I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. I only exploit them for personal entertainment.
Three of them managed.
It was easiest for Susan, because the world was tangible. When she couldn't see Narnia anymore, couldn't hear it or touch it or smell it or taste it, she moved on to the things that she could, completely aware of everything around her. It was always and had always been one foot in front of the other for her. When the silk of her bed at Cair Paravel was replaced by the rough cotton of her old life, she trained herself to forget her palace. When the wind rushing past her face was the result of a lumbering streetcar rather than a galloping stallion, she accepted it and learned not to think about such things. And slowly but steadily, the magical became the mundane, the extraordinary became the ordinary and Susan became an upstanding, dignified woman of the twentieth century.
The people she grew to know would remark, "She's got a gentle spirit, that one." She would smile a knowing smile and ignore the naked feeling of her forehead, crownless.
Edmund didn't try to forget like Susan. Forgetting would mean risking the same mistakes. Forgetting could mean falling again, back into the icy pit that still remained somewhere inside him. No, instead he walked the streets of England while holding Narnia before him like a shield against all that was evil in the worlds, painfully alert to his own mistakes. He had known compassion and mercy. He had known love and sacrifice. And most importantly, he had known forgiveness. These were things he had known only in Narnia, so he worked to bring them to his old world to give every sinner the chance that he had been given. And slowly but steadily, the lessons he learned became the lessons he taught, the things he had longed to be became the things he exemplified, and Edmund became a leader.
His peers, superior or inferior, would remark, "He's got a taste for justice, that one." He would bow his head in humility and work all the harder, his power now that of the pen rather than the sword.
For Lucy, it was hell until she grew up again. She had been a friend and a help to every person and creature in Narnia, but she found it incredibly difficult to be a friend to people who would not even listen to her or help those who would not accept help from a nine-year old. For nearly ten years she struggled with the beautiful, terrible memories of the world beyond the wardrobe and the woman – not girl – that she had been there. But when at last she was no longer a child, it was like a sunflower bursting into blossom unexpectedly, flamboyantly cheery and striking. There was no use for fear in the white wards of the hospital. Like the sunflower she brightened every corridor and brought hope to the suffering people. And slowly but steadily, nurse took the place of Queen, love took the place of cordial, and Lucy became a different kind of healer.
The doctors, watching her tend nauseating wounds, would remark, "You have to admit, she's a brave young woman, that one." She would swell with pride and bestow upon her patients the most dazzling smile they had ever seen.
Peter never found a way to move on.
In Narnia he had been a King. In England, there was no use for one.
"Try the military," Susan had suggested. "You were always a warrior." But the gun had felt foreign and impersonal in his hands, and he could not bring himself to kill without first being able to look and see if the 'enemy' was someone who deserved to die. In the army, a man could not choose his battles. In the army, a man did not think about right and wrong as a High King would. In the army, Peter did not belong.
"Try for office," Edmund had suggested after winning his own. "You were always a leader." But the world of politics had been too devious and harsh for him. He could not understand lying or cheating or succumbing to pressure because he had never done so since before Narnia. He had been too golden for the public and they had chewed him up, spit him out and denounced him as a weak, self-righteous, power-hungry man.
"Try working with children," Lucy had suggested. "You were the most wonderful brother." And here, Peter had almost found something to bring him into the here and now. As a teacher, he could lead like he wanted to, cultivate in children the things he had learned to be himself and influence lives as much if not more than he had as a monarch. The children loved their young, handsome, idealistic teacher with the bright, sad eyes and regal posture. He could look into their shining faces and see Narnia. It was this that destroyed him. Slowly but steadily, inspiration became desperation, childish enthusiasm became a frenzied attempt to grow younger and Peter lost the ability to be an adult. There was Narnia in him and Narnia in his students. It only belonged in one.
Susan was gentle. Edmund was just. Lucy was valiant.
But away from Narnia, how can one be magnificent?
When first a student laughed at the idea of magic, Peter was finished.
On a cold and lonely Monday, no one heard the gun shot. No one saw the body crumple to the floor. No one smelled the fresh blood as it rushed to pool around the sandy-haired, angelic face. Two weeks later, three somber, broken-hearted figures stood and watched as the wooden casket was slowly lowered into the earth. One was gentle. One was just. One was valiant. But all wept for a warrior. All grieved for a leader. All silently cried out for a brother. And as the last shovelful of sod settled upon the grave, all mourned for the Magnificent.