Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia is the intellectual property of C. S. Lewis and his estate. No money is being made from this story, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This story was inspired by the 8/11/12 word #245 on the 15_minute_fic livejournal community.

Summary: A world-building meditation on the theme of apples.

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Nothing is ever completely lost.

Memory remains, attenuating slowly through the ages, passed along an ever-lengthened chain of minds and words. Objects leave ruins, gradually broken down and built into new forms: stone into soil, sand into stone, one cell into another. Lives may leave progeny, the stamp of their genes handed on to mix and change in the ancient dance of inheritance and evolution.

When the Tree of Protection fell, its power left an echo in the earth where it had rooted for so long, no matter what sorcery the Witch tried to scour all Narnia bare. Wood from its trunk and branches was spirited away and fed to the eternal flame the red dwarfs kept burning until spring returned. Apple trees grown from its fruit dotted the country in scattered groves, huddling their way through a century of ice and snow. And in due time, the seeds of its grandchildren's seeds were sown at the gates of Cair Paravel itself, to thrive another thousand years.

In other lands, applewood is not much used for building or for craftwork, but Narnian rhymes so old no one remembers their beginning say apples are for happiness, for beauty and fertility, for grace and good fortune. In the Golden Age most homes had a shelf or chest or table built from the wood of the Tree's descendants. Wedding wreaths were made from apple blossom and a basket of apples doubled as a wish for a child. The figureheads of the Splendour Hyaline and the Dawn Treader were carved from apple under their paint and gilding, a prayer for luck on the restless sea. And both brought their sailors safely home, so perhaps the rhymes were true.

Apple is not a good wood for bows, but it serves well enough for arrows and when Queen Susan's first quiver was emptied, she filled it anew with apple shafts in gratitude for spring. In memory of her, Narnians did the same through war and invasion and restoration. When the Lady Jill fought at the final battle, her arrows were made of applewood and the scent gave her companions hope when hope was lost.

Shelters made of apple switches, decked with blossoms or with fruit, were set by the sides of roads and fords for travelers to give thanks for safe journeys and the return of spring after every winter. The apple tree provided for Narnia in Aslan's long absence, its fruit as sweet and golden as his mane. When Shift the Ape laid his plans, he insisted that the stable to house his false god be built of applewood. The door that High King Peter closed was built from a tree directly descended from the fruit Lord Digory and Lady Polly brought to Narnia at the dawn of time. It shut out the final winter, dark and eternal as the Witch's heart, and on its other side was life.

And in Aslan's country, the Tree itself still stands.

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AN: Thanks for reading, and please review! I appreciate all comments, but I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.