Historian's Note: This takes place after The Last Battle, the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia.
Reflection on Mortality
Lucy Pevensie, Queen of Old Narnia, lounged on the picture-perfect grass, an issue of consequence weighing on her mind. The thought, heavy and dense, seemed out of place in Real Narnia. Here, everything floated and was explicitly wonderful. Music drifted on the sweet wind at all hours of the day. It was always day for the Sun, Aslan, never slept. His radiance unwaveringly lit New Narnia with its golden hue.
The light played about Lucy, its buoyancy denying her cumbersome thoughts. It lifted the ends of her hair and caressed her cheek, imploring her to leave such things behind and come join in the ambient jollification.
She set out on an adventure through her crowded mind, hoping to find some counsel there. Her hands, denying her usual inclination not to destroy beauty, moved to pull the emerald grass from its home in the dirt. Staring ahead at nothing, her thoughts reeled, chasing themselves in endless circles until she almost became physically dizzy.
She was so absorbed that she failed to hear the soft patter of feet behind her or feel the gentle wind created by the movement beside her. It was only when a familiar voice said,
"Lucy?" that she was thrust from her revere.
"Yes?" she asked quickly, looking about her as if she expected a foe.
Relief descended upon her as she looked up into a pair of brown eyes that she knew all too well. Her gaze drifted from his eyes to his curly hair and down to his bare chest and furry legs. A smile of delight passed through her eyes and mouth, forming itself into the words,
"Mr. Tumnus." The young Faun smiled back, his eyes alight. He appeared the way she remembered him from their first meeting: an image of boundless youth.
"I didn't hear you," Lucy added unnecessarily. A sheepish grin passed over the Faun's face before he remembered the state in which he'd found his Queen. His expression transformed into one of concern.
"What were you thinking of?" he asked carefully. Lucy stared out into nothingness again, evoking memory within timelessness.
"I was thinking of Susan."
Tumnus mouthed an "oh," taking a seat on the grassy hill beside the youngest Pevensie. The concept sent questions and doubts through his own mind, images of the once-young queen leaping up from within the deluge of half-forgotten incidents.
"Queen Susan the Gentle," Tumnus elaborated. "What about her?"
The question seemed silly to both of them; it had been needlessly spoken.
"I wonder where she is," Lucy began, "and if she'll ever get here. Do you know why she isn't here?"
Tumnus shook his head.
"No," he replied. "I know only that she isn't." He looked to Lucy, a question on his face. He moved closer to Lucy, as though the physical space between them mattered somehow to whether Lucy would tell him or not. He leaned forward and nearly whispered,
"What happened?" Lucy turned her intense gaze from the Faun's eyes to the eternal valley before her.
"She stopped believing."
Tumnus was stunned. The details concerning the Queen's absence had always been mysteriously unspoken. He now knew why.
Uncertainty passed over Lucy's young face.
"I can't be sure," she answered. "I remember the day it began. I shall never forget that day."
As Lucy returned to a day that seemed so long ago and yet close enough to recall each detail, she related it all to an extremely intent Faun, who placed great value on each word as though it would save his very life.
The day was gray, the sky covered by a seamless blanket of cloud. Lucy was determined not to allow the weather to affect her mood. She skipped through her home in London, her little black shoes clopping on the wood. It had been a year since her last journey into Narnia: the journey that would mark the end of her adventures until the Real Adventure began.
She was looking for Susan and she found the preoccupied teen in her bedroom, absorbed in a rather scandalous magazine.
"Su-uu!" Lucy began in a sing-song voice. The disturbed Susan lifted her head from the pictures that had a moment ago consumed her. Lucy involuntarily wrinkled her nose at the excessive blush and eye make-up. Susan had been going through a "phase" (as Mother called it) lately and, frankly, Lucy couldn't wait for her to be out of it.
"What is it Lucy?" she asked crankily, her mood soured by her little sister's intrusion into her world of lipstick and boys.
"I want to play a game," Lucy answered, a smile on her face. She had learned to be patient with her older sister.
"Aren't you a little old to be playing games?"
"I'll never be too old," Lucy retorted proudly. "Come on, I want to play Narnia."
Susan gave Lucy her signature pout, lips pressed small against each other in an expression bordering contempt.
"Seriously, Lucy. It's been years since we were there last. Will you please give it up?"
Lucy was stunned. How could Susan say such a thing?
"Give it up?" Uncertainty and the threat of severe emotion played at the fringes of Lucy's tone. "What do you mean 'give it up?'"
"What do you mean 'what do I mean'? You know well enough that it's all just a game."
Shock hit Lucy once again, physically pushing her back a step.
Susan didn't notice Lucy's emotion. She started her little tirade, her tone authoritative.
"Now, Lucy, you're getting older and it's high time for you to put those childish things behind you. Why don't you start caring about the things that really matter? For example..." For this wisdom, Susan consulted her magazine. "What color eyeshadow do you wear with plaid?" She looked to Lucy for her uneducated answer.
Lucy just stared.
"But Susan...you were there. We were all there. We were queens! We ruled Narnia! Don't you remember anything?"
Susan just stared back.
"Lucy, it's really time to grow up."
Pain and sorrow contorted Lucy's face, tears coming instantly. Extreme emotion filled Lucy, taking its necessary toll on her physical body.
"How...?" Lucy began but she found that all other words and explanations had disappeared from her mind. Finding nothing else to do, she fled Susan's room, eventually collapsing on her bed.
Edmund found her in this state where words were incomprehensible and thoughts jumbled like a knot of endless string. He ran to find Mother, who instructed Lucy to calm down. She had worked herself into a fever and Mother was worried beyond words. Father, Peter, and Edmund wondered what had come over their jubilant little Lucy. The house was unnaturally silent that night, the stifled sniffles of a certain little girl the only exception.
Lucy was silent for many days, answering most questions with dull monosyllables. She dragged around the house, rarely going outside even when sunny spring had begun to rear its head through the rain.
About a week later, Lucy returned to normal and the incident passed into the realm of forgetfulness.
"I never forgot," Lucy asserted. "I didn't dare ask Susan about Narnia again until some years later, when I felt more secure."
"What did she say?" Mr. Tumnus asked, a genuine curiosity in his eyes.
"Nothing of importance," she replied with a sigh. "She gave me the same, diplomatically emotionless answers. She no longer believed."
"What did you do?" the Faun inquired, worry slowly creeping into his facial features. It was difficult to feel badly in the Real Narnia.
"I didn't know what to do," the young Queen admitted. "Often I called out to Aslan but He never gave me any answers. I suppose He wanted me to simply trust Him." She looked off over the field, seeing for thousands of miles and whispered,
"You can't force someone to believe."
Mr. Tumnus let his gaze drop, preserving the silence for Lucy's sake. Either a long time or a very short time passed; no one could be sure for Time was different here. Lucy turned her thoughts back to the Faun and said,
"I was just wondering where she is now."
Mr. Tumnus nodded, unsure what to say. It was a delicate topic, one he felt he didn't have too much privilege to speak about. Just the fact that Lucy was telling him about it was a miracle unto itself.
Despite his wishes to remain respectful, Lucy's assertion that Aslan hadn't answered her plagued Tumnus's mind.
"Lucy," he began gently. "Perhaps Aslan had answered you."
"Are you saying that I couldn't hear him?" she replied quickly.
"No...no," Tumnus restated. "It's just...maybe you didn't hear his answer because it wasn't the one you were expecting."
Lucy didn't respond. She stared out once again into the vastness of green. A little way off, she saw a Centaur and a Faun conversing happily. She could have listened to their conversation if she'd wished it, but the idea never crossed her mind.
Her thoughts drifted toward Aslan, the only one who had the answers to all her questions.
Why won't you answer me? she asked him. She knew he heard her. Where is Susan?
She waited but there was only the light music on the wind. It had become so soft that it had nearly passed beyond her hearing.
Frustration began to swell within her. Her hand returned to the grass beneath her dress. She was about to tear another piece from its home in the ground when a deep, gentle voice whispered,
Lucy's head moved so fast that, had she still been in Old Narnia or England, she would have injured her neck. Mr. Tumnus followed suit and they were both met with a wondrous image.
Aslan, in all his radiant glory, stood at the top of a nearby hill. The golden rays of his visage lit Lucy's face and brought a new life into her eyes. She grinned and was so delighted to see the lion that she forgot all else. Tumnus watched the transformation with curiosity, a small smile on his countenance.
The Great Lion stepped deftly towards them, his paws barely touching the grass as he walked. As he drew closer, another walking figure, tall and thin, slowly solidified from thin air. The figure was pale at first, hardly more visible than air, but as it and Aslan came closer to Lucy and Tumnus, it became increasingly real. Lucy could soon make out arms, legs, a body, and a face. She could see long tangled hair and a skirt. She squinted (something not often done in the Real Narnia) but confusion continued to obscure her vision.
It was really only a moment before Aslan and his companion were before Lucy and Tumnus but the wait felt like an eternity to Lucy. The figure beside Aslan had finally come into complete solidity. A wave of shock washed over Lucy.
"Susan!" she called, leaping from her place to embrace the long-lost one. Before Lucy could reach her sister, Aslan stepped in front and advised,
"Not yet, Lucy. Susan is still Becoming her true self."
Lucy watched with inquisitive eyes as the Susan before her changed.
At first, Susan was mud-stained and harried, as though she'd been dragged through a wild jungle, forced to sleep at the train station for a week, and then sent to war. Dirt was smudged across her face and dark bags were under her eyes. Her makeup was running and her clothes were tattered beyond repair. She was exhausted and on the verge of collapse.
Before Lucy could begin to feel bad for her, the transformation began. Aslan stepped back and breathed lightly upon her, rustling her hair and clothes. After a second's delay, a cleansing wind moved across her. It began at her fingertips and moved to her head and feet. The dirt and wear of too many long years melted away, leaving Susan as clean as the day of her coronation. She was suddenly wearing a Queen's dress; it was simultaneously simple and elegant. Her hair lost its limp nature and braided itself into an exquisite up-do. The make-up that had served as a mask for so long was washed away, leaving the Real Susan standing before Lucy.
Lucy felt that she could cry. The work of Aslan was simply amazing.
"Susan!" she called again, running into her sister's arms. Suddenly, Peter and Edmund were at her side, joining in on the celebration.
A few paces away, Mr. Tumnus stood beside his master, Aslan, and watched the reunion. The four children were finally together again, laughing and hugging as in the days of their rule over the Old Narnia.
"What memories this revives," Mr. Tumnus whispered reverently. The Great Lion smiled.
"This is the way it was meant to be. This is the way it shall always be."
"Then Susan is to be Queen once again?" Mr. Tumnus inquired, a hopeful expression on his face. Aslan chuckled.
"Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen."
After the children had finished welcoming Susan back, Peter called over the various animals and creatures and men who were nearby and they all rejoiced for the return of Queen Susan the Gentle. As the news spread, creatures came from everywhere to see Susan. There were great feasts and dances that, had they have taken place in the Old Narnia, would have been heard for many miles. Peter and Edmund reenacted the battle against the White Witch and Lucy got her customary dance with Mr. Tumnus. Susan was greeted with many animal kisses, hearty handshakes from the nobler creatures, and words of congratulations from everyone.
At one point, Susan kneeled before Aslan and he gave her a gentle lion kiss on her forehead.
"Rise, Queen Susan the Gentle," his deep voice commanded. She did so and Mr. Tumnus, who had been standing beside Aslan, placed a thin, light crown on her head. As Susan humbly received her symbol of royalty, there arose from the Narnians a great cheer. All was complete.
Some time later, Lucy sat on a grassy knoll, her head wrapped up in thought. Susan saw her sister in the distance, excused herself from her present company, and moved over to Lucy's hill. She sat gently beside her, quiet so not to be a disturbance.
Lucy turned her head, a soft smile on her face.
"Welcome home." Susan smiled back.
"And how good it is to be home. It's so clear to me now; this is where I belong."
"Of course it is!" Lucy said with a laugh. "Everyone belongs in Narnia."
A serious expression took hold in Susan's eyes.
"I had almost forgotten," she whispered, the words grave.
"I know," Lucy replied, her eyes far off again. Then, she returned and gave Susan another smile. "But you are here now. Think no longer of the past."
"I need to think of it one last time," Susan insisted. "I need to apologize: to you, to Peter, to Ed...to everyone." Lucy was silent. Susan continued,
"It took me so long, but I finally discovered how empty that world was. To be caught up in it...it was foolishness. I mean, we all make mistakes but...mine was the most severe of all. That decision determines everything." Susan's words faded out, leaving only the sound of the sweetly moving wind and the ever-present music. Far-off laughs and conversations floated by but the sisters barely noticed them. The great Queen of Narnia, Susan the Gentle, turned to her sister with sincere eyes.
"I am sorry." Lucy smiled back.
"It's alright. I've already forgiven you. I'm just glad you're here. That's all that ever mattered to me." Susan braved a smile and Lucy embraced her.
"I hope I haven't missed out on too many adventures," Susan commented, a new light in her eyes. Lucy smiled wider still.
"No, you haven't. They've only just begun."
Author's Note: It is usually my practice to write fanfiction in the style of the author who originally wrote the series. I have found, however, that Lewis' style and level of writing is nearly impossible to mimic. Therefore, this short delving into the lives of the four Pevensie children and their beloved world of Narnia was written in my own voice. I apologize for my inability to produce a piece akin to Lewis' writing. I will strive to improve and perhaps someday I will reach a level a little closer to Lewis' own.