Summary: Enchantments are meant to be broken, aren't they? And Princesses are meant to be kissed. But not Queens. Never Queens. A Lucian fairy tale.
Rating/Warnings: T for later chapters, which contain sensuality and adult concepts. This is a slow burn, but there are some tricky things coming up in future chapters (I will warn as they happen). No underage sex, violence, profanity, abuse, torture, or incest. If you believe that joyous consensual romance has no place in Narnia, you may not be so happy with this fic.
A/N: I have finally come up with a Lucian that I am content with! This has been ten years in the waiting, my friends. Shout out to Metonomia, a fellow Lucianite who got me started on this track of thinking, and rthstewart, whose Not My Children's Narnia has most certainly influenced aspects of this story (plus she's just awesome in general, and you should go read her and Meto's fics). So, enjoy!
In the world from which they came, they have a story of a prince or a king coming to a castle where all the people lay in an enchanted sleep. In that story he could not dissolve the enchantment until he had kissed the Princess.
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 13
Chapter 1: Green Monsters
Lucy sat on the portside railing on the main deck of the Dawn Treader, gazing on the glinting expanses of sea. The sun was just about to dip below the western horizon of the calm seas, where they could no longer see in the distance the Island of the Dufflepuds (as Caspian had named it on Coriakin's map). Although the fading light and proximity to the last isle made the sight of new land unlikely, Edmund still stood at his familiar lookout on the fighting top. Lucy looked rather enviously up at the coveted place of privacy, and Edmund caught her glance and beckoned her up.
So Lucy scrambled up the rigging as easily as any sailor – funny how that came back so easily from her days on the Hyaline and Gazelle and Wayferer – and joined her brother on the narrow platform overlooking the rest of the ship. There the feeling of flying was thick upon them, one of the many reasons Lucy loved this post, where the wind was so much windier and the salt air tangier and the skies so much closer, and the earth beneath seemed to fall away and leave only the sense of being carried upon the rushing drafts. Her footing felt sure – oh how well she remembered the practiced stances she and Susan grew accustomed to in preparation for sea battles! – and it still felt slightly odd to be up on the fighting top unarmed, her arm and shoulder free of the weight of quiver and bow.
All about them were the soft watercolors of a peaceful setting sun, which was much different than the fiery palette of a stormy day's dusk. Now all that was left were the red and purple brushstrokes of its fading light beneath the horizon.
"All right, Lucy," said Edmund after a companionable silence had fallen between them. "Out with it. You've been too quiet ever since you went up those stairs at the Magician's house. What happened up there?"
Lucy had to smile ruefully. Edmund had not lost a bit of the perceptiveness – or forthrightness – he was so known for during their reign. "Is it that obvious?"
"After twenty-five years? Yes." Edmund grinned. "But I doubt anyone else has such vast observational experience."
"I'm lucky there's only one of you then."
"You are very nearly as bad, you know."
"But less stubborn."
"Probably more," said Edmund with a shake of his head. "I'm just more persistent. And thus I won't be so easily diverted as that. The Magician's house. You – you are all right, aren't you Lu?"
"Yes, oh yes, he was lovely!" said Lucy. "And it all turned out so well. All of our worrying for nothing."
"Then what's bothering you?"
Lucy took a deep breath, but after all, this was Edmund, who had heard her darkest secrets for decades and never once blinked twice at any of her confessions. She said slowly, "I told you I said the spell to make the Duffles visible, and the Magician and Aslan. But I never told you of the other spells in the book. Ones that I said and… almost said."
"Was it very bad?" asked Edmund, his eyes intent on her face.
"Oh Edmund, I was so ashamed. They were such petty spells I wanted to do – mean shallow things to gratify my own selfishness. It was so bad that Aslan had to stop me from saying one of them."
"Will you tell me?"
"Of course I will – but you will think much less of me for it."
"Never," he vowed.
Lucy bit her lip. "It – it was a beauty spell. How silly is that!"
"What's so very bad about that?"
"It would have me beautiful beyond the lot of mortals, and kings of every land between Ettinsmoor and Calormen and beyond the sea would have fought over me until thousands were slain in open warfare."
"But that could not be what you really wanted," Edmund said with a slight frown.
"Never!" Lucy exclaimed. "For a single man to die over me – me – how despicable would I be to wish for such a thing! It was horrid. I even saw myself in England, the most beautiful woman you could imagine, and Susan was so angry and nobody thought she was the least bit pretty anymore." Lucy's voice had dropped to a murmur at the ugly words.
"Susan? Surely you are not jealous of Susan?"
Lucy felt the beginnings of tears start to well up behind her eyes. "How could I be? My own sister, who I love more than words? Surely not! No, Edmund, I am jealous of myself."
Edmund's puzzlement was quite evident. "What do you have to be jealous of?"
"Who I was," Lucy said, shame-faced, her hand pressed to her cheek with the mortification. "Who I used to be. Queen. Grown-up. Brave. Powerful. Everything I'm not anymore."
Edmund awkwardly put his arm around her shoulders, and the characteristically gruff mannerism which was so Edmund made Lucy tear up even more. "That's not true, Lu," he said. "Not at all. Always a Queen. Remember?"
She sniffled. "Yes. Of course."
"And grown-up or no, your bravery is never in question. As for power…well, we just have a different kind of power now." Edmund looked thoughtfully down below them, a somber expression of regret passing over his features, reminding her of his face after Deathwater Island, and Lucy knew he understood.
"It's different, isn't it?" she said, leaning against his shoulder. "No less wonderful. But it's hard. Knowing we'll have to go back again to being just kids eventually. Knowing we'll never be the rulers of Narnia as we once were."
"It has been on my mind," he admitted. "Especially in the past few adventures. Letting Caspian rescue us in Narrowhaven – Lu, you know how much I wanted to set upon the slavers and free ourselves and the other prisoners when we had the chance. But that wasn't Caspian's way."
"Yes, he is a different sort of King," Lucy said, her eyes drifting to the darkened main deck in unconscious search for the King in question, finally finding him deep in conversation with Drinian on the forecastle. "But a noble one. Narnia is in the right hands, Edmund. She does not need our rule any longer."
Though he bowed his head in acknowledgement, Edmund sighed. "That does not mean we don't still need Narnia."
As the first stars appeared in the northernmost skies – her beloved stars, some of Lucy's earliest friends in Narnia – the truth of Edmund's words sank in. She felt something more than tears, something that felt like bursting out of her.
"I wish we could stay for a long, long time again," said Lucy impetuously. "I don't want to go back. I don't want to be just a little girl, Ed! Peter is practically a man now…Susan is nearly as beautiful and sophisticated as she was when we left Narnia the first time. And I know that sounds like jealousy. But I'm not, honestly. I don't care one whit about being more beautiful than her. If I was jealous, it would be that Susan is so much nearer to her true self than I am. And it will be so very long before I will be there, if ever!" She knew she sounded petulant, but all of the emotions that nearly saying that awful spell had evoked were still simmering there, ugly and low and utterly dishonorable.
Peter would have stroked her hair and kissed her and assured her that she would grow up quick enough. Susan would have wondered if she'd woken up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, and would have sent her to bed with warm milk and soothing compliments. But Edmund knew. "You are not the only one, Lucy," said Edmund in a low voice. "There may have very well been a spell in that book for me."
As was his custom, Edmund did not divulge the rest of his thoughts out loud, for Lucy could read his eyes perfectly. It was a better comfort than mere words or caresses could have been – knowing that her brother too mourned the loss of their old lives and all that they had left there, and felt its lack when they looked at their older brother and sister, already so grown up and assured in their paths.
Half an hour later, the two of them climbed down from the top past the dark rippling purple sail and onto the dwindling main deck, as many of the crew who were not still lingering in the galley were turning in already. "Your Highness, a game tonight?" called Reepicheep from the poop deck. Lucy regretfully turned down the offer of chess with the gallant Mouse, considering her distracted state of mind that night, which would certainly not bode well for her chances of winning against her tactically gifted opponent. She turned toward the door of her cabin.
"Lucy." Out of the darkness, Caspian suddenly materialized beside her and had put a hand on her shoulder. "I fear I was remiss in properly acknowledging your successful adventure during all the commotion of the Magician's grounds. I hope you will accept my commendation belatedly." Even in the shadows of the dark aft of the deck, Caspian's smile shone brightly.
"Oh!" said Lucy, very surprised. "I did almost nothing, you know. The Magician's spellbook did most of the work. Any of us would have been game to do it, I imagine."
"I am not so sure, Queen," said Caspian, letting go of her shoulder but leaning in to speak softly with her. "For your bravery in the face of an unknown enemy and fearsome wizardry was beyond that of any of my men – and I have very brave men in my crew."
Lucy flushed at the praise and looked guiltily around, but there was no one close by to hear; Edmund had already disappeared below deck. "You do not take exception for Reepicheep?" she said archly.
"I said men," Caspian reiterated, in kind. "We already know that Narnian mice and women have the most courage of us all."
Though he spoke lightly, the approval in his voice warmed Lucy like a comfortable hearthfire. But his thoughtful use of the word women completely flustered her composure and she found herself stammering thereafter.
"Do you – I mean – are you in need of any sets of clothing from your cabin?" she inquired, before remembering – like an idiot, Lucy! – that one of the benefits of landing upon a Magician's isle was the magically clean loads of washing one departed with.
"I'm sure I shall before long, if your kinsmen keep borrowing my tunics," Caspian said, quite mercifully passing over her faux pas. "And when you have grown weary of always losing to a Mouse, I would be quite happy to challenge your Queen and her company with my King, although I am sure your victory would be swift and tediously easy for you." Apparently he had overhead Reepicheep's offer and was privy to her losing record.
"I shall be sure to let you know when I have been thoroughly trounced by Reepicheep," Lucy managed, not too unsteadily, "and we shall see how our royalty fares."
They bid each other goodnight at Lucy's – well, Caspian's – cabin door, and Lucy scrabbled for the latch with burning cheeks and galloping heartbeat. She couldn't see for a moment in the darkness of the cabin, though her eyes were adjusted to the dark by now, from the hot wave of blushes that set her face on fire.
For there was one secret Lucy had kept from her brother, not out of fear for his judgment, but because she knew he would advise her to give up such a fruitless dream. And oh, how she knew it was! But who would choose to wake up from a beautiful dream simply because they knew they were only dreaming? No, Lucy would rather let hope fill her with the thrill of its potential and wither unfulfilled than to never know its wild sweet calling and never feel the throb of its living pulse in her veins. And so she slept that night with her mind wide open to the golden tales that spun and danced across her racing imagination, as they filled her dreams with magicked visions of what would never be.
For the sleeping Queen was in love with the King, but he was looking for a Princess…
To be continued...