This fic is a first for me in many ways. It's my first Golden Age fic. It's also going to have some romance(which I usually avoid). So I'm a little apprehensive but excited. This should be fun.
At the time my story starts, the Pevensies have been ruling over Narnia for seven years.
Lucy crept along the halls of Cair Paravel in her nightgown, barefoot.
It wasn't because she was doing anything wrong that she had to creep along in this sneaky manner. It was just that she didn't want to alarm anyone and the fact that she had a tremendous cold and was out of bed would alarm some people. But she had been in bed all day and had missed the arrival of a nobleman's daughter from Terebinthia and she just couldn't stand it any longer. Even if Susan ordered her back to bed, at least she would see Susan.
Lucy reached Susan's door and lifted her arm to knock but before she could knock, she sneezed. The door swung open.
"Lucy? What are you doing out of bed?" Susan pulled her into the room. "And where are your slippers?"
"I couldn't find my quiet slippers," Lucy said. "And I couldn't wear my loud ones. I didn't want to wake anybody."
"And that was a reason to walk around without shoes in early spring when it's still cold? Lion's Mane! Lucy, you're sixteen years old, you should know better!"
While saying all this, Susan pulled Lucy into her own bed and covered her feet with a blanket. Lucy made herself comfortable and listened.
"You know, I even missed your scolding," she said when her sister was finished. "Can we have a talk before I go back to bed?"
Susan sighed. "How are you feeling?" she asked, resignedly.
"Better." Lucy sneezed.
Susan smiled. "I see."
"Tell me about the nobleman's daughter."
"Oh." Susan frowned. "She's very pretty. Very quiet. Very reserved."
"Most Terebithians are, aren't they?" Lucy blew her nose.
"But she is even more so than most. And I feel as if she is unhappy here. While we walked over to her room I tried to make her feel at ease, to ask her about what enjoyed doing and whether there was anything she needed, you know, that sort of thing. And she seemed to grow more and more distressed with every word I said, so I finally stopped talking and we reached her room in silence. And then I said good night and that the servants were available if she needed anything and she just looked at me like she just…couldn't wait for me to leave and then…I left." Susan seemed close to tears.
Well this was so much more than Lucy had expected to hear and she felt that her head was beginning to hurt again. But how awful it must be for Susan! Susan was particularly good at making people feel comfortable and at home, so how terrible it must be for her to see that she couldn't make someone feel at home no matter how hard she tried.
"Maybe what she was distressed about had nothing to do with you," Lucy said. "Maybe she was worried about her family back home. Or just homesick."
"Or maybe she thought I was overly chatty and irritating," Susan moaned.
Lucy smiled. "People have considered me irritating before. It isn't fatal."
Susan glared at Lucy. "I'm being serious. It's difficult to help someone when you don't know what they think about you."
Lucy sneezed and with her sneeze came an idea. "Susan! What if we walk by her door right now and listen?"
Susan seemed lost. "Whatever for?"
"Imagine that when we listen we'll hear a loud snore. Won't that make you feel better? I mean, you just can't worry about a person who is snoring, can you?"
Susan laughed. "I suppose not. But I can't imagine her snoring."
"Then we definitely need to go listen. Even if we hear her breathing quietly, we'll know she is asleep, and that will help, right?"
Susan considered. Yes, it would. A person who was sleeping was somehow at peace. "All right," she agreed. "But you will wear my spare slippers."
They crept along the silent hall together. There was something delightfully adventurous about it, Lucy thought, and told Susan so. Susan answered that it wouldn't seem so tomorrow morning when they both fell asleep while receiving an important diplomat.
They stopped by the door and listened. At first, they heard nothing. And then…they heard a quiet sob. Susan and Lucy stared at each other. Was it a sob? Could it have been a sigh or even a laugh? No. They heard another sob, and that one was most definitely a sob.
They walked a few steps away from the door.
"We should ask her what's wrong," said Lucy.
"Perhaps she just wants to be alone to cry," said Susan. "We could make things worse."
"Well, then, I'll wait until she's had a good cry and when she's all finished I'll come in and talk to her," Lucy said, firmly.
"Yes, I suppose, that might be a good idea," said Susan. She was secretly relieved at not having to go in.
Lucy waited for a few minutes and when the sobs seemed to get quieter, she blew her nose, took a deep breath and knocked.
The door opened. The nobleman's daughter stood there, her nose red and her eyes wide. She was pretty, with auburn hair and long eyelashes; Lucy could see that even though the dark hall and the white nightgown made the girl look rather like a ghost. Or what Lucy pictured a ghost would look like anyway.
"Is something wrong?" the girl asked.
"No, um..." Lucy realized now that asking her if she was all right wasn't a good way to start. "I was wondering if you had a handkerchief I could borrow."
The girl stared. "A handkerchief?"
Lucy conveniently sneezed at that moment and the girl hurriedly offered her a very uncomfortable and starched handkerchief. But Lucy took it and politely said thank you.
"You know, I'm very glad that handkerchiefs exist," she said. "They've helped me make friends so many times. There was that time, I gave my handkerchief to Mr. Tumnus and then he gave it to Mr. Beaver and well, now all three of us are very good friends."
The girl still stared. Lucy was beginning to see what Susan had meant and was beginning to wonder what on Narnia she would talk about next. And then she saw the small ball of fur that was curled up on the girl's bed.
"Oh!" she breathed. "Is that…is that your cat?"
The girl nodded.
"May I please pet her? That is if it won't frighten her too much, having a stranger pet her."
The girl nodded again and Lucy began to softly stroke the silky fur. "I used to have a cat but I gave it away to a servant girl last year and then she left the castle. I've rarely gotten to pet a cat since then," she said. "I mean, talking cats are wonderful but you've got to get to know a talking cat very well before you would even dare to ask her if you can pet her and even then she might consider such a question rude. But that's only natural. Wouldn't you consider it rude if someone wanted to pet you?"
Lucy saw a small twitch around the corners of the girl's mouth. "Yes," she said.
"But then it all depends on how they ask, don't you think?" The cat purred as Lucy scratched gently behind her ears.
"I…I suppose," said the girl.
"I suppose you would also consider it rude if I asked you why you were crying just now," Lucy said.
Whatever hint of a smile there might have been, it immediately disappeared.
"Yes…" said the girl, then, "I mean…no, I wouldn't," then "I was just unhappy. That's all right, isn't it?"
No, it's not all right, Lucy thought. But she knew that that wasn't what the girl meant. The girl was asking if she had the right to be unhappy. "Certainly, it's all right," she said. "You can be unhappy all you want."
The girl's eyebrows went up.
"And if you want, you can tell me about it, but you certainly don't have to," Lucy added.
"All right," said the girl.
There was a silence. Lucy sneezed.
"I suppose I had better get back to my room now," she said.
The girl nodded but didn't say anything. Lucy gave the cat one last pat before standing up. And then the girl suddenly smiled a little.
"She likes you," she said.
Lucy's own smile lit up the room. "I like her too," she said. "Good night."