A/N: This is a rather interesting piece for me to write - not that I can explain why, until you've read it. So I'm going to leave off on my author's note until the end...
Lucy is telling her stories again – tales of a fantastic, impossible world. She claims her stories are true, that we lived in this other world for years and years. Whenever she has an opportunity – a visitor, a moment by the fire – she begins to weave her tales again. Peter and Edmund encourage her, with the excuse that we need to remember our past. Pah! They need to remember their duties, here in the real world.
I can hear Lucy now in the other room. If I close my eyes, I can almost see her. She would be seated on the floor by the hearth, her legs crossed. Her eyes would be half-closed, perhaps imagining her story world. Her mind will be filled with the strange creations she has come up with. Her audience – Peter, I believe, although it may be someone else – will be listening in amazement, eyes shining with longing for this imaginary land.
Lucy falls silent and I turn back to my mirror to fix my hair. Moments pass, but I force myself to think of something other than her imaginings. I think of the dance tonight – the songs to be played, the refreshments to be served, the partners I shall dance with. A gentle knock interrupts my musings, but I ignore it. Lucy enters regardless.
"Come join us, Susan," she says. I see her in the reflection of my mirror, standing uncertainly in the doorway.
"I'm too old for fairy tales," I retort, and reach up to smooth back my hair. Even concentrating on my hair, I can see Lucy's face fall, and I feel a tinge of regret at my words.
"They aren't fairy tales, Susan, and you know it," she snaps, and runs from the room.
I am left staring helplessly at my hairbrush. Lucy and I never used to fight; now her stories seem to have come between us in a way I have never felt before. I have a dirty taste in my mouth, but tell myself it is only from the perfume still hanging in the air. In the distance I hear Lucy's door slam shut, and inwardly wince.
Minutes pass, but I am frozen in place, my hairbrush in my hand. Why do I pick these fights with my sister, when I could just as easily play along for once? Is the truth so much more important than family? A huff of air escapes my mouth, and I push back my chair reluctantly.
Moments later I am outside Lucy's door. I hear her sniffling, and I hesitate to knock. How can I admit I'm wrong when I don't believe I am? But something is prodding me to lift my arm, and I raise it, only to drop it to my side again. The knuckles still manage to skim across the wooden surface.
Lucy hears. I am about to turn away when the door flies open. Lucy's mouth freezes in an O, her hair hanging wildly about her face, her eyes still red from tears.
"I-I thought you were Peter," she murmurs, and it hurts me how obviously she wishes to see him rather than me.
"I'm sorry, Lu." I say it before I can lose my nerve, and find that I mean it. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm not saying I believe your stories but… perhaps it wasn't necessary for me to say it so loud."
Lucy's eyes are serious as she looks up into my own. "It's all right."
"It isn't all right, though," I persist. "This is hurting our family. Could we – could we agree to disagree?"
The hint of a smile shows on Lucy's lips, and in answer she wraps her arms around me. She hasn't done this in ages, and it gives me hope that our relationship may survive after all.
- - -
Now again I sit at my mirror, and again I can hear Lucy's voice from the other room. She is spinning her tales again, but for once I don't mind. Her audience is made up of two youngsters, and they pester Lucy with questions, their voices filled with longing and awe.
"What was this place called?" one asks, and I say the made-up name in my head.
Lucy's answer is gentle and strong, and exactly what I anticipate. "It is a land of beauty and sorrow, known as Spare Oom." Then she continues, "But my siblings and I know it by another, secret name."
I find myself listening with interest. I do not remember any secret names for Lucy's story land. It does not occur to me that she may be making this other name up only now. For some strange reason it feels as though she mentions this now for me, as though she knows that I am listening.
"We called it England."
The children pester her with more questions, but I pay no attention. I roll the strange name of that other place on my tongue, and it tastes familiar. Inside I feel a stirring, like a dryad awakening from a long hibernation. I begin to see pictures of this other world in my mind, as though from a dream, or a dream of a dream. And I begin to consider, in the farthest back corner of my mind, that perhaps Lucy is right after all.
A/N: And now you know why I couldn't really talk about how this story came to be at the top! It started as I was thinking about how dramatically Susan seems to change between the books - Gentle Queen into completely normal, unbelieving English girl? I felt it was rather a startling change, and that it must have always been a part of her (and you can tell in LWW when Susan doesn't believe Lucy, and when she believes they should go back to their own world because Narnia "isn't safe".) And then I got to thinking that perhaps Susan might have had the same sort of problem in Narnia, only she doesn't believe Lucy that they originally came from a different world.
I originally had an idea of Susan mentioning that she thought they came from some family in Archenland or in the West or something and everyone just forgot their early years with vague pictures of their parent's faces and a war, but it didn't really fit into the story. Maybe I'll write a second part to this later focusing on that. It sort of depends what everyone thinks.
Anyway, I wanted to write the majority of this story so that it could have happened either in England (as the reader thinks as they begin to read) or in Narnia. And I wanted there to be a very sudden "Wait. This is in Narnia??" moment, but I'm not completely sure how that worked. Maybe you can let me know! (What an idea!)
So that's my very, VERY long rambling A/N about the origins of this. One more question though: how many of you went back up to the top to re-read the story once you realized it took place in Narnia? (My sister definitely did.)
Thanks for reading!