I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. Sorry, fandom - school and SAD have stolen bits of me away. I hope to be back soon.

The Apple Tree

It is almost night in Finchley.

Lucy sits up in the branches of the apple tree, her feet dangling down, swinging lazily in the warm summer air. She is alone in the garden. Behind her are the ruins of her neighborhood; the shrapnel and the dust and the destruction of war, all stretched out for miles; she does not care much for this, as thinking about it won't change it. So she sits, one hand on the high branch, one hand on the low, perched like a gangling bird.

In front of her, the night sky is pushing down, forcing all the colors of the sun into a thick ribbon of flaming color upon the horizon. It is lovely, this sunset; perhaps as pretty as Narnia. She doesn't know, for the memories are already starting to fade away. And besides, she knows she has wasted too much time thinking of ways to get back, too many hours crying alone in the woods outside the Professor's house, too much of her life waiting for what will not come until it will come.

And so she sits in silence and watches the night's arrival patiently.

It is a quarter to nine when the screen door creaks. She does not turn, though she is uncertain as to which of her brothers has come after her this time.

"Lu," says Peter, his voice cracking even in that one syllable; he is growing up for the second time, with all the problems of the first. She does not move to recognize him because he knows she has heard. "Mum says it's time to come inside."

She doesn't want to and he knows this, so he descends the steps and ambles over to where she sits in the tree; his shoulders are level with her hips.

"Do you think we'll go back?" she asks honestly. He has answered this many times before, and his answer is never any different, though he does not have to think before he responds this time.

"If He wants us to," he replies.

"Does He want us to?"

"I don't know," Peter says, putting a hand on the tree trunk. "But whatever He wants, I'm sure it's for the best."

"Why can't we go back now?" she says, though it is not meant as a complaint, she is simply wondering.

Peter shrugs.

"Why aren't the apples ripe?" he asks. "Why hasn't the sun set yet?"

Lucy sighs in resignation.

"It isn't yet time," she says wearily. She feels a small burble of warmth when Peter does not try to press this point any, but simply steps around the tree and holds out his arms. With a weak but half-real smile, Lucy gives a small push and lets herself fall into his arms. They are not as muscular as they once were, but perhaps time will again mold his body to the king-shape she knows is inside.

Resting her head against her brother's chest, Lucy allows Peter to carry her inside, feeling much more like a little girl than a queen. But being a little girl, with the smell of apples in her nose and her hair mussed up by the wind and her older brother's arms about her, doesn't seem the worst thing that could happen to her.

The last vivid stripe of color has faded from the horizon, but the apples aren't ripe yet.

And though she's not in Narnia, and there is no crown on her brow, Lucy thinks that perhaps now is the time to be a little girl. She will wait to be a queen again.