Fandoms: The Voyage of the Dawntreader/Shoujo Kakumei Utena TV/Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku. Set after Dawntreader and during episode 33 of Utena TV. Spoilers for Utena TV to that point, possible mild spoilers for Dawntreader. Almost certainly comprehensible to those unfamiliar with at least one fandom, but I'm not promising.
Disclaimer: I am not Chiho Saito, Kunihiko Ikuhara, any part of BE-PAPAS, or C.S. Lewis, though I have the greatest respect for them all. I make no money. Also, I am not a Christian.
Pairing: no romantic pairing; written for the Pairing List That Ate Fandom's challenge of Utena/Aslan.
Rating: PG-13 for mature themes.
Summary: A pride of princes meet, and then converse.
Length: In full, almost four thousand words, split in halves.
Crossposted to ithurtsmybrain and my own journal.
She suspected, when she returned to thinking clearly, that the memory of what Akio had done to her and with her would never be entirely clear in her mind. It came to her in flashes that were mixed with her crying and screaming and punching the sea floor. The memory itself was full of gouges of non-being, moments that could not be recovered from whatever confusion he had mixed into her brain. But she knew enough to tell her what she did not want to know, and there was a small cut on the knuckle of her thumb, where she had bitten it when she kept herself from calling out his name. Akio. She would not call it now, not even to curse him.
She found herself after some time punching at the lion, who stood patiently and let her pummel him weakly with her fists, not trying to reassure her, or stop her, or move out of the way.She wept until she was limp and weak and gulping, rubbing her face against his mane and hearing the soft, heavy rhythms of his breathing. The heavenly smell that floated up around her lulled her, as she pushed herself into his shoulder, and she clutched him as the weeping finished itself in her, and then she held on to him.
She was never sure if she had fallen asleep grasping him, in her sheer exhaustion; only remembered drowsily lying across the lion’s back, one hand trailing in the water below them, sending up a small ripple as they paced smoothly along. The sand flowed into the holes made by his steady footprints, but only her hand woke a noise in the water as they walked parallel to the line of the wave. They had been traveling a while before she could speak again, in the drowsy, resigned tones of one who has been ill a long time.
“Everything was telling me about it, wasn’t it? And Himemiya-- how she must be hurting. I told her that I wanted to come to me, and then I didn’t see that everything she did was saying it. I should have seen, I should have guessed, and told her that I knew, and then we could have fought him together. Maybe then I could have set her free.” Himemiya. Oh, Anthy.
“No one is ever told,” he said, “what would have happened.”
“No.” She swallowed. “I can see that. I’ll just have to get it right this time. When I go back. I’ll tell her I know then.”
“When you go back, you will not remember this.”
“No,” she said, “No!” But it had as much truth in it as everything else the lion had said to her.
“This is outside space, and outside time, as you know them,” he said gently. “It is not my own country, even though I rule over it. You will not remember, when you return to your home.”
She gulped. What was she going to do about it? “It can’t be hopeless,” she said. “I want to kill him. I can’t just forget all about that too, can I?” She knew she had already forgotten many things that should not have been lost. This would only be another.
“You can and you will,” he said, and she heard sorrow. “But there are three things I will do for you.” He stopped his measured pacing. “Get down from my back, Daughter of Eve and of Lilith.”
She slid down into the warm sweet water, hating the feel of it on her bare legs, even though it washed the blood away from her ankles.
“Do you see the sword that stands with hilt above the water?”
Utena looked away from the wave, following the flashing gaze of the lion, and there, indeed, it was, a small sword, stuck straight up into the seabed, bright above the lapping foam. It was as yet unrusted. Starlight glinted off the pommel.
“It was left here by a brave and noble warrior. He became a prince in my land forever, though he would look very strange indeed to you, if you saw him. Take it with my blessing and with his. Add it to the strength of your own heart, and laugh with it in his honor.”
She sloshed over to it and put her hand on the hilt. It was a perfectly made sword, but the scale it had been forged to was not the scale of a human body. It was shorter than her arm, all told, but still it was razor sharp, and a delicate copper design lay gleaming along the spine of the blade. She thought she saw the letter ‘R’ worked subtly into the pattern.
It was beautiful, and she smiled, looking at it, a sudden, fierce smile, and turned to the lion, and the blade flashed upward in salute. The lion’s light caught on the point, speeding downward to make a star of the ring in her hand. “Grant me the power to bring the world revolution,” Utena whispered, not sure whom she was speaking to, and then she was no longer holding anything, but there was bright strength running through her, and a need to fight, or to laugh as he had told her, or to dance.
She turned to the lion. “Ride on me,” he said, and that same joy she felt was made apparent in his voice, as though it now were putting off a robe and rising out of sleep into the sunlight. Utena ignored her silly dress and vaulted to his back, only to find when she reached it that she was wearing her dress uniform, and his golden mane and her rose hair streamed backward into mingled banners in the sudden wind of the lion’s running. Far away from the wall of water he sped, so smoothly that he might not have been moving, and the sea deepened around them, splashing foam and spume and lily petals over their heads as the water drew up to her knees and his shoulders. The foam that slid between her lips tasted like light, too sweet and strong to bear and too delicious to shut out, and she laughed as he laughed, almost the laughter of one creature.
He whirled when the wave was only just in sight, turned to run again towards it in a slow-rising lope, still laughing, and while they were still an unlikely distance away from it gathered his back legs and sprang, higher than she had ever seen anything jump. The water passed beneath them, and then the crest of the wave, not even brushing Utena’s bare feet as they floated over its endless pouring ripple.
On the other side of the wave was the End of the World. Beyond it was a dazzling darkness, which shaped itself into showing like a cliff against the night sky, like unthinkably tall mountains, and a smell of trees and brooks and rivers and flowers and fruit mingled, but the night sky was darker than the cliff, because the cliff was covered with stars.
The stars were singing, a high thin wild clear sound. Their long hair glittered and the light their feet cast made rippling shadows on the waters. They were dancing a pavane in pairs and trios, curtseying and swaying like trees on the hillside, and the trees were bowing and swaying in return. The eyes of small animals were torches and jewels of all colors in the starlight, and silver roses grew where the tread of the stars had touched.
When they saw the lion, they swept in an instant into kneeling, like an indrawn breath, and stretched their arms out towards him.
“Hail, Aslan!” the stars cried out in chorus, before moving back into the dance again, as the lion flew like the stately sun over the great space beyond all worlds, and their dance was even more joyous than before, so that mirth flowed in it like the grace of the lilies. Utena wished she could dance too, with Anthy, there on that hillside, with the stars pinwheeling around them, and overhead the mountaintop like the shadow of a castle.
Aslan’s front feet landed lightly on the soft turf, and leapt forward to make way for his back ones; but no sooner had those powerful hind claws touched than he twisted round again, gouging a great divot in the grass and pushing back out over the immense gulf. Rising wind stung her eyelids and brought tears into her eyes, the air roaring in her ears as if it were a second lion. Yet he turned so fluidly that Utena was not pressed at all to hang onto him.
“One glance only, Daughter of Eve!” he cried back over his shoulder as they arced forward. “And, prince... be ready with your sword.”
Akio was waiting at the borders of reality. Akio was wearing clothing she had never seen on him, a silvery-white dress uniform, and he was taller than the wave, and his teeth were bared in surprise or threat or both. They were coming toward him too fast for thought, too fast for action. She knew he saw her, arrowing towards him on the lion’s back, and she felt her own teeth bare in a feral grin, and there was a sword in her hand. It might have been the Sword of Dios. It might have been the gift of the sea-bed. It did not matter and she did not look. She pointed the tip of it between his eyes.
He tried to reach for her, knowing there was no time yet commanding as he had always been, meaning to pull her into his arms and wrap her again in delusion. Her sword point did not waver and the lion’s speed did not slacken, a bright flash through the night, a rush of triumph against the darkness, like a song. Akio staggered back, wrists crossing in front of his face to parry her inexorable thrust, and while he was off guard she laughed or sobbed in fierce mad pleasure and pulled her swordpoint down and to the right.
Rose petals fluttered from his breast pocket, and in the lion’s roar she could hear the sound of bells.
Akio was gone from in front of her as though he had never been there, and she was no longer mounted on Aslan’s back; there were many more rose petals, dark red, white, purple, pouring around her in a cloud throughout the rushing blackness, and then the purple petals were Anthy’s hair spreading in sudden stillness. Anthy, much older or ageless, looking up at her and laughing and weeping together, and the petals were catching against her mouth and dampening in patches with her tears.
Utena reached for Anthy’s hand, but their fingertips only brushed as she fell downwards, the speed lent by Aslan waning, and she tumbled through nothingness until she saw, below her, Akio’s car, and herself asleep in the front seat, and knew she was coming to the world again.
“Remember!” she called to herself, with great urgency. “Remember that outside of time you have already beaten him!”
She could not really hear her own voice, but as she slipped into her dress and her seatbelt and her body and knew she was forgetting, she felt a small, wicked smile curve her sleeping lips, for Akio to notice, and to wonder at, and fear.
She hoped he feared her.