I was scrolling through my published works and found this odd bit of writing. I read the author's note; realised I had no memory of writing it, and decided I must have been incredibly sleep deprived. Needless to say, sleep deprived work is not always the best-or most solid plotwise-type of writing, so I decided to revise. I know, I'm supposed to be writing new stuff, not rewriting old stuff, but I'm working on it; I swear! :-) Hope the revised and updated version is significantly better.
The Pevensie brothers were a strange pair; everyone agreed on that. Peter, the elder, was tall, broad-shouldered, golden, laughed easily when amused, and was terrifyingly angry when provoked. His younger brother Edmund, could not have been less like him if they had shared no blood relation. He was shorter than his brother, dark-haired and pale, wiry rather than powerfully built, and far graver, though equally as terrifying when angered. At least, that was what everyone in the vicinity of Cambridge said-Ian himself had interacted with them very little outside of professional courtesy, and everyone told him how incredibly lucky he was to have never seen either of them angry.
Everyone also rather avoided the pair, not because the brothers were particularly standoffish themselves, but because they had a very strange air about them-something unsettlingly powerful; something that set them apart from the other young men at the university. They could neither be much older than twenty, but something about how they carried themselves seemed far more ancient.
On this particularly rainy afternoon the little pub the Pevensies met in every Tuesday was nearly deserted, and Ian was alone behind the counter, watching the few remaining customers from over the top of his book. He was barely older than twenty himself (a student at Oxford, rather than Cambridge), and it was with extreme reluctance that he found himself manning the counter-rather than being allowed to read in peace.
The last pair of customers stumbled back into the rain, and Ian was considered phoning Mr. Phillips with a desperate plea to close-even though it was barely after three, and he knew Phillips would not agree under any circumstances. Still, a fellow could hope.
He was just reaching for the telephone to try his luck when the door opened again. A gust of icy wind tore through the peacefully deserted pub, making Ian growl in frustration, and the distinctly disheveled figures of the Pevensie boys practically tumbled through the door.
Peter shook the water from his coat and hair and smiled as his cross looking brother. "Cheer up Ed, it's only rain." Edmund's response-Ian assumed it must have been snappish, judging from his expression-was lost in the sound of chair legs scraping across the worn floor as the brothers claimed their customary table in the corner, and pushed their chairs against the wall to watch the door.
This particular peculiarity always puzzled Ian, though he did not devote much time to considering the reasoning behind it, despite the fact that he usually found it relatively easy to decipher people's motivations-simply by observing their actions. The Pevensies, were a mystery, but not one that he felt particularly eager to solve.
Nothing good could possibly come of asking too many questions about men who carried themselves like soldiers-despite being far to young to have fought in the war-occasionally spoke in a bizarrely medieval manner, and watched the door like they expected to be attacked at any moment.
Ian sighed, resigned himself to being trapped behind the counter for a good hour yet, and wrote down their order. He didn't bother asking-it had never changed, not once in the two years since they had started frequenting the little pub. He passed the slip of paper, bearing the scrawled request for Fish and Chips, back to the cook, and took the two pints of bitter ale to them himself.
Peter looked up from his vague scrutiny of the Times, seemed surprised-as he always was-that their order had been anticipated, and smiled a touch ruefully. "Sorry for barging in; I expect you were hoping to close up due to the weather."
Ian smiled, despite his general annoyance at the whole situation-Peter really was a likeable sort of chap-and assured him that it really wouldn't have mattered anyway.
He was just returning to his book, after depositing a dubiously greasy basket of food on the table between the Pevensies, when the door swung open again and a very different sort of person stumbled in. His collar was turned up against the weather, his face obscured by a heavy scarf, and a gun gleaming in his hand.
Ian dropped his book with a crash and nearly toppled from his stool, vaguely aware that the cook had already bolted out the back and locked the door behind him.
"Where's the back door?" The stranger demanded, aiming the gun in the general direction of Ian's head, and obviously unaware of the cook's flight.
Ian stared at the fellow, utterly taken aback and finding himself rather incapable of speech at the sight of the gun. This sort of thing was supposed to happen in books, not to actual people minding their own business in quiet pubs.
The sound of a chair scraping the floor caught the man's attention, he turned abruptly, seeming to forget Ian in his surprise at not being otherwise alone. Ian felt a momentary flash of relief-before he registered that the armed stranger was now face to face with the younger Pevensie. He wanted to shout at the idiot to be careful, or better yet to run before the stranger decided he didn't want witnesses to whatever mischief he was up to, but Edmund seemed utterly unconcerned, and Ian found that his voice still had not returned.
"Perhaps you might consider putting the gun down, my good sir," Edmund said in a conversational manner. His shoulders were relaxed as he stepped forward very slowly, smiling slightly. "I find it's usually rather foolish to shoot someone in front of witnesses, don't you?"
Ian felt his mouth drop open rather foolishly, and the man with the gun seemed similarly shocked to hear someone so young speaking so calmly about murder. For a moment the gun wavered, as if the man were nearly unsettled enough to give up on his enterprise entirely. Then the weapon steadied and was directed, more obviously, towards the Pevensies.
Out of the corner of his eye, Ian saw Peter rise slowly-face betraying concern at Edmund's proximity to the armed man. Privately, Ian thought it might have been better for him to stay where he was; Edmund obviously agreed with him.
Without turning his head, the younger man motioned his brother back with one hand. "Stay back Peter," he said, in the same calm voice. "He isn't going to shoot."
"Oh won't I?" the man snarled, though Ian saw that his hands were shaking again.
"No. You won't; you've made a foolish mistake, but you aren't a murderer." There was a strange, piercing look in Edmund's eyes, and Ian had the strangest feeling that somehow the he knew without a doubt that his words were true. "I don't want to fight you," he continued, still as if merely conversing about the weather.
The armed man was obviously quite through with this thoroughly bizare exchange, and he turned back to Ian, eyes wild as he waved the gun wildly. "Take me to the back door! Now!"
The gun was raised again, appearing vaguely steady, and Ian began edging along the counter with every intention of obeying the maniac. Edmund, however, shook his head, indicating he should stay where he was. Ian was never afterwards certain of why he had obeyed the unspoken order, but he stopped his cautious progress towards the door, despite the imminent threat of being shot.
"Stay where you are," Edmund said calmly, and rather unnecessarily considering Ian had already obeyed. "If I'm not much mistaken the police are on their way for this one."
Ian remembered the cook's precipitous exit, and breathed a sigh of relief when he realised he could hear a distant police siren growing louder. Everything would be tidied up nicely and he would be able to go on with his life as if nothing had happened. Except, the Pevensies really were an odd pair, and seemed utterly determined to take matters into their own hands-rather than waiting for the police.
"Edmund." There was a hint of warning in Peter's voice as he stepped around the table towards his brother. The man must have glimpsed the movement from the corner of his eye, and he spun towards the newest threat, waving the gun wildly at Peter.
"Get back!" He was half shouting now, but Ian thought the tone of his voice was more panicked than threatening.
Edmund spread his hands in a placating gesture, though his eyes flashed with the first hint of anger. It was obviously not a particularly safe course of action to threaten Peter in Edmund's presence. "That would be most unwise."
"Who the hell are you people? Why can't you just leave me alone!" The man's eyes darted back and forth between the two brothers, appearing suddenly frightened, and Ian found himself feeling rather sorry for the fellow-despite his lack of manners.
"We aren't police," Edmund assured him calmly, answering the unspoken accusation. "But, if you continue to threaten my brother you will wish I was bound by the same rules." The threat was clear, and Ian was surprised when the man didn't just drop the gun-he certainly would have. He was beginning to see why it was considered a very bad idea, in academic circles at least, to anger Edmund Pevensie.
The stranger, however, merely set his jaw desperately and began backing away slowly-still aiming the gun at Peter.
"The back door, boy," he growled at Ian.
Before Ian could move, Edmund leapt forward-almost too quickly for Ian to realise what he was doing-and knocked the gun out of the man's hands. The man struck out blindly, desperately, and Edmund stumbled back half a step before Peter was beside him.
Ian heard the man's wrist crack as Peter caught his arm before he could strike agaim and twisted it swiftly, making him howl in pain. Peter barely spared him a glance, though he kept a very firm hold on his arm-as if expecting him to attempt retrieving his fallen weapon.
"Alright, Ed?" Ian heard him ask sharply, and realised that-despite the fact he was now holding the struggling criminal captive-Peter's attention was focused solely on his brother.
Edmund smiled ruefully, and dabbed at the blood dripping from his split lip. "Fine, Orieus would be cross if he had seen that though. I shouldn't have let him get a blow in." To Ian's bewildered amazement, Edmund seemed as utterly unconcerned by the whimpering man-whose arm Peter was still keeping hold of-as his brother was.
Peter smirked, and tossed him a handkerchief with his free hand. "Lucky for you, Orieus isn't here."
Ian stared at the strange group for a moment in dazed wonder, and then found himself sitting down rather suddenly against the counter. He was quite unused to such situations, and the shock of it all was fully catching up with him at last.
The police arrived moments later; waving clipboards, making shocked inquiries, and appearing as shocked as Ian was himself that two unarmed civilians had taken down a man with a gun-and now seemed barely worse off for having done so.
Ian found himself watching the brothers with a vague sense of awe as they explained calmly and clearly everything that had happened, then-after the police had bundled the still whimpering man into the back of the van-retook their seats, and returned to their interrupted meal as if nothing had happened.
"You realise he could have shot you?" Ian heard Peter ask quietly as he shakily returned to his place behind the counter.
Edmund laughed and leaned back in his chair, looking rather more cheerful than Ian had ever seen him. "He really couldn't have. I'm not sure why he came barging in here with a gun, but I suspect he's not such a bad chap most of the time. He winced slightly and put a hand to his jaw. "Hell of a left hook though."
It was Peter's turn to laugh as he ruffled his brother's hair affectionately, ignoring the fact that the brother in question tried to duck away with an indignant growl. "Perhaps you should have considered the possibility of being punched before trying to reason with an armed criminal."
Edmund at last succeeded in swatting his brother's hand away and seemed to now be focused on inhaling what remained of the cold food. "I had it sorted," he remarked lightly, between mouthfuls. It seemed to be something of an old joke between them and they both laughed.
Ian turned away quickly-feeling a trifle guilty-when, a moment later, Edmund looked up and saw him watching. He feigned interest in his book, though he had entirely lost his place, and continued to listen intently-straining his ears despite the lingering uneasiness he felt about eavesdropping. If the Pevensies were going to behave so bizarrely, they might as well get used to people listening in on their conversations.
"I think we may have traumatised our good barman though," he heard Edmund after a few moments, and he could have sworn there was a smile in his voice. He suspected that Edmund, at least, knew he was listening.
Peter snorted. "I suppose it isn't particularly normal to face off against an armed man, and walk away from it none the worse for wear. He probably thinks we're desperate criminals now."
Ian nearly laughed at the thought. The Pevensies were crazy, touched in the head, dangerous, but somehow their presence was reassuring. After that, he greeted them with a smile, and they found that, somehow, he always managed to slip most of their money back to them before they left.
Whoever they were, Ian was glad they had chosen that particular pub to frequent, and when, one cold winter Tuesday, they did not come in as usual he found himself rather worried. The next day he read their names in the newspaper; they were dead, killed as they waited on a station platform for a train that derailed.
He poured himself a pint of the bitter ale they always drank, and sat at their table that night after the pub closed, raising his glass in a solemn toast.
"To Peter and Edmund Pevensie." Where ever they came from; whoever they were.
If nothing else, I did catch a plethora of grammatical mistakes-which I then attempted to fix.