Last year, people had been wondering to Bobby, half in jest, whether the fall of the Berlin Wall were a sign that the world was about to end. Bobby didn't have the heart to tell them that they were half right.
Earth had gone to Hell in a handbasket since first John Winchester's boys, then John himself, had vanished without a trace. Even the car John and Dean had loved so much was missing, and nobody in the town where they'd been on that last hunt seemed to even remember that they'd existed. Bobby missed them every damn day, and not only because he cared about them. Demonic activity had spiked in the last year and a half. Some bigwig from Downstairs had kidnapped a kid and forced his mother to go into a cowboy cemetery in Wyoming to open a devil's gate; Bobby, Jim, and Caleb had managed to shut it again, but not before half of Hell got out and started wreaking havoc everywhere. Bobby had started getting visits from an angel (!), name of Castiel, who'd roped every hunter he could find into trying to stop the seals on Lucifer's Cage from opening. They'd failed.
Then Lucifer'd pitched a fit because the kid Azazel kidnapped wasn't from the right bloodline to be possessed, and Michael'd pitched a fit because he couldn't find anyone to possess at all. As dry and deadpan as Castiel's descriptions were, Bobby had still gotten a headache trying to make sense of it all.
What it all boiled down to, though, was that both sides had finally found ways to make do with what they could find and now stood ranged to fight Armageddon—not, as everyone was expecting, in the Middle East somewhere, though most people thought (correctly) that Saddam Hussein was acting on Lucifer's behalf. No, these idjits were lined up for battle in the middle of the cemetery in Stull, Kansas, and Bobby and every hunter he knew were on hand to try to stop the madness. Unfortunately, they were outnumbered and outgunned.
Jim had had his church praying for months, with no reply. Bobby wasn't even completely sure God even cared.
Michael and Lucifer were circling each other, snarling like junkyard dogs. Any moment now, Bobby knew, they'd draw their swords and start the fight for real. He was just about to give up all hope when he heard something that almost made his heart stop.
Missouri Mosely said, "Oh, my. Ohhhh, my. OhhhhohohoHO, my!" And then she started laughing—loud, hearty, joyful laughter, interspersed with whoops and shouts of "GLORY!" Before long, she was even dancing. "GLORY! GLORY!"
"Missouri," Caleb hissed, "what the hell?"
"Shiloh! SHILOH'S A-COMIN'!"
"Shut her up!" Lucifer bellowed.
But then Bobby felt it—a thrum, a throb, deep in his soul and deep underground, that grew to an audible rumble, then a roar.
A deafening, earth-shaking lion's roar.
Bobby didn't know whether to run or to cheer, but somehow he knew why Missouri was still laughing. This was clearly not part of the plan, and it was a very, very good thing.
And then the roar faded into a sound that did make him yell for joy. Even with his ears ringing, even after a year and a half, he'd know the sound of that engine anywhere.
Sure enough, seconds later, John Winchester's Impala raced over the rise and into the cemetery, blaring "Smoke on the Water" and scattering angels and demons left and right. It pulled straight up to the shocked archangels, and the front doors opened in perfect sync as two young men stepped out—grown impossibly fast, practically radiant with the glory of whatever divine hiding place they'd been in, but Bobby just knew who they had to be.
"Howdy, boys," said Dean Winchester. "Are we interrupting something?"
The dueling archangels froze, staring at the young men until Lucifer began to chuckle, recognition lighting his eyes.
Sam, too grown up now to be a Sammy, just raised an eyebrow.
"Don't you recognize them, brother?" he chortled. "It's our vessels, come to play!"
"Wrong," Sam and Dean replied at the same time—and though they didn't shout, the declaration echoed over the field.
"No, I don't think I am," Lucifer smirked. "So what brings you here?"
"We have an announcement to make," Dean replied. "You see, this? Your prize fight? Is not and never was the way the world was supposed to end. So you two have exactly one minute to call the whole thing off before the Lion ends it for you."
Lucifer's laughter was a terrible thing to hear. It was mocking and cruel.
But the boys... didn't react at all. Rather, Dean just turned to Michael, one eyebrow raised.
"The Lion," Castiel was pleading under his breath. "Please, brother, please, please, choose the Lion..."
Michael shook his head sadly. "You are wrong, Dean Winchester. This is how it was ordained. I am a good son—I follow my Father's wishes."
As Castiel made a distressed noise, Dean shrugged. "All right. Have it your way. Let's go, Sam." Both brothers got back into the car, and Dean honked the horn twice.
A slender, unassuming looking man materialized in front of the Impala. "Hello, boys," he said with a smile, eyes on the archangels.
Every hunter gasped, recognizing the Trickster that had plagued them for generations.
He very deliberately turned his back on them and stepped onto the Impala's bumper. Then her hood. The car rocked under his weight slightly.
He climbed onto her roof and stood up slowly, turning as he did so. "You don't recognize me in this form, brothers. Perhaps you will in this one."
His hair lengthened and lightened, till it was kissing his shoulders. His jeans and jacket melted away into a filmy robe. His form grew taller and more powerful. While he held enough of himself inside to not injure human eyes, he made certain that all could see his massive wings.
There was no doubt what he was.
And there was no doubt which one he was—as he raised a ram's horn to his mouth.
Ground and sky trembled at a sustained, massive blast of music from the shofar.
Purifying fire flared through Bobby's body—and a split second later, he was airborne, shooting skyward with Castiel, most of the other hunters, and a good number of the angels. And they weren't alone... graves were opening all over the cemetery, their occupants whole and alive and rocketing upward just like the others. Missouri's singing rang through the skies, and a multitude of voices joined her.
The higher they got, the more people Bobby could see—millions, maybe billions, from all over the world. And finally, he could see where they were all headed: a bright portal being held open by a giant lion, an image that called to mind one of Bobby's favorite books from childhood.
"Aslan!" he cried, as if he were greeting a long-lost friend. "ASLAN!"
And he heard the Lion's laughter—triumphant and warm. "Welcome!" he roared into their souls. "Welcome! Welcome, Sons of Adam! Welcome, Daughters of Eve! Welcome HOME!"
Bobby had never been able to carry a tune in a bucket before, but he was singing along with Missouri and all the rest as they soared into the portal.
But then, to his great confusion, he found himself veering off in another direction, finally coming to rest in a massive, silent, park-like wood with pools every few feet.
He didn't know how long he'd been there when he heard Dean call, "Bobby! Uncle Bobby!"
And there they were, the impossible boys, getting out of their Impala a few feet away from him.
"Dean?" he breathed. "Sammy?"
Then they both were in his arms—good night Irene, how did Sammy get so tall?—laughing and crying at the same time.
And Bobby was laughing and crying right along with them. "Mercy, boys, I've missed you so damn much!"
"How long were we gone?" Sam rumbled into his ear.
"Year and a half, give or take. Where've you been, and how'd you grow up so fast?"
They pulled back, smiling. "Narnia," they chorused, and Dean finished, "We grew up in the natural way of things."
"It's the usual muddle about times," Sam added, sounding a little more British than American. "I just turned 25."
"And I'm 29," Dean said. "Next year I'll stop aging normally."
"We'll all grow old eventually," John added, stepping out from behind a tree with a blonde on his arm, not looking a day older than when Bobby had last seen him. "But we've still got a good, long life to look forward to."
Dean nodded. "It'll happen very slowly—and then we move to Aslan's Country."
Bobby nodded and turned back to John. "Is... is this..."
John beamed. "Yep. This is my Mary. Honey, Bobby Singer."
"Bobby." She shook his hand. Warm. Real. Alive. "Thank you for keeping my John safe."
"My pleasure, Mary," he returned. "He's a good man. And as for these two idjits..."
"Hey!" the boys objected, but they were laughing, and so did Mary and John.
And so did Bobby. "They've been a joy. Loved 'em like my own."
"And they've loved you," Mary replied. "I can't count how many 'Uncle Bobby' stories I've heard—probably as many as the 'Pastor Jim' stories. My boys got up to a lot while I was gone!"
There was more laughter all around at that remark.
"So!" Bobby said. "Not that I'm unhappy about the reunion here, but this don't look like Aslan's Country. Anybody know where we are?"
"This is the Wood between the Worlds," Aslan replied, appearing on the far side of the nearest pool. "And you, Robert, I have brought here with the Winchesters because you have loved one another like family and because you are to witness the end of this affair."
Bobby frowned. "The end of what affair? And no offence... sir... but I'd rather ya call me Bobby."
Aslan's laugh rumbled in Bobby's chest. "Very well, Bobby. The spirit that claimed to be the God of your world has sought for many ages to deny Me entry, believing that his scheme for the Winchester family would suffice to save fallen humankind. It would not have done so, which is why Gabriel helped Me to interfere. But now all those from your world who could have chosen redemption have done so and are safely in My hands. It is time to grant that blasphemous spirit his wish. Your world shall be left alone."
The earth shook with that final pronouncement. And seconds later, the pool suddenly went totally dry.
"It is finished," Aslan declared.
Sam crouched and touched the dry ground. He looked up. "It feels like a hundred-year drought soil."
Aslan nodded sadly. "Yes. That world is ended."
Dean shifted uncomfortably. "Then why ain't I sad?"
"Because that world was not your home, dear heart. Nor is Narnia your true home. You shall have many years to dwell in the Shadowlands still, but you will find your way home soon enough and find that the things you love best from both worlds will not have perished with them."
"Like m'car," Dean grinned and Sam rolled his eyes.
Aslan laughed. "I shall not spoil the surprise for you, Dean."
They all laughed—even Dean.
"And now, friends, here you must part for a time. There are yet battles to be fought in Narnia, but Bobby's hunting days are over."
John's face fell. "But we just got together again."
"Yeah," Bobby replied, "but unless I miss my guess, I ain't fit for mortal lands anymore. If it helps any, John, I'll have a beer with your name on it waitin' at the Roadhouse when the time comes."
John walked forward and took him by the arms. "You're off on a better adventure."
"Ain't that the truth." Bobby pulled him into a hug and thumped his back. "You take care of those boys and that lady, y'hear?"
"I will. And I'll hold you to that beer, old man."
Bobby chuckled. "You've got it, Jarhead."
John stepped back and Mary hugged Bobby tight. "So much I want to tell you."
"We'll have time soon enough," Bobby replied. "I'm just glad my boys have their mama back. I'll be savin' a beer for you, too." And he brushed a kiss on her cheek as he let her go.
Then he took a deep breath and turned. "Boys, looks like you've grown up good. I'm damn proud of you two."
They nodded at him, too overcome for words.
He pulled first Dean, then Sam into a long, tight hug. And to each he whispered, "Look after your brother."
And both, in turn, nodded and whispered, "Always."
Finally, but still too soon, Aslan breathed on all four Winchesters, changing their modern Earth clothes to Renaissance-looking Narnian garb. Then He shook His mane, and the wood and the Winchesters vanished into a golden blur. When it faded, the Winchesters were gone and Bobby was standing beside Aslan in a different wood, this one next to a crystal-clear mountain stream.
Castiel was standing nearby with someone who might have been his twin but was more likely his vessel, Jimmy Novak. The two of them were trying to console a brunette woman who was verging on hysteria despite the support of another woman who looked like her sister.
Bobby stepped forward. "Castiel?"
Castiel turned. "Bobby—my Lord," he added, bowing low to Aslan.
"Castiel," Aslan rumbled. "What troubles this Daughter of Eve?"
The woman barked a hysterical laugh. "Daughter of Eve. That, that, that's a good one, that's rich. Wrong Eve. I don't belong here; I'm not... I'm not..."
Bobby frowned. "You were ransomed with the others. There was some reason."
The second woman touched her arm. "You've never killed, that's why you're here. Please, calm down."
"But I'm not human!"
The second woman turned to Aslan. "Please, sir... help her?"
Aslan acknowledged her with a single slow nod. Then He looked at the panicky woman. "Lenore."
Trembling, she looked up at him.
"Show Me your fangs, child."
She opened her mouth and hissed—and froze, eyes going wide. Her hands flew to her gums. "... I can't!"
"You have not shed a human's blood, and your heart responded to My call. The vampire taint was cleansed when you were transformed. You are once more the human you were born. And you are forgiven."
She fell to her knees, crying. Aslan walked up to her and planted a gentle lion's kiss on her forehead.
"Rise now, Lenore, Daughter of the true Eve. And let your heart no more be troubled."
Lenore stood. The second woman—her sister—held her close.
Aslan made a noise that might have been a purr before turning back to Castiel. "Now, Castiel."
"Your vessel was young."
"Are you reconciled?"
He looked at Jimmy. "I believe so, yes."
Jimmy shrugged. "He was trying to do the right thing, and he really didn't know what else to do. Nobody'd told him he could make his own body; he thought it was against the rules."
Castiel looked startled. "Reconciliation, yes... I did not expect forgiveness."
"Well, what's the point of not forgiving? It's over. We're in Heaven. Real Heaven, not what your father called Heaven. Zachariah lied to you, and there's a good chance others lied to him." Jimmy shrugged again. "I dunno, I just... can't get mad about it anymore."
Castiel hugged him. Jimmy hugged him back.
"Well, there's a switch," Bobby breathed.
Lenore frowned at him. "What?"
Bobby nodded at Castiel. "Feathers wasn't too big on social graces last time I saw him. Had trouble cracking a smile at a joke, if he even caught it in the first place."
"And that," said Gabriel, appearing next to Bobby in his Trickster guise, "is one major reason I ditched. Nobody had a sense of humor anymore."
"So you haul off and go Trickster?"
"I've been over this with Yeshua already. But yes, I did, and I'm not proud of it, but I did pick the right team in the end and we did pull off the best trick and get the last laugh. Dad got exactly what he wanted, and it turned out to be Hell."
The humans and Castiel were still digesting that pronouncement when Bobby suddenly heard Rufus call, "Hey, Bobby! Look who I found!"
Bobby turned and gasped. "Karen!"
Radiant and whole, Karen ran from a grinning Rufus and threw herself into Bobby's arms. "Oh, Bobby, I missed you so!"
Bobby held her close and sobbed into her ear, "Baby, I'm sorry—I'm so, so sorry—"
"That last fight? Oh, I know, sweetheart. I said some awful things, too. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Forgive? Honey, there's nothing to forgive. I was a damned idjit, and I never should have hurt you like that. The fault's all mine."
"Idjit, maybe. Damned, never. I saw the remorse in your eyes as I was dying. I forgave you then. I forgive you now."
Bobby hugged her tighter and wept in relief.
Rufus cleared his throat. "Bob... I still can't find Winchester."
Bobby sniffled and pulled away from Karen. "I've seen him. He's alive, in Narnia for now. Him and the boys—and Mary."
Rufus stared. "Seriously? Narnia? But how..."
"Long story," Gabriel interrupted. "I'll tell you later. Right now, I think the Boss wants us to get moving."
Aslan laughed. "Yes, children, it is time. Come, follow Me! Further up and further in!"
Bobby suddenly felt so full of joy, of life, that if he were still mortal, he might be afraid his heart would burst. He grinned at Karen, and Karen grinned back and grabbed his hand. And as Aslan bounded away up the mountain, they and their friends laughed and bounded after Him.
The End of the Beginning
This story came out of a combination of ideas that had been rattling around in the back of my head for a while, not least of which was the request left on my most recent piece of meta (on LJ) for a story in which Dean finds himself in a different universe and feels unexpectedly at home. What actually prompted it, though, was a summary for a crossover here that got me thinking that the only truly realistic Narnia crossover I could think of would necessarily have to be Wee!chesters, given the way travel to Narnia works...
... but the Last Battle occurred in AD 1949 in Earth years...
... but maybe SPN-verse time relates to Narnian time differently than does time in the universe from which the Seven Friends of Narnia came...
... and the resulting thought process cascaded into what you see here, thanks in no small part to Enola, my partner in crime. I hope we've made it clear enough that John and Mary (and Gabriel!) are special cases; most other visitors to Narnia from Earth would need to be children because of the way the magic works.
A note on aging: The idea was En's, and I debated taking it out because of the few cases we see of people aging in canon; Caspian, for example, was 66 at the time of his death in The Silver Chair. However, Caspian's rule was almost 2000 years later, assuming that Swanwhite came to the throne sometime around NY 500. Though Narnia was still much younger than our own world then and the Pevensies, Eustace, and Jill still found themselves physically stronger and spiritually healthier in Narnia, one can imagine that the effect would be much greater only 500 years after Creation.
(Yes, I am spoiled by running down minutiae in The Histories of Middle-earth. Why do you ask? ;) )
Names: I have to confess that Roggin, Brickle, and Woggle are semi-consciously inspired by Rogin, Bricklethumb, and Duffle, the three dwarfs who help Shasta in The Horse and His Boy. Names could conceivably be recycled over 500 years, even among dwarfs. There's also a slight influence of the names Rollin, Barney, and Willie from Mission: Impossible (the original series). As for the dryad, eláte (ἐλάτη) is the Homeric Greek word for pine. And since centaur naming conventions seem to concern mostly nature, the weather, and wisdom, I went with a rough translation of Elrond.
Theology: The idea that the God of the Old Testament is not the true God is definitely Gnostic, and I wouldn't have used it were it not the best way to connect SPN-verse with Lewis' multiverse. (I love Show, but the world-building is seriously messed up.) I'm imagining the intrusion of redemption as working somewhat like the final judgment in The Last Battle and not at all like Christian tradition teaches that it works here. I'm also working from one of Lewis' own ideas about Hell, perhaps best condensed into this quote from The Great Divorce: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'" He further states in The Problem of Pain, "I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside" (emphasis original). Lewis believed that Hell is, in its own way, a mercy born of God's love for humankind, love that would not force His presence on those who refuse to love Him back—so in a way, the quote I've used from The Princess Bride as the title still works in its original sense as well as all the other senses it has in this context.
Missouri's comment about Shiloh is a reference to the Messianic prophecy in Genesis 49:10: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (KJV).
Thanks for reading! And if you've enjoyed this collaboration, En and I have quite a few more over on LJ, most notably the Different Roads AU (cazadoretx).