard that you had a problem today.” She nodded.
“Yes, sir, I did. It was so strange. It felt as if someone was ripping my heart in two, right in my chest. It hurt so much, Aslan.”
“I would imagine so, dear one. The heart does not take kindly to being broken.”
“Broken? But my heart isn’t—”
“Dear Teresa, you know the truth. Your magic and your heart are both telling you. It is your unwillingness to accept the truth that has caused you the pain.” Tears welled up in her eyes.
“No,” she said, her voice shaking. “No, it’s not true. I won’t believe it. They wouldn’t—”
“Not intentionally, dear one. No, they would never do this intentionally.”
“No!” she exclaimed, shaking her head even as tears poured down her face. “It’s not true; it’s not true; it’s not true!” Aslan padded softly over and allowed her to bury her face in his mane as she sobbed. “Please, Aslan, tell me I’m wrong. Tell me what I’m feeling isn’t real,” she sobbed.
“I have never lied to you, child, and I will not start now.”
“But nothing has changed. Surely that must mean something?”
“Dear one, you of all people should know the power that belief holds over us. You remain the way you are because you will not accept the truth. When you do, things will change again.” Aslan remained with Teresa until she cried herself to sleep. In the morning, she sent out a search party for the missing kings and queens. In fact, she did this every week for three months. Every day, she got up and had a good cry into Shunkaha’s soft fur, getting out her emotions for the day. She spent her days helping keep Narnia running the best she could with the help of Tumnus and the others, but she, along with everyone else, knew that she was no King Peter. At night, she would cry herself to sleep, clutching her arms around little Rumero, who wasn’t so little anymore. Finally, on the final day of the third month, after the search party came back with nothing, as they always did, Teresa stood on the flower field cliff overlooking the ocean, wearing one of Edmund’s shirts, a necklace that belonged to Susan, a bracelet of Lucy’s and Peter’s silver ring. Shunkaha, Manadu, and Danika stood a little way off, watching silently, while Rumero stood beside Teresa, her hand buried in the fur of his neck.
“What am I to do, Rumero?” she finally asked quietly, the salty wind kissing her cheeks as it had done all those years ago when it had been her and Edmund up here instead. “I’m alone again.”
“No, you aren’t, Reesa,” Rumero replied. “You’ve got me and Father and Mother. Mr. Tumnus and the Beavers, too. And Orieus and Manadu and Donner. You’ve got all of us. We won’t let you be alone.” Teresa smiled a little bit, but not like she used to. She never smiled like she used to anymore. She hadn’t since the day King Edmund left for his hunt. She didn’t smile much anymore either. It was as if all of the happiness had been sucked out of her when Edmund disappeared.
“Thank you, Rumero,” she said quietly, “but I’ve finally accepted it. Peter, Susan, Lucy, and—Edmund are gone.” When she said that, a bright light burst from where she stood. When it finally faded, the twenty-four year-old woman was gone. In her place was a small but strong ten-year old girl, standing in a brown cloak that whipped in the wind with her hand on the neck of a large timber wolf that licked her face lovingly. Tears fell down the little girl’s face, and she whispered a silent request to the wind. “Please,” she pleaded so quietly only the wind would hear her. “Please, if you can, tell him I love him, and I won’t forget.” The wind kissed her face lovingly, as a caring mother would before blowing along. With a sigh that was very heavy for a ten year-old little girl, she climbed up onto the wolf’s back and clung to its neck. “Let’s go, Rumero,” she said quietly. “We have much to do before the Telmarines get here. We must be ready.”
“Of course, Reesa.” With that, the young knight of Narnia, three wolves, and Bengal tiger disappeared into the forest, leaving the ocean cliff quiet. Soon, however, the cliff was filled with the sounds of battle cries and screams, as well as the smashing of boulders against walls that had stood for hundreds of years and crackling of fire. Hurried feet trampled through the forest beyond the cliff, and the ocean had kicked up in a mighty storm, but it was many days before that particular ocean cliff was quiet again, but Narnia would never be the same.