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Disclaimer: Narnia doesn't belong to me.
I'm just borrowing it for my and (I hope)
my readers' amusement only
have no intention of trying to make money off of it in any way, shape
Fandom: Chronicles of
Narnia (The Magician's Nephew)
Author: The RCK
Last updated: 22 June 2011
Written for the 2011 Finishathon. Thanks to Olna Jenn and to my husband
The first night in Narnia was easy. The weather was mild, like the best
of early summer, and Aslan was there. Frank and Nellie slept together
under the stars, listening to the sounds of the newly created world,
the echoes, Frank said, of the song of creation.
It astonished Nellie how easily she accepted the talking animals, the
fauns, the dryads and the other strange creatures. Her mother used to
put a bowl of milk out for the brownies, but she'd never really thought
about the possibility of thinking creatures who weren't human. She
suspected that some-- most-- of her peace with all the new things she
was encountering came from the Lion. He expected her to respond to
these beings as people, and she couldn't imagine disappointing him.
The second night, after the coronation, was harder. Nellie had begun to
realize how little they had to start with-- no house, no bedding, not
even a change of clothes unless she counted the fancy robes for the
coronation. No soap, no pots or pans, no needle or thread, nothing, in
fact, but what they stood up in and a great wilderness filled with
creatures for which she and Frank were now responsible. She took her
concerns to Frank who took her-- and them-- to Aslan.
"Please, sir," Frank said, and Nellie knew that if he'd had a hat
instead of a crown he be twisting it in his hands. "We're worried."
Nellie nodded firmly to show that she agreed with Frank.
"Worried, son of Adam? Why ever should you be worried?" The great lion
met Frank's eyes then met Nellie's.
"Well, it's like this--" Frank broke off, and Nellie could tell that he
was thinking that it was foolish to question Aslan.
"It's like this," Nellie said, gathering all her courage. "I can sew
and make clothes, but I need pins and needles and thread and cloth.
Frank can plow a field, but he needs a plow and harness and a beast to
pull it all. We can't ask that of Strawberry-- of Fledge-- now. There's
a lot like that." She nodded again, reassuring herself. "We have to
build a house, too, before winter comes, and we don't have tools for
that. I don't know if Frank even knows how to build a house." She
twisted her hands in her skirt. "We're neither of us afraid of hard
work, but, please, sir, is there something you could do to help?"
Aslan moved closer and touched his face to Nellie's.
She relaxed a little, knowing that she hadn't disappointed him.
"Never be afraid to ask for help, Queen Helen," Aslan said, his voice
rumbling through her. "It is well done and well thought of. Because you
have asked, I will give you what you need to start your life. Husband
it well. It will not be replaced until you or your subjects can find
the means to do so. Because you have asked, I will give certain of your
subjects knowledge of how to spin and weave, how to make glass and
such skills as may be needed. To you, yourselves, the knowledge of how
to build a sturdy house and how to provide for yourselves for the
"Even as I said to the talking animals, to the fauns and dryads and
centaurs and dwarfs, the dumb beasts of this world are yours to do with
as you will as long as you use them gently. Your ancestors learned to
make such creatures theirs, so shall you." Aslan drew in a deep breath.
His roar, when it came, seemed to make the whole world shake.
Nellie pressed her hands against her ears, trying to still the echoes
of that roar that rang in her head. Every echo seemed to leave behind
more knowledge, more skills that her hands and body remembered. She
felt stuffed full.
The roar became a song.
Hearing it, Nellie regretted again not being present for the song of
creation. She could tell that hearing it had changed Frank, had
strengthened the parts of him she loved and had made him more sure of
himself. This song was simple, a short, repeating melody, and it ended
too soon. Nellie was sure she could have listened to it for hours, even
days, without giving her attention to anything else.
"Oh," she said when the song ended. "Oh." She couldn't manage more.
The lion laughed gently and nudged her with his nose. "Oh, indeed,
daughter. Your ability to know joy will make you much loved by your
subjects. Hold tight to it and share it with all around you."
Nellie wasn't quite sure how both to hold something tight and to share
it, but she thought she'd puzzle it out some way.
Frank cleared his throat. "Best we put all of this away somewhere," he
said, waving one hand at the pile of goods that now surrounded them.
"Some of our people have been exploring. Maybe one of them's found a
Nellie didn't want to stop looking at Aslan, but she knew Frank was
talking good sense. "Yes," she said. "Someone's sure to have found
something. It would be a pity to lose anything to rain." She looked up
at the clear sky where stars were just starting to show.
"The weather will continue clear for a week," Aslan told them. "After
that, rain will come as it comes. You will have to advise your subjects
as to what it is and why it's necessary."
Nellie nodded. She thought there would be a lot of things like that.
The newly created creatures were all so innocent. They had words and an
instinctive grasp of the fundamentals of life, but every moment was
still full of discoveries. Frank had already had to warn several
creatures to be careful of rivers for fear of drowning. Most of them
had been created knowing how to swim, but they hadn't been created
knowing about currents and rocks and rapids.
On the third day, Aslan left them. He said he would always be with
them, that they would know his presence even when they couldn't see
him. Nellie wasn't sure how that would work, but she had to admit that,
when she thought about him, she felt warm, stronger and more sure.
Frank told her privately that he reckoned that Aslan was as close to
being God as made no difference. Nellie wasn't sure about that, either,
but she couldn't see who else could sing a world and its inhabitants
They had very little time to miss Aslan. On the third day, the hard
work began. Frank and Nellie picked a place to build their house, close
enough to water for hauling it to be easy, on high enough ground not to
get caught in a flood, near enough to the Tree to check on it regularly.
Frank started by digging a cellar. They'd want one for storing food.
Some of the dwarfs came and helped, especially with lining the walls
with stone. They even made stairs of stone and earth.
Nellie spent her time gathering food. She gathered mushrooms and
asparagus and early berries. She thought about setting snares for
rabbits, but she feared catching some of the smaller talking animals.
They were so few, just two of each kind, that any accident could kill a
whole species. After making sure there were no talking fish, Nellie did
set traps for fish. The traps were a challenge to make with the tools
she had available, but she expected them to be worth the effort.
As she waded back to shore after setting the first trap in a fast
flowing creek, a voice said, "What are you doing, Queen Helen?"
She looked around for a moment before she remembered to look down. She
was still used to voices coming from people her own size. The speaker
was a hedgehog, whether the male or the female Nellie had no idea and
wasn't sure it was polite to ask.
"Trying to catch fish," Nellie replied. There was no cost to being
civil, and none of the creatures had ever seen anyone doing the things
she and Frank were doing to build and survive. "We humans eat fish."
"Do they taste good?" The hedgehog quivered a bit, eagerness to know
filling its voice.
"I think so. You might not. Humans eat a lot of things hedgehogs don't."
The hedgehog seemed to mull that over. "It can't be very nice for the
Nellie sat down on the grass. She could spare a little time from her
search for food. "I don't suppose it is. Nothing likes to be eaten.
We're all as we were made, though, eating what we were made to eat. If
we don't eat, we starve, and that's not very nice either."
The hedgehog shook itself, rippling its quills. "I don't like being
hungry. Why did Aslan make us to get hungry?"
Nellie thought that was a good question, but she didn't think she
should say that. "I'm sure he had reasons. Maybe the world works better
that way." She'd never really thought about it before. Hunger for
humans could, she supposed, be explained by the Fall, but the creatures
of Narnia hadn't fallen nor had all the animals back in her own world.
Everything felt hunger. "I suppose it lets us know that we're alive. A
lot of being alive is uncomfortable."
"I like being alive." The hedgehog sounded thoughtful. "Will we ever
"Eventually." Nothing Aslan had said gave Nellie the impression that
any of Narnia's creatures were immortal. She supposed that the river
gods and some of the nature spirits might be. They were tied to things
that wouldn't end until Narnia did. "It's called dying. The part of
yourself that makes you you leaves your body and goes to heaven." She
faltered. What would heaven be like for a talking hedgehog? She wasn't
really clear as to what heaven was like for humans except that it was
supposed to be everything nice. "Heaven is where Aslan comes from."
That seemed safe enough. He couldn't possibly come from anywhere else.
"You just mustn't go before your time. That's why Frank-- King Frank--
and I want you all to be careful. It won't be time for any of us for
years and years." How long did hedgehogs live? Nellie had no idea.
Would it be the same for a talking hedgehog?
"It seems to me there's a lot we don't know."
"We'll find out, little by little." Nellie wanted to put a hand on the
hedgehog, but she wasn't sure how that would be taken. She had to
remember that these were not animals, not really. "King Frank and I
will share what we know. We just don't always realize what you don't
That night, Nellie said to Frank as they lay next to each other on the
ground, preparing to sleep, "It's like having dozens of children.
There's so much they need to know, and there's only us to tell them."
Frank pulled her closer. "We'll tell them. I think that's part of the
"But who'd tell them if we weren't here? Aslan couldn't stay. Does he
even think about such things?" She felt sorry as soon as she'd said the
words. Of course, Aslan thought about what the creatures needed to know
in all the practical details. If Frank and Nellie hadn't been
available, he'd have found another way. "Do you think he knew, before
you came here I mean, that you'd be coming? Were we always part of the
Frank thought about that for a moment. "He wasn't surprised," he said
at last. "I don't think anything surprises him. At the same time, we
had choices. It could've been some other cabbie who picked up that
fare. We might've gone into a different pool in that forest. Digory
might have chosen not to ring that bell. The Witch might have
chosen Aslan, even with everything she'd done. She'd have to be willing
to change, but I think he wouldn't turn her away."
Nellie closed her eyes. "I don't want to think about the Witch. She's
wicked, and she's out there somewhere, hating us." She hadn't seen the
Witch, but she'd heard enough about her, from Frank and from Aslan, to
fear her. "Some people are just born wrong."
"Do you really think there are people beyond God's mercy?"
She took this as another sign of the profound changes in Frank. Before
Narnia, he never would have asked that question. "No," she said with
some hesitation. After a moment, she added, "I do think there's some as
can't ask. It's not in how they're made, and they're those as need it
"We'll teach our children to ask," Frank told her. "All of our
children, the ones you'll bear and the ones Aslan has entrusted to us."
Comforted by that thought, Nellie fell asleep.
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