Disclaimer: this might be more OOC than usual for me (maybe not?), and if that's the case, I can hardly be the one who wrote the original characters.
A/N: angst warning.
She wanted to be loved the way she loved others.
Her kind of love gifted peace. Gentle fingers on shoulders, furred cheeks, or arms wrapped round in warm and kindly hugs, soothing voice and attentive face.
There was a beauty in the way she loved, as well as the way she moved, she looked. Her dress, woven by Narnian's skilled fingers, would have drawn attention, were it not for the face above it and the way her voice sounded. Aslan had given her a beauty that drew all eyes and captured all hearts.
Like all the beauty made by Him, her beauty went deeper than her form. The way she loved made her more beautiful than broken hearts could take.
She wanted to be loved that tenderly.
"Easy, good cousin, be easy," she murmured. One hand cradled the young beaver's paw; the other gently parted the fur around the cut. She reached for the water set beside her, and her light touch caused no pain. The cub grew still in wonder, for his pain lessened to nothing under her soft skill. "There, 'tis done. Now off to play, and have a care!" The smile the Queen gave him lifted his heart as much as her gentleness had lifted his pain, and he surged forward and smacked her cheek with his nose in a beaver's kiss before scampering off.
She smiled till he was gone, and then let her hands fall to her lap, weary from mending many cuts and bruises a raging storm left in its wake.
She wished someone would bandage her cuts with that same touch. But how does one bandage an invisible cut?
She wanted love to let her lean on it, and weep.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, her hand placed on the centaur's wrist. Taller than her, stronger than her, in many ways much wiser, but she had seen the way he'd looked away when she had thanked him for his help, carrying the wounded from the battlefield. She had known the hollow look of a soul too strong to weep.
Too strong till gentleness broke what strength could not. "I'm so sorry," was all she said, for she knew there were no other words to offer, not when her own faithful bodyguard lay among the dead. But the words were enough for the one she held, and her gentle fingers anchored both warrior's wrists as the tears fell from his soul, bleeding off his pain.
His loss would not cease. But nor would he ever forget the kindness offered in the midst of pain.
She wanted love to give her council that gave her peace.
"Edmund, it's not wise to stay up so late," she gently chided as she walked onto the balcony. He smiled at her absently. She stood beside him, watching the sea with him. She waited till she was sure he would not come back without help. "Stop worrying about everything we still have to do," she gently commanded.
"I don't even know where to begin." His hands—boy's hands, though they'd developed sword calluses over the months he'd practiced—clenched the railing.
"Begin where Aslan wants you to, and that's by getting a good rest. Come on," she pleaded, when Edmund still didn't move. "If He could save Narnia from the White Witch," she shuddered when she spoke the name, "He can make sure it's run well afterwards. Come in, Ed, do."
Her brother's wry smile eased her worry, and he turned and offered her his arm, as they had been being trained. She took it gratefully. "If I don't listen to you, Peter and Lucy would be along soon to say the same, wouldn't they?"
Her smile was all he needed to know he was right.
He needn't know she wouldn't sleep that well herself, too fearful to listen to the advice she'd given. What did she know of being queen?
She wanted love to lift her heart.
The Queen paused on the stairs, listening. She heard the soft, painful breaths of a person crying. She gathered her skirts in one hand—she would learn to wear these well, they were too beautiful not to—and ran up the stairs again. Listen, listen, pause to listen. That was an echo, that was the true sound. Her slippered feet beat muffled sounds on the stone floors as she followed the cries.
In a dark room, curled up in a chair beside two mostly-empty tea cups, Lucy cried into her hands.
"What is it?" Susan asked, her arm going around her sister's shoulder. Lucy obstinately wiped her tears and tried to collect herself, but Susan wasn't having it. She looked at the two teacups, remembering the date. "Mr. Tumnus went home, didn't he?" Lucy nodded, bursting into tears again, and Susan held her, wiping her face with a soft handkerchief when the tears grew fewer.
"I wondered if you'd help me with something?" she questioned softly, and Lucy looked up at her. "There's a new Dryad moving into the castle courtyard—Peter gave her permission—and I wondered if you'd help me make her feel at home?" Lucy got sadly to her feet, and Susan gently pushed back her hair and straightened her dress. Though Lucy didn't feel like it now, Susan knew it was just the thing. Lucy loved new friends.
Later, as Lucy spoke happily with the very young Dryad, Susan looked on and smiled, waiting till they were fully occupied. Once they were, she gathered those skirts and went back inside, back to the list of other things that had to be done, and she wished, for a lingering moment, she could have stayed, and played, and talked. That Lucy's joy came as easily to Susan as it did to the younger girl.
That a duty finished wasn't such a cold substitute.
She wanted a love that reassured.
"I love you," she soothed, arms clenched tight around his shoulders. "I love you, I love you, Ed." Peter had come home wounded the day before, and one of the Cats woke her with news of Edmund screaming in his sleep. She'd learned long ago not to tell him it was all right after a nightmare.. He'd once told her, gently, that it felt like lies when his memory still recalled the horrors he'd seen. But she could tell him what he knew was true, what he could feel to be true in that moment.
And she could lead him to Peter's room, or Lucy's if Peter fought on campaign, and remind him things were all right.
She'd be reassuring both of them, though, because the terrors she saw muffled her voice and no one heard her.
She wanted love to ease the ache.
Every time Peter came back from war, his steps changed. Susan could hear it, for her siblings were as familiar as the books on her shelf, or the gowns in her wardrobe. They were slower, less firm, a tired man walking because he must. She'd always be waiting. She'd slip her arm through his and walk with him. He wouldn't be ready to speak, not yet. Nor just to her. Edmund would hear of the moments of battle that were living nightmares, for such moments she did not share. All four of them would hear the list of the dead, and Lucy would know whom to write, and whom to visit. But after the food was eaten, the nightmares told, the pens set down, Susan would stay. She would tell Peter what Narnia had done in his absence, of the life that filled its borders, life so safely guarded it knew nothing of war. Of complacent Beasts and dancing Fauns, of harvests and trades and new homes. Bit by bit, she gave him back the Narnia he loved, not just the one he served. She gave him their kingdom till there were no more shadows in his eyes, till again he walked with firm and swift steps.
She listened to them every time, trying to let the rhythm settle into her heart and erase her own stumbling steps every time she feared he was gone beyond her conversation; beyond restoration.
She needed to be loved.
And only after a train accident did she realise how much love she'd been given.
She wanted it, needed it like the air to someone with lungs full of water. She couldn't breathe, couldn't breathe-
They were gone. There was no one to hold her after her nightmares, of trains and limbs, screaming metal and screaming people. And now they were gone, when she needed them, needed them, she needed them.
Now that they weren't there, she saw that Peter's love had been the steadiness of the ground in her world, Edmund's had been the eyes that, if they could not hear her nightmares, saw the shadows, and Lucy had held joy outstretched in both hands, though Susan had walked right past them.
They were gone. Their absence left a need only they could fill, but the need was born of their loss. They had not loved the way she had, but they had loved her. Who would love her now?