I can't remember who said it, but I believe it was another fanfiction writer who said everyone has to write a Susan fic at least once. Also I've made Susan thirteen rather than fourteen for this story, so she is fourteen not fifteen in Prince Caspian. Book compliant.
The first thing Susan notices when she returns for the first time is that it seems to rain more often back in England. Grey sheets spattering at the windows, cold air rushing through the cracks, everything so drab and cold and bare. She closes her eyes and remembers summer days full of languid warmth with fingers combing gently through her hair and the taste of ice cold wine, sliding down her throat. She remembers flowers left outside her chamber, for her to weave into hair that reached down to her feet. Poetry scrawled shyly on scrolls and tucked into her room in odd little places, for her to find and blush and love. She remembers one look from her being enough to reduce most ambassadors to stumbling confusion until laughing she gave them her hand.
When she looks in the mirror now, all she sees is a schoolgirl. Too young for the adult emotions that still run through her veins, too old for the pinafore dresses that enclose her, when once she knew what it was like to wear clothes that freed her arms and legs, and yet were not thought immodest. Hair that reaches midway down her back, and yet stubbornly no further. The first time she wore lipstick and blush, she had stolen it from her mother's drawers (and knows for the first time how far she has sunk, sneaking around like a thief and pilfering what she wants.) She paints her mouth carefully, refusing to acknowledge that what she wants is the fresh roses in her cheeks, and the sweet pink lips that she had in Narnia. Because here in England you can't do archery except in play, nor run with your skirts hiked up, or anything other than the strictly hearty school lacrosse and hockey. Yet no matter how hard she plays, her face merely seems wind-reddened rather than blooming, and her lips crack in the harsh wind.
So she tries on the blush and lip-stain, and hates herself. She washes it off the next minute, but it's like the artificial taste clings to her lips, replacing the wholesome memory of fresh sweet grapes that burst in one's mouth like a fountain of juice and quenched your thirst so easily. She can see the traces if she looks close enough, and crying she leans her head against the mirror, letting the coolness soothe her hot cheeks. "Aslan," she whispers miserably into the glass. "Oh Aslan I need you."
She knows they think she has forgotten soon after they return for the last time, but she thinks that actually she remembers rather better than them. She watched as Narnia became nothing more than beautiful, wonderful memories for them, a perfect world with no ills. Her own memories faded faster, yet the emotions remained. She doesn't know why they lingered- and the bad ones more than the good. Her gentleness faded, worn thin with annoyance at her dorm-mates, and their bad manners, her sweetness also, even her wisdom fled through her grasping fingers, leaving her a little girl with the taste of something different in her mouth. Yet the worse qualities remained. Flirting was second nature. Even when she returned on the cusp of womanhood, her body remembered what it had learnt, and it wasn't till many years later when she read a book by a Russian author that she realised it described what she had been rather well.
There was a certain way to look in men's eyes, and then drop them at just the right moment, and turn so the air of mystery was maintained. There was an art to how far you could allow the conversation to progress, and yet remain correct. It was fascinating for a girl who would simply never be as clever as Peter, as witty as Edmund, or as pure as Lucy. And then she grew a little older, and a little older still, and she truly did begin to forget. It hurt less that way. The other's blind faith irritated her.
Aslan had rejected her sent her back to England. Sometimes she thought her heart would burst from despair. His eyes had scorched her soul when she returned originally to Narnia to aid Caspian, and though she had felt herself change in the short time she had been there it had not been enough. The seeds had been sown, and she remembered hearing something once, maybe the Bible 'and you will reap the whirlwind.' But remembering Aslan's eyes was like trying to catch and hold the wind, it dripped like water through her cupped hands, and oh it was easier to not remember, to convince yourself that it never happened. Oh so much easier.
Because Peter was a fool, she told herself, and laughed when he was shocked that girls would dance with men they did not know, or wear perfume and sheer stockings. She laughed when he frowned that she should not speak in such a way of sacred things like marriage and love. She cried into her pillows when he stopped reprimanding her, and started simply not to see her any longer.
Because Edmund was a dreamer, she told herself, and yet she could not laugh at him, as she had laughed at Peter. His clear eyes seemed to see right through her, and her soul shrivelled a little at the thought of what he might find in her. He did not say anything, did not presume as Peter did, to question her conduct, yet he was merciless in his appraisal of her. She thinks she lost the last part of herself when she found it was possible to laugh at him, and not to care what he thought.
Because Lucy was an innocent, she told herself. She didn't understand what it meant to be a woman, what all the glasses of champagne, handsome men, dances, parties, bonbons, were leading up to. Because oh in their dreamland of Narnia, such things never happened. There you danced and you laughed and had fun, and then went to sleep in a canopied bed alone and pure, or maybe cuddled up with your sister as you laughed and joked together at how funny dancing Mice looked. Lucy didn't understand that here there was always a price to pay for fun. Hot kisses snatched in cloakrooms, rough hands clasping yours, and the price of a splitting headache in the morning when you realised oh how easily the wine slipped down.
Because in the end she did what was easiest, not what was right. She wondered if she had stayed in Narnia (if of course Narnia existed) if she would have been the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, offering temptation with a poisoned smile, the price of her year in England as a woman in a girl's body, being that of polluting Narnia with the knowledge she was not meant to have. If eventually the poison would have spread to Caspian, and he would have looked on her as a woman not a Queen. She does not realise until several years later, how close she came to understanding the legacy that Aslan left, when she touched on that story.
Hope this made some sort of sense! Susan half believing in Narnia, half not, but realising that if it was real, then the year between TLTWATW and PC changed her irrevocably, and contributed to her later disillusionment.
Reviews very welcome