Chapter 1: Valiant
Joyous laughter peeled through the woods over the sound of galloping hooves. The Kings and Queens of Narnia raced through the forest. Magnificent crowns graced smooth temples.
The four of them burst through into a clearing within the woods. At its centre stood a strange slim pole, a dim yellow light coming from the odd box at the very top of the pole.
Queen Lucy tilted her head at the peculiar pole, she felt like she knew it. There was a memory lodged in the back of her mind, a red umbrella and snow.
Lucy knew Tumnus once lived just over the hill. There were fir trees around this area of the forest. Lucy frowned thinking inexplicably about fur coats.
“Spare Oom” Tumnus had once said to her.
Lucy felt a call through the fir trees. There was something here she just didn’t know what. Lucy wanted to know what it was. Gathering her dress Lucy ignored her siblings and pushed through the fir trees intent on finding the source of the strange pull.
The trees were unresponsive and seemed to push back against her. Lucy frowned in confusion, the trees always parted for her. Her siblings crowded into the trees behind her, Lucy felt Susan’s hand close around her elbow. The needle leaves scrapped across Lucy’s face and then become soft.
Lucy could smell moth balls. The fur coats were right up against her face, Lucy was a lot shorter than the others. She doubted Susan and Peter were constantly having to spit bits of fur away from their mouths. Something felt wrong, Lucy suddenly felt anxious.
Someone stood on Lucy’s foot. “Stop shoving me Peter!” Susan hissed indignantly. Lucy felt irrationally worried they were making too much noise and Mrs McCready would find them. Panic closed in on Lucy, something was very wrong.
There was an almighty clammer as Edmund probably accidentally tripped up Peter. Susan gasped and fell onto Lucy. Lucy lost her footing and reached forward to catch herself, her small hands hit wood. The door opened as Lucy fell on top of it, and then they were all falling out of the wardrobe and landing in a heap on the uncarpeted floor.
Mr Tumnus, sardines and tea. Snow in the middle of the rainy season. The lamp post. Edmund pretending he didn’t know. Tumnus getting taken by the White Queen, everything that had followed. Lucy could feel the phantom press of her silver crown against her brow.
Lucy stared at her small hands pressed against the wooden floor of a room she had not been in since she was a child. A room she had forgotten. Lucy couldn’t feel the magic in the air anymore. They were back.
The rest of the day they all floated around in a kind of haze. The four of them congregated in one of the rooms. The one with decent sofas, a carpet and a bookcase. There was a silent understanding that nobody wanted to be alone right now.
Peter was lying on a chair. He kept on pulling at his hair, tugging at it, trying to see it.
The wind whipped through Peter’s long golden hair and he laughed loudly.
Peter’s hair was short. Their mother had cut it a few days before they had been sent off to the countryside.
Susan was sitting cross legged on the carpet. She was tracing the pattern and frowning fiercely.
Edmund was staring out the window. The expression on his face uncomfortably reminded Lucy of how he had looked when they had got Edmund back from the White Witch.
Lucy wanted to go home. She wanted to curl up in her favourite spot in the gardens and talk to Basilius and Elodie. They were her closest friends, Elodie had moved from whispering woods to the gardens at Cair Paravel. Elodie and Basilius had chosen a sunny spot just under Lucy’s bedroom window.
There was a tree near the window in the living room they had all collapsed in. It swayed in the breeze. Lucy felt sick. This tree would never talk to her like Basilius and Elodie.
“We’re going back,” Lucy said firmly. Susan met Lucy’s eyes pleadingly. Peter tried to stroke a beard that wasn't there.
“Do you think we can?” Edmund asked, he sounded so hopeful.
Lucy led her sibling back to the spare room. She opened the door and screwed her tiny hands into tight fists. Please, please, please. Lucy slowly walked into the wardrobe pushing the fur coats aside. Edmund followed behind her, Peter and Susan bringing up the rear.
Lucy’s small shoe hit the back of the wardrobe.
“It’s not there is it”. Susan’s trembling voice broke the silence.
Lucy felt a sob build in her tiny chest. It spilt out ugly and raw. “Lu,” Edmund tugged Lucy away from the back of the wardrobe and into a hug. He was crying as well.
The four of them ended up sitting cramped into the wardrobe crying and holding each other. They had lost Narnia today.
Chapter 2: Magnificent
It had been a year and Peter was so angry. He was furious at the world. At his father for leaving and when he had come back ignoring them. Peter knew war, all his father had to do was talk.
Peter had no idea what it was like to fight in this world. He hated that this world made his father leave for a terrible war and return a different person. Peter hated that he was powerless to do anything.
Peter did not belong here. He was a King of Narnia, he was supposed to be governing a country alongside his siblings. Not sitting useless and ignored in a classroom.
Peter didn’t need to go to school. He had a lifetime's knowledge in his head. Peter knew how to do geometry they didn’t teach in school. Peter spoke five languages, although four of them did not exist in this world.
Peter had been taught geography by the very best. The badgers and beavers knew a heck of a lot about earth and water movements. But none of this applied to what the teachers knew and taught.
It frustrated Peter to no end. Peter had no interest in this world's history and politics. He found it incredibly dull to have to learn about Kings who were the worst rulers, and should never have been given that amount of power.
If Peter had been a neighbouring King he would have… Well Peter probably couldn’t fight every country on earth. Even with loyal Narnians by his side, Peter doubted the people in this world would be grateful.
The political situation that had ended up with half of Europe being blown up twice was just deplorable. Peter was completely and utterly disgusted by the complete lack of care for life.
And the idea that some life was lesser made Peter want to throw hands with every single educated thinker who had contributed to whittling down humanity's compassion so far, that people genuinely thought skin colour or race mattered.
By Aslan’s mane, everyone had a soul, everyone felt love and pain and happiness in equal measures. What was so hard to understand? Why the hell would you want to hurt another soul, crush it, abuse it, when it was equal to your own?
Not one of Peter’s teachers had been very impressed or approving of anything Peter had tried to explain. Peter had become very well acquainted with the detention room.
Someone hit their shoulder against Peter’s back. Peter turned around to the familiar faces of three boys who had been in Peter’s history class last term.
Peter had no idea who they were. The middle one shoved hard at Peter nearly pushing him onto the tube track behind him.
“Watch where you’re going dolt,” one of the boys jeered. Peter’s jaw clicked, alright, if that was what they wanted. Peter was spoiling for a fight.
Peter shot out a foot and kicked the one on the left, he punched the idiot who had spoken, and threw the last one towards a bench.
The next few moments where all fists and scrabbling, Peter lost his jacket. He gave someone a black eye.
This was honestly the clearest his head had felt all year. Peter wondered if it was a bad thing. He knew Oreius would have disapproved of Peter fighting teenagers. Oreius would have much preferred an attack on Parliament.
“Peter!” Lucy shouted and Edmund appeared from the crowd whacking one of the boys hard across the face with his school bag. Oreius would have definitely approved of that use of whatever was to hand if you had no sword.
Then a whistle sounded and the fight ended. Peter tugged at his ugly school tie, Susan glared furiously at him. The air was thick and dirty and full of charcoal. Peter wanted to go home. Peter wanted to live in a world where Susan could've been able to punch one of those boys like he knew she would have.
Chapter 3: Gentle
Susan’s heart broke everyday. Her very life had been stolen from her and she was left living in a wreaked shell.
Her skin felt uncomfortable, pinched and stretched. In this world Susan couldn’t say what she thought or act how she wanted.
She was supposed to sit politely and do everything society had decided women could do.
Susan wanted to make a bow, and show every adult who had told her she ought to embroider and bake exactly what any girl was capable of if just given a chance.
Susan wanted to rip up the idiotic text books they had girls study. The books were all absent of actual knowledge, everything was coloured over with flowery words.
Susan wasn’t allowed to read anything actually educational. And trying to join Peter in a politics class was unimaginable.
The girls would be taught fancy writing and french instead of science and maths. Susan was High Queen of Narnia, it was horrifying to see how this world treated women like objects.
Susan needed to get herself and her siblings away from this place and it’s choking ideas.
Susan wanted to make sure Lucy never had to sit through one more idiotic lesson about manners and principals.
Susan was fiercely protective of her younger sister and she never wanted Lucy to hear that she ought to sit a certain way. Or be told not to read a book just because she was a girl, and why would a girl want to know about anything at all.
Suan had tried to speak to her mother about it. But her mother had just given Susan an uncomfortable smile and offered to do Susan’s hair for her like she used to.
So, Susan had become a master at pretending to be the perfect girl. She saved rations for lipstick and hated every second.
Susan’s brothers were visibly struggling in this world with it’s constraints and rules. Susan would protect them all. If they had to live here for the rest of their lives, Susan would make sure they all survived, just to spite the whole damn system.
Lucy suddenly cried out and Susan’s heart left her body. Then Susan felt a tug, she almost thought she heard the call of her horn.
“Quick! Hold hands!” Susan yelled at her siblings grabbing Peter and Lucy’s hands. Whatever was happening her siblings weren’t going to be taken from her.
The air rushed around Susan and she felt a strength she hadn’t realised she had been missing returning to her.
Peace settled in the air around her and for the first time in a very long time Susan felt safe.
Lucy tightened her hold on Susan’s hand. Susan could hear rushing waves, there was sand under her shoes. And before her eyes was the sea, the underground was gone. Susan had come home.
Chapter 4: Just
Edmund had always felt unworthy to be King of Narnia. It had been a whisper at the corner of his mind forever. He wasn’t worthy to rule.
To Edmund, he deserved to have Narnia snatched away from under him. It was only just, that he, the traitor, be banished.
Edmund couldn’t justify why his siblings were right there alongside him.
Sometimes Edmund dreamed of that awful day when Lucy had tried to return to Narnia. Her heartbroken cries haunted Edmund.
They didn’t belong in this world. Edmund had to somehow prove his worth so that his siblings could go home.
Edmund had done everything he could. He did all his house chores, he ignored every teacher but did what they asked. He put on his school tie and polished his shoes.
Edmund swallowed down his opinions and acted the part.
There was shouting coming from the underground. Edmund pushed his way through the school children. Familiar blonde hair flashed under the artificial light. Peter swung his fists and roared.
Edmund dropped his shoulders back, his body easily moved into a familiar fighting stance. Edmund whipped his school bag at one of the boys who had just been about to kick Peter from behind.
And for one single moment Edmund let himself fight beside his brother. King next to King. Magnificent and Just.
It didn’t last. Edmund slumped against the underground wall. He didn’t believe he could keep the act up.
There was a cold pinch and a forceful tug Edmund was on his feet shouting. Susan yelled for everyone to hold hands.
Edmund could hear a Narnian flute playing in the distance, he knew the tune. High summer and the evening was long, the air warm and filled with the smell of wine.
Tumnus had begun to play his set of pipes to the gathering in one of the low courtyards at Cair Paravel. Edmund could taste the wine on his lips.
The British Underground melted away and the four of them were standing in a beach cave. Lucy led them out onto the shore.
Narnia, Narnia, they were home. Edmund wondered if they were dreaming but the sand crunched under their shoes and the water was the clear Narnian blue.
The shocked silence they had held shattered as Lucy and Susan broke off running at the sea.
Peter shoved lightly at Edmund’s shoulder getting him to move from where he stood stunned.
Then Edmund was chasing after his brother kicking off his school shoes and splashing water at an utterly delighted Lucy.
Relief and joy echoed in their shouts and squeals. It was real. The water, the sand, everything.
Edmund drank in their surroundings, had he proved his worth? Were they home for good?