Fandom: Supernatural/Chronicles of Narnia
Title: Kings for a Little Time
Characters: Sam, Dean, various Narnians
Category: Drama, crossover, a touch of hurt/comfort, bits of crackified humor
Summary: "Dude, of all the ways I imagined you coming for me, that was never one of them." "With a giant talking lion? Yeah, me neither."
Word Count: 2667
Disclaimer: I'm sorry for making you roll over in your grave, Mr. Lewis. I know this doesn't belong to me and I'm being a very naughty girl. :(
Author's Note: Sequel to "Sam, Son of Adam," which was written for the Fandom Firsts Crossover Challenge at sncrossovers. I wrote that ficlet simply because the idea wouldn't go away, but more just keep coming. I hope this will exorcise them. Writing in Narnia still feels like trespassing. These books are sacred ground to me, and I have the nagging feeling that I can never, ever do justice to this world.
In case you're curious, no, the theology of this doesn't really work at all. Let's just pretend that it does, hmm? Emotionally, at least, it seems to make sense.
So, off we go. Once more down the rabbit hole. I hope we don't drown.
They sat with their backs to a huge, old tree that was grown into the walls of Cair Paravel, spreading broad, sheltering branches that still let the sunlight shine through, warm on their faces. They gazed down on this realm, on fields of golden grain waving in the breeze, on meadows full of celebrating creatures, on a sparkling sea where mermaids frolicked. They lounged against smooth, warm bark as comfortable as the softest leather recliners, back in the world neither of them remembered very well.
Most importantly, they sat shoulder to shoulder, letting their upper arms press against each other just that little bit. Just enough so that both knew that the other was there. Just enough so that the warmth from each man could seep through velvet tunic sleeves to the other one, so they could feel the small shifts of relaxed breath, feel the life in the other without looking. They only really felt completely at peace when they sat like this, and the people around them seemed to understand, and left them the time and space to do it without embarrassment.
"Dude…" Dean said after a time, slowly, feeling the words strangely in a throat still raw with old screams. "Of all the ways I imagined you coming for me, that was never one of them."
"With a giant talking lion? Yeah, me neither." Sam leaned his head more heavily back against the tree, looking up into the pattern of sunlight and leaves above, criss-crossed with dark branches. The lattice of it might have reminded him of a cage or a web, in another place, another time, but there was nothing here of danger, darkness, death. He saw only beauty.
"I still don't get how that worked. I…I made a deal. The contract was sealed."
"Aslan said that there was a deeper magic, one that they did not know. The giving of an innocent life for another is…it breaks the power of such contracts. Makes them never have any power at all. We didn't have to fight our way in, you know. I guess you don't remember—you were pretty out of it."
"No." Dean swallowed. With the space of a few days between him and Hell, his bruised spirit was a little more able to look back, to try to understand. He wanted to understand. But only here, under this tree, this sun, with his brother beside him—only here could his mind even form the questions. "Tell me what happened."
"Aslan just looked at the gates, and they opened. I walked with him. We went in, and…and we took you out. That was all." Sam's voice was raw, too, a little broken, pulling the words out in ragged chunks.
He didn't say what it was like, walking down into the pit, into the screams of the tormented, the stench of rot and filth, finding his brother chained there, semi-unconscious, unable to even whisper his name with a throat torn from months of screaming. The disbelief in Dean's eyes, thinking Sam was another hallucination, the way he shrank away from them, even from Aslan, who radiated good with unbelievable power and presence.
"Because the contract had no power." Dean repeated the explanation with wonder, trying to understand, trying to believe.
"Yeah. They didn't take you by rights. They…they stole you. And so Aslan just set it back. Made things whole. Apparently it's, it's what he does."
"And you just…carried me out."
Curled up in Sam's arms like a little child, as a matter of fact, but there was no need to mention that. Aslan had offered to carry Dean on his back, but Sam hadn't been able to let go of his brother just yet. The thin, wasted body in his arms hadn't been heavy. He had followed Aslan, keeping his eyes only that mountainous golden figure, bathed in the light that came off him, stepping carefully in his paw prints. Into and out of Hell, that's how he'd managed it.
Dean had slept for two days, had barely managed a word for two more, only staring. At his surroundings, at the strange physicians who attended him, at the food they brought, but mostly at Sam. His green eyes were sunken in his pale face, freckles standing out in sharp relief, and his hands shook almost all the time. Sam ached to reassure him that all this was real, that he was safe, that it was over, but he didn't have the words. He was still learning to believe it, himself.
This was the first day Dean had been able to move outside of his chamber, though he seemed to enjoy the sunlight on his face. They had walked slowly around the castle, once, then settled here under the tree. Sam suspected that the tree had a name—he thought maybe they all did. He would have to learn it, and thank the tree later for sheltering his brother so kindly.
Sam's mind wandered back over their earlier conversation, and hitched on something Dean had said. "Dean, did you say… You imagined me coming for you?"
Dean sighed, shifting slightly so he leaned against Sam just that little bit more. "Yeah, man. It's all I did. I think it's all that kept me from going crazy."
"Oh." Sam tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but it wouldn't go down. Something told him that only here, only under this tree, in this gorgeous, magical world, with a giant talking lion watching over them from the next hill—only here would his close-mouthed older brother ever admit something so radically, insanely personal. And that was yet another gift Narnia had given him.
"It's okay, Sammy. I'm okay." Dean pressed against his shoulder a little harder.
They sat there in silence, just luxuriating in the warmth. Eventually Sam glanced down at his brother, and saw that Dean was asleep, his head resting on Sam's shoulder. That last little bit of pressure—that had been Dean putting his head down. Sam looked straight ahead, blinking hard and fast. Then he tilted his head, resting his cheek against his brother's hair.
Dean slept soundly and well for quite some time. Later, though, Sam felt the sleepy, pre-waking stirrings and lifted his head, and when Dean sat up straight, blinking and smacking his lips, he pretended that it had only been a few minutes. Dean nodded absently, and took Sam's offered hand to help him to his feet so they could go inside for dinner.
Neither mentioned that the sun was practically setting, now, though it had been overhead when Dean fell asleep "just a few minutes ago."
Dean gradually regained his strength, and eventually Sam felt okay leaving him alone for an hour or two so he could go explore the castle archives. There were mounds of books and scrolls and artifacts, histories, journals from past kings and queens, philosophical treatises, maps of the surrounding territories and of the night sky. An old dwarf named Kernhorn maintained the archive, and he was always glad to see "Prince Sam," as the Narnians called him, eager to help him learn more about this marvelous new domain.
Eventually, Dean, too, felt strong and well enough to go on his own little excursions. It took him a couple of weeks before he could talk to anyone but Sam, but at last he regained something of his old charm and gregariousness. Dean liked to walk in the woods near Cair Paravel. As Sam had expected, He quickly gathered a large following among the nymphs.
When asked, though, he said that he was just going to visit Mrs. Beaver for more soup. "That onion soup is awesome," he told Sam, face gravely earnest. This was serious business. "So is the mushroom. And the cheese. And the barley-leek. They're all really, really good, man. You should come sometime."
Sam grinned, glad that Dean's famous appetite was returning. He'd been rather listless and unenthusiastic in the first couple of weeks, not exactly picky, just uninterested. Dean still ate more slowly than he used to, though, savoring every bite.
He talked less, too, and didn't smile as much.
But Dean was definitely recovering, and the Narnians were starting to talk about having a coronation, again. They'd been waiting quite patiently, but were now eager to get on with it, to have two sons of Adam on the throne once more. Sam always gently deflected the excited plan-makers, saying maybe next week, or tomorrow, or when Dean doesn't get out of breath going up five steps, or he might faint on his way up to the throne. But he and Dean should probably get going before things got that serious. Sam didn't want to disappoint the people who had been so amazingly kind and gentle to them, but they couldn't stay. They never stayed. And the Winchester boys would make terrible rulers, anyway, nowhere near as wonderful as the men and women he was reading about in the archives.
He didn't want to say anything to Dean about it, didn't want to break the spell of peace gently bringing his brother back to health. But one day while they sat on a balcony railing, looking out over the white-tipped waves, Dean cleared his throat and glanced at him quickly, then looked away.
"We should go back, shouldn't we?"
The question hung in the air between them and sank slowly to the marble floor, heavy and merciless.
Sam looked down, fiddling with the gold lacing on his tunic's wrist-cuff. "I guess."
"They're fighting a war back home. And we're here playing around with talking bunnies."
He looked up, eyes wide. "Dude, you met a talking rabbit? I haven't seen one of those yet."
Dean smirked. "You should get out more often, get your nose out of those dusty books." He chuckled aloud at Sam's wide-eyed look, a true, Dean Winchester laugh, though short and quiet. "Hey, look at you, all gaga over the idea of talking bunnies!" His face went earnest again. "I'll introduce you, man. His name is Cinderfluff."
Sam frowned, suddenly suspicious. "You're pulling my leg."
"No, man, I swear. Cinderfluff. He's awesome."
Sam shook his head, faintly incredulous. He couldn't tell if Dean was kidding or not.
"But what I was saying. About the demon war back home."
"Yeah." The gold lacing was slowly starting to come apart under his relentless picking.
"Sammy, they want us to be kings. Both of us. At the same time. Isn't that a little weird?"
He attempted a smile. "It would be weirder if they wanted us to be a king and a queen."
"Nah, I think that would actually work better for you, you giant girl."
Sam lowered his head, feeling his smile turn genuine.
"But seriously, man. In no way are we cut out for this job. We're better off doing what we're good at, saving people, killing evil things. They don't need us for that here. They've had what, one witch? And she's dead. And we know that they need us back home."
Back home, yeah. Dean kept using that phrase, but it felt so abstract. They'd never really had a home, not in the way most people meant the term. The closest Sam had ever gotten was that tiny, crowded apartment with Jess. And he knew that for Dean, home just meant where Dad was. The longer they stayed here in Narnia, the more those memories faded, and less Sam felt any attachment to the dark, blood-drenched world they had left behind.
Sam looked up, meeting Dean's earnest gaze. "But why do we always have to be where we're needed, Dean? Why can't we be somewhere we're wanted, just for a little while? They've given us so much—they gave you back to me. Why can't we let them have what they want from us?" He was surprised by his own vehemence, surprised to realize that his reluctance to bring up this subject was not out of concern for Dean, but because he just didn't want to go.
Dean sighed. "Because I don't know if I have it in me, Sam. I don't know if I can be what they want. They call me 'Prince Dean,' you know. It's friggin' weird. I don't know if can do it." He snorted. "King Dean, they'll call me. King Dean the what? They talk so glowingly about High King Peter the Magnificent, and Edmund the Just, and Lucy the Valiant. I'm gonna end up as Dean the Dubious or something like that, I just know it."
The mention of the most recent kings and queens sparked something in Sam's mind. He poked up a finger in a "hold that thought" gesture and dashed inside, returning in a moment with a huge, leather-bound tome. "Here, let me show you something."
He propped the book up on the railing and started flipping the pages of the giant chronicle, dense with text and hand-drawn illustrations. The last quarter of the book was empty pages, he knew, history waiting to be written. But he was looking for a particular drawing…
There it was. Sam tapped his finger on the carefully inked sketch of four children, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, shortly after they had come to Narnia. It was almost like a candid photo, their expressions unguarded, staring uncertainly around themselves at what the accompanying text described as a snow-blanketed pine forest.
Dean glanced at the picture incuriously, then blinked and stared harder, leaning down to get a closer look. "Hey, are they wearing…?"
"Yeah. They're wearing clothes from our world. But not modern fashions, Dean. From the descriptions and eyewitness accounts I've read, it sounds like they came through soon after the start of World War II. They were British schoolchildren sent to stay with a man in the countryside, and it was there that they found a portal and came through to Narnia. And look at this." He flipped backward this time, to the very front of the book, and found another, similar illustration. "King Frank the First and his wife, Queen Helen. Look at the hat, Dean. It looks like a turn-of-the-century style. And this was a thousand years before High King Peter and his siblings, by Narnian reckoning anyway."
Dean sat back, realization dawning on his face. "So that means…"
"Time flows differently here. We could be here for years, and it might only be a month or so in our world. Maybe less. And Kernhorn says that all of the people from our world who end up here… It's not just random happenstance. They're drawn, called."
"Man, they don't just want us here. They want us here."
Sam closed the heavy book and hugged it to his chest, thoughtful and intense. "It's Aslan. He's the one in charge. I thought I was just hopping randomly from world to world, but… I'm not so sure now. You didn't see it when I met him, Dean." He looked up at his brother earnestly, almost begging him to understand. "He wasn't surprised at all. And the things he said to me…"
Dean's face twisted in what he probably meant to be a sardonic expression, but ended up looking only wistful. "Yeah, I haven't gotten to talk to your giant magical lion, remember? He was already off visiting the Northern Wastes or something when I finally had the guts to talk to anyone."
"He's not my magical lion, Dean. I don't think he belongs to anyone except himself."
"Yeah, okay." Dean looked away, back over the sea again. Two mermaids were chasing each other through shallow water, beautiful in their playfulness, but the horndog look Sam might have expected at another time was completely absent. "Maybe you're right. Maybe things have been all worked out for us, just this once. Maybe we can be kings, for a little time."
Sam nodded softly. "For a little time," he echoed. "I still know that spell, you know. We could leave whenever we want."
Umm, yes, there will be another part to this, but I am tired and must sleep now, and if I don't post this immediately I will chicken out, so TBC.
WHY WON'T THE VOICES GO AWAAAAYYYY??