I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. Birthday gift from me to you, fandom - I'm sixteen today.
Let there be light.
Lucy was born on the darkest day of the year.
At home, her brothers and sisters thought nothing could save Christmas. Mother was gone. Father was distracted. The decorations weren't finished. And it wasn't fair.
Edmund, the baby, knew only that suddenly the attention wasn't on him. He stood precariously on his wobbly legs, one plump arm stretched up towards the candy canes that hung on the half-ornamented tree. It helped with the pain of his teething. But Peter wasn't there this time to get one down for him, and Father was still staring at the telephone anxiously. Susan wouldn't help him anyway – "Mother says we shouldn't."
Susan, for her part, had shut herself in her room in protest. Certainly no one had asked her if she wanted a new brother or sister. Having two brothers was bad enough. If it was a boy, she would never come out, not ever, not until they broke down the door and found her body after she'd starved to death. If it was a girl, well, she would still do it, because who wants a baby sister to tag along and ruin everything? Christmas was spoiled. And it was all because of some stupid little baby.
Peter was despairing. Christmas was important. Christmas was when everyone smiled and played games together, when he could get new toy soldiers to replace the ones he'd broken, when he could eat as many sweets as he wanted and no one would say a thing. Christmas wasn't supposed to be like this, not with Father's face so tight and Mother at the hospital – the hospital was where people went to die, why was she there? – and his family scattered to all corners of the house. Where were the carols, the candies, the candles? Still packed in their boxes, no doubt. Peter hugged his knees and sat on his bed in his dark room, despondent.
But when the phone call came, even Susan opened her door and poked her head out to timidly ask her older brother what the news was.
"Shh," said Peter, practically hanging over the railing in an attempt to listen to the downstairs conversation. "I'm listening."
"Well, listen faster," Susan said with a frown.
A minute later, Peter whispered hastily that Father had hung up, and that he seemed very agitated. Susan left her room and shut the door behind her, hurrying to join Peter at the top of the stairs (though he watched above the railing and she from beneath it).
"Peter!" Father called excitedly. "Peter, come downstairs, won't you?" Mr. Pevensie hurried into the living room, nearly tripping over Edmund, who he quickly swooped up into his arms with an apology. Peter did as he was asked and hurried down the stairs, jumping the last one just because he could.
"Is Mother all right?" Peter asked.
"Yes, yes, your mother's fine," Frank said, flashing a smile. He bounced Edmund a little in his arms. "She's just fine, just fine, I'm going to go pick her up from the hospital now. Mrs. Doyle will be here in just a moment, as soon as she can. You can watch your brother and sister for just a moment, can't you, Peter?"
Peter nodded, holding out his arms, and a moment later a scowling Edmund was deposited in them. His father tousled his hair, seeming antsy to get out the door.
"That's my boy," he said with a grin. Then he was swinging his coat around his shoulders, blowing a kiss to his daughter at the top of the stairs, and out the door into the swirling white of the winter afternoon.
"Here, Ed," Peter said, carrying him over to the Christmas tree. He knew Edmund liked to eat the candy canes, so he put his baby brother down on the rug and unhooked one from where it hung on the tree and unwrapped it. The glower almost disappeared from the baby's face as he grasped it with an already sticky hand and wrapped his lips around it. Susan descended the stairs clumsily, clinging to the railing.
Mrs. Doyle arrived only a few minutes later, their neighbor, a kindly old widow. And the three of them played quietly (if somewhat dejectedly – both parents had deserted them) for the next hour, until Peter spotted the black of a cab amidst the white of the snow and insisted on going out to meet his parents.
The smile on the face of his new baby sister could have melted every snowflake in England.
He carried her proudly into the house, followed by his parents, his mother worn but smiling warmly as her husband led her into the living room. Susan, vaguely interested, peered over Peter's arms and her face immediately softened. She was already planning the first outfit she would dress her up in. Edmund didn't even notice, what with his candy cane, but he liked that everyone was smiling suddenly, and that his parents were back, even if they weren't paying attention to him. It just felt right.
"That's Lucy," Frank said proudly. "Named for your grandmother."
Mrs. Doyle came back in, a box in her arms from where she'd spotted it by the basement steps. She smiled, attracting only Edmund's attention as she quietly moved around the room, placing candles in their holders (the others were too distracted with the new baby). At least, she pulled a match from her apron pocket and struck it on the brick fireplace, lighting them one by one until the room glowed with soft candlelight.
Suddenly, Edmund didn't mind that no one was fussing over him. Susan thought she could live with the situation anyway. And Peter noticed the way the Christmas tree smelled like pine and the candlelight made everything right, and little Lucy – well, Lucy had made it Christmas.
"Look at her," Frank said, happier than Peter had seen him since Edmund had been born. He leaned over his daughter, his stubbled smile full of tender warmth and affection. Peter still held his baby sister, and now he offered her his finger, which she grasped in tiny, pink, fragile hands, gurgling. Frank beamed. "Look how her face just lights up."
Those walking in darkness have seen it.
Lucy did what was right, not what was expected.
At school, Paul was always picking on the other children. Sometimes it was just teasing – he made fun of Mary for her red hair, of George for his crooked teeth, of Martha for not having a father. Other times, it was bullying. He never seemed to have his own lunch, so he'd intimidate the other children into giving him bits and pieces of theirs. He picked on everybody, every day. Nobody wanted to tell the teacher; they were afraid of what he would do. And besides, in the second grade, you don't tattle. Only first-graders tattle.
Lucy was occasionally bullied; she put up with it like everybody else, for the same reason, for a while. But soon she began to wonder why Paul would do something like that. She didn't want to make other people feel bad. Why did he? Maybe, thought Lucy one Tuesday in February, he doesn't want to make other people feel bad, he only wants to make himself feel good, and just doesn't know how.
On Wednesday, she offered him half her sandwich before lunch even began. He was surprised, to be sure, but he took it, and ate it in a rush. He didn't say thank you, but he didn't take anything from anyone else, either. She tried it again on Thursday. He mumbled something that might have been an expression of gratitude. Lucy ate the other half by herself, sitting on the steps outside even though it was quite cold. She didn't mind.
On Friday, he was waiting outside the classroom for her. Though her mother was wondering why she was so hungry at supper every evening, she unlatched her lunch pail and handed over the expected half. This time, he didn't eat it so fast. He held it in both his hands, then trotted after her in the hallway towards the lunchroom; she blinked but wasn't bothered by it, so she let it continue. Upon reaching the lunchroom, he timidly sat down across from her at the table. The other children moved away.
"Hello," Lucy said pleasantly. She laid out the rest of her lunch: the other half sandwich, an apple and a small thermos of milk. Because she had no healthful way to share any of the other things, she didn't offer. Besides, she had already given him part of her sandwich.
"Hullo," he mumbled back. He took a bite of the sandwich and chewed slowly, as if trying to make it last. She searched for something else to say, but couldn't find anything. Like everyone else, she knew very
little about Paul aside from the fact that he was someone to be afraid of.
The rest of lunch passed in silence, and Lucy carefully tucked her thermos back into her lunch pail and closed the clasps. Paul, who'd been done five minutes but had remained at the table peacefully, licking his fingers and examining his own shoes, rose as she rose, and followed her back to class. Again, she chose not to acknowledge this, but did nothing to discourage it either. And for the rest of the day, Paul sat still in class, said very little to anyone, and was generally polite to the teacher.
Lucy's mother eventually packed her two sandwiches, thinking her youngest daughter must be going through a growth spurt of some sort, to be so hungry all the time. Though Lucy knew her family was not quite as well-off as some of the others, she did not trouble her mother with the truth, and offered her weekly candy money towards whatever extra cost there was. Though Helen told her to keep it, Lucy found ways of sneaking it the family coin jar.
Weeks passed. The other children didn't move away when Lucy and Paul sat down, anymore. Paul hadn't been called to the head of school's office for quite some time. The teacher commented on the way his work was improving. Secretly, Lucy was proud of this, though of course it was not her work that was improving, but she'd always thought of others' successes and failures as her own, especially when she knew them rather well.
Not that she knew Paul very well, but she understood much more about him when one day she took the sandwich out of her lunch pail and he mumbled a refusal, instead pulling out his own wax-paper-wrapped sandwich, a messy creation of bread and mustard and beef, and saying quietly,
"Me dad got a job."
Lucy only packed one sandwich now. Her mother said the growth spurt must be over, and remarked it was funny that she'd shown so little change in height.
Lucy knew better. She'd grown, just not on the outside.
The light of the world.
Everyone knew Lucy was going to go places.
They just didn't expect those places to be inside wardrobes, or the people she met to have hooves.
It was a Wednesday when they evacuated. Their mother said they were going to a safer place, where they would make a new life for a while; Lucy thought that sounded exciting, though she was less enthusiastic when she found out that Mum wouldn't be coming with them. Edmund said he didn't want to make a new life. Peter told him to buck up. Susan told them both to stop bickering.
Mrs. Macready was intimidating until Edmund imitated her (then she was just funny). The wardrobe was an adventure until the snow crunched threateningly (well, then it was still an adventure, but it was scary also). Mr. Tumnus was a curiosity until he invited her for tea (how very normal, thought Lucy fondly), and Professor Kirke was a mystery until Lucy's face was buried in his scratchy dressing gown and he was comforting her like Peter would have, if Peter had loved her at all (if he did, he would have believed her about Narnia).
When the real adventure started, Lucy was excited. She showed them the lamp post, and brought them through the snow towards Mr. Tumnus' cave, and was oh-so-eager to let them see everything inside, but the door was broken and the furniture in shards, and her friend was gone with a burnt parchment in his place. It never crossed her mind to leave him – when Susan suggested it, she was shocked. Obviously the only choice was to rescue Mr. Tumnus; what kind of cold-hearted person could ever think otherwise?
The rest was a blur, a whirlwind of excitement and horror and majesty – at the sight of the Lion, something stirred inside Lucy, something unnamable; it was rather like she'd discovered something inside of herself, something that had always been there but had never been recognized. It felt warm, and magical. It was like nothing she'd ever felt before, and nothing she would ever feel again. It felt like home.
The crown on her head felt a little strange at first, but Mr. Tumnus explained that just because she was a queen didn't mean they couldn't be friends – in Narnia, the monarchy had always been quite close to the people, and though they had extra duties and privileges, queens weren't expected to be much different from the rest of the population.
Of course, Lucy was anyway. If Susan was the "silver moon of the heavens of Narnia," as some of her more ridiculous suitors claimed, Lucy was the sun, giving warmth and light to all her beautiful country. Where her sister was ivory-skinned and prettily delicate, Lucy's long hours in the gardens and the forests and the fields and among her people left her sun-browned and radiant, her cheeks permanently dimpled with a smile that made hearts swell with pride and admiration. More than once, her ladies-in-waiting had had to scrub the dirt from beneath her fingernails or pull rose thorns from her hair, for Lucy was never afraid of getting her clothes mussed or her face dirtied; she was the very picture of unabashed diligence.
One hot summer night saw the youngest queen out upon the beach, calloused, bare feet kicking up the sand as she danced arm in arm with whoever asked, a goblet of sparkling grape juice in one hand and a rosy smile on her face. At a distance, her sister and brothers sat watching her with fond thoughtfulness, until Peter rose and bowed to her, extending his hand for a dance. It was well near midnight.
She whirled in his arms, the two of them laughing and stumbling on the fine sand as the music played on and the satyrs and fauns and dryads and all manner of Talking Beast reveled in the gloriousness of the night. The sea, glittering in the yellow moonlight, lolled along with a steady beat, spraying the feet of the young ones who danced in and out of the surf with shrieks of delight.
"To Aslan!" one (rather drunk) faun called out, thrusting his goblet into the air lustily. The toast was echoed all around, and all drank deeply, crying out thanks to the Lion for the promising harvest and the beauty and friendship with which they had all been blessed. As Peter kissed his sister's cheek and disappeared back into the throng, she was swept up into another dance, ever popular as the people's valiant championess. She had healed their youngest king with her cordial, had healed their lands with her hard work, had healed their hearts with her unconditional love and care.
Drunk with the joy of the celebration, Lucy thought she'd never been happier in all her sixteen years.
They stumble in the darkness, searching for the light.
Lucy was killed on the darkest day of the year.
Peter tried to take the arrow in her stead – he saw the bowman upon the castle wall, saw the slain guards, saw his sister in the snowy garden below, out for an early morning walk, as she liked to do on her birthday every year, but neither his shout nor his frantic charge was fast enough to stop the shaft that stole the life from her body.
No one understood why.
No one ever understood what could drive a person to hurt Lucy – Lucy, who had never once spoken harshly without cause, who had never once asked for any special treatment, who had never once put her nose in the air and said that it wasn't work for a queen. Perhaps her assassin never knew either. He took his own life only moments after.
Edmund was the first to find them, to roughly push his way through the thick, panicked crowd of servants and courtiers and force his way out into the garden. Across his vision rushed only two colors: the blinding white of the glaring snow, and the rich red of his baby sister's life as it dripped over his brother's hands and onto the ground.
Peter knew she was dead. If there had been any chance of her survival, he would have administered the cordial that rested, as ever, upon her hip, but when she had crumpled to the ground with wood in her chest and iron in her heart, he had known in a heartbeat that she was gone. Lucy was gone. She would never come back. His Lucy, his sister, his light was gone, and he couldn't even find the strength to cry, only the cowardice to hate himself for failing to prevent it, only the impulse to crush her cooling body to his chest and try to hold on until the nightmare ended.
Susan, gentle Susan, stood on the balcony above her siblings, breath misting in the cold air, body numb. When she slid to the stone, unconscious, no one was there to catch her.
They never spoke of it. They never spoke of the way she had looked, so peaceful, as she nestled in Peter's arms and he waded into the grotto until the water reached his hips. They never spoke of the unspeakable grief that echoed in the merpeople's song as he lowered her body into the still pool, arms shaking not with the effort of holding her, but with the effort of reining in his devastating grief. They never spoke of her sinking, of her golden hair drifting about her face as she was sent to rest in her domain, the Eastern Sea, to forever be a part of it. They couldn't speak of it.
Without Lucy, Narnia grew dark again. Edmund locked himself in his chambers and would not emerge for days, forgetting to eat, forgetting sometimes even to sleep. Susan drifted in and out of reality, wandering about the bustling, empty castle as if in a trance, her eyes vacant and her steps faltering. Peter would stand on the ramparts for hours, keeping watch over the eastern wall as if he expected at any moment to see his sister rise from the waves. When it grew dark again, he would turn his back and descend into the garden, into his memories. All were lost.
Gradually, silence and shadows crept into Narnia. Through the rest of the winter, the birds fell silent, the festivities ceased, and Father Christmas came with an empty sleigh and a banner of black to hang in the Great Hall. Even Aslan's name rang hollowly. His people were losing faith.
But the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
In a pitch-dark room, it doesn't matter where a person looks; he will never see anything but blackness.
But if, in a pitch-dark room, even the tiniest pinprick of light appears, every eye is instantly drawn to it. It does not matter that the darkness outweighs the light a thousand to one. Light has the power to banish darkness, but darkness by itself will never conquer light.
Lucy was never one to let a little something like death stand in her way.
Susan thought maybe the first day of spring would bring her some relief from her consuming loneliness. But her younger sister had never been so patient, so it was on the last day of winter that the garden chose to thrust its first little green shoot out of the soil and through the snow. The flower that bloomed later in the day wasn't beautiful in the way that some others were; some of its petals were a little irregular, and the color wasn't quite consistent throughout, but in a world of white, the green of its stem and the orange of its blossom seemed somehow more remarkable than the most beautifully arranged bouquet.
At the sight of the flower, something stirred inside Susan, something unnamable; it was rather like she'd discovered something inside of herself, something that had always been there but had never been recognized. It felt warm, and magical. It was like nothing she'd ever felt before, and nothing she would ever feel again. It felt like the warm press of her sisters hand in her own. It felt like comfort, like relief, like Aslan, like Lucy.
Edmund was on his knees in his bedchamber, repeating for the hundredth time a prayer for mercy. He was fast approaching his twentieth year, and yet after his sister's death he had found himself plunging again into child-born guilt and self-hatred, the things which she'd helped him purge himself of many years before. After weeks and weeks of unanswered prayer, it had simply become a habit, a meaningless series of words he spoke so he could pretend he still had hope.
The door flew open; his older sister flew in. Without a word she pulled him to his balcony, pointing into the garden below – like light in the darkness, the colors of the flower made the vast colorlessness of the world seem insignificant. And Edmund, in an instant, understood. They would have gone to find Peter if at that moment, he hadn't slipped out of the castle and into that very garden, his cloak wrapped around his hunched shoulders and his eyes downcast until they happened upon the little flower, and the golden paw beside it.
There is no darkest day anymore.
Lucy sits with her brothers in the summer fields of the new Narnia, comfortably sandwiched between them. Neither will let her out of their sight. Susan, ever-faithful, watches over the three of them with a smile on her face. She laughs softly when Lucy attempts to get up and Edmund drags her back down, glaring as if she is the one who has done something wrong.
"Oh, it's not like you'll have a shortage of time with me," Lucy complains good-naturedly. "We are staying here forever, you know."
"I'm making up for lost time," says Edmund. "Stay here twenty years, then I'll let you up."
Lucy sighs dramatically and lies back in the green grass, her blue eyes twinkling merrily. "If you insist," she says. Peter lies down beside her.
"We do," he says with a soft smile, flicking her nose lightly as brothers are wont to do.
"Oh, let her alone," Susan laughs. She gets up and moves over to them, placing the daisy chain she's just finished atop Lucy's head, and gets a hug in exchange. She makes to move away again, but Peter sneakily grabs her ankle and pulls in such a way that she falls in a most unqueenly heap onto the grassy hill, a small noise of lost dignity escaping her lips before she rounds on him with a playful fury.
As the siblings laugh and bicker and eventually fall asleep against one another, bathed in sunshine, a Lion watches from across the valley. His eyes glitter green and gold. Then he turns, his tail swishing in the tall, beautiful grass, and he leaves them to their happiness, to be forever – forever - in the warmest, most powerful kind of light – the light of love.