By Val Evenstar
Disclaimer: I do not own the wonderful Land of Narnia or any of the characters therin.
Author's Note: This is the first thing I would do in Narnia. Well, after meeting Aslan and helping out in the Battle of Beruna. Inspired by what is fast becoming one of my favorite songs. Please let me know what you think.
Lucy tiptoed out the door and into the silent hall. She shielded her lone candle with her hand as she quietly made her way to the wide stone staircase. It was the middle of the night, and her friends were calling her.
She'd been Queen of Narnia for a year, but she still felt like a little girl sometimes, and this was one of them. She fervently prayed that her brothers wouldn't catch her. Or worse yet, Susan.
Lucy smiled when she thought of her sister. Susan was a fine girl and as gentle as a mother - but sometimes she could be as bossy as a mother, too. Susan insisted on bed-times for the younger ones, because Kings and Queens needed their rest. Lucy suspected that in England she could never have stayed up so late if she tried, but here in Narnia things were different.
For example, most of her friends weren't human.
They called to her now. Lucy felt their soft breath caress her cheeks as she slid through an open outside door. The cool Narnian breeze summoned her, speaking of magic and wonder.
Lucy could not resist.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" she whispered as she fled across the grassy courtyard and down the garden steps, soft house slippers making no sound. Passing through resplendent rose bushes and myriad networks of flowered vines, Lucy found the tiny garden gate she had grown to love. Flinging it open, she ran through, no longer caring if she made any noise. The wind from the gate extinguished her small candle flame, but she didn't mind. The Narnian stars, so much brighter than the ones in our world, lit her path with joy.
Lucy scampered down the slopes near Cair Paravel and into the flatlands near the mouth of the Great River. The journey seemed to take only a minute due to the lightness of her heart. As she set foot inside the vast forest, a wave of cool river air washed up to meet her. Lucy laughed in delight. "My friends, I am here! Come out to me!"
And so the wood and water began to change.
Slowly yet instantly shapes emerged from the trees - slender willow-women, regal beech-maidens, somber oaken warriors. Water nymphs climbed ashore, curtsying to their tiny queen.
Lucy bowed her head in regal respect, though her eyes shone and twinkled with the stars.
"My lady, we have come," the rowan whispered on the wind, and swept a long-fingered hand down as it, too, made obeisance to her.
Lucy laughed as the trees formed a circle around her, with the younger trees all pushing forward for a glimpse of their human sovereign. She took the fingers of a young maple and ran her hand over the spiky hair of the holly.
"The night passes swiftly, my friends," she said softly. "There is not much time left."
A rumble of agreement went through the large gathering, while the water nymphs joined in with merry laughter.
"Then let us dance!" the boisterous holly declared, and the stars twinkled all the brighter at the prospect. The nymphs formed a circle and Lucy took their slender hands, and they slowly began to dance.
If you have never seen the forest sway in time to the rhythm of the sky and water, I am not sure I shall even begin to make you understand what it is like. Lucy herself could never really describe it - all she could say was that it was something she felt she could do for all her days. The stars shone so brightly, she said, that the most dazzling ballroom was put to shame. The trees were not dressed in vibrant reds and blues, but in soft greens, silvery greys, and delightful browns. The hollies, of course, sported their red pearls while the birches showed off their pure white flesh. Water nymphs moved like the waves themselves, full of grace and decked in the finest of sparking foams.
And this was just a tiny portion of the picture. There were many, many trees, a forest of them, each moving in its own unique way as they drew out patterns across the earth, now swinging past a water nymph, now swooping low and brushing Lucy with their branches.
It was a magic all of its own - the moon and stars directing the water as the water made the trees flourish and grow.
And as they circled through the trees and the trees circled about them, the stars in the heavens swung merrily around the northern Spearhead in their eternal dance.
Lucy danced, wishing only that Aslan were there with her, reveling in his creation alongside her. The ground was not rough on her bare feet, but covered with the finest velvet moss. She spun and laughed, and for a long time her little satin nightgown was a beautiful dress fit for a queen. The stars reflected off her golden hair and painted her skin an ivory white, while placing diamonds in her eyes.
There was much laughter, silvery tree-laughter and bubbling nymph-laughter, but there was also a sort of music. It was as if the very rhythm of life itself had burst into song - or as if it were the dying echoes of Aslan's song, the song of power that had pushed this very world into existence. Perhaps the music was the wind in the branches; perhaps it was the whistling of the breeze or the quiet sound of the river. Perhaps it was none of these, but instead the song of the heavens, sung by the stars.
All Lucy knew was that she did not want this night to end.
But since all things must end, until the end of time itself, even this magic did not last.
As the first shy rays of morning peeked over the horizon, the spell was broken.
The nymphs bid their friend good-bye and disappeared into their river dwelling; the trees brushed her cheeks with light kisses and bid her adieu.
"Farewell, farewell, my friends!" she cried.
"Come back soon, little queen!" they replied, and she laughed.
"I will always come back!" she said, then sped off towards the castle where she knew her siblings would soon be awakening.
"Lucy, are you all right?" Susan asked as the family sat down to tea. "You've seemed a bit tired lately. You haven't been going out to bathe at night, have you?"
"No, not at all - and I never go without one of you, anyway," Lucy replied.
Susan's eyebrows shot up, and she looked at the two boys.
"Well, you don't think I'd let her go alone, did you?" Edmund said defensively, looking a little sheepish. "Besides, the water's cooler at night."
"I suppose they're just as bad as you now, Su," Peter teased. "Midnight gallops through the dales the like."
Susan blushed. "It helps me sleep better," she said in response.
"Ah, well, we could all use a bit of that," said Peter, stifling a yawn.
Edmund laughed but Lucy looked curiously at her oldest brother.
He gave her a secret smile, and when he looked up, Lucy saw the starlight reflected in his eyes.
And as they looked at each other across the table, they could almost hear the song of the earth as it whispered through the trees at night.
Brother and sister laughed; it was an enchanted joy.
When darkness comes I'll light your night with stars
Hear the whispers in the dark...