elen_nare: (elen)
Title: Home Is
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia
Rating: G
Length: 970 words
Content notes: Written for amy_fortuna for the Every Woman 2016 exchange (June 2016).
Author notes: thanks to ysse_writes for betaing! :)
Summary: "Aravis had thought, as she carefully re-read her letters before sending them, that she had managed to keep her moments of homesickness well hidden."

Letters had flown (or galloped, or run, or trotted, depending on the courier) between Archenland’s castle and Cair Paravel over the last few months. Aravis had thought, as she carefully re-read her letters before sending them, that she had managed to keep her moments of homesickness well hidden. Neither did Lucy’s merry letters, which she read by the fire that never quite warmed her enough, give any hint that her friend had noticed anything. So, when an invitation from Lucy arrived for her alone, she went quite unsuspectingly.

She was surprised, when she arrived at Cair Paravel, that Lucy wasn’t waiting for her at the gate. But this was the heart of the Narnian kingdom, she reminded herself, as she followed the dryad who was her guide. A queen welcoming a guest in her palace probably had to behave with more decorum than the archer still flushed with victory. Still, it seemed out of keeping with Lucy’s cheerful writing, and her heart sank a little. Then her guide opened a door - and Aravis wondered if she was back in Calormen.

The brightly coloured hangings, the carpets, the low tables… everything could have been straight from a Tarkheena’s room, including the dress worn by the smiling woman who sprang forward to greet her.

“Welcome to Cair Paravel, Aravis! I prepared this room for you - oh, don’t cry!”

But Aravis couldn’t help it; the loving kindness that must have gone into arranging this was too much for her.

“I’m sorry,” she said through her tears. “It’s just so perfect, and I... I miss Calormen so much sometimes…”

As Lucy guided her to a seat and pulled her into her arms, Aravis kept talking, saying everything she’d been hiding for so long: how much she missed the sun, and the warmth, and the flowing silks…

“I even miss people quoting the poets, and you know what frightful bores they were,” she added.

“If it’s bores you want, I can recommend a few people right here to talk to,” Lucy said, with an expression of such irrepressible mischief that Aravis couldn’t help giggling. “But I think we can do rather better than that! This room is just the start, I have plenty of other plans.”

>“You came to Narnia from another land, didn’t you? Do you miss it?” Aravis asked, drying the tears she already felt slightly ashamed of.

Lucy tilted her head thoughtfully. “I don’t really remember much about it. I was very young when we came here, and there was so much to do in those first years, even after we defeated the White Witch. It’s a strange place, and we came here by magic, I do remember that much… Perhaps we can never go back, so Aslan has helped us to forget it.”

“I can never go back either, can I?” Aravis said, quietly. Then, not wanting to sound ungrateful, she added quickly, “I don’t really want to go back! I can choose my own life here, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But I don’t want to forget it entirely, either.”

“Then don’t! Take the best of Calormen, and the best of Archenland, and make it all your own. Or come and live here, if you’d rather; or anywhere from the mountains of Archenland to the Lonely Isles. You’ll always be welcome at both courts, but you are free to dwell wherever you please.”

Aravis frowned, trying to find the right words. “Thank you, Lucy, truly, but… It won’t really make any difference, will it? I’ll always be me, always different.”

Lucy frowned in turn. “Are people being cruel to you because you’re Calormene? Surely Lune and his sons would never stand for that?”

“Not cruel, not really. You’re right, Lune has been kindness itself, and Cor and Corin keep offering to fight anyone who’s nasty to me!” Pausing, Aravis picked up a golden chessman from a nearby table and turned it over in her hands, as she searched for a way to explain. “But a lot of Archenlanders don’t trust me,” she finally continued. “I can understand it - there are empty spaces at tables since Rabadash attacked.”

“But if it hadn’t been for you and Cor, the slaughter would have been terrible. They can’t blame you for that!”

“You’re not Narnian-born,” Aravis rejoined. “Were all the Narnians happy to have you, and your siblings, as their rulers?”

“That’s a good point,” Lucy conceded. “We were crowned by Aslan himself, but even then not everyone was ready to welcome us. And there was a lot of distrust among the Narnians themselves, between those who had stayed faithful to Aslan and those who had helped - or were believed to have helped - the White Witch. Narnia is mostly a peaceful land today, but it took us years to achieve that.”

“How did you do it?” Aravis asked.

“With patience and slow steps. All who wished to help in building a new Narnia were welcome, whatever they might have done in the past. Of the rest, all we asked was that they not work against us, that they at least let their neighbours live in peace. Gradually we drew them all to our side - with kindness, where it worked, or with firmness where kindness was viewed as weakness and licence to attack us and those we protect.”

“Kindness and firmness…” Aravis repeated. “I think I can do that.”

“Don’t forget patience! You won’t win everyone over immediately. Start with a few. And remember, you won’t have to change everyone’s minds - as people come to like you, they’ll persuade their friends in turn. It won’t be easy, I expect, but nothing worth having is, whether as small as a home or as large as a kingdom.”

Aravis smiled. “With such good friends, I feel I’ve already begun to make the North my home.”
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