[I]Five years after the train accident. The Poles, Scrubbs, and Susan visit their loved ones graves, with a surprise visitor or two...[/I]
[I]Christmas Day, 1954[/I]
It was an extremely festive gathering despite it being in an extremely well kpet graveyard in one of the coldest winters England had seen in years. Susan, being the longtime organizer that she was had seen to all of the preparations herself.
"Oi!Cold enough to freeze the blood out here! Uh- the wreaths a bit much?"
Josh blew on his hands as he surveyed his wife's latest hanidwork with a playful smile. Susan tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear, and pursed her lips together in thought.
" Hm,I think I can go a bit more. I think Peter, Eustace and Edmund can have some holly boughs. Oh, and Lucy and Jill MUST have the tinnest bit of lace- Lucy loved lace, and I know Jill looked devine in anything white."
" I'm sure they'd love it." Josh admitted, remebering to pull his cap off in respect for the people laying there. "Have you visisted your mum and dad?"
"I did. I told them about us getting married, and of course-" she gently stroked the bulge in her stomach "the little one of course. I hope its a lovely girl."
"I hope its a strapping young man. Girls are harder to care for you know." Josh said teasingly. Susan stuck her tongue out at him with an impish wink.
" Love birds! Oh little love birds!"
"That would be Aunt Alberta. I never knew here to be so cheerful. Come along Josh." Susan said primly, walking towards the small group of older adults at the other end of the cemetary. Alberta and Alberta were chatting merrily with the Poles, Susan's new in-laws. She found Josh and Jill's mother to be a pleasant woman, but soft natured. Howard Pole, however she hadn't had time to properly understand yet.
"Honestly! All this bloody fuss over some graves! Look at us- standing here in a cemetary in the middle of the bloody winter! What if we're seen? We'll be laughing stocks of London!
"Howard, I think its a dashing idea for us all to be together! Why- we're not really separated forever, just apart of a little whiles." Harold said, blowing into his hands to warm them. Alice Pole and Alberta Scrubb nodded.
" After reading Jill's letter, I can't wait to see my baby girl again." Alice admitted with a sniffle. She was dressed in her finest brightest dress, a sparkle in her eyes that not even her husband could say when he last saw her so happy.
"I think its that, and the spirit of christmas after all." Harold admitted, giving Alberta a peck on the cheek. She blushed, and kissed him quickly back.
"Like ruddy schoolchildren, ya are. Actin' like this in front of the youngin's over there?" Howard huffed.
"Oh Howard- please! Enjoy the time we have with our children. Do not spoil the day." Alice said with the slighest tone in her voice. Howard shrugged in a offhanded sort of way, kicking a patch of ice with his boot.
"You mean 'child' Alice. Jill's dead, and once you're dead that's it. Just a speck in big vast waste of nothing is all."
"Howard, please, I beg of you- do not ruin the day for Josh, or Susan. The poor girl worked so hard to make this arrangement, plus its only once a year."
"There, that's the ticket ma'am." Harold said, looking at the forms of Susan and Josh coming around the snowy bend to where they all chatting somewhat civilly. "Be a good sport about it man." Howard just regarded the man with an unaffected gaze. "If you say so Harold, but I'm the only one here whose facing the truth of the matter."
Alice, Alberta, and Harold looked at each other and sighed. Someday perhaps, someday. Josh waved as they came over the bend, coming to a stop by the rest of them.
"Did you have a nice visit dears?" Alberta asked, touching the rising lump in Susan's stomach. Her niece laughed, and nodded. Josh cleared his throat and spoke up for his wife.
"Yes ma'am we did. I talked to Jill for a bit, and Su spent some time with her family as well. I reckon' they're looking down on us, and are mighty proud."
"Tch. Rubbish and nonsense the whole lot of ya." Howard said in a barely contained sniff. Josh frowned at his father.
"Father, please, surely you can… see that there is a greater power, a loving God who-"
"Don't get me started boy! I learned all about religion in the trenches during the Great War! Where was 'God' when my friends were being gassed and blown to bits? Where was 'God' when I lost my left eye to a german bullet! Where was 'God' when he took Jill! Where? I don' t see him Josh! So tell me, where is this 'God' of yours!"
"Father-" Josh began. Alice took her husband's arm, a look of disappointment and a mixture of anger on her face.
"Howard Pole, if you don't stop this right now-"
"I can't! Alice! This is simply what I believe and its all I'm gonna believe! I just can't be around all of this- it ain't right, and it ain't natural! They're dead, we're here in the real world, and once you die, you're done for. Those letters had no special signs or meanings, they were just letters is all!"
Then suddenly it happened- there's no proper explanation for it, nothing you'll find in any science textbook nor religious book of its likelihood that it'll ever happen again, but it did. With the touch of a breath of strong wind, the smell of something so delicious you cannot put a name too it, and a distant lion's roar- Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Jill and Eustace suddenly stood before them in all their royal finery that'd make your eyes hurt upon first glancing at them, and looking every inch the kings and queens they were. The boys wore fine robes with holly in their crowns, and carried branches of olives in their belts instead of swords. Lucy and Jill looked very queenly in their gowns, with golden leaves woven into their crowns and hair. At first they all appeared older, and then younger, and finally none of the living adults could make up their minds about either and simply stared.
"Your majesties." Susan was the first to speak, going into a curtsey of old towards her siblings, and then to Jill and Eustace. "Your gracious ladyship, and lordship."
"Arise Susan, Queen of Narnia. This not court, and there are no formalities." This was her noble brother, High King Peter who spoke. Susan slowly went towards her siblings, taking them by the hands, tears running down her face.
"I miss you all so much."
"Cheer up Su, we'll meet up again someday. " Edmund said with a smile. Lucy kissed Susan on the cheek.
"Oh Susan! We shall talk and talk and talk of many things! I cannot wait for you to meet everyone!"
"I shall like it very much to see everyone again." Susan admitted with a cheery laugh in her voice.
Meanwhile, Josh and Jill stood face to face with one another, for the first time in five years since the accident, when suddenly Josh leapt forth and enveloped his sister into a hug, tears falling freely down his face.
"Gosh, Jill, I- I-"
"missed me? I miss you too, big brother. The real Narnia is so much more than I could ever possibly write to you about!"
"I believe that, that I do." Josh said, looking at her at arm's length. "Thank you. Thank you so much for writing that letter. For saving me. All of you."
"That's just it." Lucy said suddenly, with a knowing smile. "We didn't. You all did, and Aslan's grace allowed it to be so."
"Praise Aslan's name." Alberta said, going over to her niece, whom she knew wasn't really dead, but more alive than anyone on earth. The party began then, and although no food or drink was touched, it was spent merely being there with one another, and soon those still on earth forgot their troubles, worries, and the cold feeling in their bones to be with those that had gone on before them. Susan and her siblings, Alberta and Harold with Eustace, Josh and Alice with Jill.
"Father." Jill said suddenly, breaking the merriment of the mood, for during the entire time, Howard Pole had gone very pale and was shaking badly. His large eyes had seen this all, and even in his old age, he was still unbelieving. His daughter left the side of her mother and brother and went to his side, kneeling beside him.
"Father, please look at me."
"I cannot, for then I'd see only disappointment in your eyes, my little girl."
"Oh father- you were never a disappointment to me. I love you. Aslan loves you. He wants all of us to be together at the end."
"Aslan……the great lion, the untamed one….."
"quite untamed, but he's good." Jill said with a bright smile. She placed her hand upon Howard's shoulder, who began weeping stormily.
"I think…. I believe, or I'll a least try to. I'll try…" he managed to say. Jill looked at the others who were also smiling through tears of joy.
"That's all Aslan asks of us, father."
They spent the rest of the day like that, talking and laughing about pleasant memories past until the sun sank and the moon was about to rise into the sky. Eustace looked about suddenly and said in a royal tone; "Aslan needs us back." Then he looked like a boy again, and hugged both of his parents tightly.
"I'll wait for you." He said
"We know, and I can't wait." His father replied tenderly. Alberta hugged her son for the final time, a gentle wind picking up.
"Oh- must you all go now?" Susan said, Lucy and Peter still caught up in the excitement of Susan's new baby.
"We must, I'm afraid. But we're not really gone, you know. " Peter said, touching Susan on the shoulder. "I'm glad you'll be with us someday."
"Me too, Peter…."
Her words caught- she tried to speak, but only happy tears came from her eyes, Peter wiped them all way with his finger.
"No more crying Su. Celebrate, the new day has dawned, and what a special day it is for everyone here."
"Wisely spoken, your majesty." Josh said, coming to stand beside his wife. Peter nodded in silent admission.
"Take care of her, and your son." Peter's eyes sparkled with mischief. Josh's mouth opened, and Susan stared at her brother in mock horror.
"Peter! You said you wouldn't tell-!"
"Hm. Guess that was my naughty moment for the year eh? Come now, we'd best be off now. Look sharp everyone."
Peter nodded to Ed and Lu, and Jill and Eustace stood beside them. The wind blew, the trees rustled, as they walked away, into the white void, towards True Narnia, before vanishing with the fall of the dying wind and leaves. Their voices seemed to flow as one , followed by a triumphant laugh of a gentle lion.
We'll see each other again. A blessed and Merry Christmas to all