A/N: Three o'clock-in-the-morning creation. Yes, I'm finally writing my favorite character. It wasn't going to be sad, and then...it was. -sigh- Anyway, please, enjoy the little bit of brother-sister bonding. --Shadow

Aching

Lucy was lonely. She was the only one awake in the cold, predawn light shining from the window where the curtains had not been closed all the way. She found she wasn't comforted by Susan's soft breathing. Susan could sleep anywhere. Lucy was the one who always woke up in the middle of the night, wishing for something. Hoping for something. Aching.

She rolled out of bed softly, and slipped into her shoes barefoot. Susan would have scoffed at her, going off without stockings. But Lucy had gotten used to bare feet, and sandals, and riding boots. Her shoes gave her blisters now, and the ground was never warm enough to go barefoot. Not even in summer. Susan could adapt to winter easily. Lucy was the one who always shivered, whose teeth chattered, wishing for warmth. Hoping for warmth. Aching.

Lucy crept almost silently downstairs. She hopped over the step that always creaked, not wanting to wake anyone else up. Edmund always jumped on the creaky stair as hard as he could. He laughed at the way Lucy cringed every time the squeak filtered through the house. Peter always skipped it in deference to her. Susan didn't even notice. Susan could tune out anything she didn't want to hear. Lucy was the one who heard things, or thought she heard them, wishing they were real. Hoping they were real. Aching.

She slipped outside and climbed up her tree. In spring, the flowers were white and golden. In summer the leaves were very green. In autumn they turned red and brown, and in winter they were never all gone. There were always a few little ones that, withered as they were, clung to the topmost twigs of Lucy's tree. Not like on Susan's tree, where all the leaves were gone by October. Susan could forget anything she didn't feel like remembering. Lucy was the one who held on to desperate threads of memories, and never forgot anything, no matter how hard she tried, wishing she could forget. Hoping she could forget. Aching.


Lucy watched the sun rise from her perch in her tree. The predawn grey slowly brightened to blue and gold as the sun caught hold of it as it came over the horizon. The chill, curling mist rose slowly into the gathering day, and disappeared on the light breeze that carried it off to different parts of the world. Lucy thought it would have been more beautiful if it had occurred in a place where the horizon rested on the sea, and the air was clear and clean. Lucy thought it would have been more beautiful in Narnia.

She didn't notice her shivers, or her tears. She just stared out, over the garden wall, out into London. All of the bustle and hurrying and busy people were just starting to move about. She liked night in the city better, when there was almost no one awake, and the air wasn't quite so foul. She hated the city on principle, though.

She longed for grass, and trees, and wildflowers. She longed for dark nights where she could see the stars, and the moon was never covered by clouds. She longed for the sea and its rippling blues, and to feel sand between her toes. She longed for swishing skirts, and bare feet, and a silver crown of flowers. She longed to go home.


She heard the door open and close softly behind her. She knew who it was without looking. She knew his footsteps anywhere. She had grown up listening to those footsteps treading gently down the hall to check on her at night. She had taken comfort from those footsteps before she was even born. And out of all the footsteps in the world, she loved none more.

Peter stopped and leaned against the trunk of Lucy's tree. He too looked out over the garden wall at the beginning of the London hustle and bustle, the beginning of a new day. He looked up at his little sister, and smiled sadly at the expression on her face.

"It's time to come down, Lu," he said in his hoarse voice—the voice that she had already heard years ago, when it had broken the first time. She thought that she could hear the start of the grown up voice inside the one he had now. She thought she could see the king inside the boy who had to grow up twice. She wondered if he saw the queen in her.

She slid off the tree branch and into her brother's arms—the arms that were not as strong as they once were. She put her own arms—her little girl arms—around her brother's neck and he carried her inside. He put her down in her bed and sat next to her on the edge. Susan was already up, getting ready for the day. Lucy buried her face in Peter's lap, and cried.


They stayed that way for a very long time. Peter stroked her hair and eventually, her sobs quieted down and she sat up. He gave her a smile, and told her to cheer up.

"Soon," he whispered, pulling her into a hug. "Very soon."

"How do you know?" she asked in a very small voice.

"I don't," he said. "But I hope so. Very soon we will go home."

"But—"

He put a finger to her lips to stop her protest. "Very soon," he repeated, "we will go home, and then everything will be all right."


Lucy believed Peter. But neither of them knew how soon "very soon" would be. So Lucy continued to have trouble sleeping. She continued to shiver in winter. She continued to hear those far off voices. She continued to remember.

And she continued to ache.

Something deep inside her still missed the sea, and the castle, and the people, and the places, and the crown. Something still missed Aslan. Something still missed Narnia.

And it ached.

But she knew that Peter missed it all, too. And Edmund. And she knew that no matter how many times Susan scoffed at the idea, and ignored the stories, and feigned ignorance at the memories, deep down, she missed it too. And Lucy knew that they ached as well.

And someday, she knew—someday very soon—they would go home, and everything would be all right. And the aching would stop.


A/N: Inspired by Capegio's "The Apple Tree". Thank you. Oh, and since I forgot at the top: I do not own Narnia, London, or Capegio. I just love them all, and hope they don't mind that I borrowed them.