This was inspired by a recent dream, one of those things where this whole long, symbolic, profound conversation occurs and then when you wake up you can only remember a line or two, and suddenly they seem ridiculous rather than profound!
However, the dream itself was so moving - I've never had Aslan show up in a dream before - that I was compelled to at least TRY to capture some of it. It could be argued that the whole premise is implausible, and that canon Jadis is far beyond an offer of redemption. But for what it's worth, here's a snippet of something that COULD have happened, based on your interpretation. Narnia and all its characters are the creation of the brilliant C.S.Lewis, whose works continue to introduce a dying world to the One True King. See you on the other side of the shadowlands, Jack.
However, the dream itself was so moving - I've never had Aslan show up in a dream before - that I was compelled to at least TRY to capture some of it.
It could be argued that the whole premise is implausible, and that canon Jadis is far beyond an offer of redemption. But for what it's worth, here's a snippet of something that COULD have happened, based on your interpretation.
Narnia and all its characters are the creation of the brilliant C.S.Lewis, whose works continue to introduce a dying world to the One True King. See you on the other side of the shadowlands, Jack.
The sleeping camp lay in a bowl of shadow, a hollowed-out clearing ringed by silent trees. Moonlight gilded silver its tents, the banners lifeless now in the still night air. The white figure on the edge of the trees paused momentarily, appreciating the contrast of its current condition over the vibrant colors, the snapping flags, the chaos of flashing armor and glowing fur, the cacophony of inhuman voices that imbued it by day. For one unguarded moment, the witch allowed herself a theatrical lifting of one blood-red lip in a gloating sneer, then, catching herself, frowned. This melodramatic self-consciousness seemed always to lie in wait, a shadowy presence that slid in unannounced to hold up a mirror for her to admire herself, exulting in the distraction until cold reason pushed it away. She strove against it, hating it; hating herself for allowing it, but it had been a constant companion for further back then she cared to remember.
Silently she skirted the camp, sliding between the shadows like a restless moonbeam, her white hands clenching and flexing alternately as her mind battled with whatever primitive instinct drove her to her destination. She did not know why she came this way. There was no reason for it; all was in order, the engine of her final triumph waited only for the last cog to fall into place, and it was coming; most assuredly it was coming - even now, the ecstatic glee at this certainty welled within her heart and fired her veins like the heady rush of strong wine. She did not dare to doubt it, although the sheer mad implausibility that she should triumph so completely tempted her to disbelief. But somehow her joy was tempered just now; her mind wished to dwell in glutted satisfaction upon the next few hours but was instead torn and tormented, and her very being was driven like an unwilling sheep toward the thing she hated and feared most.
She did not need to search for him; the internal goad drove her onward as deliberately as if this had been an arranged rendezvous. Emerging from the line of trees north of the camp, she stepped out onto a narrow tongue of high land, a grassy cliff that overlooked the broad plains of the Beruna valley. And there he sat at the very edge, a bulky mass of muscle and fur pillowed in the lush grass, his great head turned from her and his eyes on the plain.
She knew better than to believe he was unaware of her arrival.
For long moments she stood, wavering uncertainly; the goad that had driven her here had suddenly fled, leaving her helpless; without its driving sting she had nothing on which to blame her presence. This was some trick of his, no doubt, some game or play of power meant to tease and torment her on the very night of her victory. Did he mean to cow her, to frighten her into relenting, into setting him free of their bargain? She would see her own life's blood run red on the table before she would release him from his word. She stood still, wanting to run, loathing him -- and loathing, too, that tiny weak traitorous part of herself that still longed to fling itself at his feet.
He turned his head at last and gazed upon her without expression. His eyes struck her afresh with new irritation. Night was her domain, moonlight her solace; it sapped the color from the landscape and from the faces of those it fell upon in a likeness of wintry death that reminded her comfortingly of her lately-lost, soon-to-be-regained realm. So it was unfair--a trick of a universe massed against her--that even in this pale colorless night-world the Lion's eyes should shine golden, lit with an inner amber fire like shafts of sunlight shot through crystal water. She scowled, fury settling on her brow. Let him lie there, with his golden eyes and his golden Spring! Later tonight it would all be for nothing, and he knew it as well as she.
"Your hour has not yet come," he said finally. His voice was deep and wild, and as always it occurred to her unwillingly that after he spoke, all other sounds were flat and tinny for a time. A tremor went through her; she felt the very ground vibrate slightly, resonating with his words. "Why are you here?"
Gods, how she hated his questions. And he always asked them…asked them with the deliberate patience of a parent catching a child in a lie. She could never shake the sensation that he already knew all the answers, and asked only to have the satisfaction of forcing a confession. It was impossible to refuse to answer. His words always hung in the air, demanding, compelling a response.
The bravado she had relied upon that day in camp, surrounded by native Narnians whose palpable fear had borne her up in pulsing, intoxicating waves had no foundation here on this naked hilltop. It tried to surface, tried to push out haughty words of explanation and defense, tried even to taunt him over his impending doom, but it quailed and died before bringing a single phrase to her lips. That maddening implacability, that infuriating calm upon his face would brook nothing but the vulnerable truth. She hissed, inhaling a long breath. "I do not know."
He did not seem surprised, but his expression changed, and his gaze upon her held a hint of sadness, of compassion, somehow infuriating her more than the calmness had. She needed none of his pity.
"You have never known," he said simply, turning his head away. The tip of his tail twitched slightly, a reflex so normal, so animal, that she felt a sudden rush of boldness.
"Known!" she scoffed, stepping forward to stand on the very edge of the cliff and following his gaze plains-ward. "I have known all that I have need of! I know fear, and I know power…power such as you have never made use of, and I will know more of it…"
"You have no power," he interrupted placidly, "but that which has been given you."
"Given me?" she said with an icy calm that belied her seething emotions. "Who has given me any of it, fool? I began the gathering of it before I ever set foot in this accursed world of yours. Even in the beginning I was strong, and now I am stronger still, and it is all by the work of my own hand. Since the very dawn of this world I have striven with you, and you say I have been given my power!" Her laugh was hollow, an empty shell that fell into the night and was gone.
His enigmatic glance drifted skyward. "Your power over ruined Charn was allowed you by the same hand that allows it here." She sucked in her breath indignantly, but deflated when he once again turned his overwhelming eyes upon her. He knew of Charn; why did this not surprise her? "You have ever been but a tool in death's hand, Jadis, a shadow of darkness, not darkness itself. And all the more to be pitied. For darkness, at least, knows itself, and knows itself defeated. It toys with you, promising you what it cannot deliver. Greater will be your grief."
Impotent anger gnawed at her; she had a sudden glimpse of herself seen through his eyes: a petulant child flailing against the strong grip of adult arms. "Do you call me a pawn?" she hissed. "Save that tainted honor for those mewling brats you would enthrone. Ever you placed rulers who served as your puppets. Only I dared to rule for myself! I serve no other master. Death is my tool, not I his, as I shall make known to you tonight." A glittering smile like a knife blade split her red mouth for an instant.
His sigh, which should have thrilled her, thwarted her once more by its note of compassion. "Foolish witch," he purred, shaking his shaggy head. "You will have your hour. But you will never understand." With a graceful motion of one large paw he indicated their surroundings. "Look around you. Everything here is Life." His voice had dropped to a low deep rumble, and a new sound, faint but growing, assaulted her ears. In horror she noticed that the very grass, the rocks around them, had begun to glow faintly, auras of the same inner golden light whose warmth danced in the Lion's eyes. And as the light grew, so did the sound – a musical refrain, a layering of harmonies, of spirit voices that sang without words a theme with which she was terrifyingly familiar, although she had not heard it in millennia. She had pushed the memory of that song out of her mind along with the horror of that First Day…this music of the Lion, of creation, of Life.
"All still sing the song I gave them then," the golden voice intoned, a new note that wove into the interlacing harmonies. She shuddered, willing it to stop, but it went inexorably on. "Most have not the ears to hear nor the eyes to see," he continued. "You least of all. I show you now that you may truly know what you do tonight." Against every pull of her will, she was compelled to meet his eyes. What she saw there filled her with sudden despair at the futility of all her efforts, at the inarguable truths that he had spoken. The traitorous weakness within her nearly overpowered her; her knees trembled and she teetered at the brink of surrender…
"I am Life," he purred, his honey-and-clover breath stirring her face, "and death is swallowed up. The choice is set before you."
"Choice…" she sighed, and felt her will melting, the first touch of warmth in a thousand years bringing a flush of color to her skin. What a scene; what a touching, beautiful, glorious masterpiece; her own vignette in the center of this tapestry of his…
Of his…ah, there was the point that pricked her. Always, everything came back to him, this Being, this Presence barely disguised in its golden lion skin. And why? Why should the universe revolve around him, he who exercised his authority so carelessly, who allowed his creatures choice while denying them knowledge; who blamed them for their failings and then, as though he were the least of them, forgave them the moment they acknowledged the same? Mercy was weakness; she despised it. These ignorant beasts worshipped weakness when they ought to tremble before power. Her power. Hers.
Angrily she pushed aside the tempting image her haunting self-awareness had set before her, unaware that for the first—and last—time, she had seen not a distraction, but redemption. She was too much in the habit of turning from the mirror to do otherwise now. She blinked, frowned; the music in the air faded to a murmur and was silent; the grass ceased its unnatural glow.
"Strong words, O doomed one," she sneered, her self-command restored. She threw back her proud head and a sudden breeze from the direction of the Stone Table, carrying a faint stench of decay, lifted her hair. "I will not be gainsaid by your riddles. Never have I known Death to be swallowed up; all life comes to it in the end. Call yourself Life, yet tonight you die, and your song with you, and I shall rule as you never have."
He looked at her, inscrutable once more, and her anger grew again at the lack of fear in his face. He sighed deeply, a rumble that was almost a growl, turning his face away. "Let it never be said you have acted in ignorance. You are without excuse. Go, Witch, to your master, and do what you must. I will come at the appointed time."
He still dared to behave as though he were in control! The irony of it would have set her laughing, were she not so needled at his words. "Your master" indeed! She had none; needed none. Tonight he was hers; tomorrow the whole land would be, although after him it was almost superfluous. Her fury could wait; it had waited already thousands of years, and now his blood was so near she could almost taste it. She turned a last withering glance upon him, wishing for some final taunting word to fling at his motionless back, but found her tongue stopped once more by some unknown barrier. In barren rage she fled, a silent streak of white, back amidst the trees and disappeared.
The Lion lay quietly, and contemplated a small wildflower that nestled in the shadowed grass at his feet, its petals closed by the hand of night. Under his golden gaze it trembled and opened lovingly, as though to the sun it worshipped by day. His bared fangs glinted in a brief lion's smile in the moonlight as he bent to breathe upon its fragile head.
"The light shone in darkness," he whispered, as if to the sleeping earth, "and the darkness comprehended it not."
He rose, and turned his feet toward the Stone Table.