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For l_a_r_m  on her birthday.  Birthday fic!  The first part some of you might recall from the Give the Pevensies a friend commentfic.  This expands it a little bit.  Years and timing and dates are wrong wrong wrong.  Also, I borrow heavily from the ideas of John LeCarre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  The ideas are, in sum and substance, his.  I've just inserted Tebbitt and Susan into it.

****

Walking all the way from the train station was not one of his better plans. He had been so concerned that Stanley was wise to him, George Walker-Smythe (formerly Colonel, commission resigned, sacked) had considered getting off a stop later.

The rain stopped just as he pushed open the squeaky gate of the tiny Oxford cottage. His shoes crunched on the gravel walk. Gate and stone were just one of her early warning signals should an enemy made in twenty years of their dodgy business came back for a reckoning.

She had never changed the name on the postbox. It still read D. Kirke. The well-heeled all knew though that if you wanted to pass your French, German, or Russian orals, she was the tutor to seek.

George juggled the case containing the greatest secrets of their realm, and rang the bell. How to address her? Which code name? Which identity? He did not know all of them, though she certainly did. Caspian, he decided, the first working name she had ever used when they’d run circles around the American diplomatic establishment in 1942 and helped win the war in North Africa with 350 Sherman tanks in time for Operation Torch.

He could have sworn it was the immense, shaggy wolfhound who opened the creaky door.

“Well, it if isn’t my old friend, Sallowpad!” Susan Caspian nee Pevensie cried. Her eyes darted up and down the street, but there was no one there, no mysterious passerbys, no windowless vans the watchers and lamplighters favored. “And walking all the way from the station, on the twelve forty-two, judging from the state of your trousers.”

They went to her parlor. It was an addition, hastily done to accommodate an enormous wardrobe decorated with wild animals. Applewood, Mrs. Caspian had explained with a smile. Belonging to Professor Kirke, you know. Tea appeared so readily, he wondered if she had her own watchers watching the station.

“You heard about Tebbitt?” George asked.

“It was in the Times!” she replied tartly. “Of course I read it.” The edge softened. “How is he? I didn’t dare try to contact him.”

“Recuperating. Backs are tricky things. He’s teaching at some girls’ school in Scotland.”

“I warned him,” Susan said. “But he’s always been so bloody idealistic. He refused to believe what you and both saw.” She took another sip of her tea, eyes flitting to the case tucked under his elbow.

He nodded and really, what could be said? He had been sacked first, forced out, one of only a handful of honest competents left in the Intelligence Service. Mrs. Caspian had survived barely six months after that.

“There’s a letter in that bag from the Minister,” he told her. “Full apology, pension, special commendation, the usual package and then some.”

She stirred her tea, lips pursed, a sour expression on her face. “After all this time? The trail to Stanley is cold, Sallowpad. And I’ll have to fight with every secretarial cow for access to what I need to find it again.”

“Full access,” he said flatly, repeating the demand he had made, knowing it would be her condition. “The Minister is sending in the broom and the shovel. Clean house, go backwards, forwards, pick up Stanley's trail, find the mole.”

“You do know how to sweet talk a lady, don’t you Sallowpad?”

“You and I both know it. Tebbitt was betrayed.” Tebbitt had been her friend, her partner, her cover, and probably her lover, though George had never been clear on that part of the working relationship. They had built a string of agents from Rio to Moscow, run networks through the slums of Istanbul and Bucharest. And seen nearly every one of those precious agents blown or dead.

“You said fifteen years ago there was something wrong, Susan. It took three bullets in Tebbitt’s back and his cover blown on the front of The London Times, but the Minister agrees. England needs a terrier to run a Soviet mole to ground.”

“Terriers,” Susan said with a sly smile. “They are loud and draw attention to themselves.” She set a hand on the head of her great, gray, silent dog. “I think the wolf is the better metaphor.”

 ***

 Shep had told her that he did not want to travel by car or rail all that long way up to Edinburgh.  They both liked the city well enough, but the Wolfhound would rather cavort with his fellows in the fields of Oxfordshire than go the long way North to a hotel with a tiny bed.  He’d never forgiven her for the B&B in Cornwall with one of those heaters that you had to put coins in to keep them running and all the food coming out of tins.

 So, Susan would make the trip by herself.  As Clive (the “Home Secretary” to those who didn’t have access to those pictures of him with that pretty danseur) was paying for her expenses out of the Widows and Orphans fund, she took a first class train and booked a weekend at the Scotsman.  In the old days, it would have been a flophouse near the A7. 

 The service wasn’t worth the price, but it was the principle of the thing.  The Welfare State had abandoned her with barely a by your leave, a commendation that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on and half the pension she was entitled to because some cow in personnel insisted that Susan provide adequate documentation for those years in foreign “postings.”  Odd that in the years she and Tebbitt had been smuggling people from behind the Iron Curtain she’d not thought to keep receipts from every bowl of ciorba and cabbage she’d gulped down in cold, dark apartment blocs or every border guard they had bribed. 

 One night in the silk sleeping bag she always traveled with atop the adequate bed at the Scotsman and Susan was ready.  She bought a bottle of 18 year old Glenlivet single malt and hired a car – charging both to the Home Office with her personal regards – and drove herself to the St. Stephens Girls’ School.

 For this visit, she’d decided to dress the part of a well-heeled matron coming to visit her upper form daughter or even (she sighed inwardly) granddaughter – slim tweeds, strand of pearls, practical pumps, a shade of lipstick and powder.  Out of habit, she carried her slightly larger than fashionable handbag and within its false sides and bottom she concealed three fake passports, currency from four countries, a camera, a makeup kit,  a pair of custom-made rubber slippers, a Swiss Army multi-tool, and a small caliber pistol which she always had neglected to return even though she had never, ever used it.  Violence was a failure of imagination. 

 Tebbitt and his ruined back would have not have agreed with that characterization – but then, they never had agreed on the issue of guns.

 She had timed her visit precisely.  Susan signed in at the office, flashing a fake identification.  She walked the school grounds and made a to-do looking at the staff post boxes.  She chatted with the vicar at the chapel and asked to see the pew lists, making sure that some of the girls overheard her asking.

 She knew Tebbitt’s tradecraft – the two of them had, after all, developed it together.  He would have charmed every girl in the school to keep an eye for strangers and report back to him immediately.  She had had two weeks to prepare for this meeting and he was owed at least a few hours to collect himself as well.

 And so, predictably, by the afternoon physical education, she was getting shifty looks from the girls jogging out to the archery range in their droll, unflattering gym clothes and trainers.

 Susan followed the girls.  Tebbitt was already at the range, leaning on a cane, hunched over like a man twice his age.  The girls were all lined up, facing targets.  The bows were horrid, as bent and misshapen as Tebbitt’s ruined body.  It would be a miracle if the girls could hit anything.  Hobbling up and down the row, Tebbitt was, with a touch to the elbow, a shift of a hand, the change of the feet, improving the girls’ stances. 

 Arrows were flying all over the place.

 “Well, if it isn’t Mrs. Caspian, looking so bonny and in the pink!” Tebbitt bellowed from down the line. 

 Susan smiled as the girls suspiciously stared at her.  Their eyes grew quite large as she set her bag down and took up a bow.  “With your permission, Mr. Tebbitt?”

 It bothered her to use his real name here, in public, even if among a gaggle of schoolgirls.  But, his cover, real names and working names had been blown on the front page of The Times, so really what was the point?

 “Even if you shouldn’t, you would anyway, Mrs. Caspian.  By all means, disrupt my athletics class.”

 The girls all giggled; Susan quelled the smirks as she smoothly fitted an arrow to the bow, and in a fluid movement, sighted the target and released the arrow.

 “Bullseye!” Tebbitt crowed, though his clapping was mocking more than complimentary.  “But then, you never miss a target, do you, Mrs. Caspian?”

 ***

 In the old days, they would have taken the Glenlivet and a pair of binoculars and walked the perimeter of their target, or picnicked on a blanket to conduct their surveillance.  Today, with her hand at his elbow, and by pushing the seat all the way back, Tebbitt was able to slide awkwardly into the car.    Susan sat in the driver’s side, took two glasses out of the glove compartment, and poured them both two fingers’ worth. 

 “I’m back in,” Susan said, beginning bluntly.  “They called Sallowpad out of retirement and he’s brought me back, and we’re going to run Stanley to ground.”  She hoped he would trust her, but a man betrayed and abandoned as Tebbitt had been was rightfully wary and skittish.  “You can call Clive if you need confirmation; even the PM will take your call.”

 Tebbitt nodded, and took a deep drink.  The green pitch of the girls’ school spread out before them just beyond the car park.  “You’re here to find out about the Operation?  About why the Chief  sent me to Tulcea to declare private war upon the Romanians?” 

 “Yes, Operation Weasel.  The Chief is dead, everyone else was sacked and is suffering convenient amnesia.” She shifted in her seat to face him, to study his scarred, mobile, ever so familiar face.  “You’re the only one left who can tell me what happened.”

 He let out a deep sigh.  To her, and no one else, Tebbitt would tell the tale.  And he would not lie to her.  Not after so many years and so many miles and so much death and loss.  “I thought he was barmy, Susan.  Even the name, Weasel.  They’re predators, you know.”

 “Yes,” Susan said.  “I remember that.”

 “Chief said there was a choice prospect, a potential defector from the Romanian Securitate.  He had a name of a deep cover, KGB hood.” 

 Tebbitt stopped there, taking another drink, shifting uncomfortably in the close confines of the car.  It couldn’t be easy for him.  They’d need to go to the hotel.  And, perhaps, to the double bed she had upgraded to, and charged the Ministry for. 

 Susan picked up the story, trying to fill in the gaps.  “And you were to be the Chief’s weasel.”

 “We were going to catch ourselves a British mole.”

 She opened the bottle and splashed more into his glass, and took a steadying drink herself. 

 “How did you enter?  From the north, through Vişeului, or the…”

 “You hated that overland route,” Tebbitt said.  He had always been bad about interrupting.  “No, I came through the Black Sea, from Istanbul.”

 “On Vasily’s fishing boat?” Susan asked, smiling at the memory of the shabby-looking trawler and its toothless captain.  Like other places she had experienced in her life, the outward appearance had been very deceiving and the inside much different than the ship’s outside.  

 Tebbitt nodded.  “And the moment I jumped ashore on the Constanţa dock, I knew I was blown.”

 ***

It seemed inevitable, but it really wasn’t.  They might have stayed in the bar, or gone to dinner, or he might have rebuffed her advance, or stormed out when she refused his.  The mad and urgent passion of their first (second, third, and fourth), furtive, abortive romances had faded to something else, deeper, mellower, and gentler.  Susan wasn’t the toned, smooth young thing she had been; Tebbitt was broken.  She mapped the familiar territory of his old scars, learned the terrain of his many new ones.  She kissed the marks on his body that marred her own as well – the telltale scars of cigarette burns left by Moscow-trained interrogators.  It wasn’t as easy as it had once been; it was probably better.

 After, they sat together, side by side, in the tangled bed, sharing a cigarette and washing it down with the Glenlivet.  For old time’s sake, she wore one of his old shirts, left behind after he stormed out of a Marseilles safehouse in 1959.  The radio was playing the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.  She could see no reason why there would be electronic surveillance, but there was no reason to be stupid about it, either.

 “I don’t know where I was taken for the interrogation,” Tebbitt said.  “They moved me north and west.  I knew I had to hold out long enough to give our Romanian network time to roll up and get out or go to ground.  And that I had to protect the real reason Chief had sent me there.”

 Susan realized with a sinking heart that Tebbitt didn’t know. 

 “I was sweated and roughed up, the usual.”  He smiled thinly, shrugging off torture as he would.

 “No one told me what happened when I was finally sprung.”  Staring at the drink in his hands, he finally asked her what they had both been avoiding.  “Did the stall work, Susan?  Did they make it out?”

 “No,” she finally managed, taking the drink from him with shaking hands. 

 “Nikolai and Elena?  The Stoicas?”

 She shook her head and drained the last of the smoky, burning scotch herself.

 “Andrescu?  Vitz?  Mister Nikita?”

 “No.”

 Tebbitt buried his head in his hands, choking on a dry, tearless sob. 

 “The Securitate took them, Tebbitt.  All of them.”  Even now, months later, and still Susan dashed her own tears away for friends they had recruited and built into their Balkan network.  The friendships and work of years.  Gone.  Shot.  Blown.  All dead.

 “And everyone thinks I sold our agents out to save my own hide, don’t they?” Tebbitt bit out, savagely.

 “Yes,” Susan whispered.   The glass rolled away, off the messy bedsheets and thudded to the floor. 

 Tebbitt thrashed about on the bed, trying to rise, hissing with the pain of bullet wounds and betrayal.  She wrapped her arms around him, pulled him back to her.  “I know there had to be more to it, Tebbitt.  You would have had the interrogation scripted.  What happened?  You wouldn’t have given up our ...”

 He sagged against her, burying his head in her shoulder, muttering. 

 Susan brought her hands to his head, tilted his face up to her own.  “Tell me.”

 He turned his head to the side, kissed her palm, rested his cheek there.  “They never even asked…”

 “What?” Susan said, confused.  “Who?”

 “The Securitate.  They never asked about the networks.  They just held me until the KGB gorillas arrived.  And all they wanted to know about was our mad, senile Chief and how close he was to finding the mole.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d sung like bird.  They knew everything before we even started.”

 Tebbitt raged and drank and she held him until he finally collapsed in a drunken stupor.

 Susan rose from the bed, tucked a blanket around Tebbitt, and put a pillow at his back.  Then, she went to the desk, to record his testimony.  It had been strange to pick up again the old Narnian code she and Edmund had developed.  She had enjoyed teaching the code to her niece and nephew when they had been younger; it was very satisfying to know that a little bit of Narnia lived on in her dead siblings’ children.

 As Susan carefully recorded her notes, it was with the certainty she had known in her heart, but had needed to hear from him.  Reginald Tebbitt had not been responsible for the death of 23 agents in the Balkans.  His account corroborated the report she had gathered from one of their pianists, a radio man in Istanbul.    The Romanian Secret Police, with Soviet backing, had moved against their Balkan spies within hours of when Tebbitt had been shot in the back while fleeing from a dacha at the Moldovan border.  Operation Weasel had been a trap, orchestrated to be blown and to discredit those who knew, but could not prove, that a mole had undermined the very fabric of the British secret service.

 She was on his trail.  And he’d better hope Scotland Yard got there first.  Susan had never used the gun she carried in her bag.  But there was always a first time.


Comments

( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
amine_eyes
Jan. 16th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oooooooooooh a shiver went up my spine at that last line :D

rthstewart
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
brown_betty
Jan. 17th, 2011 06:06 am (UTC)
I love Susan in her old age, grown into all her powers.

(And, ahahaha, I amuse myself imagining her as Bond's M, eventually, who would find his attempts at bucking authority adorable.)
rthstewart
Jan. 17th, 2011 06:12 am (UTC)
I HAD the SAME idea. Especially the Judy Dench M in the Daniel Craig Bond. I recently saw parts of it when I was sweating on the treadmill and thought ZOMG, it's SUSAN. Well, and Emma Peel. This is very weak of me but I am seeing in this developing characterization both women. In fact, I was totally planning on giving Susan a nifty little MG convertible just like Emma had (I couldn't resist and gave her little gun). The initial inspiration of course is poor Connie Sachs, but Susan Caspian nee Pevensie is no Connie Sachs any more than the Col. (retired) is George Smiley and Tebbitt is not Jim Ellis. But, it was fun to do an xover/AU to my own fic.
brown_betty
Jan. 17th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
threading!fail! PLs ignore me.
l_a_r_m
Jan. 16th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
HOLY FRICKEN YOU ARE AMAZING THIS IS WONDERFUL I AM DYING SCAR KISSING! BITTER BROKEN TEBBITT MY HEAAAAART I CANNOT EVEN YOU ARE BEST BEST EVER OMG THANK YOU SUSAN THE GUN!! THEY TORTURED HIM AND EVERYBODY BLAMED HIM WHAT NOOOOOO OH REG!! BENT OVER AND SAD, SHE IS WEARING HIS SHIRT FOR OLD TIMES SAKE ROLLING GLASS MY HEARRT!!! I SO SHOULD NOT HAVE READ THIS AS WE WAIT IN LINE FOR J AND J GOD I AM ABOUT TO CASBUST WITH SQUEEEEEEE!! THANK YOU!! <3333333/
rthstewart
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
AND SUSAN HAS A NIECE AND NEPHEW!!! AND SHE'S TEACHING THEM CODE! JUST FOR YOU!
autumnia
Jan. 16th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
Squee!! Loved this, it is pure love! To tell you the many things I liked would require me to quote the entire thing back to you.

I loved how Shep "told" Susan his likes and dislikes of travel. I could actually picture the wolfhound speaking to her as if it had been Lambert or Briony instead. Susan, the Glenlivet, the fancy hotel and car... I highly approve! A Queen such as she is should travel in style, you know.

And it really is strange to hear her calling him by his real name. Especially since he still calls her Mrs Caspian (as does Sallowpad), even though she was "retired". Some things never change, such as her archery skills.

Niece and nephew? Ohhhhh.... hypothetically speaking, whose children were they? I want to say Edmund, considering it IS Rat and Crow we are discussing.
rthstewart
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
This is AU and LARM's birthday fic and she's the one who is very fond of illegitimate children all over the place. As said, this is not TSG compliant. That line was put in for her.

HOWEVER....
I wrote myself into a corner on the Narnia side of things given that offspring and succession are such a huge issue in this vision for the Narnians and they are not above overt manipulation to accomplish their goals. All of this was to have been addressed in Harold and Morgan, but well, we know where that one went and I'm assuming that readers just aren't that interested in that side of the picture. I have come to assume that I'm one of the few in the fandom who wanted to concoct a vision of a peaceful, benign, organized (but yes, sad) transition of power. That was where the H&M story would have ended.This was a big reason for the introduction of Aidan and his numerous relations -- his nieces and nephews and his own children.

So, uhh, where was I? Oh, yeah. Pevensie offspring in Spare Oom. In TSG. I'm not vigorously opposed to it. It may not work with where I'm taking them, but that will become clearer later in the story and maybe readers will have some ideas there. Fandom is so rife with it that it makes me reluctant to go there, but in the end, that shouldn't stop me either. And wouldn't. As I think people are gathering, there will be "romance" in TSG. My whole sneak peek included an adult-oriented segment.

I have to concede that my fandom roots and inclination are more in the vein of the unfulfilled romance -- the chance missed, the opportunity lost. In that sense, the Maenad story is actually truer to my fandom roots than anything I've done in Narnia fic, save for the Edmund humor/lust/banter with Morgan in the earlier chapters of RBD. I don't do OTP's and the Narnia story is very much about promise cut off too soon.

In answer to this AU version of TSG. Who? I could make an argument for all three of them. In my head canon, Peter, Edmund or Lucy could have had a child. I tend to prefer out of wedlock situations in fic but that's not set in stone either and I have a hard time imagining duty-bound Peter doing anything but marrying the woman. I also love the idea of a Lucy who is so unconventional she doesn't care a whit about flaunting social convention. She loves her partner very much, but really, marriage? Not so much. And her parents would be THRILLED to have a grandchild.
therck
Jan. 16th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
Dark territory, definitely. Deservedly dark. I hope Susan finds the mole.

Thanks for writing!
rthstewart
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
It hadn't occured to me, but yes, it is dark isn't it? Thanks so much!
wingedflight21
Jan. 16th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Oooh brilliant! I love how dark this is, and poor, poor Reg! All the details are so fantastic, as always. Archery! Scars from interrogation! Niece and nephew! Wonderful, wonderful!
rthstewart
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks! See above to Autumnia for further ramblings on the subject of AU fic offspring. I NEVER shut up.
intrikate88
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
I just. I don't even have words. I love this, all of it. Especially the part with archery.

And also, niece and nephew?!
rthstewart
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
See above long and non responsive post to Autumnia on the subject of the niece and nephew. And, I also updated AW. Wasn't sure if you had spotted that yet.
intrikate88
Jan. 18th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
Yes, I saw that, I've just been sick/busy and wanted to wait until I could give it my full attention! :D Because I know it will be more than worth my full attention...
cofax7
Jan. 17th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Oh, that's very very cool. So full of allusive power.

Although I'm sitting here staring at the line about nieces and nephews. Who would they be?
cofax7
Jan. 17th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC)
And I just saw your comment upthread, so no need to answer on that point.

Interesting, anyway.
rthstewart
Jan. 17th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
Thanks!! And as for the nieces and nephews, well, all I provided was really a non-answer. And you know, I really do think I can just slide this stuff in and around and no one will notice. Ahem.

In an AU, fic of the fic, in head canon, I could populate a whole commune and any of the siblings would be candidates as parents. In the TSG storyline it's more difficult, but not impossible.
metonomia
Jan. 17th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC)
I READ THIS EARLIER AFTER WATCHING LARM SQUEAL OVER IT, AND OMG SO SO PERFECT. SUSAN HAS A NIECE AND NEPHEW??? WHOSE????

ALSO OMG FAVORITE EVER TEBBITT HAS ALL THE GIRLS KEEPING WATCH FOR HIM.

THIS WAS SO TERRIFICALLY SAD AND EXCITING AND HOLY OMG FANGIRLY AAND IT WAS THE PERRRRRFECT LEAD-IN TO JARED AND JENSEN PICTURES. YOU ARE A MARVEL.
rthstewart
Jan. 17th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And thank you for reviewing AW! It is such delight when I hear from you!
min023
Jan. 17th, 2011 08:16 am (UTC)
Yay for Rth. This is fabulous. Don't care that it's AU, non-compliant or anything else. And yes, please keep sliding : )
rthstewart
Jan. 17th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
varnafinde
Jan. 17th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
And who is to say that the nephew and niece are brother and sister?
You're not saying so, are you?
That opens the possibility for Edmund and Lucy both to have had a child, doesn't it? (You're probably right about Peter.)

Great story - I'm so pleased to see a continuation of what started in the 'Give them a friend' thread!

"The mad and urgent passion of their first (second, third, and fourth), furtive, abortive romances had faded to something else, deeper, mellower, and gentler."
I love it!
rthstewart
Jan. 17th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
The sentence was very carefully written. She should have identified the parents -- which sibs, and I deliberately did not do so. Really, I had no idea this would provoke comment. I did assume different parents just given how young Lucy, Peter, and Edmund would have been in 1949 or thereabouts. Two children from one parent in that time frame seemed more of a stretch. Stretch! HA! In fan fic! Listen to me. Pathetic.
l_a_r_m
Jan. 17th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
I can't stop reading this!! Illegitimate babies! Sobbing Tebbitt my heaaaaart! Is George actually dead?! My heart casplodes with love, I cannot even. Bitter crying Tebbitt and understanding Susan! Oh rth, you are too good to me.

P.S. If Tom Clark found out he was your favorite, he probably wouldn't care! Meanwhile there is a golden, goodhearted pilot wanting to prove himself as more than just a pretty face and a sweet talker who would love to be the favorite after clambering for attention over his smothering sisters and trying to be of good service and raise himself in the Chief's eyes. Also he wants rec time to write poetry, a dashing new haircut, his post-Susan babysitter to be mean and unfriendly, and to be reincarnated into the Golden Age if and when he dies.
rthstewart
Jan. 17th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
Is George actually dead?!

Nope, George is still alive in this AU; "Chief" in this is supposed to be the head of the Intelligence Service. In LeCarre, he was "Control" who was in turn based upon "C" (Sir Stewart Menzies) which is where "M" came from in Ian Fleming's James Bond.

P.S. If Tom Clark found out he was your favorite, he probably wouldn't care!

Oh gawd. This has never happened before. I've been writing fan fic since 1994 and never, ever have I fallen for one of my OCs. I'm so ashamed. I was casting him. CASTING! Me! She who does not do visuals EVAH. This is really bad. I do like Richard. I do. A lot. Even if he is a rat bastard to women. And Walker-Smythe -- I like him too. Tebbitt has never had the attraction to me, your golden boy though he is, but I don't go in for those dreamy poetic types, you know.

I'm in so much trouble.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 20th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
Love this--although, really, I've always enjoyed this side of your Susan, possibly because when I'm not devoring fanfiction or original fantasy, I'm reading spy thrillers. Thank you!

Tansiana
rthstewart
Jan. 20th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Oh. My. God.

This is such an awesome AWESOME fix to my Susan "obsession"! This will tide me over nicely till she appears in AW.

You are amazing. No joke. Now I'm really craving for a sequel to this, just because I wanna see Susan kick butt! I love the James Bond-esque vibe here btw.

And TEBBITT! :( My poor heart breaks for him. HE NEEDS TO BE AVENGED!

And the niece and nephew? This makes me hope for some sort of one-shot sequel after AW. For some reason I don't imagine the kids being all that close to Susan, no matter how much she tries to be motherly and all. Children can sense these things, after all, even if they can never explain it fully.

Anyhows, I've been delayed in reviewing AW. I apologize. School is getting to me. I'll leave a review or two when I can though! Might have to reread the chapters again though to refresh my memory so I can write a decent review, hehe.

- Lhanae
linneasr
Mar. 17th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Oooo!
Ah! How did I miss this one? It's magnificent! (shrugs for the adjective). I dislike so viscerally the weepy, guilty, even ashamed post-train wreck Susan that this Susan just glows. Always a queen.

Nephews and nieces? Illegitimate children? My vote is for Peter and Mary Russell. In the sorrow and distress of Richard's passage. She does look like Drinan, after all.
rthstewart
Mar. 17th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Oooo!
This is the AU! And it's a total remix of Tinker, Tailor. But, errr, Romanian, instead of Czech, and Susan is no Connie Sachs. I wrote it for LARM and she has a "thing" for out of wedlock children so I added those just for her. Regardless of which vision, however, Susan will never be reduced to guilty and ashamed. I couldn't do that to her -- she's got some really fundamental differences with Peter, but those are nothing to feel shame over.

Thanks so much. And I guess I'll count you among the few Mary/Peter shippers? I don't have many of those as far as I know. I have the Morgan/Edmund and the Susan/Tebbitt shippers, though there is a basis for both of those.
linneasr
Mar. 18th, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
Re: Re: Oooo!
Well, I like that Mary is not caught up in the energy of High King Peter-ness. I like that, if their union should occur while Richard is still alive, that a child would be, legally, Richard's. Less trauma spreading around from the train wreck, perhaps, if Mary was raising Susan's nephew or niece as heir to the Russell manse.

lyamainu
Mar. 23rd, 2011 05:32 am (UTC)
Just found this - love it!

I adore Edmund/Morgan, but my heart belongs to Susan/Tebbitt. And Susan teaching Narnian code to Nieces and Nephews? (perhaps Lucy/Jack's child/ren?) Priceless.

I do wonder if they know it's all real, though. And whether Tebbitt ever learns the truth. Oh, and if Susan gets her revenge...

Thank you!
lyamainu
Mar. 23rd, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
Oh, and I second the love of Susan's communication with her dog. So cool.
rthstewart
Mar. 24th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Thank you! The real problem with this story is two fold, errr, three fold. First is that the years are all wrong, especially for Walker-Smythe who would be too old. Second is that a good bit of it is a blatant reuse of Tinker Tailor and that's fine a for a comment fic idea thing -- it's practically a remix or xover. And third, err, kids, right.

I'm glad you enjoyed it!
harmony_lover
May. 1st, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
Oh Dear Lord. Where do I begin? This is marvelous, marvelous, marvelous, on so many levels. Susan gets to shine in a way that I love (and she reminds me oddly of Autumnia's Susan in her Buffy/Narnia crossovers). And she gets to avenge Tebbitt (because you know she will. Susan would never give up on a thing like this. Why do I have a feeling she will end up using that gun?) I want to know the rest of the story! That's in spite of the wrong time period and the not-TSG-ness of the whole thing. It's wonderful!

I, too, caught the line about the nephew and niece, and all of the speculation notwithstanding, I'm voting for Edmund. It IS Rat and Crow she's teaching them, after all, and who better to understand that than Edmund's children?
rthstewart
May. 1st, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
Ha! This was for my unabashed Tebbitt shipper, l_a_r_m. It's TSG AU so there are some possibilities child-wise, though it would mean tromping over Aidan or Morgan, unless I do something with Peter. I may have mentioned that I've got some Peter/Mary shippers out there and I still have one more character to create/add to the mix who will be a vehicle for Edmund agnst. I could just retell all of Tinker Tailor as Narnia fan fic with Susan as cold war spy.
harmony_lover
May. 1st, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't ever want you to "tromp over" Aidan and Morgan, but it's an intriguing idea nonetheless. As you said in your comments, Peter being Peter, he would probably have to marry the girl, but there could still be an interesting story to be told there. Ah, the possibilities...

AS to that last, with retelling all of Tinker, Tailor as Narnia/Susan fic, I'm all for it. Your Susan seems eminently suited for it. :)
holstencat
Apr. 25th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Oh fab heaven help the mole Susan is out for blood. Great story.

Notice this was posted in January 2011 so did Susan get the mole? Just a yes or no.
rthstewart
Apr. 25th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
I posted a cleaner version of this on AO3 but no, I've not written Susan taking down the mole. Not yet. Thanks so much for reading!
(Anonymous)
May. 26th, 2013 05:05 am (UTC)
Hi! I just found your TSG series (and AUs) through a recommendation on one of Ana Mardoll's Narnia deconstructions, and I had to comment because of how thoroughly I'm in love with them.

I've seen you comment here and there about being uncomfortable with your OC usage because of how that sort of thing gets abused in fandom, or referring to some characters as Sues, or etc, and for what it's worth, I don't think you cross the line between "three-dimensional character of interest to someone outside the author's head" and cardboard-and/or-Sue at all. This series is the kind of thing where I don't think you could file off the serial numbers, because the premise of Narnia (both in the "children go to Wonderland, grow up, and come back" sense and the religious allegory sense) is absolutely crucial, but at the same time it stands on its own merits and -- like the Pevensies, hah -- grows up and becomes more than its starting point. Which is one of the best kinds of fanfiction, in my opinion, the other being the kind that fits so seamlessly into the original canon that you could believe it was always there. This series, I can't do that with, because your writing voice is so distinctive, and I can't believe that Lewis would have made a lot of your characterization choices. But I can see how much you love the characters and the world and the potential, and it holds together amazingly.

Also, I really admire your dedication to research. Again for what it's worth, everything feels incredibly respectful of the real-world contexts they reference. It doesn't hurt that teaching that sort of respect seems to be part of the point of Narnia in this setting, but even if your protagonists were rabidly anti-Different Things, the care and detail put into depicting those things would still be obvious. Nobody feels like a caricature. Characters other than the protagonists are entities in their own right, with lives and beliefs and backgrounds of their own. If I tilt my head and squint, sometimes I see points where I feel like there's a deliberate authorial statement behind it, but it never feels preachy exactly, and never feels unnatural.

(Also, I don't cry over stories often, but I choked up at Morgan and Jalur's response to Edmund's disappearance.)

If I had to pick a single favorite story of what I've read so far, it'd be either the Maenad of the Maquis (what can I say, I'm a classicist too) or Harold and Morgan (best relationship, not least because Morgan fits so well in Narnia despite how invested she is in things which don't seem very Narnian at all, plus I don't laugh out loud over stories often either but I giggled a lot reading through). My biases are definitely toward the Narnian half of the timeline -- I'd kill for a full version of The Horse and His Boy as these Narnians saw it, I desperately want to know what happens in this version of the Last Battle + aftermath, and I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the rest of Harold and Morgan in the Lone Isles -- but as somebody who doesn't like historical fiction much unless it's dated at least BCE, I'd still read and love all of this if the Spare Oom half was all there was.

So for what it's worth, you have another fan who very much hopes you keep writing. :)
rthstewart
May. 26th, 2013 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. It's really nice to see this and receive it and I really appreciate it. I had spotted the comment in Mardoll's blog and was thoroughly overwhelmed by it. I don't consider my work on par with the great Golden Age fics of so many of the other authors. I certainly don't get the hits and accolades and such. Depending on one's favorite flavor, there are some very good and very popular works.

Were you the one who left the comment about H&M and when I was getting back to it? I realized I needed to update the chapters on AO3 -- though I tend to be reluctant to post unfinished works over there -- though of course AW is there.

I did have some snippets of H&M in the recent AW updates and I'm actually going to do an AU of them for my Make Everything Happy thing I've been doing, with knighted Otters and such. So, there will be something and relatively soon.

Where I've stuck in a direct authorial statement (and there are many, such as Herd Mentality) it is in direct response to an element of the fandom and its emphasis upon victim blaming, purity culture, regressive Biblical patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, hate, and the insistence that CS Lewis, God and Aslan would not approve of me and my work. I entered fandom in large part because I wanted to present an alternative to the fandom hating, a gentle vision of tolerance and love. I never thought that featuring adult consensual het conduct and failing to condemn LGBTs would land me where it has. That boycott/hate has only gotten stronger over the years, too. It is depressing and oppressive and it has affected me over the years.

It's interesting too what you say about the historical fiction that is cool for some and others not so much. I stumbled on a slam of my use of WW2 recently and a would-be reader who really really objected to it as disrespectful.

I've really wanted to do an HHB from the point of view of the Trickster and you'll have to tell me what you mean about this version of the Last Battle? I'm really curious what you have in mind.

Most of all, thank you for reading and for telling me you are out there and reviewing. I really, really appreciate it and if you have any questions or comments, prompts or thoughts, drop me a line or a review!! I mean it. When I am feeling down about it all -- which concededly happens more than it should for I am not a confident writer and mostly work alone -- it means a great deal to hear from someone out of the blue like this.
sariel_di
May. 27th, 2013 05:53 am (UTC)
(Hah, got LJ to stop being grumpy about my login.)

I wrote the earlier comment about halfway through devouring the TSG and AU series primarily on AO3, which is why I called out the Lone Islands specifically; it wasn't till after that I realized there was more to read. :) And I'm still completely in love with Harold and Morgan, both the story and the characters. About my only real complaint is that around Jina's death, the part of me that was still thinking clearly went "this feels like too much happening all at once, like maybe authorial-and/or-Aslan fiat that their relationship has to hit one obstacle after another" . . . and then I read the letter about the Menagerie and it clicked, because up till then I figured the Glasswater snakes were natural/accidental. So it wasn't enough to deter me from continuing to read, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone else got the--mm, source of artificial-ness? right where I didn't, but it seems like a thing to mention. :)

I'm subscribed to both H&M and Apostolic Way on AO3, so I'll keep an eye out for updates! And I'm definitely looking forward to the Happy AU version. :)

--Which ties into my comment about the Last Battle thing, actually. The reason I'm so interested in it is partly because Last Battle was one of my favorite books when I read the series as a child, and partly because I want to see the Spare Oom side of events (what arguments get made, if and how any of the Friends-of-Friends-of-Narnia get involved, if anything changes with respect to only Jill and Eustace going and only Susan staying, etc), but partly because I'm a sucker for afterlife and ever-after scenarios. One of my favorite settings is a favorite precisely because it has a Heaven (and Hell, and alternatives) where people are still themselves, with, well, lives of their own, but without a lot of the restrictions and limitations of real life. (Eating for pleasure and not for survival, for instance, or being able to dive to the bottom of the ocean because the pressure and lack of air and your physical stamina are no longer meaningful obstacles.)

And that's the kind of afterlife that the Last Battle's version of True Narnia always felt like to me. So there can be meaningful reunions, and introductions between people from Earth and from Narnia, and a paradise that's the best of both worlds. If that makes sense? I'm interested in the End of Narnia, the Problem of Susan, and so on as reinterpreted for this setting, and I can see hints of foreshadowing about both (love the rationale for why Susan would be so emphatic that Narnia is a children's story!), but I'm especially interested in how the afterlife gets handled.

(And man, I'm long-winded today! TBC in the next comment.)
rthstewart
May. 29th, 2013 12:52 am (UTC)
About my only real complaint is that around Jina's death, the part of me that was still thinking clearly went "this feels like too much happening all at once, like maybe authorial-and/or-Aslan fiat that their relationship has to hit one obstacle after another" . . . and then I read the letter about the Menagerie and it clicked, because up till then I figured the Glasswater snakes were natural/accidental.

Ha. Actually the snakes and conspiracy came later. Jina died before she was Morgan's companion. And even before Morgan was anything but a one night stand. Jina was dead of snakebite before H&M even began, alas. In one of the flashback scenes in Part 1 Edmund is negotiating with the Otters and mentions the death of a beloved Hound. A lot of people assumed it was his first guard, Merle. It wasn't. I introduced the Calormene succession subplot in an early chapter of BRD never intending to put Edmund and Morgan together. But as happens often as I've written, there are coincidences and it falls into place and such was the case here.

I'm not sure what my reasons were for doing that to Morgan, except that the Hound was already marked and so I began writing to that point of loss. The idea of Morgan coming by sea was an old one I had in my head, along with the idea of her collapsed in grief and surrounded by Hounds, and then running off. Originally, it was Edmund who was very emotionally distant and I moved away from that because by the time I got to that point, Edmund had really grown emotionally from where he was in BRD and there were things that Morgan had not yet experienced and unfortunately some experience with grief is one of them.

Your Last Battle - after life scenarios are fascinating. Trying to deal with multiple partners is something that has stymied me and I don't have a real answer for it, yet. When I wrote the Pigeon story, I was very cautious in describing Edmund's "partner." Miriam is someone I intended to introduce later in AW and she was going to be there in part to sort of cement Edmund's loss of Morgan. He dies before it ever progresses very far. Lucy was never going to be romantically involved with Jack and Peter and Mary certainly were never going to get married. I used the word "partner" deliberately with Edmund in Pigeon because I wanted to gauge how readers felt to this AU Edmund with someone other than Morgan. In the Avengers story, it's pretty clear he never married again. "Partner" let me keep it ambiguous -- too ambiguous as then I got nasty from the Christian fen who assumed I'd made Edmund gay by using the word "partner." (really). Surprisingly, readers were very supportive of him marrying again. They didn't like the idea of him being alone for so long. That surprised me.

If I stick to the nihilistic approach, everybody dies in a fiery wreck, the issue goes away. They don't have to form meaningful relationships and off they go the after life, with Susan behind to carry on their work and build her own relationships. And now, with Lost, just posted, I've run it in a different direction, with everyone living and no one leaving. OTOH my belief is that few people like my Narnia-based work especially. My worldbuilding is sub-par, inconsistent, and not properly medieval and bloody.

I've had some readers really push me to do Edmund and Morgan's reunion in New Narnia. I've also toyed with sending him back to her and having everyone else live. I did have a plan for AW but as readers such as yourself spin out theories and wish lists, I find I'm interested in exploring what other peoples' visions are.

So, you've given me much to think about here and I thank you for that.


Edited at 2013-05-29 12:57 am (UTC)
sariel_di
May. 27th, 2013 05:54 am (UTC)
And it ties in because the one thing that's been nagging me throughout is relationships. See, in the sort of Heaven where you have a meaningful life (and not just an existance of basking in the Divine Presence and conveniently forgetting about anyone left behind), I'd expect you to have meaningful relationships . . . and that raises a serious question for widows and widowers who remarry. Because neither monogamy nor polyamory is for everybody, but at some point (even in the Everyone Lives AU) you're going to have (for example) Lucy, Aidan, probably Aidan's first wife, Aidan's hypothetical post-Lucy partner/s, and Jack all in a room, who likely committed to monogamous relationships under the assumption that prior partners were still loved but would never be an in-person factor again, and that can be a hell of a mess to work out in a way that makes everybody happy, even in a paradise where everybody's pretty happy in general. If you see what I mean? It's not that the second love diminishes the first, or that I don't believe they can coexist. It's just that I'm invested enough in these characters and their relationships that my brain keeps going "but what happens next?" and it sticks. :)

(Not least because alternative relationships are one of my hot buttons when it comes to SF&F stories. It drives me nuts when an alternative makes sense for a culture and just gets ignored because heterosexual monogamy is the default assumption in the author's and/or audience's culture. So I was thrilled when I saw that your Narnia was more flexible, and without awkwardly illogical attempts at rationalizing why It Has To Be This Way Instead, rather than It Just Is This Way or We Like It This Way (and Your Mileage May Vary). Um. More or less.)

But that's one of my personal buttons, so if it doesn't fit with your ideas for the series future, no worries. :)

Where I've stuck in a direct authorial statement [...]
Yeah, that was the sense that I got when reading. That there were elements which were as much direct response to something as they were "because it makes sense for the characters/story," I mean. But I can completely understand the urge to respond, and how fandom backlash like that can hurt. And for what it's worth, I'm very glad that you continued to write about these things rather than let the objections silence you. Maybe Lewis wouldn't approve, but he's not the only one who needs a voice. I'm exceptionally lucky not to have encountered much prejudice as a culturally-Catholic agnostic bisexual ciswoman, and there are far, far too many others without that luck, and with less ability to speak up. Not to mention that it's in character for the characters as you write them, so it's not like you're just forcing them to be your soapbox!

On historical fiction: like I said, I'm a classicist who prefers BCE if it has to deal with real history at all, so I don't have much experience with representations of WW2. But I appreciated the research done and the reference footnotes, and that the Pevensies never appropriated someone else's experience or accomplishment, but rather assisted in it. (Like how Peter and Susan weren't the lynchpins of Normandy's success. If they weren't there, someone else would have been, or the rest would have made do. Them being there just made making do a little easier in some ways.) I can definitely understand why it's a hot-button subject for some, but I hope they'd also appreciate the clear respectful intent, even if they objected to the execution.

I'd love to read the Trickster's perception of HHB! Again, my interest's more on the Narnia side than the Calormene/Archen side, but did I mention that I'm a classicist primarily because my school wouldn't let me be a general religion/mythologist? :) Trickster stories are awesome.

You're very welcome. I have a bad habit of not commenting on things, which is especially bad since I'm a sometimes-writer myself and know how much I love and need feedback! So I can't promise you'll hear from me regularly in the future, but this series struck enough of a chord that I had to speak up against the negative feedback. :) It's good writing and good work, and I hope you keep it up as long as you enjoy doing it.
rthstewart
May. 29th, 2013 01:28 am (UTC)
Thanks for the nice words about Normandy, et al. It was hard to read these things when I've tried to hard to use fic as the vehicle to tell as much of the real story as I could. Oh well.

(Not least because alternative relationships are one of my hot buttons when it comes to SF&F stories. It drives me nuts when an alternative makes sense for a culture and just gets ignored because heterosexual monogamy is the default assumption in the author's and/or audience's culture. So I was thrilled when I saw that your Narnia was more flexible, and without awkwardly illogical attempts at rationalizing why It Has To Be This Way Instead, rather than It Just Is This Way or We Like It This Way (and Your Mileage May Vary). Um. More or less.)

Sexuality is where I've come under the greatest criticism, I suppose. It was really shocking to be criticized for writing consensual het adult relationships. It all started with my landscaper telling me that Holly bushes were indiscriminate pollinators and then reading the lines in Prince Caspian about how they got really talkative when they drank wine. Plus, I am in a pollen-high area and you try really hard to not think about all that sex going on in your nasal cavities. And it all seemed to fit together so well.

I tend to write het but I don't default to it and certainly don't with the other characters around them in Narnia. The natural world is all over the place -- I actually should tweak some of Palace Guard because at the time I'd written it, I was not aware that so many species of animals form sexual and/or long term emotional pair bonds with the same sex. It's just what trees do, and birds, and so when you grow up with it, that's just the way it is, and when they come back, they bring some of that differentness and tolerance with them.

Again, thanks so much. You've gifted me with wonderful comments and I really appreciate it.


heliopausa
Sep. 27th, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)
This is so sad. Very, very moving - and I don't think there could be any clearer demonstration of what gentleness means than Susan in this story.
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