AN: Well, here it is, the last chapter! I hope no one minds that I left it with something of an open-ending. I just liked it that way. Wow, I can't believe it's over. This was my longest fanfic ever.
Some have said that there are few sights as awe-inspiring as seeing the aurora up close, that it can make blank canvases art and atheists believe in god, and that's true. At least, Lucy could believe that as she stood beside Edmund, the ice bridge a good ways behind them now as they clambered up a small line of snowy hills towards the nighttime rainbow that was the northern lights.
A pleading-sob rang out from the last hill, the one just behind them, so close to the northern lights that it seemed like one could almost touch them if they were standing there. Lucy thought it would feel like ribbons; strong ribbons of lace and velvet and satin, as many different rich fabrics as there were colours. She imagined that when the light from the bottom bathed your face in reflections, it felt like the tips of a slightly frayed thread at the bottom of a curtain, tickling the noses of whomever walked under it.
"Please, don't!" the cry came again. "You're hurting us."
There was no answer.
Another piteous effort. "Let him go!"
Edmund and Lucy were close enough to see for themselves now; Lord Asriel's dæmon had pinned Maugrim down into a partly-swooped snow-bank while her human was trying to attach some sort of wire to one of his paws. Susan was trying to get Maugrim free, attempting to push her way passed Lord Asriel and shove the snow leopard off of her wolf, but every time she got close enough, Asriel would just roll his eyes aggravatedly and elbow her roughly so that she felt backwards into the snow. Brushed her aside as if she was little more than a fly trying to get in his way while he was concentrating on something.
Giving up in despair, too cold and frightened for the clear, rational thought she was so well-known for, Susan attempted to run off. Lord Asriel, if he even noticed, didn't try to stop her. He knew perfectly well she wasn't going anywhere without Maugrim-that she couldn't move more than a few feet away from her dæmon. On her knees now, she tucked her feet under herself and started weeping into her hands. She was scared to death; she was alone, and she didn't know what Lord Asriel was doing. It had something to do with the northern lights and what he'd said before at supper, she figured, but she couldn't understand beyond that.
On the way up there, during that awkward sleigh ride, Maugrim had whispered something to her that made her blood run cold with the reality of what was happening. He'd said, "Susan, Peter doesn't know where we are, he can't help us if..." His voice had trailed off, but she got what he was trying to say. If anything went wrong, if they turned out to be in some horrible danger, Peter wasn't coming to rescue them-he wouldn't know where to look.
She would have gladly taken help from the Gyptians as well; how happy she would have been to see Caspian and John Faa-or even poor old crippled Farder Coram!-but none of them knew where she was. They weren't coming either. They couldn't help her.
Part of her had wanted to say, "That's all right, we'll help each other, nothing bad is going to happen.", but deep down she didn't really believe that, so she didn't say it. She merely goggled wordlessly at Lord Asriel, winced as the sleigh whizzed over the ice bridge, trying to ignore the cracking sounds she was sure she could hear, and swallowed hard at the lump in her throat. Once across she had hastily put her hand on her belly, wondering if the little one in there was as scared as she was.
"Susan!" Edmund shouted as he and Lucy came into view. "Hang on, we're coming!"
Still struggling to get all the wires of his equipment fully attached-and to keep them attached to Maugrim as well-Lord Asriel barely even glanced up.
He's almost ready, Lucy thought desperately, we have to get to him before...before that happens!
Then an unexpected voice screaming at the top of its lungs, "Asriel, don't!" rang out and a blonde head with the arms of a golden monkey wrapped around the smooth white neck appeared, breathless, but still as beautiful as ever.
She must have followed us across the bridge after we made it over here and the Lion left, Edmund decided, trying to comprehend how his mother could be standing right there.
The golden monkey leapt down and made his way over to Maugrim and Stelmaria, shrieking and shivering. He tried to get the snow leopard to loosen his grip on Maugrim, and while it seemed as though Stelmaria was trying very hard not to hurt the monkey, she still would not give way.
"Asriel, please!" Mrs. Coulter pushed passed Edmund and rushed over to Lord Asriel. "Don't do this! She's only seventeen, barely more than a child, Asriel. My child."
Edmund could hardly believe that this tender-voiced woman, speaking so compassionately about his sister (the same one she had recently called a harlot and a whore, no less) was his mother. It wasn't at all the sort of voice that should have belonged to a woman who had cut away the dæmons of countless innocent children and had once blackened the eye of her own son; this honey-sweet, buttery voice should have belonged to someone else entirely.
Although he had no intention of giving up his life's work at the plea of an old lover, for some reason or other, he couldn't fully ignore her. She had always had such a powerful presence. Secretly, he found it deliciously draining and weakening. He'd loved Sarah, Farder Coram hadn't been wrong about that, but his feelings for Marisa were sharp and-at times-lustful. Try as he might, Lord Asriel had to admit that they had never fully gone away. He glanced up at her.
She seemed too pretty for someone who had just crossed a perilous ice bridge and hiked up a bunch of hills. Her cheeks were flushed, but that only made her striking complexion all the more vivid; a single coil of her short yellow hair hung out of place, but it looked almost as if it was supposed to be that way; and her shaking chin, which would have made anyone else look like a stupid infant, made her appear as forlorn as a princess trapped in a tower. Albeit a bit older than when he'd last seen her up close, a couple of new wrinkles near her mouth and forehead.
"Marisa," he mouthed inaudibly.
She didn't move, didn't blink. Her tears had stopped flowing and she was staring at him intently now. Lord Asriel remembered the first time they had ever met in Svalbard; he'd asked her if she was married, she'd said yes, it hadn't mattered. Back then, he could have honestly said that he loved her. Now, after all that had happened, he wasn't sure what he felt towards her. Disgust for her stupidity, of course. Anger for her spineless following of the Ruling Powers, certainly. Hurt over the fact that she had mercilessly tracked him down and had nearly had him thrown in prison and killed, without a doubt, even though he knew he very well might have done the same thing in her place. Or maybe he wouldn't have, seeing how much he detested the Ruling Powers. He knew he wouldn't have done that to Sarah, at least, but to Marisa? Who could say? There was a lot of hate built up there over the years. But was there love remaining under it?
Whether or not there was anything left between them was not what really mattered at the moment. Even if Susan Coulter was her daughter, he couldn't give up this chance to tear a door in the northern lights. If he gave himself up, if he let Edmund Coulter's daughter go free, he would never get to the Dust and he would be killed for heresy. Murdered by the Ruling Powers before he could bring about an end to their tyranny-before he could find out what Dust really was. He mustn't risk that, he decided, tearing his eyes away from Lady Marisa and focusing on the wires again.
Stelmaria growled angrily; the golden monkey had tricked her and managed to slip the wires away from Maugrim while she was focused on him and her master was staring intently at Marisa. Now the wolf-dæmon only had to get up, shake the snow off his back, and run back to his mistress-back to safety. The snow leopard wouldn't let him; as soon as she realized she had been tricked, she growled and pounced on the wolf again, pinning him down roughly (Susan let out a cry of pain), and snarling furiously at the golden monkey.
Edmund ran over to Susan and helped her to her feet. Ella clanked her beak and flapped her wings uncertainly. There was nothing they could do for Susan if they didn't get Maugrim freed. They could try to take her away with them, but they would only be helping Lord Asriel tear her from her dæmon when all was said and done if they did that.
The struggle between the three dæmons waged on and then paused suddenly-dramatically, even. A faint cracking sound could be heard and the golden monkey let out a wordless scream. Maugrim whimpered; and a roar erupted from Asriel's snow leopard. They had come to the edge of a snow-blank's cliff on the far side of the northern lights, and part of it, evidently less sturdy than it looked, had just broken off, snapping under their weight.
Lord Asriel's dæmon managed to let go of Maugrim and jump backwards to safety, but the wolf and the monkey appeared to be doomed to fall.
As the ice below his feet gave way, Maugrim called out, "Susan!"
Susan stumbled forward, falling down twice, trying to get to her dæmon before he fell. Stelmaria stopped her, though, by standing in her way and gritting her teeth threateningly. It occurred to her that the snow leopard would think nothing of breaking the infamous taboo now, when so much was on the line, and she thought of how horrible it would be to have that strong, wild jaw clamp onto your leg-or your neck.
"Susan!" Maugrim tried again as the ice got lower still and there was no chance of him jumping over to his human so that they might live for a moment longer and simply take their chances with the leopard.
Fear gripped her and Susan could do nothing but shake her head at him sadly, her eyes wide and filled to the brims with hard tears.
"Why doesn't he let her go to Maugrim?" Lucy wanted to know, taking a step forward.
Edmund seemed to understand, but he didn't stop to explain, he ran towards the commotion before his mother unexpectedly reached out and grabbed his shoulders with a death-grip, unwilling to let go.
Squawking, Ella swooped down at Mrs. Coulter and sunk her claws into the lady's ridiculously-smooth hands, trying to get the woman to let go of her son's shoulders. Lady Marisa wasn't budging. If it had been a man holding onto him, or if he had been a very different sort of boy, Edmund would have bitten her to get away, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to do so and went on fighting against her fairly.
The golden monkey screamed again and Mrs. Coulter started to fight back tears, all the while still tightening her grip on her son's shoulders so that he couldn't move away.
This was all very confusing to Lucy; she couldn't see why Mrs. Coulter didn't immediately run off and help her dæmon, or why Asriel wouldn't let Susan go to Maugrim now-seeing as he would surely fall to his death otherwise. Thinking quickly, she ran forward, Reepicheep in the form of a white tiger at her side, and charged at Mrs. Coulter. If she couldn't help Susan, then she could at least help Edmund get away from his mother. Absently, her eyes still on her hands on her son's shoulders, Mrs. Coulter kicked her so that she fell backwards in the snow.
That was pushing it for Edmund. He was willing enough that his mother should manhandle him the way she had always done, even if he wasn't hers anymore, but that she should dare to harm a hair on Lucy's head was the final straw. Forgetting all about playing fair, he sank his teeth into her hand and shoved away at her surprised yelp before she could grab him again. Oddly enough, she didn't try to, and he quickly figured out part of the reason. She knew he was going backwards to help Lucy to her feet, not over to where the two dæmons were sliding down the rapidly-splitting land; that was where she was apparently trying to keep him away from.
"Lucy, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she answered. "we've got to do something, Ed, they'll-" she stopped talking when she noticed Lord Asriel fiddling with his equipment out of the corner of her eye. "What is he doing?"
Edmund's jaw dropped and his chin shook with furry. "Why, that son of a-" he started.
It took a moment, but, finally, Lucy understood why Edmund was upset. Maugrim falling down the cliff would separate him from Susan and unleash the energy Lord Asriel wanted-supposedly needed. It wasn't the way he intended it to happen, but he was still trying to work with it, still trying to harness the power. That was why he wouldn't let Susan help him; because if he did that, she might fall over with her wolf-dæmon and they wouldn't be cut apart, they'd die together and such a death would be of no use to him.
Both monkey and wolf fell at an ever-quickening pace, Mrs. Coulter standing still as a statue, trapped in shock or apprehension, Lord Asriel ready to tear open the door, but suddenly it stopped. There was a small ledge onto which Maugrim had fallen and the golden monkey had dug his caws into the side of. Lord Asriel waited; he could tell it wasn't a strong ledge and that the monkey's dangling off of it like that wouldn't help it last longer. Maugrim would fall and the golden monkey would have to grab onto another rock and swing itself back up or else perish with the wolf.
No, Asriel thought, Marisa will save herself, she's good at that, she always has been.
The golden monkey would save his own skin, seeing as there probably wasn't anything he could do about saving the wolf anyway. Surely Marisa would rightly feel a little bad about losing Susan-it wasn't as if Asriel necessarily wanted to kill the eldest Coulter child, he had nothing against her personally, save for some annoying, but mostly trivial, resemblances to her father-but her ladyship had never been very good at being motherly anyway, and besides, she still had Lyra if that child was foolhardy enough to ever trust her again. This was, after all, for the sake of Dust. Maybe even for the sake of all humanity. Asriel had always been very much a 'the end justifies the means' kind of nobleman, and he clung to that notion now more than ever before.
Secretly, a strange yearning pricked at Lord Asriel's calloused heart and made him want something he hadn't thought about wanting in years. Love, passion, companionship; it had been just him and his dæmon for a while now, but that might change. It might change if Marisa would come with him to that other world. Likely, she would protest. She would say it was wrong, that he was going to get them all killed and sentenced to life in Hell for this, but he thought he might persuade her. Perhaps with a kiss. He'd kiss her and take her hand, and when she felt the breeze from that other world on her face...she couldn't say no then, could she? She might think of her other lovers, but he'd tell her he knew all about them and didn't care. There was a good chance she'd whine like the shameless spoiled thing she was about him not really loving her and trying to destroy her along with the Ruling Powers if she said no. At this, he knew he would laugh and tell her that she was flattering herself and that he would only care whether or not she lived or died if she came with him. If she dared to say no, to let him go on alone, he wouldn't break-his heart wasn't made of glass-but neither would he give her a second thought. Ever. It was up to her; if she wanted him, he was hers for the taking, things were changing enough for that. If not, too bad, he didn't give a crud.
A minute ticked by like an hour. The golden monkey did the unthinkable. He let go. He let himself fall so that Maugrim's ledge wouldn't break off as quickly. Flashes of bright gold twinkled upwards, getting smaller and smaller as the monkey disappeared from sight. For whatever reason, Mrs. Coulter had just given up her life in hopes of saving her daughter.
Shock and confusion overwhelmed Susan and so she fainted before she fully took in what was happening. Her mother didn't faint, but there was no doubt, as she laid there in the snow she had been standing on a moment ago, her eyes half-closed, that she was dying. Edmund, in spite of everything, found himself drawn to her side, compelled to go to her and see her once last time, surprised by the freezing moisture in his eyes.
"My boy," she murmured, her blue eyes looking up into Edmund's brown ones. "my poor little boy."
Edmund wasn't sure if she was remembering him as a child or if she was simply attempting to be endearing. Nevertheless, he didn't comment on it.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, reaching up as though she wanted to touch his face-but hesitating when he flinched. Losing her dæmon had a baffling effect on her persistence level, she was too weak to be demanding. "I'm sorry for everything I ever did to you."
"Mother," he couldn't have been more stunned by the softened tone that poured out of his throat so automatically but, then, even a traitor could mend, he had known at least one that had.
"I gave up my soul," she said faintly, swallowing hard and sniffling.
He wasn't sure if she meant that she had just sacrificed her dæmon to save his sister, or if she meant that she wished she had never abused him. It didn't matter; all that mattered was that she said it to begin with.
"Marisa!" Lord Asriel was at her other side now, shaking her, trying to bring her back to herself though he knew he wasn't going to get anywhere.
"Asriel," She actually smiled at him, Edmund noticed. "My one true love."
Ew, thought Edmund, immediately feeing stupid and childish.
Even though she was dying and they were saying their goodbyes and she was to weak for her usual feisty ways, somehow Asriel and Marisa managed to get into an argument. Mrs. Coulter went from declaring her love for Lord Asriel to insinuating that his parents had never been married, all in that same, quiet, death-tone.
"God, Marisa, what the devil's the matter with you? Can't you understand what I'm trying to do?" he shouted after a moment of quietly glaring down at her, hating her, and then-almost magically-loving her again.
"I love you," she said after a shaky breath, further gone now. "I always have."
"I love you, too."
Meanwhile, Lucy tried to creep over to Susan, but was impeded by the snow leopard. Stelmaria had been looking down towards the place where the golden monkey had fallen with this deeply-pained look on her great cat-face, yet that didn't stop her from whirling around and hissing at Lucy when she got too close. Even then, Lord Asriel would not abandon his plans, he still intended to cut Susan and Maugrim apart.
Letting go of Lady Marisa's now-dead body, letting it fall gently down on the snow, a flawless corpse, he stood up and walked over to his dæmon, assisting her in blocking Lucy from getting to Susan.
Looking into Lord Asriel's eyes, searching for a glimmer of remorse in the distant gaze of his pale ice-coloured irises, Lucy cried, "You're my father, aren't you? You should have told me long before I found out from the Gyptians, it isn't right that you saw me and knew me and kept it a secret like that!"
"Don't be insolent-" he started, but Lucy was having none of it.
"No." she said through her tears. "No, you're not really my father. Fathers are supposed to love their daughters. You don't love me and I don't love you. I love Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie, they're my real parents, and I love Peter, and Ma Costa, and Farder Coram." She paused for a moment to let that sink into his headstrong thoughts. "I love an old crippled Gyptian more than I love the man who's supposed to be my father."
Stelmaria's face recoiled slightly, but Lord Asriel's itself remained unmoved completely.
"Farder Coram probably loves me more than you do, too," Lucy told him. "he'd have never tried to hurt Susan like this, never."
"Do you have any idea what's at stake?" Lord Asriel's face tightened and loomed angrily, his jaw line firm and strong just like his dæmon's. "Haven't you understood? The life of one girl doesn't matter when the stakes are this high."
Lucy's reply wasn't cold, it wasn't even angry, but it was right to the point. "Then why didn't you want to use me?"
If it had been Lyra, he would have shouted at her that she had no right to talk to him like that, but in Lucy at that moment, he must have seen something of Lady Sarah, some sort of bravery and righteousness. Something he couldn't scream at. Something he couldn't fight off with words or sternness. So, instead, he just turned his back to her and started walking towards his equipment again. He had to do this; Lucy would not stop him.
His hand went down to lift up a slowly-returning-to-consciousness Susan by the arm so that he could move her aside and try to figure out a way to break the rickety ledge Maugrim was on.
"Don't you dare touch her!" Edmund exclaimed, filled with rage as he rushed forward, meeting up with the snarling snow leopard just as Lucy had.
Seemingly out of the blue there was a popping bang and Lord Asriel grunted in pain, dropping Susan back down into the snow where she landed on her knees, and put his hand to his upper arm.
He's injured, Lucy could tell clear as day, but how?
The answer came from a loud humming nose above and behind them; the sound of an engine. At first, both Lucy and Edmund feared that men working for the Ruling Powers had come in Mrs. Coulter's Zeppelin and meant to kill Lord Asriel and take them all to prison, but then they saw it was Lee Scoresby's air-ship. Iorek must have gotten word to them somehow.
White hands clinging to a familiar-looking rifle gleamed in the moonlight, untouched by the aurora's colours. They ought to have been Lee Scoresby's hands, seeing as it was his rifle, but they were too young to be his, fingers too smooth to belong to an old aeronaut. A step forward and more of the man appeared, young, certainly strong, but not a Gyptian nor a cowboy. It took a moment for Lucy to recognize her own brother standing there holding the gun, looking ghastly pale like a phantom from a nightmare, blond hair glowing as white as Iorek's fur in the rum lighting. But it was him; it was Peter who had just shot Lord Asriel in the arm. His aim wasn't fantastic, but it wasn't as poor as it could have been. After all, he'd hit him without killing him, hadn't he? Scoresby was a better marksman, probably, but he was needed to keep the air-ship moving.
Lord Asriel tried to shoot back, but they landed before a full fight could ensue, and because of his hurt arm, his aim was horribly off balance.
Peter was on his feet, running towards Susan, the second the ship hit anything even remotely like solid ground. The snow leopard got in his way; he struck the dæmon across the face with Lee Scoresby's rifle which he still carried in his hands.
Stelmaria leapt at him and, knocking him to the ground, sank her teeth into his neck. Skin was pierced and a drop of blood found its way onto the snow under him.
Susan let out a little cry and pulled her knees to her chest; half-convinced she was mad from the cold and was hallucinating.
"No, stop!" Lucy shouted, Reepicheep shifting wildly into just about every form he had ever had; Cats, panthers, mice, horses, wild-cats, pandas, raccoons, even insects, trying to distract the snow leopard.
Lyra and Lee Scoresby appeared, breathless and panting, their dæmons at their sides; Pantalaimon currently a hissing pole cat.
Before anything else could happen; before Lord Asriel could come forward; before Stelmaria could bite Peter's neck again; before Edmund could think of what to do next; a roar very like the one heard on the ice bridge drowned out all comprehensible thought.
It was a roar that released searing energy, ripping through the aurora, tearing the longed-for door through it like a shimmering veil of light. The Lion, Aslan, bounded across the hill, his tawny self, flowing mane, and tawny eyes steadier than anything Lucy or Edmund had ever seen before. His force knocked Stelmaria off of Peter, and the leopard ran back to her human.
Susan felt afraid of the Lion. Not of him eating her, somehow she knew at once even in her maddened state that he wouldn't do such a thing, but simply afraid of him.
As for Peter, still laid out on his back, he felt strangely excited, although he was unsure as to why.
Within less than a second, Lord Asriel looked into the Lion's face, avoiding his eyes, and then turned on his heels and calmly walked through the rainbow door, into the other world, his dæmon stalking slowly after him. And just like that, they were gone. Not a word of fear, remorse, gloating, apologizes; no, not a single word. They merely left and went about their business, undeterred, leaving everything-and everybody-else behind.
Unlike her father, Lyra looked straight into Aslan's eyes. Oddly enough, she found she had nothing to say to him, and in spite of his beauty, little need to look at him for much longer. There would, she knew in her heart, be another time for her and the Lion to meet again. Another time, perhaps even in another world, when she knew more about Dust and had discovered her own place within her destiny.
Reaching into her pocket, taking her golden compass tightly in both hands, she said, "Pan, let's go."
"Lyra-" he flew in the form of a hawk onto her shoulder. He wanted both to protest and to go along willingly. He gave in. They were going into that other world with Lord Asriel. It wasn't for sure that they'd stay there, but they were going now.
"Lyra!" Edmund reached out to grab her wrist.
She shook her head at him and hugged him goodbye quickly. "I have to do this."
Lucy waved sadly, wanting to stop her friend, but knowing she couldn't-maybe even shouldn't.
Lyra waved back; to Lucy, to all of them, actually. She hoped the best for Susan, certain that the Lion would help her and get Maugrim to safety before it was too late. She knew she would miss Scoresby and Peter; but this had to be done. She vanished into the northern lights-just like her father.
Aslan let out a slow breath that gently brought Maugrim's ledge closer to the top of the cliff. The wolf didn't think he would be able to climb up, bruised and battered a bit too much to move, but then he found he could jump quite comfortably and suddenly didn't feel injured anymore.
"Maugrim!" Susan threw her arms around her dæmon. "Oh, dear Maugrim!"
"Are you alright, Susan?" her wolf-dæmon asked.
"Fine," she answered, her eyes drifting over to Peter who still hadn't gotten up. "Come on."
The next thing Peter knew Susan stumbled over to him and threw her arms around his neck, which no longer felt the pain from the snow leopard's clamping jaws.
As they held each other tightly, each whispering that they were safe now and it was all going to be fine, Lucy went over to meet Aslan. She found herself shaky at first, but the moment he spoke to her in his deep, rich, perfectly golden voice, she knew more than ever that she was right. Dust was good. He was good.
After speaking with Lucy, the Lion spoke to Edmund alone, and what they talked about remained a mystery for Edmund never told anyone what it was, not even his own dæmon.
Then, to Peter, Aslan said, "Son of Adam, come forward, I must show you something."
Peter came, Susan and Maugrim walking along-side him.
"Look into the northern lights," said Aslan.
When he looked, he saw, not the city in the world Lord Asriel and Lyra had just gone into, but a besieged battlefield somewhere in Europe. It was his own world, he recalled, remembering that they had been in a war back when they'd come into this one through Lord Digory's wardrobe.
There was a man, alone in one of the trenches, left for dead, gasping, hurt and in need of help.
Peter's face fell and he took a step back, stricken with horror.
"Who's that?" Susan blurted out.
"My dad," Peter murmured, mouthing the words more than he spoke them.
"Daddy?" Lucy felt hard icy tears sticking to her face again. Peter was quite correct, it was Mr. Pevensie hurt in the war. Time must have passed differently there.
"I have to help him," Peter said, looking over at Aslan pleadingly.
"You may go, son of Adam." Aslan replied.
He slipped his arm around Susan's waist uncertainly. He couldn't leave without her; what if something happened and he couldn't find a way back into this world after he'd helped his father? What if he lost her for ever that way? He couldn't bear it. Nor would his sense of honour stand for getting a woman pregnant and then leaving her behind.
Aslan nodded as if to assure him that he could take his wife with along with him.
"What about Lucy?" he said after a pause.
The Lion sighed deeply. "I'm sorry, Peter, Lucy will stay here, this is where she has to be-this is her world."
Embracing his little sister and holding her close for what he knew might be the last time, feeling more pain in separating from her even than he expected, he whispered, "We'll see each other again. I don't know how, Lu, but we will. I promise. I'll be keeping my eyes out for you, and maybe someday when all the worlds are one and we can all live together, we'll find each other and we'll never part again after that."
Reepicheep became a cat and rubbed against Peter's legs. Susan gave Lucy a quick hug and a light kiss on the forehead while Maugrim gently gave Reepicheep a friendly nudge.
"Are you afraid, Susan?" Peter asked once everyone else besides themselves and Maugrim were out of ear-shot.
"No, you're with me, I'm not afraid. I was afraid with Lord Asriel and with my mother, but never when I'm with you."
And the girl who was once a Coulter, now a Pevensie, turned away from the world she was born in, and walked into the northern lights, into the sky.
Hours later, Lucy and Edmund stopped back at Lord Asriel's study to rest for the morning and to see if Thorold would fix them something to eat. They knew they couldn't stay there long, that the Ruling Powers would be coming soon enough and they would have to move on and leave the place behind, but for now, they dared to rest.
"Thorold," Lucy asked when they'd all eaten their fills and were sitting silently in the room, listening to the clock tick. "What will you do now? Are you going to come with us?" Reepicheep, in the form of a black-footed ferret, glanced over at the pincher curiously.
"No," he answered. "I will wait here. It is my duty to wait in case his lordship should ever come back and need my assistance."
"I don't think he'll be coming back any time soon," Edmund said dryly, taking a sip of some wine that Thorold, forgetting they were a bit young for that, had taken out for them to have with their breakfast (supposedly it went well with eggs). Ella yawned and ruffled her feathers.
"Regardless, I wait."
"Very well, then." said Edmund.
"Will you need anything else?" Thorold asked. "I'll be going back to the kitchen soon."
"No, thank you."
The manservant bowed gracefully as he and his dæmon turned to leave.
Once they were gone, Lucy couldn't resist taking out the silver pocket watch and asking it about Peter. She had to know where he was, and if he had made it to their father in time. She saw it through instinct; Mr. Pevensie on a crutch, gesturing with his good arm, telling some sort of exciting story, Susan and Peter listening, Maugrim sitting at their feet, Peter's hand resting tenderly on his wife's belly.
Edmund glanced over at the alethiometer in her hands with sleepy interest. "What is it telling you, Lu?"
"It's telling me about my father,"
"No, my true father."
"What about him?"
Her smile widening, "That we brought him exactly what he needed."
AN: So? Whatja think of the ending? Like it? Love it? hate it? tell me. Please review.