“I thought you said she was dead.”
“That was her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East. This is the Wicked Witch of the West.”
-The Wizard of Oz
Susan looks at her sister and wonders what it is in Lucy’s eyes that frightens her, as Lucy pulls out a green dress and hands it to her with a smile.
Lucy’s eyes still laugh and smile, along with the rest of her face, and it’s hard to see beyond that, to see anything but the smile.
And Susan thinks, when she pulls the dress on and Lucy buttons the back up, that her sister does it for a reason. That the laughter is more mask than anything else.
And she wonders what it is that Lucy’s hiding from them all as Lucy smooths her hair. Wonders why the touch feels more maternal than it should from her baby sister’s hands, and wonders why she wants to flinch away.
But it would be impractical to do something like that.
It’s just Lucy, after all, and so Susan smiles down at her sister and doesn’t pull away in the slightest.
When she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she thinks that Lucy was right.
She looks lovely in green.
Susan learned to dance from dryads and walk like a nymph, feet gliding on the floor instead of merely touching it. Susan learned to sing from the Birds and the merpeople, laying on the beach and looking at the bodies in the water. And it stays with her when they go back to their round world, even though she knows it’s impossible; her body here has never learned such things.
But her mind remembers, and so she twirls and glides, sways like a willow tree with every step. And when they give her music lessons at school, Susan’s fingers remember impossible things and glide so smoothly that the room fills with song. It's marvelous, and it's shocking, and it makes her classmates wonder at the Pevensie girl and eye her from across the room.
And Susan smiles, because a Queen knows how to deal with being watched. And she also knows how to hide what she truly thinks, even when a country is looking closely at her.
Susan remembers watching Lucy when the girls were older than they are now, and how Lucy could smile and charm in a way Susan couldn’t.
Susan charmed because she knew what it was men expected. She knew how to play the grown-up game from watching her mother’s friends, and she knew how to make her face seem to know more than it did.
Lucy charmed because she knew more than anyone thought she did and could still seem innocent despite that, Susan now thinks.
And she wonders what it was Lucy knew and looks at her sister, curled on the sofa and looking out the window.
It’s snowing outside, even though it’s too early in the year by far.
And when Susan sees what it is Lucy’s looking at and murmurs, “Impossible,” Lucy smiles and touches the glass that is cold as ice.
Susan wakes up when she hears footsteps on the ground. A few moments pass before the sound fades, and then she rises, silently, to follow the walker.
And she sees Lucy and hears her talk to the trees, and something in her is frightened again when the trees answer her sister’s voice. Even if it's just for a moment.
Lucy used to spend time in the woods, she remembers, go riding for hours alone before coming back late in the evening. Now Susan wonders just how long the trees have been listening to her sister.
She wonders that, and she wonders another thing: why?
And Susan shivers in the dark and goes back to her blanket, green like the leaves above, and wraps herself up to sleep.
She refuses to admit that Lucy’s seen Aslan.
Not because she disbelieves it, but because she’s afraid of what else Lucy might see.
Because Susan knows that Lucy sees things other people don’t, and she knows that in their world there are two names for women who see things that aren’t there.
The other’s witch.
And Susan doesn’t want to think about what that might mean.
Aslan’s eyes are sad when he breathes on her, and when Susan turns to her sister she sees that under the ever-present mask, Lucy’s eyes are the same.
And Susan wonders how long they’ve been that way, and what the Lion and her sister see now.
There’s a voice in her mind, one that she can’t help hearing, and it makes her stomach drop.
(Sweet Master Doctor, learned Master Doctor, who ever heard of a witch that really died? You can always get them back.)
Susan looks at Lucy, all blonde hair and laughing eyes, and remembers her white dress, and Lucy looks back with a smile before leaning over to whisper in her ear, “You never did learn that nothing is impossible, did you?”
Her voice is too old, too cold, and then Lucy’s smiling again warm as a summer's sun. Susan closes her eyes and sees blue fire that turns green like the grass, and the sight makes her grip her bow tightly.
Lucy’s smiling still, she knows, and Susan wishes she wasn’t suddenly certain she knew why.
Peter doesn’t smile at her when they return to the train station, and when he pulls her aside from the others and asks her if she’s all right Susan smiles and nods and says, “Of course.”
Peter doesn’t understand, not yet, and she thinks he’ll be the last of all of them to, because he tries so hard not to see the painful things.
Susan stares at them unblinking.
Edmund asks her if she misses it at the start of their holiday while she's packing her trunk for America. Susan looks up and glances at him for a moment before saying, “Don’t be silly, Edmund,” and reaches for a light sweater.
You can’t miss a place you’ve not entirely left.
But she doesn’t think Edmund realizes that’s the point, because he doesn’t understand yet either. (But he’s next, she thinks, because first the serpent finds the women, and then the men come after them.) On the boat Susan dreams of incense and green silk and music, always music, in the background.
Her mother has a few friends over, and when Susan plays the piano for them Mrs Pevensie comments that she never knew Susan could play so well. Susan smiles up at her mother, fingers still moving, and says nothing.
Susan watches Lucy when she comes back and sees that she’s left something behind in Narnia. And then she realizes that it’s because Lucy gave her heart away to a man she'll never see again. Susan holds her sister sometimes for that fact, and sometimes for no reason at all that anyone else could understand.
Susan knows her sister’s pain, and she knows it could not be helped. Lucy's grief makes her burn inside anyway, and in her sleep she dreams of a snake and thinks of how Rabadash showed her to poison a cup. The next morning she wakes up, wrapped warmly in her green sheets, and smiles.
After all, dreams never hurt anyone.
Susan dreams of love and a prince, and when she wakes up Lucy’s there with tea and toast. Susan grins at her sister and reaches for the jam, and they laugh and talk, as sisters do.
And when Edmund and Peter look at them they ignore the glances, because sisters must have their secrets.
And some things are not meant for men to know.
“Will they?” Susan asks, and Lucy doesn’t have to ask her what she means. Instead the fairer haired girl just smiles before sipping her tea.
Susan dreams of fire and silver and always green, and when she wakes up she goes to the window and stares out at the street.
“It’s coming, you know,” she says without looking over her shoulder, and her sister who is leaning against the wall nods.
“It has to. All things have an end.”
“And which side,” Susan asks softly, not looking back at her, “are we on, Lucy?”
“The one we were meant to be on,” is the only response she gets, and Susan nods and looks down at a woman walking her dog.
Susan spends her nights dreaming, always dreaming, and she doesn’t ask Lucy if she does the same.
And when it hurts too much she denies it ever happened, and Peter and Edmund are furious, and Lucy’s just sad and smiling at her sister anyway.
That's when Susan starts to hate her sister just a little, because Lucy is not joining her in walking away.
She still holds Lucy in the winter when she wakes up from nightmares, and she doesn’t ask what Lucy’s dreaming about.
Susan stands at the graveyard, eyes dry, and watches the caskets be lowered.
No one ever said, she thinks dazedly, that all prophecies have happy endings.
And when the crowd has walked away she stands at her sister’s grave, looking down, before leaving one white rose behind and one red.
Her green suit, she knows as she walks away, is lovely even here.
There are no happy endings.
There aren’t even endings.
And even when the world is long gone, the last Queen remains, far apart, and waits for her role in the story to finish.
“But it's very different with the Witch. They say she ruled for a hundred years: a hundred years of winter. There's power, if you like. There's something practical.”