Lucy's First Date
Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia and all the characters and places therein are the creation of C. S. Lewis. I own nothing except the plot.
Edmund did not notice when Lucy returned. His University entrance exams were coming up soon and he was immersed in his books. Lucy's voice suddenly brought him back to awareness of his surroundings.
"Edmund!" He looked up, startled to find his sister watching him intently. "I need to talk to you!"
"Have a good time did you?" Edmund inquired. He tried carefully to keep his voice neutral but could not prevent a slight sneer appearing in his tone.
Lucy paid no heed to that tone. Edmund could see from her expression that there was something she was determined to say and he knew nothing would stop her.
"Edmund" she continued, "There's something really important you need to understand about me. I am not like Susan and I never will be!"
The young man was startled at hearing his secret fears spoken out loud. Lucy evidently caught his reaction for she said, "That's what's worrying you isn't it? You think I'm starting to act like her?"
"Aren't you?" Edmund responded. He found himself unable to meet her eyes but continued anyway. "You're going out to parties, going to dances with boys, putting all that stuff on your face…"
His voice trailed off as he realised Lucy had started laughing. Still giggling she sat down beside him and took hold of his hand.
"Edmund, you're blowing things out of proportion," she told him gently. "I'm a Queen of Narnia yes, but I'm also a seventeen year old girl living in this world. Of course I enjoy going to parties and dances. Of course I want to look pretty and have boys notice me! But fun as those things are I would never put them before Aslan and Narnia, or my family either the way Susan has. How could you think that of me?"
Edmund thought about what his sister had said. He desperately wanted to believe what Lucy was telling him but doubt still lingered.
"But you never acted like this in Narnia," he objected.
Lucy began laughing again. "Of course I did. Edmund!" He looked confused so she hastened to explain her words. "I enjoyed parties and balls almost as much as Susan. I might not have been serious with any of my suitors but I enjoyed the attention when they courted me." Edmund opened his mouth to comment but she forestalled him, knowing what he was about to say. "I know Ed, I didn't wear make up in Narnia, neither did Susan, it wasn't the fashion for ladies to do that but it is in England." She smiled at him mischievously. "You follow fashion in the same way," and she continued relentlessly as he shook his head in denial. "But you do Ed, you never used aftershave in Narnia, or stuck your hair down with that horrid smelling stuff!"
Edmund flushed uncomfortably. Ever since he started using a styling cream to smooth down his hair his sister had teased him unmercifully about it.
"But," he protested, "that's what young men my age all do"
Lucy smiled triumphantly. "Exactly!"
Edmund was silent for a few moments. He could see the truth of what Lucy had said and it did relieve some of his anxiety, although not all. Susan's betrayal had hurt him deeply and his fears that Lucy would follow her, however irrational, could not be dismissed in just a moment. But he recognised the sense of his sister's arguments and could not refute her logic. When he spoke again his tone was apologetic.
"I'm sorry if I misjudged you, Lu." A smile appeared on Lucy's face as he used that affectionate diminutive, for the first time in weeks. "It's just that Susan turning her back on us like that hurt so much, I couldn't bear to see the same thing happen to you!"
"I understand how you feel." Lucy looked at him sadly. "She's my only sister and we used to be so close. Now we're almost like strangers."
" I just can't understand her," he continued. "How can she pretend all our adventures were just children's games?"
"I think she was really hurt by not being allowed back to Narnia," Lucy told him. "So hurt she's now pretending the entire thing didn't happen to make the pain less."
"We were all sad at not being allowed back," Edmund retorted rather angrily, "but the rest of us didn't try to pretend it was all make believe."
"I know," Lucy replied, "But I don't think Susan ever saw Narnia quite the way we did. The important thing for her was all the beauty and splendour, the lovely dresses and parties. She wasn't just sad at not being allowed back, she was resentful too. She had come to think that all the glory of being a Narnian Queen was something she was entitled to instead of being Aslan's gift. But all our time in Narnia was a gift, not a right. And the really important part of that gift was not Narnia itself but the lessons we learned there, lessons we were meant to use in our lives here in this world. Susan never really understood or accepted that."
Edmund looked at his younger sister in astonishment. He had never heard her speak like this before and he was impressed by her insight.
"Perhaps you're right," he admitted. "I just wish there was some way we could help her come to her senses."
Lucy shrugged helplessly. "There's not much we can do when she refuses to even discuss the subject. We just have to keep hoping for a change of heart and keep trusting in Aslan. In the end it's all between His Paws."
Hearing Lucy talk about trusting Aslan in such a matter of fact way had a profound effect on Edmund, and finally lifted the last vestiges of anxiety about her from his heart. He wondered now how he could ever have thought she would become like Susan and was feeling rather ashamed of doubting her. He felt ashamed too of the way he had behaved earlier when she was getting ready to leave with Michael. He knew it was the first time she had been out with a young man. That was he imagined, quite a significant thing for a girl, and thanks to him her evening had hardly got off to the best start.
"Anyway, how was your evening?" he asked, trying to make up for his previous behaviour. "Did you have a good time with Michael?"
"It was alright." Lucy sounded a little cool about the subject. "But I don't think I'll be going out with Michael again."
Edmund was a bit alarmed at this, wondering what the boy had done to make her react that way. Lucy must have noticed his concern because she quickly reassured him.
"Oh don't worry Edmund, he didn't do anything inappropriate!" She smiled a little ruefully. "Apart from almost boring me to death! He's a nice enough boy but we really have nothing at all in common."
"Well I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your evening," Edmund told her.
"Oh it wasn't that bad," she assured him. "I enjoyed the dancing. It's just I see no point in going out with a boy I can't really talk to."
These words gave Edmund much to ponder. He knew Susan cared little if she had anything in common with her many escorts, so long as they were attractive men who took her to the most fashionable parties. In fact he had an unpleasant suspicion that talking was the last thing Susan wanted to do with a young man. Edmund began to appreciate just how different his two sisters were. Although Lucy evidently enjoyed dressing up and going to parties and dances, much like other girls her age, it was very clear these things were at the periphery of her life rather than the centre. With Susan on the other hand, they seemed to constitute her entire existence.
"You're looking very thoughtful, Edmund." He looked up to see Lucy smiling at him. "I think I'd better let you get back to your studies." She squeezed his hand affectionately. "Good night, Ed."
"Lucy?" Edmund called out to his sister when she was halfway to the door, realising suddenly there was something important he had yet to tell her.
"Yes, Edmund?" She stopped and turned back toward him.
He walked towards her slowly. Now that he had let go of his foolish worries and prejudices, he could see and appreciate just how much care she had put into her appearance.
"You really do look very beautiful tonight," he told her sincerely.
Lucy blushed at the compliment. Smiling, she leaned forward and softly kissed his cheek.
"Thank you, Edmund!"
Edmund rubbed a finger along his cheek and looked at the faint pink stain that had come off. "Hey!" he protested. "You're getting lipstick all over me!" He was trying to sound annoyed but the smile on his face betrayed him.
"Oh, poor boy!" Giggling, Lucy took out a handkerchief and wiped away the offending mark. "There, all gone!"
On a sudden impulse, Edmund reached out and pulled his startled sister into a hug.
"I love you, sister!" he whispered into her ear.
Although surprised by the unexpected display of affection, Lucy returned the hug gratefully.
"I love you too, brother!"
After a few seconds they released each other, Edmund now looking a bit embarrassed. Smiling at him, Lucy slipped from the room, closing the door quietly behind her. Her brother stared at the door, blinking rapidly. He rubbed his eyes fiercely, trying to rid them of an annoying and quite inexplicable moisture. It must be, he assured himself, just a result of tiredness from too much studying, and not an emotional reaction to the reconciliation with his sister, no not at all!
Whatever the truth of that might be, there was a smile on Edmund's face as he returned to his books. For the first time in many weeks, he felt at peace.