When they had finally fished Eustace and Reepicheep out of the clear waters of the sea, Edmund and Lucy were locked at slight odds.
“You don’t want to stay here, Ed?”
Edmund looked down at her, eyes suddenly filling with tears towards the end. He looked away sharply, fully aware of all the Narnians looking at them curiously. His deep steadying breath didn’t do much to calm him down though. “It doesn’t feel right, Lu. You know that.”
Lucy nodded, looking a little bit sick herself, “It… it feels like we’re betraying our people, don’t you think?”
Caspian made an odd noise behind them, “Betraying us? You will both, always be a king and queen here. Why would going back to your world, betray us?”
Edmund was quiet, as if he couldn’t get the words out, but Lucy seemed more than a bit pained. “I… I don’t think we’re coming back, Caspian.”
Caspian looked sick too, feeling a tight ball in the pit of his stomach. “No, no. You ruled here for a thousand years, these are more your people more than they will ever be mine!”
“Caspian!” Edmund sounded reproachful, almost disappointed, “you will always be their king. Caspian, you were a child when we left, meaning that you learned to rule from us, you’ll be fine.”
Caspian made another odd noise, “Well, maybe I’m not done learning from you both.”
Lucy smiled back at him, “Caspian, you’re more qualified than anyone to rule in our stead, we happily passed this torch to you.”
Caspian looked… betrayed… “Why are you leaving, though?”
Edmund swallowed painfully, “Peter and Susan-“
“If they can’t be here now with us, I don’t want to be here at all. We need to go back to Earth, find them-“
“-maybe yell at them a bit for letting Mother and Father take them from us-“
“-and make sure they know never to do that again.”
Both Lucy and Edmund looked a little lost right now, upset by their siblings.
No one spoke for a few seconds, some of the crew members looking towards Aslan’s Country, and some looking worried for them.
Some of them, were just fully coming to terms, with the fact that their king and queen, were essentially, still children. Eustace spoke up though, sounding far away. “Father was angry when your parents left you two with us. Said he didn’t want your father ‘foisting off his problems on him.’ It took me a while to understand what he meant. He said you two had an unnaturally close relationship with Peter and Susan. Said you were disgusting.”
He looked down to where Reepicheep was nestled against his side, having dried off a lot sooner than he had. One of his hands slide into the rodent’s fur, smiling a bit when Reepicheep let him. “And what did you think of us, Eustace? Is that why you hated us? Because you thought we were disgusting too?”
Eustace looked up with tears in his eyes, feeling like his stomach had been kicked out, “I was jealous. Not that you had siblings, but, the way you talked about them. I remember thinking, at one point, that if I had someone who I spoke of, in such a loving way as you did Susan and Peter, I would be mad at being separated from them too. If someone talked about me, the way you do them, I would be scared. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much love before.”
Reepicheep made a small noise, pushing into Eustace’s arms for the upset boy to hold onto him. Eustace clung to the rodent like he was his last lifeline, fingers buried in soft fur, and a few tears sliding down his cheeks.
Lucy had a few sliding down her own, before her face set in a hard line. Edmund recognized it from battle.
Lucy and Edmund, were what their siblings called, ‘battle ready’ at all times. They were the ones they sent out with the troops when something went wrong.
This was her, ‘I won’t shed a tear until this mission is complete’ face. She had something in mind.
“What’s with that look, Lu? What are you planning on doing?”
Lucy took a deep breath, “I plan on taking them back. Whether Mother and Father agree with us or not.”
Edmund nodded, looking around. The Narnians were all looking at them like they were both worried and hopeful. Edmund wasn’t sure at what, though.
“You know, for a thousand years, we rarely left their sides. And now they leave ours. I plan on letting them know how angry I am at that. Right before I hug them.”
Lucy smiled blindingly, pulling Edmund into her own arms, wrapping them tight around his waist till he huffed at all his air being forced out.
America was different.
Everything was bigger in a way, and cleaner too. It was little things that they all noticed.
Cair Paravel had been different that the cities that they had all seen in their travels of Narnia. Their home had been more grand, and certainly more clean, than most places they had been to.
Of course, it felt familiar though.
There had been one time, twenty years to the day after they had become kings and queens, when they were suddenly informed that the high king was missing from the castle.
When Edmund and Lucy had set out to get him, riding out as if for battle, which they at least had been used to, it felt much like this. Walking into the enemies territory, and imploring with whom had once been a trusted guard in their castle, to give their brother back before they found war on their doorstep.
This, though? This felt like the worst betrayal of all.
This was walking into enemy territory, and imploring their parents to give back what they’ve taken.
When they had all come back from Narnia, it felt like something was missing. Home, they guessed it was, as is what they usually thought of Narnia, but it had never felt so empty, coming back, before.
Eustace was with them. Of course, the only way they could convince his parents that they needed to go, was to say that it was his idea, that he wanted to see the states.
When they had got there, though, there had been yelling.
Apparently, their parents had separated them because of their closeness.
Lucy wanted to scream, and bite. She wanted to kick, and yell. She felt like her heart had been torn out when they first lost Peter and Susan to the states, and now it felt like someone was pouring cement over the wound, in the hopes that it might stay open and painful forever.
Edmund had locked down on himself though, looking like he might being going back into that bad place in his mind, where the White Witch stayed and taunted him with sweets just to see him get sick at the very though. She wanted to fight, if only for his sake, when he looked so devastated like this, like he would never be the same, and couldn’t come out to fight his own battles himself.
Of course, then the doors to the room they were all in opened, and for the first time, Lucy realized that Eustace wasn’t with them right now, standing behind Peter and Susan in the doorway, looking worried.
Edmund didn’t need Lucy to fight for him right now though, because as soon as he felt Peter’s arms slide around his shoulders, pulling him off the couch he was sitting on, and nearly into Peter’s lap, he felt his mind return to him quietly, no longer shaking at all the noise, no longer afraid.
No, no, home wasn’t the piece that he had been missing when they left Narnia. How could it be when he felt it right there in his brother’s arms?
Susan came over to pull Lucy, still standing in a glaring match with their father, into her arms as well, and suddenly, the only sound in the room, was the quiet, unintelligible murmurs that Peter was making into Edmunds hair. Susan and Lucy couldn’t make them out, but they knew Peter was reassuring Edmund that he was really there, that no witch had a hold on him, and nothing was going to hurt him.
Susan pulled Lucy tighter to her chest, feeling her heart beat settle, after nearly a year without Lucy by her side. She felt like it might finally stop feeling like it was getting weaker and weaker as time went by.
There had been more yelling. Their parents really were pissed at them, but with Eustace refusing to leave the room so they could talk without him hearing, and Peter and Susan refusing to be parted from their siblings, it was much less explosive.
That night, when they refused to talk any longer, choosing to think of their siblings who looked like they hadn’t slept in days, Peter and Susan finally dragged off the younger two to get some sleep, all four of them ending up in Peter’s room, since he had the biggest bed.
Edmund was still awake, reeling from the fact that he finally had Peter back after being so angry with everything for so long.
Narnia wasn’t an option anymore, but that doesn’t mean he had to give up everything he loved in life.
Peter was pressed up behind him, both arms around Edmund with a tightness that made him feel warm inside. Peter had Edmunds fingers tangled with his, holding the just king like he might slip away in the night.
Susan was on the other side of the bed, with Lucy draped over her like the best blanket in the world. Lucy had one leg shoved between Susan’s and both arms wrapped around her like a vice. Edmund thought it looked a little uncomfortable at first, but he’d walked in on them still sleeping in Narnia enough times, over the thousand years they were there, and many years after, to know that this was actually their preferred position.
His eyes fluttered tiredly, and he let out a yawn, pressing tighter back into Peter’s arms.
These same arms that had held him at night, nearly a thousand years.
These same arms that had been wrapped around him like this, the first time Edmund got up the courage to turn over, and press his lips to Peter’s.
These same arms, that never let go when he was mad with fever and didn’t know where he was, wanting to lash out at everyone, because he thought he was still in a palace made of ice.
These same arms that had carried him when he couldn’t walk himself.
His brother, the high king.
His sisters, whom never shared their bed, but repeatedly shared their love with them. Lucy who never left his side in battle, or sleep, outside the castle. Susan, who pulled him to sit close to her when he was worried and Peter not around, kept her arms around him until he felt safer again.
Narnia… he still felt like he was lost. He still felt like something was missing inside him, and that he might never get it back.
It wasn’t home though. Home was in these arms.