Is there such a thing as 'an ever-present help in time of trouble'?
Author's Notes: This is a moment-in-time Susan ficlet. It isn't meant to give a fully comprehensive summary of the entire story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but is simply the introspection of one girl on a dark night.
Wherever you are, help will come to you.
She lay awake that night, hearing the words in her mind, running mental fingers over them much as she had curled her real hands around the ivory bow and horn. Trying to decide if she believed it was a harder task that one might imagine; but there it was, the insistent doubt of a practical mind.
Impossible, she scolded firmly. Surely there will be someday, some time, when no one will come to the sound of a silly horn. But a whisper in her heart, something that felt a little like an unexpected summer sea breeze and sounded a lot like her sister, brought up images of other "impossible" things.
A wood inside a wardrobe.
Edmund, safe and sound and... changed. Peace in his eyes now; mercy, and understanding.
She remembered the Wolf's corpse and how heavily it had fallen on Peter. She remembered, though she was sure she hadn't actually heard it, the sound of Aslan's voice calling out -- commanding -- "It is your sister's horn!" as if everyone would know what that meant. And apparently, they had.
Something that was rapidly fading from her mind, melting like the enchanted snows with Aslan's spring of hope, reminded her of a lady in a faraway city, strange and foreign to her now, and she fought to name the figure in her memory. Sorrow seemed to enshroud the woman, and Susan remembered the feeling of growing up too fast, of fighting to be brave and strong and step into shoes too big for her. Shoes that belonged to that strange, nameless woman.
With a jolt, the word flashed into her head and she blinked. How could she ever have forgotten...?
The word father was right on its heels and she saw clearly why she did not believe the magic of the horn was infallible. Things happened, wars were fought, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Sometimes help did not arrive in the nick of time; sometimes the bad guys won.
She frowned and clutched her bow tightly to her chest, burrowing deeply into the blankets that covered her though the night was mild, moreso by the hour. The Witch's magic had come undone, but Susan couldn't help feeling there was more to come. Her fingers brushed over the feathered tips of the arrow fletchings, bright red against her ivory flesh, and she looked at the horn where it hung on the wall by her bed.
Hope was a dangerous thing. Hoping for things like a war's end and a father's return and a mother who smiled again could drive one mad. She wondered if she hadn't truly stumbled into insanity and was now living in her mind in a world of Talking Beasts and wise, gentle Lions.
But then she remembered the whispers of a war, of watching her brothers train at swordplay from horseback, of aiming her bright arrows at canvas targets, and knew it wasn't her mind she was living in. Her world would have no war. No war, no Witches, and no Wolves.
She heard Lucy sigh and shift in her restless sleep -- the poor girl hadn't been sleeping as soundly for the past two nights -- and made up her mind to go to sleep herself. No good lying awake wondering about things that couldn't be helped.
Drifting off was easier than she'd thought -- physical exertion during the day could outdraw even the most active of minds sometimes -- but a few hours later, when Lucy shook her awake and they walked through a forest that was somehow chilled even in the gorgeous night, her mind flickered through all the things she'd almost forgotten. And when she clasped her sister close to her, her eyes still filled with the downward swing of a white hand and a stone knife, and the upward gush and spurt of blood like her own heart bursting, she remembered the horn hanging from the wall of her tent and thought bitterly of its promised magic, and tried with all her heart not to feel betrayed.
Her help was tied down a Stone Table and her horn was out of reach. Why hadn't she thought to bring it with her? As she buried her face in Lucy's hair, squeezing her eyes tightly shut against her own tears and fighting to be strong for her sister, she wondered if she or the Lion had failed the worst.