The Unknown: A Chronicles of Narnia Fan-Fiction Story
Benatrice was an eighteen-year-old farm girl on the island of Galma. She was a pretty girl at average height with back-length light brown hair, blue-green eyes, and tan skin. Though most girls Benatrice’s age were either married or betrothed, Benatrice was neither because she was her parents’ only child, and they needed her help taking care of the farm.
During the summer she turned ten, Galma was ebullient with the news that Narnia had been freed from Jadis. With that, news also came the information that King Edmund had betrayed his siblings. Even though the people of Galma knew of Narnia’s youngest king’s bravery in the battle against the Witch, there were always skeptics.
“Can we really trust a king who betrayed his family?” the skeptics would ask. “Who knows what he could do to us!”
Whenever Benatrice heard things of that variation, a chill of anger and disappointment would course through her. “Why do you say such things about King Edmund?” she would ask them. “He has obviously been forgiven by Aslan, his family, and most of the Narnians, else he would not be on the throne. And if that does not convince you of his change, what about how he confronted Jadis? He broke her wand so she would not harm High King Peter, and for it, King Edmund was mortally wounded by Jadis – only Queen Lucy’s cordial saved him. How dare you talk about him so!”
One can imagine the surprise of those skeptics who Benatrice confronted such – and only at the age of ten! As her parents would tell everyone, Benatrice was wiser than her years. Benatrice continued to defend King Edmund from her people as she grew up. And as the Just King did more for his country and the world, Benatrice would add his successes to her lecture.
It turned out that the summer she turned eighteen, King Edmund was going to be visiting the town of Redtell, a town a day’s travel from Grenwell, the town that Benatrice lived near. She found this out while selling her family’s crops at the Saturday market in Grenwell. While Benatrice dearly wished to go Redtell, her parents could not afford to send her, and they greatly needed her help on the farm. The possibility that Benatrice would meet King Edmund sometime else was very slim, so the farm girl resided herself to being the peasant defender of the king.
What Benatrice didn’t know was that her reputation for dressing down anyone who spoke ill of King Edmund had spread to other towns, including Redtell. In fact, while the King was touring the town, a relative of Benatrice had King Edmund visit her sewing shop. Miss Tenava had been working on the porch of her shop when the King stopped by.
“Excuse me, good lady, but may my party and I sit and rest a while?”
Tenava had had her gaze upon the dress she was sewing until the Just One addressed her. “Of course, your Majesty. And come inside, you look a mite pink,” the older lady said as she lead him in. “Is there anything you and yours require?”
King Edmund lowered himself into one of the chairs, his Wolf guard laid next to him on the floor, and the Centaur and Faun military guards posted themselves at the windows. “Some water would be desirable, good lady, if you can spare any,” King Edmund answered.
Tenava brought a tankard of water to the table close to the King and his guard, and filled goblets and a bowl for them. The four drank gratefully, and when they finished, Tenava kept the vessels close, in case they should need more.
“Thank you very much…”
“Tenava. I doubt we would have made it more than a couple hours,” King Edmund joked.
Tenava smiled, took up her work again, and sat across from the young king. “What brings you this way, King Edmund? We rarely get royalty out this way.”
“My siblings and I agreed that we should see as many towns and villages as possible. Since we have to make laws for our subjects, we want to make sure we make them as fair as possible, and one way to make sure they’re fair is to visit the people the laws will be affecting,” the Just explained.
Tenava looked up at him at intervals as she sewed. “Sounds like a plan, Majesty.”
“Thank you, Lady Tenava.”
The older woman blushed. “Please, your Highness. I am only a peasant and not worthy of such a title.”
“But you are an important member of Redtell, for you are the only seamstress in town, and so I believe you deserve the title. And man or woman who works hard deserves being called ‘sir’ or ‘lady’ every once in a while,” King Edmund insisted with a sly grin.
Tenava smirked back. “If you say so, Your Highness.”
The Just King leaned back in his chair and looked a bit amazed. “Now that’s something I have been encountering a lot today.”
“What is that, Sire?”
“Quite a number of residents have rarely spoken a word against my thoughts and ideas. Something tells me that was not on accident.”
Tenava looked up from her sewing, and tried to look King Edmund in the eye. “Actually, Majesty, that may be an accident.”
The Just sat up and leaned forward in his chair. There seemed to be a light of curiosity in his eyes. “Do explain.”
Tenava put her sewing aside. “You see, Sire, when you and your royal siblings came to rule, the story spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, the information about your betrayal spread just as fast if not faster.”
The seamstress paused when King Edmund winced. “I know you are not proud of what happened, King Edmund, but as a result of it, you have someone here who is as loyal to you as your family and guards.”
A small smile spread across the Just’s lips. “Please continue, Lady Tenava.”
With a smile and a nod, she did so. “When the news had reached the weekend market in Grenwell, my sister’s daughter Benatrice was appalled by how some of the villagers’ behaviour questioned your loyalty and intentions.”
“Who could blame them? Especially. . .” King Edmund trailed off when he caught Tenava’s glare.
“I could understand that sort of reaction had your actions happened at the age you are now. This happened eight years ago, and you were barely ten and under the Witch’s influence. Nay, King Edmund, it was a bad way to act, and my niece let those skeptics know it,” Tenava scolded. “I would think your loved ones would’ve gotten you out of that kind of thinking.”
The Just King’s guards muffled laughs and snorts. King Edmund gave a half-smile as well. “They are just as aggravated with me in that respect, good lady.”
Tenava huffed and continued her story. “Anyway, Benatrice had just turned ten, and she was with her mother at their stand at the market when all the information came in. Her mother sighed at the reactions, but Benatrice told the doubters off and let them know her displeasure. You see, Highness, my niece has a great amount of faith in Aslan, and she did not like hearing people slander someone He chose. You can probably imagine how taken aback they were. And ever since, King Edmund, anyone who has had the slightest doubt in you has gotten a lesson on what you have done for Narnia and the world.”
Once she finished her story, Tenava rose and got everybody some more water. King Edmund sat thoughtfully with his hand on his chin and hardly noticed when his hostess set down the goblet of water. The Just King removed his hand from his face and asked, “How far is it to Grenwell?”
Tenava smiled to herself. “A day’s ride, Majesty. I suggest you start at dawn tomorrow morning, you should get there by five or six in the evening. There is but one road from Redtell to Grenwell, so you can’t get lost, and there are also plenty of shade trees and wells along the way, should you need to rest.”
King Edmund bowed his head to her. “I shall heed your advice, Lady Tenava.”
King Edmund and his party camped that night just outside of town, and the Just sent word to the Intrepid that he would be staying on land for another week at most, and he gave the name of the town he would be staying at. At day break the next day, the royal party promptly set out for Grenwell. And as Tenava said, King Edmund’s party arrived at Grenwell around five o’clock. With some help from the villagers, the party was directed to the farm Benatrice lived on.
When they entered the farm’s path, there was no one outside working, for it was suppertime. King Edmund dismounted his horse and rang the bell. It was a moment before the heavy metal door was opened and revealed Benatrice in her working dress with a soiled apron, dirt on her face and hands, and her hair in disarray. Even with such a disheveled appearance, King Edmund could sense that Benatrice was a devoted, hard-working girl.
When Benatrice saw who had rung the bell, she had to fight hard to keep her breathing under control while her heart beat rapidly in her chest. She curtsied as steadily as she could, still not quite believing who was in front of her.
“I have heard about your avid defense of my name, Lady Benatrice,” King Edmund finally said.
The farm girl hesitated a moment before she spoke. “You must think something of it, Sire, else you would not be here,” Benatrice answered.
A relaxed and inviting smile spread over the Just’s features. “I do,” he replied.
By Fierce Queen