Edmund winced as he attempted to pull his tunic over his head. For a few brief seconds during his fight with the wer-wolf, the dark creature had managed to get the better of him and give him a good swipe with its claws. The injury hadn’t been enough to debilitate him and prevent him both from killing the wer-wolf and dealing with the White Witch but it still hurt like hell, especially when you took into account the fact that he was still battered and bruised from the failed raid on Miraz’s castle. What possibly hurt the most was the fact that Peter had failed to notice that he was injured but then again, Peter had been missing a lot of things recently.
He hissed as his tunic stuck stubbornly to the open scratches on his back but finally managed to get his tunic off. Leaning to the side he grabbed for the water, healing herbs and bandages that he had managed to steal without anybody noticing, although he didn’t have a clue how he was going to be able to clean and bandage his injuries. He would love some of Lucy’s cordial right now but he didn’t want to worry her and the others were dealing with things that were much more important than a few little scratches. It was for that very reason that he had picked this little ledge; it was secluded enough and suitably out of the way that the chances of him being discovered by one of his siblings was relatively slim.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t taken into account a certain Telmarine Prince.
Hearing a sharp intake of breath he spun around and saw Caspian standing in the entrance to the How and groaned inwardly. He had deliberately tried not to pay too much attention to the Telmarine, having noted Susan’s interest in him and being more aware than ever that he was no longer a Narnian King in his mid-twenties (and with the appearance that befitted his age) but a Narnian King with years of memories yet the appearance of an English schoolboy. It was virtually impossible though and privately, he had admitted his interest in, and his attraction towards, the older teenager. For that reason, he had managed to ensure that he wasn’t put in any positions such as this one. During the last few years that they had been in Narnia as the ruling monarchy, all three of his siblings had had public relationships or at least had been courted openly. Edmund, on the other hand, had kept the few relationships that he had had private simply for the fact that all of the relationships he had had were with other men. Whilst that wasn’t frowned upon in Narnia, it was certainly unusual enough that Edmund had desired to keep it private in order to limit the amount of gossip that he was subjected to.
Now though, with it just being the two of them on the secluded ledge and, still slightly vulnerable from seeing the White Witch again and all the memories that had come flooding back, he wasn’t sure that he was going to be able to resist. He dimly registered Caspian talking but completely missed the words and simply saw Caspian moving towards him, collecting the water skin, and cloth as he did so. He held his breath as Caspian moved towards and then behind him, soaking the cloth in the water and starting to clean the scratches gently and carefully. The older teenager was standing so close to him that he could feel Caspian’s breath on the back of his neck and Edmund could feel himself start to blush at the close proximity. It was at times like this that he really cursed his pale complexion, wishing that he was more like Peter. At the same time, he was incredibly grateful to Caspian as there was no way that he could have done this himself. He startled as Caspian broke the silence.
“I did not realise that you had been injured. None of us did.”
“I didn’t want any of you to know, it’s not that important and there are plenty of other things to be worrying about that are more important.”
“More important?” He could hear the shock in Caspian’s voice and silently admonished himself for allowing his lack of self-confidence to creep into his voice and words. “But you are King Edmund the Just. Who can be more important than that?”
Edmund could feel the heat on his cheeks at the older teens words and couldn’t help the ripple of pleasure that ran through him. It was so rare that people judged him apart from his siblings and even rarer for someone to judge him as the most important of the four.
“It’s just Edmund, Prince Caspian. You don’t need to call me King Edmund all the time.”
“You are sure? In that case, you must call me Caspian. I am sure that your brother and sisters would wish to know that you are injured. How did you get your injuries?”
“The scratches are from the wer-wolf and the bruises are from the raid on Miraz’s castle. My brother and sisters have enough to worry about at the moment without having to worry about me as well. I am grateful to you though; I don’t know if I would have been able to do this by myself.”
“Then I am happy to be of service.”
Edmund had to hold back the delighted shiver at the feel of Caspian’s hands on his bare skin and wished more than ever that he felt as though he could put his own wants and needs in front of those of his brother and sisters. He wanted to kiss Caspian so badly but for Susan’s sake, he wouldn’t give in to his own desires, no matter how much he wanted to. He saw Caspian’s hand reach around him to collect the healing herbs and bandages before he could feel the herbs being applied and kept in place with the bandages. He obediently turned around for the bandages to be tied off and found himself looking straight at Caspian’s throat.
“Thank you Caspian. I really appreciate it.”
As he finished speaking he raised his chin a couple of inches so that he was looking straight into Caspian’s eyes, realising just how close they were to each other and that it would only take a scant movement for them to finally be kissing. Just as he thought it was about to happen, he saw a glint out of the corner of his eye and spinning around, saw that the Telmarine army had arrived. He hated to admit it but part of him was relieved when they saw the movement at the edge of the woods and Narnia became their first priority once more. As much as he wanted to do it, he couldn’t help but be relieved that he hadn’t kissed Caspian; if he had, he wouldn’t have been able to face Susan due to the guilt. With one last quick glance at Caspian, he turned and made for the stone table, where Peter was talking to Lucy.
“Pete ... you’d better come quickly.”
“If I may ... Miraz may be a tyrant and a murderer but as a King, he is subject to the traditions and expectations of his people. There is one in particular that may buy us some time.”
Edmund caught the look that Caspian sent his way as he spoke and understood immediately what he was thinking. The only thing that would possibly work in order to buy them some time; a duel between Miraz and one of the Narnian camp, between Miraz and Peter. He also saw the look that Peter directed his way before he committed himself to a decision. Despite his need to be in complete control of absolutely everything, even Peter had to admit that when it came to traditions, history and general etiquette, Edmund was the more knowledgeable of the two and would have the answer. As Peter saw the nod that Edmund gave him, Edmund resigned himself to moving from the corner he had found for himself to hide in, protected somewhat by Trufflehunter, knowing that he would have to write the terms in order that they could be presented to Miraz. His plan to remove himself from Caspian’s tempting presence would have to be abandoned as well; he would need Caspian’s help to ensure that the terms were what would be expected from the Telmarines. He would just have to ensure that there was somebody else in the room with them all the time in order to make things easier for the both of them.
Edmund looked up at the sound of movement in the doorway. He had picked one of the small ante-chambers off the room being used as the armoury to put his armour on and Caspian had somehow found him. They had both attempted to keep their distance after their almost kiss but it hadn’t lasted long at all as they had to work together in order to draft the terms they would present to Miraz, negotiations and diplomacy being Edmund’s area of expertise combined with Caspian’s knowledge of Telmarine politics and etiquette. Edmund had already pulled his chainmail shirt and his tabard on over his tunict and trousers and his leather gorget was on even if it was unlaced but he was struggling slightly with the buckles to everything else. Normally Peter would be helping him with this but he had no idea where his elder brother was. He had disappeared around the same time that Edmund and Caspian had started drafting the terms that Edmund would present to Miraz.
He fought to keep the blush from his cheeks as Caspian moved behind him to buckle on his pauldrons before moving back in front of him. In an attempt to distract himself from Caspian’s close proximity (and the fact that he really wanted to kiss him), he focused on the elaborately patterned leather pauldrons and vambraces that Caspian himself wore. It didn’t work too well as Caspian stepped closer in order to lace the leather gorget that he wore before concentrating on the leather vambraces. With Caspian’s attention firmly on the buckles of his vambraces, Edmund risked a glance at Caspian’s face and was surprised by the worry that he saw.
“I know what I’m doing Caspian.”
“I know that.” Caspian quirked his lips into a small smile, as if to reassure himself. “I have heard the stories but I do not trust my uncle.”
Edmund rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “I may look like a teenager Caspian but I have the memories of a lifetime as King. I was the diplomat, the negotiator. I know exactly what I’m doing.”
He reached for his sword, and just before he strode out of the room he paused briefly to clasp Caspian on the shoulder in an attempt to assuage his need for touch.
Edmund grunted as he deflected the blow of yet another Telmarine foot soldier. It would appear that Miraz hadn’t been the only traitor in the Telmarine camp. Lord Sopespian, who he remembered from his meeting with Miraz, had stabbed the king in the back with one of Susan’s arrows, killing him and giving the Telmarine army a legitimate reason to commence the battle. He had been incredibly relieved when Peter had escaped from the duel, unscathed but for a dislocated shoulder and that was easily fixed. It had been a close call though and there had been so many times that he had wanted to reach out to Caspian, who was standing just to his left, for reassurance. He didn’t dare do so though, not with them being in full view of the Narnian and Telmarine armies, not to mention Susan. Instead, he had gritted his teeth, praying to Aslan that Lucy would get through and that Peter didn’t do something stupid.
He cursed under his breath as he stumbled slightly under a particularly heavy blow. To his delight, he had seemed to lose none of his skills or agility but what he was having to compensate for (and what he kept forgetting) was that he was a teenager again. He simply didn’t have the stamina or the strength that he had had previously. Out of habit he checked on his siblings, satisfied to see Peter at his best and Susan admirably holding her own. In checking on them, two Telmarine soldiers had crept up on him but, courtesy of the two swords that he wielded, they were summarily despatched within seconds.
Despite the fact that the marching army were scant feet away from him he couldn’t help but scan the battlefield for Caspian. When he saw him he couldn’t help the look of horror that crossed his face as Caspian, surrounded by four Telmarine soldiers, fell backwards into the pit that had been created when they collapsed the pillars supporting the vaults of the How. He was overwhelmed with relief when, mere seconds later, the trees, obviously awakened by Aslan, arrived and he saw Caspian pull himself to safety.
Edmund slipped out of the crowded ballroom, desperate for some peace and quiet from the hordes of people that wanted to talk to him. Even during his reign he had never been too enamoured with the socialising and entertaining that he had been required to do. He disliked it even less after a year back in an English boarding school. Caspian was making the rounds, talking to the necessary people now that he had been crowned King, Doctor Cornelius following behind him for reassurance should it be needed. Lucy was dancing with the fauns, much as she had done at their own coronation. Peter was talking with Glenstorm and his sons, no doubt discussing battle techniques as he used to with Oreius and Susan, Susan was following Caspian’s every movement with her eyes. Even as she danced with those lords that asked her, she was still watching Caspian. He had been able to block everything out before considering they were in the middle of a battle but, now that Caspian had been crowned King it all came flooding back; how much he wanted Caspian, the almost kiss that they had shared and the sickening guilt at the knowledge that he was unable to resist the temptation that was King Caspian even though he knew that Susan had fallen for him as well.
As soon as they had entered the ballroom he had fallen back into old habits, checking to see where all of the exits and balconies were, which were the most secluded and which would be the easiest for him to slip out of unseen. That knowledge served him well as he ducked behind some drapes and out onto a small secluded balcony, breathing a sigh of relief when he was finally alone. It wasn’t long before his peace and quiet was disturbed by the sound of the drapes being pulled back and soft footsteps behind him. He spun around to see the one person that he hadn’t expected; Caspian.
“You shouldn’t be out here; you should be inside.”
“What? Dancing with your sister?” Edmund blushed at the hint of mockery contained in the words. “Nobody will miss me too much, the fireworks are about to start. Besides, I am exactly where I want to be.”
“What about Susan?” Edmund could have kicked himself for his words but he just had to know. “I’m sorry,” thinking that he must sound so childish and bit his lip to stop himself from saying anything else.
“Your sister is very beautiful but it is not her that I’m interested in.”
Edmund blushed at the words but, slightly nervous despite his pleasure at Caspian’s words, backed up until his back was pressing against the cold stone of the balcony. There was no way that he could move between the stone balustrade at his back and Caspian standing in front of him, mere inches separating them. His breath caught in his throat as he felt Caspian’s hand at his waist and all he could think was that now there were no armies to stop them this was finally happening. It all happened so quickly that before he knew it, Caspian’s lips were on his. Before he could comprehend what was happening, Caspian had pulled away.
“You’re missing your fireworks.”
Caspian didn’t bother to respond, he just leant in and kissed Edmund again. The first kiss had broken Edmund’s resolve and this time he was prepared and responded eagerly. As Edmund’s arms slid up around Caspian’s neck to tangle in the shoulder-length hair he let his eyes slide shut and gave himself over to the sensations that he was experiencing. Caspian’s arm slid fully around his waist, pulling him into the chest in front of him as a hand cupped his face, tilting his head ever so slightly. He couldn’t hold back the mewls and whimpers that escaped him as they continued to kiss, hands started to wander as their tongues duelled lazily. He could remember all of the kisses he had received during his previous life in Narnia and not one had affected him like this. He didn’t even care that a flimsy piece of material separated them from all the guests in the ballroom and that they could be discovered at any minute.
As Caspian’s mouth left his to nuzzle his neck, giving teasing bites to his collar-bone and the tempting curve of a shoulder not quite hidden by Telmarine fashions, he tilted his head back and moaned quietly as fleeting kisses were pressed to his jaw line. He didn’t need to see the fireworks that he could hear overhead; they were going off behind his eyelids regardless.
“We will?” Edmund’s heart stopped at the words. He had known that they were going to be leaving Narnia as there was no need for them to be there now, no matter how much they wanted to stay but to be told that they weren’t going to be returning? He couldn’t bear the thought of that.
His heart started beating again as he heard Aslan’s words that he and Lucy would be able to return. He felt slightly sickened at himself at the relief he felt that Susan wouldn’t be returning to Narnia and that he would have Caspian to himself but he felt a deep sorrow that neither of his older siblings would be able to return to the place that was such a big part of their lives and that meant so much to them.
“I’m older and I’m not sure that I want to understand.” He couldn’t believe that Susan would be so forward. She had never done that with any of her beaus in Narnia before; what made Caspian so different from all of the others?
He saw the look that Caspian shot him over Susan’s shoulder and he knew that Caspian hadn’t wanted it. Well, more than that, he had proof that Caspian wasn’t interested in Susan. It still felt as though his lips were tingling from all of the kisses that Caspian had bestowed upon him in the last twenty-four hours. He had woken that morning in Caspian’s arms to discover the elder King watching him. As soon as Caspian had realised that he was awake, he had kissed Edmund softly and to Edmund, it seemed as though they hadn’t stopped until they had to leave. Nevertheless, he couldn’t seem to stop himself from sending a glare at Susan’s back when she managed to separate herself from Caspian.
As they turned to the portal that would lead them back to England, Edmund ensured that he would be the first to pass through so that he wouldn’t be tempted to do anything stupid like turning back and kissing Caspian in front of everybody. He was determined not to look back; if he did then he wasn’t sure that he would be able to leave at all. The only thing that he could do was hold onto the memories and hope that it wouldn’t be too long before Aslan allowed himself and Lucy to return to Narnia and Caspian.