Before The Moon Rose
by Katie Vieceli

It was his first night aboard the Dawn Treader, and Edmund was lying in his hammock, watching the reflected moonlight play on the ceiling of the cabin. He was too excited to sleep. He was back in Narnia! The horrible holiday filled with health food and college lectures that his aunt and uncle would surely have dragged him to was truly and completely done for.

"Are you all right?" Edmund scrambled for a match and lit the lantern, bathing the small cabin in light. Caspian was sitting up in his hammock, his face a sickly pale shade of grey.

"I'm fine, Edmund," he replied, "but if you would get Drinian, please. He'll know what to do."

Edmund was already pulling on his shoes. "Is it his turn at the wheel tonight?"

"Yes. And please, hurry."

He spent the rest of the night in Lucy's cabin, talking of past adventures and ignoring Eustace, who had insisted he was too ill to sleep in "that horrible Black Hole" and in the morning Caspian seemed fine again.


Edmund counted to a hundred,, then rolled over onto his side and looked at Caspian, trying to make him out in the darkness. "Are you asleep?"

"No. I hate to say this, Edmund, but I'm so parched I can not think straight." He rubbed a weary hand over his eyes. "If only I could be like your kinsmen here." Muffled snores could be heard from Eustace's bunk, which was a good twenty feet away.

"Oh, Eustace. He could sleep through a hurricane, the lazy git." Edmund threw his pillow in the general direction of the bunk and the snores stopped. "Do you remember the feast we had after we defeated the Telmarines? When Bacchus and his Maenads were there, and you couldn't finish your wine before they'd have filled the cup up again?"

"It seemed like it would never end, and everyone kept dancing and eating."

Edmund thought of something and chuckled. "Remember how silly Bulgy Bear looked sucking on his paws. He kept denying he was doing it, even when we caught him doing it."

"Not as funny as you looked after you tried some of the dirt the Trees were eating." Caspian laughed, suddenly sounding thirteen again.

"Well, it looked like chocolate." He yawned. "Anyway, it didn't matter. I was just so happy we'd won."

"True. Sometimes I think I'd give my throne to go back to those days. Not the...dark days, but just..."

"Not being a King?" He sighed and looked at the ceiling. "It wasn't so bad, what with Peter being the High King, but it got so tedious sometimes; ceremony this, ambassador that, a dozen appointments a day and you're never alone."

"That's why I went on this trip. The End of the World," Caspian murmured, "sounds peaceful."


When he opened the door to their cabin and saw the wolf, the first thought Edmund had, irrationally enough, was that Fenris Ulf had somehow returned and eaten Caspian. His hand went to his sword hilt and he shut the door behind him, blocking out Eustace's displeased face. The large grey wolf turned his head and bared his teeth at him,glaring at Edmund with luminous yellow eyes.

Drinian appeared from somewhere-he must have been in the room-and tugged on his sleeve. "Come, King Edmund, it's not safe for you here."

"And it is for you?!" Edmund could hear a bit of the old royalty slipping back into his voice, but how dare this servant try to tell him what to do? "What is going on?"

Outside, Eustace whined, "Stupid bloody prig, locking me out of my own room. Not like I would want to be in there anyway, but still..."

"Shut up, Eustace," Lucy replied, her voice muffled by the door. Then more sweetly, she continued, "If they won't let you in, I'm sure there's a good reason. Come on, we'll go up and have a game of chess."

Edmund could hear them moving away from the door and he breathed a sigh of relief. "Now, what's going on?"

"If King Caspian wants you to know, he'll tell you in the morning." Drinian's eyes flickered to the wolf who was prowling in the corner of the room, watching them. It was a fleeting glance, but Edmund caught it. He sucked in a breath as realization hit him.

"That's Caspian?" Memories bubbled to the surface-dark tunnels smelling of dirt and magic, listening outside the door as someone talked about bringing back the Witch. That had made Edmund sick to his stomach, made his limbs freeze up as if she had made him a statue all those years ago. He still had nightmares about it, could still feel his heart beating more and more slowly and see the world going grey. They'd put an end to that, but Edmund remembered something else: Caspian holding his bleeding leg, and that thing, that inhuman creature lying dead on the floor, caught between man and wolf. "For that long?"

"What?" Drinian shook his head. "Ask him in the morning, your majesty. Now, please, let's leave. He's sedated-a sleeping draught in his wine before the moon rose-but he's still dangerous."


Caspian looked the same as always. Maybe slightly tired, but Edmund kept finding things that had new meaning. The slight yellowish tinge to his eyes, the touch of grey in his hair that he'd attributed to the stress of being King. His teeth seemed too sharp all of a sudden, his nails too long.

He looked up at Edmund wearily. "Drinian told me you know."

Edmund nodded and sat on a crate that was by the bunk. "I remembered all of a sudden. About Nickabrick, and the Hag wanting to bring back the Witch. I remembered there had been a Wer Wolf as well."

"I tried to abdicate when I found out, but Trumpkin wouldn't let me." Caspian fiddled with a corner of the blanket.

"Good old DLF."

"I wonder if you should thank him, Edmund. I tried to make him see, make him realize that I was tainted. A Wer Wolf..." He laughed mirthlessly. "One of the lowest beings, creatures of the Witch, tormentors of Aslan. Did the White Witch not keep a wolf as her pet?"

"The wolf is a close relative to the dog, Caspian. You could not wish for a Beast more loyal to the Lion than the dog." He placed his hand on Caspian's arm and shook him slightly. "It's not your fault."

"I know." But it was obvious he didn't.


Edmund had little to no patience with his cousin. If there was some way he could have sent Eustace to the Narnian equivalent of a British Consul and sailed on with Lucy. Caspian, and the rest of the crew, he would have done it ages ago. And now the idiot had gotten himself turned into a dragon.

At least he was making himself useful. The ship was repaired, the stores were full of meat and water, and the winds were good again. But there was the question of how to take the Eustace-dragon along. He'd overheard some of the men's suggestions-towing him behind, letting him curl up on the deck-but there was no clear answer. The full moon was approaching and Caspian had enough to worry about without Eustace's stupidity as well.

Miraculously, Eustace stumbled back into the campsite one morning, back to his old self-not quite his old self, for he was more pleasant, but not a dragon any longer. The problem was solved, and they made plans to sail from the island, but their departure was delayed for the full moon.

He had seen Caspian slink away from their camp that evening and he was waiting for him when he returned in the early morning, clothes ripped, his shoulder torn and bloodied.

"Why didn't you have Drinian drug you?" He whispered, reaching out to help the king towards his sleeping roll.

Caspian shook him off angrily. "Go away."

"I'm not going to go away. Sit down and be quiet. I'll go get Lucy to put some of her cordial on your shoulder."

Caspian grabbed his arm and held him in place. "No. No, Edmund, I do not want her to know my shame." The anger went out of him in a rush and he sagged against Edmund. "I...don't think I can be King any longer."

"Caspian!" Edmund shook the other boy's shoulder disapprovingly, letting his fingers dig in slightly. "Listen, I've been thinking. I'm sure Aslan will cure you, once we get to his country."

"Do you remember your first meeting with Aslan?" Caspian said as he absentmindedly flexed his hand, wincing at the slight pain. "It's like it was yesterday, and I can feel everything as if it were happening now. But I haven't seen him since that day. Not once in all those years, and I know they say he's not a tame lion, but...

"What are you saying, Caspian? Have you done something.." he trailed off, thinking of all the dark Magics that one might employ to get rid of something like this.

"I've done nothing, it's what I am that keeps me from him. He must have known on the day he crowned me. He must have known then what I was." Hot tears had begun to run down the king's face, and Edmund's stomach roiled with embarrassment. It was one thing for a King to cry for a fallen companion or with joy, but this broken, desperate sobbing was not regal. "I'm so ashamed. What did I do that he would abandon me like this? Am I that impure?"

"Are you dense?!" Edmund shook him hard. "It's not your fault. You didn't ask for that Wer Wolf to bite you! Have you even asked Him, or are you just moping around about it?"

"Of course I've asked Him! I've asked Him everyday since I knew! Maybe He doesn't want to, maybe I'm not as perfect as you and your kinsmen. Your horrible cousin is turned into a dragon and Aslan heals him. Did He not say that I was a Son of Adam too? Is this a test, to see if I can endure this shame?"

"I don't think you know anything of shame, Caspian," Edmund replied in a low voice. "You say you're tainted, but I was a traitor."

"I'm a traitor every full moon."

"No, you're not," he said grimly. "You're a King. 'Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia.'" He leaned forward and brushed his lips across Caspian's, feeling the other boy jerk in surprise. There was a flash of memory-dark faced Calormenes, fair-haired Archenland men, pasty-faced English boys from his boarding school. But now there was just Caspian and he leaned in, proving that no matter what clocks and calendars might say, he was the more experienced.


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