Will They Still Call Me Gentle?
Summary: Aslan has one more task for Queen Susan before she leaves her beloved land. One-shot for now. Post-PC.
A/N: My take on the 'Problem of Susan.' I believe I read somewhere that Lewis hoped to do more with her, and I can't imagine with the message of hope and redemption the series had that he would leave her out to dry. So. This is my view on that. Entirely un-betaed. I own nothing but the syntax and any subsequent mistakes.
The war was won. Caspian was a true King of Narnia now, and the people rejoiced. In spite it all, though, Susan's heart was heavy. She knew- suspected- that the end of the fighting likely meant an end to their stay in their dear land. What more could they do, after all? Caspian had the centaurs and other old Narnians to rely on for guidance, and well though it had worked in their own time, she imagined that multiple kings and queens now would not be so well-received.
So she wandered about the castle, sleepless, trying to take in the familiar constellations that she had not seen in an age and would not see in perhaps yet another age more.
Very soon, however, familiar footfalls at her side made it clear she was not alone. Her gaze fell from the heavens above to her side, and she curtsied slightly in greeting to the Lion beside her.
"Something troubles you, my daughter."
There was only a moment's hesitation before she dipped her head in a slight nod, managing to speak the worry that had been in the back of her mind for longer than she cared to admit, "We will be- sent back, now, won't we?"
She tried not to let the disappointment make her expression falter too much, but it was impossible to keep her heart held back in his presence. "Why? Why must we return back there? It isn't- this is home, more than there could ever be."
"Because you are needed there, child. You, more even than your siblings, and they would not stay here if you could not."
She couldn't hold the confusion back, and he would have read it in her heart, anyways. Perhaps that was why the Lion spoke on as he did. "The world you come from has been in existence for longer than Narnia, although that may not seem to be true thanks to the passage of Time in these lands. But that land is older, and once when it was young I was there as well. But the Children of Adam and Eve have forgotten that fact, have forgotten what their world once stood for and believed in. As such, it has begun to fall into ruin."
Aslan began to pace back and forth, then, continuing his tale in a voice like quiet thunder. "But I have not forgotten your world, Gentle Queen. Nay, how could I, when I brought you from it into this? There was a reason that I chose the four of you, not only because your spirits were the kinds needed to help Narnia remember its origins and bring it into its Golden Age, but also because your spirit, Susan, will be what helps your world to become like Narnia is and was."
"I- I don't understand."
"Daughter of Narnia, I must charge you with one final task, one in which I shall ask the most of you. Hear me, my child, and tell me if you will heed my call."
Susan felt the weight of the moment press upon her shoulders, and she knelt before him, head bowed, "I will hear your words, Aslan, Lord of All, and shall give you my answer when it is needed."
The Lion's approval rumbled from deep within his throat. "Daughter of Narnia, do you trust me?"
"Always? Even in times of trouble and strife?"
"Even and especially then, my Lord."
"Hear this now, then. What I ask of you is a burden simple yet great- and one which you must bear alone, my daughter. When you return to your other home, you must make it seem to your siblings that you have forgotten Narnia."
"Forgotten?" Susan queried in disbelief, "But I would never forget-"
"I know, dear one," the Lion responded gently, "But you must make it seems as though you have. For in doing so, it will free you to help lead that other world to greatness. I warn you- it will make your brothers and sister think you lost, may make them call you traitor. And ultimately, Gentle Susan, this task is one you must carry out alone. They cannot know that you remember and cherish these lands in your heart still, for they will pull you back into their fold and that will keep you from doing what you must in that world."
"They will- never know that I remember?"
"No, my daughter. They cannot."
"And they will see that I have forgotten and think me a traitor?"
There is a long, long pause at that. When she finally manages to speak, her voice quivers with uncertainty, "Aslan... You ask so much of me, my Lord. Of my family."
"I am well aware of it, dearest one. But if you will take it- if you will do this for that world, I will give you the strength to bear it."
"And to the others?"
"Your siblings will have one another to lean on, though I will ever be with them. It is you who will need the fortitude of a lionness, when the time comes for you to begin to step into your destiny." His eyes seemed deeply, deeply sad, and Susan was afraid to know what would happen to start that destiny off, "You will have great sorrow, lovely Queen. But I can also promise you great strength, and with both you shall do great things."
Her fingers dug just a little into the cobblestones as her gaze dropped to the floor, mulling over his words before she looked up at him, hesitant but determined, "I've just one question, before I accept this task."
"Ask, and I will give the answer I can."
"Will they still call me Gentle?"
For that, more than any Southern radiance, more than any praised beauty, more than any other reputation or title she acquired as a Queen in their Golden Queen, was what mattered. That she would still be gentle as a the autumn breeze, gentle as snowfall, gentle as sunshine in spring, gentle as grass underfoot in fall. That she would be remembered as compassionate, as loving, as gentle- that this much of her Narnian self would not be lost even if it would be as though all else may be.
The Lion's eyes were soft, his words touching into her very core. "Yes, my daughter. Gentle you are, and gentle you shall always be, and though it may not be your siblings who always say it, gentle you shall be called to the ends of your days."
Her shoulders trembled with an unidentifiable emotion, and she bowed her head once more, "Then thy will be done, oh Aslan. I accept this task and shall do my utmost to carry it out with strength and grace."
Susan felt the touch of his muzzle against her hair, the slight brush of whiskers, "My blessings and my strength ever unto you, Gentle Queen. You may rise."
She did, dipping once more into a curtsy as she straightened, "You have my thanks, Aslan."
"And you have mine and the thanks of all those whose lives you will change."
And even though she feels certain her heart is breaking already with the weight, his words make her smile.
"Go rest, my daughter. Long is the road ahead of you, for you shall leave these lands on the morrow."
She nodded, curtsying again before she took her leave. Her steps brought her back to the hallway where her temporary quarters were, but she did not retire just yet, instead making her way out to the balcony. She wanted to gaze a little longer on the land still called home.
The view wasn't the familiar one she would have had at the Cair, but she cared not. The important things were still the same. The trees stirred slightly, though whether from the night breeze or from the dancing of nymphs, she was unsure. Owls swooped occasionally over the towering greenery, and a faun and a Fox patrolled below.
This was the land she had lived in and loved. This was the land she would make every sacrifice for. This was the land she called home.
But she was known for the size of her heart, and she imagined, as she finally returned to bed, that there would be plenty of room to carry both this home with her and to grow love for her other one.
For surely, so long as she trusted in this and in Aslan, then there was nothing Queen Susan the Gentle could not overcome.
A/N: Well, here we are. One-shot for now, but I think I'll probably want to do something with this later. We'll see. Hope you enjoyed!