Title: If I could be where you are
Author: Hermione Eveningfall
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia
Summary: The prequel to "Watermark". A story of a close friendship; of a sudden loss, and how Peter learns to cope.
The Beginning of Summer
The summer of 1938 began like any other. On a particuarily warm and sticky day at the end of June, the four Pevensie children: Peter (12), Susan (10), Edmund (8) and Lucy (6), were preparing for the journey home from their prespective boarding schools. The boys went to one school and the girls to another, and though they were grateful to be out of each other's hair for a time, they missed each other terribly.
Or, at least…most of them displayed their feelings outwardly. Edmund, however, was just grateful for school to be done and over with…It had been an exhausting term, and they were ready for the long, glorious days of freedom that lay ahead.
Peter closed his trunk with a snap, and with a grunt, drug it onto the floor. He turned as the door to the dormitory opened, revealing the flushed but beaming face of his best friend. Ethan Hunt, who was about two inches smaller than Peter, had a head of curly, mousse-colored hair and grey eyes.
"All packed?" Peter asked, drawing a hand against his sweaty brow.
"Mostly." Ethan smiled. "Hard to believe term is over, isn't it? I mean, I feel like we just began yesterday. I'll be jolly glad to be home again, however."
"Me too." Peter nodded, gazing out the window, which overlooked lusch, rolling hills.
"Say," Ethan said. "you ought to stop and visit for a week. You know I live by the sea, which will be bloody perfect considering how awful hot it's been this summer. I can't wait to dive in and swim about!"
There was a knock on the door to the dormitory, and after shouting "Come in!" Edmund peeped his head through. Peter motioned for his younger brother to join them, and, after giving Ethan a small nod of acknowldgement, Edmund reported that they were preparing to leave soon.
"All right, Ed," Peter replied with a smirk. "We'll be down soon."
"They won't wait for you," Ed retorted, before shutting the door again, and Ethan rolled his eyes.
"That brother of yours will never grow up, will he?" he asked, as the two boys began to drag their trunks out of the dormitory and towards the stairway. Already, groups of their classmates were gathering about the halls in crowds, talking in very loud or very soft voices and looking excited about the idea of vacation.
"When do you think you'll be able to invite me, Ethan?" Peter asked, as the headmaster called their attention, and asked them to form straight lines and to come down the stairs in single file.
"The cars are waiting to take you the train station," he announced in his deep, stern voice, and the talk ceased immediately. "I will be calling you in groups by alphabetical order, so there will not be chaos. Any chap with last names beginning with A, please grab your things and follow me. No pushing or shoving, now."
Edmund groaned…his last name, Pevensie, would be at the end of the list.
"I hope my mother will let you come visit early," Ethan finally answered Peter's question as the boys in the first group made their way past them and out towards the courtyard.
"Or perhaps later," Peter replied thoughtfully, smiling. "I think a trip to the seashore would be lovely the last week of summer, don't you?"
Edmund gave a huff. "Oy…not inviting me there, are you, Ethan?" he asked, as the boys with last names beginning with "B" were called down.
"Only have one guest room, I'm afraid," Ethan replied. "And as Peter's my best mate…"
"Ed, shut up for once," Peter snapped, and gave Ethan an apologetic look. "You can come stay with us for a bit too, if you like. I haven't introduced you to Susan or Lucy yet…our sisters."
"I would like that." He smiled, as his last name was called, and he waved to Peter, saying he would meet him on the train. When Ethan disappeared through the front doors of the dormitory, Edmund nudged Peter's arm.
"You don't think Mum and Dad would let you go, do you?" he asked, and Peter rolled his eyes.
"Why wouldn't they?" he asked, sitting down on top of his trunk. "Uh huh," he added, when Edmund didn't answer straight away. "I didn't think you had an answer."
When at last their letter was called, Peter attempted to help Edmund with his trunk, but his younger brother gave him an annoyed look, and insisted with a huff that he could "Do it himself, thanks." Peter blew out his breath and prepared to make the journey to the car. He couldn't wait to be home again, to their three story flat in London. However, during the summer, they went to their cottage in the country for a couple of weeks to get away from the noise and pollution of the city.
He couldn't wait to see the old cottage again, surrounded by woods and gardens…with a river running through and a pond. He, Susan and Edmund spent hours on end exploring the grounds, catching bugs and other tiny animals. Lucy, who couldn't "swim for nuts" as she put it, romped around with her siblings on land.
"Peter, we're there," Edmund announced, nudging his brother with his elbow. Peter blinked out of his daydream, and saw the train station approaching. It was crowded with the usual passengers, looking irritated and rushed as usual.
"Hullo, wake up, Dolly daydreams!" Ethan waved frantically from one of the windows as Peter and Edmund walked along the platform, and Peter glanced over his shoulder, waving back. "I've saved you a seat, mate, so hurry up!"
"You can sit with us," Peter offered, as the conductor helped them with their trunks, and took their tickets.
"With you two boor? I'd rather not," Edmund snorted.
"Suit yourself," Peter replied, waving half-heartedly as he went to find his friend's compartment. Ethan sat staring out the window, and turned when he heard the door open and close.
"Oh, feels good to be on the train at last," Peter breathed, grateful to sit down and be able to stretch his legs. "Though it's still so broiling hot." He fanned his beat-red face with his hands, and loosened the collar of his crisp, white shirt.
"There's a breeze coming in at least," Ethan pointed out, nodding towards the open window. "we'll keep it open when it starts moving."
Peter leaned his head back against the soft, cushioned seat, and watched as Ethan pulled open his sketch pad. He was known as one of the best artists at the school, and was hoping to sell his work and become famous one day. Peter jumped when the train whistle blew shrilly, and he could hear the steam puffing from the smoke stack.
"So what's the first thing you're going to do when you get home?" Ethan asked, not looking up from his sketch.
"Have a nice cup of tea," Peter replied softly, and Ethan wrinkled his nose.
"Cold or hot? I'd prefer anything cold, personally," he admitted, and Peter smirked.
"I suppose either…Mum makes brilliant cold tea, and adds a dash of mint into it."
"You drink more tea than anyone I know I think," Ethan laughed, and Peter grinned.
"I'm British, mate, what d'you expect?" he asked, and Ethan grinned.
"And I'm not?"
"What are you drawing?" Peter asked, reaching over to snatch the portfolio, and Ethan held it out of his reach.
"Oh no you don't," he laughed.
"You're drawing me, aren't you?" Peter asked.
"No," Ethan retorted.
"Come on, then, let me see," Peter begged, making a lunge for it again, and grabbed it by the edge.
"Peter, you dolt!" Ethan cried as the train began moving, and his friend gave him a mischevious smile. "Oh, all right, I suppose you can have a look. It's nothing well…important."
Peter flipped open the top of the portfolio, and peered down. He studied the drawings closely for a moment, and Ethan stared, waiting anxiously for his opinion.
"What are these?" he asked, and Ethan bit his lip.
"You'll think I'm mad, Peter," he said quietly, and Peter snorted.
"Too late," he teased, and Ethan shook his head.
"No, really. I…well…they're supposed to be fairies."
Peter stared at him. "Huh?"
"You know, fairies. The little people with wings. Like Tinker Bell in Mr. Barrie's book 'Peter Pan'."
Peter stared at the drawings again, not quite sure what to make of them. He flipped through the pages of parchment, being careful not to crinkle the artwork. "Did you just make these up, Ethan?" he asked, and his friend sighed.
"That's the thing," he answered. "I don't know."
"Oh, now you've officially gone batty," Peter said, handing back the portfolio.
"Well, I've been dreaming about fairies lately. I don't know why," Ethan admitted. "This beautiful green country with rolling hills just like the grounds at our school, only…only well, the…school isn't there, you see. Just grand and endless, with all kinds of magical creatures, like dyrads, and animals that talk…I know it sounds balmy, but…it's so real, Peter. And…when I wake up, I wish I hadn't."
Peter swallowed, wishing he could have a cup of water. "How long have you been having dreams like that?" he asked, grateful when the steward came around with fresh water for each of them.
"Since the beginning of term," Ethan admitted. "Peter, you're the first I've ever told this to," he said. "and I'd prefer you didn't go telling anyone else."
"I won't," Peter promised sincerely, and smiled. "You should come and visit our cottage when we go up for a visit," he suggested. "and I'll come and see you at the seashore."
Ethan smiled. "I would like that. Hopefully both of our marks are good. I daresay, if my scores are anywhere below passing, Mum will throw a fit."
Peter laughed. "I think we'll be just fine," he promised.
At last, about an hour and a half later, the King's Cross Station came into view. Peter couldn't wait to see Susan and Lucy…especially since it was Lucy's first time away at boarding school. Prior to being sent off, the Pevensie children had been educated at home.
"PETER!" An excited female voice cried over the roar of the engine and the crowd shuffling about on the platform when he got off. Susan: tall, slender and dark-haired, threw her arms around her brother. Lucy stood watching as Edmund followed Ethan off of the train, and the two younger siblings greeted each other awkwardly.
"See you, then," Ethan said, and started to walk away, but Peter held his arm.
"Hold on. Ethan, these are my sisters…Susan and Lucy." He turned to them. "Girls, this is my friend Ethan. He might be coming to stay with us over the summer."
Susan held out her hand and shook Ethan's firmly, smiling. "Hullo," she greeted, and he nodded politely.
"Hello. Well, I'll make sure you hear from me soon, Peter," he added, and the two friends gave each other a quick embrace.
"I'd better," Peter teased, and watched as his friend disappeared through the mob. He reached down after Ethan left, and picked up Lucy, giving her a great hug. "You've gone and turned into a giant, Lu," he gasped, noticing just how big she'd gotten over the term.
"I haven't," she giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck as they struggled with their suitcases to find their parents. "You've gone and shrunk."
He stuck his tongue out at her playfully, and they caught sight of their mother, who stood a few feet away, waving frantically at them.
"Mummy!" Lucy squealed, squirming, and Peter allowed her to get down and run to Mrs. Pevensie, who scooped her youngest daughter into her arms.
"I've missed you all so much," she gasped, kissing them all over their faces. Peter groaned in irritation, though Edmund looked thoroughly disgusted.
"Peter, have you been eating at all?" Mrs. Pevensie asked, clucking her tongue. "You're dreadfully thin!"
"Mum," he whined, and she chuckled.
"Well, there will be plenty of food for you when we get home. Daddy's working late, so it'll just be us for supper. Come along, now."
Lucy spoke a million miles a minute as they walked, and Peter glanced over his shoulder as the train began to leave the station. The summer holidays had truly begun at last.