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Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia and its characters do
not belong to me. I'm just borrowing them for my and (I hope) my
readers' amusement only and have no intention of trying to make
money off of them in any way, shape or form.
Warnings: None to speak of.
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia
Author: The RCK
Last updated: 8 October 2013
Thanks to Olna Jenn for first reading. Thanks to Valerie for beta
Written for miss_morland in the 2013 Narnia Fic Exchange.
After the glory of Aslan, Lucy's bedroom was painfully dingy and
commonplace. All three children turned at once to look at the
painting that had started their adventure.
"Those seas look nothing like where we were," Eustace observed.
"Narnian time is funny," Edmund responded. "It could have been weeks
for them already. Who knows where they are now?"
"Strange to be thinking of 'them' when not long ago it was 'us,'"
Lucy said. She walked over to the wall and pressed her fingers
against the picture. "Nothing but paint and canvas."
Eustace crouched and touched the floor. Then he reached over and
touched the bed. "Dry," he said. "Are you sure no time has passed?"
He looked at his hand then at his arm. "And I'm pale again, like I
was never in the sun."
Edmund took two steps and put a hand on Eustace's shoulder. "It's
like none of it ever happened. You'll find you're nothing like as
strong now as you were in Narnia. You'll have to start building up
from the beginning again."
Lucy seated herself on the floor next to Eustace. "As to time, all
our other trips took no time at all here, in our world. I don't see
why this time should be different. Aslan wouldn't do that."
"So Alberta won't even have noticed we were gone?" Eustace shut his
eyes. "How ever am I going to explain?"
"You mustn't!" Lucy exclaimed. "You mustn't tell anyone! They
wouldn't believe you. They'll think you're just making it up."
Eustace opened his eyes and stared at Lucy. "Alberta knows I don't
tell lies, and anyway, how can I hide something this important? I've
changed so much."
"Eustace," Edmund said, "what you do is up to you. Just think about
Aunt Alberta and Uncle Harold. How do you think they'll react? I
mean, it sounds like we're inventing stories. That's what you
thought when you heard us talk about Narnia."
Eustace poked at the toe of his shoe. "It is impossible, and I've no
proof at all."
"Peter and Susan and Professor Kirke and Miss Plummer will believe
you," Lucy assured him. "We'll introduce you to the Professor and
Miss Plummer as soon as we can."
Eustace recognized Professor Kirke's name. He knew Peter was
studying with a professor for an important exam. "Who is Miss
"She and the Professor went to Narnia when they were children," Lucy
"I didn't think we'd ever get back," Eustace confessed. He didn't
look at his cousins. "It seemed so terribly permanent."
Edmund and Lucy exchanged a glance over Eustace's head. Edmund
"Well, we are back," Lucy said brightly. "Maybe you should go have a
walk or something, just to let it sink in. Don't talk to Aunt
Alberta until you're quite sure of yourself."
"Did you tell your parents?" Eustace sat on the floor and, wrapping
his arms around his legs, put his chin on his knees.
"No," Edmund replied.
"Even if we'd wanted to, it was during the war, and we didn't see
them for quite some time after." Lucy sounded apologetic.
"They'd have said, 'Aren't you a little old for such fancies?' And
that's just talking to me and Lucy. Peter and Susan--" Edmund shook
his head. "It doesn't bear thinking about."
"Alberta says fiction is for those who can't cope with the real
world," Eustace admitted.
"Do you have any place you like to go to think or anything you do
that helps that way?" Lucy asked. "You need time to think."
"Maybe not," Edmund said. "Maybe we've been gone so long that you've
forgotten what being here is really like." He put his hands in his
pockets. "Talk to Aunt Alberta. Don't tell her anything about
Narnia, just talk about other things. You've all the time in the
Eustace considered that for a moment then nodded. He unfolded
himself and got to his feet. "You'll help me, Edmund, Lucy, if I'm
tempted to be awful again? I'm not sure the new ways will come as
Edmund and Lucy both nodded. "We both know about coming back from
Narnia," Lucy said.
"We do," Edmund agreed. "It's hard when your old life doesn't fit
any more, but you don't have anywhere else to be. I'd suggest
seeking out new things and new people when you have the choice. New
people won't expect the old you."
Eustace made a face. "Things'll be right nasty at Experiment House
this fall. Everyone there expects me to-- Well, never mind." He
nodded once and squared his shoulders. "For now, Alberta." He walked
over and opened the door.
Closing the door gently behind him, Eustace walked down the hall to
the stairs. He came down the stairs slowly, stopping on each step as
if giving each a chance to speak. He hesitated at the bottom.
Assuming that Lucy was right and that no time had passed, Harold
would still be at work, designing some sort of new building for the
University. Alberta was almost certain to be in the kitchen. At
least, she'd said something at breakfast about lentils for dinner,
and Eustace had the vague impression that those took time.
He smiled at the thought of familiar food, vegetarian food. He'd
learned, in Narnia, to eat what was available (he'd been sick a time
or two, getting used to the food available aboard the Dawn
Treader), but his time as a dragon had made him more aware of
the messy business involved in procuring meat. His parents had
talked of the inefficiency of meat production and how each bit of
meat meant lots of food spent that could have been better used to
feed the hungry. They never mentioned what Eustace now knew, that
meat meant a life ended. He valued his own life more than he did
that of some dumb animal, but he wondered, in a world with Talking
Animals, that more Narnian humans weren't vegetarians.
He vaguely supposed that the return to Cambridge and Alberta's
cooking might not be so welcome to his cousins. For them, vegetarian
fare was alien, something to be endured. He supposed, too, that many
of the things that made this home for him were different from what
Edmund and Lucy were accustomed to. He wondered if staying here was
as difficult for them as those first weeks on board the Dawn
Treader had been for him.
He shook himself, reminding himself that he had things to do. There
was no point putting it off further. No, there was every point in
doing so. He felt that something irrevocable would happen when he
saw Alberta again. He squared his shoulders and raised his chin.
Surely, talking to his mother couldn't be harder than being a dragon
or fighting a sea serpent.
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