Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia, all characters, places, and related terms belong to C.S. Lewis.
Authors Note: Written for the 1sentence challenge at livejournal. This is bookverse and AU. Also, contains spoilers regarding The Last Battle.
They walk together along the beach every afternoon, reminiscing about that extraordinary wet summer day with the magic rings, the witch, and Narnia.
Whirling across the dance floor, Polly convinces herself the hundreds of nervous butterflies fluttering in her stomach are due to this being her first waltz and have nothing to do with the fact that Digory is her partner.
"Please make Mrs. Kirke better," the girl whispers to the stars twinkling far above, her conversation with Digory still fresh in her mind.
As his offered hand is accepted and he helps her stand, the boy suddenly wonders when Polly has grown so much...how she seems the same and yet completely different.
Uncle Andrew cannot understand why his nephew keeps interrupting him, going on about his friend -- he is trying to tell this remarkable story that, in his humble opinion, is far more interesting than the little girl!
Struck by an idea, the girl impulsively picks a daisy and changes positions from lying on her stomach to sitting up; carefully she plucks the petals one at a time, "He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not..."
The church's young people's afternoon picnic is pleasant enough, but he does not enjoy himself as much as he would have had she been able to come.
Whiskey and rum
Digory hesitates an instant before he lifts his glass in salute to his friends and drinks; his throat burns, eyes water, and he can picture Polly's disappointed expression if she saw him now...
It is a long time before he returns one day late in the afternoon, haunted by the ghastly experiences he faced in the trenches; she, too, has changed, helping to support the troops, writing, hoping, praying for safety, for an end to the darkness; in such a world they have swiftly left behind their childhoods, yet still know, believe...Aslan.
It is at the reception following her cousin's wedding, and they are discussing how the ceremony reminded them of King Frank and Queen Helen's coronation, when Tommy sidles up and proclaims he will marry Polly someday; they both laugh yet are secretly troubled for the rest of the day.
She is disappointed she is not feeling well enough to be able to visit her friends, but then the telephone rings; a deep, gruff, familiar voice reaches her ear, "Narnia...Aslan...Wardrobe..." and she realizes she has never had a better birthday.
The old man's heart swells as he gazes at the two young people before him and solemnly, joyfully, joins their hands together.
While dreaming and sighing over how Edward Bingley is just the sort of fellow they hope to marry someday, the group of friends cannot sway Polly into agreeing with them; she argues for Digory Kirke, pointing out how much there is to admire about him.
Ignoring her protests, in one quick movement Digory picks the girl up, settles her against his shoulder, and carefully begins wading through the large puddle; an assortment of emotions racing through her, Polly stares down at her lap, too shy and confused to speak or look at him, her cheeks a glowing red.
He sits by her bed, clouded dark eyes taking in the large bandage wrapped around her head, her pale skin, and the rise and fall of her chest; the sound of her soft breathing reassures him she will live and that he will be able to tell her, "I'm sorry."
"You need not take the little girl back with you"; and suddenly with those words, the meanness of suggesting to leave behind Polly shatters the thick fog in Digorys head, and he realizes how everything the witch said earlier sounds empty and deceptive.
Sometimes Polly wonders if she was really needed on their adventure; Digory never forgets the important role she played, how she supported and believed in him to make the right decisions, and for that he is grateful.
At the festival a four-year-old dark-haired boy cries when his red balloon flies away into the sky; watching with her thumb in her mouth, a little blond curly-haired girl waddles over and holds out her own blue balloon to him; neither remembers that first meeting.
One night during the holidays they decide to act out Romeo and Juliet; they try to do the balcony scene, but both giggle so much they can barely speak.
Digory moves his chair closer to Courtney Cornwallis's, laughing with her at a joke; seated by a window, Polly watches them, wistfully, sadly: perhaps this will be the last summer she will spend with Digory and his family, he may become occupied by...other things in the near future.
It is a rare night without the sound of painful groans or the sharp cracks of gunfire, and he drifts off to sleep to memories of Polly softly singing Doxology.
He taps his foot when nervous, paces impatiently, runs his hands through his hair when frustrated -- and she finds them all adorable.
It is April when she receives his latest letter, filled with words of hardship, pain, darkness, hoping against hope...then, near the end as he dreams of returning: "'Do I have any chance with you?'"
Mrs. Kirke and Mrs. Plummer wonder about their children, how they can get along so well and yet sometimes get into such heated arguments that they wont speak for a day or two; it is a miracle they have remained so close despite their rough patches, the mothers agree.
It is so hard trying to swim that she is tempted to give up; "You can do it, Polly!" Digory encourages, and she attempts again.
Unstiffened, fresh, Polly skips, leaps, and twirls, her laugh merry, face youthful, hair no longer grey but golden; quietly Digory observes her, then laughs when she takes his hands, and they dance fast and free, like they used to when children.
They play tag one day and when she falls and scrapes her knees, he makes funny faces, causing her to forget her tears and giggle.
Sometimes while reading her book of fairy tales, she pretends the picture of the champion knight has black curly hair and dark eyes instead of blue ones and long red locks.
When asked by his friends who he thinks is the prettiest girl, he answers a lady he met once named Jadis, but goes on to explain the loveliest girl he knows is Polly, whose beauty is both inward and outward, like a gem.
They sit in the shade of the apple tree, enjoying Aunt Lettys cookies; the last one the boy breaks in half, one piece for each of them, and the girl calls him "Digory the Just."
Courtney smiles coltishly and tilts her head invitingly; across the room Digory nods politely then returns his attention to Polly seated beside him.
The papers are full of the ship's sinking, and as he searches desperately for news and does not see her name among those who survived, his world becomes dark and numb.
Polly keeps her composure, smiling and making small talk, willing away both the tears and memories of how earlier tonight Digory had commented she only looked "nice" and called her a "kid" before asking Libby to dance; it had been stupid of her to think -- to hope -- he would finally really notice her.
Despite his best efforts, he cannot help but scowl darkly at the young man playing the piano, singing to his Polly who appears flustered and confused by the gentleman's attentions.
"Oh, you've done nothing, nothing at all," she says to the boy, her hurt and angry tone belying the words.
He finds her hidden among the ashes in her rages, bare feet, unkempt hair; kneeling beside her, he kisses her soot-covered hand, eyes tender, "Come, my princess," he whispers gently.
"He is making a complete ninny of himself!" Polly vents her real thoughts as she paces the garden.
At times Digory feels like a stranger here in our world, particularly when he thinks about Narnia; yet in Pollys company he feels for a moment he is home.
She is there with his family when they welcome him home -- she a beacon of light piercing the darkness he has been trapped in, who has through her letters and prayers shared his burdens, lifted him up; paying no mind to all the people on the busy platform, he embraces her and asks her to share the rest of her life with him, and she whispers, "Yes" against his lips.
She walks along the beach leaving a single pair of footprints in the sand, and she has trouble swallowing.
Sighing in frustration, Digory runs his hands through his hair; he is making no progress, as thoughts of his wife and how she is faring distract him.
Polly is silent during the confrontation, hugging herself tightly, her gaze fastened on her friend's pale, pained face.
The servants ponder about young master Kirke and Miss Plummer; there is something unidentifiable that makes their friendship different from other young peoples relationships, like they share a sacred, wonderful secret none can know.
Digory settles himself down next to Polly under Fledge's wing instead of returning to the winged horse's other side, having a sudden desire not to let her go too far from his reach, still uneasy about the strange noises they heard earlier.
Listening to her granddaughter share how nice, confusing, and frustrating her friend Digory can be, and wondering why she thinks about him so much -- sometimes laughing or crying over him -- Grandmother Plummer smiles and gently explains how all these things are part of growing up, becoming a young woman.
A strange, dreary dawn spreads out its light followed by the sun which appears over the horizon, so big, so red, so old; Digory and Polly look at each other and nod, both recalling the old dying sun they saw in Char -- Narnia is ending.
The young woman pauses in her sewing and gazes out the window, her thoughts flying to a certain person far, far away fighting for country and freedom; "Be strong, my brave solider," she wills her words to reach him.
He is exhausted, covered in dirt and blood when there is a momentarily lapse in the fighting; Aslan! he silently cries; wiping his sleeve over his sweaty brow and closing his eyes, an unexplainable calmness comes over him, and his mind turns towards a girl he left behind, a friend yet also more. "Keep the faith, my noble Polly," he wishes she could hear him.
"Well done, my children!" that terrible, beautiful voice washes over Digory and Polly as they bury their hands in His great golden mane, lion kisses is placed on their foreheads, and they know they are now finally Home.
The church fills with people dressed in mourning, the sanctuary echoing with whispers and sobs: "We lost them too soon"; "They were so filled with life in their old age"; "When will we see Uncle Digory and Aunt Polly again, Mummy?"; "We can draw comfort from knowing they died together"; "What a longtime, close bond they shared, over fifty years..."; "Why did God allow this to happen?"; "Let us grieve with hope, remembering they are in a better place, and that we will see them again someday; please stand as we sing hymn number four ninety-three, It is Well with My Soul."