Long day, need BBC!!!
On the plus side, I managed to rewrite one of the plot bunnies, the whole thing. So I’m glad about that. More Narnia, more Eustace/Jill.
A Girl Worth Fighting For
Seated in front of the window, Jill could not concentrate on her book. Looking away from the words that did not make any sense, she gazed out the window. Raindrops ran down the glass pane like tears. Everything outside was cold and grey, caught in the midst of the heavy downpour. The weather matched the girl’s mood of uncertainty and worry.
Closing her book with a sigh, she glanced across the room to where Eustace reclined on the couch, engrossed in his book; obviously he was neither having trouble studying this afternoon nor harboring thoughts akin to her own.
The girl opened her mouth but then paused, chewing on her bottom lip. After debating with herself for a moment, she spoke.
“Hmm?” the boy remained buried in his reading.
She almost lost her courage but plunged on. “Do I look like I’m sixteen?”
“No,” was the immediate response.
The girl nodded to herself. “Do I look silly with my reading glasses?”
Again without hesitation – and from behind the book – came the answer, “No.”
Jill paused for a second before shrugging away her momentary surprise. Lucy liked her with her glasses; she looked like a respectful professor with them on, Lucy had said. The girl pressed on.
“Do you think I would look prettier if I wore makeup?”
“No.” Annoyance crept into Eustace’s voice.
The girl’s eyebrows rose. Susan – and Elizabeth to a lesser extent – had made it very clear to Jill that she looked almost plain without makeup and always just having her light brown hair down. If she wanted to be noticed by boys, she had been told, she would simply have to start wearing makeup and do something with her hair. Eustace, she decided, did not understand such girl things since he had no sisters.
“Do…do you think it is about time I…had a beau?” she asked her last question softly.
Eustace’s face appeared as he lowered his book to his lap. He gave her a quizzical frown. “Do I think what?”
“That I should have a beau,” she said, realizing how silly this whole situation was.
The boy’s frown darkened more. “Absolutely not,” he stated.
Something about the way the words were spoken caused the girl’s shoulders to tense, and she returned Eustace’s frown with one of her own. “And why not?”
“You do not need one. Besides, Peter, Ed, and I are having a hard enough time as it is trying to keep the few boys who are interested in Lucy at bay. We do not want to start having to worry about you now,” Eustace replied with a scowl.
“Really? So I should not want one because I will just be trouble on you boys’ hands, is that it?” Jill demanded.
“You know good and well that’s not what I mean, Pole! None of the boys you know are worth being your beau. You are different from other girls,” he tried to explain.
“Oh, you have already picked out beaus for me and Lucy, since we are so special then.” Her voice was full of sarcasm.
“We should do that!” the boy’s face lit up at the idea.
“Don’t you dare!” Jill’s eyes flashed, and her knuckles were white, holding her book in a death grip.
Eustace’s face grew serious once more. “Why all this sudden interest in beaus and how you look? You never thought about them before. I had thought more of you.” His head tilted to one side as he gazed at her intensely.
Jill dropped her gaze down to her book, her cheeks warming. “It-it is nothing, really,” she stammered. “Just something Susan said…”
“Susan? Cousin Susan?” the boy asked. At her nod, he sighed, “Oh, Jill.”
About to defend herself, Jill was silenced when Eustace used her first name. She blinked at him.
“Let me clarify my earlier answers,” he said, setting his book beside him on the couch. Leaning forward, he examined his hands for a moment and then looked at her.
“You do not have—” she grew quiet as he waved his hand.
Eustace ticked off each item with one of his fingers. “First, you do look younger than sixteen, but there is really nothing you can do about it. Besides, grownups wish they looked younger when they are older. Second, you look fine with your glasses. If a boy does not like them, then he is not worth your time. Third, you do not need makeup because you look nice without it…pretty,” he admitted, suddenly finding his shoes very interesting.
Jill gasped softly. “Really?” she whispered. No one had ever called her pretty – not when compared to her older sisters.
“Yes,” Eustace nodded curtly, running a nervous hand through his black hair.
The girl lowered her head to hide her shy smile and then bravely looked at him once more.
“As for this desired beau,” the boy went on after taking some time to think, “you will want him to be good looking, I suppose. He will need to know you quite well, be a very good friend, and not mind your temper and such.” He gave Jill a huge smile in response to her glare. “This boy will need to get along with Peter, Edmund, and me. He will need to know about Narnia, naturally. And to get my, Peter’s, and Ed’s wholehearted approval, it would be most impressive if he had helped slay a huge serpent.” With a final, solemn nod that signaled the end of the discussion, he returned his attention to his book, leaving his friend to gape at him.
“Very funny, Scrubb,” Jill snapped when she recovered somewhat from her astonishment. It never ceased to amaze her how one moment Eustace could say something that made her shy and think he was not quite like the other boys she knew, in a good way, and then a moment later do or say something that angered, annoyed, or hurt her. At the moment she felt a mix of all three. Not wanting Eustace to know how upset she was (not that he would notice anyway with his nose in his book again), she laughed, dryly and humorlessly. “If I ever told my family about my time in Narnia, they would laugh at me and say I have a wild and silly imagination. How could I tell a boy about that? He would never believe me!”
“That is a strong possibility,” the boy agreed, disinterested.
“And helped slay a huge serpent indeed! You must be determined that I’ll never have a beau,” she accused.
“We just want what’s best for you,” he answered, turning a page.
Huffing to herself, Jill opened her own book and pretended to read. She was thinking about the requirements Eustace had laid down that a boy would have to meet to get his, Peter’s, and Ed’s approval to become her beau. She just knew Peter and Ed would agree with their friend’s idea, even the part about the serpent. They were after all cousins, and protective ones at that. Not that she would actually follow those requirements. No, of course not, it was her choice regarding who she would like for a beau. Still, there was nothing wrong with thinking them over.
Scrubb consented the boy could be good looking, Jill thought. Well, all the boys I know are handsome. Only a handful of them I’m pretty good friends with. Peter and Ed know me quite well. Scrubb’s known me the longest and doesn’t mind my temper since he is just as stubborn; he is the only one I would call a ‘very good friend.’ She turned a page in her book and continued her musing. However, I do not know well any of the boys they get along with very well, other than themselves.
As for Narnia…I cannot picture any of the boys believing me; they would think I’m crazy. None of them know me enough to even trust me at least a little to believe I wasn’t making up Aslan, Puddlegulm, Prince Rilian, the giants, talking owls, and the witch. And as far as the professor can tell, he, Peter, Edmund, and Scrubb were the only boys to have been to Narnia.
The girl shook her head and laughed softly. Only the four of them would have been able to help slay a huge serpent. The professor did not use a sword when he and Aunt Polly were in Narnia. Peter and Ed might have killed one, though they never mentioned doing so. But I saw a huge serpent, Jill reminded herself. Down in the Underworld, the witch changed herself into green poisonous serpent, and Scrubb and Prince Rilian fought…
The girl’s train of thought trailed off as she realized the conclusion to which she was being drawn. Her eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. Ever so slowly she raised her head to peek over the top of her book to stare at the boy engrossed in his book. Rilian and…
Eustace looked at her, his face blank, “Yes?”
Jill blinked at him for several long moments; then she ducked behind her book, turning several shades of pink. “Um, sorry, Eus—I mean Scrubb! N-nothing, never mind,” she stuttered, wanting to kick herself for her near slipup.
“If you are sure,” he said slowly, expecting more.
“Quite sure,” she said rapidly, aware of his gaze.
She sensed, rather than saw, him grin. Resisting a strange urge to giggle, she allowed the corners of her mouth to turn up in return.
*sigh* How I wish we Americans could get BBC! The lucky UK is getting Jane Eyre! I’ve followed the progress of the new miniseries since casting was announced earlier this year, gobbling up every bit of news and squealing over production photos. Now since Jane Eyre won’t be released here until who-knows-when, I must pass the time by watching clips on youtube.com featuring Jane (newcomer Ruth Wilson) and Mr. Rochester (Toby Stephens; with his long hair I did not at first recognize him since, in Twelfth Night as the Duke, he had a mustache and very short hair). They look very good together. “Don’t go, Jane.” *melts*