Disclaimer: Sarah, the Labyrinth, and its king are all property of Jim Henson Productions. Susan Pevensie and Narnia are the brainchildren of the gifted and sorely missed C. S. Lewis.
Peter had once said that he could always tell when someone else was a friend of Narnia. He said it was something in their eyes, an expression that fleetingly crossed their faces, sometimes just a tone in their voices. And whenever he said that, Lucy and Edmund would nod and solemnly agree.
Susan had never seen it, not on anyone. Old Professor Kirke said she didn't even have it herself, even though she had been to Narnia -- yes, even ruled there herself for more than a decade from Cair Paravel. She knew the others thought her silly, wanting to bury herself in modern life and try and forget all about their Narnian adventures.
They didn't understand her grief.
Her grief paralyzed her whenever she spent too much time thinking on everything that she had lost. It wasn't just her beautiful clothes, her servants, her power, her reputation and everything else she had lost when she'd come back through the wardrobe and suddenly stopped being Queen Susan the Gentle.
It was mostly Aslan.
Susan missed him like an amputee misses his legs. Without him, her life had become drab and colourless, empty. She had had some hope, a couple of years ago, of seeing him when her brothers and sister had died in a train wreck -- but he never came. Now she was alone in the world, and no Aslan had ever come to her world to comfort her.
Worse, he had forbidden her to return to his! Losing her human parents hadn't hurt as much as that. Oh, Aslan had claimed that she could get to know him under a different name in her own world, and she had tried. Oh, she had tried, but none of the other beliefs rang true. Once you've ridden on the back of a God, buried your face in his tawny, scented mane, been his friend and companion literally through life and death, it is hard to find solace and friendship in hymnals and pale, moralistic preaching in churches.
So now, Susan just tried to get through each day. She'd get up in the morning and go to her job in the publishing house and try to come up with new ways to fool the unsuspecting public. The artificiality of it sickened her. Sometimes in boring meetings, she would doodle mindlessly, pad on her lap and eyes on the speaker, only to find when she looked down again that she had drawn a lion. Or Cair Paravel. Or a lamp-post standing all alone in a forest.
This was one of those times, a Monday morning. Susan sat there doodling while the head of the marketing department introduced some young girl from America as the new Assistant Manager. This girl had to be at least fifteen years younger than Susan, and Susan almost snorted. She'd applied for the same position, but of course boring old Su couldn't hope to compete with the exciting, young, and lovely Sarah Williams.
Sarah Williams, Susan sneered to herself. Sarah Williams and her poet's blouse and American accent and her dreamy, otherworldly air.
Susan frowned and put down her pen. Wait a minute. Otherworldly? She glanced up sharply at Sarah, and blinked. It was there. The Look that Peter had talked about so often -- this American girl had it. It was right there, announcing to all who knew, that she had spent time in a place not of this earth. And strangely, Sarah looked back at Susan with the same expression of surprise mirrored in her grey-green eyes.
The marketing director introduced everyone at the table, but Sarah didn't look away from Susan. "And this is Susan Pevensie, who'll be your Administrative Assistant," the director intoned. Susan grimaced a little and finally broke away from the girl's gaze. Great -- now she'd be assisting the woman who got her job?
"It's nice to meet you, Susan," Sarah said. "It's nice to meet all of you." She came and sat down in the only empty chair, that happened to be next to Susan. As the meeting continued around them, Sarah leaned forward and nudged Susan. Pointing to the notepad not quite hidden in Susan's lap, Sarah whispered, "He's beautiful!"
"What?" Susan said, distractedly. She glanced down at her notepad and blinked. Aslan's face looked out at her from the page looking disturbingly lifelike. "Yes, he is," she whispered back, hardly knowing what she said.
After the meeting, both women found themselves in the ladies' washroom at the same time. "I'm looking forward to getting to know you, Susan," Sarah offered sincerely, meeting the other woman's eyes in the mirror as she adjusted her barette.
Susan offered a polite smile, but said nothing as she reapplied her lipstick.
Sarah continued on, "In a way, I feel as if I know you already. You have a sort of look about you, as if you've been to another world, or something."
Shocked, Susan stared at the other girl. Her mouth hung open where she was putting on the lipstick, as if she'd forgotten to close it. Sarah's friendly but enigmatic smile finally recalled Susan to herself. "I do?" she said. She accidently put the emphasis on the first word rather than the second.
Sarah nodded. "I loved your picture of the lion," she said. "He's beautiful." Finally taking pity on Susan who was still staring at her like she'd seen a ghost, Sarah broke the eye contact and took out her hair brush. She ran it through her long dark hair, not looking at Susan. "With me, it's an owl," she said.
"What? What owl?" Susan asked. For answer, Sarah opened her notebook and slid it down the counter to her. The page was all owls. Or, rather, a dozen different portrayals of the same owl. If a bird could be said to have moods, Sarah had captured many of them. It was a plain barn owl, with a white face and chest and brownish outer feathers on its back and wings. On one of the closeup pictures, Susan noticed that the eyes looked almost human, save that one of its pupils was larger than the other. It looked rather melancholy and plaintive.
"I like this one," she said, pointing to it. "Quite an expressive face he's got, for being covered in feathers," she laughed, trying to lighten the mood.
Sarah took her seriously. "Yes, he does," she said.
After that, Susan didn't resent Sarah's presence any longer. They discovered that they could actually work quite well together, and Susan was pleased to find that Sarah didn't ask her to do anything that she wouldn't -- and didn't -- do herself. Not many managers were that respectful of their assistants. It wasn't long before the two women realized that they were friends.
Neither one of them said anything when she saw the other one doodling during boring meetings.
One time, on a Friday afternoon several months into their business relationship, Susan caught Sarah drawing something different. Sarah never took her eyes off the speaker, but her hand moved with sure, rapid strokes across the paper. It began with some spiky, jagged lines that made Susan catch her breath -- it looked liked the beginning of a lion's mane! Susan was very familiar with how a lion's mane first showed up on the page.
But then it lengthened and turned into a man's hair, spiky and wild. Then the rest of the man's face showed up and Susan's eyebrows went up in shock. The face was lean and angular, the lips thin and hard, and there were streaks at the corners of the eyes -- but what drew her attention most was that the eyes were just like the owl's eyes in Sarah's previous picture. The expression in them was grieved and wistful.
The meeting ended, and the two women went back to their shared office. As they gathered up their things, preparing to leave for the weekend, Susan spoke first. "You're branching out."
"Huh?" Sarah asked, distracted. "Sorry, what?"
Susan merely pointed to the notebook. With a rare flash of insight, she asked with a sympathetic smile, "So, is he the owl?"
Sarah glanced down at the picture and went pale. She sank down into her chair as if her legs would no longer hold her. This time it was as if she'd seen a ghost.
"He is, isn't he?" Susan asked gently.
Sarah nodded, going from white to red and then back to white again. She didn't take her eyes off the wild-haired guy's picture.
Susan changed the subject. "Do you have plans?" she asked bluntly.
"What?" Sarah finally looked up, but still looked haunted.
"Dinner. Now, tonight. Do you have plans?" Sarah shook her head. "Then you're coming over to my house to eat. And we'll talk. Because I think you should, and I know I need to."
Sarah finally essayed a smile. "Are you finally going to tell me about the lion?" she asked.
Susan nodded slowly. "And you'll tell me about your owl-man," she said.
Sarah hesitated, then nodded. "Yes."
Susan had never been anybody's domestic goddess, so she stopped for some Japanese takeaway on the way home. One of the things they'd discovered in common was a love of sushi.
"So, who goes first?" Susan asked her guest as she briskly stirred wasabi into the soy sauce.
Sarah replied with a seeming non-sequitur. "I've brought you a gift," she said, the words bringing a strangely melancholy smile to her face. "I was at a second-hand market last weekend and saw this. I've been carrying it around in my bag for a week; just never thought to give it to you. Seems like now is the right time." She handed Susan a small wooden carving of a lion.
Susan took it gently and gasped when she looked at its face. "It's him," she murmured, tracing the veins of wood that looked for all the world like the tracks of tears down its face. It was obvious to her that whoever had carved this had known Aslan. The wood's texture looked like soft fur, except where it roughed around the mane. It was golden in colour, and Susan impulsively held it to her lips and kissed the mane. A single tear meandered down her face and she smiled at her friend. "Thank you," she said.
Sarah smiled. "Glad you like it. There were other lion carvings there, but this one looked like the one you always draw."
Susan took a deep breath and gathered her courage. "His name is Aslan," she said reverently, watching Sarah react to the name the same way she herself had the first time she'd heard it. "We met him -- my brothers, my sister and I -- when we were children. There was a sort of door, a portal, between our worlds, and we somehow blundered into his. He's the King, you know," she said, shooting a sharp glance at Sarah to see if she was taking this seriously.
Sarah was listening to hard her body leaned forward a little. "He looks like one," she said.
Susan nodded and went on to tell her all about her adventures in Narnia -- including when Aslan had told her and Peter they couldn't come back to Narnia because they were getting too old. Susan still felt betrayed, and she told Sarah about her struggles to find this world's version of Aslan. "It's not the same," she said. "I've tried so many different beliefs, but none of them are the same!"
Suddenly the feelings that she had tried to squash down for so many years came bursting forth in the telling, and Susan began to sob. "It's never been the same again! And the worst part is, I know my family are with him now! I've had dreams when they come and tell me how happy they are, and how the Narnia I knew was only a pale shadow of the real one. And the hell of it," Susan cried harder, "The real hell of it is that if I had stayed a 'Friend of Narnia,' that I would be with them all right now too!"
Sarah said nothing, but simply embraced her friend, holding her tightly until the sobs ran out and became sniffles. "I'm so sorry, Su," she told her quietly.
Susan finally sat up, reaching for a tissue to mop her face. She laughed shakily. "I've never told anyone this before, who hasn't been to Narnia. When my siblings all died and I dreamed they'd gone to Aslan's country, I still never told anyone." She turned pensive eyes on Sarah. "I've seen Aslan's country, you know. I've never seen a lovelier place in my life."
"I miss the Underground, too," Sarah replied, somehow sensing that it was her turn. Not knowing where else to start, she began by telling about the owl she'd seen in the park that day she wished Toby away. She was brutally honest, talking quite candidly about what a spoiled brat she had been, and how thoughtless she had been not only to her friends, but to the king as well. How... well, cruel she had been.
Tears were running freely down her face as she described their final confrontation. The king had poured out his heart to her and she had been too busy trying to remember the "right words" that would complete her role as heroine, to even listen to him. It had taken years for her to recall exactly what he had said to her then, but once she remembered she couldn't forget. His words haunted her, almost as much as the expression of despair on his face. "When his spell broke, he turned back into the owl," she finished. "I never saw him again. I don't know if he's even alive, and if he is, if he's stuck as a barn owl for eternity." She sniffed.
Susan handed her a fistful of tissues. "What a soppy pair we are," she laughed through her sympathetic tears.
Sarah huffed out a self-conscious laugh as she dried her own face. "The worst part of it is that it wasn't until years later that I realized he was in love with me. And it was a long time after that, when I dated wrong guy after wrong guy, that I realized I was in love with him, too. How's that for irony?" How's that for brainpower?
"But isn't there some way to tell? If he's alive or dead?" Susan asked. "Can't you ask your friends about him?"
Sarah shook her head. After that first night, they had never come when she called for them. "I stopped calling them years ago," she said sadly. "I figured it was time to grow up and leave the childish things behind."
Susan reached over and nicked a piece of pickled ginger from Sarah's plate with her chopsticks. "It's not childish to have friends," she said quietly. "It's human. And even if it were, I'd rather be childish and have friends than to be a lonely adult." Susan knew whereof she spoke.
Sarah shrugged and nodded. "Maybe you're right. It certainly hasn't been much fun," she said pensively. She glanced up and smiled at Susan. "I'm just glad I met you," she said. "I knew the first second I saw you that you would understand. You just have that look, you know... and there's a certain tone in your voice, too, that told me right away you had spent some time in a different world."
"I had that look?" Susan asked, surprised. "I know you had that look; it's the first thing I noticed about you. Peter and the others always talked about being able to recognize others who knew about Narnia, but I never knew what he was talking about until I saw you in that meeting."
"I never knew about Narnia, though. I've been to the Underground, but only to the goblin kingdom. I don't know if that's even in the same universe as Narnia."
Susan grinned. "It must be, somehow. How else would we have recognized each other?" She thought a minute. "Ever hear of Archenland, then? No? How about Calormene?"
Sarah shook her head. "Ever hear of the Labyrinth?"
"No. Sorry. But that's not to say it's not in the same world. When I was a queen, the furthest I travelled was Calormene." She smiled sadly. "That sounds so funny now -- 'when I was a queen.' I'm sure no queen now." She bit into a roll with a cynical laugh.
"Nonsense," Sarah said. "Once a queen in Narnia, always a queen in Narnia."
Susan nearly choked on her rice. A coughing fit followed, and she grabbed her glass of water and gulped it down. Eyes streaming, she demanded, "Who told you that? What made you say that?"
Sarah looked taken aback. "Uh, I'm sorry. It just seemed to me as if -- well, if you didn't voluntarily give up your throne, aren't you still a Narnian queen?"
Susan slumped. "It's true. Aslan told us that at our coronation, that we would always be kings and queens of Narnia. Ed and Lucy got to go back at least one more time, though. And now they all get to be with Aslan for all eternity. And here I am, all lost and lonely." She sighed heavily. "Ah, well, it's only forever. Not that long at all," she said with a fatalistic shrug.
Sarah gulped. "Where -- who said that?"
"Well, if they're in Aslan's country, time has no meaning for any of them; least of all for Aslan himself. Eternity wouldn't seem very long, if I were there with him. Why, do those words have some special meaning for you?"
Sarah nodded. "The king sang them to me once. In my mind, before I even met him in person. He told me that the truth hurts, but that in the Underground I'd find someone true."
"Sarah," Susan said, leaning closer. "Can you tell me your king's name?"
Sarah hesitated, then shook her head. "I'd rather not. And in fact, I should be going; it got late while we were weepy," she said in a halfhearted attempt at humour as she began to pick up all the takeaway boxes.
"How are you getting home?" Susan asked, concerned. It wasn't always safe for women to travel alone at night.
"Oh, I'll take the underground," Sarah said, and then stopped short, blushing. "The Tube, I mean!" she corrected as both women started to laugh.
"Best let me call you a cab," Susan suggested through her giggles. "If there's a portal to the Underground in the Tube, I'm not sure it would be the best choice!"
The next day Susan woke early and for once, she was in a good mood. Troubling as Sarah's story had been, Susan felt so relieved to have finally been able to tell her own that she felt like singing.
In fact, she did sing. Blessed with a golden voice and a considerable range, Susan sang all morning long as she showered, did her housework, and thought about how to spend the afternoon. Sarah's idea of visiting the market actually sounded appealing. Susan smiled at her little carved lion and spoke to it. "I wish you could really hear me, Aslan," she said. "I'd love to be able to talk to you, even for a moment. I never really did turn away from you, you know, or from Narnia. And I looked for you here, but finding you took more imagination than I have, I think. I'm not like Lucy and Peter; never have been. I've always required things to be more tangible."
Susan couldn't tell if the lion's eyes had flashed golden at her, or if it was a trick of the sunlight. With a sudden whimsical thought, she smiled and knelt down in front of the end table where the lion stood, so she was eye to eye with it. "I don't suppose you know the goblin king?" she asked. Chuckling a little at her own foolishness, she went on, "If you do, and if you see him, would you give him a message? Tell him Sarah misses him and loves him -- and wants to know if he's alive or dead." Still smiling, she tucked the little wooden lion into her pocket and went out to browse the markets.
Ordinarily Susan stayed away from the little stalls of fantasy figurines, preferring her memories of what real Narnian dwarves looked like instead of the gnomish, misshapen little statues stocked by the fantasy shops. This time, though, a flash of light caught her eye and she approached. It was a little crystal ball on a stand, and Susan smiled when she saw the white owl inside it. She picked it up and peered more closely -- and then let out a startled laugh when she saw its eyes.
They looked like Sarah's drawings.
"How - how much is this?" she asked the seller eagerly.
He replied in an East London accent. "Tha's twelve pounds ninety-five, ma'am."
Sarah handed over thirteen pounds. "Keep the five pence," she told him. She liked the idea of being able to tell Sarah it had cost her thirteen even! Thirteen pounds, thirteen hours, thirteen years ago. Grinning happily, she dropped the crystal into her pocket next to the little wooden lion. She liked the thought of the goblin king meeting Aslan, even if it was only in her pocket and her imagination.
It wasn't only there. Far away, in another land, two kings were meeting face to face. The desert was far to the south of Narnia, even farther to the west of the goblin kingdom. A giant golden lion sat under a stunted tree and waited patiently for a small white owl to land.
The owl finally came in sight and, seeing the lion, descended sharply. He transformed as he landed on the sun baked sand in front of the lion.
The goblin king wore his formal attire, down to the leather breastplate that held his symbol of office. "Aslan," he said, and bowed very low.
The lion inclined his head. "Jareth," he greeted in his rich voice. As the goblin king straightened, Aslan continued. "I have a message for you."
Jareth cocked his head in puzzlement. "A message, sir?"
Aslan's voice took on a deeper tone of amusement. "One of my daughters on earth has apparently learned of you, and gave me a message to deliver for her friend. Tell me, Jareth -- do you know a Daughter of Eve, named Sarah?"
Jareth stiffened, but could not withhold a reply from the high king. "Yes, sir. She solved my Labyrinth and defeated me."
"And you still bear the bitter resentment?" the lion asked gently.
Jareth swept startled eyes up to meet the golden ones. "Oh, no, sir," he blurted. "Far from it."
"That is well," the lion purred. "Because according to my daughter, this Sarah misses you and loves you -- and wants to know if you are alive or dead."
Jareth went pale and his jaw dropped. "Sh - she - she doesn't..." he swallowed and could not continue.
Aslan growled a little. "Peace, Son of Cernaigel. I have delivered the message. Now I wish your report on the kingdom."
Jareth collected himself and gave the high king his yearly report on the welfare of the goblin kingdom.
"Well done, Son of Cernaigel. Now I wish your report on yourself."
This was much harder, partially because it only happened once every two decades, and this report naturally had to contain the story of what happened with Sarah.
Jareth was among the last of his own kind left in the Underground, because of some foolish things he had done in his youth. He ruled the goblins as both a punishment and an education; if he did well enough for long enough, he might someday be able to join the rest of his family in Arcadia.
"Enough," Aslan said. "You are improving, Jareth, if Sarah's small brother was the last child you stole. You are learning restraint and responsibility, and in time will learn honour and generosity as well. Approach me, my son."
Jareth went to one knee before the lion, who bent down his head and gave Jareth a lion-kiss on the forehead. He lightly rested one paw on Jareth's shoulder for an instant, and then stepped back. Jareth rose and stood tall with a strange, glad light in his eyes. Aslan's approval was heady stuff, and rarely accorded. Jareth was much, much more used to receiving the lion's forgiveness rather than his approval.
"Go, now, and continue to do well," Aslan instructed. "I shall bear your greetings to Arcadia, if you wish."
"Yes, Sir." Jareth bowed again and backed away before transforming back into the owl. He wheeled about in joy several times, before setting his wings for the long flight home.
Aslan, watching him go, nodded in slow, majestic approval. "Yes, go, Son of Cernaigel," he rumbled. "Go and find your love; she will teach you more honour and generosity than the goblins do!"
Sunday morning, Susan woke up for church. She'd been going to a different church every Sunday for as long as she could remember, usually finding them in the telephone directory or on the internet the night before. This time, with her newfound peace from having finally talked with someone about her secrets, she was determined to find one church and stick with it. If she couldn't find Aslan through experimentation, she'd try and find him through sheer, stubborn, dogged persistence. She did a whimsical search on the internet, and when the hits scrolled down, so did her jaw. There it was, in plain blue and white. Fingers shaking, she clicked on the link and then started to smile. "Church of the Lion." It wasn't far from where Sarah lived; she could pop in afterwards and deliver the little crystal owl she had bought for her.
Decision made, she rang up Sarah. "Hey, I'm going to be going to church near you this morning; mind if I come round afterwards? I have something to give you."
Sarah agreed, and after a moment's hesitation said, "Wait a minute. Why don't I just go with you, if the church is near me. What's the name of it?"
Susan grinned. "Don't laugh. It's called the 'Church of the Lion.'"
Sarah coughed, and Susan could hear her smile in her voice. "Come on, may I please laugh? It's funny!"
Susan felt giddy as a schoolgirl. "Oh, all right!" She started giggling herself as she hung up the phone and went out to get into her car.
The two women laughed when they saw each other, walked into the building. They were greeted by several people
Susan found the preaching to be sobering. The message was all about faith, and believing in things even when you can't see them. "Children play 'make- believe' all the time. They're forever believing in things they can't see. We have to be like children," the minister claimed. "It's our adult, skeptical minds that always demand proof for things. You know, 'If I can't see it, touch it, smell it, hear it, AND taste it, then it's not real.' You know the type."
Susan suddenly wondered whether Aslan had banned her from Narnia because she had started to get too skeptical, to lose her childlike faith in him. Well, she would be trying again soon, she decided. She liked the minister, and she liked the majestic lion banner that hung in the back of the church. Afterwards, when she shook hands with the minister, she noticed an odd look on his face. It was the same sudden glance of surprise she had seen on Sarah's face the first time they'd met, and suddenly she knew. Not only did he have "the look," but he could recognize it on her face as well!
Her suspicions were confirmed when the minister greeted them with, "By the Mane, it's good to have new people here!"
Susan almost cried. She could remember a time when "by the mane," or "by the lion's mane," was a common oath that she heard every day.
The minister was fairly nice-looking, with an open, friendly smile. "I'm Darian Heath," he introduced himself.
"Susan Pevensie," Susan said with an answering smile.
His jaw dropped. "Not - not..."
"The Gentle," she added in an undertone, with a mischievous smile
She could tell that only the presence of Sarah and the other parishioners was keeping him from bowing before royalty. As it was, his eyes got very bright and he nodded rapidly several times. "Well! Miss Pevensie, this is an unexpected pleasure!" He somehow managed to make "Miss Pevensie" sound just like "Your Majesty."
Susan smiled gently. "It seems we have much to talk about, Reverend Heath."
"Darian, please. May we do so?" he asked eagerly. "This evening? Over dinner, perhaps? Here is my card; I shall be in all afternoon."
Sarah smiled behind her hand, watching Susan make a date with the minister after church! Smiling happily, the the minister turned to Sarah. "So, are you also..?"
"Someone who's never been to Narnia," Sarah said lightly, but too quiet for any of the other parishioners to hear. "Sarah Williams."
"No?" Darian asked, smiling. "But you have the look --"
"I know all about the look," Sarah rejoined with a sly smile. "And I never said I hadn't, uh, travelled -- I just haven't been to Narnia."
Susan, seeing the backlong of people waiting to shake the minister's hand and leave, nudged Sarah. "We should go. Darian, I'll ring you later. Goodbye!"
Sarah invited her friend over for lunch. "Nothing fancy, just sandwiches." Susan accepted, and offered a lift home in return.
"So, what do you have for me?" Sarah wanted to know as they made the sandwiches together.
"Oh, I picked up a little something for you at the secondhand market yesterday," Susan said mysteriously.
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Come on, let's have it," she grinned.
"Wash your hands first!" Susan demanded. "Don't want to smudge it, now, do you?"
Sarah obediently washed her hands and dried them. Susan took out the crystal and handed it to Sarah triumphantly.
Sarah went white and had to sit down. Not only the crystal, but the owl..! Peering closely, she noticed its odd eyes, and nearly choked.
"It's him, isn't it?" Susan asked, sounding quite chuffed. "I looked for one like that without the crystal, but they didn't look like him, like that one does."
Sarah nodded, her motions jerky. "It's him," she said, sounding hollow. She glanced up. "And it's no wonder this was the only one. He uses -- used crystals like this for his magic," she explained.
Susan blinked. "Oh! Well, good. That means you can call him with it and see what happens. See if he's still alive."
Her matter of fact tone surprised Sarah and seemed to inspire courage. If Susan believed it was possible, then... maybe it was! "I will," she decided. "Right after lunch."
"Uh, want me to leave?" Susan offered.
Sarah shook her head with a wry smile. "Uh-uh. In case nothing happens, I want you here to deal with my crushing disappointment!"
The two women bolted their sandwiches and rushed through the cleanup. Then Sarah took the owl-crystal into the lounge room where there was a mirror. She took a deep breath and gazed into the mirror as she said, "I wish..." she hesitated, frightened, until Susan gave her shoulder an encouraging squeeze. Sarah lifted her chin. "I wish I could see the goblin king, right now!"
Nothing happened. Sarah gazed into the eyes of the tiny owl inside the crystal. "Come on, I know it's you in there," she said, tapping the glass with a fingertip. "Please, I just need to know if you're all right."
Sarah asked once more, "Please! I wish to speak to the goblin king!"
Still nothing happened, and her face crumpled into tears. Susan patted her shoulder. She hadn't know what to expect, but she had definitely expected something! Not this.. this nothing. "Oh, Sarah," she said. "I'm so sorry. I thought it would work. I thought -- " Susan stopped and stared. The little owl in the glass sphere had winked at her! "Sarah," Susan said in a different tone, realizing what had gone wrong. "Do it again. Make the wish again, but use his name. His name, not his title."
"What good will it do?" Sarah sniffed.
"Please, just trust me. I am a Narnian queen, you know; I do know something about the power of names."
Sarah blew her nose, wiped her eyes, and picked up the crystal again. Gazing at the tiny owl, she said simply, "Jareth, I wish you were here."
This time was different. The mirror rippled like water, and suddenly a strong breeze blew out of it. Sarah's curtains ruffled and a few of her papers sailed across the room.
And then a husky voice with a silvery edge said, "Sarah..." She whirled around to see the goblin king appear behind her. He smiled tenderly. "Your wish is my command," he whispered. With a glad cry, Sarah threw herself into his arms, alternately laughing and crying. He stroked her hair and whispered endearments to her with such an expression of fervent affection that made Susan feel she was intruding on a very private moment. She had to leave the room.
She leaned on the counter in the kitchen and took out her little wooden model of Aslan. She kissed its face and whispered, "I don't know if you told him or not, but if so, thank you!" She hugged the lion and laughed softly. Then she heard her name being called, and returned to the lounge room.
Sarah's face glowed with happiness, and Jareth had a possessive arm around her and a beaming smile. Sarah took his hand and led him forward. "Jareth, this is my friend Susan. She's the one who brought me the crystal. Susan, this is Jareth. He's... he's..." Sarah started to laugh again. "He's alive! And, daft man that he is, he claims to love me."
Jareth recognized something in Susan's bearing -- and her name rang a bell in the recesses of his mind. If he hadn't seen Aslan so recently, he might not have remembered, but as it was... He stood up straight and made Susan a shallow bow, as from one monarch to another. "Queen Susan, it is an honour to make your acquaintance," he said.
While Sarah watched, Susan suddenly stood taller and took on a more dignified bearing. In an instant, she became royalty. She swept Jareth a curtsey -- not too low, for she greeted him as an equal -- and said, "King Jareth, the pleasure is mine! And all the more so because you have made my friend very happy."
Jareth shook his blond head, still smiling. "It would never have happened if not for you, Madam. If you had not sent me that message, I would still be moping heartbroken at home and thinking Sarah hated me."
"What message?" Susan asked.
"Yes, what message?" Sarah wanted to know.
Jareth frowned. "Did you not ask your lord to convey a certain personal message to me from Sarah?"
Susan's eyes widened. "You mean, he... you... you..." Suddenly she collected herself and asked, "Sir, do you mean to tell me that you've had dealings with the Son of the Emperor across the Sea?"
Jareth smirked. "Great, tall fellow, yes? Tawny fur, golden eyes, and a mane even bigger than mine? Goes by the name of Aslan?" He blinked innocently. "Is that who you mean, Madam?"
"Yes!" Susan cried. "By the Mane, yes!" She beamed. "Sir, please give him my fondest regards, the next time you see him."
"It will be my pleasure to do so, Queen Susan. Have you any further messages?"
"Yes." Susan swallowed hard. "If you please, King Jareth, kindly tell Aslan that I am earnestly seeking him in my own world, and... and I am sorry it took me so long to start." She smiled at Sarah. "And if you'll excuse me, I have a minister to ring up."
Somewhere, in a gorgeous country atop a high mountain, a lion smiled.