a/n-This is a companion to my one-shot The Forgotten that I've been working on for quite some time now, because I'd like to think that Susan wasn't entirely a lost cause...
Her life so far had been short and full of all sorts of fun imaginable. She was a London socialite, a party girl. She was determined to stay young forever. And with a life like hers there was no room for regrets.
Until suddenly she had nine of them.
Peter. Edmund. Lucy. Eustace. Jill. The Professor. Aunt Polly. Mother. Father.
They were her family, her early role models, her first best friends, and the people she had been drifting away from for years. And now they were all dead.
The most crushing loss to Susan was that of her entire family. She may have drifted away from them, but they had all played very important roles in her life and she had no idea how she would ever recover without them.
Mother and Father had been there from the very beginning, raising her as best they could alongside her siblings. And then, when Father had gone off to war, it had been Mother who had held them all together for as long as she could. Susan had done the best she could to help, especially when she and her siblings had been evacuated to the country.
The Professor had been a dear friend to them then. He had taken in the four siblings, allowing them to remain children for just a bit longer, the war seeming so much more far off now. And of course, where there was the Professor, Susan couldn't forget about Aunt Polly. Aunt Polly lived in London and was the Professor's oldest friend, often coming to visit while the Pevensie children stayed with him. She had even joined in on their games, on occasion.
And as for their games…well they were, quite simply, magical. An escape from the horrors of the real world, Susan and her siblings had gone on many adventures as the kings and queens of a far off had been magnificent, ever the oldest sibling. Edmund, often falling into the role of the middle child and thus the mediator, had been just in everything he did. And Lucy…dear, sweet, wonderful Lucy…she had been so courageous, valiant in her attempts to show her older siblings that a little imagination was really all they needed.
Life had been so much simpler then, for all that there was a war going on. It was easy for all of them to lose themselves in childish fancies, as they had done. Then the war had ended and they had gone home, back to their lives. But her siblings refused to give up their game. Indeed, they even brought their cousin Eustace, and then his friend Jill, in on it. For reasons Susan could not even pretend to understand, the Professor and Aunt Polly continued to play along, abandoning all propriety in the process.
But Susan knew the truth. Narnia was not real. It was simply a fabrication of the imagination. A story made up to escape the realities of the war. And after listening to her siblings insisting nonstop that 'Yes, it is real, thank you very much,' Susan simply refused to listen to any talk of the game at all. It took some time, but her siblings did eventually come to realize that mentioning anything at all to do with 'Narnia' would lead to her quick departure from their presence.
If only she had played along for just a bit longer. If only she had remained gentle with them.
Because the truth of everything was that her stubbornness to abandon her childhood and grow up as fast as possible had led to Susan drifting away from her siblings.
They had been close during the war. All each other really had, they had been the best of friends.
And Susan had ruined it by insisting that they not mention a silly game they had played as children.
Oh, how she wished she could take it all back now.
Maybe things would have turned out differently if she had remained close with her siblings, rather than worrying about what color dress to wear to her next party.
Maybe if she had done that, none of them would have been on that train…at that station.
Maybe they wouldn't have died.
It was a morbid line of thought, Susan knew. But she couldn't help but think that maybe everything could be different now if it wasn't for her.
She wouldn't be sitting here in this empty house; the house of her childhood, once teeming with life, now silent and gathering dust.
She would be happy, not wallowing in grief and despair.
So much was now gone from her life. And, now that there was no chance of creating any new memories with her family, Susan was afraid she would slowly forget all that she could remember. Memories were all that she had left of them, but these days she felt like she was grasping at thin air, trying to hold onto them.
Until one day she met him again.
They had known each other ever so briefly Before, as Susan had taken to thinking of the life she had lead so vicariously up until a few weeks previously. He had been one member of a group of young men acquainted with one of her own socialite friends. At first he had stood out because of his incredibly unique name but, after talking to him a bit, Susan had decided that there was just something about him that made her want to like him. It didn't help matters much that, upon learning her name, he remarked that his mother had always told him that Susan was the name of a true queen.
Yes, Miraz had an air about him that other young men simply did not possess and this fascinated Susan.
She had hardly spent any time with him at all before the accident occurred, though. And then, in her mourning, most of her friends abandoned her in favor of their parties and the social life of the city. She found that she could hardly bring herself to care.
Meeting Miraz again had been rather happenstance as she quite literally ran into him on her way home from the market—a necessary trip as Uncle Harold and Aunt Alberta were due for a visit and it wouldn't do to have them think she wasn't eating.
But meeting him again…it was like a breath of fresh air. Out of all the people she had once counted as friends, it was Miraz who truly understood what she was going through now, having never met his father, who died when he was just a baby. Susan had become a mere shadow of her former self but Miraz was now there to help coax her out of her depression. For as much as she had initially been attracted to him, it really was no wonder that she quickly found herself falling for him now.
Though she did slowly become a bit more like her old self, she wasn't quite the same. It was easy now for Susan to realize that life was short and, no matter how fun all of her parties were, there really was more to life.
And it was with this growing realization in her that Miraz finally proposed marriage, which Susan was all too happy to accept. There was some regret that her family would not be there to see it, but she knew they would be proud of her and want her to move forward with her life. Besides, she would soon have a new family: Miraz's family, small as it was, with just he and his mother.
It was finally meeting his mother that really changed everything. Because Susan knew her.
Susan knew it the moment she saw the woman Miraz introduced as Prudence. She had met this woman before. Just once, ever so briefly. She had been clutching her newborn son tightly to her chest, as if afraid he would be ripped from her.
This woman was Lady Pruniprismia, wife of Lord Miraz, the false king of Narnia.
Narnia. The land she and her siblings had made up in a game when they were children. The land she had always staunchly refused to believe could possibly be real. The land she insisted did not exist. The land she believed to be a part of her childish imagination.
But here was proof that Narnia could not possibly be a figment of her imagination. This woman standing here before her was proof; this woman who had no connection at all to the Pevensie family, who Susan had no recollection of ever meeting before. Except for that one time in that place. Seeing Lady Pruniprismia again brought all of Susan's long-forgotten memories rushing back.
Narnia was real.
How could she have forgotten Narnia? Narnia was real and Susan had distanced herself from her siblings due to her own foolishness. But she didn't have time to re-immerse herself in her own grief at this thought because Lady Pruniprismia recognized her as well.
If there had ever been any question about there being something missing in her life, even before the accident, it was all answered in a single greeting.
"Queen Susan," Pruniprismia breathed softly, before sinking into a deep curtsy, still perfectly polished after so many years away from the Telmarine court of Narnia. "Your majesty."
Miraz didn't quite know what to make of the whole situation. Of course he had grown up to his mother's stories of talking lions and magical lands. And there was a part of him that knew he didn't truly belong in this place, but he hadn't actually thought all of her stories to be true. It was preposterous to think otherwise. And yet…he hadn't mentioned the stories to Susan, so why would she play along with his mother like this? It just didn't make sense.
When he expressed these thoughts, Susan was more than happy to explain.
"But it does make sense. You see, I am Queen Susan the Gentle, and you are Lord Miraz the Younger, son of the second son of Caspian the Eighth and the pretender to the throne of Narnia."
Naturally, it did take some further convincing than this (admittedly somewhat difficult to fully grasp) explanation, but Susan relished in her newly returned memories. For the very first time in years she shared the story of the time she had spent in Narnia so long ago. Telling her story was like a breath of fresh air for Susan. She had been so lost in her melancholy for so long, but now she had all of these wonderful memories of her siblings back again. She had still lost them, and the others, before their time, but the extra years they'd spent together in Narnia were a great consolation to her. And it was all thanks to Miraz that she was even remembering any of it.
Of course, it would take some time for Miraz to fully come to terms with the fact that all of his mother's bedtime stories of a faraway magical land were true—especially the slightly disconcerting revelation that his fiancé had once fancied herself in love with a cousin he'd never met. But accept and embrace all of it he would. And one day, still far off for now, Miraz and Susan would pass those bedtime stories on as well…
But in the here and now, the loving family Susan had grown up with was gone, that much was true. And Narnia was long-since lost to her. But she was no longer alone. She had Miraz now, and his mother. Having them in her life had helped her to remember Narnia again after all these years. And Queen Susan would make sure that she never forgot again.