DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to C.S. Lewis, except for Nia, Toulouse, Helaena, and Nicodemus.
CHAPTER 1: The Wooden Chest
"Nia Evenshire, are you even listening to me?" Mrs. MacReady's indignant voice roused Nia from her reverie. She couldn't be blamed for daydreaming, really. The professor's house was extremely interesting, with all its historical artifacts, suits of armor, marble busts of some philosopher… The house was as large as her father's mansion in Kent, and much older.
"Yes, Mrs MacReady." It was Nia's first visit to her mother's friend, Professor Kirke, and she would live here and study in the nearby school until she turned 18.
"And don't even think of touching those historical artifacts!" Mrs. MacReady said. "They're worth more than you are." Nia knew this wasn't true. Nia's parents had been the Duke and Duchess of Kent. But that was before they died in an air raid in London two weeks ago. They were on their way to a Parliament meeting in Whitehall. Needless to say, they didn't make it to the meeting. Now, Nia was the Duchess, thanks to the new law that allows females to inherit the title and the estate if they were first-born, except that her Uncle Nicodemus had taken over the dukedom as regent until she comes of age. Uncle Nicky was a very kind man and thought it would be best for Nia to be with the late Duchess Helaena's friend. But still, a Duchess was a Duchess.
"Now, you must behave yourself when you're in this house. No running in the halls, no swimming in the stream…" There was a stream at the back of the house, which was a pity because it was such a hot summer's day and Nia felt she could really do with a nice bath.
They had reached the second floor landing now, and were proceeding to Nia's room.
"You're lucky to have a room to yourself," Mrs. MacReady said, as if she wanted to strip Nia off that privilege. "Now, there are four other children in here, and you must behave accordingly with them." Nia took this to mean that the housekeeper wanted her to act like a Duchess in front of those other children. And she was determined to do the exact opposite and be friends with them. Nia didn't grow up in the ducal estate, anyway. She grew up in Finchley as a commoner, with her mother staying there with her and her father visiting at least once a week. "Now remember," Mrs. MacReady said, "not to disturb the professor."
Once Mrs. MacReady had left, Nia opened her suitcase and a black Burmese cat tumbled out of it.
"I know, I know," the cat said. "I stowed away. Again" Nia wasn't alarmed to hear her cat talk. She had grown used to it. Toulouse was her mother's cat, and Nia couldn't find out why he talked. Her mother didn't know he did – as far she Nia knew, and Toulouse talked to her, and only her, and made her promise to keep it a secret or else he'd up in some freak show or something. Toulouse had a very annoying habit of stowing away.
Toulouse made a show of examining the room critically. "Not bad, you know, but your room in Aunt Maeve's house in Virginia was so much better." At the age of ten, Nia and her mother were sent to a relative in America to protect them from the war. That was four years ago. She'd returned with her mother six months ago, and her father wasn't exactly pleased.
"I like it," Nia said. "I mean, look at all the historical artifacts! And this place looks more like an 18th century mini-palace than an actual house!"
"You are such a nerd, which is probably why one of those Finchley friends of yours, Piper…"
"Peter," Nia corrected. "And I know what you're going to say. I am a nerd, and Peter didn't like me because I'm much too boring."
"Never mind. You know you're anything but." Toulouse licked his paw. "Besides, he was only, like, eleven when you left. You couldn't expect the guy to like you at age eleven."
Nia bit her lip. Back in Finchley, there was one boy she had a crush on. Only the boy had been one of her best friends and she couldn't tell him and risk ridicule. Not that Peter Pevensie would even think of ridiculing her. And she couldn't tell his younger sister, Susan, who was closest to her. She'd tell him. Sad to say, she lost contact with them when she went to America.
"I mean," Toulouse was saying, "you're very clever, and you're full of surprises, and you look beautiful as well."
"You're only saying that to flatter me," Nia said. Nia thought she was quite plain, with her rather unruly light brown hair, which fell just past her shoulders, and her face was perfectly ordinary, with no poetry in them. But her eyes, people said, were one of the most beautiful they'd ever seen. It was a warm, chocolate brown, full of life and expression. Her mother had been a very beautiful woman, and as a child, Nia would always slink away at gatherings so she couldn't be compared with her mother. "Now, it's Su who's beautiful."
"I'll say," Toulouse said, very eager to change the subject, "where are the other children?"
"Mrs. MacReady said they're outside playing cricket."
"Well, then," Toulouse said, jumping out of the bed and padding towards the door. "Shall we?" This meant he wanted to go on exploring. He and Nia did it whenever they were in a new place. "This place is huge, and it isn't like that crone you spoke to told us not to explore. She only told you not to run, nor touch the historical artifacts, nor swim in the stream, nor ride the horses, nor…" This went on, and Nia had to laugh. She really wasn't listening to Mrs. MacReady earlier and considered herself lucky Toulouse was there to listen and remember for her.
Nia opened the door and they walked along the corridor, side by side, until a ball smashed through one of the windows and hit the suit of armor in front of them, sending it crashing down the floor.
"Run!" Toulouse bolted down the corridor.
"It wasn't our fault!" Nia gasped, struggling to keep up with him, bumped into a glass bust of Plato, and watched in horror as it broke into a million pieces. Toulouse stopped. "And where the heck are we going to hide? There are lots of doors in this house!"
"Now it's your fault!"
Nia tried every door in the floor and found one that was unlocked. "This must be the professor's study.'
Indeed, it was. And it looked like one of those old-fashioned offices, grand and full of oak and carpets and bookshelves. Nia, who was quite the bookworm, stared at the room.
"What's going on there?" It was Mrs. MacReady.
"Quick!" Toulouse said, motioning towards a large wooden chest in the corner. "In there!"
Nia opened the chest and eased herself inside. Toulouse jumped in as well and she closed the lid.
"Nia!" Mrs. MacReady was calling her name. She sounded angry. Nia held her breath. "Narnia Evenshire!"
Nia waited some time until Mrs. MacReady's voice faded away, and counted to one hundred. Then, she opened the lid.
She was still in the trunk, but she wasn't in the Professor's study anymore. She stood up.
"Whoa," Toulouse said. They were in a forest of some sort, and it was one of those forests that made you forget about wolves and panthers. It was one of those forests that reminded Nia of the stories of a magical land her mother used to tell her of. The land that, Helaena Evenshire said, was her namesake.
"Where are we?" Nia asked.
"Narnia Evenshire," Toulouse said in a strangled voice, "welcome to the land of Narnia."
END OF CHAPTER
AN: I hope you liked it, even though it was a bit short. The chapters will become longer once she's in Narnia. I just watched the Narnia movie and thought it was great. I'll be using some characters derived from other Narnia books such as The Horse and His Boy, although I'll change some of their backgrounds here and there. And yes, Nia's full name was Narnia. And as for my other fanfics, I'll be updating them soon.