A/N: Sorry, didn't even realize I hadn't put the 3rd chapter up yet! I have chapter titles planned out, but they're in my work computer so I'll have to wait until Monday to put them up! Tell me what you think of this chapter b/c I'm not so sure about it.
Susan sat on the sofa, her legs tucked up underneath her, reading a book. It was three weeks after she'd moved into Uncle Digory's old house, and she was beginning to adjust. She could now walk through certain parts of the house without tearing up. She had avoided the wardrobe room at all costs, leaving it to the house keeper to clean it.
The doorbell rang and Susan carefully marked her place and laid the book aside. She stood, smoothed her skirts, and went to answer the door.
"Susan!" Janet exclaimed, hugging her. "It's been so long!"
"Too long," Eliza said more softly, her green eyes full of sympathy. She gave Susan a gentler hug than Janet's, and Susan invited them in.
"This place is enormous," Janet said, her expression awestruck. "How do you live here all alone?" Susan shrugged.
"It was hard at first," she admitted, "but I've gotten used to the silence. It's actually somewhat peaceful." Eliza nodded.
"It would get lonely, though," she replied. Susan smiled.
"Sometimes, but this house has so many memories of Peter, Edmund, and Lucy that I never feel like I'm truly alone." Janet scrunched up her nose.
"You mean, like ghosts?" She asked in a wary voice. Susan laughed, shaking her head.
"No, nothing like that. Just... the memories keep me company." Janet raised her eyebrows.
"The... memories," she repeated in an odd voice, giving Eliza an unreadable look. Susan shook her head and led the way into the living room. She could hear Janet whispering behind her, but she ignored it. She never expected Janet to understand. Eliza maybe, but Janet simply didn't have the depth.
They stepped into the living room, and the girls settled on the sofas. Janet picked up the book Susan had been reading.
"What is this?" She asked, her voice full of disgust. Susan angrily snatched the book away.
"It was Lucy's," she snapped. Janet shrank away, but her eyes flashed dangerously.
"Well excuse me," she retorted, smoothing her skirt and fussing with her hair. Eliza glared at her before turning to Susan.
"We've missed you lately," she said. "You're never at any of the parties anymore. Why, just last week, Amy Fincelli threw a party and you weren't there! I know she invited you; why didn't you come?" Susan shrugged. She'd expected any sort of reprimand from her friends about being anti-social, but she knew they wouldn't understand why.
The truth was, she simply didn't have the heart for the social life any longer. Invitations that were still being sent to her parents' house were forwarded to her house (she'd finally begun to think of it as "hers") in the country by the new residents. Each time one arrived, she would open, smile, and set it aside. Eventually, she'd bounded them up and stored them in a drawer in the hallway. But she never could feel a desire to attend. With each invitation that arrived, she heard one of her brother's voices in her head, replaying their last conversation together. With Amy Fincelli's invitation, she'd almost mustered the courage to go, when she heard Lucy's voice.
i "Susan, aren't you coming too?" Lucy asked./i
The memory had brought her to tears, and she'd tossed Amy's invitation in the garbage pail.
"I've just been busy settling in," Susan lied. "You know, taking care of last minute things, getting my parents' house sold. I've just had so much to do." Eliza smiled.
"Well, once things have calmed down, I'll have a small party so you can ease back into things, all right?" Susan nodded slowly. She supposed a small party wouldn't be so bad. And Eliza would be the hostess, so she wouldn't feel any awkward obligations if she decided to head home early.
"I must say, Amy's party wasn't all that great any way," Janet said scornfully. "She's supposed to be so popular, and no one of consequence was even in attendance! Especially you, Susan, everyone wanted to know where you were. I think Amy was counting on you to raise the status of her flop of a party." Susan nodded absentmindedly. She was privately thinking that with her recent hermit-like attitude, she was unlikely to hold her high status in society much longer. Somehow, the thought didn't bother her as much as it would have a month before.
"Yes, well, Amy's been bad-mouthing so many people lately, she's lucky to have any friends left," Eliza interjected simply. "She's offended half of society with her tactless remarks." Susan smiled.
"Amy has always been that way, people just overlooked it. Ever since she became engaged to Kirk, half of society has been jealous of her." Janet nodded.
"I know I am, he's is so handsome!" She agreed. Eliza stared at her.
"I thought you were being courted by Andrew Mason," she asked, aghast. Janet shrugged.
"He asked me to allow him to court me, but I just haven't decided yet. He's a nice boy but I'm trying to keep my options open." Susan shook her head.
"You shouldn't string Andrew along," she scolded slightly. "He's always cared for you, even before we left school. You'll hurt him if you wait much longer." Janet rolled her eyes.
"Oh, he'll be fine. I told him I needed to think about it and later that evening I saw him speaking very intimately with Rachel Boardman. He'll bounce back just fine if I turn him down." Susan sighed.
"What's the matter?" Eliza asked.
"I just-" she paused. "It's nothing. I'm just tired." The girls chatted for a few more hours and had a nice tea on the back lawn before Eliza and Janet were due to return home. Susan waved them off before closing the heavy front doors.
Wandering back into the living room, she collapsed onto the couch. Her head was aching from Janet's incessant gossiping. Sure, Janet was her friend, but she was beginning to tire of the "who said what about whom" talk. In the long run of life, what did it really matter?
Another week passed, and, true to her word, Eliza organized a "small" party – in Susan's honor – to allow Susan to ease back into society. Susan sighed heavily when she read the invitation. She'd not wanted to be in the spotlight. And with the party in her honor, she couldn't leave until all of the other guests had retired.
"I suppose I'll have to go," she said to herself, quickly writing a response and setting it in the box by the door for the post to pick up. "Eliza will be so hurt if I refuse." For the first time since the accident, she heard no protests from her memories.