About a week later, Edmund and Calypso, a princess of neighboring Terebinthia, were married in a grand event, the festivities lasted for about a week. Nico was enthralled at first with the partying, but being a more serious guy and something of an introvert, the partying began to wear him down after four straight days of it. He began to wish he had gone with the newly wed couple on their honeymoon, even if to only work as a valet, anything to get away from the excess partying. He was more than grateful when the partying was finally over.
“Do you Narnians always celebrate something for this long?” Nico asked Lucy the morning after the festivities had ended.
Lucy shook her head, “Sometimes it’s just for a day, Christmas is the most at twelve days.”
Nico rolled his eyes and moaned, “You guys like partying way too much.”
“What do you mean? We only party for more than a week on very special occasions.”
“Like the King’s wedding?”
“Well of course, he’s only getting married once, you know.”
“And what happens if he ends up marrying again?”
“I highly doubt that, Calypso is very strong, she’s a daughter of Atlas, after all.”
“But still . . .” began Nico.
Lucy interrupted him, “But still it may not ever happen, they love each other truly and deeply. Edmund might not marry again if Calypso were to die before they’ve reached thirty years of marriage.”
Nico eyed her, “Are you sure about that?”
Lucy crossed her arms, “Yes.”
“Good, because I don’t ever want to go through that again.”
Lucy burst out laughing, “You’ve forgotten, Susan and I still have yet to get married!”
Nico groaned, “Of course, which one of you is next?”
Lucy shrugged, “Neither of us, really, we haven’t found any guys we particularly like. Maybe they’re both Archenlanders, you never know.”
Nico glanced at her, “Yeah, maybe. What about the guys in Calormen?”
Lucy shivered, “What? No, those guys treat women like garbage! And they think we’re barbarians!”
Nico chuckled, “If we weren’t so much like you, I’d say the same thing!”
“Hey!” Lucy swatted at him, but he swiftly caught her arm and pulled her close. She gasped at the contact and for one swift moment, they looked into each other’s eyes. They couldn’t explain what was happening, nor what they had seen, but it was beautiful, and though it had only lasted a matter of seconds, it seemed like an eternity. Whatever spell they seemed to be under was broken by a familiar voice.
“Oh, there you two are! You have got to see this!” called Mr. Tumnus as he waved them over. Lucy paused and glanced at Nico before heading over to where her friend stood, followed not long afterwards by Nico.
“What is it?” asked Lucy.
A mischievous glint sparkled in the faun’s eyes, “You’ll see, just follow me!”
“It had better not be more partying,” muttered Nico.
“Oh, don’t worry, there’s a lot of work involved, with only a little bit of partying,” grinned Tumnus.
Nico raised his eyebrow, “What? What exactly is this?”
The faun’s eyes twinkled even more, “You basically just caught a hint of it. Now come on!” Nico and Lucy glanced at each other questioningly as the faun took off without giving them a chance to ask another question. Sighing, they ran to catch up with the faun, each one trying to figure out what he meant by catching a hint. They followed Tumnus out of the castle and to a lovely little spot in the garden where a picnic lunch was set up, waiting for them.
“Why, Mr. Tumnus, it’s lovely!” exclaimed Lucy, her eyes wandering over the delicious assortment of goodies set out.
“That really looks like a lot of work,” muttered Nico.
Tumnus laughed, “Oh, the working part will come sooner than you think, don’t worry about that. For now, sit back and relax, enjoy the moment, there’s still much to do!”
Nico rolled his eyes, “And pray, tell me, what is the difference between relaxing and partying?”
“Relaxing requires peace and quiet, partying requires laughter and music. Which do you prefer?”
Nico blinked, “Relaxing, I guess.”
“Ah, then relax, for after both work and fun, you must relax. Come, what would you like to eat?” Nico and Lucy surveyed the assortment before making their order. Once Tumnus had served himself, the three sat down and chatted gaily. When Lucy spoke, Nico couldn’t help noticing the way her hair caught the sunlight, the way her eyes sparkled, the way her face lit up whenever she smiled, especially at him. He caught himself and shook the thoughts out of his head, what was he thinking? Why was he noticing all of this, why was it so important in his mind? He quickly pondered over those questions while Tumnus cleaned up. Could it be? Was it possible? Was he falling in love with her? He glanced at her; why? They couldn’t be more different than, well, night and day! Sure, opposites attract, but this was ridiculous.
It was Tumnus who snapped him out of his thoughts with a cheerful cry of “Follow me! Still so much to do!” With a groan, Nico reluctantly got up and followed Tumnus and Lucy to the river. Tumnus bade them into the boat before taking the oars and rowed them up the gentle river. Lucy proceeded to pelt him with questions, all of which he answered with a mere grin and a question back at them, getting them into a conversation away from Lucy’s questions, for a little while. Finally, Tumnus moored the boat and the trio disembarked. The faun played on his pipes as he hopped and skipped ahead of them.
Lucy chuckled, “Mr. Tumnus, really! Where are we . . .?” She paused as they came across a stone staircase and a stone table that was cracked in half. Lucy and Tumnus, his pipes back on his belt, walked towards the stone table slowly, almost reverently. Nico wondered at their actions before he too slowly followed them. “Oh, Mr. Tumnus!”
“I thought it best that he saw it for real.” Lucy glanced at Nico, and held out her hand.
Nico glanced at the outstretched hand, “Uh . . .”
“This is the table where Aslan laid down his life for Edmund,” whispered Lucy, a soft sorrow entering her otherwise cheerful eyes. Nico recalled the story Lucy had told him of the Pevensie’s arrival to Narnia and how they had overthrown Jadis, the White Witch. An inkling of understanding entered his mind, Lucy had been a very young girl when she witnessed the murder, basically, call it what it was, of the most powerful being in all of Narnia, of the whole universe, if what Lucy had said was true. Nico didn’t take her hand, but he did follow her and Tumnus around the table. He glanced at the writing around the table as he pondered the intensity of love that a lion felt for one boy he barely knew. Or did Aslan already know him, knowing beforehand what would happen, being the king of the universe that he was? Nico paused, did Aslan know him, and knowing that the son of Hades would save the young queen, had thus made no move and made sure that Nico would make new friends? Did the Great Lion in fact stage the whole thing to bring about an end to an useless feud? A great wind blew around them, taking them by surprise, on many levels. It was warm, like the breath of a great animal, and the scent of roses and lilies wafted through it. Nico was starkly reminded of a cozy fire by the hearth, warm and inviting. A voice seemed to echo in his head.
“Fear not, child of Hades, I will never shun you nor forsake you. Go, speak to Peter, go to your people, prepare them for a truce. This has gone on for far too long. Watch for me, I shall come soon. Though you will not always see me, nor will I always grant you what you wish, know that I have and will always stand by your side. You are not alone. You were never alone.”
“N-Nico?” The voice seemed to snap Nico out of a trance. He glanced at Lucy, a worried look on her face as she held out a handkerchief. That’s when Nico noticed the tears streaming down his face, and he felt as if a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He accepted the handkerchief right before he sank to the ground in tears. Lucy and Tumnus cradled him until he stopped, but the three sat like that for some time afterwards, until Tumnus rose.
“We should head back to Cair Paravel, it’s getting late.” Lucy and Nico nodded before rising to follow him back to the boat. The way back was silent, for the most part. Lucy finally convinced Nico to reveal what he had heard.
Lucy clasped his hands, “Oh, Nico! You shall never want for friends again. I for one can never forget you, how can I? You made quite the first impression.”
Nico grinned, “Glad you approve, princess.”
“I’m not a princess, I’m a queen!” humphed Lucy, placing her hands on her hips. Nico and Tumnus started chuckling.
“But all joking aside, how will you go about getting them to actually meet without drawing weapons?”
Nico winced, “That’s the part that worries me.”
“Well, a nice hot meal and a good night’s sleep might help with that,” commented Tumnus as they neared the port to Cair Paravel.
“That might help, but,” he paused and glanced at Lucy, “if your majesty wouldn’t mind, I’ll need an audience with your brother.”
Lucy gasped, “You’ll do it, you’ll be the ambassador?”
“For now, at least, to get things started.”
“Oh you wonderful dear!” she exclaimed as she gave him a big hug.
Tumnus cleared his throat, “Ahem, we’re here.” He jumped out of the boat onto the dock and quickly fastened the rope around a post. He returned to the boat to give Lucy a hand up, but when Nico got on the dock, he couldn’t help but notice that the faun was grinning from ear to ear.