the one time
Although Edmund was younger when he died, Caspian went first. He was an old man, his dark hair turned grey and his skin rippled like the ocean.
He had lived a long life, and though it was not without tragedy, it was an overall good one.
Upon his arrival in Aslan's country, he felt different: stronger, less frail. He felt young again, but in a more idealistic sense.
He knew without trying that this body could run faster, swim farther and lift heavier things than he ever could while alive.
He saw his father and mother again, and his wife - who was more his best friend than lover - and those he had known and those he had only ever heard of.
But through all this happiness, he kept looking for something. Someone.
"Is Edmund not here yet?" he asked Aslan.
Aslan shook his large head, mane ruffling in the breeze. "Not yet, my child. Recall that time is different in their time and yours. He is still a young man."
His eyes were sad and Caspian did not dare ask further.
Edmund was still a young man when he left his world for the last time, and it had only been a few years since he last trip to Narnia.
The train ride was already fading in his mind when he arrived.
His siblings were with him, and the other friends of Narnia. Aslan greeted them. "Welcome home, my children," he said.
They had all gone to explore, but Edmund hung back for a moment, uncertain. "Aslan," he asked. "In Narnia, how long -?"
"Yes, he is here," Aslan answered his unasked question. "He has been waiting for you."
Edmund's heart leapt and he had run a few steps before turning back. "Thank you."
Aslan nodded and smiled slightly. "Go on, my child."
Nearly tripping over his own feet, Edmund ran until he found himself on a beach. The sand was warm under his inexplicably bare feet.
Waves rolled gently and the wind carried the salty spray toward land.
And there he was, walking toward him. Caspian, barefoot and bare-headed, not dressed as a king, but a sailor.
All the hurry evaporated from his chest and Edmund walked towards him at a regular pace. There was no need to rush, they had all the time in the world.
So when they reached each other, they took a moment to look, seeing the eyes and freckles and hair and smiles that had frequent appearances in their dreams.
"Gotta say, I'm relieved you're not old," Edmund said finally.
Caspian laughed and pulled him close, foreheads touching and his hands cupping Edmund's face.
And when they kissed, it was not desperate or hurried or anything that their previous kisses had been. It was not an end, or even near an end.
It was a beginning.