a Chronicles of Narnia fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-
Night had fallen. Overhead, the moon was shining and the stars were twinkling brightly. Caspian strolled along the battlements, guided only by the light of the moon. The walls and towers of the castle spread out below him. It seemed only yesterday he had fled this place, and now he was master of it. He had left a hunted man, and returned a king.
King of all Narnia, with the blessing of Aslan himself. It was all like something straight out of the Doctor's stories. Caspian leaned against the cold stone wall with a heavy sigh. This was everything he had ever wanted, yet it was so overwhelming. Even with the support of Aslan, it would take some time to mend this broken land. He could only hope that he would be as fine a ruler as the High King Peter.
There was movement in a nearby doorway. Caspian whirled around, one hand flying to the hilt of his sword, but he stopped short. What emerged from the shadows was no threat.
"King Caspian." She came bearing a lantern that cast a flickering light over her burgundy dress. Caspian squinted in the dim light. Susan had flowers woven into her hair, and a strange look in her eyes. She approached him with purpose, but hesitantly, with a shyness he had not seen in her before. At first, she stepped directly toward Caspian, but a few steps away she turned aside to look out over the wall.
"A fine night," she said quietly.
"It is," agreed Caspian, not sure what else to say. "Narnia is a fine country." Susan nodded but did not speak, her face turned away from him.
The new king gazed out over the land again. His land. Aslan's land. Once again, the burden of responsibility weighed heavily on him. Still, he had to admit that even at this early stage he seemed to be doing well. Already, this was not the same Narnia he had grown up in. The air felt lighter, the stars brighter, the breeze fresher than it had ever been. He could hear faint chatter below in the castle where there had been only oppressive silence; the varied voices of Talking Beasts and centaurs and all manner of strange creatures. Behind it all was the distant rustling of trees, the forest itself whispering a deep conversation. Narnia was more alive than it had been in years, and all that lived were Caspian's subjects. No Telmarine king before him had ever reigned over so many. When the Queen standing beside him had ruled at Cair Paravel, at least she had had her brothers and sisters to help her. Even with Aslan behind him, Caspian was not eager to take up the throne alone.
"You won't leave me, will you?" He hadn't wanted to sound weak in front of Queen Susan, but the words slipped out on their own accord. He stared furiously at the distant ground, fearing she would scold him for not trusting in Aslan's blessing, but to his surprise the only response was a quiet sniffle. He turned to see Susan's shoulders shaking.
"What's the matter, your Majesty?" asked Caspian, alarmed. Susan set her lantern down on the wall and wiped at her face with both hands. The flowers in her hair were wilting, and when she glanced at Caspian briefly, her cheeks were red.
"Forgive me," she said wretchedly. "I intended - I wanted - now it's all gone wrong..."
Caspian put out a hand and patted her shoulder awkwardly. He could strike down any foe, face down any army, but he had no idea how to comfort a crying girl. He was on the verge of calling out for help when she turned, quite suddenly, into his arms.
"It's never forever," she whispered.
"Please tell me what's wrong," Caspian said desperately, now utterly lost. He stood frozen, unsure if he should hold Susan or back away, but she clung to his arms as if unseen forces were about to carry her off. "Has someone hurt you?"
Susan seemed to ignore the question. She went dreadfully still for a moment, and then drew back from Caspian, holding him at arm's length. She looked at him, but would not meet his eyes.
"Ruling Narnia is no small task," she said in a strange voice. "There are still those who don't believe Telmarines and Narnians can live peacefully together. You'll need advisors you can trust."
"I'll have Doctor Cornelius," Caspian replied, caught off-guard by the sudden change in topic. "And you and the others, of course."
"Five rulers may be too many for Narnia... but there's no one closer to a king than his queen." Susan's cheeks were now dry, but a soft blush was creeping into her lantern-lit face. "Have you ever fallen in love, your Majesty?"
"No, but I suppose I shall when I'm older." The answer stumbled out automatically, but Caspian was quite shocked by the question. He had never expected to be asked such things, especially by one of the Queens of old! He was suddenly very aware of how close Susan was to him, her grip on his arms, and the whisper of her breath in the air. As she drew nearer to him again, Caspian wished he were anywhere else in the world.
"What better queen could there be," Susan went on, "than one already familiar with the role? One who knows what it is to rule a country of so many different creatures? One who remembers the glory days of old?"
She was very close now. Caspian could feel her hearbeat hammering against him, fast and flighty, like a bird's. Her hands trembled on his arms.
"I could be such a queen for you, your Majesty." Now Susan turned her eyes to his as she lifted her face, rising on her toes in search of something. Caspian's gaze locked onto hers. There was longing there, and warmth, but eclipsing it all was a quiet desperation that chilled Caspian to the bone. She shook, not in anticipation, but in fear. Caspian did not know much of love, but he knew it was not this. He stepped back, pulling away from her questing lips.
"Queen Susan, what are you doing?" he demanded, eyes narrowing in concern. "What is this?"
"I only want to be yours," Susan protested. Her expression had become anxious, pleading, as if gold were slipping away between her fingers.
"You are not yourself," Caspian stated.
A sudden indignance flared in the girl's eyes. Her hands flew to her hips. "So, if I show a bit of emotion, I'm suddenly not myself?" she snapped angrily. "Am I not allowed a heart?"
"It's not that," Caspian protested. Inside, he breathed a small sigh of relief. The fiery Queen he knew had resurfaced.
"I suppose it's all right for Lucy," Susan went on. "She can be as emotional as she wants, but when I feel something, it's suspicious. Lucy's always been the... favorite..." She turned away from Caspian and leaned against the stone wall. Her shoulders shook.
"Your Majesty," Caspian said awkwardly, after a moment. There was no response. "Susan?"
"Please." Slowly, the Queen turned her face toward Narnia's new king. There were tears on her cheeks again, and a sadness in her eyes reminiscent of those who had lost loved ones on the battlefield. "If you marry me, he'll have to let me stay."
Caspian felt ill. "What do you mean?"
"He means to send us back soon," Susan said tearfully. "Peter and I... we won't be coming back."
"He must have his reasons," Caspian said, even as a chill ran down his spine. So, soon he alone would be responsible for the well-being of all Narnia. Even with Aslan's confidence, he didn't feel ready.
"But no one knows what those reasons are, do they?" Susan argued. "He never explains anything!"
"It is not given to us to know the Lion's reasons," Caspian replied, amazed that he had to tell her this. "I admit I wasn't always sure of him, but without Aslan, Narnia would not be free. I think it wise to trust him a while longer."
"You speak like a king already," Susan said bitterly, turning away. "Just like Peter..."
Caspian was more flattered than insulted by the comparison, but he knew Queen Susan was in pain, so he said nothing.
"You don't understand how cruel it is," Susan said after a while. "It's so lovely here, and we're all Kings and Queens and have such wonderful adventures. And then we go back to England, and have to get used to being ordinary children all over again. The last thing I want to do after fighting a great revolution is listen to some teacher drone on about chemistry."
"I wouldn't mind some quiet lessons after all this," King Caspian admitted.
"It's not the same thing!" Susan argued. "You get to stay here and go on being yourself, while we have to go home and be... no one. Just another four faces in the crowd, to be pushed around and shuffled aside. And then we get brought back and everything changes all over again. Except this time..." She trailed off.
"Don't you think, then, that perhaps it's best for you to live in one world from now on?" Caspian said gently.
"But why that one?" Susan protested. "Peter and I risked our lives fighting for Narnia! How can Aslan take it away from us? Last time, we were here for years and years; now we've only just arrived and we're being told it's the end. You Telmarines are Humans, too, why do you get to stay? It's not fair!"
"Narnia has always been my home. You had a home before this, your Majesty." Caspian was beginning to find the subject of conversation somewhat unsettling. "Funny, that I should understand Aslan better than one of his chosen," he said pointedly.
Susan looked incensed. She clenched her fists at her sides and glared at him in the moonlight. "So, you'll turn your back on me too, then?"
"If Aslan wills it, I must," Caspian said firmly. "I'll do nothing to risk his friendship."
There was a pause while they faced each other. Tears still sparkled in Susan's eyes, and Caspian felt her sorrow, but as king his alliance with Aslan came above all else. Eventually, Susan's expression of anger softened into resigned sadness.
"I could have loved you, if you had done this for me," she said quietly. Caspian raised a hand and gently brushed her cheek.
"Love not given freely is no love at all."
"Your Majesty?" A voice drifted up from the depths of a nearby tower.
"We should return downstairs," Caspian said. Susan was quiet, staring down at her fine clothing and the castle stones beneath her feet. Suddenly, Caspian was seized by the feeling that something terrible, more dreadful than he could ever imagine, would happen to Susan if she carried on thinking this way. He had learned well that without the Lion, only ill would follow.
"Do not lose faith in Aslan," the new king pleaded. "Once a King or Queen in Narnia, always a King or Queen in Narnia. Remember that."
"And what does that get me?" the girl whispered. "False hopes and a divided life, neither in that world nor this."
"Do not lose faith," Caspian urged. "Do me that favor, if nothing else."
Susan said nothing.
The Chronicles of Narnia and its associated characters and canon are the property of C.S. Lewis.