Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia movieverse
Summary: “You,” Edmund tells Caspian drunkenly, “are very young.”
Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia and all characters, situations, etc., belong to C.S. Lewis. Some characters, situations, etc., belong to Walden Media. Title and cut-tag are from T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men."
“You,” Edmund tells Caspian drunkenly, “are very young.”
Caspian looks too startled to say anything, which is his loss, as he’s been paying attention to Peter all evening – surprised and angry and more than a little confused. Edmund has said things that make sense, and some things that make no sense whatsoever but that Peter is more than willing to blame on the faun wine they’ve all been imbibing in celebration of their arrival. The rest of the Narnians have departed from the large cavern – near the back of the How, through several layers of earth and stone away from the Stone Table – leaving them alone with Caspian, who’s been getting steadily more nervous throughout the evening. The wine probably doesn’t help; Peter doubts he’s used to it. Edmund should be more so, but the intervening year has not done much for his (never all that great) ability to hold his liquor.
“Very,” Edmund adds, “very young.”
Peter is dying to see where this is going to end – by the grace of Aslan, with Edmund beating Caspian with the flat of his sword, although he rather suspects that Aslan has no such intentions as far as Caspian goes, worse luck, and Edmund’s never been a violent drunk, just one who loses all communication between his brain and his mouth – but Susan (who can keep up with Edmund and Lucy but not Peter, and has only had one small cup tonight) looks at him with the expression that means she knows exactly what he’s thinking and says, “Maybe you’d better take Lu up, Peter; she’s already fallen asleep and it’s long past her bed-time.”
This distracts Edmund, briefly. “We’re in Narnia, Su, Lucy doesn’t have a bed-time. She’s a queen.”
“She’s already asleep,” Susan points out sharply. “Peter –”
In no desire to see Edmund and Susan argue (again), he says, “All right, all right,” standing up and gathering Lucy in his arms. He’d done this a lot after they’d first come back from Narnia; Lucy had cried and Edmund had gone sullen and stiff and Susan had become an insomniac and taken up (very badly) knitting, supposedly for the soldiers. Peter doubts that they would have wanted to wear any of the socks she’d knit; they looked more like stocking caps. Or bananas. Peter, in contrast, had broken into Professor Kirke’s liquor cabinet and gotten very, very drunk. He’d managed to do it several times before Mrs. Macready caught him and gave him hell.
Lucy is heavier than she used to be (and not as heavy as she was once, but Peter was taller and stronger then), but she puts her head against his shoulder and snuggles in the way she always does (even when she was a good two feet taller and another four stone heavier). As he puts her to bed in the room she and Susan are sharing, tucking the blankets around her, Lucy reaches out sleepily and catches his sleeve.
“I’m so glad you’re all all right,” she says as Peter smoothes back her hair from her face. “I hate being left behind. I hate being young.”
She’s asleep again before Peter can say anything. For a moment he stays, watching her and thinking of the past-that-was: Lucy with flowers in her long hair, skirts whirling about her legs as she danced, leaning forward to kiss first Corin of Archenland, then a faun with red fur, then a slim, dark Calormene lad who’d come with Rabadash’s retinue, and at last Peter himself, her mouth light and laughing with the taste of fruit wine on it. It had been so very, very long ago – and not so long at all.
He gets up finally and only just gets the door open before coming face to face with Susan, who’s expertly plaiting her long hair. “Edmund’s gone to bed,” she says briskly before Peter can say anything. “You should as well.”
He raises his eyebrows. “Is Caspian still alive?” he inquires, because it hasn’t been that long and he hasn’t heard any yelling, but if Caspian had actually gotten up the nerve to speak to Edmund instead of just ignore him the way he has been – Edmund and Lucy and to a lesser extent Susan, although when he notices Susan he trips over his tongue trying to decide how to speak to her. Susan has been rolling her eyes at Peter and Edmund ever since they’d met. Peter seems to be the only one Caspian can bear to speak to face to face just yet. Hopefully the boy will get over this by tomorrow’s war council, or he will be very, very surprised.
“Yes, of course, don’t be ridiculous, Peter.” Her tone is sharp; sleeping on hard, cold ground has never done anything for her temper. Or any of theirs, come to think of it. “Don’t forget that we have a meeting of war tomorrow morning.”
“I called it, Su,” Peter reminds her; Caspian’s expression, caught somewhere between pathetically relieved and stubbornly opposed, is hard to forget and makes Peter less than inclined to like him. Work with him he can do; liking him will take more than a few hours of shock and awe and disappointment. “Does Edmund remember he’s supposed to be rooming with Caspian?”
“I hope so,” she says dubiously; her expression says clearly, if he’s not too drunk that he walks into walls. “Good night, Peter.”
“Night, Su,” Peter says, stepping back to let her into her room before he goes out into the hall and heads up to the top of the How, where he has his room. The badger arranging everything had been adamant that the High King of Narnia wouldn’t have to share a room with anyone, even his younger brother, so Peter has the only single room in the How.
Or so he’s supposed to. When he gets up there, Edmund is sprawled across the bed, flat-out on his back. “’Lo, Pete,” he says when Peter opens the door, not even bothering to look up. “D’you know that I no longer have my head for liquor?”
“What head for liquor?” Peter asks, closing the door behind him. “You never had much of one anyway. And I think faun wine’s gotten stronger since the last time we had it.” His head is spinning slightly, but not overly so, and he paced Edmund cup for cup.
“I had a head for liquor,” Edmund says earnestly. “You just wouldn’t notice, what with you once drinking a giant under the table. On faun wine, too.”
This is true, but Peter passed out immediately after the giant did and had to be carried away from the table by Edmund and a satyr named Areon and woke up the next morning with the worst hangover he’s ever had – and he’s had some fairly bad hangovers in his time. Peter unhooks his sword from his belt and puts it where he can reach it easily from the bed, then undoes his tunic and puts that aside too. Kicking off his boots, he takes the half of the bed Edmund has left open. “Budge over, Ed.”
“Take your dagger off first,” Edmund says, not moving an inch. “Why don’t you have your axes?”
Peter puts that under his thin pillow, which doesn’t help to make it any softer, and Edmund obligingly scoots to the left somewhat. “Don’t know,” he says. “They weren’t in the vault with my sword; I think I’d left them in the armory and Aslan alone knows what happened to that.” He’d asked about what had happened to Cair Paravel; no one had looked at him straight on or given him a good answer. He’s not entirely certain what’s left of Narnia knows for sure. Caspian had just said, startled, “There really is a castle out there? Is it haunted?”
Edmund rolls over and puts his face into Peter’s neck, exhaling a warm breath of fruity alcohol into his skin. “Were we that young?” he asks, and Peter can feel his lips move.
“Not currently,” Peter points out. “Currently, I believe we’re younger.”
Edmund hits him half-heartedly on the thigh and adjust his head so that it’s on Peter’s shoulder instead of his neck. “You know what I mean.”
“When we were his age,” Peter says, giving in, “we had a lot more experience, what with the ruling Narnia and defeating the White Witch and not dying and all.”
He is possibly more drunk than he’d assumed.
He feels rather than sees Edmund nod. “That’s what I thought. He’s very young.”
“We were younger,” Peter points out. It’s the truth; they were younger, but they were also children of war, albeit a different war than the one they fought in Narnia. But wars, despite the weapons and the enemies and the places, aren’t so different after all. Edmund and Susan had joined him on his second raid of the Professor’s liquor cabinet – very well-stocked for England; almost deplorable by Narnian standards, but he figured out that it was hard to get faun wine or dwarfish beer in England – and somewhere around the second bottle of wine they’d all sat around discussing the War and what they would have done differently. Some things don’t change.
“Not that young.”
Peter doesn’t feel up to correcting him just now, so he sighs and tilts his cheek against the top of Edmund’s head. He’s absolutely convinced Edmund is right too, which doesn’t do much for his enthusiasm as far as defending Caspian’s youth goes. “Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping with him?” he asks, belatedly realizing that phrasing the question that way is perhaps not the best idea.
“I don’t like that sort of thing,” Edmund tells him archly, dashing Peter’s hopes that he’s drunk to notice. “I thought that was you.”
Oh, yes, he remembers belatedly. Edmund gets snippy when he’s drunk. “Go to sleep, Ed,” he says firmly. “Council of war tomorrow. And hangovers.”
“You say the sweetest things, Pete,” Edmund mumbles into his shoulder. A moment later he’s asleep, and Peter listens to him breathe, the pulse of his heart. It’s been a very long time since he’s shared a bed with anyone, even his brother.
The next morning, when Edmund’s busy throwing up and Peter is fetching him hot tea and cold water, he runs into Caspian in the hallway. Caspian looks at him with wide eyes and says, “I hope I didn’t offend your brother.”
Peter, his arms full of tea-things, stares back at him and says, “Try and remember that Edmund is a king of Narnia too,” before brushing past.