Disclaimer: I own very little.
Chapter Forty-One: At Last
I turned away from Jacob and walked slowly toward Caspian, who was talking to the group of confused men that had just come into the room behind my sister. My footsteps seemed to echo as I cleared my mind of everything that had just happened.
"Men, you are welcome to go home to your families! We will have an address in the morning of this evening's events!" Caspian yelled over the group of men after a man had just walked away from him, appearing as though coming out of a rather intense conversation. I had a feeling that tomorrow would be rather interesting.
It took several moments, but before we knew it; the throne room was emptied of everyone except for myself, Caspian, Stephen, Penelope, Trina, and Apollo.
Just as I was about to say something to Caspian, someone had already thrown themselves on me. After a moment of realization, I embraced my sister tightly, happy to have her back to her normal self. It seemed as though she would have stayed there forever with her arms wrapped around me tightly, happy to be back to her normal self.
"Penelope, I-" I started, backing away from her to look straight at me.
She looked at me with tear-stained eyes," I'm so sorry! I should have never been talking with him and should have ignored him from the beginning! Oh, look at what I've done!"
"If I had ignored him like Caspian told me to, then this would have never happened! I'm so-"
I felt as though it was my turn to be the one to interrupt her. Slowly, I pried her off of me and placed both hands onto her shoulders, looking straight into her eyes," Don't apologize anymore, Penelope. It's all over now and none of that matters; do you understand?"
Wiping a tear away, she smiled meekly and nodded her head," Thank you, Rosalie."
I hugged her tight once more before saying," You're very welcome, Penelope."
Words couldn't even describe the feeling of having my sister back to normal. She was my last immediate family that I had left and I didn't plan on losing her anytime soon. For the moment, I was so ecstatic that I could hardly think much of anything else. Everything that had happened was just a blur of the past.
Cheer continued to spin throughout the room for whenever Penelope had run off to embrace Caspian, I saw Apollo and Trina embrace for the first time in many months. How sweet it was to see such a strong couple reunited once more. I couldn't help but smile at the sight of them.
"I should be going," Stephen said, breaking the moment of ecstasy, walking up beside me. "Emily will probably want to know what happened…I'll be back before morning with her. Assuming that we have your permission to return to the castle…your majesty?"
I looked at him and smirked," Of course, Stephen. And you need not refer to me with such a title. I'm of no more worth than any of you."
He smiled in return as he twirled his home made knife in his hand before stuffing it into his pocket," Well, thanks nevertheless, Rosalie."
"You're welcome, Stephen," I answered, still smiling. "I look forward to seeing the both of you tomorrow."
Color came to his face as he started to sidestep toward the door and exit without another word.
Moments later, I turned over to Penelope and Caspian. Penelope felt that it was necessary to apologize to Caspian as well, since she had somewhat deceived him with Jacob and all at the beginning. Of course, he forgave her, but made her promise him that she would listen to him on things such as that from here on out; therefore, there would be no room for mistakes such as this to occur.
"It's good to have you back, Penelope," Caspian said just as I was walking up to join the conversation.
"It's good to be back," she replied, shooting a glance over to Jacob's body laying near the throne. "I can't believe he's gone. I can't believe he turned so bad, but I can't believe the brother we knew so well is dead."
"He's been gone ever since father came out and said that he was plotting against Caspian," I said to Penelope, feeling her pain. "There's nothing we could have done."
"Oh I know," she said dejectedly with a sigh. " But he was so good! So smart. I don't see how he couldn't realize how wrong he was. All of those people, everything that happened because of him…it was so sickening. How could he not see that?"
Silence hung in the air before Caspian spoke.
"I think that there was a side of Jacob that all of us never really saw," Caspian added, glancing over to Jacob. "He always wanted his father's attention. The both of you always got that, but wasn't it always a struggle for him to get that. Even if that meant following what was bad, he wanted dad's approval."
I hadn't ever thought much about that, but it was true. Father had always shown so much love and admiration toward me and Penelope. I remembered how Jacob was always the one that father seemed to overlook. Never before had I felt much remorse over that, mostly because I had never noticed it, but now that it was mentioned…I couldn't help but feel awful.
Caspian, as if reading my thoughts, continued," However, there is a strict line between wanting to be like your father and wanting to become your father. I think that your brother would have fallen into the second category. Normally, something such as that would not be entirely detrimental, but-"
"Considering our father was pure evil," Penelope added, more bluntly than I would have said, but still true.
Caspian smirked at Penelope's boldness before saying," Yes. Jacob chose his own path. We couldn't do anything to change his mind."
As soon as Caspian said this, we all seemed to be quiet. Slowly, I turned my head to look at the limp body on the ground one more time and swore that would be the last. Seconds after, Apollo and Trina were standing in front of us, smiling.
"What next, your majesty?" Apollo questioned, a smile perched on his lips.
Caspian released a sigh as he thought about how he was going to answer. It was odd to think that we really were going to have the opportunity to be the rulers that Narnia expected us to be. This whole time, we had been so worried about the next attack to be planning and how we were to overcome this or that, but the mere fact that we wouldn't have to worry about that…was a relief.
"Finding where Jacob put the servants of the castle. I'm sure they would like to hear that, um, they are to feel at home here. Plus, we are going to need all the help we can get cleaning these bodies out of here," Caspian said finally after a couple minutes.
"Let's be on our way then," Trina said, she also seemed to be confused by the lack of commotion happening. "Caspian, if you don't mind, Apollo and I were going to search both dungeons for our children. We haven't any idea where Jacob has placed them, but-"
"Feel free. If we see anything, anywhere, then we shall inform you immediately," Caspian said, understanding the worry that the both of them were probably experiencing.
"Thank you, Caspian," Apollo said gratefully.
The both of them immediately turned from the group and started to exit. Before they could leave, I had already chased Trina down and tapped her reverently on the shoulder.
"Don't think you're going anywhere yet!" I exclaimed, embracing her tightly.
She chuckled at the gesture and as I broke away from her, she said," I missed you too, Rosalie. It'll be nice for us to piece our lives back together after all this has passed."
"Yes, it will," I said with a smile and then backed away as she walked alongside her husband to go down to the dungeons in search of their children.
Caspian came up beside me as we came to the door leading out of the throne room. I was still in complete amazement that nothing was array. The only thing left to do from here was…to rebuild, which was going to be much more difficult than it sounded.
"And what is it you're thinking about now?" Caspian asked me, putting a playful smirk on his lips as we turned the corner to walk down the corridor.
We walked several paces before I actually answered. Walking down the corridor wasn't exactly normal, due to the fact that there were dead bodies that lay carelessly about and blood that seemed to be splattered along the walls. I tried to ignore the gruesome details as I turned my gaze to Caspian," I'm actually just wondering how we go back to normal."
"Isn't that something that kind of happens on its own?" Caspian teased as we stepped over one of the bodies.
I rolled my eyes and said," Obviously, but still. Think about going back to normal life after all of this has happened. It will be…odd, but yet so wonderful to not have to go on any of these journeys anymore."
All jokes aside, he released a sigh as we came to the main stairwell," I don't know if I even know how to operate without having a little adventure or fear. Plus, didn't you say that you were looking for an adventure, before all this started?"
I sighed in defeat, for I knew he was right," I did say that and, to be honest, it has been nice, but I think I'm ready to settle down a little bit."
He stopped walking and looked at me," Are you, really?"
I furrowed my brow and scrutinized his face," Really. I know that we're both still very young, but I've seen enough adventure for the next few years. In fact, if I don't have another one; I might would be happy with that."
"I would have thought you would be hungry for more," Caspian said, several seconds later with a shake of his head.
"That vision, Caspian-" I tried, but he merely shook his head. He knew of what I was referring to with the dream and such.
"Is still a long ways away," he told me, very seriously.
"Oh, I know, but being able to settle down and have a family…that idea appeals to me. Jacob tried to destroy that, Caspian and I don't-" I tried, but Caspian's mind seemed to be elsewhere.
"Could we finish this conversation later?" He asked, as if he had somewhere else he needed to be.
"Of course," I said with a smirk on my face, finding it funny at how jumpy Caspian seemed to become at the idea of starting a family. Perhaps, it was mental thought that we were so young, but ever since I had seen the image of that little girl, I wanted to meet her. I wouldn't pressure Caspian continually, but I would make sure to keep the idea in his head.
We walked in silence for quite a while as we traveled down the stairs. Just whenever we reached the bottom, a little girl came running down the hall and ran right into Caspian's leg. Concerned, he got down on one leg to see if the little girl was okay. Looking at the little girl, she had tearstained eyes and hair that seemed to be strewn. Her clothes were in rags and I would have doubted that she had a good meal in quite a long time.
"What seems to be the problem, my lady?" Caspian asked, placing a hand on the little girl's arm as she looked at him with wide eyes.
She sniffled, wiping her brown hair out of her face before answering," Do you know where my mommy is?"
The little girl couldn't have been over six years old. It broke my heart to see her so broken up, just as seeing any child nearly in tears would do. This was not the environment that any child should have been in. It wasn't until I looked at the child for a second, thorough time that I realized that this was an older, frailer Isabella.
I got down on my knee beside Caspian and asked the girl," Is you mommy's name Trina, sweetheart?"
Pouting her lip, she nodded and said," Yes. Do you know her?"
Caspian chuckled slightly before saying," We can take you to her now, if you'd like."
She nodded her head pitifully and then offered his hand to her," May I have your hand, my lady?"
A smile came to the little girl's face as she placed her tiny hand into Caspian's. I could hardly say anything, but merely watch the two of them as they walked back up the stairs. I couldn't help but beam at the sight of that. Even to little girls, Caspian seemed to be a charmer. Moments later, another small voice could be heard echoing through the halls.
"Wait for me! Isabella!" a little boy's voice yelled from the opposite end of the corridor.
"Caspian!" I said seriously as I walked down to the bottom floor, only to be ran into by a little boy, running at full speed. He had hair like his sister's, only a little lighter. He looked just like I remembered him, only much skinnier. I didn't want to know what either of these children had experienced over the last couple of months.
Instinctively, I placed my hand under her arms and pulled him up to my hip," Are you Mr. Emory?"
He, like his sister had done, pouted his lip and said," Yes."
"There's your sister right up there," I pointed to her, which caused him to relax some. "We're going to take you to your mommy and daddy, alright?"
He furrowed his brows and stared right at me; he looked so much like Apollo," Alright."
He hadn't much else to say, but that was fine by me. I was more excited that we would be able to reunite the family once and for all. Another site that made me smile, was the sight of Caspian holding hands with little Isabella and talking to her with such interest. He was so good with children yet he the thought of having children scared him.
I tried striking up some conversation with Emory, but he seemed to have little interest in anything other than being back with his mommy and daddy again. Caspian and I walked around the top level first, to see if we could find them before they went for the dungeons. Seeing as though we had been too late, we made our way back down to find them just where they said they would be.
"Mommy!" The little Isabella screamed, and nearly tossed Caspian's hand aside as soon as we set foot in the dungeons, as if it were useless and went running as fast as she could toward the tall, slender woman.
Trina, who was looking deep inside one of the cells, shot her head up immediately. Just as she did, Emory basically threw himself from my arms and went running after his sister. I walked up beside Caspian and watched as the Trina got down on her knees, nearly in tears as her children climbed atop of her.
"Apollo!" She cried out, tears spilling from her eyes as both her children began yelling joyously.
I looked at Caspian and smiled, but not wanting to disturb them any longer, the both of us turned and exited the dungeons to leave the family to their reunion.
Standing before us that next day had been a mob of confused, upset Telmarines. I couldn't say that I would have suspected any less of them, but their questions ranged from reasonable, to downright rude. If I were to rewrite every question written, then I could quite possibly fill an entire novel.
We were standing at the same place at which we had sent the Pevensies home, answering any question that the people could think of. There were still plenty of tasks that needed to get accomplished up at the castle; therefore, whenever midday came about and the people were no where near stopping; Apollo had to step in and set a limit.
"We've time for one more question or comment," Apollo yelled, over the crowd that was nearly going crazy by this point.
My eyes widened as I watched the crowd fight over whose hand got to the air first. The people deserved their answers, but it seemed as though all of this had been a failure. They were hardly even listening to us! After listening to the anger and bitterness that these people possessed, I was nearly convinced it was better for us out in the wilderness.
"Rosalie left us once! How are we suppose to know that we are not going to be abandoned again? How are we to know that any of you are not going to leave again?" A small woman near the back of the crowd was picked to ask, she had a young child on her hip and her dark hair was tied back into a tight bun.
I felt it necessary that I give her a worthy answer. I wasn't going to sugarcoat it or make it sound any better than what she was getting. This was the question that I had been dreading to give them an answer for, but neither could I give her nothing. She had a family that was depending on us to keep her safe. She deserved an answer.
"Ma'am, I want you to know that had I been able to stay here, then I would have. Jacob was using me for his advantage, I thought that perhaps if I played his game, then an opportunity would arise in which I could use that against him. I was wrong. I made a mistake in ever doing anything he told me to do. I can only hope that you can forgive me for that.
"On a different note, I want it noted that I do not wish to leave Telmar for battle or danger or any sort, but obviously should anyone pose a threat to Narnia, then I will have to leave again or do what I must to protect the people. I want you to have the faith in not only myself, but also the rest of us that we would never abandon you for the worst. If we leave, then we will be back. If we are not back, then you can assume us dead. Any one of us would be willing to die for the safety of you and your people. I know that this is going to be a long road, but I pray that one day you will have a restored confidence in us. For now, please, give us a chance to rebuild your trust."
I hadn't a clue how they would respond. In fact, I thought they were mad by the first moment of silence for the entire duration of our trip, but I saw the woman smile. She nodded her head to me," Thank you for an honest answer."
"Thank you for your question," I said, glancing at her nervously before looking back to Caspian.
It was rather awkward. After I had spoken, the crowd had turned rather silent. There was nothing more that needed to be said and after several seconds, Apollo gave one last nod to the crowd before leading us off. I still didn't know if they were pleased, displeased, confused, angry, or content. I swallowed hard and with one last nod to the crowd left the platform.
Just as I reached the ground again, a single person started clapping. Caspian shot a look back, just after I did. The effect grew and before I realized it, the entire crowd was applauding us as we were escorted back to the castle.
Was it possible that in the matter of just one single answer…I had been able to convince them of their ways? I looked up to the sky and felt a peace in my stomach. A peace that no other source could have provided for me. The lion that had always been and would continue to always be there for us was still there.
"I think that going back to normal is going to be easier than you think," Caspian whispered to me as he slid his hand into mine.
The sound of the applause echoed through my head for the rest of the day.
We had been able to start the project to clean up the castle and Telmar once and for all. Caspian returned to his study to find it an absolute mess from Jacob. Caspian, resuming his role as king, began writing to all the surrounding nations whom we had lost contact with before. He wrote asking for any assistance in supplies they could send us.
In addition to this, Telmarines teamed up to go into the forest to get a amounts of wood to begin repairs on the homes in the city. Caspian and I decided that the damage on the castle was too extensive to begin at the moment, but we could at least start by helping the servants, who were locked up in the dungeons, to clean up the bodies lingering around the courtyard and grounds. It may not have been the most cleanly job, but it needed to be done.
We still hadn't much idea what we were going to do with the bodies, but we first decided it would have been best to isolate them outside of the castle near the forest. We searched the entire castle over the length of a day. Every once and a while, I would take a break to see that the entire city seemed to be out and about again, trying to get used to the new freedoms. It was a nice picture if I looked passed all of the damage and blood splattered about the town. Even though we had been applauded the day before, I still saw many wary glances shot our way as Caspian, Emily, Penelope, or I walked down the streets like a normal civilian.
There was no social ranking divisions between us. There was nothing other than a common people trying to work together and help our city back onto its feet.
Later in the day, Emily and Stephen rode back into the town with a surprised aura about them.
Immediately, I embraced Emily as tenderly as I could after Stephen lifted her from the horse to the ground. I really should have been up in the hospital wing being tended to, but I kept my pain hidden as best as I could, especially when hugging Emily, who already was looking loads better under the tender care of the lady centaur.
"I wish I could have seen it happen," Emily said with a small smile as Caspian came walking over to embrace both Stephen and Emily.
A smile came to my lips," All that matters is that it's over now. We can…restart from here. You played a tremendous role in all of this."
The servant girl returned the gesture before turning to Caspian and embracing him. They carried on a brief conversation before Emily assisted me in walking about the castle grounds to oversea the projects being done. Stephen and Caspian were still in conversation, but just as we were returning from our walk, I heard them speaking of something that sounded rather serious.
"…they claimed to have somewhere else they needed to be, but they would be back soon to speak with you," Stephen said, just as I stepped beside him. "They were glad to have played a part in this. I know had it not been for their watch over Emily, she may not have made it."
"Yes, it will be good to have them back," Caspian answered, finishing their conversation.
Stephen looked at me with a smile before turning over to help tidying up the grounds once more. I realized that at that moment I wouldn't be able to learn anything more of what they were talking about. With that in the back of my head, I focused on the cleaning of the Narnia.
The start of the new Narnia.
That evening, after we had finished what work we could for the day, I stood on the edge of our balcony. A light breeze blew and I pulled my thin night robe closer. Gazing out over the nation, I saw many people still out and about, trying to figure out just what to do. Some celebrations were taking place, but some families chose to stay locked inside for the evening. I couldn't blame them. Everyone seemed to have mixed feelings over this sudden change of lifestyles.
I couldn't help but remember the Narnia that I saw as a child growing up. There never seemed to be a problem when I was little. I then remembered how drastically I was forced to erase that memory from my head and engage on a quest to find a new Narnia; the Narnia rebuilding itself in front of me. How odd it was to replay all of this inside of my head.
A sigh released my lips as I leaned against the railing. I did not think that my mother would have ever believed this story had she come back. I didn't think she would have believed much of what happened after her death; however, she would have been pleased to know that I married Caspian. She would have been pleased to know that I was queen, but she would have not been pleased at how young all of this happened.
My mother wanted me to be more than just a housewife at a young age. She, too, had married father young and had children at an early age. I remember her always telling me that no matter who I married, Caspian or someone else, then to wait until I was old enough. I did not think that she would have thought nineteen, was enough maturity to be settling down with a husband and being forced into royalty.
I then remembered all of the events that had happened to Caspian and I over the past months and year then remembered that we had been a special case. There had been much maturity that had been thrust upon the both of us. Had we acted like others our age, then Narnia would be in rubble. We had the protecting eye of Aslan, always watching over us. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that Aslan wanted to make a statement through all of the events that had occurred through not only Caspian and I, but the other young friends we had with us.
For too long, young people had been overlooked in Narnia, especially young women. Perhaps, whenever the city was stable once more, then the young men and women of Narnia would step up and take positions of leadership. Perhaps, their voice would finally have the opportunity to be heard rather than muffled. The thought brought a smile to my face as I leaned against the balcony.
"You must be thinking about something again," a voice from behind me said and instantly I knew it was Caspian.
I released a sigh before turning to look at him," You always seem to pop up right when I'm having those moments."
With a boyish smirk on his face, he came forward and joined me at the balcony," Or, you just have these moments too much."
I rolled my eyes, still smiling as I shifted my gaze back to Telmar," It can't really hurt."
"No, but considering that has been all you've been through over the last few months, I'd say the less over-thinking you do…the better," He said as-matter-of-factly before I turned to look at him once again.
I noticed that he was clad in a light night tunic. Through the material, and with the help of the moonlight, I noticed the large bandage, still covering his shoulder. He would probably strangle me if I asked any further about it to see just how he was feeling, so I hesitantly turned my head.
He, in turn, smiled," We might actually get to experience normal for a little while."
He then turned his gaze to Telmar, where I was still looking over the active city, eager to rebuild. A silence hung between the two of us, but it was not the awkward type of silence that always feels uneasy, but it was more of a peaceful silence. A silence that could not have been recreated anywhere else.
Suddenly, I felt his hand atop of mine as he spoke," Can you believe it's all over?"
I looked down at his hand, delicately placed above my own," Hardly. My ridiculous family seems to be all we and the people can think about over the last couple years. It seemed as though we were just getting used to freedom without the Pevensies and here we are, almost two years later, finally getting started on that. Where do we go from here?"
I felt his thumb gently rubbing against my skin," I think that we just need to stay focused on the current task which is cleaning up the city. After that, we can worry about seriously running the country. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves."
There was another silence.
"I killed him, Caspian," I whispered hoarsely, feeling a rush of childhood memories flush over me once again. I had sworn that I would try to forget, but at that moment, standing in the castle…I couldn't help but think of my brother once more. "He's dead because of me."
Caspian looked at me, slightly taken aback by my sudden change of subject, but he instantly seemed to understand the problem," Rosalie, you know that there's nothing you can do about that. He brought it upon himself-"
"I understand that part, Caspian. I understand that I did my duty to Narnia, but what I will never be able to live with is abandoning both he and Emily," I looked straight into his dark eyes. "I left them without any knowledge of what would happen. I got lucky to have such a dedicated sister, but I thought about what would have happened had Jacob been the one to abandon me. I don't know what I would have done, Caspian. He didn't have to be a threat to the nation."
Involuntarily, I felt heat rush to my face and my eyes began to water as I spoke. I was stronger than this, I was, but it was just…so hard.
Caspian, seeing that I was torn up over this, immediately moved closer to me and placed a hand on the side of my cheek. He turned my head to face him and by that time, tears were streaming down my face. I was embarrassed more than anything, but the touch of his hand on my skin was comforting.
"Rosalie, there's nothing you can do about that now. You can either let the thought of what could have been torture you for the rest of your life or you can move on. Granted, this is easier said than done, but I want you to know that it doesn't have to be a short process. Physical wounds take a long time to heal, but emotional wounds…they take twice as long and could leave twice the amount of scars. I know that this thought is conflicting you right now, but please try not to regret it. It happened for a reason, no matter how painful," he told me, very quietly as he stroked my face with his thumb, as he quietly whispered the last part, "More importantly, you don't have to go through recovery alone."
I stared at him for a long moment, watching as he wiped away the tears. I felt embarrassed for my actions, but I tried to listen to his words. He was right. I didn't have to pretend like this didn't pain me, but I couldn't hang onto it forever either. The process could be long, but at least I would be on the track to healing. For that moment, I just had to cope with the fact that it had happened.
The rest…would fall into place on its own.
"You'll be here with me, right?" I asked, still very quietly speaking. "As long as it takes?"
He tucked a stray hair behind my ear," Always."
I forced a smile onto my face, but the tears were still draining from my eyes. He returned my smile and moved his hand away briefly as he leaned in and pressed his lips softly to my own.
Neither of us could have ever hoped to be perfect. In fact, if given the opportunity then we would have had plenty of things that we would have gone back and changed in our story. I knew that killing my brother would be something that I would struggle with for the rest of my being. It would be a constant battle, but with Caspian by my side and a new horizon ahead, then anything was possible.
Author's Note: Alright, so I'm a bad person, I know. I've kept this chapter from you for a long time, but I've been carefully planning out how I want this story to end. There's going to be another chapter after this before the epilogue. Sorry guys, life has gotten hectic! Hang on with me! Next chapter will be up soon. :D