Disclaimer: Though King Lune is a person I would dearly love to meet, I do not own him, nor his history.
A/N: I had sadly assumed this series was finished, but to my joy Sophia_the_Scribe suggested another character! And an excellent one at that; King Lune could be described as joy after loss. She also suggested Job 1:21b:
"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
Beta'd by trustingHim17 - thank you!
I speak to you of the gifts of Aslan. Aravis, my soon-to-be daughter, this is a truth I wish my good lady could have taught you. Alas! That is beyond us now. But 'tis a truth every king or queen should know.
As of yet, hast never had a child. I had but two, my two lively boys! Boys no longer, and one to be yours on the morn. Yet when they were born—like myself, both were loud and fat and round. Their nurse who said Corin's cry could take the place of the hunting horns that call the hounds, and Cor stared at him as he drooled all over my wife's shoulder. The gifts we're given are seldom always pleasant, but they're gifts nonetheless.
Take kingship, if you would. Well did my second son declare with joy he should never be king! 'Tis a gift, Aslan sent, for we're Aslan appointed, and under His authority. Honor and power and wealth, indeed! And constraint and responsibility and the need to be the first to give. Kingship is a gift, and a heavy one at that.
But aye, His gifts. Aslan's gifts, Aravis of Archenland, has this strange requirement, that it may be taken back. You were given Archenland as a home, a gift, and were given to us a gift as well. But some day, if He wills, Aslan could call you back, back to the land of your birth. Be not alarmed, for I do not see that happening. But it is the right of Aslan to ask it of us.
I, I was given a gift beyond price. Hast heard before of my courtship of Cor's mother, wise beyond her years, and in my eyes her beauty rivalled even Queen Susan's. But we have not told you much of her death.
We tried often for children, for a king must have heirs. But Aslan knew us better and did not grant us that gift for five years. Oh, what a gift those five years were! But for our lack of children, Archenland flourished.
Then, at last, we were given what we longed for. My sweet consort grew larger and larger, far beyond the normal size, and we learned we'd been given not one, but two. Oh, our happiness! For hard had we tried, and we wondered if our son or daughter would be solitary, bearing the burden of royalty alone. But no! For within her were two. Larger and larger she grew, till she could not dress or even slip her small feet into slippers without help, and to my eyes she radiated a purer, brighter beauty than before.
Yet this, my dear child, was the hardest lesson of all. For our sons were born, and the two of us laughed as they cried, loved them till they quieted, and listened with awe to their futures.
But my love never left her bed again. Giving birth had weakened her, and we were given but a few weeks. Oh heart-rending gift! For Aslan had given me my wife, and three weeks after the birth of our sons, He took her away. The first week we waited, waited for her color to grow pink again, her energy to return. She held our children only to feed them, or in the hours after we both learned Cor would save Archeland from its greatest peril, and our pride knew no bounds. But that day exhausted her, and the next morning I could not wake her.
The second week we called the doctors, the healers, and though they were able to wake her, they said something inside her had broken. It was something they could not fix. I gripped her wrist, that withering, thin wrist. Her face, whiter than Narnia's winter, looked to mine, and oh, Aravis, may you never have to see fear like that in the faces you love. The doctors left, unable to help us, and we wept.
The third week I sent to Narnia, to our fellow sovereigns, begging for their help. We waited, my Queen often asleep, her wrist still in my grasp. We waited in vain, for we had left calling for help till too late. Queen Lucy and her cordial were far in the North, and though Hawks flew and Squirrels ran, she did not make it to our court in time. I buried my wife.
I had yet to learn this lesson, and my daughter, I did not deal well. Grief is allowed, and takes much time to fade, but anger—it is understandable, but mine surpassed reason. My attention slid off my court, my future, my responsibilities, even my sons, as I demanded of Aslan why I was not able to keep my wife. Why He kept Queen Lucy till she was one day late, till after my wife's last breath. And so when a case was brought before me, of a Lord Chancellor who had taken from us money, I settled it carelessly, and looked no further into his motives.* If I had—well, all things turn out well in Aslan's plan, but it is a warning I need, now. If I had looked harder, been a better king, perhaps I might have learned of his evil and rooted it out sooner. Distracted by not only grief, but anger, I did not.
And so Lord Bar took my son. I lost my wife, my confidence, and then my first-born son.
I chased, fury in my heart climbing with each rolling wave, and we caught up, we gained justice, our enemies perished-but I still lost my son. And I came back to an empty Archenland and a crying child, and wondered how the prophecy would be fulfilled when I had lost so much.
Yes, child, you understand that. You too have raged against the loss of loved ones, of freedom, for you have lost much and grieved much. You have been given much, too, and I bid you remember it.
And remember that Aslan may give much, but also take it away. I had five years with my wife, for He refused us a child. He gave us two children, and took one away for far too many years, but saved my kingdom when I could not, and returned my son to me at the same time.
All He gives you, He may take away. Every joy may turn to sorrow; every sorrow may turn to joy. In all things, Aslan is good.
*I know this delays the timeline a bit, because it appears in the book that Lord Bar started planning to kidnap Cor as soon as he heard the prophecy, but I'm pretending kidnapping a prince took a few weeks of plotting and thus the extended timeline. I've also wondered if the Queen of Archenland lived much longer, since King Lune regrets her absence when he welcomes Aravis, and that'd be a bit strange if it happened so many years before. So this is probably a bit AU for the sake of a point, but, well, I liked it and I'm leaving it?
A/N: So, this chapter gave me a ton of trouble; I wrote four vastly different beginnings. I also wrote a very different ending, one I liked enough I wanted to keep, and here it is, another lesson King Lune learned, and probably said to Cor:
Some Aslan appointed to be warriors, some parents, some judges, some prophets. Kings, my son, he appointed to be all these things. We fight as warriors who love not the sword, but what it defends.* We suffer and laugh and love as parents, yet ones who know our children are not our own, but the kingdom's. We judge between man and man, or man and animal, and the fury of Aslan upon us if we do not judge fairly and wisely both! And we do not know the future, as the Centaurs do, but we are called to foresee it, and to speak truth. To be a king is a higher honor and a heavier task. As you live, remember it.
We are Aslan's kings.