Only The Strong Survive
Song suggestion: Only the strong survive-McFly
With the beavers leading us it didn't take very long to reach the waterfall. I had obviously known it was big, but it was huge in real life compared to what it looked like on the big screen. Though I was slightly apprehensive, considering I knew who was going to appear and what was to happen. I don't think anyone would particularly want to take a dip in the churning icy waters.
Peter paused and quickly scanned the now melting river. "We need to cross, now," he said determinedly.
"Don't beavers make dams?" Lucy asked.
"I'm not that fast, dear," Mr. Beaver explained.
"Come on!" Peter called impatiently as he grabbed Lucy's hand and pulled her along.
"Wait, will you just think about this for a minute?" Susan cried as we followed, stopping Peter in his tracks.
"We don't have a minute," he argued.
"I was just trying to be realistic," Susan defended, clearly hurt.
"No, you're trying to be smart. As usual," Peter replied caustically.
Susan glared at her brother as he began to lead Lucy down to the water, but she quickly followed us once she heard the howls of the wolves. We literally slid down the slope to the water, as it was still covered in ice, and even my balance was severely tested. Peter hesitated before stepping on to the ice, but it cracked and groaned under the pressure.
"Wait, maybe I should go first," Mr. Beaver volunteered.
"Maybe you should," Peter agreed.
We all watched as he cautiously made his way across, before slowly beginning to follow him. I couldn't help but quickly look around, trying to spot the wolves and only making myself more anxious in the process.
Calm down, Anna, you know nothing bad is going to happen.
We were almost half way across when they decided to make an appearance. Lucy's warning and the rain of ice alerted us to the wolves presence before they ended up right in front of us. Peter yelled at us to run, and we all hurried as quickly as we could to the other side. But the wolves were much quicker and they closed in from in front and behind. We all ended up behind Peter with his sword drawn, but hey, I wasn't going to spoil his moment by standing next to him and drawing my swords. Partly because of the whole not interfering with the story thing and partly because I hadn't a damned clue how to use them without seriously injuring either myself or one of the Pevensies.
"Put that down boy. Somebody could get hurt," Maugrim purred, his voice sinister.
"Don't worry about me! Run him through!" Mr Beaver yelled from his position underneath a wolf's paw to him.
We were slowly being pushed backwards towards the edge of the ice, and while my balance was good I was starting to falter slightly as the ice became thinner and more cracks appeared.
"Leave now while you still can, and your brother goes with you," Maugrim continued.
"Stop, Peter! Maybe we should listen to him!" Susan exclaimed, looking to me to support her argument.
"Smart girl," Maugrim said evenly. I could only shake my head and shrug to show there was nothing I could do. She seemed to have gotten her point across anyway, because Peter was now slowly beginning to lower his sword and look to his sister.
"Don't listen to him! Kill him! Kill him now!" Mr Beaver yelled, squirming under the grip of Maugrim's companion and causing Peter to instantly raise his sword again.
"Oh, come on. This isn't your war. All my Queen wants is for you to take your family and go."
I'm sure that's not all your Queen would like.
"Look, just because some man in a red coat hands you a sword, it doesn't make you a hero! Just drop it!" Susan cried. Peter lowered his sword again and glanced from his sister to the advancing Maugrim, looking completely overwhelmed and terrified.
"No, Peter! Narnia needs ya! Gut him while you still have a chance!" Mr Beaver roared.
"Anna!" Peter called, keeping his eyes trained on the wolf in front of him. I knew that he was asking for my help, and as badly as I wanted to give it to him, I also knew that I couldn't do anything.
"Peter, you know I'm not allowed to tell you anything! You have to make a decision for yourself!" I exclaimed, my desperation at being totally useless seeping through in to my voice.
"What's it gonna be, Son of Adam? I won't wait forever. And neither will the river," Maugrim threatened, still making a steady approach and driving us further backwards.
"Peter!" Lucy cried, having noticed the ice beginning to break at the top of the waterfall. I could see him rapidly scanning the layer of ice in front of him that was now starting to break off before he turned to me.
"Will it work?" he asked, knowing that I knew what he was thinking.
"You tell me!" I answered. For a moment our eyes locked and in them I could see every emotion and thought going through his head; fear, confusion, indecision. Would it work?
He must have seen that I was silently willing him on in my head because he turned to his sisters, yelled, "Hold on to me!" and plunged his sword into the ice. No sooner than he had done so, the larger chunks of ice began to fall down and eventually we had all been engulfed by the frigid water.
It was desperately cold and I struggled to hold my breath long enough to surface, gasping and coughing when we eventually did. We rode along the current for a short while, being propelled by the Beavers when I caught my foot on something hard, lost my grip on Peter's coat and was dragged back under the freezing water. I had heard Lucy shriek around the same moment that I hit my foot off whatever had pulled me under, and soon realised that she had encountered the same problem as me.
Surfacing quickly, I could see a bend with a tree at the waters edge, and there was one branch just close enough that I could hang on to.
"Lucy!" I called to the panic stricken girl, managing to catch her attention. "Swim towards the tree!" I reached it before she did and was able to get a secure grip on the over hanging branch.
Holding my arm out, I just managed to grab her hand without losing my hold on the branch too. Not without difficulty, I managed to pull her in towards me and she clung to the branch before slowly edging her way across to the bank and pulling herself out. I then followed and we both lay on the ground, taking in huge breaths and trying to slow our pounding heart rates.
"Are you all right?" I asked once I was able to speak again.
"I think so," Lucy answered. "Thank you for saving me," she said quietly.
"Don't mention it," I replied. "Come on, let's go find the others."
Helping her up we began to make her way back up stream to where I knew Peter and Susan would be frantically calling for their lost sister.
"Oh no!" Lucy admonished, "I've lost my coat!"
I couldn't help but laugh at that. "Don't worry about it Lu, I have a feeling you won't be needing it much longer."
I could hear Susan calling for her sister, and following the sound they quickly came in to view.
"Has anyone seen my coat?" Lucy called to them as we continued walking towards them. The relief on her siblings faces was a tribute to how much they cared for her. Peter held out her coat for her and enveloped her in a hug as soon as she reached him.
"Are you both all right?" he questioned, looking from me to Lucy.
"Perfectly fine, Anna was the one who saved me!" Lucy piped up, turning around to grin at me.
"What happened to 'Don't mention it' Lu?" I joked, more amused than annoyed.
"Is that true?" Peter asked me.
"Well...I uh, helped her but really..." I didn't get to finish my sentence because I was then pulled in to a hug by Peter.
"Thank you," he said quietly to me.
"No problem," I replied nonchalantly, a little surprised at his actions.
Well, that was interesting.
Pulling back I could see Susan and Lucy exchange looks and smirking.
"Don't start," I told them as we began to start walking again.
"Start what?" Susan replied innocently, keeping a straight face.
"Very funny," I muttered.
At Mrs Beavers suggestion and the visible melting of the ice, we left our coats by the river and continued on without them. There was now a noticeable increase in the temperature and after a few more hours we were all completely dry.
After stopping to rest, the Beavers told us we were only an hours walk from the camp. Everyone was delighted, especially Lucy who was probably the most exhausted of us all. When we resumed walking, I ended up next to Peter and we began talking again.
"Sorry if I crossed the line or anything earlier with that hug," he said, smiling sheepishly.
"I understand," I told him shaking my head. "I was just a little surprised is all."
He laughed at that. "Yeah, I can understand why. I am sorry for being so harsh with you when we met. I was just angry with myself for not looking after Edmund properly. I wanted to blame you because you knew it was going to happen, but I know that was selfish of me because you couldn't tell me."
"Peter," I said firmly, stopping him and forcing him to turn and look at me. "You were worried, you have a family to protect. I can understand why you hated me, but believe me, I so badly wanted to warn you and stop Edmund from running off, but I couldn't risk affecting the rest of the story. You're just going to have to trust me."
"Anna," Peter said quietly. "I never hated you. I was just frustrated and took it out on you. I never meant to make you think like that and I'm truly sorry for doing so."
I blushed, feeling bad for making him so upset with himself. "It's fine Peter, I know you were just trying to look after your brother and sisters. I understand."
"Come on you two!" Mrs Beaver shouted back to us. "We've already had a break!" Smiling, we both began to walk up the hill where the others were waiting.
"Anna?" Peter said.
"Yes?" I asked, glancing at him.
"I do trust you."
Lucy interrupted us before I could respond. "Hey Anna! Can you show me how to do some of your tricks?" Laughing at her infectious enthusiasm for everything new, I promised to show her when we reached the camp.
"It's impossible to do anything in jeans!" I told her.
"So, can I 'start something' now?" Susan asked me while Peter entertained Lucy.
"I don't think there's much to say, Susan. We're just friends," I finished evenly.
"Peter would be devastated if he heard you say that, you know," she teased with a grin, earning an eye roll from me. "Anna, he doesn't shut up about you. When you're off with Lucy he's always asking me questions about you and somehow manages to bring you up in every conversation. And I know you don't notice but he's always looking at you when you're occupied with something else. And he doesn't normally hug people."
I opened and closed my mouth several times, attempting in vain to formulate a reply. Susan just smirked, clearly amused by my response.
"Well, I think I've made my point. But my question now is if his feelings are reciprocated?" she continued.
I began to say no when I stopped.
I couldn't stop thinking about our conversation and what followed that night in the Badger's den. Was he trying to kiss me? Why did he stop? What was that strange feeling I had in my chest every time we talked?
"Should I take that as a yes?" Susan asked excitedly, brining my focus back to the conversation.
"I don't know," I answered honestly.
A short while later and we were walking in to Aslan's camp. While I was prepared for the looks we were going to receive I still felt a little embarrassed by all of the stares. We continued walking through the camp, being led by the Beavers and generally trying not to make eye contact with anyone. Eventually, we reached Aslan's tent and knelt before him as he emerged.
"Welcome, Peter, Son of Adam. Welcome, Anna, Susan and Lucy, Daughters of Eve. And welcome to you, Beavers. You have my thanks," Aslan greeted us, "But where is the fifth?" he questioned.
"That's why we're here, sir. We need your help," Peter began.
"We had a little trouble along the way," Susan added.
You're telling me.
"Our brother's been captured by the White Witch," Peter finished.
"Captured? How could this have happened?" Aslan asked, obviously dismayed.
"He betrayed them, Your Majesty," Mr Beaver responded reluctantly.
"Then he has betrayed us all!" Oreius bellowed angrily, earning murmurs of ascent from his fellow Narnians.
"Peace, Oreius. I'm sure there's an explanation," Aslan soothed.
"It's my fault, really," Peter said quietly. "I was too hard on him."
Susan placed her hand on his shoulder, showing her brother she wasn't going to let him take sole blame for the situation. "We all were," she corrected.
"Sir, he's our brother," Lucy told him sadly.
"I know, dear one. But that only makes the betrayal all the worse. This may be harder than you think."
"Now, I trust that you all have many questions but you must be tired. I would suggest you all change into something more comfortable and rest for a while before we talk." Aslan then directed us to two Naiads who showed us to our tents and gave us some Narnian clothes.
I was given a wine red coloured dress that contrasted well with my dark hair and pale skin. My hair was still annoyingly straight so I pinned back some of it back at the front to make it look like I'd at least made an effort. I was sharing a tent with Susan and Lucy and we all agreed that some sleep was what we needed.
It had been fairly early in the morning when we had arrived at the camp and we all slept until just past lunch time. At that point we all realised we were starving. We had to rely on finding wild berries and nuts while travelling, and because of the snow and ice they were quite hard to find and not very filling. After a quick but satisfying meal we then made our way to Aslan's tent.
"Where shall we start?" Aslan asked when we were all seated. I allowed the Pevensies to ask their questions first, mainly about things I already knew the answer to. I simply sat and listened, waiting for my turn to ask the questions most important to me.
After a lengthy talk about Narnia, the topic was soon exhausted and the room fell silent before Aslan addressed me, "I should hardly think that you have no questions yourself, Anna?"
Where do I even begin?
"Father Christmas said something about being a Guardian, what was he talking about?" I asked.
Aslan chuckled at that. "Yes, he mentioned to me he might have let something slip but was able to distract you. You know the story of Narnia and the events to come, but now we face a new threat and one that was not present before. As in almost every story there is a villain and those attempting to stop them; a struggle between good and evil. It has always been balanced, until now. The White Witch has been able to use magic much more powerful than the Deep Magic you know rules over us. With this magic she will eventually be able to destroy the original world and story and replace it with her own version. You have been appointed the Guardian of this story, Anna. That means, when the time comes, only you will have the power to stop the Witch and restore the story to it's original state."
I sat in stunned silence for a good few minutes. A million and one more questions were racing through my mind, but I was too shocked to even speak.
"Would you like me to continue, and perhaps try to answer some of your questions?" Aslan asked gently.
I just about managed to nod my head.
"As I have said, Jadis has prevailed in accessing one of the most powerful forms of magic there is in any world. She can only be stopped by a Guardian, and for this you were chosen, as I explained to you before because of your passion and love for this world. I instructed you not to tamper with or reveal the original story line to allow this world to remain as strong as possible until the Witch gained enough magic to carry out her plans. It was also to test your loyalty to this world and your abilities as a Guardian. You are still not permitted to interfere with the story, but may only do so when the Witch attempts to tear this world apart and recreate it for her own purposes."
"But why me, Aslan?" I finally managed to whisper. "Why not the author?"
He smiled at that question. "While no one can ever truly match the love a Creator has for it's stories, they can very easily become dissatisfied with their work and attempt to make changes. With someone like you, you love the story solely for what it is and would not be as easily tempted to do so. And I must congratulate you, dear one, for you have most certainly proven your worth as a Guardian."
"So, when will the Witch try and do this?" Peter asked, probably out of curiosity and probably because I had again been rendered speechless.
"She is not far from gathering all of the power she needs, but there is one final ingredient she must obtain in order to fully invoke the dark magic she plans to use. And that is the blood of the Guardian," Aslan explained solemnly.
Susan gasped loudly, covering her mouth with her hand, while Peter visibly stiffened. All I could do was stare at Aslan in terrified silence as I attempted to process this new information.
"And I'm sure you can guess what item she is using as her power source, Anna?" Aslan continued.
"Her wand," I choked.
"Correct. She is extremely confident that she will be able to defeat you and that is why I'm sure you also have an idea of where she will confront you."
I nodded again, having no doubt in my mind about what the answer was: The Battle of Beruna.
"But Anna, know this; you were chosen for a reason and I firmly believe that you will be able to defeat the White Witch, but you also must believe in yourself in order to succeed. There is only so much help that I can give you," he explained calmly.
That's good to know.
"I hope my explanation was sufficient?" Aslan asked me.
Again, I could only nod, still too shocked to speak without completely freaking out.
"If you find yourself with more questions, you know where you can find me. Now, I think it would be a good idea if you began training to learn how to use your weapons. I'll have Oreius teach you how to use your blades."
This is going to be a long day.