It's come to my attention (12/21/08) that there's been a new chapter alert on this. I'm very sorry about that! I don't know what happened, but I think that replacing the old chapter with this version somehow triggered an alert? Anyway, this is essentially the same as the original story and it's still a one-shot; sorry for the confusion!
More Dimly in Hell
Neither could speak to the other and in a moment the Sea Girl dropped astern. But Lucy will never forget her face. It did not look frightened or angry like those of the other Sea People. Lucy had liked that girl and she felt certain the girl had liked her. In that one moment they had somehow become friends. There does not seem to be much chance of their meeting again in that world or any other. But if ever they do they will rush together with their hands held out. (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis)
Sometimes, Lucy looks in the mirror and wants to sob with frustration, because no one will listen to her anymore. Her teachers and prefects nod at her and then dismiss the golden-haired girl, with her illusions of grandeur and battle and kingdoms, and Lucy remembers, as if in a dream, a time when things were different.
A time when she was Queen of Narnia, crowned by Aslan himself and ruling from Cair Paravel. A time when she, too, rode into battle for her kingdom.
She looks in the mirror, sometimes, and sees a glimpse of the woman Tumnus must have seen as they hunted the White Stag: the golden curls that just would not stay in place, the happy grin she couldn't control, and she remembers Aslan's words: "Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen."
But then she remembers Aslan's other words – his final words – "You and your brother will never come back to Narnia."
Sometimes, Lucy looks out the window of her messy dormitory room and thinks she sees the Sea Girl, even though she knows eons have probably passed in Narnia, and anyway England is so far removed from the sweet water of the Silver Sea. So she shakes her head to clear it and each time the girl turns out to be someone else all together.
When Andrew Johnson kisses her hesitantly at her front door one summer night, she kisses back and doesn't understand why she thinks he ought to be the Sea Girl instead, because that's madness. The Sea Girl couldn't come to England, and she couldn't survive on land, and even if she could they couldn't be kissing. They're both girls; girls don't kiss each other. Girls who do that are perverted, queer, unwomanly. Doesn't the pastor preach it on Sundays, when Lucy sits with her family on the hard wooden pew and tries to find Aslan in his words? Weren't those two sixth form girls thrown out for "unnatural and unhealthy conduct?"
And what would Aslan say, if he knew?
Sometimes Lucy thinks he does know, and that's why she can't go back to Narnia – but that doesn't make any sense, because Edmund can't go back either and anyway Aslan has never kept quiet when she sinned…
"Do you remember Narnia?" she asks Susan one morning as they clear the breakfast dishes.
Susan laughs, sounding like Mother, and Lucy hates it. "Of course, Lu. How could I forget the games we played? The battles we won? And the lion—what was his name?"
"Aslan," Lucy says through clenched teeth. "And he wasn't a game."
Susan laughs again, and Lucy wants to cry.
She never knows how to ask the right questions, and so Lucy never knows if there are really more people like her; she's never met any other girls who don't fancy boys.
Or maybe she has, and they just hide it as well as she does.
Lucy sits in a stuffy classroom and contemplates her future: courtship and marriage and children; dishes to wash and dinners to make and clothing to mend. It's all so different from the life she wants.
Lucy wants her kingdom back, and her sister to remember that she was once Queen Susan the Gentle. She wants to be Queen Lucy the Valiant again, because she knows that if she were truly brave, she would let someone fix her.
But can they fix her if she's not broken? Sometimes Lucy thinks it's fine that she's like this. Sometimes she even dares to think that it's good. Of course it isn't normal – but then, Lucy has never quite been normal.
("Prone to flights of fancy; overactive imagination; strange fascination with lions," says the headmistress in her letters home.)
"How do you know you're in love?" she asks Peter as they walk to the underground.
Peter looks at her curiously. "I just do, I guess. I feel different around her. Like she's my second half and as long as we're together – then everything's all right. Why? Are you in love?"
Lucy almost tells him the truth, but she can't bear his disappointment, so she lies. "No. Just wondering."
She can tell he doesn't quite believe her, and part of her wishes he'd push a little harder, but he doesn't.
Lucy wants to tell someone – anyone – that she thinks she's fallen in love with a Sea Girl she saw only once, on a voyage to the end of the world. But she doesn't think any of Edmund's logic will fix her, and there's no one for Peter to challenge. Lucy doesn't know what Susan will hate most – that her sister is queer or that her sister can't stop fantasizing about an imaginary, childhood world. "You aren't a child anymore, Lu," she'll say disapprovingly, and the Professor will want to know what they've taught her at school, that she can love another girl.
And Aslan – oh, Aslan. Sometimes Lucy thinks Aslan will look at her with disappointment for feeling something so obviously wrong, and sometimes she remembers the way he loved them all so much more than anyone ever could, and the way everyone seemed to love more when he was there, and she hopes.
And sometimes, Lucy remembers that it was she who saw Aslan in the woods when no one else could; that it was she who found Narnia to begin with; that Aslan told her to follow him even when no one else would. And then she hates the whole world, for saying that she is a perversion, because she knows that this is right and good.
"Ed?" she asks as they wait for the train home.
"If you were doing something bad, something Aslan didn't like… you'd know, right?"
"You'd feel it," he tells her quietly.
"But what if I'm not sure?"
He frowns, and she can see his mind turning the question over, analyzing it from every side. "If other people say it's wrong, but you know it's right, then probably it's right. You always knew what Aslan wanted better than any of us. But if you really think it's wrong, if you can't quite justify it…then probably it's wrong."
Lucy wants to cry, because she knows Edmund's right, and that means she isn't.
For the first time, Lucy envies Susan's ability to forget.
A/N: I don't own the Narnia books, of course. This was beta'd first by brood saint and then by Ill Ame; they are both fantastically awesome for doing it. The title comes from a Sappho fragment (fragment fifty-five according to the Loeb numbering) translated by Willis Barnstone in Lyrics in the Original Greek. The first of Aslan's lines is from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the second from the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
This is first in a three-part arc (in what will someday be a five-part 'verse); it's followed by "Every Desperate Retreat" and "All She Knows of Heaven". You might remember this as titled "Never Forget Her Face", but I like this title much better! The story has been slightly edited, but is still mostly the same.