Disclaimer: I own none of it.
Rating: G, probably.
Summary: Susan and Peter: friends, allies, comrades, equals. A reflection on their relationship from Susan's perspective.
When Susan was around Peter, nothing could go wrong. There were no hidden feelings, no secrets, no awkward moments. It was all right to cry in front of him because he wasn’t Lucy, who didn’t like her older siblings to cry because it frightened her, and he wasn’t Edmund, who was never patient enough to sit there and listen to whatever she had to say all the time. No, Peter was her real comfort, the one who would serenely watch and hear and understand – that was the best part about him; when he looked in her eyes and said “I understand,” she believed it without a doubt.
When Susan was around Peter, time slowed down. They never knew how long they spent together, relaxing, talking as siblings and as friends, never knew about anything beyond the white walls of their bedrooms. It was a different kind of sanctuary, not a cramped space reeking of terror like the bomb shelters that would hide them until it was safe to be alive again; not a cold, stony, distant cavern of old men and meaningless words like the church Mother had tried to take them to as children, but a haven of soft sunlight streaming through curtained windows and the quiet peace of having someone to trust.
When Susan was around Peter, words weren’t necessary. If she came in while he was working, he would stop everything to listen and be with her. If there were tears, he would calmly take a seat at the head of his bed and she’d lay her head in his lap and simply weep until her eyes dried. If she had begun to say something then lost the words for it, all she had to do was look for his reassuring smile and she would know she didn’t need them. Sometimes the most meaningful times they spent together involved no conversation at all, just wordlessly comforting one another with a smile or an embrace or a presence that did not fade on rainy days.
Sometimes, when Susan was around Peter, they were joined by Edmund and Lucy. And Susan would smile to see her elder brother welcome them with just as much tenderness and love, his clear blue eyes overflowing with gentle protectiveness. It was different with them. They were young, too young to truly inhabit the adolescent world that Susan and Peter had entered, too young to understand everything that went on. To be sure, he loved them all the same, but with Susan there was the feeling that they were partners – friends, allies, comrades, equals.
When the air raids had become too much of a strain for their shaken mother, they had accepted her decision without question. They vowed to watch out for their younger brother and sister. The wardrobe brought them into Narnia, and the vow had seemed an awfully large one, but they bore it together and without complaint. They were a team. So when Ed slipped between their fingers, the biting reality of it all fell evenly upon their shoulders, numbingly heavy but bearable because they supported one another through it, and found hope in Lucy, who never lost her own hope. Their family became whole again and both felt the same deep, sighing relief.
The Battle of Beruna was the first time they could not share. While Lucy slept curled by the lifeless body of Aslan, Susan lay awake and stared into the starry heavens, wondering if Peter was also sleepless. It was unfair, she thought, that after everything they had been together, the real test of his courage was one that he had to bear alone. The Narnian moon traversed the deep blue sky slowly, reaching out to touch her face, caressing her smooth cheeks, drenching her in soporific light until finally her eyelids drooped and she drifted into dreams of a shining knight, triumphant, a shining knight, fallen, bleeding, dying, Peter dying…
When Aslan rose in the morning, she remembered none of it. The Romp, their flight to the Witch’s castle, the revival of the stone creatures – all of it was a fantastic dream, it had to be, and she could not wait to tell Peter, to hear him laugh and see him smile and tell her that she had such an imagination, like Lucy. They arrived at the battlefield and the dream became a nightmare. She remembered putting a shaking arm around her sister and wading through a sea of broken bodies, blood staining their clothes, the agonized moans of the living stabbing at their hearts as they searched for their brothers. It was Peter they found first. Peter, her friend, her ally, her partner, blessedly, wonderfully, impossibly alive. Then Ed. Sickeningly, horribly, slowly dying, gasping for air, eyes wide with fear and regret. Peter, shaken as Susan had never seen him before. Lucy, uncorking her crystal bottle, bringing life back to her brother, saving him, saving them all.
When Susan was around Peter, later, at the coronation, she would remember how he didn’t act like a king. He was a king. She would remembering bowing to him, because he was the High King, and then remember how he had looked amused and bewildered at it, then had swept her into a tight hug and whispered into her ear how proud he was to be her brother. She would recall being equally proud of being his sister, and kissing him on the cheek, a sisterly gesture of admiration and love. They had crossed into adolescence together. They had crossed into Narnia and over Narnia together. They crossed as a team – as allies, as friends, as siblings. Their worlds had changed. Their partnership had not.
When Susan was around Peter, she felt safe.