I bow before the magnificence of CS Lewis, but I had to write this. It's the only part left undone to me in the Last Battle. I don't own anything except some very old and well-read copies of the best stories I ever had read to me.
The children looked up at the story teller. To some of them she was a relative, to others, simply an older woman who could tell stories the likes of which they had never heard. During community events, they would find her, gravitating towards her. Sometimes even in the cool evenings when they could sneak away they would find their way to her home, and she would sit on a stone bench and they would crowd around her and listen.
They often called her grandmother, even though many of them didn't share a drop of her blood. She never corrected any of them, enjoying the way they listened to her every word.
She told stories of magical pools and rings, and an apple that cured the ill. A wardrobe made of apple wood, and another world called Spare Oom. A castle and mermaids, and the ruins of that same great castle, thousands of years, and barely months later. Time worked differently, one world to the next, she explained.
And always, there was the lion. Majestic and fierce, kind and generous. Always in the story, in the background, or as a main character.
But always there.
She told stories of kings and queens, loved, and never forgotten. There was a specific queen she spoke of often, the gentle queen, lonely and sad, left behind.
Then she would brighten, and go on in her story, because, of course, the lonely gentle queen was responsible for her own unhappiness.
She tried to teach them lessons hidden in the stories. To never give up on your family. To never stop believing in what you know is true, no matter how hard faith is to hold onto.
A little girl approached her often, and it was a sort of sad irony that the girls name was Susan. "Grandmother," the girl would ask softly, "Are they true, your stories?"
"Oh yes," Grandmother always answered. "Always true."
"The lion, Grandmother. You never name the lion."
Grandmother smiled, tears in her eyes. "You know his name, child, you just don't know you know it."
Susan nodded, understanding even though she knew it didn't really make sense, because somehow it always did. "The lonely queen, does she ever see her family again?"
"I don't know. I hope so." The grandmother hugged herself. "I believe she will someday. I can't tell that story, though."
And in time, because time passes, no matter what world you're in, the young Susan stood at a new grave. Her father was the stone cutter and had made a magnificent stone for the story-teller. A lion's head graced it, which was fitting considering all of her stories.
Susan sighed as everyone began to filter away from the service. She herself finally drifted away, until she felt the breeze, which seemed to affect only her, and strangely enough, smelt of apples. A distant sound, oddly reminiscent of a lion's roar made her turn and start back for the gravestone. She stumbled along the way, and felt an odd urgency, and when she made it back, she stared at the strange stone circlet that lay on the gravestone. It looked oddly like a crown.
"Queen Susan the Gentle, she was lonely no more. She found her way back to her family, and was forgiven by the lion. And they lived together for the rest of eternity, at peace," Young Susan said softly to the children where they had gathered around her, and watched them scamper away to their families.
She smiled at the silence around her.
"Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia," a voice seemed to whisper in her ear.
She couldn't help but agree.