This is written for Queen Rebecca the Sweet, in thanks for her reviews of A Rabbit's Trust, and in hope that such a story might make convalescence a little easier. Originally, I was going to just write about Edmund, because I haven't written enough about him, but then I considered that both Queen Rebecca and SouthwestExpat were kind enough to like the little white rabbit and want more of her, and so... this happened.
Even if Queen Rebecca doesn't feel up to reading this (and that is completely, totally and utterly fine), maybe just seeing that it exists might brighten her day?
(Moral of the story: review and I will love you forever, or something like that.)
This is set post-ART, in a dream that doesn't really fit with how I've established dreams as working... it's kind of an AU, we'll say that. Or there's a spot of time travel going on. Or reincarnation. Who knows. Just enjoy the story. ;)
Enjoy, and please review!
The little white Rabbit ran out of the woods, the grass soft and aromatic under her paws. So intent was she on her goal that it took a Horse's impatient whinny, and a hoof in her way, before she realised she was not alone.
"And where are you going in such a hurry?" snorted the Horse, eyeing her.
Taira shrank down a little, and answered, "Just to the dandelion patch."
"So? Rabbits can be diurnal, if we want to be."
"But you, young Taira, aren't."
"I am today. Besides, I'm hungry, Phillip, let me past."
Phillip snorted again softly and stepped back. Taira continued on her way.
At the dandelion patch, she nibbled daintily on a leaf for a few moments, before suddenly dashing through the rest of the patch and into the woods on the other side. Her breakneck pace did not slow until she spotted the one she'd really come to see. He was smiling at something Queen Lucy had just said, the light catching on his delicate crown and making his blond hair seem to glow. There was a contented sort of peace on his face as he looked at his royal siblings.
Taira slowed and stopped, hesitating beyond the happy group.
Queen Lucy, as usual (many said she could feel the presence of every animal in Narnia), was the first to notice, elegant head turning to look at her.
"And who have we here, little one?"
Taira stood up in the grass, trying to look less little. "Just me, Queen Lucy. Taira, the Rabbit."
"Ah, Taira, come and join us," the High King invited her. "By the Mane, we have scarcely seen your welcome face for many moons."
"I thank you, sire," she said gratefully. "But I was seeking an audience with King Edmund, he who is called Just, if I could have it."
"Certainly." He rose, towering over her. "Come with me, friend Taira, and I shall try to help thee in thy concern."
She followed him into a tiny, vibrantly coloured glade, and he sat down on a mossy stone, studying her with grave, worried eyes.
"What is thy concern, small friend?"
She shifted her paws uncertainly. "I—I don't know how to begin, sire."
He reached out and put his fingertips gently on her shoulder, a comforting, yet not too familiar gesture. "Thou canst begin anywhere, believe me, and I shall remain."
Taira sat up and chewed her paw. "It is just..." She trailed off.
He remained silent.
"A hypothetical question." She knew as soon as she had said it that her emphasis had been far too strong. "Hypothetically, sire, if I saw an alyo who refused to listen to reason, what ought to be done with him?"
"He ought to be brought before us at Cair Paravel, that we should judge him."
She shifted uncomfortably. "And... and hypothetically, sire, if I had then seen a tairo take matters into his own paws and go about summarily executing him, what then?"
His voice grew very gentle. "Then it would be the tairo who would stand before us."
"Even though he removed the blight on the world that was that alyo?"
"Was it premeditated? Did the alyo attack him and he responded in self-defense?"
Again she hesitated. "It was premeditated, sire. And—and not officially as part of the army. The alyo was there, proclaiming what he thought about the White Witch."
King Edmund suddenly seemed larger than before, and all the laughter that had lurked deep in his eyes was extinguished.
"He wanted to return the White Witch," she continued, voice trembling slightly. "And this tairo, the next day, attacked and killed him."
"And thou art concerned for the justice of the matter?" asked King Edmund, gravely. "Who is the tairo involved? Does he still live? For thou must understand that vigilante justice promises a quick end even to a wise tetrarchy."
"But you wouldn't—" She stopped, and tried again. "You wouldn't kill him, would you?"
He remained silent, then said after a moment, "He would be judged according to Aslan's law."
"King Edmund," she said, suddenly and boldly, "what if this happened after your reign had ended? When everyone must find for themselves what they must do to be in the right?"
He shot her a piercing glance, and Taira looked away.
"Dost thou know something, then, that we do not? Art thou Aslan-gifted?"
She wondered if it was something she could talk about, without somehow affecting the outcomes she knew must be, and her heart ached. "I—"
"It is enough." By the kindness of his tone, the words were robbed of their sting. "And thou art troubled by what has, or will, happen? The tairo you speak of is in the wrong, and yet may have a good heart. I knew one, once, whom we believed to be a friend, but who slipped away in fear after we had spoken our most secret plans in front of him. And yet he was tairen."
"Cor." The name slipped out of her mouth before she could stop it. King Edmund met her gaze and gave a slow nod.
"Prince Cor of Archenland, yes; and a more honest and true fellow I could not conceive of, save my own royal brother."
"King Edmund," she said slowly and carefully. "I thank you for telling me this. And yet—if this tairo repented, and ceased to do so, what then?"
He shifted, still studying her with a piercing blue gaze. "Aslan be the judge. We cannot know what is right to do always. And in a time where there are no laws enforced..."
She remained silent, watching him consider her conundrum and feeling love and grief rise, inextricably mixed, within her.
"It is murder, what this tairo has done, for he ought to bring it to the leaders. Yet when there are no leaders..."
"There is a self-appointed body, and they appointed him. Hypothetically," she added, though it was a farce to still pretend the hypothetical nature of it.
King Edmund looked, for the first time, a little lost. "Aslan be his judge when I cannot be," he breathed softly.
"Shall you inform your royal siblings of this conversation?"
"Nay, not the specifics. They shall be mine alone; mine to bear." His shoulders straightened. "I thank you, friend Taira, for coming to me with your concerns. I cannot tell, as to this tairo, whether his actions are right or not. And yet now, if he has repented, that is better still. It is a weary thing to be judge of the nation." For an instant he looked tired, yet strong and noble at once, a hidden heartbreak briefly showing itself. "And yet I would not give it up for anything less than Aslan's will."
Then King Edmund arose, and Taira followed him, back to the brightness of his siblings, and all together they forgot their cares for a single, glorious day.
I do hope you enjoyed this! Please review, tell me if you liked it. (Did you spot the single movie reference?) What do you think of Edmund's final conclusion?
Please review; the more critical (within reason), the better.