Title: The Stone Butterfly
Pairing: "Caspian/ Susan" (sort of)
Rating: T: Just because it's sad and they discuss war.
Summary: The last night of the Pevensies stay in Narnia, and Caspian and Susan's goodbye. Movie-verse.
Spoiler: Yeah, for the movie and the book of "Prince Caspian", since it takes place at the very end, despite being written before the movie has even been released. There are also some spoilers for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as well.
Category: Friendship; Drama maybe?
Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia, and all seven of the titles therein, are trademarks of C.S. Lewis and Disney. I am in no way connected with these people, and I do not claim ownership to these characters, lands, or names. I have borrowed them to share a story . . . and most likely not a story C.S. Lewis would have written, had he had the time or no. I am making no money from this, and it is just for my entertainment and that of free entertainment to a select group of friends. Thank You.
Distribution: Please ask first?
Setting: Mainly outside of Caspian's castle at night. Secondly, at the Doorway created by Aslan, next morning. Thirdly, on the train platform back in England.
Author's Note: Based on two very helpful critiques, from OnyxDrake and Francienyc, I have rewritten this story. Please, tell me if it's better or worse? I very much want it to read smoothly and beautifully. Thank you.
Second Note: The discussion of British war policies is based on actual research and not guesswork, assumption, or artistic license. Sissinghurst Castle is opened all year to the public and is located near Cranbrook, Kent, Great Britain.
Third Note: Read as much or little as you like into the relationship. I've tried to make it work with the movie, but have the same end-result as the books (and hopefully movie).
Feedback: Please? I love comments.
The summer night was warm, but not exceedingly so. Stars shone in all their glory on the triumphant post-coronation celebration. Insects lazily droned, all but overshadowed by amiable chatter and the merry dance tunes of the fauns and satyrs. The friendly hooting of the owls competed pleasantly with the mournful call of the whippoorwills while the nightingale's song wove around those of the corncakes and nightjars.
Laughter burst forth from the small group leisurely arrayed on chairs or benches around two food-laden, wooden tables. Five humans, two dwarves, a Badger and a Mouse sat in companionable conversation. Another laugh rang out at the finish of the Red Dwarf, Trumpkin's, story.
Susan smiled as, chuckling still, Doctor Cornelius rose and sighed out, "Well, Your Majesties, Trumpkin, Trufflehunter, Sir Reepicheep," and he bowed in turn to each of the company, ending with the Mouse, "I must be off to bed. I am not so young as once I was."
"Aye, I think I'll follow you up, Doctor," added the gruff voice of Trumpkin as he, too, rose from his bench.
Lucy's regretful "Oh, must you really," echoing Susan's own disappointment, put pause to the two parting members, but Cornelius gently shook his head. "I can barely keep awake, My Queen, and so cannot pay you the attention you deserve. Forgive my frailties." He bowed, watching as the younger Queen of Narnia's long-past Golden Age flushed in pleasure at his response.
Thus, there were many "good nights" and "sleep wells" and much shuffling about until, finally, only Caspian, stretched comfortably across one bench, Peter and Edmund, in chairs across from the King, and Lucy, on the other bench, with Susan standing and reaching for the wine bottle, remained to enjoy the beautiful night and the afterglow of Caspian's earlier coronation.
Caspian reached a long arm over to catch the bottle before Susan could. With a smile for the pretty dark-haired girl, he softly said, "Here, Queen Susan, allow me," and began to refill her goblet.
Susan smiled in gratitude, sinking gracefully to her cushioned seat and hoping the darkness hid her blush; her cheeks felt so very bright. She hadn't fallen in love with Narnia's King, so to speak, but Caspian was attractive and attentive and, oh, so nice to her. The gallant behaviour he showed her was a far cry from her usual companions, as she attended an all-girls school; while on holiday she had constantly been in the company of her brothers and sister. Whereas Peter and Edmund were nice and thoughtful in their own ways, especially Peter, it wasn't the same as the attentions of an unrelated boy. Could it be so wrong?
Finally, with another smile for the gentle girl, Caspian turned his attention to the oldest Pevensie sibling. "I've been wondering, Peter, if you might tell me a little of the world you come from?"
"Ah…" the blond smiled at his new friend.
True, there had been some amount of contention between them earlier on; after all, Peter must have suddenly, and unexpectedly, felt insecure about the possibility of Caspian taking over his role as big brother: the other young man was a couple of years older. The fear had been pretty unreasonable but would have been very real and very threatening for Peter at the time. As a result, Peter had been harsher than he might have been in his dealings with Caspian, at least, Susan felt so.
And naturally, Caspian had apparently felt his own position as future King of Narnia threatened. Though Peter often told his siblings that he missed being the High King, Susan knew that he'd had no intention of ousting the then prince from his rightful throne. Caspian, however, would not have been so certain, despite Peter's reassurances. Thus a rivalry had seemed to spring up between the two, making things just that much more awkward and uncomfortable in the group. Now, however, with the coronation of King Caspian, and the subtle reassurances of Susan and Lucy at Peter's side, the pair had finally become friends.
"England..." Peter nodded briefly and shrugged, giving a sheepish grin to Caspian. "It sort of fades, you know, the longer you're here. I mean, I love England very much, but Narnia kind of weaves itself into your entire…" he searched for the words then continued in a rush, "being and, well, almost erases the rest. Edmund might be able to tell you better; he's curious about things like automobiles and radios and such. Ed?"
The words "automobiles" and "radios" were strange to Caspian's ears, and he turned eagerly to the other Golden Age King. "Edmund? Please, could you tell me of England?"
Edmund smiled, apparently pleased to be referred to as an authority on something. More times than anyone could count people went to Peter for answers or advice. It wasn't often that Edmund could outshine his older sibling. No one doubted he loved Peter, but it got extremely annoying, especially since he, too, had ruled Narnia, and, though he was once more a boy rather than the man he'd become the last time they'd visited Narnia, Edmund still had important contributions he could make. So, when Caspian asked, Susan was please to see Edmund jump at the chance to be in the spotlight.
He settled onto the cushioned chair, sipped his wine to draw out the moment a bit, and gathered his thoughts. Finally, he nodded and smiled, his voice enthusiastic. "Well, first off, we're at war with Germany and Italy. They're a couple of countries in our world, like England is."
"You left your world during war to help fight Narnia's war?" Caspian breathed, in awe at the importance these old kings and queens apparently placed on Narnian welfare.
"It's not as if we're old enough to fight back home." Peter's voice held a trace of disgust, and he quickly lifted his goblet to hide his emotions.
Edmund nodded. "You have to be sixteen to join the British Army, and aren't allowed to go on battle manoeuvres until you're eighteen."
Interrupting quietly, Peter added, "Actually, that's the policy, but there have been younger children being sent to the battlefront. As young as fifteen, sometimes."
"Are you in the Army, then, Peter?" Caspian sounded curious, not aware of the differences in the Army of the Pevensies's world.
None of the boys noticed Susan's sudden frown, too intent on their discussion. Her face paled a bit and a pinched look came to her lips. Blue eyes filled with worry. She sipped her wine, but the flavour had dulled and the liquid felt dry on her tongue.
Shaking his blond head, Peter frowned. "But as soon as I'm sixteen, I have to go. It's required of all British citizens to be available to go to war once they've reached sixteen. In fact, even the women are available for conscription." He sighed, and a silent pall fell over his siblings, worrying about their brother possibly being sent to war against Germany once they'd returned. He was just about the right age.
Caspian seemed to sense their worry and interjected, "But, Peter, you're an excellent soldier. You should do quite well; after all, you've lead the Narnian Army while you were King."
"But it's not the same," Edmund shook his head emphatically. "In our world, they've rifles and planes and all sorts of long range weapons. You don't even see the enemy while you're bombing them. It's not like in Narnia where you can identify your enemy, Caspian. And they drop poison on your ranks, even in the trenches where you sleep. I'd much rather fight here than there." The younger King suddenly shot a guilty look at his older brother, who tried very hard not to show how much he now dreaded going off to fight Germany.
Going a bit paler at Edmund's words, Susan quickly turned to Peter, worry shining in her eyes. She knew that a year previously he'd longed to fight for England and her allies; now, there was no doubt he still wanted to keep England safe, but something in his manner said that he just didn't want to do it with bombs and planes. Peter seemed to prefer Narnia's battles to Earth's, though Susan hated them anywhere, in any form.
"Father's already at war; you shouldn't have to go, too, Peter!" And suddenly Lucy flung herself off of the other bench and into her oldest brother's arms, hugging him fiercely. He wrapped his arms securely around his littlest sister, trying to soothe her as she cried.
Susan stood just as suddenly, her face turning red as she tried to fight her own fears and worries for Peter. "Can't we just stop talking about war for once?" Her voice caught on a sob and with that, the young woman left the tables, not exactly running but still moving quickly with the intensity of her feelings.
As Susan moved from the lighted area towards the back gardens, Caspian rose, looking towards Peter, who still attempted to comfort Lucy. "I'll see to Susan, shall I?" Peter nodded gratefully, his rivalry completely forgotten in that moment of need; both sisters needed him but he couldn't be both places at once. In acknowledgement of Peter's nod, Caspian moved off into the darkness behind the castle, leaving Edmund to assist his brother with their youngest sister.
Rather quickly Caspian caught up with Susan. She had slowed down due to the subdued light, trying to sort out her troubled thoughts while she moved. Hearing his approach, Susan's head came up but she didn't protest his arrival when she recognized Caspian's features. Instead, she looked back towards the ground, still walking.
Caspian fell into step next to the troubled beauty. He didn't speak, and she was thankful, knowing that she needed time to sort things out. Whereas Lucy might need instant assurances, Susan preferred to think about things first then seek comfort. Thus, the pair moved silently, nearly as one, past the darkened back windows and sadly neglected gardens of the castle.
After a long moment, Susan raised her head, opening her mouth to speak. Instead of words; however, a breathless "Oh!" came out. Her eyes had just fallen on a low-walled area that seemed to be bathed in silvery light. "How lovely!"
With what sounded like some amount of pride, mixed with a bit of awkwardness, Caspian announced, "It's the Moon Garden, Susan. My grandmother started it and Aunt Prunaprismia kept it tended, even after the other gardens were allowed to go wild." He paused, dark eyes intently studying her in the starlit night. Finally, softly, he asked, "Would you allow me to show it to you? It's best viewed at night, you know."
Susan glanced up at the tall King then flushed, thankful for the darkness that hid her shy response. Slowly, she slid her hand onto his arm, taking a deep breath to regain her normal control. She reminded herself that Caspian was merely being nice because she was so upset; as well that he wanted to show off his garden, for she heard the pride in his voice. "I would love to." Was that breathy voice actually hers? Susan flushed but continued walking with Caspian.
A waist-high wall surrounded the vast garden area, allowing those outside to see its inner beauty. Caspian gave her little time to look at it from that vantage point, however, leading her through the well-oiled gate and into the wide paths where the true beauty of the garden could be appreciated.
Well ordered paths wound among night-flowering evening primroses and nicotania. The spicy jasmine scent lingered in the summer air, mixing with the vanilla and nutmeg aroma of the night-scented stock. In the centre of the garden shimmered a small pool reflecting the star-studded sky, in which white water lilies rested, bordered by deep-fluted moonflowers often known as the angel's trumpet. Trellises leading from the pond over each branching path were covered with white roses, closed at night, interwoven over the light wooden frames. Dotted here and there, like treasures hidden for the attentive seeker, hid silver kings and silver queens: both part of the mugwort family but known for their white colouring. Upon looking closely, one could discern artistically carved and embossed benches located at convenient places among the rambling paths. The soothing sound of rippling water denoted the presence of a small stream feeding the pond.
At each new discovery, Susan smiled and sniffed appreciatively. "This is lovely, Caspian. I've heard of moon gardens; there's one near Kent at Sissinghurst Castle. I've never actually seen a moon garden, though. It's far lovelier than I'd imagined it could be." Letting go of Caspian's arm, she spun slowly around, taking in the silver-gilded beauty of the aromatic flowers and peaceful paths.
Susan, barely aware of Caspian's smile, started exploring the garden. She allowed herself, temporarily, to be distracted from her worries for Peter's future. All too soon trouble would find her once more, and Susan wanted to be happy for at least a little while. Her laughter filled the garden and it seemed as if the musical sound belonged there.
Once she got over the initial headiness of the garden, Susan settled down to walk with Caspian, content to let him talk about happier, childhood times in the garden. He spoke of the games and imaginings he used to indulge, in which he walked and talked with Talking Beasts, fought great, noble wars, and dined with the kings of Old Narnia.
As he fell into comfortable silence, Susan laughed softly. "And who would have thought those games would turn to reality, King Caspian?"
Suddenly, Caspian's laugh rang out in a happy shout. "By the Lion, you're right, Queen Susan." He stressed her title playfully. Offering his arm, they began to stroll once more.
"Tell me, Caspian" Susan's voice was soft, "how this garden came about." At Caspian's puzzled look, she hurried on to add, "What I mean to say is 'how did your grandmother decide to plant it?' It seems a fair distance from the castle; I would think it would be hard to see from her windows and the distance prohibits most visitors touring it."
"Do you mean that not so many people are as inclined to stroll in the dark as you?" Caspian's tone lightly teased. "Well, I think it was supposed to be a place for her to go when she needed solitude and thought without interruptions.
Susan nodded. "Yes, I can see how that would be a very big enticement. There are times when I long for solitude, but back home we don't have quite as much room as here."
Caspian smiled at her and went on. "She chose this particular spot because on this rise my grandfather proposed to her and gave her a butterfly for a betrothal gift."
"Oh, how very lovely," the dark-haired young woman lifted blue eyes to meet brown. "Was it a real butterfly? I mean: a living one?"
He shook his dark head, his expression one of amusement. "Actually, it was a carving. The details were so beautiful a Dwarf must have done the work."
Susan's eyes lit and she practically cooed; she loved trinkets after all, "What gemstone was it made from? Diamond, perhaps, since it was an engagement gift?"
"No," Caspian laughed. "It was made of stone. He'd been hunting up above the waterfall between Beaversdam and Aslan's How. Night had been setting and he'd started digging a… uh…" suddenly Caspian realized just who he spoke to and struggled for a polite way to say 'privy'. Finally, he gave up and said, "Well, he had to dig, and when he did so, he found a few feet down this oddly shaped stone. When he'd recovered it and washed it in the river, he saw that it was a very finely carved stone butterfly. Well, that's a rather unusual treasure, and he felt someone had to have either buried it for one reason or another or lost it a long time ago, and it had been covered by wind and weather. When he finally met my grandmother, he gave it to her and she handed it down to my father then to me."
Puzzled, Susan frowned thoughtfully. "But if your uncle took everything of value from you, why didn't he take the butterfly? It sounds like it should be worth a great deal if it is as exquisite as you describe."
The King shrugged lightly. "It had already been given to me as a child and I'd kept it in a place in the nurseries. I'd actually forgotten about it all this time, but I might still be able to locate it, if someone else hasn't. I'd hidden it behind a loose brick behind the bed."
For an instant, Caspian looked lost in a dream then he seemed to shake off the past and reached out to pluck one of the rosebuds from a nearby trellis. He held it out to the startled young woman on his arm. "For you, Queen Susan of Narnia: a rose to remember this night by." She blushed, burying her nose in the flower's scent as she breathed, "thank you, King Caspian of the lovely moon garden."
With a light sigh, and an equally light smile, Caspian turned Susan and headed for the garden gate. It was rather late and, much as Susan enjoyed talking with Caspian, she had to agree with the movement: they had to be up early the next day. Aslan had arranged to send the Telmarines to another place and had insisted all of the royalty be there.
Gilded by moonlight and serenaded by nightingale song, the pair walked in companionable silence, each lost in his or her own thoughts. When they arrived at the side door of the castle, they stopped, as if by some silent accord. Susan turned to look up at Caspian, searching for some last thought to voice, desirous of continuing their idyllic evening.
Unable to find the words and practical as always, Susan finally put an end to the silence. She smiled up at the handsome King and softly said, "Tonight was gorgeous. Thank you, Caspian, for everything. I won't forget it… or you." Then, before he could react, or she could do anything embarrassing or forward, she slipped through the door and sprinted lightly up the stairs to her room.
Caspian was left behind to mull over the puzzling meaning of her last words.
It all seemed to go by in a haze of confused colours and sounds. The huge doorframe had been erected in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Narnians in their finest gathered, and the Telmarines led from the various locations they'd been kept or freely living. There were shouts and laughter and cheers, and some rudeness on the part of the grumpy prisoners, and everything leant to the air of a fine party.
But all too quickly the party air dissipated for King Caspian and the Pevensies. The Telmarines protested, afraid to enter the doorway that would take them home, and Reepicheep had been denied, by Aslan, entrance for fear of the abuses humans would inflict on him and his people. It became quite obvious that someone had to lead the frightened men through the doorway, and that someone turned out to be the group of Pevensie children.
The time for them to leave had come all too soon it seemed.
Amid hugs and snuffley kisses, mostly from Trufflehunter, and a variety of other farewells, Caspian stepped forward to give young Lucy a quick hug. Susan watched the bittersweet moment; he might not be a blood relation to the queen, but they felt like he was a sort of honorary brother, none-the-less. Lucy returned the hug enthusiastically and tears came to his eyes. "Goodbye, Lucy. I hope we may see each other again, though in better times."
"Yes, I do so hope that as well, Caspian. It's been lovely knowing you and you'll make a very fine king." Lucy gave him a second, quicker hug and Susan watched as he moved on to her eldest brother, Peter.
Caspian and Peter shook hands, and Peter seemed surprised when Caspian pulled him into a hug. "Goodbye, Caspian. Rule well." Caspian said he would and released Peter, moving on to make his farewell to Susan.
"Your horn, Queen Susan," Caspian seemed a little awkward as he held out the lovely ivory horn to her.
She shook her head and gave him a watery smile. "You keep it, Caspian. You might have need of it. The horn belongs to Narnia now. I know you'll take care of everyone." She stepped forward to carefully give the King a fierce hug. "I'll miss you.
"A small token to remember our friendship, dear Queen Susan." His soulful brown eyes met her fine blue ones, and he noted she was trying to hold back tears. "I hadn't meant it to be a goodbye gift… I found it in the nursery last night." He held up the treasure he'd retrieved, wrapped carefully in a fine scarf, and offered it to Susan.
Susan reached out and took the small object, holding it gingerly in her hands. She looked from the scarf to the King and said, quite softly, "Th… thank you, Caspian. I shouldn't need it to remember you, but I will treasure it always." She did not get the chance to unwrap the scarf, however, as Aslan's gentle, deep voice called out to remind them that it was time.
There was barely any time for the King to turn to the last and certainly far from least Pevensie. "Goodbye then, Edmund," and Susan watched him wring Edmund's hand with all the things they'd liked to have said to each other, but had no time to, left unspoken. Instead, they showed the gratitude and friendship with their eyes; Susan turned away with a small sob.
The High King Peter moved towards the door, and the others lined up behind him, followed by the Telmarians. They stepped through the door when Caspian seemed to suddenly realize he had something for Edmund as well. He called, "Wait, King Edmund! You've forgotten your…" but it was too late. The Pevensies had already disappeared through the door on their way to their own world beyond.
"Oh, bother, I've left my new torch in Narnia!"
Edmund's voice rang over the railway platform, causing a few passers-by to glance over then move on hurriedly. The other children looked at him sympathetically, as it had been a birthday gift the week before. But there was no returning for it now, so all they could do was settle back onto the bench and wait for their trains… and talk about their latest adventure in the land they all loved so dearly.
As if out of the blue, Susan sighed, "I think I'd like to visit Sissinghurst Castle next holiday." The others looked at her for an explanation, but she refused to say anything more. Instead, quietly, the dark-haired girl pulled from her pocket the scarf Caspian had given her, delighted that it, too, had made the journey over the threshold. She unwrapped the small parcel carefully then drew a surprised breath of air. "Oh!"
"What is it, Sue?"
"Is something the matter, Susan?"
The others sounded concerned, turning to their sister with worry in their eyes. She merely shook her head, holding up an exquisitely carved stone butterfly so well crafted it looked as if it could fly away. Tears stung her eyes anew at the thought of leaving Narnia, and Caspian, and all their friends of course, behind.
However, Edmund's voice broke through her reverie. "Where on Earth did you get that, Sue?"
"Why? Caspian gave it to me. His grandfather found it…"
"Above the waterfall between Beaversdam and the Stone Table?" Edmund finished, his voice shaky.
"Well," Susan looked at him, puzzled, "yes. How did you know?"
"Because that's not just a stone butterfly, Susan. That's a Narnian butterfly."
Susan shook her head and started to carefully rewrap the precious object. "Of course it is, Edmund. What other kind of butterfly would Caspian be giving anyone?"
The younger boy stood, pacing the small platform agitatedly. "No, you don't understand. That's not a stone butterfly at all." He turned, planting his feet firmly on the wooden planks, his hands thrust to his hips. "I watched the White Witch turn that butterfly to stone ages ago when we were first in Narnia!"
The significance of such a thing was not lost on the children, and Susan unwrapped the butterfly once more. Holding it more precious now she knew it had been a living, if not currently so, Narnian, Susan's eyes turned determined as she looked at her siblings. "Then I will have to find a way back someday, if only to return it to Narnia where it belongs. And once I get there, I'll find Aslan and ask him to change it back to a real, live butterfly."
And there remained nothing more to say, did there?