(Last Friday’s post, whoops)
first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
The ride – or walk, for Peter, Edmund, and Soleck – was not difficult, and it ended far sooner than Susan was ready for it to. They rode into a small village which seemed to grow out of the side of the hill, or maybe, like children’s toys, to have been tossed down along the slope. Leffen had no more trouble with the steep slope than he had with any other terrain, climbing up it as if it were a flat meadow.
When Susan slid off after Lucy, it was with great reluctance. And it seemed that Leffen understood that, for he nuzzled her as she patted him. ::This will not be our last ride, Queen Susan:: It seemed as if the Companion thought only for her ears, as it were. ::And, I assure you, this is far, far from your last ride on Valdemar soil or on the back of a Companion. But we must all do what we must, no?::
Susan took a breath to steady herself, and indulged herself for a moment. She pressed her face to the side of Leffen’s face, and breathed in his horsey, perfect smell. “We must all do what we must,” she whispered back to him. “And never let it be said that Susan Pevensie did not do what was needful.”
Leffen nosed into her hands and then stepped back, letting it seem as if Susan had chosen to rejoin her family. She looked around; Soleck was speaking politely to a few older people, while nearby children waited to see the Companion.
The garb on the people here was different from what they were wearing by quite a bit, although Susan should not have been surprised by that. It was also notably different from Soleck’s white vest, white shirt, and white breeches, although mostly in colors.
Susan looked down at her old dress and looked over at the women speaking to Soleck. The foremost was wearing trousers and a vest that looked made for durability rather than fashion; the two behind her, both with braided hair in steel-grey and white, were wearing what looked to be long skirts to their ankles with boots showing underneath. They would certainly stand out here for their clothing, if for no other reason. Susan patted her hair nervously.
Lucy was smiling at the children, waving at one nearly as old as her. She was in her element. Peter had joined Soleck and was negotiating, and Edmund had begun talking to a boy nearly his age. Susan… had been wool-gathering. She turned to find something to do. There had to be something.
“And you must be the leader of this group.” A matron in middle-age, the grey just starting to touch her temples, bustled over to Susan. “And you look as if you’ll either freeze or scorch, depending on which way your trip is going. Trust a Herald to think of everything except clothing. My name is Marna, hello dear. We’re to get you outfitted properly. Come this way.”
Susan blinked in the face of such efficiency. “Aah – I do believe Soleck, Herald Soleck said that he would be getting us more appropriate clothes,” she offered, as she found herself pulled along in Marna’s wake. “But I do thank you.” She looked down at her poor dress again and offered, “we were not dressed for travelling when this – when this mission was presented to us.”
“Dumped on you, more like it, and barely over children yourselves.” Marna stopped dead, turned around, and looked at Susan sharply. “But not children anymore, are you?”
Susan resisted the urge to blush and look away under the strength of that gaze. She lifted her chin and allowed herself a small smile instead. “It depends, ma’am, on how you measure childhood.”
“And a tidy ‘none of your business’ returned, and polite at that.” Marna’s smile suggested she was not truly offended. “You come with a Herald bringing you on a mission, so I trust you have good reason to be here. Now, you may be past childhood or near it, but you’re the same size as my daughter Astiansa before she went off to the capital to be a Bard, and your wee sister there is not so much smaller than my niece.”
Susan allowed herself to be fussed over, the vests and skirts heaped in her arms. “And a cloak, there, because it can get cold in the hills even in the midst of summer. And Orna down the street will see to a place for you to stay for the night, and she’ll have something for your brothers, too. And what Herald thought it was a good idea to let you walk around half-dressed…” Marna tutted. “It’s not my business, and I know that. But still!”
Susan found herself smiling. “I’m sorry,” she apologized, although there was nothing wrong with smiling in and of itself. “You just remind me very much of…” Of Mrs. Beaver “….of someone I used to know.” Her heart ached for a moment. If they went back through the door, here, when they returned would Marna and all her village, too, be centuries dead?
She swallowed and found her smile again before Marna had noticed it gone. “And it’s very nice of you to be helping us. Thank you for the clothing. I’ll be sure to retu—”
“You’ll do no such thing. Astiansa has her Bardic blues now, and my niece has outgrown these. They are a gift, and you’ll do me honor by taking them.”
Susan bowed, though her hands were laden, and did not smile at that. “I thank you, madam. It is very kind of you.”
Marna’s expression softened. “And it’s only what should be done. Come on, we’ll see to your bedding and clothes for your brothers. Boys that they are, someone must be letting down their hems every other week, aren’t they?”
Susan lost herself pleasantly in the domestic chatter, mending and feeding and following after teenaged boys, who were never done growing. She remembered, deep in her heart, when Peter had reached his full growth, and Edmund soon after. She wondered how many times she would watch them grow, and Lucy too. She found she was looking forward to it again.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1111582.html. You can comment here or there.