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An Art to It

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They were having a victory party of sorts, Eustace was no longer a dragon and the ship was ready to sail the next morning. Someone had brought in a casket of wine and a few bottles of rum. It had been well received and everyone was in good spirits.

Edmund was sitting with Eustace, the fire was crackling a few yards away and the crew was sitting in groups around it enjoying the warm evening.

After meeting the Great Lion, Eustace was very eager to hear more stories about Aslan and Edmund was more than willing to tell them. At the moment he was telling the story of the Rabadash Incident, his cousin was listening with rapture when Edmund was interrupted. He had just revealed that Shasta was in fact Cor of Archenland, Corin's twin brother, when Lucy yelled, "Ed, could you please come over here?"

Standing in front of the fire with a rum bottle in one hand and gesticulating with the other, she looked as if she was having fun.

"Why?" Edmund yelled back.

"I have to prove to these gentlemen that I'm the second best knife thrower in our family!" she yelled back. Now she had gotten the attention of the entire crew. "The best, of course, is Peter," she said, directing her words to everybody. Edmund had to laugh at the expression of some of the sailors. They had never seen Lucy speak so freely before and their surprise showed on their faces. Did they know she was drunk? He was not sure.

"Did you know that the High King of the Golden Age couldn't shoot an arrow for shit?" Lucy giggled. She was swaying from side to side and the rum bottle in her hand was dangerously close to falling to the ground. "So he learned to throw knives, because he had to be able to wield some kind of long-range weapon. Then he taught me. Which brings me back to my original point…" She turned towards Edmund again, "King Edmund! Get yourself over here so I can kick your arse in knife throwing!"

Edmund bowed mockingly. "As you wish, my lady."

Turning to Eustace he said apologetically, "It seems like I have to finish my story at a later time."

Eustace frowned. "Edmund, what's wrong with Lucy?" he asked tentatively. It seemed like he was unsure if he should ask such a question.

"Wrong?" Edmund asked, raising his eyebrows.

"She's acting very… weird," Eustace said with a puzzled expression.

He looked over at his sister and his eyes lit up when he understood what Eustace meant. "Oh, she's drunk," he said lightly, and shrugged.

Eustace looked at him with eyes as big as saucers. "But she's only eleven!" he exclaimed.

A deep laugh escaped Edmund at his cousin's remark. "Well, yes," he said, "and no. You have to remember that we're in Narnia now, and Lucy is- or was twenty-nine in Narnia. Her body might be eleven, but in her mind she's twenty-nine." With that he left his cousin and walked to his sister's side.

While he had been talking to Eustace, Lucy and the crew had set up a makeshift target on one of the nearest trees.

She turned to him and handed him three knives. "Three throws each. The best score wins," she said simply.

He nodded in agreement and took the knives she handed him. None of the knives were matching, like the knife set they had once owned, and Edmund deduced that she must have gone around collecting them from the sailors until she found six that passed the test and were deemed good enough for a throwing match.

He didn't suffer under the illusion of being better than his sister. If anyone had asked him he would've freely admitted she was superior in skill. This was her field of expertise and she was brilliant at it. After all, knives were her weapon and Peter had trained her.

"Ready?" she asked cheerfully.

"How much have you had to drink?" he asked instead of answering her question.

She grinned. "Not enough for you to beat me!"

He inclined his head.

"Are Your Majesties ready?" Reepicheep asked in a serious tone. He had taken it upon himself to act as the judge, making sure that the match would run smoothly with no cheating.

The whole crew had gathered around them and if Edmund wasn't much mistaken, they were making bets on who would win. He wondered what his odds were.

Lucy had decided that he would go first. That way her victory would be grander. He had put up a protest, of course, saying that ladies should always go first. But she had stared at him with eyes that said she would break his balls if he didn't do as she said. Lucy was a mean drunk!

Standing in front of the target, Edmund took a deep breath and remembered what Peter had taught him so long ago: "The blade is an extension of your arm." He threw the knife and almost hit the bull's-eye. A loud groan was heard among the crew members. So there were people who bet on me, he thought with a grin.

The next knife hit its target, though and so did the third. His supporters cheered loudly and Edmund turned towards them and bowed.

Catching Lucy's smile made his own grin faltered a bit. She was smiling in a way that unsettled him. It was the smile she always used before she went and beat him at something.

"Very good, Ed," she said loudly as the cheering calmed down.

"Are you sure you can beat that, Queen Lucy?" a young sailor asked. His scepticism was written on his face.

She sent him a dark glare, and he had the decency to blush. "Watch this," she said, and promptly threw her three knives into the target's bull's-eye in quick succession.

There was a stunned silence. Then a giant roar was heard among those who had sided with Lucy and groans from those who had bet on Edmund.

Money was exchanged and congratulations offered. Lots of grumbling and disappointed looks sent in Edmund's direction, and laughter, smiles and claps on the back for Lucy. Edmund could just smile. Had anyone talked to him before betting, he would have told them to put their money on Lucy.

Later, when he was sitting by the fire with Lucy asleep in his lap, he could hear footsteps coming up behind him. He lazily turned, and spotted Caspian strolling up to him. He smiled to the older (younger?) king and gestured for him to sit down.

"I had a lot of money on you," Caspian remarked causally.

Edmund chuckled. "That was stupid."

"I've seen you on the battlefield throwing a knife into a man who stood fifty yards from you and moving! You threw it right in his neck and he dropped dead. I was so sure you could beat Lucy," Caspian said.

He smiled and ran his fingers through Lucy's hair. "But you've never seen her on the battlefield," he said quietly. "The way she can wield a knife. There's an art to it and she has it fully mastered. It's both scary and beautiful." He gazed out at the ocean, but did not really see it. Instead he was remembering the times Lucy had gone to war. There was a good reason she was called the Valiant.

"You were both very good," Caspian commented when he thought the silence had gone on too long.

He snapped his head around to face Caspian. He frowned as something occurred to him. "Do you know how?" he asked seriously. Caspian looked confused. "Do you know how to throw a knife in a way that can kill a man?" Edmund clarified.

Caspian's eyes widened a bit. "No, I don't, Your Majesty."

Edmund sighed. "And I can't teach you," he said tiredly. "And that's really something you should know. I can't count all the times a well-thrown knife has saved my life."

"Why can't you teach me?" Caspian asked, curiously.

"I'm not good enough. If Peter was here…" he trailed off. "Lucy could perhaps teach you a little," Edmund said absently.

"Why do I need to learn how to throw a knife?" Caspian asked. "I mean, I can fight better than most and have a good aim with the crossbow…" He trailed off when he saw the look on Edmund's face.

"A crossbow won't do you any good when there's a knife at your throat!" Edmund said forcefully. "Did you know that Peter insisted that we always wore a concealed knife on our person at all times?" Edmund asked, not really expecting an answer.

Caspian shook his head anyway. "Did you?" the other king asked.

Edmund looked at him oddly. "Of course we did!" he exclaimed. "I usually had a second blade hidden in my boot, so did Peter. While Su and Lu used to wear deadly hair-pins in their hair," he said with a smile.

A frown appeared on Caspian's face. "Wouldn't that be terribly uncomfortable?" he asked.

"What?" Edmund questioned.

"Walking around with a knife in your boot?" Caspian remarked, not able to hide his curiosity.

Smiling at the fair question, Edmund answered, "That was what I discovered too. So I had my shoemaker make me special boots with a compartment to hide the knife. It became popular and after a year every Narnian wearing boots owned a pair."

They sat in companionable silence for a while. The camp was still except for the snoring coming from the sleeping men lying around them. The fire was still crackling and Edmund had no desire to sleep yet. It was too nice a night to waste on sleeping. Who knew what tomorrow's weather would bring? And yet after a while the gentle sound of the wind was making his eyelids heavy and he caught a yawn. Caspian was already dozing off next to him and a quick survey of the camp told him that the only one else awake was the poor chap who was assigned this night's guard shift. Edmund shrugged to himself, as if saying it wouldn't be so bad to sleep a little. Rearranging his position, he finally fell asleep leaning on his sister.

He woke at the crack of dawn, the sun piercing his eyes, and forcing him and everyone else to wake up. Lucy let out a moan and hid her face in his shoulder.

"My head hurts," she whined.

He chuckled and she half-heartedly hit his thigh. "You know the consequences of drinking too much rum, Lu," he gently scolded.

"Yes, I know. It still hurts," she muttered, and gently opened one eye and then the other. "Guh. The sun hurts too." She stood up and brushed the dirt off her dress. "I need water. Now!" She looked around and spotted her water bottle. She swallowed the contents in one single gulp.

Lucy was never fun when she was hung over. Not that anyone was ever really fun then, but Lucy in particular was the complete opposite of what she was normally. When she normally was happy, nice and full of laughter, she was, after a night of drinking, tired, mean and scowling.

After a nice breakfast, the crew made the proper arrangements for the ship to continue its voyage. Lucy quickly disappeared down to her cabin and was not to be seen for the rest of the day.

As the Dawn Trader left Dragon Island behind, Edmund stood by the railing watching the island getting smaller and smaller with Eustace by his side.

"You know, I'm going to miss that island a little," Eustace said wistfully. "Not a lot," he hurried to add. "But a little."

Edmund put a hand around his cousins shoulder and said, "That's not so strange, good my cousin. Everyone feels connected to the first place they met Aslan." The wind whipped through their hair as the Dragon Island disappeared into the horizon. "Come, I'll tell you the rest of the story about Cor of Archenland how the lowly, adopted son of an impoverished fisherman saved both Anvard and Narnia."