A/N: Written originally for liminalliz at the Narnia Exchange for this prompt: Prompt words/objects/quotes/whatever: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt
What I want: Pick any of these items that invoke your interests!
- Edmund being awesome.
- Lucy being awesome.
- Jadis being awesome and somewhat fancying Edmund through the years
- Exploring The Green Lady/Rillian
- Is the Green Lady the same as Jadis?
- Exploring Aravis' difficulty in adapting "northern" culture
- Eustace/Jill over time - Caspian's tragedy
- Heaven fic
Prompt words/objects/quotes/whatever: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Huge thanks to ill_ame and lassiterfics for betaing. Concrit would be hugely appreciated on this one; I haven't written drabbles in a long time and they're extremely difficult! This story still feels very nebulous, so if parts of it worked or didn't work I would love to know. :)
The first time snow fell on Anvard, Aravis had screamed and run to Hwin with a saddlebag over her shoulder and her brother's scimitar at her hip. "We have to go now," she had said, "now, before the Witch comes again—"
The other Horses had laughed, though Hwin only nuzzled her and said, "It is not the snow that is the problem, daughter," and the story spread through the court like wildfire. Even Cor somehow knew it, and then had the nerve to laugh at her.
"Like you weren't just as scared," she had snapped, and gone to sulk in the stables with the dumb horses.
Now Aravis tries to remember that morning as she waits on her balcony, facing south. It is too early for her father to be here (if he will even come at all, for his wayward daughter's marriage), but she worries he will not ride through the snow and she wonders if she can convince him that winter is just a steppingstone to spring.
"I know what you mean about the snow," Edmund had told her on that first storm, when Lucy took her by the hand and taught her to throw a snowball.
The first time Lucy saw a sun so large, she had been sailing for a month with the Prince of Galma on a beautiful ship with sails the color of Aslan's mane. They had danced through the evenings and talked through the nights, and one night he said, "We could go on, you know."
Lucy almost agreed, but the wind had begun to turn and she was longing for Narnia again. "No," she said instead. "Come for me in the spring, and we shall sail farther and faster."
But before he could, she stumbled back through the wardrobe into dreary old England, and so she never found out what lay farther out. Now she leans over the railing and stares into the rising sun, and she resolves not to miss anything of this voyage, because it may be her last.
She and Caspian tell each other stories, and when the water grows sweet they drink it and grow bright and shining, like angels, and one night he rests his hand against hers and she does not pull away.
"Careful, Lu," Ed tells her later. "You won't be able to stay."
To Caspian she says, "And you've almost promised Ramandu's daughter."
He leaves the horn with Trumpkin once again and surveys the Star's Daughter with tears in his eyes. It seems like it has always been his fate to be left behind: by Queen Susan and the High King after their victory, by King Edmund and Queen Lucy, Reepicheep and Eustace at the world's end; by his wife before their rule really began and by his son only a month later. Caspian has always wondered if it would be easier to do the leaving, but—now that he is leaving Narnia behind—it seems almost harder. He looks over his subjects and looks back to Cair Paravel, and Caspian realizes that he never imagined dying alone, without an heir. He knows he will leave his country in chaos.
"My people," he calls, raising his hands, "They say Aslan himself is in Terebinthia; I hope he will show me my son." He does not say, Who do I name as king if Rilian is dead or lost beyond recovery? Caspian curses himself for not having the foresight to raise Miraz's son as his own. The winds begin to blow harder, faster, ever from the west, and Caspian thinks—perhaps it is time.
The last time King Rilian ever saw his mother was less than a month before he fell in love with her killer, and for that Rilian will never forgive himself. Even avenging her death was not enough, because he had waited ten years until she changed again into a serpent, ten years after she had kissed him and loved him and lied to him and he had gone with her willingly. After he had laughed off his rescuers: two children and a Marsh-wiggle who had not been taken in by her beauty and her laugh.
When he rides to fight the giants or to renegotiate treaties with the Tisroc, he and his men stop at inns and the houses of nobles. In each one women seek out his bed, and Rilian chooses only the most beautiful, with trilling voices and bell-like laughs. In the mornings he hates himself and begs forgiveness, but when the sun goes down he forgets his promises and seeks out another green-clad, green-eyed maiden; after they fall asleep together, he dreams of the Lady of the Green Kirtle on his mother's throne, wearing his mother's crown, and Rilian hates himself for not wanting to wake up.
The Lady of the Green Kirtle
She had kissed him and taken him into the earth, and when the Earthmen closed it up behind them he looked back and bit his lip. "Would you like something to drink?" she asked in her voice like a bell (How many girls, she thinks, did I kill to find that voice?), and she opened her hands to reveal a jeweled goblet with a frothy, steaming liquid inside. His eyes went wide—in admiration, though, and not ambition.
He began to complain before nightfall; she wished again for a child she could mold, a child she could use, a child she could trust to do what needs to be done. She remembered she had one once, and she had wasted him; this new boy was nothing like the old. She was forced to keep him by enchantments and tell him only the least of her plans, and in the end he was sprung from her prison and destroyed her himself.
"Worthless," she mutters when she can finally speak again. She waves her hand and creates a box of Turkish Delight amidst the rubble, and she thanks that damn overgrown cat: if Jadis can't have Edmund, at least Narnia can't either.
"Look," Edmund says, "you're going to have to think, you're going to have to figure out what's happened and come up with a way to fix it. And Eustace—look, he's a good person and he's practical but he doesn't always see the big picture, so you're going to have to make sure you can, because you can bet that whoever got them into this mess can't either."
"I know," she says, and the trembling in her voice is barely noticeable. Edmund rubs his temples, but he can't help smiling at her; he was that terrified and that green once, and Jill is old enough now to appreciate what he couldn't at the time: she is not invincible.
"No," he says quietly, "you don't, yet, but you will, that's the important thing."
"I will," she promises. "I'll help put everything to rights, and we won't mess around with Aslan's signs this time, either."
If he gives you signs, Edmund thinks, but all he tells her is: "Things never happen the same way twice, Jill; don't forget that either. You can't put all your faith in the Narnia that—that you knew; it won't be the same. It's never the same."
She has her back up against the white rock when Eustace is thrown into the stable. "Eustace!" she screams through her tears, but she is too late; the only thing left to do fight as long as she can before dying herself. "Even if I can't stop blubbing, I won't get my string wet," she promises them both, and she wipes her eyes furiously with her sleeve and turns her head to the side.
She gets three more arrows off, and then she runs to one side and starts shooting from there. "Speed is the important thing," Susan told her once. "If one arrow goes wide, don't falter on the next one." She had also added, "Don't get caught," but that seems impossible here; Jill shoots only two more arrows before something grabs her by her hair and snaps her bow.
Jill wishes she could thank Susan for giving her just a few more minutes to stay alive and just a few more dead Calormenes, and she wishes that Susan hadn't stopped being a mentor and an older sister all in one, and then she is thrown through the air and there is no more time to think about anything.
"You're too young to stay out so late," is the last thing Susan says to her daughter. She tries, in the split second between knowing her fate and accepting it, to say something more, but she sees the expression on her daughter's face when she clutches at her heart and knows it's useless.
Nor can she hold onto that; in a moment her daughter has vanished and so has the pain in her chest, and Susan is Somewhere; it looks green and golden against a blue-green sea, and she thinks that perhaps she has seen it before. "Hello?" she calls, but no one answers.
Susan walks along the beach. Far in the distance, across the sea and behind her, she thinks she can see the White Cliffs of Dover, but it is ahead of her that looks familiar: a river winding through lush mountains and green valleys. Half a mile later she whispers, "Narnia,"—this Narnia is bigger and more alive than the Narnia she remembers from an anguished glance over her shoulder, but it is still Narnia.
Ahead of her she sees Cair Paravel, flags waving and marble steps gleaming. On the cliffs are five people she would recognize anywhere; between her and them is a great Lion.
"Aslan," she cries, throwing herself on him—distance doesn't matter here the same way it did before—and he purrs and lets her kiss his face and stroke his mane. "I thought I wasn't to come back?" she asks finally, bewildered. "None of us were."
"Not to the old Narnia," Jill says. "But we thought you wouldn't come here either."
"I… don't understand," she admits, and Aslan laughs deep in his throat.
"You have only caught a later train," he says, and Peter whirls her off to see it all again.