DISCLAIMER: A movie hasn't come out in years, and C.S. Lewis has died. I think we all know that I'm not affiliated with either and therefore cannot own the characters or world.
A/N: Thank you to everyone who reviews, favorites, and follows! They all make me so happy; you have no idea.
A Susan character study has been spinning around in my head for MONTHS. I have a Lucy one, too, that I'll probably post soon. Let me know what you think!
Being gentle doesn't save her. If anything, it hurts her more.
She's not supposed to mourn losing her world, right? She's supposed to be there to comfort the others, to dry their eyes and rock them to sleep as if she were their mother. Maybe that had been fine before, fine there, but now…
Now she's different. Now she's a child again.
It hadn't been like this in Narnia. She may have been called Susan the Gentle, and she may have been less willing to charge into battle, but she wasn't reduced to it. She was admired and called upon for her mind, her tactician's brain and professor's spirit and queen's wit. She was able to stun with her archery abilities, with her… well, her flirtations, and her unwavering loyalty to Narnia. She didn't want to become a pawn in marriage dealings, but if she had ever felt it would be vital for Narnia's survival, she would have done it without protest.
But now she's back in a world where none of that matters. It's a world where her only job is to be some gentle savior of man. Her intelligence merely earns her ire from the other girls in her class and avoidance by the boys who think she's too smart for them. It's a complicated line she spends years dancing over, torn between wanting to hurt her siblings for using her like a crutch and feeling like shit for pushing them away because of it.
She sees an ad in a magazine that inspires her change. It's a bit of rebellion against them, her parents, the society they live in. If she's not allowed to be herself, shouldn't she become this? Apparently not, since her siblings quickly decided to abandon her the second she started wearing lipstick. Honestly, something about this world made them all such moral highbrows. She'd worn dresses considered scandalous by society's standards in Narnia, and they had all defended her there. Fine. If they don't have anything nice to say to her anymore, they don't have to say it to her face.
Then everything comes to a grinding halt.
"Is this Susan Pevensie? Daughter of James and Grace Pevensie?" a kind woman asks on the other end of the phone.
"Yes, how can I help you?" she asks, knowing her manners, knowing that no matter how much she tells everyone it was just a game, nothing more, that she is still a queen.
And she knows that something is odd about this woman asking about her relation to her parents.
"I'm afraid there's been an accident. Will you please come to St. Catherine's Hospital? If you give your name at the front, they'll direct you along."
She's not given any more information than that. She's uneasy the whole way there, but her stomach just about falls out of her body when she realizes the signs she and her guide are following are for the morgue.
Edmund is on the examination table when she arrives. His hair is streaked with blood, a bruise blossoming across his cheek. His skin is unnaturally pale, and his eyes are wide open, staring at the ceiling, with an examiner standing over him. A sob catches in her throat, and comes out far louder than she intended.
"Miss Pevensie?" the examiner asks, glancing up at her, and she nods, dazed. "Can you name this man?"
"My brother Edmund," she says, her voice not catching as she speaks slowly, "Edmund Winston Pevensie, age nineteen. Where was he?"
"On a train platform, with another man. A train careened and hit the two of them; we think they died upon impact," the examiner says. "The man's wallet said Peter Pevensie. Your brother?"
"Peter, too?" she says, head spinning. "You- the woman who called, she asked if I was James and Grace Pevensie's daughter. Why would that matter?"
"Miss Pevensie," he says, setting down the instrument in his hand and walking towards her, taking her hand, "James, Grace, and Lucy Pevensie were all on board the train, according to what we could find in wallets and other records. Seven people died on the train, as well as Edmund and Peter on the platform. We need you to identify your family's bodies, and then we can make arrangements with you for their burial."
"Burial," she says, voice shaking. "Mum and Dad and Lu and Pete and Ed- they're all gone? All of them?"
"I'm afraid so. As well as Jill Pole, Polly Plummer, Digory Kirke, and Eustace Scrubb," he replies.
Her blood runs cold.
She knows that Lucy and Edmund went back to Narnia after everything that happened with Caspian. She knows that Eustace went with them. This was back before they'd all stopped talking with her about such things, back before her explosion at them to stop playing this game, going around acting like Narnia was the only good thing to ever happen to them and how they all were so desperate to go back. As if she wasn't desperate to go back. As if she didn't know, with absolute certainty, that the person she'd buried herself in today would never be welcomed by Aslan because it had meant turning her back on the one thing that had made her feel special, and that was the fifteen years she'd spent with the only family that ever mattered to her in a land she couldn't reach.
Professor Kirke had a friend named Polly. Eustace, a friend named Jill. Peter, Edmund, and Lucy had met them both. She's not sure how her parents fit in to it, but her family was all trying to go back to Narnia without her.
The weeks pass in blurs. She, alone, has to arrange the funerals. She, alone, calls friends and family and tell them what's happened. Some of Lucy's newer friends, she finds, have no idea who she is. One of Edmund's friends lets her share the news, then tells her to go fuck herself before hanging up.
How had she let things go so horribly wrong with them?
She remembers that first year they were all returned, when they had all mourned together. She had pulled herself in, sure, but she had been on the archery team, ridden horses, gladly talked to them. How could they have believed her when she gave it all up, when she became the person she is today, that she remembered it as nothing more than a game?
"How could you take them from me?" she shouts into the night, the crisp October air buffeting across the tombstones. "ASLAN! ANSWER ME!"
She doesn't get one. Not that night.
Instead, it's a random, ordinary night with her beloved husband, years later. She had told him the truth about Narnia and her family, and he hadn't batted an eye, and she knew at that moment that he would be at her side for the rest of her life. He said his aunt Polly had told him bedtime stories about a place like that, and he'd always wanted to find it, and maybe, she thinks now, that had been a sign from Aslan, too.
That night, she dreams for the first time in a while, of a Narnian festival at Cair Paravel. She can't recognize it, exactly, but she sees her family happily dancing from a perch on the balcony, and she knows that it has to be a beautiful, perfect night in the Golden Age.
"Queen Susan," a voice says, and she turns to her right, where a statuesque lion watches her. "Come with me."
They walk down to the beach, and they stop, watching the Narnian ocean. She waits. She and Aslan have never had the connection Lucy or Peter or Edmund had, and she doesn't know what to say to him, especially not after everything that's happened.
"You're angry with me," he says.
"Of course I am. Even the gentlest can be angry." He laughs, softly. "Why? Why did they pull away from me? Why did they have to be taken?"
"Because they were ready," he replies, "For the true Narnia."
"The true Narnia?"
"It is difficult to explain. But I believe you will see it, someday. You just need to live more, first. You have a purpose still to share."
"I do?" she asks.
"The pupils you teach every day. The children you will soon bring into the world. They will all benefit from your light, and spread more of it to the world. Your world needs more of the gentleness and love you bestowed upon others in Narnia," Aslan says. "The love you feel for your family has always been inspiring. I know the child you now carry can already feel it."
"What?" she says. He laughs.
"Spread the teachings you have learned, Susan. You know better than anyone the power of love and forgiveness for oneself," he replies.
And with that, she woke up.
"Good morning," Harry whispers, kissing her forehead, just above her nose. He frowns at her. "You seem tense, love."
"Just thinking," she replies.
"What about?" he asks, stroking her hand.
"Life. What brought me here. All the mistakes I've made. Yet somehow you love me anyway," she says, taking his hand and slowly pulling it to her stomach. She has plenty of reasons to doubt Aslan, but this time, she knows he's right. "What do you think about having children?"
The love he showers on her once he understands her meaning is, she thinks, exactly what Aslan wants her to spread, love she was briefly denied, and love everyone deserves.