Aravis has no qualms with having eyes for men and women alike. She knows full well what her duty is--to marry a man, and to bear his children--and she also knows that duty and desire are rarely the same thing. It was her step-mother who taught her that, and it is the only thing the poisonous woman ever said that Aravis took to heart.
So when the Queen Lucy comes to visit Archenland, upon her mare in a dress that's plainer than any Aravis would have thought a queen would wear, Aravis is unbothered by how she greets her friend, and how her stomach has grown to flutter at the kiss the older girl presses to her cheek.
She doesn't know what the Queen's grace thinks of such things--she knows that the North is kinder, in many ways, than the country she fled from, but she also knows that here she's never seen two men leave a banquet together, and here there are no public baths that women might share things beyond stories in.
Calormene was cruel, in many ways, but not in all. And neither Narnia nor Archenland is paradise.
She only knows that, sometimes, she catches Lucy looking at her, and before the blonde tears her gaze away, Aravis thinks she sees something that makes her hope.
Lucy is not Aravis.
Lucy is troubled by the way she feels her own stomach flutter when she sees the dark-skinned girl climb onto a horse and ride out to greet her.
She has never looked at a woman before the way she finds herself looking at the Calormene girl. But, she allows, she rarely looks at men, either.
Lucy is not Aravis, and she is troubled, and some things have never been said to be wrong--not here, at least, and part of her vaguely remembers another world a very long time ago where she thinks she was told they were, but it's like a dream--but she knows they wouldn't be right, for all that.
Lucy is not Aravis, and she is troubled, but she loves the girl as a friend--and possibly more, part of her whispers, but certainly a friend--and the years pass, and they spend more time together, swimming and practicing archery and always, always going for long rides.
And Lucy is not Aravis, but while she doesn't know if it's right--over time, the way her stomach flutters starts to mean more than the way she's troubled.
Some things happen because, in the end, it's too much to pretend you don't want them.
Those things are private. In part because they have to be kept that way--the Queen uses marriage as a bargaining tool, for one. For another, Narnia and Archenland are kind, in many ways, but several would be unsettled to know that the youngest queen of the northern kingdom pulls another woman behind a tree to share a kiss, rather than a man. Among those troubled would likely be the Queen's siblings.
And they're private in part because the only two who matter, in those things, are Lucy and Aravis, and the way they taste to each other when their lips meet.
The Lion knows.
He's always known, and Aravis never thought they'd hide it from him. She doesn't know if Lucy did or not.
"Is she coming back?" The question is the only thing she can ask, when she sees the Cat.
"Yes. But not, daughter, in your lifetime. And when she does, she won't remember what you shared."
Her eyes widen at that, and the large, feline ones that meet her are--Aravis thinks, a little, that they're sympathetic.
"She must relive her life. And she would hurt, to remember you, and be a child again. Some adult memories cannot fit in a child's body, and the love of a woman for another woman—in her world, child, she could not deal with that. Only friendship can be remembered."
And for a moment, Aravis blushes, to think of pale hands on dark skin, and then she only weeps, and Aslan gently laps at the tears with his tongue.
Aravis never asks if it was wrong.
She can't believe it was.
Even if he were to say it was the worst of crimes, Aravis knows, she wouldn't care.
In the end, she does as Lucy always thought she would, and marries Cor. And she loves him, at least in one way, and they're happy.
But sometimes she wakes up with her head on a flat chest and wishes it were more curved.
Aravis waits patiently.
She knows that Lucy will come here, one day, and she knows that here, Lucy will remember--because here, every moment of your life is precious, even what you thought was lost.
(And Cor knows, and understands, because few only love one in their life, and here there is time enough for everything.)
When the day comes that she sees golden hair glint near the gate, she smiles, and walks towards it. And is patient enough to wait a few moments more, while Lucy greets old friends.
And when the other woman reaches her, they look at each other for a moment before pale hands cup around a dark face and pull it close to press their lips together. Because here, no one dares judge, and finally, finally, neither of them has to care who sees.