Have Faith Now
A/N: So this is it, last chapter. Thank you, everyone who reviewed, read and stuck with me through this. I hope I managed to walk the line between boring rewrite and absurd plot twists and make you happy. Enjoy
Have Faith Now
The next morning the sun shone brightly, too brightly for four siblings and a blonde warrior. Caspian was made king before noon, the crown set upon his head by Peter, passing on the torch.
It was a wonderful moment for the former prince of Telmar, but it was an ending for his five friends. Peter’s crown on his head, their country in his hand, it was the last sign that their time here was indeed over. They all put on brave faces for their new king, but none who knew them missed the sadness in their eyes.
Susan spent every second by Caspian’s side, simply soaking in the presence of the boy king that had so turned her head over the span of only a few short weeks. A new queen for a new Narnia, he’d told her and she knew he’d meant it. It would never happen, but she liked the sentiment, the idea. A new Susan. It sounded like a wonderful idea.
Lucy and Edmund seemed to be trying to stuff as much Narnia into the day as they could, speaking with everyone, wandering the castle, looking out of every window and balcony, forcing themselves to make memories of this bright and wonderful place that was home.
Peter’s way of saying goodbye was, for once, quiet and it seemed to lack the intensity he usually displayed in everything he did. He kept Buffy close to his side at all times, not saying much, waiting. All that needed saying had been said the night before and their goodbyes had come and gone before Buffy had cried herself to sleep in the early hours of morning.
She’d wept for all those years of anger, for the things that were lost and for the things she would never even have. Neither of the two knew if they would have worked. Maybe they would have grown to hate each other within months. Maybe not. They would never find out. Buffy would move on, empty, all her anger sucked out, and Peter wouldn’t be there to help her fill the spaces because he’d be back in England, a school boy that had never felt the weight of a sword in his hand.
They stayed side by side, touching almost constantly, but never meeting each other’s gaze. Buffy was sure that if she did, she would start screaming.
It wasn’t fair. And while she knew that sentiment meant nothing, she couldn’t help but feel that way. It wasn’t fair. Narnia had given her back pieces of what she’d lost, had let her have a taste of something good and now it was being taken away again and the fault, she knew now, lay with none but herself. She had made Willow cast that spell. She was the one who had volunteered as a conduit for all the slayer’s primal powers, the very same powers that had turned her into something more than human.
Part god, part girl. She had gone to all those worlds because none could contain her for long, fought all those wars because that was what she was. Now and until the power ran out, five minutes or five thousand years from now.
She shook her head, banishing the thought. Not now. Not yet. She could break down later, when she got wherever she was going next. Now was the time for Caspian to give his little speech on unity.
“Narnia,” he told the crowd, “belongs to the Narnians just as it does to man. Any Telmarines who want to stay and live in peace in this new Narnia, are welcome to.”
Buffy smiled. Even without being able to feel the true nature of Narnia, Caspian understood what their victory meant. This castle and the surrounding lands were now Narnia in name and that meant the power and the beauty that was Narnia was already bleeding into it. This war ravaged land would, before long, be a part of heaven.
“And for any of you who wish, Aslan will return you to the home of our forefathers.”
There were protests in the crowd, people calling out that they had left Telmar behind long ago because it was bad land. Poor land. Aslan smiled and Buffy tried to see the condescension in it, but she failed to see it. As unlikely as it seemed, maybe the lion really was
all that Lucy claimed him to be. Although she would never admit it out loud or believe in him as defencelessly and totally as the Pevensies did. Her argument remained valid. Aslan was not human and never had been.
“We are not referring to Telmar,” the cat explained, “Your ancestors were sea-faring brigands, pirates run aground on an island. There they found a cave, a rare chasm that brought them here from their world, the same world as our kings and queens.”
“It is to that island I can return you. It is a good place for any who wish to make a new start.”
Glozelle stood among his people, listening to the lion speak and he looked around into the hopeful and scared faces of the humans everywhere. They were scared of this new world, a world full of fairy tale creatures and a speaking lion.
Glozelle was afraid too, but not of the Narnians. It was life itself that scared him. He had made his peace weeks ago, when this whole mess had started, had decided to throw in with Caspian to try and restore some of his lost honour. He had not expected to survive.
And yet, he had.
He had turned traitor, had sold his people for his king and he had lived. It left him with a strange and uneasy feeling of restlessness. He was alive. But for what?
Everyone else of his rank was dead, killed during the battle. He was the highest ranking Telmarine left besides the king. But he had no desire to lead, to fight the battles that were sure to come, still. He would have considered staying for Asmira, had she not told him her whole story in the aftermath of the battle.
She was leaving this world. And with that, his last tie to Narnia and Telmar was cut.
“I will go,” he said, loud and clear. “I’ll accept the offer.”
A new world. A new life. Somewhere where he was not a general, not a soldier, a traitor, a man without honour, or hope, or faith. Across the river, he had met the lion’s gaze two days ago and there had been another life in it, another mission. He wasn’t finished yet.
He could have faith now. Faith in the lion and in the future.
He would go.
Prunaprismia clutched her son tight and looked up at her nephew, this splendid new king. He had spared her husband, she had been told. Spared the man that had sought to kill him.
She knew Miraz had not deserved such mercy and yet he had received it. Caspian would be a good king and she was not needed her anymore. Telmar didn’t need the reminder of her husband and his son, Caspian didn’t need the aunt that had left him to fend for himself when she should have protected him with her life.
This world had no use for the dethroned queen, wife a usurper.
“So will we,” she called, a second slower than Glozelle, her eyes fixed on her nephew, who would be a great man.
She would be elsewhere, raising her son to be a better man than his father. A man, not a king.
She stepped forward, Glozelle by her side and Aslan smiled on them. “Because you have spoken first, your future in that world will be good.”
He unwound the trunk of the great tree behind him and silently motioned them through. Taking a deep breath and praying fiercely, Prunaprismia did.
Others had less faith than the former queen and general and demanded proof that the gateway was what it seemed to be. Reepicheep offered to lead his knights through but was turned down when Peter squeezed Buffy’s hand one last time and stepped forward.
“We’ll go,” he said.
Edmund startled, but there was a slump to his shoulders that said he already knew the answer before he asked, “We will?”
The High King – former High King – nodded. “Come on. Our time’s up.”
Better to go under their own steam than be cast out. Neither of the four was quite sure they could take that. Could stand to have Aslan say the words that would condemn them back to England. Better to go now and pretend they had a choice.
The four siblings gathered before the door in the tree, Peter drawing his sword, intending to pass it on to the new king. He was beat to Caspian by his sister, who sighed, growled and then stepped forward, grabbing him by the back of his shirt and pulling him down, kissing him.
Kissing him because she was young and old and new and someone else than she had been a month ago. Kissing him because she was Queen Susan of Narnia and Caspian saw that, understood that.
Cheers rose from the crowd as the queen finally backed off, flushed and smiling, a word on her lips that would not be spoken. The kings and queens of Narnia did not say goodbye. Not to those they loved.
When she returned to her brothers and sister Edmund as grinning and Lucy grimacing, the levity of the moment putting small smiles on all their faces. Peter turned once to look at Buffy, but she had pulled back to the edge of the balcony they stood on, her face once more the blank mask he had first seen when Edmund had led her out of the forest at sword point.
Then he turned himself around to face Aslan and found the lion smiling at them. “Before you go, dear ones, there is one last thing to do.”
“What’s that?” Lucy asked, her expression sad as the word ‘go’ fell.
Edmund straightened a bit, confused but willing, as always. “What do you want us to do, Aslan?”
The lion looked at the boy king, then behind them at Buffy and then across the forest, toward the east. He nodded once, decisively, sending his mane flying. “Not a boon from you, Edmund, dear, but a boon for
you. You have been brave and you have been loyal to me and to Narnia. And for that, I grant each of you one wish.”
Behind the kings and queens, Buffy’s eyes went wide as she held her breath. Was that lion doing what she thought he was doing? Was he… had he… had he actually listened
to what she’d said the night before?I have faith in them
, a voice spoke inside her head as the lion met her gaze, as they have faith in me. I told Lucy that everything changes. Maybe it is time for this to change, too.
He inclined his head slightly, a sign of respect, of acceptance, that no-one but the blonde noticed. Slowly, tightly, she released her breath and squeezed her eyes shut. They’d get a chance. Peter and Susan and Lucy and Edmund. They’d get a chance.
“Aslan?” Susan spoke, confused, hope tingeing her words. She thought she understood what their friend was telling them, but she dared not believe it.
“Yes,” Aslan responded, and it was the answer to her question.
She laughed breathily, a bit disbelieving still and looked at Peter, whose eyes mirrored hers, bright and sparkling with possibilities. Edmund on her other side smirked and nodded. Lucy was already bouncing on the balls of her feet, a grin as broad as the horizon stretching over her face.
“Oh please, Aslan,” she asked when none of her siblings seemed willing to speak up, “Can we stay?”
She bounced, almost jumping in place with excitement because she, unlike the others, already knew the answer. Aslan said they got a wish, this was their wish. Aslan didn’t lie.
He nodded and Lucy flung herself at him like a missile, burying her face in his mane as Susan was caught around the waist by a laughing Caspian and Peter and Edmund hugged tightly, laughter ringing out loudly.
They could stay. They could stay. They could stay
“Of course,” Aslan warned after a minute of celebration, “There are circumstances out of my control. Things I cannot stop, if they are started.”
The siblings looked at each other and nodded, understanding the warning.
“Like wardrobes,” Susan said, showing her understanding. One day, they might have to go back, simply because that’s how things had to be.
“And witches,” Ed added, snorting.
“And lions,” Lucy finished, grinning widely. Around them, everyone laughed at her cheeky expression.
Then Ed grabbed his little sister and spun her around while Susan kissed Caspian again – because she could
- and Peter turned around, searching.
He found Buffy where he had last seen her, at the edge of their group, watching. She was smiling, but her eyes were still sad.
Aslan’s boon had been for the siblings only, not for her. Peter felt his grin fall. Lucy hugged him around the waist suddenly, still vibrating with joy, but she stopped when she noticed he wasn’t responding. Edmund was the next to fall silent, followed by Susan and Caspian. All five of them were looking at Buffy, expressions of guilt on their faces.
She took a deep breath and rolled her eyes at them, finally stepping closer. “Oh, stop looking like your puppy died. You’ll be fine.”
No-one said out loud that she wouldn’t.
She stopped in front of Aslan and gave him her best challenging look. “Get it over with,” she ordered him and after a moment added, “brother.”
It was as close to acceptance as she could ever get. Then she waited.
She waited for this world to fade and the other, the world between worlds, to manifest around her. Waited for the tug that would direct her to a new world, a new war, a new fight.
She wasn’t angry, wasn’t sad, wasn’t crying.
She was simply empty.
Waiting and empty. It had to be this way because fifty years ago she had been arrogant enough to think she could change the rules without paying the price. The price was this: She was Buffy, the one who walked the worlds as they fell and changed, a witness to endings as Aslan was a witness to beginnings, moving endlessly because no one place could contain her forever.
So she waited.
“Everything changes,” Aslan said when the silence stretched, meeting her gaze steadily.
Then he added, “I can send you home.”
It took a moment for the words to register and when they did, Buffy almost stumbled. “But… what…how? You said my powers… that…”
She couldn’t think of anything to say, couldn’t find the words to ask, to demand, to… to do anything but stand there and stare.
“I told you, sister, you will age again, someday soon
. Your power has almost run its course. I called you here ten years ago, for one last mission. There was never meant to be another one.”
She opened her mouth, groping for something to say, but nothing came out. This had always been her last mission? Her final job? She was… done? She could age again? Die again? Live
again? And all this time she’d raged at Aslan for being as bad as all the others, of using her, when he’d only ever tried to help and…. Crap.
“I feel kinda bad for yelling at you, now.”
The lion laughed and shook his head. “It is understandable. None of my brethren ever told you all you needed to know. Now, do you want me to send you home?”
Home? It actually took a moment to figure out what he meant by that. Home? Sunnydale? The twenty-first century? With Dawn and Willow and Xander and Giles? With bills to be paid and an army to be led, Angel turned to the dark side, Spike dead, her life in shambles? Could
she even go back? How many years had passed there since she’d gone? How much had happened there?
How much had happened to her?
Was it even home anymore?
She found her gaze drawn to Lucy and Edmund holding hands, Susan and Caspian watching with compassion in their eyes and finally, to Peter. Did she love him? She didn’t know.
But she would have liked to find out.
“Can I stay?”
Another smile. This time, she didn’t even try to find the imperfections in it. Aslan wasn’t human. But he was Aslan. “All you had to do was ask.”
It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t forever, wasn’t glorious or amazing. It was a quiet thing that rose in her as Peter ran up and hugged her tightly, lifting her off the ground, the others cheering them on, that filled her slowly, gently.
It was small and light and simple.
It was hope.
One last review for a needy author?
Now with added codas here
. (Christmas in Narnia for the Wishlists 2009 and 2010.)