Summary: Eustace explains the difference between "pretty" and "beautiful" surprisingly well. After Untitled, before In The Firelight, either before or after In-laws... (You don't have to read and review these stories, but it would make me smile if you did :D) A very, very small story. Patience is a card game that is called Solitaire in America. And I don't own Narnia, or Jill, or Eustace.
Eustace looked at Jill, who was plaiting and unplaiting an increasingly tangled strand of her fringe. He knew perfectly well that she wasn't reading the novel that was open in her lap, for she had been on the same page for the past fifteen minutes. She was distractedly biting her lower lip. Eustace tried to tell himself that she would let him know what was wrong in time. He forced himself not to blush as Jill glanced up and caught him staring at her.
"What on earth is wrong, Pole?" he asked, trying to change the subject before it came up.
"She's so pretty," Jill whispered. She looked across the room at Esther Jackle, the much friendlier sister of Edith. Golden curls. Blue eyes. Perfect figure. She couldn't weigh more than seven stone, but it was all wonderfully proportioned. All the boys in the school hung off her every word. Even Scrubb had had a thing for her once. He said he didn't anymore. She glanced down at her own figure. She didn't remark about it, but her meaning was perfectly clear, and I'm so ugly.
"Bosh," was Eustace's unromantic response. He went back to his game of Patience.
"You used to be sweet on her yourself, Scrubb!" Jill challenged. "You know how pretty she is. She's beautiful! I'd trade anything to look like her!"
"For pity's sake, Jill! One, we are all as God made us and not much you can do about that, and two, you may not look like her. You may not be pretty. But-" he registered what he was about to say, panicked, and realised he had gone too far to retract. "ButIthinkyou'rebeautiful. Sure as anything she isn't."
"It's my turn to say 'bosh'," Jill replied tartly. "How can I be beautiful without being pretty? That makes no sense at all."
"It makes perfect sense to me." Eustace was regaining a little of his composure. He reached over and touched her hair lightly. "This is what constitutes pretty. Hair and a figure and other temporary things. If you shaved off all of Esther's golden curls, she'd be ugly." Jill tried to picture an ugly Esther Jackle, and failed miserably. And then Eustace gently brushed her hair away from her eyes. "This is what makes beautiful, Jill. What's on the inside." He jerked his hand away suddenly, and if she hadn't known him better she would have sworn that he was turning pink. "But if somebody shaved all your hair off, or if you suddenly emerged tomorrow all gaunt and stick-like, you'd still have those eyes. You'd still be beautiful. You'd still have a temper from here till next week... ow... and you'd still have your laugh... and you'd still be that same person that faced a giant green serpent and never even went white."
Jill looked away. "Thanks, Scrubb," she said softly.