Susan felt herself land lightly on soft, springy grass. Peter, Edmund and Lucy were beside her and she let go of their hands as she turned, looking around her.

She was in Narnia, but it was not quite as she remembered it. Surely those trees had not been so tall? And those mountains in the distance – had they really been so big, and with so many colours on them? In fact, everything was different – a little bigger, a little brighter, a little –

A little more like the real thing.

Peter smiled, seeing her expression. "It's the real Narnia, Su. When Aslan said we could never come back, he meant the old Narnia, which was just a shadow of a copy of this one. The old Narnia was destroyed, but this is Narnia too."

Susan stared, and then looked around again. She looked down at herself, and saw that she was wearing a gown of rich silk, the sort of thing she might have worn for a great feast or ball at Cair Paravel. And on her head was the crown she had worn as Queen, and Peter and Edmund and Lucy were all in their royal finery as well. They smiled at her, and Susan smiled back as she realised the truth – it was real, Narnia was real, and she could stay here forever.

Susan looked again. Before, it had seemed to her that they were in Lantern Waste, but now – and it must have been some kind of magic, for none of them could remember walking a step – now they were in some kind of garden that Susan had never seen before. But she had no time to wonder about that, because all around them were people, some of whom Susan knew, and many she didn't. Eustace and Jill and Professor Kirke and Polly Plummer were there, smiling at Susan, and all her old friends from Narnia were there, Mr Tumnus and the Beavers, and Prince Cor and Corin and Aravis and Bree and Hwin the Talking Horses, and Prince Caspian and Trufflehunter and Trumpkin and Doctor Cornelius and Reepicheep the Mouse. And there were people Susan did not know, but would soon meet – Prince Rilian and Prince Tirian and Puddleglum the Marsh-Wiggle and Jewel the Unicorn and Poggin the Dwarf – all the great and the good people of Narnia's history. And right at the front of the crowd were Susan's own parents, who, although they were not of Narnia, had been brought to the new Narnia just the same.

All the people Susan had known from Narnia were there to welcome their Queen back. But just then, Susan had no eyes for any of them. For in the centre of the crowd of people stood the great Lion himself, Aslan, and Susan forgot everything else when she saw him.

Susan stumbled towards the Lion, and fell to her knees before him. Now that she was face-to-face with him, she could think of nothing but her own failures, fears and doubts. The surrounding crowd drew back, watching the Lion and the girl. They saw Susan's shoulders shake as she wept, and they saw Aslan speak to her, although none but those two ever heard what he said. They saw Susan lift her head, and Aslan breathe on her face. And afterwards, everyone there agreed that Susan's age seemed to change slightly in that moment, although no one could ever decide whether she seemed to grow older or younger.

Susan stood, feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from her. She now knew the truth. She was dead in England, as Aslan had told her. But that body she'd had in England, in that other world, was only a shell of the real her. Here in Narnia, she had been made new, like Narnia itself, and she was truly home.

Susan could see Peter, Edmund and Lucy beaming at her, and her heart swelled with love for them. They'd never given up on her, even when she'd given up on herself. And she could see her mother and father, too, John and Helen Pevensie smiling at their eldest daughter with love and pride.

Susan turned back to Aslan. "I'm sorry, Aslan." she whispered. "I'm so sorry."

"There is nothing to forgive, child." Aslan said. "The past is behind you now; forget it. The future is ahead of you; embrace it."

Susan smiled through her tears. Behind her, the crowds were cheering, but she scarcely heard them. The dream was ended, this was the morning – she could feel it in her blood and bones and very soul. She felt a lifting of her spirits and joy bursting in her heart as Aslan spoke the words she had for so long been longing to hear, but thought she never would.

"Welcome home, Queen Susan. Welcome home."