A/N: (sigh) No. I don't own Narnia.


Light summer breezes whispered to one another playfully, darting here and there among the upraised branches of the ancient tree. Silver-green leaves rustled conspiratorially, shifting constantly, dancing with the wind. Here and there, the satin petals of a late blossom gleamed, lustrous as a perfect pearl.

The bridal glory of only a week ago lay discarded about the tree's roots, let fall in favor of a greater joy. The tree felt it, somewhere within the murmer of golden sap, and knew. Leaves spread almost imperceptibly wider, reaching, straining to brush the balmy sunlight and nodding with the secretive, demure gladness that had pulsed through it each spring since the dawn of time. For at the base of each shorn blossom, a tiny swelling whispered a promise of things to come.

And so it would go, the fruit ripening one by one and dropping onto the fertile ground, the seeds prepared against the time when they too would be asked to perish and be reborn as a sapling. The tree had known this many times.

How many hundreds of years had passed since the tree's own seed had been hidden in the dark, warm soil of the riverbank, it did not know, exactly. Hours and years meant nothing. There was only the steady meandering of root and branch, the sleep of winter and the renewal of spring, and always, always the wild, glorious call to live and be that echoed through every branch and leaf. The sun rose and fell, the land shifted and changed, but so long as that lifesong sustained it, the tree would spread its roots and raise its branches in praise of the one who sang it.

o0o0o0o

The breezes paused in their game briefly, letting silence fall for an instant before they fled, taking with them the sun's warmth and light. Every leaf stilled. Thick, pearly-grey clouds stole over the sun, blotting out the golden light in a heartbeat. Across the land, woodland creatures scurried for their dens, and humans locked their shutters. The very air quivered with tense apprehension.

The storm loomed over forest and meadow, lightening flickering a silent threat at its edges. The little noises and dappled green of a sleepy summer afternoon died out, swallowed by the menace gathering in the North. Then, with a lupine howl that shivered through all Narnia, it struck.

The storm's icy breath caught at the branches of the tree, whipping the topmost limbs about in a whirling frenzy. You are old, it hissed. You are old, and you grow weak in your age. The boughs creaked and groaned under the assault. You cannot long resist me.

Something within the tree awoke. I am old, rumbled its ponderous thought. Old and strong. The feathery roots curled tighter, grasping at their hold in the deep turf. It will take more than a mere breeze to fell me.

The storm roared in anger, beating at the tree with all its force until the sun, red as blood, dipped beneath the clouds in the far west. Then, with a final blast that shook the very mountains, it ceased. Restless winds darted here and there, strong but without purpose, as a great army whose general has fallen. But the general stirred.

Cool rain, glinting like living silver in the gathering twilight, pattered down. It spread swiftly over the leaves and grass, clinging in jewel-like droplets anywhere it could hold. The ground accepted it greedily, allowing the moisture to soak in and down towards the roots. It had not been long since the last rainfall, perhaps a week, but it was long enough that the ground was quite glad of the little rivulets and puddles seeping toward its heart.

Without warning, the cold struck. It brushed against the water coating leaf and branch, transforming it with one breath to hard, cold diamond. A tremor of unfathomable anger and loss shuddered through the tree as the tiny sparks of life hidden in each infant fruit were smothered, defenseless, in the thick ice encasing them. Almost immediately, it began to fall into the deep winter slumber as the leaves ceased to breath.

With the tree thus weighted, the wind began to blow again. Splinters of ice flew glittering into the air as the tree's wide top was tossed from side to side, but it was sufficient. The first roots pulled free of the moist ground as the sun rose unobserved over the roiling sea of clouds.

And so the Tree of Protection that had for so long guarded Narnia toppled to the ground, and none marked its fall.

o0o0o0o

None, that is, save for one. Far to the North, at the very border of Narnia, Jadis, Queen of fallen realms, lowered her wand. The last barrier had crumbled. The way into the Lion's land was clear.

Narnia would fall.


A/N: Thoughts?

I had fun writing it. Well, satisfaction, anyway. It was actually kind of depressing to write. I have no idea if the Tree of Protection was a Talking Tree. I rather suspect that it was; this is Lewis we're talking about, after all, and the idea of the Tree in the garden on the hill representing the Tree of Life and its offspring representing the Cherubim that guards Eden is definitely something I can see him doing. For the purposes of this story, however, the Tree is...just a tree. But a tree endowed by Aslan with the power to protect Narnia, his love.