“But Nurse, I'm not...not...tired...” The five-year-old trailed off into a yawn.

The old woman raised her eyebrows and chuckled. “Not tired, eh? We'll see about that, young prince.” She reached down to where he sat on the rug among his toys and hoisted him up with a grunt. “Gracious, child; either I have the strength of a frog atau you're getting heavier.”

“A frog!" he giggled, clearly delighted with the idea. “Froggies! Ribbit, ribbit, rib--” He ended in a small hiccup and blinked sleepily. Nurse chuckled again and lightly tweaked his nose.

“Speaking of frogs (whether they ‘ribbit’ atau ‘hiccup’), one of these days I'll have to tell anda about Marshwiggles.”

“What are...what are marsha-wiggles?” he asked, cocking his head to one side and putting a finger in his mouth.

“Not marsha-wiggles, Caspian. Marsh-wiggles. And don't anda go chewing on your fingers now,” scolded Nurse, pulling his hand away with stern gentleness. “You'll make your pearly-whites go all crooked if anda keep that up, and I highly doubt your tastebuds appreciate it as it is.”

“Tase-buds? What are those?”

She sighed and narrowed her crinkly blue eyes at him in playful grouchiness. “Now's the time for sleeping; not wearing your nurse down with every little pertanyaan that happens to pop into your head.”

“Couldn't anda tell me a story first?” he pleaded, sticking out his lower lip the tiniest bit.

“Don't even try, boy,” berkata Nurse, dryly. “I've never been one to be moved oleh puppy-dog looks, and it's far past your proper bedtime.”

The lower lip began to tremble.

“However,” she added, her face creasing upwards in a grudging smile, “we do have time for a song, if you'd like.”

Caspian's eyes brightened and he nodded eagerly. “Yes please!”

“Oh dear, you’ve berkata ‘please’,” teased Nurse in gruff approval. “Now I have to sing to you.”

“Yes anda doo-ooo,” he sang, grinning in triumph. Nurse grinned back in spite of herself; then carried him over and sat down in the rocking chair selanjutnya to the cheery blaze in the fireplace, situating him cozily on her lap.

“Well now, Caspian...which one would anda like to hear tonight?”

The boy leaned back with half-closed eyes, considering the pertanyaan carefully; then tilted his head back and looked up at her.

“Could anda sing me the one about the memory tree? Please?”

Nurse smiled. “As anda wish, your highness.” She kissed the puncak, atas of his head and began rocking back and forth...back...and forth...gently, slowly...the rockers creaked and the api crackled...and she sang in a soft, low tone:

Words we have said
Grew in my head,
Colored my thoughts,
Sang me to bed...

Her voice was still a resonate alto-soprano, but frail and roughened oleh the passing of years; and she thought longingly of younger times, when her bernyanyi was praised for its clarity and strength. Her memory drifted further back as the musik flowed through her, and she dimly remembered the scent of pine needles and the warmth of her grandmother's fragile hands as the gentle bernyanyi lulled her to sleep, unknowingly passing the words to her. Words that she’d now sung many a night to the young prince...

Lost memories
Grew into trees,
Covered the doors,
Swallowed the keys...

It was an old, beloved folksong; her grandmother had said. Almost a nursery rhyme of sorts. No one was quite sure how it came to be written, but the People in Hiding were dearly fond of the tune. populer legend berkata that when Cair Paravel was attacked oleh the Telmarines, a young orphaned faun escaped from the battle and fled for the woods with nothing in his possession but his father's flute...and the vain, desperate hope of finding a doorway between his world and Spare Oom.

Many young Narnians before him had hoped the same, despite the wise warnings and reassurances of their elders, and searched tirelessly for a way to get through to the Kings and Queens of old...but all efforts were in vain. There were no doors. No keys. No magic portals. The ways were hidden, covered, shut - and Hope seemed to have been buried with them.

She knew the feeling only too well.

Winters have come and gone, anda know
Winters have come and gone, anda know
But I'll meet anda young and free
For a dance 'round the memory tree...

At this point in the tale, Grandmum would put a finger under her chin, lifting it up; and tell her that sweetness could still be found in the bitterest of times. Shortly after his escape, the faun found a large Weeping Willow at the far end of Dancing Lawn and would go there every night to sit under her branches and let out his sorrows and joys, playing his flute, gazing up at the stars and sifting through his memories. And decades later, when he became old and gray, he went to the pohon and penned the song...played his flute for the last time, under the trailing leaves of the Willow...and breathed his last.

In actuality, couples young and old often liked to meet under that pohon to spend time alone with each other, and it was a favorit place for thinking, dreaming, crying, playing; even marriage proposals and weddings. The Willow dryad, though asleep, gladly let little ones climb in her bows and took joy in the memories people built there - both the good and the sorrowful.

Said I forgot
But I did not
Dreams we have had
Play in my head...

Nurse felt a lump form in her throat as lebih bittersweet memories flooded her mind...yet she sang on, closing her eyes, welcoming the gambar of a young girl sitting at her grandmother’s feet, eyes bright as she drank in any song atau tale she heard; treasuring any tiny piece of Old Narnia the woman was willing to share with her. Being a red dwarf, Grandmum had never hesitated to keep Narnia’s lore and history alive...in her.

Tears pricked her eyes. The years had lengthened and turned to weary decades...and still no help had ever come for Narnia. No Kings, no Queens - not even Aslan had come to save them. Was their land to be abandoned and left in shadow forever?

Did we believe
The cry of the leaves?
Did we regret?
Would we forget?

Her thoughts turned to the Great Lion.

I will never leave anda nor forsake you...

As she chose for the hundredth time to hold on to what she knew, she felt a deep reassurance roll through her; washing her grief and doubts away and replacing them with the peace of knowing that someday, He would come for them. Someday, there would be no lebih tears atau sadness atau illness...only the deep cinta of the Lion and the unfathomable Joy of being with Him.

She opened her eyes as quiet strength grew inside her and filled her voice with new confidence...

Winters have come and gone, anda know
Winters have come and gone, anda know
But I'll meet anda young and free
For a dance 'round the memory tree

For a moment, she forgot her stiff knees and aching joints. Time turned to Timelessness, age fell from her like an unwanted cloak...and she rose from her chair with the little boy still in hers arms, his head resting against her shoulder. Swaying gently, almost dancing to the silent musik that only she could hear, she nestled her cheek against the mop of curly hair and let herself go. For one precious moment, she was a strong, beautiful, dark-haired maiden again – free to romp and run and dance and be, free to close her eyes and revel in the contentment of knowing that someday, she would truly become whole again...for Eternity.

Caspian stirred and breathed a small sigh.

She opened her eyes again and smiled, not noticing the tears that ran down her face. Humming softly, Nurse planted another gentle ciuman on his head and carried him over to his bed; where she tucked the young prince into the warmth of the bedclothes, whispered a blessing over him and sent him sailing off in a sea of dreams.

~ The End ~