Standard disclaimer: not mine, making no profit. Author's Note at bottom.


"Peter," Lucy called, running down the hall. "Peter-Peter-PETER!"

Her brother, High King of Narnia, peered out curiously from a doorway. "What in the world is the matter, Lu?" he asked, sobering quickly at the look on his sister's face. "You're liable to bring the whole castle down on my head – King or no, if they think I've frightened you – Tumnus would be at me with that umbrella of his – I swear, Oreius has given him lessons in combat—" Still chuntering under his breath, he led Lucy into the room. He swung her onto a soft couch, then drew up a chair facing her. "Now tell me, Lucy, what in the world is the matter?"

Lucy gulped, looked down at her feet – which swung inches off the floor – and back to her brother. "I'm frightened."

"Whatever for? The Witch is gone, Lu. Narnia is peaceful now. And if another problem came, Edmund and I would set things to rights again."

"Not like that," the girl whispered. "I'm afraid of.. before."

"What?"

"Before we went into the wardrobe. When we were living with Mum. I have nightmares about it. I had one last night, and I didn't remember it until now."

"It's only a dream, Lu. Dreams can't hurt you."

"Being scared hurts," she said quietly. "I don't like it."

"Well then," said Peter, "tell me what scares you."

"Do you remember the bombs?" she asked.

"Yes, of course."

"Do you remember a time when there weren't bombs?"

Peter thought for a minute. "Yes – before the war, that is – you were a baby then. Honestly I'm not sure when it started. Why?"

"I keep dreaming about them. I dream that I am here, in our castle, and I open a door. It's the door to the shelter in Finchley. It looks normal from the outside, but I'm through it before I realize, and then I hear the bombs." She fell quiet.

"What happens next?"

"I don't know. I always wake up."

"You see, then," Peter said, smiling. "Nothing to worry about."

"But what if there is a door like that, somewhere? I don't want to go back. I miss Mum and Dad, sometimes, and then I feel bad because I want to stay in Narnia. That can't be right, can it?"

"If it is wrong we're all guilty of it," Peter said. "Susan told me much the same thing – that she was glad I hadn't sent you lot home."

"What about Edmund?"

"Edmund said his only regret was that he had been so beastly to Mum."

Lucy giggled, then quietened. "But what about Mum? Won't she miss us at all?"

Peter considered for a moment. "I asked Aslan the same thing," he said.

"When?"

"Before our coronation. He was telling me things – mostly about how to be a King; I wish I could remember half of it now – and he said that when it was our time to return, we would. He said that for now, Narnia needed us as much as we needed Narnia."

Lucy knew that Peter meant well, and that he thought he had solved her problem, and she did not want to tell him he had not. She smiled and curtsied and said thank-you-Sire to make him laugh, and he did. Then Peter said she should go straight to bed, because Queen or not, she was his little sister, and she agreed that yes, it was rather late, and she would do just that.

Bed, however, was the last place Lucy wanted to go. Peter had been confused, and Peter had spoken with Aslan. Why hadn't she thought of that? It was so very simple. The trouble was finding Aslan – he was not a tame lion, after all – and Lucy did not know if he would come all the way to Narnia for a small chat.

She sat down in the middle of a staircase. "And it would be such a bother," she said to herself.

A clatter sounded on the stairs, and she turned to see Tumnus standing on the step behind her, leaning over curiously. "What would be a bother?" He settled himself on the stair next to her.

"What do you do when you want to speak with someone who is not here?" she asked.

"In this castle?"

"Anywhere."

"What would I do if I wanted to speak to someone who wasn't anywhere?" he repeated thoughtfully. "How can someone be nowhere?" He tilted his head at her and winked.

"Silly," Lucy chided, and the expected smile lit her face.

"When my father left for the war – when I thought he was still coming back – I would talk to his picture. Hello, Father, still snowing, Father, I can't remember your recipe for elderberry pie, Father."

"What was in it?"

"What was in what?"

"The recipe."

"I never could remember it," Tumnus said absently. "But that is what I did when I wanted to speak to someone who was not there."

"Edmund used to do that with the picture of our Dad. I saw him doing it once. He was angry when he saw me there. Shouted."

"He must have been very upset to do that," Tumnus said.

"He was."

"Are you upset?"

"No," Lucy said. "Just curious."

"Well," Tumnus said, standing, "that is what I would do." He leaned over, took Lucy's hands, and pulled her to her feet. "But for now, I must be off to bed – we both should, my dear, because even a queen needs her sleep."

He saw Lucy to her room, and left her in the capable hands of a dryad serving-girl. Face freshly scrubbed, pillows plumped, and lights out, Lucy lay in bed.

She wound her arms behind her head and thought. Were there pictures of Aslan in Cair Paravel? There had to be. There was the image on Peter's shield – but that would be in his room, and while Lucy was sure that the lion represented Aslan, it was not him, exactly. Susan could often be found in the gallery, but Lucy, who preferred to spend her days outdoors, was unfamiliar with it. Was a painting of Aslan hanging there? She could find out.

Lucy wrapped herself in a warm robe, toed her feet into slippers, and set off to find a painting she could speak to.

The gallery was a long, high-ceilinged room (even by the standards of Cair Paravel, which had been built with a centaur's height in mind) with windows all along the eastern wall. Lucy could see the moon's reflection on the sea, and high in the sky, the moon and stars.

The paintings, so bright and beautiful by day, looked unusual in the moonlight. Lucy went from canvas to canvas in a half-trot, looking for Aslan.

She found him around a corner; found him so suddenly she nearly bumped noses with him. The moonlight shone brighter on the Lion, and Lucy thought she'd never seen anything quite so beautiful.

"You have been looking for me," Aslan said. "I always know when I am needed."

"I only wanted to ask you something – and I hope it hasn't been a bother for you to come all this way. It wasn't a very important question."

Aslan sat, waiting patiently.

Lucy tried to collect her thoughts, failed, and spoke. "I was just wondering – I don't mean that I don't like it here, I do, and – oh, Aslan, I'm so confused! What will happen to Mum and Dad, back.. back home? Is it wrong for us to be here? Or for me to want to stay here? I don't remember much more than a war, and bombs, and Dad went away, and Edmund was always cross and arguing with Mum. I want to stay here more than anything I've ever wanted. Is that wrong? I miss Mum sometimes, but I love Narnia even more."

Aslan chuckled, if a lion can do such a thing. "Narnia loves you even more. You have grown, little one. You would not have asked this question a year ago."

"I – I'm sorry," Lucy said hesitantly. "I didn't think of it until now."

Aslan laid down on the cool marble floor then, curving himself in such a way that it was impossible for Lucy to do anything but snuggle at his side.

"Why do you think you are here?" Aslan asked.

Lucy buried her face in his mane, afraid of his eyes, and felt strength flow into her. She turned to look at Aslan's gentle face. "I'm here because I am supposed to be, aren't I? This is where we belong?"

"It is," Aslan said. "Now sleep—" and she did, much more comfortably than she had ever slept in a bed.

A few hours later, a young Centaur, member of the palace guard, entered the gallery. He saw Lucy asleep, curled snug in a deliciously comfortable pile of pillows and blankets. "She is in here, Sire," he said, in as loud a whisper as he could manage.

"I will wake her," Edmund said, walking up next to the Centaur. "She has had rather a long night."

The young Centaur nodded and left the gallery.

"Lu," Edmund said, gently shaking her awake. "Lucy."

Lucy yawned and stretched, rather like a kitten in a box of blankets. "I have had the most wonderful dream."

"And an answer to your question?" Edmund asked.

"Yes. How did you know?"

"I asked him once myself," Edmund said, smiling.

He took Lucy's hand and led her from the gallery, in search of breakfast. After that, there would be music to dance to, and songs to be sung, and laughing, and merriment, for this was the way of Narnia, and Narnia was where they belonged.


A footnote, which I have in fact written with my feet:

The added-in and left-out bits of the movie all worked with me, except one thing: why, when they were constantly ready to run home, did the Pevensies suddenly agree to being crowned in Cair Paravel and spending the rest of their lives in Narnia? I know Jack mentioned that they lost their memories of -- ehem -- Spare Oom -- over time, and I had always attributed that to some innate magic in Narnia. But fresh after a coronation, with memories of home and family still strong in their minds, didn't they wonder or worry? I imagine they did, and this story is how I imagine they dealt with it.