Hello, readers! It's been a while since I managed to post anything. I'm currently swamped by schoolwork and NaNo, so I wasn't planning on actually putting anything on, but then I got a nasty surprise this morning when LadyAlambielKnightofNarnia posted something called "Stitches" for "24 in 24". Then I remembered and began mentally freaking out. Hours later, I'm currently in the car and trying to type up three stories in the drive to and from Pennsylvania and hoping I can manage to submit everything in time.
For those of you who have seen the "24 in 24 Challenge" and are wondering what the heck it's about, it's something that Lady A and I came up when she posted, I believe, five stories in one day. The conversation evolved into the idea to bring several authors together in the Narnia fandom to write at least twenty-four stories in one day (and the plan to completely choke Fanfiction's servers). So, if you see anything that has "24 in 24" in the summary or mentioned in an Author's Note, they're a part of this challenge. Thought I'd explain. Apologies in advance for mistakes. I'm rushing to complete this in time.
I only came up with the plot and a couple of the minor characters. Sherket's a character in Lady A's stories, and Lewis came up with the others.
Where to Find Hope
Hope endures when all other lights have gone out. -Anonymous
Hope is one of the strongest forces imaginable. It is like a flame: given food and tended to, it can become a force to be reckoned with. But if starved of any and all sustenance, it will falter and die.
Hope does not take some great miracle to stay alive; all it needs is small stokes to it. A small sign, an encouraging moment, could be effective enough to bring the spark to full flame…
"Are you certain?" General Oreius asked the leopard scout.
"Entire, General," she nodded. "There were footprints and strange shapes in the ground. I couldn't recognize the scent, but some nymphs were nearby and claimed to have seen two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve walking past."
"Tell the others to assemble," Oreius ordered a satyr. With a brief incline of his head, the guard left.
"Now what did you see, Sherket?"
"There were footprints in the snow, like a dwarf's, but three of the tracks were much bigger than any dwarf I have ever seen, and the smell was nothing like anything I've ever tracked before. I asked a few of the nymphs if they saw anything, and they told me that there were four humans wandering around. They spoke of the Faun, Tumnus, and apparently the littlest one was friendly with him."
"Was Tumnus with them?" Oreius asked.
"No. I saw only the four tracks; no other animal was with them."
"Did the nymphs say where the four were going?"
"I believe the littlest one was bringing them to Tumnus."
Oreius nodded. "Send a message to Beaver. Tell him to hurry to Tumnus's Den and bring the Four to the Stone Table," he ordered Breezetalon, a small, but very fast, hawk.
"The Stone Table, General?" Breezetalon squawked.
"I have received a message from Aslan," Oreius explained. "He has returned and wishes for us to meet him at the Table with the four. I believe we have reason to hope that this cursed Winter shall soon meet its downfall."
A few of the soldiers let out a cheer. The very idea that the Hundred Year Winter might be over soon, was wonderful news. They had all become too accustomed to the cold that had settled in their bones and the chill that often pervaded their tents, no matter how they tried to keep it out. Suddenly, a new life breathed into the army. Word that Aslan had returned and four Humans were in Narnia quickly spread throughout the entire camp. All were excited and Oreius had never seen his men in such high spirits.
He himself had hopes that the four Humans would fulfill the prophesy and return Narnia back into the wonderful country she had been before the Witch had come.
And all it took was the sighting of a few footprints in the snow.
"Why do you look at the stars?" Oreius turned to see young Queen Lucy looking at him quizzically.
"Stars see much more than we do. They can tell us of possibilities of the future. Many of my people look to them for guidance, especially in difficult times," he explained.
"Why?" Lucy, being a six-year-old, was extremely curious and her favorite word at this point in her life was "why".
Oreius thought carefully. "Well, when I look to the stars and see what might be, it gives me hope."
"Why does it give you hope?"
"Because, when times become very hard and I cannot see the good in life anymore, I look and see that things can get better. That is why we never stopped fighting the Witch during the Hundred Years. Though it seemed as though it would never end, we all remembered the prophesy and knew that one day we would see Spring again. We knew that one day, four would come: you and your siblings. That prophesy came from the stars, many, many years ago."
"You mean that they knew about us, even before we came?" Lucy was amazed that someone up there in the big sky knew about her.
"Thank you, Oreius, I think I understand now."
"You are welcome, Your Highness. Now, why don't we return to Cair Paravel and tell your guards how you managed to escape?" he asked with a teasing glint in his eyes, while Lucy looked slightly abashed.
"She's beautiful, Talla," Susan cooed, as she tickled baby Milla's tummy. Lucy's lady-in-waiting smiled appreciatively.
"Thank you, Susan." The new mother cuddled her daughter. "Milla is my pride and joy."
"I love little babies!" Lucy wiggled her fingers over Milla's eyes. The baby gurgled and lifted her hand in an attempt to catch them.
"Indeed," Talla agreed. "My mother told me that when she lived in Archenland, they would always celebrate a birth with much celebration. She said that babies were considered the very heart of Archenland and hope for the people's future. Children were something very special, and I am glad that they are considered so important here as well."
Susan and Lucy agreed heartily with the Archenland philosophy. Even when they returned to England, they kept it close to their hearts, because they knew only too well that the presence of children, especially after a war, was something that gave everyone hope for a brighter future.
Lucy stared at the candle, watching the flame dance. The sporadic, unrestrained movements fascinated her and kept her from focusing too much on her dream.
"Lu?" Edmund rubbed his eyes as he walked into his little sister's room.
"Mmm?" she mumbled, not quite aware of his presence. Mentally, she was still alone.
"Why are you up so late?"
A few seconds later, she finally noticed him. "Sorry, what was that?"
"It's past midnight. Why are you still up?"
"What about you? You're up."
"I heard noises and saw that you had a light going."
"It was only a nightmare."
"D'you want to share?"
"All right." Edmund took the seat across from her and looked at Lucy with concern clearly on his face.
"So what was it about?"
"There was so much cold and darkness. It was awful. Then I heard her, laughing. When I woke up, I simply had to light something. I was afraid that if I didn't see something other than that unfeeling, cruel darkness, I'd go mad."
"Well, that light won't last forever, and you'll have to go back to sleep eventually."
"I know, but I still dread it," Lucy shook.
"It was that bad?"
"Yes. What can I do, Ed? How do you deal with the nightmares?"
"Well, I can't keep the light going on the outside all the time, but I can keep it going on the inside."
"On the inside?"
"Yes. Inside my heart and mind, I keep an imaginary candle, which helps me drive away the nightmares: Peter, Susan, and you; the great times we have together. It's all the good things in my life, everything that the nightmares aren't. It reminds me that there is light, even in the darkest places and I can hope even if it seems impossible."
Lucy nodded thoughtfully. "I think I understand, Ed. Thank you." She yawned. "I guess I'll try going to sleep again."
Edmund smiled. "All right. Do you want me to stay until you fall asleep?"
"Goodnight Lu," Edmund whispered as she lay back down on her bed.
"I love you."
"I love you too."