A/N: Inspired by the song Dance with my Father by Luther Vandross. It's one of the few songs thas has succeeded in making me cry.
Also, expect more Narnia stories from me very soon!
"Sleep, little one," he laughed, even as Lucy's lips curled into a pout.
"Father, one more!" she beseeched him, her eyes wide but ringed with the faint mistiness of looming sleep. "Please, please!"
Mother's soft laughter faded into the warmth of the dimly-lit room as she crossed over to switch the wireless on. "Perhaps one more, dear."
Father put on his mock-stern face and said, "Lucy, one more, but you have to promise you'll sleep afterwards." Lucy nodded eagerly.
The crackling, familiar sound of the music issuing from the wireless filled the room, chasing shadows and enveloping the three in a soft warmth that wrapped around them, golden and reassuring. As Peter, Susan, and Edmund slept in their beds and dreamed, Lucy danced with Father by the mingled light of the lamp and the moon, laughing and spinning and gradually becoming sleepier and sleepier, until the entire world dimmed and Father gathered her up in his arms, carrying her up the stairs and into her room.
As he pressed a fatherly kiss to her forehead and settled the blankets about her securely, Lucy smiled at the stars twinkling merrily from her window and thought she must be the luckiest girl in the world.
"Sleep, little one," she choked out, and Lucy's heart contracted in sympathy and grief.
Lucy crossed the room and sat beside Mother on the couch, snuggling into its soft embrace and putting her head on Mother's shoulder. They sat in silence as the crackling, familiar music floating from the wireless filled the gap where speech should have been.
Mother sniffed and Lucy said, softly, "Mother, don't cry." She twisted around and, because she didn't have a handkerchief, used a finger to wipe at her mother's tearstained cheeks. As she did, she noticed a piece of folded paper held tightly in her mother's clenched hand.
"Mother, is that…?"
Mother allowed her to free the much-abused paper, revealing itself to be a tattered photograph.
Lucy stared at it, tracing the familiar planes of the face and hardly stifling a sob of her own.
"He'll come back," Mother said quietly, "but I miss him very much."
Lucy was silent for a while longer, and then finally whispered, "I miss dancing with him, Mother."
"Sleep, little one."
The voice of her father was weary and colored a despairing gray by everything he had seen. Even as Lucy came forward and took his hand, he kept his gaze averted.
"Why won't you look at me, Father?" she asked, bewildered and hurt.
"I don't want you to see."
He closed his eyes. "How bloodied I've become."
Lucy's heart ached. Her father could never know that she had already been in battle herself, that she had seen Edmund dying and Peter thrusting a sword into another's stomach. But her father… her father's beautiful, happy nature was now scribbled over by the horrors of a war far worse than any she had ever witnessed. Tears came to her eyes. There was so much she wanted to tell him, but the familiar music crackling from the wireless nudged her to say something else.
"Dance with me, Father."
He continued to look away. She caught up his hands in hers and forced him to meet her gaze.
There were shadows there, and horrors. But—Lucy was relieved to see—they were the same green eyes she had known from before he went off to war. The shadows would fade. The horrors would disappear.
As Peter, Edmund, and Susan slumbered in the upstairs rooms, Lucy danced with Father, and though he stumbled out of beat on his bad leg, she thought it was the loveliest dance she had ever shared with him.