I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. I just surprise myself at how sentimental I can be when I write about them.
Author's Note: This fic isa gift for lightsabermaster, who posted the 100th review for "The Sea and the Siblings." I'll be doing another for 200, if I get there, so keep your eyes peeled. The requested idea was something along these lines: "In the movie, we see Lucy attempt to return to Narnia at the end. What about Edmund, Susan and Peter?" I took it and ran; lightsabermaster, if you're out there, let me know what you think.
Lucy used to wonder if they ever tried to get back.
In truth, she'd been slightly embarrassed by her encounter with the Professor. She had known that the wardrobe would open to her only when Aslan saw fit to call her back, but the temptation had been far too great and she'd crept into that dark room, candle aloft, eyes bright with foolish hope. Her hand, so small and foreign now, closed over the cool metal handle and had only pulled it open slightly when he'd gently intervened.
"I don't think you'll get back in that way," he had said. When she started and look back at him in alarm, he offered her a small, sad smile. "You see, I've already tried."
Later, after he'd tucked her in and blown out her candle, she had lain there in the scratchy covers and stared up at the ceiling, lost in memories. It was the oddest feeling she'd ever felt. Her legs – they were supposed to reach farther, her hair was supposed to be longer, her hips and chest fuller, her voice richer, her walk smoother. This body was all wrong for her. She had grown out of it so very long ago that to be back in it seemed more surreal even than when she'd first entered Narnia.
And then the next day she'd noticed that even Susan, the most graceful of them, stumbled slightly when her feet did not reach as far as she expected. She'd seen Peter's startled hand fly to where a sword once was when a fumbling Edmund had dropped a plate in the afternoon, and she knew that they felt as strange as her. Mrs. Macready called them clumsy and careless. Professor Kirke smiled.
One night, Lucy was awakened by a creak outside her bedroom. Drowsily she sat and dangled her too-short legs over the edge of her bed, feet sliding into the soft slippers she hadn't worn for almost ten years, and then she was pulling her robe tight about herself and stumbling to the door. Susan, asleep, did not notice. As Lucy crept through the dark house, following the phantom she'd heard, she found that she did not trip or fall quite so often. She knew the way. She needed no candle.
By the time she'd reached the place she could no longer call Spare Oom, she was fully awake and beginning to falter again. The door was slightly ajar and faint, flickering candlelight spilled from the crack, casting the doorknob in shadow as she reached for it. She silently let herself in. He did not notice her, too intent as his own hand closed over a different door handle, pleading eyes filled with desperation, and Lucy had almost been unable to speak.
"I don't think you'll get back in that way," she said quietly, holding back tears. And Edmund's head performed that same rapid round-about, the candle jumping from his surprised fingers and spilling wax across the floor. The room faded into darkness and smoke.
"Lucy." His voice was strangled. She took a step forward, and so did he. One long, tense moment ensued, the two children staring at one another with wide, grief-stricken eyes. Then suddenly, inexplicably, they collapsed into each others' arms and fell to the floor in a heap. Lucy let the tears slide down her face and clutched her brother to herself tightly, feeling his every heartbeat, hearing his every broken sob, knowing exactly how he felt. Minutes or hours later, she could not tell, they pulled apart and simply sat there on the floor by the fallen white curtain.
"Maybe someday," Lucy whispered. And they went back to bed.
Four days later saw the Pevensie children listless and quiet, despite the brilliant sunshine pouring through every window. Lucy watched Peter watch the dust dance in the yellow rays as he lay on the sofa, hands folded over his stomach, blue eyes weary and troubled. She noted Susan, slumped in a straight-backed chair, fingers distractedly playing with a long brown curl with her mouth in a wistful, despairing smile. Her gaze rested on Edmund at the window, staring at something and yet at nothing at all, forehead resting on the cool glass and palm pressing against it with a hopeless longing.
Ed and Peter excused themselves a moment later. Lucy moved to the window, watching her brothers throw a ball back and forth on the lawn below. She turned at the sound of a small sob to find the straight-backed chair empty and to catch a glimpse of a leather-shoed heel in the doorway as her sister hurried from the room. Silently, knowingly, she retraced her steps from several nights before. The door was closed this time, but she opened it and slipped inside. She could not see Susan, though she could hear her – soft cries were coming from the wardrobe, muffled by its contents. Lucy crossed the room slowly, and when she gently pulled the door further open, the light made her older sister look up, gasping and attempting to shield her tear-stained face.
"Lucy," she whispered hoarsely. The younger girl sank to her knees, her cheeks brushing the soft fur coats that had first shielded them from the Witch's winter. Taking a deep, shaking breath, she reached for Susan. Her sister shied away at first, whimpering in protest, but after a moment she crumpled into Lucy's embrace and began to weep anew against her shoulder. Lucy did not cry so much this time. Susan seemed so vulnerable that she was afraid of upsetting her even more, so instead she simply stroked the long brown hair and sniffled in a bizarre reversal of roles. At last, Susan's sorrow turned to gasping breaths. Squeezing her sister tightly, Lucy leaned close to her ear and whispered,
Two weeks passed. The children began to trip less frequently, and were starting to remember what it felt like to be in a world without battles and feasts and talking creatures who would invite them to come and have tea. Mrs. Macready called them clumsy and careless less often and instead commented on how quiet and well-behaved they were. Professor Kirke smiled less regularly. Lucy knew why; though she and Edmund and Susan had all made an effort to resume life as before, their eldest brother remained detached and solitary, habitually disappearing for hours at a time to places they could not find him. When the four were together, he would maintain silence until spoken to and even then would only mutter a short reply. Edmund reported that he hadn't stayed in bed all night since before he could remember. They knew what he meant.
On a drizzly Thursday morning, just after sunrise, Lucy found herself staring out the window at the flushed sky and the deer grazing upon the grassy yard. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she wondered how long it would be until their family was whole again. Things weren't the same without Peter. And so, on a whim, she pulled on her slippers and stole from the room without a sound, her feet pitter-pattering down the hallway, up the stairs, down another hallway and finally to the closed door at the end of it. Her hand flew to the knob, turning it eagerly…
It was locked.
Thrown off, she uncertainly raised her fist and tapped lightly upon the wood. For one long, chilling moment, there was no sound but the gentle drum of rain upon the shingles above. Then someone shifted inside, a bolt scraped back and the door swung open to show Peter, fully clothed and expressionless, a book dangling in his right hand.
"Lucy," he said. There was no surprise, no sadness, no joy. Ironically it brought up a terrible, surging grief that tore at Lucy's throat and heart.
"Peter," she replied thickly, staring defiantly up at his blank face. He pulled the door open a bit more and stepped back to let her in. She glided inside, not bothering to close it behind her, eyes still locked on the empty features of her brother, the High King, now defeated by the only enemy he didn't have the courage to face - himself. Noiselessly, he crossed over to the rain-struck windows and sank down against the wall, laying his book upon the floor. Lucy remained standing. They watched each other for several long, hollow minutes, the intensity of the silence beyond their comprehension.
"Peter," she repeated, hands curling into fists. He met her gaze without emotion. "Who are you?"
He blinked and for the briefest moment, Lucy thought she saw a flash of surprise on his face.
"I'm your brother," he said quietly. The corners of her mouth turned up into a twisted smile of melancholy and she shook her head.
"No," she whispered. "You're not Peter anymore. Peter wouldn't run away."
"Lucy…" he pleaded. Now there was a hint of something painful, panicked, uncertain in his voice. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to keep from crying.
"Peter would know why he came here," she continued hoarsely. "Peter wouldn't ignore his brother and sisters. Peter would…Peter would live."
When she opened her eyes, it was to find that he had bowed his head so that his face was invisible to her. A moment passed, tears beginning to drip down her cheeks. She noticed something, something almost imperceptible, but when she looked harder it was clear. His shoulders were quivering, fingers tense upon the floor, every muscle rigid.
Lucy took a step forward. Cautiously, she bent over and placed a hand on his shaking shoulder. Suddenly his arms shot forward and seized her by the arms, dragging her down into his lap as he burst into heart-wrenching sobs. He clutched her to himself like a doll, one hand tangling in his youngest sister's hair, the other securely about her back and she wept openly with him. After an eternity, he loosened his grip and struggled for breath. She wrapped her arms around his neck and said in a very small voice,
In that moment, the door flew open, Edmund and Susan tumbling out of it to join their brother and sister on the floor by the wardrobe. Lucy's heart swelled within her breast as Peter cradled her to him, the arms of her two other siblings snugly around the both of them. And they smiled through their tears, following Edmund's gaze out of the window -
To nobody's surprise, the weak rays of the run had filtered through the early morning raindrops. Pale violet gave way to blue, then green and yellow and orange and faint red followed, stretching across the clearing sky until disappearing beyond the trees. Lucy gave a sigh and settled into Peter's chest, Susan's arm upon her back and Edmund's hand wrapped around her own.
"Maybe someday," she murmured. Maybe someday.