Title: How To Save A Life
Disclaimer: I don't own the title or song lyrics. Those belong to The Fray. I don't own the Pevensies. They belong to C.S. Lewis. I don't even own the plot.. I'll tell you who that belongs to at the end of this story. So I guess the only thing I do own is the Disclaimer.. Um, yeah?
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
Susan clutched the tiny hand desperately, tears beginning to dry and stain her face. However, no more wetness rolled down her pale, beautiful cheeks. The tears no longer came, instead replaced by silent, racking sobs. But no matter how much she grieved, it wouldn't bring her little sister back.
And yet she remained, shuddering as she tried to control her weeping. The only sound that filled the room was her sniffles, until finally one simple name crossed her lips.
The word seemed foreign to her tongue, because although logic told her that this was indeed Lucy, she refused to believe that the lifeless corpse before her was her sister.
The silky brown hair was there.
Yet it hung limp.
The soft, porcelain skin was there.
Yet it was clammy and cold to the touch.
The round, innocent eyes were there.
Yet they were shut to the world, never to be shine with emotion again.
But Susan still refused to believe that her sister was actually, truly, without a doubt, dead. Why, just that morning they had rode out into the meadows, laughing without a care in the world. They had raced across the Narnian fields and lunched beneath an Oak tree.
That all seemed like a lifetime ago, though. And as the gentle Queen sat vigil beside her sister, she began to wonder how it had all happened.
The day had started like any other, with the exception of the absence of Peter and Edmund. The Kings had been away for a week in Archenland discussing Calormen's state of uprising with King Lune. They were due back the next day, and Susan was stuck making certain the castle was prepared for its Kings' triumphant return. No matter how small the voyage, there was always a ceremony at the homecoming, and this was no exception. But once Susan was finished with the arrangements, she had the rest of the day to relax.
Lucy, however, had a different plan. She had pestered her sister into going riding with her. Susan was reluctant, already feeling quite tired when it was only noon. But she hadn't had the chance to spend time alone with her sister for quite a while, and eventually she obliged. They saddled up the horses and rode out to the fields, carrying with them lunch. It was there that the hectic castle life seemed to be left in the dust behind the horses' hooves, and all worries were carried away on the whipping wind. It didn't last long, though.
Soon the younger Queen broke out into a fit of coughs and therefore reined her horse in. With a worried countenance Susan had dismounted, expecting Lucy to do the same. The girl did, and Susan had held a hand to her sister's back, rubbing in circles to sooth the coughing.
"Lucy, are you feeling alright?" she had asked, still concerned. Without Peter around to do the worrying, it seemed the duty fell to her shoulders.
The coughing subsided and Lucy cleared her throat. "Y-yes, I think I just need something to drink, that's all." As if on cue, her stomach grumbled a bit, causing a faint smile to cross her lips. "…and maybe something to eat too."
Susan nodded and turned to retrieve their packed lunch from her mount's saddlebag, but the concern had not left her. Something didn't seem right. She brushed the feeling off, though, and told herself that Lucy was right. Lunch would do them both some good.
They found an oak near the edge of the meadow and sank beneath its overhanging branches, unwrapping their lunch and setting it out. Two apples, some carrots, and egg salad sandwiches. It was a simple lunch, but with the sunshine pouring forth over the valley and the gentle wind billowing through their hair, Susan concluded that she'd never enjoyed a meal as much as that one.
After they were through eating, a blissful exhaustion overcame the both of them. Susan leaned back against the gnarled oak, leasing a content sigh. Lucy wriggled towards her older sister, lying her head back on Susan's lap and looking up into the gentle blue eyes that mimicked her brother's.
"Feeling better?" Susan asked, stroking the girl's hair and gazing down at her with a delicate smile.
"Much," Lucy replied, returning the look with a broad smile of her own. There was a moment of silence before the young girl spoke up again.
"For what, Lu?"
"For just spending the afternoon with me. This was wonderful." She heaved a sigh before shutting her eyes and drifting off into a dreamless slumber. Susan continued to stroke her sister's hair, smiling lovingly, before she too slid into a much needed nap.
Hours passed before the gentle Queen was awoken by pained moans. Her blue eyes flew open, immediately aware of her lap's vacancy. Looking around frantically, she called, "Lucy!"
The only reply was yet another groan.
Susan caught sight of Lucy a little ways off, kneeling beside a bush and hunched over to the ground, retching. The elder scrambled to her feet and rushed over to her sister, grimacing a bit before sinking to her knees beside Lucy. While rubbing her hand up and down the young Queen's back, much like she had done earlier that day, Susan soothed, "It's alright Lucy." She lifted her other hand to pull her sister's hair back behind her neck as the girl retched once more.
A few moments passed before Lucy felt well enough to struggle to her feet. Susan mimicked the motion, placing a steadying hand on her sister's back and guiding her back to the oak. She set her sister down against the tree's sturdy trunk before reaching for the small pitcher of water they had brought with them. She thanked Aslan that they hadn't drunk it all during lunch. Pouring the rest of it onto her handkerchief, she gently cleaned her sister's face. After she finished, she laid her palm against Lucy's forehead and winced. The little girl was burning up.
"Come on, Lucy, we need to get you back," Susan urged, aware for the first time that the sun had sunk below the horizon and the moon was gradually beginning to take its place. The young Queen barely nodded, and soon was swept up into her sister's arms. Susan staggered slightly beneath the limp weight, but soon regained her footing. She left the remains of their lunch on the ground, too occupied to clean up. The faithful horses stood in the field grazing, but came trotting to the Queens at Susan's whistle. Susan hoisted her sister up onto the mare's back before climbing up herself to sit behind her sister. Gathering the reins into her hands and gently prodding the horse into a lope, they set off towards Cair Paravel, the other horse following behind, and Lucy silently falling unconscious against her chest.
Once they reached the castle, Susan reined the mare in before sliding down and lifting Lucy into her arms. It was still difficult to carry her sister, but Susan just hugged her sister tighter to her and hurried into the castle, not bothering to bring the horses to the stables. Someone without a sick sister would have to do it.
Susan hurried to the healing chambers, her pace hastening into almost a run. She pushed the door open with her shoulders and rushed into the room, beads of sweat beginning to form on her forehead. "Lucy," she gasped between breaths, "she's terribly sick, and unconscious."
A naiad leapt up from where she sat and scuttled over, a concerned look plastered across her face. "Come, come, set her over here," the creature urged, motioning to a cot near the wall. Susan nodded, choosing to ignore the fact that the healer had forgotten to address her with "Your Majesty," and instead followed the naiad's orders and gently lay her sister down on the cot.
Upon thoroughly inspecting the youngest Pevensie, the naiad finally looked up into Susan's worried eyes. "I'm afraid Her Majesty has caught a flu-bug, but you needn't worry yourself over it. With some herbal remedies and rest, she should be fine in a couple of days."
Susan had trusted the naiad, and retired to her bedroom, leaving Lucy with the healers. Still, the naiad's reassurance did not quell the Queen's worries. As Susan crawled into her bed that night, she prayed fervently to Aslan that Lucy would be alright and feel better soon. She put her trust in the Lion to care for her sister and watch over her from wherever he was.
Later that night, though, someone knocked on the Queen's door. Susan awoke, grumbling at the disturbance, but all annoyance dissipated when she opened the door to a faun's distraught face. "Your Highness, if you will follow me.."
And here she was, in the room that faun had brought her to. She didn't know how long she had been there, grieving over her sister's body. She hadn't spoken to anyone else yet, and supposed they preferred to leave her to mourn in solitude. As she stroked the cold, icy hand, though, a million unanswered thoughts were whirling about her mind.
The most prominent, though- "How could Aslan have let this happen?"
Yup, so there's the first part. Please read and review. I worked hard on this story, though, and I already know my writing leaves much to be desired. Knowing that, constructive criticism is welcome, but please no flames.