Standard Disclaimer...wait, I haven't done a standard one yet. Maybe I'll try that for a change. All things belonging to Narnia belong, obviously, to Narnia, and therefore not to me.
Wait, that didn't turn out standard after all...maybe I'm just hopeless.
A/N: So...I have two stories planned, one about Peter and one about Tumnus (Peter's is first), but as I haven't written anything in about a month, this idea occurred today and I'm writing it as practice. I hope you all like it.
Beta'd by trustingHim17, who does an exemplary job of making these stories better!
The Professor looked up from the papers scattered over his desk to see Edmund, King of Narnia, Caspian's companion, and one of those dearest to the old professor's heart, standing politely in the doorway, waiting an invitation to come in to the Professor's study. Deportment correct, expression polite, and all that. But the Professor could see one of his hands gripping the doorframe, and knew whatever Edmund was coming about, it weighed on the young King's mind. Well, perhaps he could help.
"Come in at once! I was going mad for lack of interruptions!" Edmund's shoulders eased; it is always a fine thing to be welcomed, and welcomed warmly. "Pull up a chair. That's it. Now," and the Professor put his fingers together and gave the the Just King his full attention, "what can I do for you?"
"It's about Peter, sir." Edmund's lips were pressed firmly together under his clear, sharp eyes, and Professor Kirk thought once again he looked far too old for someone so young. Even with his extra years in Narnia.
"And what has the High King done now, eh?"
"It's what he's going to do, sir." Edmund paused. "He's enlisting," he stated quietly.
The Professor leaned back against his cushioned chair. He closed his eyes, sighing - and remembering. Remembering another war, another hand gripping something tightly as Digory himself said his goodbyes. Even now, the Professor could still see the details of that whitened hand as clearly as the carved lantern on his desk. He opened his eyes again to look at the King still holding on to the sides of his chair with white fingers. "You object?" he asked quietly, playing the opposing advocate. Edmund, Edmund the Judge and Law-Keeper, needed to work things out logically. He needed an opponent to do that with.
Once Susan would have done that for him.
Edmund paused. "He's no longer the King," he whispered quietly.
"Meaning?" the Professor asked sharply. He knew Edmund didn't mean what Susan meant when she said that. Edmund looked up at his tone.
"Peter went on campaigns by himself in Narnia," Edmund explained quickly. "Sometimes I could go with him." He smiled ruefully. "Sometimes even Lucy went. Once, even the Gentle Queen." Professor Digory's eyebrows raised; he was quite curious to know what led to Susan's going to war. "But there were times neither of us could go. None of us. Peter went by himself. We didn't like it - anymore than he did, if one of us had to go into danger, especially alone - but he was still a King, and his safety was still everyone's priority."
"And now he'll just be a regular soldier," Professor Kirk finished. He shook his head. It was times like these he was grateful for ever scar and experience he'd suffered. Every longing his heart had endured, for the smell of a tree and a golden light he'd never seen again. For a life lived with his heart in one place and his duties in another.
He needed it all, to learn the patience and wisdom once he was called to mentor four Sovereigns also outside of their true home.
Edmund nodded, still thinking. And with his fingers still clenched around the wooden arms of the Professor's chair.
"My dear young man," Professor Kirk remonstrated gently, "you yourselves told me what Aslan declared. If He declared Peter a king, a change of world will hardly negate that, will it? In fact," the Professor mused, "from all you've told me, Peter would hardly have been safe in Narnia, either, even with all those soldiers. Were it not for Aslan's aid, he'd never have survived to make it back."
"Aslan's aid, and sometimes Lucy's cordial," Edmund answered wryly, his mood lightening a moment. But the Professor could still see the shadows in the lines on his face, shadows only others who had known fear would recognise.
"What else is troubling you, my boy?" Again, he thanked Aslan - and Christ, to use His other Name - for all he had learned while waiting. Experience became a rich treasure, especially when one of the four not-children sought his aid. "Come, come, that's something you could have worked out for yourself, easily. My body may be going, but my mind's still sharp. Tell me what you're wrestling with."
"Peter - he is a King." The Professor nodded. "He's - he couldn't be anything else. Even at school, in classes, the teachers, the students, they saw it. Head boy, Captain - of both sports he played. He was offered a prestigious position in the government, too, if he went through University." The Professor's eyebrow raised. He hadn't heard about that. Edmund smiled, pride in his voice and pain on his face. "He's a King, and he'll never be anything else."
"And he's Aslan's, and he'll never be anything else. But he's not the only one, you know. Susan listened to your classmates-"
"Fell over themselves to talk to her, this last year" Edmund interjected, a tiny hint of bitterness in his voice. The Professor didn't address it. Susan was still an open wound, for all of them.
"And they told her several tales of her younger brother, too. And of bullies who dared not mock, sneaks who shut their mouths, and a few who even learned courage." The Professor leaned forward. "You've left your own legacy, Edmund, and it's also the legacy of a king."
"Still trying to leave it, sir." Edmund shook his head. "But that's not what I meant. Peter - he's the High King. He leads wherever he goes. Always. And he leads with courage, and all the things we're supposed to have and often don't. Most other leaders fall under his command, if they're the same age. But if they aren't…" he trailed off. "Or if they don't lead like Peter does-" His voice wavered as he fought for control, fought to speak only with the pride his brother inspired, and not his fear for him.
"Some of them may resent him," the professor finished, understanding what Edmund saw - that Peter was indeed a King, and there were men, fearful and afraid, who resented any whose character held what they lacked.
Edmund nodded, wordless, fighting as a child for the control he'd had as a diplomat. "Why can't I go with him?" he cried. "I've fought in wars before. I'm older now than Peter was when he went to Narnia and followed Aslan to our first war!" He buried his face in his hands. "I looked into it. I can't go, not yet, because of these stupid, stupid laws," he whispered. "Not till next year. If Mum and Dad agree. A year by himself, because of law. A law I no longer make, but still have to uphold. Somehow."
"And so you have to let Peter go alone," the Professor said softly. Edmund's face came up quickly.
"But there won't be anyone there to balance him! He needs us, all of us, just like he did in Narnia. And he's going alone, and there will be so many who won't understand, who'll resent him for being a King. He'll be alone, and alone means dead. In a war like this - we've already lost so many. We can't - we can't lose him as well. We can't, Professor. We can't." He scrubbed angrily at his wrists. "It's already hard enough now. If we lost him - how can we be a King or Queens without him?" he whispered. "We can't."
The Professor sighed. "Why did you come to me?" he asked unexpectedly. Edmund, releasing his breath, took a moment to think. The Professor didn't ask unrelated questions.
"Because you've survived away from Narnia, as a Narnian, this long," he responded. It was a judgement all four of them had made soon after coming back, and none of them had regretted it. "Because we need your wisdom."
"And that wisdom is something Aslan has granted me, though I was often entirely alone," the Professor responded gravely. "He does give us what we need, Just King. You, having often been His hands and mouth to do so, know that is true. I can tell you from my experience, as a Narnian - and as a soldier - it is true here as well. Your brother will stay in Aslan's paws, whatever the battlefield. And you, Just King - though I cannot guarantee your brother's safe return," he said, rising and putting his hand on Edmund's shoulder, "I can tell you that Aslan will give you all you need, to remain a King, no matter what world you live in. No matter what happens here." Edmund looked away - still such a boy, a teenager.
Still such a king.
Wise enough to recognise the truth, trying to be strong enough to bear it.
"After all," the Professor finished, "it was not only Peter that Aslan said would be always a King."
Long and tedious A/N: I started this story by doing math, which is always fun for an wired-for-literature-brain. Since I had to do it, I might as well share the results, but you're definitely not required to read them! WWII took place from 1939 - 1945; Peter was born in 1927, and goes to Narnia (the first time) when he's thirteen, which would be 1940. This would make him 18 (age of enlistment) in 1945, the year the war ended. However, the fighting ended in July/August, so there's a chance his 18th birthday was before then, and then there's also a chance he enlisted (if he did) when he was younger. According to Google: "In World War II, the US only allowed men and women 18 years or older to be drafted or enlisted into the armed forces, although 17-year-olds were allowed to enlist with parental consent." I couldn't find similar information for WWII in England, but I did find out that today English citizens can enlist at 16 with parental consent, so it's likely during WWII in England as well. Peter was 22 during The Last Battle, so he would have lived through that second war. trustingHim17 pointed out that Peter went to university; in my timeline here, Professor Kirk had managed well enough to invite the Four (or seven) over for short visits; since Peter is planning to enlist, he would not be planning on going to the University. He'd come back from the war, since it was won that year, and go to the University from there.