Once a queen of Narnia, always a queen of Narnia. Susan likes that. It makes her feel less like a fraud. She's seventeen and she sentenced a centaur to death yesterday, and if she weren't a queen, she might go mad. The silver circlet sits heavily on her head, trying to drag her down to the earth, but she is a queen and must hold her head high. Her neck aches with the weight.
This is who I am, she tells herself. This is who I always will be.
She smiles and allows Peter to lead her in a dance.
She misses Aslan deeply. She knows that in a way, he's with them still, but she wants him to be here. She longs to press her face in his golden mane and feel the soft touch of his breath upon her cheek. She loves him. It would have seemed silly, in her old world, to love a lion this much, this powerfully, but in Narnia it makes perfect sense.
But even as she misses him, she feels confident that he loves her in return. He always will. She is a queen of Narnia, after all, and Susan, and that's enough.
Queen Susan loses her virginity at the age of twenty-one, with a charming young courtier from the western shores. It's a wonderful night, and she thinks herself in love, but she doesn't know what to do with him in the morning. There are already two kings and two queens of Narnia; if she ever marries, won't her husband be somewhat redundant? This is not a discussion the siblings have had yet. So she assigns her lover to a citadel far to the south, and pretends she never really cared about him anyway.
Her mother, Susan thinks, would be shocked.
"Do you remember home?" Susan asks, once.
Lucy frowns, confused. "This is home. What else is there?"
Susan tries to accept this. Lucy was so young when they came, after all. Maybe she really has forgotten. But when she asks Edmund and Peter, they don't seem to remember either. She wonders if their parents have forgotten them, too. She wonders if Father ever came home, or if Mother is alone now. She wonders if the war ever ended.
She is a queen of Narnia now, she tells herself. What else is there?
So she closes her eyes to the past.
She is a queen, and really, that's not half bad. She wears jewels in her hair and dances with hundreds of handsome men and fauns and centaurs. She sits on a marble throne and holds her head high. She leads solemn council meetings and rules a vast and beautiful realm, and then has pillow fights with her fellow rulers in their bedchambers. She's lovely and gentle and proud and very grown up, and she's an excellent horsewoman and even better at archery.
Galloping through the woods in chase of a white stag, she realizes, surprised, that she loves her life.
Susan may always be a queen of Narnia, but right now she's a barely adolescent girl with a dark stain on her panties when she wakes up in the morning. She's not surprised. She'd been through this before, not long after becoming queen, and she knows what to do about it. She cleans herself off and goes to tell the MacReady that she needs certain women's hygiene products, and assures the startled housekeeper that no, she doesn't need to be given The Talk. She says her mother told her already; it had actually been Susan's old maidservant.
She's lost Narnia.
It's cruelly unfair that they've been brought back to Narnia, after all this time. Susan had so hoped for it, so longed to be a queen again, and now she's here and hundreds of years have passed and she's only a legend to these people. She doesn't want to be a legend. Legends are like fairy tales; they aren't real.
And just as she's getting used to it, getting used to this new Narnia, it's time to leave again, and this time, Aslan tells her, she'll never be coming back.
She feels betrayed. Aslan has betrayed her. She loved him.
Susan clings to the real world. She brushes her hair and eats breakfast and writes to her mother and listens to news of the war on the radio. She studies hard and does well at boarding school. When her school friends start reading magazines and hiking up their skirts and putting on makeup, Susan follows along. They're real. School is real. Nylons and lipstick and invitations are real. She can see them; she can touch them. She meets a boy who tells her she's beautiful, and that's real. If she can't be a queen, at least she can have this.
"We went back to Narnia," Lucy says, eyes shining. "We saw Caspian again and went on a sea voyage and Reepicheep went off the world's end oh and Eustace came along too he's lovely now really and Aslan said—"
Susan turns away. She can feel her nose go tight and red the way it always does when she's about to cry, and swallows the tears back. "He said you're too old."
"Yes," Lucy admits. "But that's not the point."
What was it like to be a queen again? Susan doesn't ask. She flounces her hair and pretends she doesn't care.
"There's going to be a dance," her friend Anne tells her excitedly. "For the sailors, now that the war's over. Look, I got us invitations!"
Susan remembers the balls and festivals at Cair Paravel, and feels her heart sink. "That's wonderful!" she says.
She has no jewels for her hair nor a long brocaded gown, but she makes do. She goes shopping with Anne and buys the most beautiful frock she can afford, and spends hours on her hair and makeup. And as she enters the dance and sees the sailors stare – for just an instant, she's a queen again.
Susan Pevensie loses her virginity at the age of eighteen, with one of the sailors at the dance. She touches him and allows herself to be touched, and sighs happily when he finally enters her. It's been so long. She's surprised when it hurts, until she remembers that this has never happened to this body of hers before.
She doesn't pretend that she loves him. She wonders what ever happened to that beautiful young courtier in Narnia.
That wasn't real, she forces herself to think, gritting her teeth. She thrusts against the sailor, hard, reveling in the pain. This is.
"Do you remember Narnia?" Lucy asks her once, a few weeks before the railway accident.
Susan remembers the banners of Cair Paravel and the marble thrones. She remembers speeches and battles and festivals and songs of glory. She remembers the weight of the silver circlet on her head and the horns sounding the hunt. She remembers loving Aslan, loving him with all her heart, so much there was no room for anything else, and she remembers him turning her away.
"That silly old game," Susan says, tossing her head and faking a laugh. "I'm surprised you still think of it."
Susan is getting ready for a dance at the boys' college at her university when there's a knock on her door. She sighs and puts down her lipstick, giving herself one last glance in the mirror. "You're early, Anne," she says, opening the door.
The residence hall matron is there, looking very uncomfortable. "I'm sorry," she says. "There's been an accident."
Susan feels her heart stop. She doesn't need to hear the rest. They've gone back, she thinks. They've gone back without me.
She can feel the world closing in around her, and bites her lip to keep from screaming.
They're all gone, all of them, back to Narnia, and they're never coming back. She should have been with them. She'd put off joining them for that stupid dance; otherwise, she would have been on the train with Lucy and the rest. She would be back in Narnia now, instead of at this horrible funeral service, with everyone staring at her and she doesn't know what to do and—
Once a queen of Narnia, always a queen of Narnia.
Susan takes a deep breath, feeling the weight of a thousand silver circlets, and forces herself to hold her head high.