Disclaimer: Narnia still does not belong in the possession of this poor student here. Sadly.
Edmund's age is slightly different then it should be, in lieu of his sibling's. I'm just chalking it off to birthday differences, but whatever. And, just a reminder, the way Susan acts is mainly because her friend is dying. If anything more comes between the two of them, well…you'll just have to wait and see.
Listening to: Nothing in particular, but ironically enough, This is Home just came on.
It was strange. Odd, even. This feeling that gripped her chest when she looked around the room, decorated with the familiar vestiges of what she could only describe as home. It wasn't happiness or joy or utter relief that filled her now, though. It was something different. Something that she could only describe as bittersweet: a nauseous feeling that mixed with the nostalgia of the country that was home in more ways than England could ever be. It was if she should cry, but that, at the same time, there was really no need for tears, and it just left a tightening in her gut that left her…floating.
Lucy wondered if perhaps this is what death felt like.
In the many years that the Pevensie children had ruled Narnia from their home here at Cair Paravel, they had been fortunate enough to have avoided any serious losses, excluding the ones necessitated by war. No advisor or close friend of theirs had ever passed away, and anyone who received any serious injury or deblitation was easily healed with a drop of the juice of the fire flower. Well, except for Aslan, but he had overcome death to always continuously aid them and care for them. Even back at their other home in England, no one had died. Sure, their father was fighting in the war, but that was coming to an end soon, and they had received no bad news about him.
That was why, upon the children's first return to their beautiful country, thousands of years after the time of their rule, Lucy had felt shock and grief creep upon her when she had realized that everyone they had known—the beavers, Mr. Tumnus, even Aravis and Cor—were all gone. The shock had been total and complete, but offset by the fact that it was so distant: a completely different time and a different world, too. It had been easy to push that thought aside in favour of the here and now. There was a war that needed to be fought and a prince that needed to be aided. When Lucy had met Aslan at long last, those thoughts had completely slipped from her mind as he had saved them all once more in a spectacular fashion and reinforced their shaking faith in him.
Now, though, things were different. Caspian was dying. Dying, in the present. It wasn't something that had happen, or something even that could possibly happen. It was something that was happening right now, and there was no magical Christmas gift that could save him. It wasn't even the fact that her friend was going to die so much as was the circumstances. Lucy had fought in many wars in her thirteen-plus years, and she would have understood if the young king had been mortally injured in such a battle. But poison? It was such an underhanded technique!
She sighed, standing up from her bed and walking over to the door. The country Caspian ruled was broken. It wasn't like when the Pevensies had taken over, no. At that time, there was barely a soul in Narnia who didn't chafe under the harsh rule of the white witch, and they had long looked forward to the coming of the destined sons of Adam and daughters of Eve who would free their noble country. Caspian, on the other hand, had been forced to seek out the help of the very creatures his citizens feared in order to fight for the throne that was rightfully his, but was being stolen out from under him. Some Telmarines had seen this as an act of treason, but the majority of those had left Narnia when Aslan had offered them a different way to live. It was the ones who stayed that were the problem. Suddenly, though, an idea struck her as she realized something she had never thought of before…and if she had, it had been more than a thousand years since the thought had ever crossed her mind.
Lucy opened her door to bustling halls of Telmarine women running back and forth getting the castle cleaned. She sidestepped one holding a bucket that had too much momentum to stop, and then joined the flow of the crowd towards her sister's room. Approaching the door, it was a simple matter to knock, receive the soft, "Come in!" and then slip inside.
Susan sat at the desk in her room, her posture perfect as she hastily scribbled something down on the parchment in front of her. The gentle queen looked as gorgeous and unruffled as she always did in Narnia, as if nothing could pierce that complete bubble of peace and serenity she wrapped herself in. Not a single silky brown strand stood out of place in the mass of hair that flowed past her shoulders.
"Susan," the valiant young girl began, only to be cut off by the other woman.
"Lu! Perfect," Susan exclaimed turning around to face her sister. Her hands clutched the paper she had been writing on, knuckles turning white from the tight grip she had on them. Her face was flushed and eyes red, although her pale face revealed no telltale tear marks streaking down her cheeks. Lucy could understand her sister's feelings. Susan stood and approached the younger girl, all but shoving the papers into Lucy's hand as she began to hurriedly explain herself. "I spoke to Trufflehunter about what happened, and I've come up with a plan. This is what we'll do. Whoever it was that managed to slip the poison into Caspian's dinner, although Trufflehunter wasn't sure if it was in his food or drink, would have to either have access to the kitchens or access to one of the servers, so it mostly likely is one of the servants. We just have to narrow it down to whom. Of course, it is also unlikely that the servant was acting of their own free will. They were probably working for one of the Telmarine lords—the ones with grudges. However, it will most likely be easier to find the one directly involved, so I'm going to need you to talk to all the servants in the kitchen, first—"
"Su," Lucy tried to cut in, but was once more spoken over.
"—and meanwhile I'll look into the Telmarine lords who have the most issue with Caspian. It should be fairly easy for us, people tend to look right over girls most often, especially ones as young as we are, or appear to be at any rate. And then—"
"Susan!" the young girl called a third time, finally getting her sister's slightly annoyed attention.
"What, Lucy? I'm trying to explain things to you, so we can find who did this." Her voice was strong, but Lucy was positive that it had shaken slightly in the middle of her sentence.
"Susan, I can't help you with this," the younger sibling stated. She sounded tired and drawn rather than peppy and optimistic, and it made Susan really stop to listen for once. "I know that this is what Peter wants us to do, to find the person responsible, but I can't—I mean…well, there's just…I feel like there is something else I have to do. I can't just sit idly by and let Caspian die, you know?"
Susan frowned and sat down on the plush bed to stare at her sister. "What exactly are you saying, Lu?" A feeling of foreboding twisted inside of her as she braced herself for what her younger sibling had to say. After all, Lucy had not had the title Valiant bestowed on her for any simple reason.
"Well, I was thinking," and here the thirteen-year-old girl wrung her hands behind her back as she nervously shifted from foot to foot, "and I realized something. When Father Christmas gave us those presents that year, and he gave me my potion—it's the juice of the fire flower. You realize what that means, right?" Her eyes were incessant and earnest as she stared right at her sister.
"No, I don't," Susan replied, though with a sinking feeling the older girl realized that, yes, she knew exactly what Lucy was about to say.
"My healing potion's not just a magical potion. It comes from a plant! Su, if I can find this plant, even if we don't find my vial we could still cure Caspian!"
"Lucy," Susan began slowly, silently cursing herself for being the one to disappoint the younger queen, "Do you know anything about the fire flower? Where it grows, for instance?"
The valiant young queen paused, taken aback, as she realized that, no, she didn't. She shook her head to say as much.
"When we lived here, in Narnia, while you and the boys would be out gallivanting and prancing around with your swords and weapons, you know I preferred to stay at home with my suitors reading. I have read many, many books about this world, Lu, and I have read about the fire flower. There are several places it grows, but most are far to the west or close to the end of the world, much farther than you could ever reach in months, let alone weeks." Susan sighed.
"You said most, though. Not all. So there are places?"
"Yes. There is a place. There's one spot that the fire flower grows on the mainland, but it's not somewhere you can go, Lucy, especially now, so please just…drop it. If we can find who poisoned Caspian in the first place, we will find the potion we have." Susan was desperate as she stared imploringly at her young sister. She knew Lucy, though, and knew the girl was unrelenting, which is why it came as a surprise to her when she agreed.
"I…I suppose," the valiant queen agreed half-heartedly as disappointment welled up within her. "Um…I guess I'll just go, then." And with a tired sigh, the girl much older than her years turned and walked out, away from her sister. She walked down the stairs, out the door, through the courtyard, out the gates, and then, before she knew it, she found herself at the apple orchard outside the north wall that had been fixed up rather nicely since the last time she had been here. It truly amazed her how completely Caspian had been able to restore Cair Paravel to its former glory in a mere six months, even if the restorations weren't quite finish and it had a rather Telmarine flair to it at times.
Idly picking an apple off the tree, Lucy bit into it as her thoughts began to wonder. Susan's words had disappointed her, especially because she knew there was no way she would be able to get her older sister to tell her where to go. Partially, though, it was because the young girl was scared that Susan was right, and it was some place she really could not go. Taking another bite of the juicy red apple, Lucy contemplated her options. She could stay here and help Susan, hoping to find the criminal in time, or she could find her answers other ways. She doubted that the records Susan had read still existed in this time, but some of the wiser Narnians—the centaurs, for instance, or the badgers—might know where the fire flower grew.
Suddenly, a flash of gold in her peripheral caught her attention, and Lucy turned her head to see empty space. Frowning, she headed in that direction, deeper into the orchard and away from the castle. A noise to her left caught her attention, and she turned in that direction. Another flash of gold had a smile tugging at the corner of her lips as Lucy was positive she recognized that fur. She was running, now, out of the orchard and into the woods, following the very familiar blur ahead of her.
Finally, she reached a clearing, and there stood the most magnificent horse she had ever seen. Although, that wasn't strictly true. The majestic black, feathery wings protruding from the back of its shoulders marked it as a Pegasus, and a large one, too. The dark-haired girl gasped as she was taken aback. And then, a familiar lion walked up next to it, and Lucy flung herself at it with a cry.
"Aslan!" she exclaimed, wrapping her arms in the lion's soft mane. He chuckled, that deep, growling noise that wasn't quite a roar and showed his amusement.
"It is good to see you, too, Lucy," he greeted, "but there is little time to waste. The task you have set before you will be long, hard, and perilous, and you may not return in time. The plant you seek lies far to the South, along the crater of the Flaming Mountain of Lagour."
"The Flaming Mountain of Lagour? But that's in…!"
"Calormen, yes," Aslan confirmed. His mane was being lifted all around her by the breeze as she pulled back to look him in the eye. "This is Teith, he will guide you there."
"Your majesty," the giant winged horse greeted, dipping it's head low.
"Pleasure to meet you!" she replied, curtsying before turning back to the majestic lion.
"But, Aslan," she continued, asking the question that had been weighing heaviest on her heart, "Will Caspian be okay?"
"Oh, Lucy," he began.
"It's okay, I know," the young girl sighed, interrupting. "His story his not mine to know."
Aslan nodded his large head, before stepping back from between the girl and the Pegasus. Lucy clambered on top of the mythical creature's back, her feet almost getting caught in her skirt as it had been so long, but at the last minute managed to correct herself.
"The journey will be long and dangerous, Lucy, but Teith will take you where you need to go."
"Thank you, Aslan!" the girl called as the horse's wings lifted them high into the air. Anticipation built up within her for the trip to come. Dangerous. It had been a long time since she had done anything even remotely considered dangerous—but last time, it had managed to win them an entire war, despite the boys and Susan's misgivings. She giggled nervously at that thought.
Susan was absolutely going to murder her.
Sorry for the wait, at least it's quicker? NaNoWriMo and then Finals kept this chapter up (along with working on my Christmas story that probably won't be done in time and finishing my myriad of other stories that I've got going right now).
This chapter is in honour of the new movie that I have yet to see. .