A/N: I've been working on this for awhile now and I think I finally got it right. It was originally going to be a prequel to The Old Woman but I couldn't bear for the end to be so tragic again. Though Susan seems to me to be a very tragic character in scope. Anywho, implied Caspian/Susan throughout and then at the end. Mash up of the movieverse/bookverse. Thanks to all of those who have reviewed and read my previous stories. Your comments are wonderful and they fuel my inspiration. Enjoy!
Susan Pevensie is now eighteen years old.
She has changed. It's not hard to notice. She says she's just decided to grow up and have a bit of fun. Her siblings do not believe her. Her mother is pleased her eldest daughter has taken an interest in the world, and secretly hops she nabs herself a glamorous boyfriend.
Susan wakes in the morning, early as usual, to claim the shower for herself first. She steals her mother's makeup from her vanity and lines her eyes and lips, powders her nose, and does her lashes. It takes her nearly an hour to curl her hair in just the right manner and to pin it just so. She emerges from the bathroom to a chorus of complaints from the rest of the family, only to rush into her school uniform so as not to be miss the train. It is a silent ride for she does not speak much with her brothers or her sister now. At the station, Susan becomes one of a throng of giggling schoolgirls, twittering about the streets, lounging out about the gate to catch the eye of a handsome lad before morning classes.
Weekends are quiet in the Pevensie household. Susan is never there. Lucy wanders about the halls rather lost. Peter and Edmund play chess and read and Lucy has no real ambition for either of those things. She sneaks into her older sister's room, sneezing at the overwhelming scents of perfumes and hairsprays, touching the party dresses and other fineries laying about on the bed.
Susan smokes her first cigarette out back of a social. She coughs but takes another drag, to show her friends she's not innocent. In her mind, cigarettes are repulsive and the mark of a cheeky woman, but they're all the rage nowadays and so she decides to divvy up her change to buy a pack. Her bright red lipstick leaves a pink ring about the end of the filter.
It also leaves a pink print on the lips of a dark-haired boy she found herself dancing with. He tastes like toothpaste, quite unlike another dark-haired boy she's kissed. His flavor was of a rugged variety, worn leather and apples. But then again, he was a rugged Prince. The memory brings a frown to her lips and she applies another coat of lipstick before leaving the ladies' room.
The boy is waiting for her. Susan lets him hold her hand. She lets him lead her off to the side of the dance floor. She lets him whisper in her ear. She even lets him steal her away to a secret and dark alcove. He touches her skin and kisses her quite inappropriately. The blush on her cheeks is red hot, like his hands running over her chest and thighs.
Susan does not like the way he grabs her and pulls at her. The boy's kisses are sloppy. He is inexperienced and overeager. But she lets him have his fun and tells all of her friends on their way home the juicy details. In their eyes she becomes the envy of the group. To have made out so boldly with a cute stranger, why, it was positively delightful. Quiet, gentle Susan beat them all to the punch.
Susan Pevensie is now twenty years old.
She is courted by lovely man, Harry Hollace, the son of a well-to-do banker who returned from the war relatively unharmed and to a great job with Daddy. He is tall and muscular with hair the color of the sun and eyes the color of emeralds. He looks scrumptious in a three-piece. Harry is humorous, chivalrous, and totally in love with Susan.
Her room is devoid of any items she deems 'girlish'. Susan wants to be a pleasant young lady, with her own vanity and lace curtains. She shoos Lucy away whenever she comes to the door. There is no time to play with younger siblings now. Nor is there time to sit and talk about funny little things, like silly fairy tales and dodgy dreams. Lucy argues with her. They get into horrid, awful fights that only Peter, with the help of Edmund, can quell. Susan hates living at home and reminds them that she will be gone as soon as Harry proposes. She tells Lucy she won't be allowed over at their house until she grows up.
Susan is cleaning out her closet to make room for her new dresses. She plans to keep buying them until Harry pops the question, so as to always look fresh and well-groomed. Inside, she finds a dusty little book. It is her diary. Rather, it was her diary. She opens it as if it was something from a dream. Her writing was dreadful, she notes with a sneer, but it slowly disappears as she reads what she has written.
It is about a place where animals talked, where witches with golden scepters ruled over the snow, and lions' roars could still a beating heart with such joy or fear. It is about a beautiful Queen with hair nearly down to her feet who falls in love with a Prince, only to flee from him when she finds out what a horrible person he is. It is about the girl who returned, only to go back to meet the Prince she should have meet, the Prince she should have fallen in love with.
Susan is surprised at a single tear, rolling down her smooth, pale face. For a minute, she worries about her makeup, and then the compulsion is gone. She sits alone in her closet, the book clutched to her chest, and she cries.
Susan Pevensie is twenty-one years old.
She sits with Harry in the hospital's morgue. Her hand is sweaty but cold and it slips inside of his strong grip. On any other occasion she would be mortified, but not tonight. Not in this shabby, smelly little waiting room. Carts and stretchers pass them by endlessly and just when Susan is ready to scream, a doctor in a white coat stops in front of her. He asks her name and she nods. Her voice is gone. Her hand contracts around Harry's as the doctor bows his head. He apologizes.
Susan greets her relatives at the door of the funeral home with a brave face, but not a smile. Harry stands beside her but he does not touch her. She does not want to be touched. They pat her arms and shake her hands. Some who knew her marginally well give her a hug. The women are crying, dabbing their eyes with handkerchiefs, and then men are somber at the sight of five coffins. Susan screams in her head that there should be six. The priest begins the eulogy and mentions her name. She shakes her head. She cannot speak.
At the cemetery, She lingers at the casket of her youngest sibling, her only sister. Her gloved hand runs over the smooth surface and around the beautiful bouquet laying on top. She can almost see little Lucy's face and bile rises up in her throat as tears come. They are unbidden but she cannot stop them. Susan convulses beside the grave. She clutches the casket, her keening cries breaking the otherwise peaceful and silent yard of graying and molding headstones.
Train crashes did not happen in Narnia, she thinks sourly as the sobs begin to ebb. People did not die in such awful, cruel, beastly ways. Lions could roar and exhale and trees would bend and wave and people would live again. Drops of cordial could cure any ailment, any misery. He sent them away and horrible things happened to them.
In her head, Susan wants to wear a coat made of lion's fur.
Susan Pevensie is thirty years old.
Her husband stands quietly by the front window, his arms crossed, his face blank. Harry is still handsome, but older, and it shows in his stubble and the washed-out color of blonde at his temples. She regards him from her place on their couch. She sits with her hands bunched on her knees, fisting in the soft yellow of her dress.
Harry sighs and turns towards her. He is confused. Unfortunately university doesn't teach a husband what to say to his wife upon finding out their first child did not make it from the womb. Instead, he turns away again, and in that instant, Susan deflates. Blame buoys up inside her upon a wave of shame. Her husband is displeased with her. Why shouldn't he be?
Susan wants him to hold her and soothe her. She wants Harry to tell her not to fret and that they will try again and again. Most of all, she wants him to tell her its not her fault.
Harry does not.
And Susan is left alone in their sitting room. The loneliness encroaching upon her now is more than she can bear. When one grows up with three other siblings, one becomes accustomed to company. Now her siblings are gone and Susan cannot bear the feeling of being so abandoned. She wonders if things might have been different had she stayed again and became a Queen for a second time.
Susan thinks she's being suddenly childish. Mopping up her tears, she goes to the kitchen to pour herself some tea.
Susan Pevensie is thirty five years old.
She finds herself in the arms of her husband, in bed, sighing as he kisses her. Harry tells her he loves her very much. His strong hands encircle her belly. She is eight months pregnant. The feeling of failure is long gone now. Success grows within her and she smiles as she settles into sleep.
Her dreams are filled with horrible beasts and screaming children. Forests flooded with blood red river water and great cat tracks in the mud beside bodies she thinks she knows, but isn't quite sure, scare her to the point that she wakes up in great distress. Susan tries to go back to sleep. The urge to go to the bathroom makes her stand, and when her feet hit the floor, and her knees straighten, an awful pain shoots through her back and she falls.
Harry rushes her to the hospital but its too late.
Her success rushes down her legs in the form of blood to pool in a puddle of failure around her feet.
Susan Pevensie is fifty years old.
And a widow.
Harry lies under a modest granite headstone in a mossy enclave at a beautiful cemetery a few minutes away. She visits him every other day, bringing the wildflowers that grow behind their house in bundles. His death did not hurt as much as her siblings had. Sometimes she feels badly about it. Sometimes she does not. It was a horrid affair to take care of him in the last days of his illness, and Susan was sure he would have agreed with her. He always had been quite the proud man.
Her hair is beginning to turn grey. She keeps it short and bobbed. Her pretty little dresses and skirts are all too young for her. Too young and too small. Stretch pants and jean coats are all her outfits consist of nowadays. There's no need to get anything with a bit more flair. There will be no more suitors or parties.
Late at night, Susan sits in the sitting room, the television news blaring over the ringing in her ears. She rereads and rereads her old diary with a smile, the kind of smile that only comes after the fact. It is easier to remember nowadays what back then was entirely unreasonable. There's no more fiancée to impress or guests to entertain.
Life has given Susan Pevensie an interlude.
She uses it to the fullest.
There is time now to realize that all along she was the silly one. There is ample room to regret and mourn for her brothers, and especially her dear, dear sister. It is Lucy she misses the most, though she misses them all dearly. It is hard to rival the companionship of a sister and equally as hard to replace it when lost.
It is late when Susan closes the dusty book and decides to go to bed. She climbs under her sheets, feeling old and creaky, and suddenly wonders when it will be her time to go. So many others have gone before her. Eventually she would join them. She was sure of it. Her skin no longer itches for a lion's fur coat, though she thinks with a smile that she would indeed love to run her hand through his mane one last time. Her eyes close. She drifts to sleep.
Susan Pevensie is seventy five years old.
She does not remember going to the hospital, only waking up in the bright, white room with the strange and unnatural smells. There is no recollection of the tubes and needles in her arms or her mouth and nose but they are there. The doctor comes in, a modest looking woman with rectangular glasses. She smiles and explains what the machines are doing. They're keeping her alive.
Susan shakes her head and lays an unstable hand on the doctor's. She cannot speak but she knows she can speak volumes with her eyes. These same eyes have silenced the rage of her elder brother, calmed her inconsolable youngest sister, and brought men to their knees before her. She can make them talk and the doctor understands perfectly. But she refuses. Averting her eyes, she leaves the room.
Susan closes her eyes. Machines are only machines after all.
Susan Pevensie is seventy five years old when she passes away,
But she is only eighteen when she steps into a very familiar palace.
The archways are covered in silks and velvets, deep red russets and rich golden yellows. The fabric falls like waterfalls to the floor to sweep up to the platform. There are four thrones there, all filled but one.
Peter greets her first. He looks the same when she last saw him, albeit perhaps a bit more tidy. He kisses both her cheeks and her forehead like the elder brother he always was. There are no words spoken between them. She gives him a fierce hug. It has been a long time, but that doesn't matter anymore.
Edmund comes after. He gives her a smarmy little smile and then falls upon her. She pats his head, which she finds now above hers. Susan smiles and tells him he's getting to be tall and warns Peter he may have to watch his back. They share a laugh.
Lucy comes last and Susan finds herself crying at the sight of her. She wants to apologize for being such a fool but knows the words would make no difference. Lucy the Valiant understood long before she did and the sisters sob happily in each other's arms.
He comes last, a surprise guest as what she assumed was a private party. His robe sweeps out behind him, his crown glints in the golden light, and his eyes sparkle as she looks up from her sister's shoulder.
Susan recognizes the Prince immediately. Well, she supposes, he is not a Prince in name, but to her he will always be so. She rises as if in a daze.
Caspian takes her by the hand and kisses the tops of her knuckles. It is light but she feels such a shock, such an intense bolt go through her that she never felt in life.
This was how it should have been.
And this is how it was.
A lion watches and smiles from a corner.
Susan Pevensie is eighteen years old.