Chapter 1: The back of a Wardrobe
They landed hard on the wooden floor. Unfortunately the floor was very solid beneath Edmund.
Above them stood a familiar far away phantom of the Professor who had taken them in all those years ago. They were back.
Edmund could feel the shock pouring off his siblings, the bewilderment written on Peter’s stunned face. Heartbreak seeped all over Lucy, she was so young now.
Susan was immovable, her face was stone, Edmund thought of the orchard Susan had just planted alongside her closest friends. Susan would never see the trees grow, Lucy would never teach the young trees how to dance, Peter and Edmund would never walk down through the orchard after a tough morning spent pouring over new laws.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Edmund battled with the odd feeling of being, a twenty five year old man now stuck in a thirteen year old body.
There was a moment when Edmund suddenly sat up straight, a terrible thought crossing his mind he had forgotten about Phillip, and the other horses Merrylegs, Ginger and Jewel.
Edmund knew his friend Phillip would have searched for hours in the woods for him.
“Merry who?” Peter spoke frowning from where he sat half lying on one of the cushioned chairs.
“Susan’s horse” Edmund said suddenly frightened he couldn’t quite remember the faces of the dwarves he had spoken with the morning before the hunt. Peter’s brow crinkled “right” he said rubbing at his eyes “I just-it’s all”. Peter shook his head.
Susan told them to go to bed when it got dark, Lucy had just nodded and her silence disturbed Edmund more than he wanted to admit. Lucy should never feel so down, she was the light in any room. They went to bed.
When Edmund woke the next day, Narnia seemed so far away, more faded than a dream. It upset him greatly and he got up despite the early hour and went to the spare room, opened the wardrobe door and walked to the back.
Solid wood rested under Edmund’s shaking hands. There were no pine trees, no autumn Narnian air. Just the smell of dust balls, Edmund almost found himself wishing for the icy snow that had first greeted Edmund barely a week ago. Fifteen years ago, his mind screamed, he had lived in Narnia, he had grown up in Narnia.
They all had him, Lucy, Susan and Peter. But it was all gone. All that remained of Narnia was the back of a wardrobe in the spare room of Professor Kirke's house. Edmund tasted salt in his mouth, he was shaking, his face wet with tears.
Edmund would like to say that things got better. When he, Lucy, Susan and Peter returned home to their mother and their father returned from the front.
Narnia faded more and more and life in England continued. There was still a war on, but there was homework and house chores and obligations to pay visits to their relatives. Edmund however, did not handle losing Narnia all that well. He spent each day trying to remember as much as he could of Cair Paravel. The dwarves, Centaurs and talking animals.
Susan tried to forget it all and threw herself into teenage girl obsessions, makeup, magazines and boys. Susan was a High Queen of Narnia, she had never been vain although many songs had been sung of her beauty.
It was hard for Edmund to see Susan obsess over the lipstick she and her friends had saved rations to buy. When Edmund could vaguely remember his sister at twenty four bare faced and lovely, turning down every suitor.
Now Susan would wear lipstick she didn’t need, and smile her painted mouth at boys in hopes of getting their attention. Edmund’s memory of Susan at twenty four was replaced with the current sixteen year old Susan. And no matter how hard Edmund tried, his memory faded.
He couldn’t remember the colour of the dress Susan used to wear, or the style, or the name of the arrogant prince who had tried to kidnap her. Edmund tried not to forget the clear Narnian air, the sound of the merpeople’s song. The dawn of a new day rising brilliantly over Owlwood.
Most days it was physically painful for Edmund to look Lucy in the eyes. Lucy always smiled, she always cracked jokes and laughed. Her sunny personality was as wonderful as the time she had won the treaty of- Edmund couldn’t think what treaty but it had been a treaty, she had gained the alliance of- the Galmans or Archnlanders.
All she had done was smile and laugh and Narnia had a solid ally in… Somewhere, someone. Edmund couldn’t remember.
Edmund just knew that Lucy’s eyes should never look as sad as they always looked now, even a year later Lucy’s eyes remained far too sad and far too wise for a twelve year old. It was painful for Edmund to look into Lucy’s eyes, her eyes spoke of the loss she carried. The loss of Mr Tumnus, the bevers, the trees, and more Narnian’s who Edmund couldn’t remember.
Sometimes Edmund thought of asking Lucy if Narnia was faded for her as much as it was for him but he never did. Edmund couldn’t decide if it was worse if Lucy could remember everything just like it was all yesterday and was stuck here, a grown woman, a Queen.
Or if she would blink her eyes at Edmund and ask him what he was on about. That it was only a game they once played, why was he asking? The thought that Lucy, Lucy who had found Narnia first, would forget the trees her friends everything. It terrified Edmund.
Chapter 2: The Call
Peter didn’t take how things were whilst living in England very well. None of them really did, but Peter, he struggled the most. Peter was once High King and now he was just a seventeen year old school boy with too much attitude.
Peter hated the teachers looking down on him. He wrote essays on battle techniques and got detention for making up stories. So Edmund wasn't really surprised to find his brother brawling in the underground station the day they were due to start the new school year.
Lucy’s face was pinched with worry. Edmund could almost see her at nineteen on the side lines of yet another duel Peter had got himself into with visiting diplomats. But the image quickly vanished and Edmund was left confused and angry.
Peter shouted out and suddenly Edmund was diving into the stupid school boy fight and it was like the two of them were back in Narnia fighting side by side in the western woods against- some enemy.
The sharp thrill of a whistle brought Edmund back. The crowd of school boys scattered at the appearance of adult authority (Edmund was a King of Narnia!). Peter hauled Edmund away by the scruff of his neck.
Peter didn’t improve after his little fight, and Edmund couldn’t help his petulance, snidely telling Peter that they are actually kids (Peter was nearly thirty, he was seventeen).
In spite of every bone in Edmund’s body singing at the slightest mention of Narnia, it wasn't hard for Edmund to fake being irritated at it’s mention. The glare Peter threw Edmund was sharp and Edmund briefly saw Peter at twenty nine, with his golden beard glaring at Edmund for saying something, at the tournament or war briefing or something.
And then it was gone, and Peter was just an angry teenager.
Susan did her best to be sensible and ground them all but Edmund could see that she remembered, he could see the golden Narnian sun in Susan.
The High Queen standing on a balcony at Cair Paravel in her favourite red dress, and then that Susan was gone. Susan was doing her best to reason that they lived in this world and it was best for them to remain here.
Lucy jumped up from the bench crying out loudly. Edmund was alert, his hand automatically reaching for a sword that wasn't there, Edmund curled in on himself, suddenly overwhelmed with self hatred.
Susan was right, Narnia was gone. Narnia was never his, he was the traitor. Edmund saw Susan pause also reaching for a weapon that was not there, her bow Edmund thought.
There was a cold pinch and a forceful tug Edmund was on his feet shouting. Susan yelled for everyone to hold hands.
Edmund could hear a Narnian flute playing in the distance, he knew the tune. High summer and the evening was long, the air warm and filled with the smell of wine.
Tumnus had begun to play his set of pipes to the gathering in one the low courtyards of Cair Paravel. Edmund could taste the wine on his lips.
The British Underground melted away and the four of them were standing in a beach cave. Lucy led them out onto the shore. Narnia, Narnia, they were home.
Edmund wondered if they were dreaming but the sand crunched under their shoes and water was the clear Narnian blue.
The shocked silence they had held shattered as Lucy and Susan broke off running at the sea.
Peter nudged lightly at Edmund’s shoulder getting him to move from where he stood stunned.
Then Edmund was chasing after his brother kicking off his school shoes and splashing water at an utterly delighted Lucy. Relief and joy echoed in their shouts and squeals.
It was real. The water, the sand, everything. Edmund drank in their surroundings, there was a castle ruin on the hill above the beach.
Edmund didn’t know it, he felt nervous, exactly where in Narnia were they?
“Ugh! Ed!” Peter shouted, brushing some grass and dirt off his sleeves.
Edmund had momentarily lost his footing on the steep slope. Peter who was behind him got the brunt of it. Edmund shrugged unapologetically at Peter, a bit of dirt wasn't going to kill him.
Rolling his eyes Peter helped Lucy past a strange boulder. Susan led the group as they climbed the hill to the ruins. There were trees everywhere, not much of the castle really remained; most of the white stone was hidden under green foliage.
Edmund wandered trying to map out the castle, he felt he ought to know the layout. Pausing Edmund looked back down the path he had walked and thought briefly of a corridor, the walls covered in tapestry art… Cair Paravel?
Edmund stood by a half broken archway and imagined the white stone whole curving in a graceful arch. The hall filled with Narnian people, the archway painted in cheerful colours for Lucy’s twenty first birthday.
If Edmund was right, then that meant…Just how long had they been gone?
Susan held up a lump of gold, a knight from Edmunds chess set, a courting gift from one of the visiting princes or a King, an Isaac or Alfred.
Trepidition filled Edmund. He had been right, this was Cair Paravel.
Susan and Peter didn’t see it, but Lucy did dragging them up to the dais where their thrones once sat.
Edmund followed them in a daze, Lucy placed them side by side, imitating the throne room. She described it telling them to imagine, to remember what it was like. Edmund was returned to the day they were crowned the Kings and Queens of Narnia. Children sitting on high thrones.
There was no crowd, no music, or dancing. They were alone in the ruins of the palace. Narnia had changed.
Upsettingly Edmund could not remember the exact layout of Cair Paravel. He tried to convince himself it was only natural, Cair Paravel was now in ruins.
The secret underground chamber was not a feature that stood out, or even existed in Edmunds memory of the palace. His torch needed new batteries, it’s light flicked briefly in and out.
Edmund stood before his chest filled with keepsakes of his life in Narnia for fifteen years, one year ago. Peter, Susan and Lucy gushed loudly over their own chests.
Lucy found her favourite golden gown carefully preserved for who knows how long. It had been a gift from the tree spirit of the Great Woods, spun from golden leaves fallen over many autumns.
Susan was missing her horn. Peter drew his sword Rhindon and Edmund was transported to the dueling grounds at Galma the Island in the Eastern Ocean where a torny was held every high summer.
It felt good to be in Narnian clothes, even if they weren’t their own clothes. They were all too small now to wear any of the clothes they found left in the chamber from their previous time in Narnia. Page boy shirts and maids dresses would have to do.
Chapter 3: an unexpected guest
Edmund supposed they’d build a raft from something in order to get off the Island Cair Paravel had become. The strip of land that once joined Cair Paravel with the main land had eroded into the sea. The issue with the raft was the trees, and the issue was Lucy’s. “Their asleep” Lucy was visibly upset walking through the trees grown in what was once their apple orchard. The one they had planted before the hunt for the white stag. “They’re not waking up” Lucy gently pawed at a tree’s trunk, upset that there was no response. Susan had helped Lucy cut a section of her golden dress’s skirt. Together they had made a makeshift tunic that Lucy now wore over a red maid’s dress. Lucy’s golden dress was special, gifts from the trees were incredibly rare due to the fact that the trees guarded their bodies as was their right as trees. If Edmund recalled correctly, Lucy had once said tree spirits recognised her as ‘a respected member of their community’. Whatever that meant to trees. Despite the presence of the golden dress, now golden tunic, the trees did not speak to Lucy as she walked among them. It was hard for Edmund to watch Lucy’s hard won back smile fade further and further at the tree's silence.
Peter and Susan shouted from the edge of the hill overlooking the new sea where there had once been land joining Cair Paravel to the mainland. There was a boat in the water. Men in unfamiliar armour were trying to drown a dwarf. Susan had her bow firing arrows rapidly in three swift warning shoots. “Let him go!” She commanded every inch the High Queen standing tall on the beach. The soldiers must not have expected any presence on Cair Paravel Island because they dropped the dwarf into the water yelling in fear at the ‘ghosts’. Peter got the dwarf to safety, the small man spluttered and groached meanly. Edmund hid a smile recalling his dwarven friends before he remembered that they were all probably long dead by now. Whenever now was. According to Trumpkin the dwarf they were 1,300 years late. The one year in England had been 1,300 years for Narnia. Edmund had known they must have been gone awhile from the state of Cair Paravel, but even so a thousand years. A thousand years too late.
Susan examined the helmet left behind by Trumpkin’s would be murder’s. “Telmarines?” she said repeating Trumpkins words. Susan traced the black eagle mark on the helmet. Edmund recalled that Susan had dealings with Telmar, she had drawn several peace treaties between the Kingdom and Narnia. There had been a spurned prince or noble involved. Peter grimaced, clearly recalling the same situation. Peter rested a commanding hand on Rhindon resting in its scabbard by his waist. He stood High King of Narnia and informed Trumpkin of this. Trumpkin didn’t take the information very well. Peter really should have let Edmund do the talking. He had known more dwarves than Peter.
They were turned around and Peter wouldn’t admit it. The land had changed too much in the last 1,300 years. They were lost, and Peter was acting more like the petulant seventeen year old school boy than the High King they needed. Lucy kept on looking at the sleeping trees, and it was like they were all back in Finchley the horrible year after the hunt after they’d returned to Professor Kirke's house. Lucy was absent, her mind elsewhere even though she stood right by Edmund. Edmund needed those trees to wake up.
“Aslan?!” Lucy cried making Edmunds heart stop in his chest, could it really be? No Great Lion appeared for Edmund, Susan, Peter or Trumpkin. Edmund defended Lucy from Peter’s disbelief. Peter was just upset that Aslan had not shown himself to Peter as well as to Lucy. But Lucy was special, she had been the first to come to Narnia. Edmund was not surprised that Lucy would be the first to see Aslan, maybe the Great Lion would wake the trees for her.
They made camp with their interesting guest Trumpkin, Lucy had won him over. Lucy could win anyone over, she was Edmund’s favourite sibling and he suspected, Susan’s and definitely Peter’s. Edmund approached Trumpkin carefully, dwarfs are tetchy people and Edmund wished to make an ally of Trumpkin. Edmund briefly thought of how he and Lucy used to apply the same technique to visiting diplomats. Lucy would become their fast friend and then Edmund would ease them into reading the treaties through and discussing the contents. Edmund wondered if that had crossed Lucy’s mind, he doubted it though, Lucy was far too lovely to befriend someone purely for politics.
Trumpkin knew who Edmund was. Well of course Trumpkin knew, they had introduced themselves on Cair Paravel Island. But Trumpkin had been told stories of King Edmund, friend to all dwarves. “Dwarves have long memories,” Trumpkin said, and Edmund wondered if he had imagined the hint of kindness in Trumpkin’s gruff voice. “We haven’t forgotten the promise between all dwarves and King Edmund”. Yes Edmund remembered, he had drawn many treaties for dwarven rights but he had made one promise to his friends, “The promise of peace and friendship, justice and kindness for your people” Edmund finished.
Trumpkin smiled, and Edmund blinked “Ah so the King remembers” Trumpkin made a huffing noise, Edmund considered that the noise was a laugh and he blinked some more. A smile and a laugh from a dwarf Edmund had known for less than a day, maybe dwarven custom had also changed in the last 1,300 years. But now Edmund knew they had a solid ally in this newer version of Narnia, overrun with another invader.
Chapter 4: A handsome Prince
Edmund's brain stops working at some point
Edmund woke first. Edmund woke second. Lucy was gone, of course Lucy was gone, she had probably heard a tree rustle and gone to see if they were awake. Peter of course assumed the worst, thinking she could be kidnapped or fallen down a hole and hurt her leg. Edmund rolled his eyes at his brother and shared a long look with Susan. Peter rushed ahead, quickly following Lucy’s tracks, easily remembering his skill from what he learned before in Narnia.
Edmund, Susan and Trumpkin rounded the rock face to find Lucy off to one side. Peter, held at sword point by another boy and surrounded by narnians. Centaurs, fawns, Monitors, talking animals. The High King had found their people. Was that Rhindon being held to Peter’s throat? Peter was getting rusty, a year without his sword and he loses Rhindon in his first combat? Edmund was going to hold this moment over Peter for years.
It was the Prince Caspian who held Rhindon to Peter’s throat, the one Trumpkin said had called them. Edmund had been prepared to like Caspian purely on that fact alone, Caspain defeating Peter in a sword fight was just the icing on top. Caspian was obviously unsure of himself in front of young Kings and Queens of old who had come and turned out to be basically Caspian’s own age. Edmund felt for him, Peter was going to be horribly unpleasant to Caspian for beating him in under a minute and holding Rhindon to Peter's throat.
Edmund studied the prince, he was textbook handsome with a soft lilting Telmar accent. Edmund wondered if Caspian could also beat Edmund in a sword fight. Caspian met Edmund’s assessing eyes and Edmund almost blushed at being caught studying the prince so blatantly. Caspian held Edmunds gaze, and Edmund wondered if the heady look he thought he saw Caspian give him was real or not. Then the prince looked at Susan, Edmund rolled his eyes at the soft smile Susan gave Caspian.
There was one thing Edmund definitely remembered from Narnia and that was the Lord from Archenland, Fred or Frank. Both Susan and Edmund had taken a liking to the Lord, he had been textbook handsome as well. If there was one truly horrible thing, it was fighting with your sibling over a pretty face. Edmund resolved to ignore the prince, after all technically Edmund wasn't yet sixteen.
Peter started to insult Caspian, hinting that he couldn’t hold a sword even though Caspian had just bested Peter in hand to hand combat. Edmund could practically read every thought on Caspian’s face. He could just imagine Caspian’s inner voice: ‘your army? Do you know how long it took me to win these Narnian’s over?’. Edmund bit back a smile but was caught out again by Caspian who was looking again at Edmund, he really was very handsome.
Peter, having established himself in his head as the Narnian army’s new leader, directed the mouse Reepicheep to lead him to the main camp. Lucy and Susan cooed over the cute mouse much to Reepicheep’s dismay. Caspian had at first tried to walk beside Peter only to find Peter determined to be as unpleasant as possible. Edmund rolled his eyes at his brother, Peter had the worst complex needing to be the best. Although Edmund shouldn’t blame Peter for his antics. Edmund had seen the strain his brother had carried the whole year after returning from Narnia.
Caspian fell back and began to walk beside Edmund, he exchanged a few awkward sentences with Edmund. Edmund couldn’t help feeling smug that Caspian had chosen to walk beside Edmund and not Susan. Susan and Lucy had gone ahead with the talking animals and Centaurs. Edmund decided to compliment Caspian on his fighting skills; he let the Prince know how impressed Edmund felt after seeing Caspian disarm Peter. Caspian was confused, was Edmund not going to defend his brother? Edmund surprised himself by huffing a quiet laugh, telling Caspain Peter could do with being defeated once in a while. Caspian smiled shyly at Edmund and Edmund decided that he wanted to get to know the prince better. Letting their arms softly brush against each other, Edmund kept pace with Caspian and found it was easy and surprisingly pleasant to hold a conversation with him.
Edmund’s stomach growled, Caspian smiled softly at Edmund asking if the king was feeling hungry after all it was still early. Edmund remembered they hadn’t eaten breakfast, and dinner last night had been small to say the least. Edmund decided he could eat properly when they reached the Narnian camp, there was no point in calling a stop just for Edmund to eat. Edmund accepted Caspian’s offer of his water skin.
“Oh, er, please don’t call me King, that makes me feel weird,” Edmund felt a blush on his cheeks. He hadn’t actually introduced himself to Caspian, he just sort of assumed Caspian would know who he was. Which he did, Caspian knew Edmund was one of the kings of old, Edmund the Just. They had been talking adamantly for the last mile or so, Caspian could definitely now call Edmund by his name, “call me Edmund”.
Edmund offered a friendly hand to Caspian who frowned at Edmund’s hand clearly not understanding. “Oh, you shake it,” Edmund reached out and took Caspian’s hand, placing it in his own. He gave Caspian’s hand a shake. “It’s how you say hello where I’m from,” Edmund explained kindly to Caspian his hand still holding onto Caspian’s.
What was Edmund doing, he’d just met Caspian, Edmund was a fifteen year old boy. Edmund needed to calm down. Edmund remembered how he and Susan had fought over the Archenland Lord, trying to best each other pettily. But the memory slipped away from Edmund, and he was left staring deeply into Caspian’s charming dark eyes. Edmund considered that he really didn’t care about the Archenland incident. Caspian, Edmund thought, might just be worth the trouble.
The first time they had come to Narnia they had stayed fifteen years before the deer hunt, and the lamp. They had left as willing as they had come, stumbling through the dark and falling into another world. But they had left willing, this time Edmund would not be leaving. Narnia was his home. Edmund had been known as the great negotiator. His achievements in diplomacy formed the base of every treaty they had ever made with Narnia’s neighbours.
Edmund couldn’t help his brain forming future negotiations, the greatest barging tool in any peace talk was marriage. In their fifteen year reign, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy had fended off more arranged marriages than they had neighbourly disputes between the dwarves and the talking animals. And the dwarves had long been known for the lengthy land border quarrels they had been arguing for centuries, practically since the dawn of Narnia.
Edmund shook Caspian’s hand and felt something pull in his gut, Caspian was handsome. Edmund for the first time in a long time wanted someone. Susan had always been considered the most sensible sibling, but Edmund’s mind tended to run fast. Lucy used to say that Edmund would judge his suitors in under a minute, and in that minute Edmund would always conclude that he did not want to marry them. Peter used to call it the death minute, and would circulate stories of Edmund’s tendency to judge people quickly. Edmund couldn’t help it, he needed his judgemental shield, after everything with the White Witch, Edmund was careful and meticulous in who he would trust. And it really wasn't Ed’s fault that everyone was so easy to read.
But barely a moment had passed, and Edmund had already mentally written several different versions of treaties between the Narnian and Telmar people, solely based on a union between Prince Caspian and himself. Caspian was far too pretty. Edmund wondered if Caspian knew how handsome he was.
Caspian quickly recovered from Edmund’s impromptu stealing of his hand and he looked at Edmund in an echo of the heady look Edmund had thought he had imagined from earlier. Edmund suddenly felt in danger.
“Ah” Caspian said “in Telmar people are greeted like so-” Caspian pulled Edmund closer by their still joined hands and pressed his mouth to Edmunds cheek and then to his other. Edmund sucked in a sharp breath, the air was suddenly gone from his lungs, Caspain stared deeply into Edmund’s eyes still in Edmund’s personal space. Edmund didn’t mind, Caspian was very smooth.
Edmund made a noncommittal sound nodding at Caspian. Edmund hadn’t met someone so forward since King Avra. One of the fawns scoffed behind them breaking the strange tension between Caspian and Edmund. Caspian coughed stepping back, gesturing to Edmund to continue walking with the group, Edmund brain had stopped working somewhere between the handshake and Caspian kissing Edmund’s cheeks. Edmund hadn’t realised they’d stopped walking.
Caspian looked embarrassed at having just basically kissed a Narnian king and his face was a picture of self realization. Edmund wanted Caspian to look at him again, so he asked “do you think you could beat me in a combat exercise? You see, I’m a little rusty”.
Caspian met Edmund’s eyes. Success. “Is that a challenge or a request?” Caspian asked and Edmund really hadn’t thought this through, Caspian was back to looking at Edmund like he was meticulously undressing Edmund with his eyes.
“Both,” Edmund said firmly and Caspian smiled widely showing his teeth. Edmund felt a little weak at the knees as he returned Caspian’s smile, he really hadn’t thought this through.
This time a talking badger interrupted them with a pointed cough directed at Caspian “Trufflehunter!” Caspian exclaimed guiltily at the badger's appearance.
“Time is of the essence” Trufflehunter said “you’re going to have to stop pausing every second to flirt with King Edmund''. Trufflehunter scolded Caspian who was now turning a red to match Edmund’s own warm face. “Please court in your own time, hurry along now”. Trufflehunter shooed Caspian and Edmund along.
Edmund wanted the earth to open up and swallow him whole, he had never been more embarrassed in his life. Trufflehunter showed some mercy and left them to walk alone. Like a plaster, Edmund thought, just rip it off, “I’m so sorr-” Caspian and Edmund spoke over each other both trying to convey apologies.
Caspian cleared his throat looking intently at Edmund “Um, Edmund, would you like to walk with me?” Caspian offered Edmund a hand, his face was still red with embarrassment. Edmund took Caspian’s hand. Caspian’s hand was warm but not sweaty, Edmund hoped his own face wasn't too red (he probably looked like a tomato).
Caspian explained the How, where the Narnians had gathered was about half a day's walk from the dancing lawns. Edmund was pleased to discover Caspian was more than just a pretty face, he had a teasing sense of humor and did not gush over Edmunds status as King of Narnia. In fact Caspian showed Edmund respect as King, but did not let Edmunds title stop him from tangling their fingers together.
It had been a long time since Edmund had flirted with anyone. In England Edmund was a boy, a child and during the year following everything in Narnia, Edmund hadn’t thought much about other boys.
During Edmunds reign in Narnia unitys between couples of different species were common enough, same sex relationships were not percived as odd or immorall. Edmund hoped that this was still the case, things were vastly different in England. You were expected to grow out of such vulgar school boy tendencies.
Edmund who had already grown up once knew for a fact that you did not grow out of preferring boys over girls, or girls over boys. In many ways Narnia was more forward thinking than the world Edmund had been born in, with its electricity, trains, and terrible war machines. Edmund didn’t care about that world, Narnia was his home and he would stay here forever.
Caspian paused in the story he had been telling of a time he had broken his aunt’s favorite vase “are alright Edmund?” Caspian asked and Edmund felt bad, had his wandering thoughts been obvious? “I’m sorry, I was just thinking how different my world is to Narnia”.
Edmund looked down embarrassed at being caught out yet again by Caspian. Caspian frowned, clearly jumping to conclusions .“Oh,” Caspian said “Do you miss your home?” he asked, sounding forlorn at the prospect Edmund could possibly be unhappy in Narnia.
Edmund mentally cursed himself “No! England isn’t- Narnia is my home, I belong here”. Edmund rushed to halt any such thoughts in Caspian’s head. Edmund told Caspian he loved Narnia above any other place. He had grown up in Cair Paravel’s walls. He had trained in the great western woods. Edmund had sailed the eastern sea and visited the Seven Isles. Edmund had crossed the great desert for peace talks with Calormen, helped Susan fend off that idiot prince.
Edmund had never once missed England the years he had been in Narnia. That one year he had survived outside of Narnia had been torture.
“Ah” Caspian ducked his head “I apologize, I did not consider-”
“Please,” Edmund stopped Caspian before the boy he had been comfortably talking to could vanish before his eyes. Edmund hadn't intended to stop Caspian’s flirtations. Or stop the small friendship they had formed over the length of the day and slow walk to the How.
“Did your Aunt really curse like a sailor when she discovered her broken vase?” he asked Caspian who grinned and happily took up where he left off. Describing how he had scaled down the castle wall and hidden in the kitchens.
Edmund interjected with his own stories of the precious few memories he held of his time in Narnia. The had been a persistent suitor of Susan’s, some princely fool from Calormen who had tried to start a war with Narnia. Edmund had dropped a bowl of honey and feathers on the idiot in the middle of the prince’s town square making him a laughing stock amongst his own people.
Edmund realised that the trees had thinned out, he could see a tall mound, a rock face he did not recognise beyond the trees. “Aslan’s How,” Caspian said, leading Edmund to join Peter, Susan and Lucy.
Chapter 5: Old Magic
Lucy smiled widely at Edmund glancing between Edmund and Caspian, and twitching her eyebrows meaningfully at Edmund. Edmund felt his face heat, he had forgotten how sharp Lucy was.
Thankfully Susan was busy conversing with the dashing dark skinned Centaur, Glenstorm and Peter was still studiously ignoring Caspian.
They crossed the field to the stone archway before the entrance of the How. Narnian’s poured out from the How gathering to see the Kings and Queens of old. The centaurs formed two lines saluting their Kings and Queens, as one Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy stepped forward and entered the How side by side. Edmund could feel the Narnian magic thrumming through his skin. They were home.
Edmund turned back to Caspian who had followed behind them, he seemed unsure of himself again. Edmund considered that Caspian didn’t know where he stood next to the legends of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.
Edmund pulled at Caspain’s sleeve determined to wipe the unhappy look away, Edmund asked after the Narnians gathered. Their number, the fighting strength, weapons and battle plans. Peter sulked beside Edmund, listening to Caspian out of necessity.
Edmund worried over Peter’s dislike of Caspian, Peter’s temper was famous and had caused trouble in the past. The war with the giants had been entirely Peter’s fault. Edmund had spent weeks on that treaty only for Peter to offend a giant whose clan exacted revenge on the nearby town and Peter declared war.
Edmund watched Peter sneer at Caspian saying, "it’s not much, but it's all we’ve got”. Caspian’s words were true, the small army was strong but too small. Edmund could see Peter latch onto Caspians words, Edmund could tell the stubborn look on his brother's face meant he was now determined to prove Caspian wrong. Peter would lead the small Narnian army to great victory. Edmund knew that Peter was a capable leader, a brilliant strategist and had won the war with giants using only a piece of metal twine from a wine bottle. Edmund feared that Peter’s memories were not whole, that like Edmund he had gaps. Peter was a seventeen year old with half remembered battle plans in his head.
Susan interrupted them, Susan always had a sixth sense for Peter’s idiocy. But she did not lecture Peter or give her own opinion to the plans. She had found something.
Lucy led them through the tunnel corridor, it’s dirt walls painted with faint images of their faces. To the glistening Eastern sea stood Queen Lucy the Valiant, to the Great Western woods stood King Edmund the Just, to the radiant southern sun stood High Queen Susan the Gentle, and to the clear northern sky stood High King Peter the Magnificent.
“It’s us,” Lucy said, her hand tracing their painted faces. Susan whirled on Caspian and demanded to know what this place was. Edmund stood a little straighter beside Caspian, Susan noticed.
Caspian led them into the How he lit the hearth, flames danced across the carved image of the Great Lion.
Before them lay the stone table.
Edmund remembered the cold snow of the White Witch, he could taste Turkish Delight in his mouth.
Edmund remembered the peace talks with King Lune in Archenland, one of the Lords had dared to call Edmund the traitor King.
Their fifteen year reign had been draped in majesty and myth, but it had been full of political tension; they stopped as many wars as they began.
Edmund, the great negotiator had turned himself inside out to prove he was more than the traitor king.
The magic in the How settled uneasily in Edmunds chest.
Whilst Peter was demanding an attack on Miraz’s castle, Edmund slipped away.
Chapter 6: Narnian Music
Edmund and Caspian ended up lying on a blanket. A little way off from the Narnians around the open fire.
There were fawns and satyrs dancing outside by an open fire. Edmund could hear the songs they were singing.
He remembered Tumnus would play those songs often at feasts on his set of pipes.
Edmund contemplated joining the group, but Edmund did not know these Narnians. He had not shared years by their side, poured wine over late night fires or traded stories.
These Narnians were Edmund’s people, they were not yet his friends. Edmund did not want to disturb the settled atmosphere with the presence of a Narnian King. He feared it would be as jarring to them as it would to Edmund, if his school teachers joined the school boys in their games of marble.
Edmund climbed the side of the How and finding a balcony of sorts he settled on the rocky grass and watched the stars. The cold wind biting his face helped Edmund forget the feeling of Jadis’ furs on his face.
There were footsteps on the narrow path Edmund had taken up the How. He wondered if it was Lucy, he hoped it was Caspian.
Caspian appeared around the corner of the path leading to the ledge where Edmund was sitting.
Caspian seemed surprised to find Edmund already there, Edmund huffed amused by his reaction.
“Were you not looking for me?” he asked teasing Caspian and gestured for Caspian to join him on the ledge.
“I-I didn’t think I would find you up here”. Caspian hesitated before placing a warm arm around Edmund’s waist settling beside him. Edmund suddenly felt very warm, his heart fluttering in his chest as Caspian pressed Edmund’s icy back against his warm chest.
“I actually came up here to think, I found it’s peaceful here” Caspian explained, he carefully picked up Edmund’s hand placing them in his own hands to warm them.
“You’ve been here awhile” Caspian noted his liting voice was soft and asked a silent question.
Edmund allowed himself a moment practically sitting half on top of Caspian.
“It was getting hard to breath down there” Edmund found himself saying quietly and wordless understanding passed between them.
“It’s far too cold up here” Caspian said firmly even though Edmund could feel the warmth coming off Caspian. Caspian pulled Edmund to his feet, still holding one of Edmund’s hands Caspian ushered Edmund back down the narrow path.
“Come on, I’ll show you how Telmarines dance”. Edmund tangled their fingers together and let Caspian lead him towards the gathering around the open fire.
Halting in the middle of the dancing Narnians Caspian faced Edmund, standing close Caspian placed Edmunds hand on his waist before mirroring it himself.
Edmund let Caspian lead the dance before his feet remembered where to go and then Edmund was twirling Caspian around the open fire music and laughter was in his ears. Caspian smiling widely, his hand placed firmly on Edmund’s waist.
When their feet were too sore to continue Edmund and Caspian joined the Narnians sitting at the edge of the open fire.
Trumpkin caught Edmund’s eye and the dwarf nodded at the king acknowledging Edmund’s presence.
Edmund didn’t miss Trumpkin’s eyes fall to where Edmund’s hand was entwined with Caspian’s.
Edmund guiltily wondered if he should go back inside to the battle plans Peter was jamming together. But then the tree spirits woke up enough to join the people and a wine skin was pressed into Edmund’s hands.
Edmund decided that Peter could wait until morning.
Edmund and Caspian ended up lying on a blanket. A little way off from the Narnians around the open fire.
Caspian was laughing at a story Edmund was telling of a festival back in Cair Paravel. Peter had been too drunk to see the steps going up into the chamber and ended up with a heavily bruised cheek.
Edmund felt a pull in his stomach, he wondered what Caspian’s mouth would taste of, wine? Or something else?
Before Edmund could decide, Caspian was looking at him, Edmund had been caught staring again.
Caspian stared back looking intently at Edmund.
“What are you thinking about?" Caspian whispered softly as though he was afraid to break the strange tension in the air between them.
Edmund thought about telling Caspian he had been thinking of kissing him, Edmund thought about putting a hand in Caspian’s dark hair and kissing him instead of saying anything.
Trufflehunter suddenly appeared over Caspian’s shoulder, a fierce look on the badger's face.
“Caspian, King Edmund” Trufflehunter loudly greeted. Caspian jumped slightly, turning over and sitting up in a rush. Nervously looking between Edmund and Trufflehunter.
“You should both be going inside now, and getting some rest for the morning briefings”. Trufflehunter shooed Caspian and Edmund off the blanket.
Folding it up, Trufflehunter made to escort them back into the How.
Caspian’s face was completely red. Edmund swallowed a laugh at the scandalised expression on his face.
Edmund could bet that Caspian had never been caught in compromising positions before.
Edmund did have some experience of the over protective nature friends, and siblings had when it came to catching one in a compromising position.
Caspian heard the laugh Edmund unsuccessfully muffled.
He pouted at Edmund, a single look conveying to Edmund that he should be taking Caspian’s side.
Edmund stood no chance in stopping the laughter that bubbled up and spilled out.
Giggling like a schoolboy Edmund grabbed Caspian and ran back into the How away from Trufflehunter’s shouted protests.
Their laughter petered off as they came to a stop in one of the many corridors of the How.
A little breathless Edmund peered back around the corner.
“Do you think we lost them?” Edmund asked Caspian.
Instead of replying Caspian pushed Edmund against the wall and pressed a soft exploring kiss to Edmund’s mouth.
Caspian’s mouth did taste of the wine they had indulged in earlier.
Edmund pulled Caspian against his chest, hands on Caspian’s shoulders. Edmund deepened the kiss.
There was a clanging noise down the corridor and Caspian broke away from the kiss with a soft gasp of air.
Chapter 7: Lucy
Peter and Susan rounded the corner and Edmund quickly straightened up from the wall. Trying his best to appear inconspicuous standing next to a ruffled Caspian.
“There you are,” Peter said. He did not seem to notice the awkward air between Edmund and Caspian.
“We need to discuss how the eagles can help in the attack”.
Susan coughed getting Edmund’s attention, she eyed Edmund’s hair pointedly.
Edmund cursed, he had forgotten Caspian’s hands digging through his curls making them stick out. Edmund probably looked like he had been caught in a windstorm. Or kissed thoroughly.
Knowing Susan, she was going to assume Edmund had been kissed thoroughly. Cursing Edmund tried to smooth his hair back into place.
Peter frowned looking suspiciously between Edmund and Caspian. Edmund wanted to curse some more. Peter might actually figure this one out, they were so obvious.
“It’s late,” Susan said, nudging Peter in the direction of a small distraction and saving Edmund from Peter’s questions.
“We should get some rest,” Susan finished pointedly.
Peter didn’t frog march Edmund and Caspian to the sleeping quarters but it was a close thing. Edmund inwardly sighed, Peter was not going to handle Edmund’s interest in Caspian well.
Edmund woke in parts blinking between wakefulness and heavy sleep.
Caspian lay on the pallet to Edmund’s left, Peter placed firmly between them.
Sitting up Edmund rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he hadn’t been able to speak with Caspian since their interrupted kiss.
Edmund wanted to kiss Caspian again, and ask to formally court him.
Edmund didn’t get a chance to speak with Caspian privately. Peter swept everyone up into his insane invasion plan. No sense could talk Peter out of the determination he had to take back Narnia in one deadly move.
Caspian had a good argument against Peter’s invasion, the How was a good position for defense.
But the look Peter threw at Caspian was not one of a fellow tactician. It was of an older brother glaring at the person who had probably been kissing his younger brother last night.
It was the glare of a king who had been defeated in hand to hand combat by Caspian. They would be attacking Miraz’s castle tonight.
Edmund found Lucy throwing knives at practice dummies on the field outside the How.
He instantly felt guilty for not spending much time with Lucy since they had arrived here.
“Edmund!” Lucy greeted smiling benevolently, easily drawing Edmund into the group of Narnians.
Lucy proffered her long dagger at Edmund grinning “brilliant, I need a partner”.
Edmund silently joined his sister picking a sword from the rack, Edmund faced Lucy.
Edmund inclined his head to his sister who mirrored the gesture and then their blades were clashing.
The two of them sparred for a while, and gathered an audience of Narnians, before they called it a draw and retreated into the small privacy the trees had to offer.
Feeling sweaty, Edmund sat on a raised rock.
“You're deadly with that thing you know” Edmund gestured to Lucy’s long dagger.
Lucy grinned waving her dagger playfully. “Oh I know,” Lucy laughed, and Edmund was reminded that Lucy was once the greatest warrior Narnia had.
Lucy had been the commander of the Narnian and Archenland forces joined against the invading Calormen army. That battle had barely lasted an hour. In comparison Peter had fought with the giants for a good month before the wine bottle idea.
Edmund drank from the water skin before tossing it to Lucy. Lucy caught it easily, she fiddled with it’s handle and looked sadly at the trees.
“I wish they would wake up” Lucy said heartbreakingly sad.
Edmund fiercely wished for the trees to wake up, Lucy should never ever look - last night- the open fire- the dancing- Caspian.
Edmund swore loudly jumping to his feet startling Lucy out of her melancholy “Lu-I’m so sorry- last night I saw a tree spirit dancing with the fawns- I should have said-”
“Wait what?” Lucy exclaimed, grabbing Edmund’s sleeve, her eyes wide with frantic hope.
The trees suddenly rushed around them and they were further in the forest than before. Lucy whirled around crying out for the trees to answer her, and sure enough they did.
Edmund watched Lucy cry wrapped up in the swirling forms of the tree spirits. Edmund’s face hurt from grinning so hard, the trees were awake. Lucy was whole now.
The tree spirit’s dropped Edmund and Lucy back at the edge of the trees, Lucy had talked the most asking for their stories, their history, finding the spirits who she knew.
“Ed” Lucy said, turning to Edmund, one tree spirit still hovering by her.
“You go ahead, tell Pete and Susan, I’ll be with trees for a while”.
Edmund knew what Lucy meant, she wasn't going to join the attack on the castle.
Lucy laughed humorlessly. “After all Peter was against me fighting, he won’t have to worry. I’ll be safe here”.
The tree spirit wrapped around Lucy protectively, proving her point.
“Alright Lu,” Edmund agreed, he nodded at the tree spirit silently conveying his trust that they would keep his sister from harm.
“Oh and Ed” Lucy called “you should really ask Caspian to court you” Lucy teased and then she was gone. Carried away by the tree spirit.
Edmund was left blushing at the edge of the trees. Edmund knew he had been obvious, but he had hoped that he wasn't as completely transparent as it appeared he had been.
Everyone probably knew that Edmund and Caspian had gotten close.
Edmund groaned pittingly to himself burying his burning cheeks in his hands. Edmund briefly wished the ground would swallow him. If only to stop the utter embarrassment he was currently feeling.
There was a rustle of leaves and a melodic voice of a tree spirit sung through the air.
Peeking up Edmund was greeted by the familiar shape of the tree spirit who had joined in the dancing last night.
The tree spirit hummed softly holding out a closed hand to Edmund, Edmund understood that the tree spirit wanted to give him something.
Edmund held out his own hand and received a braided wristband, made of soft wood and carved in intricate patterns.
Edmund blinked stunned at the gift, and then the tree spirit hummed “A gift to help you in your courting of the prince Caspian”. With that said it vanished away with the wind.
Edmund groaned some more, even the trees knew about him and Caspian. Edmund ran a thumb over the wooden bracelet. He could feel the life of the trees around it. The bracelet sang of Narnian magic. Edmund smiled to himself, it was the perfect courting gift. Edmund slipped the bracelet into his shirt and left the forest with a new ace in his pocket against Miraz. The trees were awake.
Chapter 8: Tension
Caspian found Edmund again. Edmund wondered if Caspian had an inbuilt tracker for locating Edmund. He shrugged off the thought, remembering their kiss last night, and a bracelet burning a hole in his shirt. Edmund had only got as far as the makeshift training grounds, on his way to the How to tell Peter and Susan about the trees and Lucy before Caspian had found him.
“You know we never did have that duel” Edmund found himself saying and the tenson Edmund hadn’t noticed left Caspian.
He huffed amused “shall I take that as a challenge then?” Caspian grinned, and it was Edmund’s turn to laugh.
Tossing aside his water skin, Edmund positioned himself gripping his sword in one hand and gesturing at Caspian to come at him. Caspian happily obliged and their sound of their blades clashing echoed throughout the field.
Caspian was good, Edmund noted parrying a blow, Edmund had not had the pleasure of seeing Caspian disarm Peter on their first meeting. But he had seen Rhindon held to Peter’s throat by the man before him, and Edmund had assumed Caspian was schooled well.
Caspian was gifted with the blade. He wielded his sword like it was an extension of his body and fenced like he danced, quick footed and sure. Edmund was very impressed.
The air between them grew thick as they circled closer and closer together. Sword against sword. In a flash Edmund had his sword at Caspian's throat, and Caspian had his own at Edmund's. The two of them laughed breathing heavily, it was a draw.
Applause broke the tension between them, and Edmund broke away from the constant eye contact he had held with Caspian for the entirety of their duel. They had attracted quite a crowd. Edmund sheathed his blade feeling lighter than ever he met Caspian’s eyes and wondered if Caspian had also felt the promise in the air between them.
Edmund wondered if there was no audience, perhaps Caspian would have pushed him against another wall and kissed Edmund again. Edmund didn’t get a chance to find out. Dark was approaching and the Narnians prepared themselves for the coming attack.
Edmund told Peter and Susan where Lucy was. That the trees had woken.
Peter was just happy Lucy was far away from the fighting. Edmund grimaced thinking of how protective Peter was. Lucy had got the brunt of it for being the youngest at thirteen. It was unfair of Peter to treat Lucy like a little girl. She was a Queen of Narnia, its greatest warrior; she had fought in many battles and won more wars than all four of them put together. At least Susan remembered Queen Lucy the Valiant. Peter laid out his plan one more time before everyone began to depart.
Edmund caught up to Caspian before he could ride off. “Caspian,” Edmund grabbed Caspian’s arm and Caspian turned his full attention to Edmund. Edmund fumbled with the opening to his shirt digging out the bracelet he slipped it onto Caspian’s wrist. “Please, accept my gift of courtship” Edmund stated the words he had heard so many times directed to him or one of his siblings, but had never actually said to anyone himself.
Caspian placed his free hand over Edmund’s as he fastened the bracelet to Caspian’s wrist. For a brief terrifying moment Edmund thought Caspian was going to say no. But then he said “I accept” and Caspian’s hands were in Edmund’s hair and Edmund was having the life kissed out of him.
Caspian bit at Edmund’s mouth, sinking his tongue past Edmund’s lips. Edmund’s knees almost gave out from under him. He clung to Caspian’s back. Edmund could hear the Centaurs nearing the entrance. He knew Caspian could as well. Edmund regretfully broke the kiss before swooping in to quickly peck Caspian’s mouth.
“Stay safe,” Edmund whispered against Caspian’s lips. Edmund turned away and walked on shaky legs, his lips stinging, to where the eagles were waiting.
Chapter 9: Peter's battle plan
Edmund landed right in the middle of a coup.
The plan was for the eagles to fly Edmund to the tower. Where he could signal the opening of the gates to the Narnians waiting in the woods. Instead there were soldiers where they shouldn’t have been, and Edmund could hear shouts from inside the castle.
Edmund bet they had unwittingly arrived in the middle of a coup. Running to the edge of the tower Edmund waved at the waiting eagles. “Fly back and tell them not to come until I say, and then come back and get me”. Edmund thought rapidly, re-hashing plans and re-writing Peter’s attack.
Edmund could use the unrest inside the castle to their advantage. He just needed to see who was behind the coup. From what Caspian had said, the Telmarian Lords who sat on the council were constantly at each other’s throat. Miraz had the upper hand as Caspian’s uncle, but now Caspian had survived Miraz’s assasination attempt; the power play was in full swing.
Political battles were Edmund’s territory. Edmund ran through the empty castle corridors heading straight towards the noise.
Susan and Trumpkin appeared around a corner.
“What are you doing here Ed?!” Susan whisper shouted. Edmund pointed towards the sound of fighting.
“We landed in the middle of a coup Su”.
Edmund instructed Susan and Trumpkin to go to the square and stop Peter from doing anything stupid until Edmund had got a handle on the situation. Edmund needed to know who the most powerful players were. Susan knew Edmund was the tactician when it came to getting to the centre of a political uprising. She went to do as he asked.
Edmund inched up to the half open door where the loudest noise was coming from.
He could hear screaming, it sounded like a baby was crying.
Through the gap Edmund spied a Lord driving his sword into a woman’s chest. Horrified Edmund rushed through the door, catching the Lord unawares.
The Lord’s weapon was still in the woman’s chest.
Edmund cut the man down.
Kneeling by the dying woman Edmund held her hand whispering gentle nothings as she gasped painfully.
Edmund could see the sword had been driven right through her heart. She would not survive.
She gasped for air, gripping tightly onto Edmund’s hand she tried to speak.
Edmund leaned closer “uh-my-s-son-uh-please-save him”.
She raised her hand and pointed at a crib. Edmund realised the sound of a baby crying had never stopped.
Leaving the woman’s side Edmund gathered the crying baby in his arms hushing the child.
The door burst open and Caspian was standing wild eyed in the doorway. He looked from Edmund and the baby to the dead Lord and then the dying woman in the corner.
“Aunt Prunaprismia!” Caspian cried rushing to the dying woman’s side.
A heavy realistion settled over Edmund as he looked from the body of the Lord he had killed to the child in his arms.
Tonight had been the second attempt to end the life of the next Temalrian King, Edmund could guess what power game was being played by the Lords.
Caspian knelt by his dying aunt and promised to take care of her son “his name” she gasped “is Rilian”. The light faded from her eyes.
Caspian sobbed pressing a kiss to his Aunt’s hair before he stood up and left her where she’d fallen.
Caspian held his arms out for Rilian and Edmund passed the baby over, a tear trickled down Caspian’s face.
Edmund swallowed thickly past the lump in his throat.
The door burst open for a third time Peter and Susan shouted at them frantically. They had been compromised. Soldiers were everywhere. They needed to get out now.
Edmund went with Susan and Peter, sounding the retreat, getting Reepicheep and the mice out.
Caspian appeared with the horses, his tutor riding next to him. Edmund could see Rilian in a makeshift wrap made out of Caspian’s cloak holding Rilian to Caspian’s chest.
There was a shout from a balcony and archers lined the walls aiming at the courtyard. Caspian held a hand out to Edmund and Edmund took it. Swinging up behind Caspian and he rode them out the gate.
Peter and Susan had mounted their own horses and were riding quickly ahead.
Arrows flew around them, Trumpkin and the mice were already safe beyond the gate running for the woods.
Susan grabbed Trumpkin by the scruff of his neck pulling him up onto her horse.
The Telmarians called for horses and pursued the small band towards the woods.
Edmund let out a piercing whistle and the eagle named Fairsight flew down alongside Caspian and Edmund riding on the horse. Edmund shouted his orders and Fairshight flew to the woods and conveyed them to the awaiting Narnians.
They all made it to the trees. Caspian’s tutor, Susan and Trumpkin, Reepicheep and the mice. Peter, Edmund and Caspian. The Telmarian army was hot on their trail.
The Centaurs and Mintotors melted from the woods cutting the telmarines off from entering and then Edmunds' ace came into play.
The trees swung out and pushed the telmarine soldiers away. Terrified, the telmarines called a retreat and the Narnian army was able to slip away unscathed.
Chapter 10: Bad feeling
SPOILER Warning for description of a panic attack
Peter was furious. Edmund had defied his direct orders and commanded the Narnian army in the forest not to advance on Miraz’s castle. “We landed in the middle of a coup” Edmund tried but Peter cut him off shouting.
“And if you’d listened we would have that castle by now and Narnia would be free!” Peter raged.
Edmund didn’t think he could stop Peter from doing something stupid. Where was Lucy when you needed her.
Peter quickly turned to Caspiain cutting Rhindon in the air “Why the hell do you have a baby?” Peter demanded waving his sword at an unarmed Caspian who was holding a crying Rillian.
Cornelius, Caspian’s tutor bristled beside Caspian ready to defend his Prince from the angry High King.
Alright that was enough, Edmund put himself between Caspian and Peter and faced down his brother. Rhindon’s sword point in Edmund’s face. Edmund heard Susan gasp off to the side but he held Peter’s gaze unwaveringly.
“That’s enough Peter,” Edmund said firmly.
Peter’s angry frown flattered his face turning confused and hurt. Peter didn’t understand why Edmund had betrayed his battle plan. He didn’t understand why Edmund stood between Peter and a Telmarian prince. Peter didn’t know Edmund was courting Caspian. Peter drew his sword away then angrily left. Susan glanced back at Edmund before following Peter.
Rilian was crying loudly. Edmund could hear the wheeze in the baby’s throat. Rilian’s crying was hurting him. “Give him to me,” Edmund said, holding his arms out for Caspian’s cousin.
Caspian unquestioningly gave Edmund the baby and Edmund felt relief sweep over him. Caspian still trusted him. Edmund held Rillian to his chest patting the baby’s back softly, rubbing small circles like he vaguely remembered their mother doing for Lucy when she was small.
Rillian’s cries slowly changed to tiny baby gurgles and then the baby was asleep. Edmund blinked at the sleeping baby. He was surprisingly good at this.
“You are surprisingly good at that,” Cornelius commented, voicing Edmund's own thoughts.
Caspian stood at Edmund's shoulder and smiled sadly down at his sleeping cousin. There was a new heaviness on Caspian’s shoulders and Edmund wondered what he had missed.
Edmund wondered what had happened to Caspian between breaking into Miraz’s castle and the death of Lady Prunaprismia.
Edmund went with Caspian and Cornelius to the Centaurs. One lady, Windmane, offered to watch Rillian for Caspian. Caspian left soon after, he had barely said a thing. Edmund let Caspian have some space, Edmund understand Caspian needed to be alone.
Edmund left Rillian in Windmane’s care. Cornelius firmly beside the Centaur and sleeping prince. Edmund needed to go to the forest and find Lucy.
Edmund could smell snow coming from the chamber where the stone table was.
Edmund could hear the call of a hag as the hag recited an ancient spell. There was ice in the air.
Peter and Caspian’s voices intermingled with a voice Edmund never wanted to hear again. A voice that haunted his darkest dreams. Jadis, the White Witch.
Edmund drove his sword through her icy heart shattering the spell that had formed a pathway for Jadis straight to Narnia.
Peter’s shocked face greeted Edmund, Edmund heard Peter say something to him, but Edmund couldn’t hear what it was over the ringing in his ears.
Sheathing his sword Edmund somehow walked out of the chamber and then out of the How. Edmund needed air. He needed to breathe.
The smell of snow clogged Edmund's nose. He couldn’t breathe.
The trees were blurs to Edmund as he stumbled towards the forest.
His mouth was crammed to the bursting with the sickening taste of trurkish delight.
Edmund couldn’t breathe. He could hear the White Witch whispering his name invitingly over, and over.
"Ed!" Caspian cried out in alarm his voice reaching through to Edmund just before the darkness took him.
Chapter 11: Caspian
Edmund woke in the forest, tree spirits floated around him and his head was resting in someone’s lap. A gentle hand running through his hair. It was Caspian. Edmund looked into Caspian’s troubled dark eyes and the two shared a silent moment together.
“Edmund!” Lucy called, and Edmund remembered he'd been heading out to find Lucy before… before.
Edmund began to sit up and Caspian placed a comforting hand on the small of his back.
“You’re awake,” Lucy said, sitting down beside Edmund and immediately holding Edmund’s face between her hands. She examined her brother closely. Edmund noticed Lucy’s cordial was at her waist. There was a familiar taste in Edmund’s mouth, like sunshine and sponge cake (and a taste that was suspiciously similar to Caspian’s mouth).
“Lu- you didn’t use it, did you?” Edmund asked, pointing to the cordial at Lucy’s hip, already knowing the answer was yes.
“You looked like shit” Lucy said frankly, casually swearing and shocking the socks off Edmund.
Edmund was aware Lucy knew about swear words, she had after all been an adult the first time around in Narnia. But Lucy appeared so sweet and innocent, Edmund could easily see why Peter had been adamant that Lucy stay away from the fighting. Edmund had forgotten Queen Lucy the Valiant. But now she sat beside him, wryly chastising him. A grown woman at thirteen years old.
“We have to get back” Caspian interrupted them standing up. “The Lords will be gathering the armies to march on the How.” Caspian spoke resignedly.
“Peter probably has a plan” Edmund stood up beside Caspian. And imitating Lucy, held Caspian’s face in his hands. Edmund frowned at the despondent look in Caspain’s eyes.
“It was not your fault Caspian” Edmund told him quietly referring to the events that had just taken place by the stone table.
Caspian looked away from Edmund, regret written all over his face. “I nearly hurt you,” Caspian whispered.
Edmund vaguely noticed Lucy and the tree spirits leave the clearing giving him and Caspian privacy.
Edmund decided that Caspian needed to hear about the first time Edmund had come to Narnia. About the White Witch, Jadis and Edmund’s betrayal. Aslan’s sacrifice.
So Edmund told Caspian, and hoped he wouldn’t look at Edmund differently.
Caspian softly kissed Edmund when he finished the story, pressing their mouths together in gentle butterfly kisses. Caspian murmmed apology after apology. “I’m so sorry Edmund,” kiss “I’m so sorry you had to see her again,” kiss.
Caspian looped a piece of twine around Edmund’s neck. There was a small wooden charm hanging from it. Familiar tiny intricate carvings on the charm. Blushing Caspian said “the trees gave me this when you were sleeping. They said it was a gift from them to help me in courting you”. Caspian blushed some more. Edmund felt his own cheeks grow warm, he had not seen the matchmaking trees coming at all.
“Thank you Caspian, I accept,” Edmund said smiling one hand over his new pendant.
They ended up kissing on the ground amongst the fallen pine needles. As they exchanged open mouth kisses Edmund let his hands wander under Caspian's shirt. He had very firm back muscles. Caspian moaned under Edmund and things got a little heated.
A tree coughed. Caspian froze looking upwards at the canopy they were lying under. The tree looked back unimpressed.
"Oh. Um sorry". Caspian said to the tree blushing and pushing Edmund off him. Edmund tried his best not to mentally curse the tree's awareness of it’s surroundings. He took a deep breath and tried to claim his racing heart and will his erection away. Edmund really hoped that Lucy had gone somewhere far far away and not come back yet.
Caspian grabbed Edmund's hand and dragged him out of the forest. A safe distance away from the watchful trees, Caspian pressed a small kiss to the side of Edmund's mouth. Edmund pulled Caspian into a proper kiss.
Unfortunately Lucy appeared from the trees and began to greet the fawns who were on guard duty. Edmund quickly pushed Caspian away. He was not going to let his little sister see him kissing Caspian.
Chapter 12: How long will we stay?
Peter was pouring over a mound of paper he had gathered, Susan stood to one side also shifting through the paper verbely making notes.
Edmund, Lucy and Caspian entered. “I have an idea,” Caspian said.
“Hand to hand combat?” Peter repeated dubiously, Edmund nodded digging through the papers
“It’s the perfect distraction,” Edmund said, holding up a map of the forest.
Peter needed to practice his hand to hand combat. Edmund watched his elder brother hack away at a straw filled dummy.
“Need a hand?” Edmund called to Peter making his presence known. Peter nodded and the two brothers faced each other.
Peter had a careful look on his face as he watched Edmund approach, sword at the ready.
Edmund almost wanted to put his sword down and hug Peter, tell him everything would be alright. Edmund trusted Peter to win tomorrow.
But Edmund knew that a hug wasn't what Peter needed right now, Peter needed a teacher.
Edmund smacked the flat of his sword across Peter’s knuckles, Peter needed to get his head screwed on probably.
They needed High King Peter the Magnificent in the duel tomorrow. They needed Peter to be the brilliant swordsman he once was. The legendary king who never lost any fight, not Peter Pevensie, a seventeen year old from Finchley.
Their swords clashed and Edmund could see Peter struggle to push Edmund back. Edmund wanted to shout at his brother to wake up, to remember who he was. And then Edmund was shouting angrily “Wake up! Wake up Peter!”
Edmund swung his sword at his brother, switching from the basic forms he had been using to a full frontal attack. Dread filled Edmund as Peter stumbled away from his violent advance. Edmund lowered his sword heart in his throat, Peter wasn't going to survive the dual tomorrow, Edmund had just signed his brother’s death warrant.
Rhindon cut through the air and Edmund clumsily parred the blow, this time he stumbled.
“Come on Ed,” Peter teased.
Edmund huffed a quiet relieved laugh as he used every skill he could recall to try and disarm Peter who held his ground deflecting Edmund’s attacks easily.
Edmund crossed blades with High King Peter, the boy from Finchley was gone. They would be alright Edmund thought as he and his brother sparred neck and neck with each other perfectly matched in skill. High King Peter had returned home to Narnia.
They called it a draw both exhausted after a good hour sparring. Edmund’s arms were sore but he felt strangely elated for how tired he was. “Ed” Peter said drawing Edmund’s attention to Peter, sheathing his sword “how long do you think we’ll stay this time?”
Peter asked, his words cutting deeper than any sword leaving Edmund absolutely devastated. Edmund hadn’t allowed himself to think too long on the subject of leaving Narnia. It was far too terrible to contemplate, and if he did he might not survive.
But now Edmund was thinking of it. Leaving Narnia again returning to England, Caspian left behind to rule.
It was unthinkable. Edmund wondered if it would be more terrible to rule Narnia again for fifteen years and then be swept away back into the children going to school.
Edmund knew he wouldn’t survive growing up once more in Narnia only to have it all taken away, to be trapped in a young boy’s body. To have each day pass by and with every second his memories of Narnia fade far away.
Edmund still couldn’t remember everything that had occured during their golden reign in Narnia. The name of the noble man Edmund had first kissed at eighteen under the soft twilight in Cair Paravel, Edmund couldn’t remember his name.
Fear gripped it’s icy hold on Edmund’s heart, would Caspian’s name fade away if he returned to England? Would Edmund remember him with the vague fond amusement he held for Prince Isaac who had once unsuccessfully courted Edmund for three years, and had gifted Edmund his favorite golden chess set?
Chapter 13: Edmund needs a hug
Susan found Edmund in the back room armory of the How. Where Edmund was divesting himself of the small pieces of padded armour he had worn during his practice with Peter.
Susan was gripping some paper in her hands, an anxious tight pinched expression written all over her face.
Edmund was suddenly reminded of the horrible worry and fear that had taken over Edmund when that idiot Rabadash had tried to kidnap Susan that one time.
Susan wanted to know why there was a baby with Centaurs. “What were you thinking Ed?!” Susan scolded wringing her hands together, a habit she had picked up from their mother.
“That baby is Miraz’s son, you just gave him the perfect reason to kill us all!”
Edmund winched in the face of Susan’s fury, what she said was true, Edmund had been ignoring the facts because he didn’t want to see them.
Rillian was their hostage, not their guest, no matter how much Edmund wanted to take Caspian and his baby cousin to the dancing lawns and show them both Edmund’s favorite constellations.
They were at war with Rillian’s father, Caspian’s uncle and would be murder. Susan was saying they should negotiate; using Rillian as a hostage.
Peter’s earlier question rang in Edmund’s mind, how long would they stay here?
Edmund wanted to resolve to stay in Narnia, to spend his days here beside Caspian to show Caspian the ruins of Cair Paravel, visit Archenland with Caspian.
Show Caspian Edmund’s secret hideout in the Western woods. Edmund wanted to teach Rillian how to fence, Edmund wanted to show Rillian the Narnain constellations, tell the names of each one and stories behind them.
Edmund feared it wasn't his place to stand by Caspian, Rillian wasn't Edmunds to raise. Susan was making a wise point, they should use Rillian to their advantage, get Miraz to surrender by signing a peace treaty.
It was a tactic familiar enough to Edmund, he and Susan had brokerd many peace talks with Narnian’s warring neighbours and never split a single drop of blood.
It was the easy way out, so clear in Edmund’s mind, but then Edmund remembered Prunaprismia bleeding out inside her castle walls.
That night the Telmarine Lords had led a coup, and tried to seize power from Miraz. Prunaprismia had died saving her son from being murdered.
Prunaprismia had asked a stranger, Edmund, to save her son from the murderous power hungry Lords. Edmund couldn’t risk returning Rillian to the Telmarines.
The baby would either be murdered or would be raised to hate Narnians, growing up surrounded by Telmarian nobles who would manipulate Rillian to their own designs.
If Caspian’s cousin was allowed to return to the Telmarian’s care he would grow to be a threat to the Narnain rule. To Caspian’s rule, Edmund thought. Edmund didn't know how long they would get to stay. Edmund didn't know if he would get to see Rillian grow up. He had a suspicion that Caspian would be ruling alone. Edmund was not going to use Rillian as a bargaining chip, Rillian would grow up around Narnians, with Caspian. Edmund would keep his promise to Prunaprismia.
Susan didn’t seem impressed with Edmund’s reasoning, his argument that Rillian should stay. Edmund made it clear to Susan that he wasn't going to side with her on this. Susan let it go, Edmund knew she disapproved of his choice but the sticky web of the telmarian politics would ensnare Caspian and Edmund didn’t know all the players yet.
Edmund wanted to sulk in the forest, but Lucy had gone into the How and was speaking with Peter about the battle plans. Despite Edmund’s title, Duke of the great wetsern woods, Edmund was no were near as comfortable as Lucy was with the tree spirits. It had taken Edmund quite a while last time to befriend the tree spirits and now Edmund didn’t know if any of the trees near the How remembered Edmund. And he was too embarrassed to ask because he couldn’t remember any of the tree spirits' names.
Instead Edmund went around the How intending to explore it’s outside walls in the daylight before he joined the battle talks. Caspian intercepted Edmund at the foot of a narrow path going up the side of the How.
Caspian was pouting again and Edmund tried not to melt at the sight of a grumpy Caspian. Suddenly Edmund was blinking against tears, Peter had inadvertently opened a horrible door inside Edmund's head.
“I should be the one fighting Miraz not Peter” Caspian said, his stance strong, clearly determined that Edmund should change his mind.“This is my fight” Caspian insisted silently demanding Edmund to agree. Edmund didn’t have any energy left, and he didn’t want to persuade Caspian to let Peter fight.
It sat badly with Edmund, using careful words reserved for treaty talks with the most difficult of Narnia’s neighbours, on Caspian. So Edmund didn’t, instead he closed the distance between them dropping his head on Caspian’s shoulder.Caspian made a soft surprised noise, but happily reciprocated the hug that Edmund sorely needed.
Edmund let himself relax in Caspian’s warm hold, Caspian pressed a kiss to Edmund’s hair and Edmund knew that they would be wonderful together. Edmund would gladly live a thousand lifetimes if Caspian was by his side. Edmund wanted to stay with Caspian in Narnia, Edmund wanted to have his hand bound to Caspian’s in Owlwood. Edmund wanted to watch Rillian grow up as a Prince of Narnia, to never have to leave, to live the rest of his life beside Caspian.
Caspian pressed a kiss to Edmund’s forehead quietly asking if Edmund was alright, Edmund nodded. He felt perfectly safe in Caspian’s arms.
Chapter 14: A blue favor
Back at the How Edmund went down to the caves below the stone table where Caspian was preparing the next step in the plan.
Just in case it all went terribly wrong Edmund wanted to hold Caspian’s hand one last time before he left.
Caspian immediately went over to Edmund when he appeared at the cave’s entrance. Caspian linked their fingers together, and Edmund smiled it was like Caspian could read his mind.
Edmund was aware that they really didn’t have much time, he needed to be with Peter preparing for the duel. Edmund was going to take every second he could get with Caspian. Caspian drew Edmund into a corner. Edmund could see Caspian’s carved bracelet peeking out from under his shirt sleeve. Edmund thought of his own pendant securely fastened around his neck.
Edmund tightened his hold on Caspian’s hand, they would win this battle. They would claim Narnia back, and Edmund would court Caspian properly. Edmund was going to write Caspian a ton of cheesy poetry.
“Edmund,” Caspian said tentatively, he was nervous, they were all nervous.“When this is over, will you share a dance with me again?” Caspian asked like it was the easiest thing to ask a king of Narnia to formally court you.
Edmund nodded yes happily. Thinking of the courtly love rules Edmund got out a small knife and cut off his own shirt sleeve.This morning Lucy had told Edmund to wear a deep blue shirt, because it brought out his eyes. Peter had scoffed commenting that he didn’t think the Telmarines would be taking the time to admire anyone’s clothes.
The blue of Edmund’s shirt stood out nicely against Caspian’s dark armour, Edmund tied the cut strip of his shirt around Caspian’s forearm. “Your favor,” Caspian breathed quietly. Referring to the Narnian courtship tradition of giving your lover a piece of your clothing to wear for duels. It was a loud declaration. Edmund wrapped his arms around Caspian’s back, burying his head on Caspian’s shoulder Edmund hugged Caspian. “I shall share every dance with you,” Edmund whispered his promise against Caspian’s collar bone.
Edmund decided he wasn't going to let Peter questioning how long they would stay effect him anymore. Edmund was going to just live, and do his best to survive the coming battle.
Lucy was their ace, she had gone early that morning with the tree spirits around the same time as Windmane left escorting the Narnian children and baby Rillian to safety far away from the coming battle. Edmund pressed a final kiss to Caspian’s cheek fighting off tremors, before he left to don his armour and join Peter. Peter eyed Edmund’s torn shirt suspiciously but helped Edmund into his armour, and then the two of them were ready and they left How for the stone gate.
Chapter 15: The Duel
Edmund couldn’t remember feeling this nervous since that time with Peter and the merpeople in the wild lands of the north. Back then Peter had been nearly thirty, tall and with ten good years experience under his belt. Peter hadn’t yet hit his growth spurt and Miraz stood a head taller than him, and Peter’s memory was foggy; he was less than half the skilled swordsman Edmund remembered.
Edmund sweated from the sidelines as he did his best to remain a part of the audience and not jump into the melee. Edmund kept a watchful eye on the Telmarine General, Edmund hadn’t missed Miraz’s poor attempt to signal the General to shoot Peter. There was a call for respite, Edmund hauled Peter out of the fighting ring.
Peter’s shoulder had been pulled out of place when Miraz had twisted Peter’s arm. Edmund hadn’t missed that either. “I think it’s dislocated” Peter said, and yes Edmund wasn't blind, Edmund got his hand under Peter’s shoulder pad ready to push Peter’s shoulder back into place. Peter looked absolutely awful. Edmund needed Peter to look less dreadful, this wasn't helping the rolling fear in Edmund's gut.
And then Peter made things so much worse by saying “what do you think happens back home, if we die here”. Edmund could have strangled Peter for saying that, he settled on glaring at Peter. Then Peter started saying something sentimental, and Peter didn’t get to say that. Edmund pushed Peter’s shoulder back into place cutting off Peter’s words as his brother bit out a pained groan. Honestly Peter's timing was absolutely shit, now Edmund was thinking of a newspaper headline: Four school children mysteriously vanish, no bodies have been found. Peter better bloody well not die, or Edmund would somehow get him back just so he could kill Peter himself.
Peter got back out, and for a terrifying moment Miraz had the upper hand and then the Telmariane was on his knees. Both Miraz and Peter had lost their swords in the fight, fist raised Peter hesitated. Now was the time for chivalry! Edmund furiously thought, sometimes Peter was too noble, too kingly.
Edmund could see the Lord's scornful looks directed to Miraz, defeated by a seventeen year old boy. Miraz was not going to recover well from this in the Telmarines eyes. Then Miraz was attacking Peter from behind Edmund’s heart was in his throat, he silently berated himself for not seeing that coming. Peter was not High King for nothing, he deflected Miraz’s blows and swiftly disarming him and dealt a deadly uppercut with Miraz’s sword. Easily driving the sword through the gap in Miraz’s armour.
Peter hesitated again and Edmund wanted to yell at his brother to stop being so decent. Caspian had appeared amongst the gathered Narnians and Peter was looking at Caspian. Edmund remembered that time in Galma when Peter had got himself into yet another duel with some young idiot knight. After disarming the young knight Peter had spared his life and let the Galman court pass judgement on the knight. Edmund could see Peter was having a similar idea, and sure enough Peter offered Miraz’s sword to Caspian, letting Caspian pass judgement on his uncle.
Edmund had a sudden irrational urge to pull Caspian away from the battle field, find one of the horses and ask the horse to ride to the dancing lawns where Windmane waited with Rillian. But where would they go if Edmund did that? Would they buy passage on a ship sailing over the great eastern sea? They probably wouldn’t even make it past the Centaurs and Susan.
Caspian stood over his uncle and Edmund was reminded of the night Prunaprismia died, Edmund wondered again what had transpired in the castle between Caspian and his uncle before Caspian had run to Prunaprismia’s rooms. It occurred to Edmund that it was no coincidence that Caspian had come across Prunaprismia. Caspian must have heard someone speaking of the coup, the plan to murder Rillian, Edmund wondered why Miraz hadn’t rushed to his wife and son's side.
Caspian dropped the sword and sparred Miraz. Caspian stood tall before the gathered telmarine Lords every inch the son of their King, Edmund could see the Lords flatter. Edmund ignored everything else, Caspian was walking towards him, Edmund’s torn blue shirt tied to Caspian’s forearm. Edmund very much wanted to kiss Caspian.
“Treachery!” a Lord shouted and Edmund tore his eyes from Caspian. The Lord who Edmund had suspected would be troublesome has standing over the body of Miraz a Narnian arrow stuck out from the gap in Miraz’s armour. The angle was all wrong, no archer of theirs, not even Susan could fire an arrow from the walls of the How and have it jammed up through Miraz’s armpit, straight into his heart. The Lord had murdered his king, but Edmund had no time to argue with the remaining Telmarine Lords, they were already on their horse riding back to their army shouting orders to attack.
Peter called to Narians to ready themselves for the attack. Edmund turned back to Caspian, he was already on his horse about to ride back to the How and the caves below. Caspian horse trotted up to Edmund and Caspian leaned down pressing a kiss to Edmund’s hair and then the horse galloped off taking Caspian away from Edmund.
Chapter 16: Battle for the How
Edmund drew a long breath, his sword ready, the Telmarine catapults were already firing on the Narnians, and their cavalry charged. Peter stood tall beside Edmund Rhindon glitting in the midday sun. “Don’t think that missed Caspian kissing you,” Peter said, tetchily as he signed Caspian to charge the Narnians in the cave.
Edmund's face was burning and he knew he was probably blushing horribly.“It wasn't a kiss” Edmund muttered to himself but Peter heard him
“Not a kiss?” Peter scoffed dangerously “he better not be kissing you anywhe-” .
The ground collapsing under the advancing Telmarines cut Peter off, and Edmund used the distraction in his favour quickly mounting the horse named Brie.
“This is so not over!” Peter shouted after Edmund before calling the command to charge.
Edmund led the centaurs and talking animals around the ditch where the Telmarian cavalry had fallen. Edmund thought he could just make out Caspian at at the other end leading the attack from the caves below in a pincer move.
The eagles flew over the field and Edmund looked to the trees, but they did not move. Edmund’s mind worked double time, had Lucy not made it? Was there trouble at the dancing lawns? Was Rillian still safe?
The talking Tigger snarled, knocking down a Telmarine soldier, jarring Edmund from his thoughts. Edmund doggedly fought thrown off by his ace not appearing when he had expected it too. Peter called for retreat, they needed the trees.
Caspian rode up alongside Edmund, concern written on his face, Edmund nodded to let Caspian know he was alright.
The Telamarin’s catapults fired on the How and the entrance was blocked off. Susan called the retreat and she and the dwarves and fawns got off the How’s walls. Edmund dismounted, quietly thanking the horse Brie he met Peter and Susan before the blocked off entrance.
Peter looked desperately at Edmund as the scattered Narnian’s regrouped to their kings and queen, silently asking Edmund if he had any ideas, Edmund shook his head. He couldn’t think his way out of this one.
The only option was to hold off the advance and hope the trees would join them. Caspian jumped off his horse to stand beside Edmund and his siblings, Caspian pressed another quick kiss to Edmund’s hair quietly reassuring Edmund.
Peter led the charge and they ran at the advancing Telmarines. For one moment Edmund stood alongside Susan and Peter in a strange echo of the battles they once fought years ago in Narnia.
But the Telamrines marched in on both sides, boxing the Narnian’s in, Edmund really needed the trees. Edmund heard Caspian cry out and he looked frantically through the melee for Caspian only to watch Caspian fall into the ditch where they had collapsed the caves. Edmund’s heart was in his throat and somehow also at the bottom of his boots Caspian! Edmund was running as fast as he could to the edge of the ditch panic coursing through every vein, Edmund jumped into the ditch.
Caspian was alright. Relieved, Edmund rushed to Caspian’s side. Caspian had a dumbstruck look on his face. “The trees-” Caspian faintly said and Edmund realised that the trees had begun to move, sweeping through the Telmarian army.
“Ed!” Peter shouted from the edge of the ditch above where Edmund and Caspian stood, Peter waved an outstretched arm towards Edmund and he took Peter’s hand climbing out the ditch. Trumpkin pulled Caspian up behind Edmund and they all paused in awe to see the trees move fast over the battlefield the swing of their branches deadly.
“Lucy,” Peter said, smiling proudly to Susan. Caspain hyperventilated a little, Edmund understood what he must be feeling. When Edmund had first seen the tree’s move in the great western wood, Edmund had known many tree spirits and had lived in Narnia a full five years. He was still utterly shocked to see a tree get up and walk to a better spot in the woods. The trees destroyed the Telmarine catapults.
Peter called to the gathered Narnians, and led the third charge on the fleeing Telmarines to the river Rush where Lucy was waiting on the other side. Edmund watched stunned as his little sister stood tall, her yellow tunic made from her golden dress shone under the sun.
A great roar tore through the air and the river Rush rose and drowned the Telmarian army and the Telmarian Lords surrendered.
Edmund found Caspian’s eyes and held his gaze a silent promise passed between them. Then Caspian was gently nudging Reepicheep to one side, his eyes firmly holding Edmund’s gaze. Edmund’s heart was beating loudly, his stomach full of butterflies as Caspian advanced on him, bringing a hand up to hold the side of Edmund’s face pressing his lips against Edmund’s mouth. It was a clumsy kiss their armour clanged together getting in the way of Edmund’s searching hands.
Chapter 17: Negotiating
Caspian’s mouth was warm and Edmund bit at his lips, they broke the kiss wetly breathing heavy and staring into each other’s eyes.
Lucy cleared her throat and Edmund startled remembering that other people currently existed.
“I think you just broke Peter” Lucy told them and they turned to where she pointed.
Peter was lying on the river bed groaning that he should have seen the kiss coming but he wasn't ready. Susan was kneeling next to Peter gently scolding him for being so critical. After all didn’t he remember that time she had come across him and an ambassador negotiating. Edmund laughed at his siblings' antics suddenly so happy, his family was safe, and Narnia was free.
Caspian’s hand was tugged out of Edmund’s grip and Edmund’s attention was brought to Trufflehunter, the badger who had just pulled Caspian’s hand from his own. Trufflehunter was berating a very red faced Caspian for dishonouring a Narnian king in full view of everyone.
Trufflehunter shook their paw at Caspian firmly telling Caspian off for being so scandalous. Edmund laughed loudly, greatly amused by Caspian’s uncomfortable embarrassed face.
Edmund linked his fingers with Caspian’s ignoring Peter yelling at Lucy to cover her eyes. She was too young to see such things. Edmund heard Lucy scoff that she had once been twenty three, and honestly Peter needed to stop acting like he had any right to protest. After all Lucy had once seen Peter negotiating-Peter squarked loudly cutting Lucy off.
Edmund definitely wanted to hear what dirt Lucy had on Peter, but later, Edmund was a bit busy gazing into Caspain’s eyes at the moment.
Trufflehunter huffed indignantly somewhere around Edmund’s knees muttering that they didn’t remember any tales of the kings and queens of old having such loose morals.
Edmund decided that he was going to write the cheesiest sonnet ever about Caspian’s pretty face and the way Caspian kisses.
“Oh my word they're doing it again!” Trufflehunter cried and Reepicheep asked the badger to lower their voice. The mouse believed King Peter must be suffering from a terrible headache.
Caspain laughed into Edmund’s mouth, and Edmund’s searching fingers found the thoroughly tattered remnants of his torn blue sleeve still tied to Caspian’s forearm. Edmund was very pleased that his favor had survived the battle.
Everyone gathered together on the banks of the river Rush. Edmund sent for the Owls and had every Telmarian Lord sign their surrender on the document Edmund had requested the Owls to write. Peter wanted to go to the castle and begin the peace talks with the Telmarines. Edmund also wanted to do this but more importantly Edmund wanted to go to the dancing lawns and retrieve Rillian and the rest. Caspian agreed and Lucy offered to take them. Caspian made a face at the idea of travelling by tree.
The group of Narnians at the dancing lawns were just fine. Windamane gently passed Rillian to Caspian. “He’s been sleeping for most of the day” she said. Edmund watched Caspian hold his nephew from where he was helping Lucy gather everyone. They would send a messenger and ambassador to the Telmarian capital ahead of the main group. Today Caspian would return to his people. Edmund could only hope that there would be no trouble.
The atmosphere was strange as they walked into the capital from the woods. Narnians walking alongside Telmarian men. The feeling was half celebration and half trepidation that another fight might break out. Edmund very much hoped that nothing would happen. He was very tired and wished to take off his armour. The Narnians settled in awkwardly amongst the Telmarians in the barracks. Thankfully everyone seemed to agree that nobody wanted to do anything other than rest. Edmund asked around and a Telmarian page boy showed him where the baths were.
Edmund sat in the water watching his pendant float in front of his eyes. It was a relief to be clean. The pleasant quiet was broken by loud voices passing by near the door. It sounded like Peter. Edmund got out of the water and got dressed, he should probably see how his siblings were doing.
Susan and Lucy had somehow located fresh dresses. Susan had found a red one, a shadow of the gown she once wore during their reign but still lovely. Lucy had her golden tunic over her own new dress. Peter had on the ill fitting clothes he had found back in Cair Paravel. Edmund smiled to himself thinking that Peter was still too stubborn for his own good.
“Ed,” Peter began from where he sat by the window in the drawing room they had claimed. “The peace talks will have to start soon” Peter spoke grimly, “we may have won Caspian his crown but we still have to establish Narnian rights”.
Susan nodded “you're the best at negotiations Edmund,” she said “where do we begin?” Peter and Susan looked questioningly at Edmund, the dusk light from the window framing them. Peter the Magnificent and Susan the Gentle once more.
Edmund wanted a nap. They had just fought a battle, Peter had won a duel and then fought a battle. Speaking of, “how’s your shoulder?” Edmund asked his brother. Peter blinked at the question “oh,” he appeared to have forgotten about it “it’s much better” Peter said.
“I think we can start with the Owls,” Lucy said, bringing everyone back to the topic of negotiations.
“They can draw up the treaties,” Susan said, continuing on from Lucy.
“But for now, we should rest” Lucy advised, and Edmund could have hugged her.
Chapter 18: A Prince?
Unfortunately Edmund did not find a bed to sleep in. Instead the four of them were invited to a banquet the Telmarine lords and ladies set for them and Caspian. Caspian was standing amongst the Telmarine courtiers Cornelius by his side holding polite conversation with them. Caspian spotted Edmund and excused himself to join Edmund. “Don’t you wish that they just let us sleep?” Caspian murmured conspritally to Edmund as he led Edmund to the table. The meal was interesting to say the least, the Narnians were scrupulously polite and the Telmarines clearly still coming to terms with their fairytales of Narnians being real.
The Narnian dance afterwards was so much better. Everyone relaxed when the fawns filled the castle square with their music and songs. The evening drew close and Edmund was able to steal Caspian away from the crowds to a quiet corner by a low flickering fire. At first they had been talking lowly about this and that but it changed to exchanging soft exploring kisses. One after the other, each more bolder than the last. Edmund found himself with his head on Caspian’s shoulder hands in Caspian’s hair as they kissed.
Edmund woke to sunlight streaming across the stone hall. He was still wrapped around Caspian, both of them under a blanket. They had fallen asleep at the hearth last night. Caspian blinked his eyes open under Edmund's gaze. “Good morning,” Caspian blearly said, pulling Edmund closer. Edmund wanted to stay like this forever, in Caspian’s arms on the somewhat uncomfortable rug, on the stone floor of the hall.
Instead the castle’s workers came in and began to prepare the hall for the day. After they had eaten and gone to change Caspian led Edmund, Peter, Susan and Lucy to the council rooms. Today they would begin the peace talks.
Negotiations went well, Lucy had been right, the Owls did an excellent job. But then the topics changed from integrating Narnians back into Narnia to the successorship. “The young Prince Rillian your highness” a noble lady asked wanting to know what Caspian wanted to do with his nephew. Would Rillian be banished? Would he be fostered with a noble family? Would he be raised by the Narnians? Some harsh words were thrown and Peter took offence, then the Telmarines were shouting over one another and one of the Lords called Trufflehunter a monster.
“That went well,” Peter said sarcastically, leaning on a desk in the drawing room. Caspian frowned unhappily.
“We are going to need a solution” Lucy said
“They’re not going to settle very well with the Narnians are they?” Susan voiced what everyone was thinking.
“No they are not” Caspian said grimly.
Caspian asked the Owls to draw up some papers, and they went back into the council room. Rillian would be Caspian’s heir. Caspian was going to care for Rillain himself. The nobility seemed a little mollified by this and they moved onto discussing the Centaurs seasonal migrations, and current trade with Archenland.
There were still murmurings of discontent among some Telmarines, they refused to mix with Narnians and were still uncomfortable. Edmund worried that they would never change their minds, and that the unrest would continue in Narnia. Caspian would be crowned Caspian the Tenth tomorrow. Plans for the coronation distracted most Telmarines discomfort around Narnians, sharing ideas for the celebrations.
Peter, Susan and Lucy were swept up and divided between fawns and castle workers, each with their own ideas. Edmund took his chance and snuck off with Caspian, Edmund wanted Caspian to show him the best spots of the city. Some of which ended up being the best hidden places to steal a few kisses.
Chapter 19: Ice Cream
The capital held a lovely charm under the afternoon daylight. The market place was full of people and Caspian showed Edmund the different stalls, spices and fruits and many other things. They ate a Telmarine style meal under the colourful canopy of the marketplace. Edmund found one lady was selling something that looked a lot like ice cream, and tasted very similar, it was more creamy than the ice cream Edmund had eaten in England. The lady had smiled at Edmund and Caspian and given them extra large helpings commenting that it wasn't every day she got to see a handsome pair of young lovers. Edmund knew his face must have been a picture because Caspian had laughed.
Peter had insisted Edmund sleep in an actual room and not in Caspian’s. Lucy had loudly made suggestions that tomorrow should not just be a coronation. Edmund had tried to appeal to Susan to save him, but she was enjoying Edmund’s torment far too much. Which is how Edmund ended up sharing a room with Peter, Peter firmly placed between Edmund and the door. Edmund hadn’t actually been thinking of sneaking into Caspian’s rooms, but now he was, and he really wanted to.
Aslan arrived with the morning. They gathered in the low hanging gardens of the castle, where the citizens could see Caspian walk to where Aslan stood between the lush plants. There Caspian was crowned King of Narnia. The people cheered and flowers floated in the air. Caspian rode through the crowds of people, Telmarine next to Narnian. Edmund, Peter, Susan and Lucy rode behind him. Edmund waved at the lady from the ice cream stall, she smiled back at him.
The city square was full of people, fawn music lilted and the Narnians danced with the Telmarines. Caspian found Edmund in the crowd “I think you owe me a dance,” he said before stealing Edmund away from a protesting Peter.
Somehow the two of them managed to sneak away from the celebrations, up through a small side passage in the castle walls to a balcony. Where they watched the firework display. They held hands under the open sky and Edmund pointed out his favourite constellations to Caspian. They fell asleep wrapped around each other on the balcony's low sofa. In the morning a palace worker came across them and rushed off absolutely scandalised.
As the morning went on it became clear to Edmund that there still remained Telmarines who were unhappy living amongst the Narnians. Edmund sought out Peter and Susan, and found them walking with Aslan talking in low voices. Edmund exchanged a heavy look with Peter before letting them walk on without him. Edmund’s worry grew. His feet took him to the part of the castle where most of the Narnians were staying.
Lucy was talking with Trumpkin and Windamane. Edmund went to join them before noticing Caspian with Rillian and the Centaur children. Caspian bounced Rillian much to the babys delight as he played with the Centaur children.
Caspian noticed Edmund looking and smiled knowingly at Edmund. Edmund was momentarily reminded of the day they first met on the dancing lawns when Edmund had spent a good deal of his time staring at Caspian, only for Caspian to catch him looking. Edmund joined Caspian and the Centaur children in their game. He ended up with Rillian in his lap, Rillian reached his tiny hands up grabbing at Edmund’s pendant. Edmund let himself enjoy the moment and forget about the troubled Telmarines and Peter’s heavy face and whatever he and Susan had been discussing without Edmund.
Aslan called a gathering in the castle square the following morning. Aslan offered a doorway through to another world for the restless Telmarines.
Edmund had a horrible feeling, he looked at Peter hoping his brother would not confirm his worries.
Peter had a grim face, standing tall every inch a High King. Susan looked more complicated and Edmund was reminded of how Susan had been the whole of last year, back in England.
Edmund’s heartbeat picked up as it sank to the bottom of his shoes. He reached for Lucy’s hand and held it, the two of them braced themselves.
The Telmarines were suspicious, they did not trust that the doorway was safe. Peter said that they would go, it was their time, he said Edmund and Lucy would return, but he and Susan would not. Edmund didn’t know what to think. He didn’t know what to say.
Edmund met Caspian’s eyes across the platform. Edmund didn’t know if he would be able to return during Caspian’s lifetime. It struck Edmund that he might never see Caspian again. The sound of his heart was loud in Edmunds ears. Edmund wanted to beg and plead, Edmund wanted to run. Edmund couldn’t abandon his family. His siblings were everything to him, they had all gone through so much side by side. The four of them were inseparable.
Edmund couldn’t leave them to suffer leaving alone. If Peter, Susan and Lucy had to go then Edmund knew he would as well. Edmund hoped Caspian would understand. Edmund looked away from Caspian’s desperate face. They didn’t have time to say goodbye. If they even tried to, Edmund knew one of them would snap and drag the other off to hide. Edmund found himself wondering if he would return when Rillian was grown up.
Edmund’s mind was a loud fuzz.
“Come on,” Peter said. Edmund turned away to face the door, Caspian made a wordless noise. Edmund turned around and walked back into Caspian’s arms and hugged him tight.
Then Edmund broke away and walked numbly with Peter, Susan and Lucy onto the train platform. Edmund stared at nothing, he looked back to where they had just come from. It was only the underground full of other people and school children moving to get on the train. Caspian. Edmund thought, a tear escaped his eye.