A/N: ...because sometimes perspectives on Susan change with the passage of time.


Some days, the feeling lingers at the edges of her mind, like a pale winter sunrise, until it grows brighter and stronger and fills her with a crimson flaming passion that hurts like the light of the sun. A sense of longing. Of purpose. Of destiny. Of shame. She cannot put a name to the feeling, but that does not keep it from stealing over her at the strangest of moments.

She wishes there was someone she could ask who might (maybe, perhaps, could possibly in a thousand years) have felt something of the like before. But doubt colors her mind at the thought. Surely this is a thing that belongs only to those who have lived lives such as hers.

She knows of only seven others. And they are dead.

It washes over her some evenings in the dark, when she sits by a misty window and catches a flash of jewel-like stars adorning the robe of the night. It catches her like a knife, and makes her feel wrong and old and uncomfortable in this suit of flesh and bones. She spent many long months trying to bury the feelings—both those shining and those sharp as steel. But then there was the wreck and after the period of denial had ended, and she realized she might as well come to terms with the fact that she was madder than a hatter, she went back to believing.

That she'd once been a queen. Of a world they found through a wardrobe. That she'd grown up twice and fallen in love with princes and kings and fought battles and healed hundreds and saved thousands with a smile that could melt a man's heart or turn his stomach with fear.

That there had been a Lion in the other place who had promised her joy, who had breathed on her face and given her courage.

Make no mistake, Susan is no fool. When they burst into her room one day, babbling about the "Lion of Judah" and the Cross and that they'd finally found Him—she did some searching. She searches more, after the wreck, after she's through crashing and burning (and a little while she's in the midst of it). She figures she understands better than most, better even than her family, maybe.

Because she has lived it all.

She was Mary, weeping in the garden at the death of her Lord.

She was Thomas, quick to doubt what eyes could not see.

She was Eve, tempted by the desire to taste forbidden fruit, to know, to have a power denied her by the rules of gods and kings.

First she studies academically, eyeing the chapters and verses with a critical, careful eye. Not so much afraid of being "taken in" as taking herself in, of convincing herself of truths that she herself has crafted for the comfort of her soul. But the words are just words and she realizes she has nothing to fear, and sometimes they are so trite, and when she goes to church and looks about and sees that the people sitting in the pews are so human, so petty, so foolish, so beneath her—she thinks, "There has to be more than this."

This causes what her communication classes at the local university classify as "cognitive dissonance." She spends her days laughing through lips red as blood and nights on her knees, whispering raw prayers of desperation to a God who refuses to reveal himself in any way she has come to recognize as real. She believes and believes until one day she realizes she doesn't know what to believe (because part of her belief revolves around an imaginary world they found in a wardrobe and that just doesn't match up with the rest of what she's discovered about reality).

She lies awake until 2 A.M., eyes dry because there are no tears left to weep. A white night. And in the morning she rises and dons her nylons—it's another mask—a way to blend in, ("I'm adapting," she mutters vehemently to herself) and winds her hair back and sets forth to face a new sort of battle.

They think she has abandoned Narnia. She sees it as a way of preserving what sanity she has left.

And then there is the wreck. The slow crash and burn. And finally, the day she opens the book again and the words are not just words—they are alive, quivering, sharp daggers that hurt but like old wounds being cleansed, and she spends a lot of nights crying again but her prayers are not so bitter, and she is slowly beginning to lose the cynical eye she hadn't realized she'd assumed.

Her faith begins like a shriveled bulb, planted deep within the soul of winter tundra, sprouting slowly as the ground begins to thaw.

It blooms one night, at last, after a thousand years have passed within her aching soul. She looks up at the stars and feels as though her heart will break from the fullness, from the longing, and she realizes that

She has lived it all.

She was Mary, eyes alight with the dawn, tears of joy streaming down her face—first to see the Risen Lord.

She was Thomas, touching the wounds of her savior and staring into his glorious face—"I believe, help my unbelief."

She was Eve—fallen, foolish, frail—fraught with woe and pain as a consequence of her disobedience and doubt. But forgiven. Oh sweetly forgiven! And a promise remains, a hope lingering at the edges of her mind, bright as the dawn on Christmas morn—

O Death, where is thy sting?