I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. And I am finally finished abusing them.

There is nothing so pleasant as waking up in the morning after a good, long, sleep, to the smell of something quite delicious cooking downstairs when you are extraordinarily hungry. Lucy awoke to this most amazing sensation, but even the food wasn't quite enough to draw her from her bed. It just felt so perfect. The sheets glided along her skin flawlessly, and everything was a hazy cocoon of warmth as she lay there, sinking in the generous softness of the mattress. Finally, she pushed the covers aside with the back of her wrists and slid her legs to dangle over the side, her toes just grazing the plush carpeting. She yawned widely and stretched her arms above her head.

The door to the servant's chambers that adjoined to hers opened then, and the dryad from the night before stepped inside, curtseying. She smiled warmly at Lucy and walked over to the bed to help her up and over to the closet, where Lucy pointed randomly at the most attractive piece of fabric that stuck out from the stuffed space. It turned out to be a rosy pink gown, trimmed with gold and lined with a cream-colored silk. The dryad helped her to get dressed in it, then again redressed her hands. Lucy saw that the marks on her palms had faded from swollen red gashes to wide, dark, scabbed lines with a bit of pinkish swelling around the edges. It hurt slightly less to use them now, but she let the dryad wrap fresh linen bandages around them. Then the dryad brushed out her hair, slid her slippers onto her feet and fetched her crown (it had been sent back to Cair Paravel by the sailors).

Technically, breakfast was served down in the Banquet Hall, but Lucy had a feeling no one really expected her and her siblings to be there. So instead, she made her way down a shorter flight of stairs and through a gauzy curtain. Beyond it was a room that the Pevensies had often used for informal meals with just the four of them, a beautiful chamber with windows on all sides that let in a generous amount of light. Peter, Susan and Edmund were already there, sitting on cushions on the floor around the small, circular table. They looked up at her entrance, smiling and beckoning her over to join them.

"How are you feeling, Lu?" asked Peter, for whom a night of sleep seemed to have done wonders. Lucy made her way to the table and sank into an empty cushion cross-legged.

"Fine," she replied genially. She reached for a slice of toast, fumbled with her bandaged fingers for a minute, then nodded gratefully at Edmund, who had just picked it up and placed it in her upturned palm. She brought it to her mouth and attempted to take a bite. It was pushed away by her own mouth. On the second attempt, Susan scooted over next to her, took the toast, and held it in place so that Lucy could finally manage to tear off a bit with her teeth. The youngest queen frowned unhappily.

"I'm sorry, Lucy," said Susan sympathetically. "I know it must be frustrating."

This was quite true. But she managed to get through it, and when the meal was finally finished, the family grudgingly pulled themselves away from their little haven and out to the Great Hall, where court would probably be beginning. They were surprised to find it empty except for one solitary figure, who sat on the edge of the dais of the four thrones. He looked up at their entrance, then stood up with shining eyes and rushed forward towards them.

"Mr. Tumnus!" cried Lucy delightedly, throwing herself into his arms. He laughed happily, almost bleating, and twirled her around before gently setting her down on the tiled floor.

"My Lady Lucy," he said dramatically, sweeping down into a deep bow. He looked back up and winked, then straightened out. "How was your journey?"

"Exciting," she replied eagerly. She sensed her siblings sharing a look before they subtly slipped off down the hallway, leaving her alone with the faun. Then his arm was around her shoulders, guiding her towards the dais, and she sat there with her feet dangling over the edge.

"Do tell me all about it," said Mr. Tumnus. He clasped his hands in his lap and shifted until he was comfortable. Lucy grinned, thinking about just where to begin. Story-telling had always been a bit of a talent of hers, and she suddenly found that even the simplest things became daring acts of heroism, and the mercenaries were transformed into terrifying villains fiercer than any others of their kind. It was all she could do not to have the journey to the underwater castle become a thrilling chase with corrupt water-nymphs. But although she might have exaggerated a little at times, the overall story came out right, and in any case Mr. Tumnus enjoyed it greatly.

"That is quite a tale, Lucy Pevensie," he said with a warm smile. They chatted affably for a long while until there wasn't much left to talk about, and then they stood and bid each other good day. Lucy skipped off down the hallway to find her family.

Edmund she found first, in the library. He was nestled deep in a green plush armchair, so engrossed in a book that he didn't even look up when she came in. For someone who had hated reading before Narnia, he certainly seemed to enjoy it now. Lucy silently crept around the edge of the library until she was standing directly behind the chair, then launched her attack.

"Boo!" she shouted, quickly clambering over the back of the chair and tumbling down into his lap. He gave a panicked yell and the book went flying out of his hands, clattering down some several yards away as she landed heavily atop his stomach. The both of them toppled over the edge of the chair and landed in a tangled heap on the carpet, Lucy giggling uncontrollably and Edmund looking as though he might have a heart attack.

"Why you littleā€¦!" he gasped out at last, jabbing a finger into her ribs. She shrieked and tried to swat his tickling hands away, but hissed in pain when the gashes in her hands made themselves known. Halting his assault, Edmund disentangled himself from his little sister and sat up, rubbing the back of his head where it had hit the floor.

"Sorry," said Lucy, not sounding sorry at all. She was beaming from ear to ear.

"Of course you are," grumbled Edmund sarcastically. He leaned back and stretched out a long arm to snag his book, smoothing it shut and placing it on the chair. "I suppose you want me to come with you and do something or another."

She grinned and stood, and when he reluctantly followed suit, trying to hold back an affectionate grin, she threaded her arm into his elbow and set off at a march. They promenaded out of the library, through several corridors and up several flights of stairs, until they were back in the hallway that led to their chambers. Edmund rapped smartly on Peter's door, and a few seconds later it opened. Their older brother looked down at them in mild surprise, taking in their impish expressions before very narrowly avoiding rolling his eyes. He walked over to his desk, shut the notebook he'd been writing in, folded up a map he'd been marking things on, and followed them back out into the hallway without a word. Lucy hurried to the window and poked her head out, taking in the brilliant sunshine. When her eyes settled upon what she was looking for, she turned back to her brothers and led them back down all the stairs and out into the gardens.

Susan looked as though she'd been having a nice chat with someone and had fallen asleep. Her lap contained a half-finished flower chain and her back was against a white-blossomed tree in full splendor. Obviously she'd been there for a little while, because several petals had alighted on her slumbering form, the ivory coloring a stark contrast to her dark hair. The three other Pevensies shared a somewhat gleeful glance.

"Should we disturb her?" whispered Peter.

"Of course," said Edmund.

"But how best to do it?" pondered Lucy.

All three smirked.

They noiselessly crept up to the tree, skirting around it so as not to wake Susan. Peter reached up and hauled himself into the lower branches with all the grace of a rhinoceros in its last moments, his booted feet scrabbling against the bark before he finally managed to heave himself up high enough. He shot a heated glare down at Edmund, who was snickering silently. Then he reached out to hoist Lucy up by her underarms, Ed helping by forming a step with his hands so that she could push off. When both Peter and Lucy were situated comfortably in the sturdy branches, surrounded by the white blossoms, Edmund jumped, grabbed hold a limb, and swung up stylishly to perch lightly next to them.

"Oh, shut up," muttered Peter.

"I wasn't saying anything," whispered Edmund, but he looked very self-satisfied. Lucy giggled as the three of them wormed their way over to rest just above where Susan lay sleeping. They all shared another naughty smile. Because of her hands, Lucy couldn't do much to help, but she could certainly appreciate the humor as her brothers pelted her sister with little pieces of tree debris. The limbs of the tree quivered as it rained loose bark and blossoms, until finally Susan shifted slightly and her eyes opened, blinking dully twice before her neck craned upwards.

Her next expression was quite possibly more wrathful than any of Zale's.

It was arguably unfortunate that they were laughing too hard to appreciate this, for a few seconds later she picked up a small pebble and chucked it straight up at them. While it did not actually hit Edmund, it hit near enough him that he screamed, faltered, and came crashing down out of the tree to land in an undignified mess on the floor for the second time that day. He scrambled away from Susan, who was looking fit to kill as she clawed things out of her hair and brushed them off her skirts with a vengeance.

"Lucy, come down from there," she growled when she realized there was nothing more she could do.

"But I can't," said Lucy truthfully, looking as innocent as possible.

"Then at least push Peter down," said Susan, and she sounded quite serious. Lucy shrugged, then leaned over to jab an elbow into her surprised brother's side. He gave a yelp to rival Ed's, but unlike his brother managed to hold on so that he dangled a few feet above the ground instead of falling the whole way. Of course, this left him entirely exposed to the rest of his family. Susan wasted no time in tickling his stomach until he was forced to let go, and he plummeted onto the grass on top of Edmund, who bellowed furiously and attempted to shove him off, to no avail. Susan held out her arms invitingly, and with completely trust Lucy let herself slip from the tree. She fell several feet before Susan caught her and they both toppled over onto the lawn, her weight too much for her sister to bear, and the next second their brothers had scrambled over to crush them all in a tight hug.

Sandwiched between her siblings, Lucy smiled contentedly and wrapped her arms around whoever was nearest.

It really is good to be home.