The first flashback is partially lifted from the Disney film, the second is partially lifted from the book and the film. Remember – flashback scenes are separated from the rest of the text by scene breaks - --...O...--. Thoughts are in italics.
AN: Quick note about the quill Ed's got on his desk. The one thing I really remember that seemed odd from a day trip pretending to be an evacuee in World War 2 (which I briefly mentioned in Follow The Leader, I believe) was that we wrote with quills and ink. I remember it clearly because I can now do it fairly well, but at the time I went through several pages and a pile of blotting paper. D
As always, big thanks to H Max Marius – you guys should too. Without his input and nudging, this wouldn't be up today. I'm great at procrastinating!
Another rainy day, Peter sighed as he looked out the window, air blown hard from his nostrils.
Nearly every day since they had returned home, be it cloud-filled skies or sun to rival Mexico, there had been heavy downpours at random intervals.
Contrary to popular belief, England wasn't a land of rain during the summer months, and so many insane theories had been coming out of the woodwork. Some even suggested that the Germans were using blimps to drop acid down on the unsuspecting Londoners and poison them all slowly.
Peter chuckled slightly as he recalled the reaction from a shopkeeper as one of his younger#
customers came to collect his rations and had begun talking about it.
"See t'at t'ere stump, Jack?" he had said, waving his beefy arms at what had formerly been a lamp post many years before. "I reckons t'at it woulda melted, 'long wiv all t'a buildin's round t'ese parts. T'at t'ere concreet 'as been t'ere fer fifty years, I reckons, and it's nout worse fer wear t'en w'en it wos put t'ere. Now, t'e stories I could tell ya 'bout 'ow dem folks tinks it got t'at way..."
Peter's enjoyment of the memory subsided as he recalled the eerie feeling he'd gotten from the lamp post stub. He'd been about to touch it as he'd walked past, but a voice very much like the one that had begged him to head towards the wardrobe back in the countryside had stopped him from doing so.
He shook his head to clear out the thoughts. There was no need to think about such things.
As a result of the rain and their mother's paranoia over the rumours of German wickedness, the children hadn't left the house much and had been restricted to playing indoors. Initially, their return home was fun, the strange familiarity of surroundings they hadn't seen in six months adding an air of mystery to their old games. Unlike at the manor, it didn't matter how loud they got when playing increasingly destructive games. However, after a short time the excitement at being home, where they felt safe and warm, had disappeared. In its place, a odd blankness, as cold as ice, had taken up residence in their minds and affected them in everyday pursuits. None of them could remain focused for long, and Peter had noted that each of his siblings had become restless. Even Lucy was currently rooting around under her own bed, desperately searching for a non existent board game, instead of pestering her big brother to play forts with her. Edmund had stormed out with his raincoat to visit their aunt a few streets away (Peter had noted that, despite his insistence, Edmund really had grown attached to little Eustace), and Susan was... somewhere in the house.
Peter decided to be honest with himself.
I just want the rain to stop. He knew that later he would likely regret thinking such a thing, but at that precise moment, it summed up his annoyance quite nicely.
What I wouldn't give for a trip to the cinema, he thought bitterly, silently cursing the Germans for destroying so many homes and lives.
Pulling at his hair in frustration, he got up and went upstairs. Curious, he took a moment to pause and peer into his brother's room. He and the girls had told their parents that it was Edmund who had cleared up, but the boy was being so moody that no one brought it back up.
Peter was startled.
What had once been reminiscent of the disaster marring the landscape outside now looked like something Peter often saw in those odd little adverts that popped up in newspapers before the war. In place of the pile of clothes that so often littered the bottom of the oak wardrobe was a row of perfectly polished shoes; schoolbooks were piled neatly on a matching desk, the few scraps of paper and a overused quill settled on top; a battalion of tin soldiers (made in England, of course) were lined on his windowsill, a matching cannon pointed out of the window "to ward off invaders", as he would say (a lucky charm Peter thought might have something to it – their neighbourhood had gotten off pretty lightly). Even the wicker basket had been pushed out of sight to make the tidy bedroom ("Has he actually made his bed!") more presentable.
A soft smile appeared over his face as he saw something poking out of the top. He walked further in, looking down at the pale green lid of an empty box of Turkish Delight. It was slightly too big to fit into the basket, so it laid on top at a strange angle, half of the hexagon sitting in the basket while the rest stuck out in the air.
"A present from Uncle Albert," he muttered, resisting the urge to pick it up. Why did he have continued urges to pick up seemingly random objects? Lucy's handkerchief, left on the kitchen table; a baby robin that had fallen out of it's nest, and now this...
Edmund had received the confectionery just before rationing started as a birthday present from their uncle and he had been surprisingly generous. The sticky sweets had lasted a good few months, the final being eaten the night before they were sent to the country.
"Why does everything go back to that house? Every time I think about it, that wardrobe pops into my head..."
He remembered the night he caught Edmund out in the corridors...
Peter turned over, slightly grateful that he had awoken. His dreams of Edmund conversing with a strange, eerily pale woman and munching on the same box of sweets they'd finished only a few nights before had felt somehow wrong. Something about the woman had chilled Peter to the bone, though as each moment passed by, he began to forget what it was.
Blearily, he sat up and rubbed his eyes, taking a moment to gather his bearings. Usually, he would wake up completely alert at any time, be it morning or during the night, not needing any time to come to grips with being upright and awake. For some reason, this evening he felt his eyelids droop back down, trying to send him back to sleep. He felt warm, almost like soaking in a bath or lying in the grass on a summer's afternoon, but he shook his head, double checking what he thought he saw.
Yes, Edmund wasn't in bed.
Grumbling something about little brothers and trouble, he got up and threw his nightgown on, tying the belt as he left the room. He looked to his left, only to see the bathroom door was open.
Odd, he thought. Where could he have gone?
A whisper echoed from down the hall, too faint to clearly hear what was being said. Peter thought it might be the wind, but he shrugged it off and went down the hall, instinctively knowing that he was heading towards that awful wardrobe. It had been the cause of too many problems...
He froze in front of the door, hand hovering above the handle. A sense of foreboding filled his being – he shouldn't be here, not now. Was he doing something wrong? Should he just head back to his room?
Before he had the chance to make the decision, a bundle of blue ran into him, nearly falling over. Peter jumped, but quickly regained his cool as he recognised his little brother.
"What do you think you're doing?" Peter asked sternly. Edmund licked his lips, looking relieved.
Perhaps we both had a fright...
"Just going to the bathroom," he replied, an obvious lie. The older boy fought the urge to give Edmund a slap around the head, instead choosing to indicate the direction of the bathroom.
"It's that way," he snapped. Edmund rolled his eyes, a scowl forming on his face.
"I must have gotten lost!" With that sarcastic reply, Edmund shouldered his way past Peter, heading in the direction of the bathrooms. Not exactly believing his brother, Peter followed close behind to ensure that the bathroom was where he went. When he was satisfied that his sibling was indeed in the toilet, Peter entered his room and collapsed onto his bed, eyes closed. He managed to pull the quilt over him and prepared to go back to sleep.
Only moments later, Lucy bounded in and jumped on him.
"Peter! Peter! Wake up! Peter, wake up, it's there! It's really there!"
He rolled over, eyes tightly shut against the suddenly bright room. He didn't have a chance to adjust to the blinding lights as his quilt was pulled from him.
"Lucy, what are you talking about?"
"Narnia! It's all the wardrobe, like I told you!" She remained oblivious to Edmund and Susan entering the room until Susan began to scold her.
"You must have been dreaming, Lucy."
"But I haven't!" the youngest exclaimed, a wide smile on her face. "I saw Mr Tumnus again, and this time..."
Lucy trailed off, frowning. Peter sat up, concerned. She'd never trailed off like that before.
She sat down, looking confused. "I... For some reason, I thought Edmund came too... But, I know he didn't..."
She turned to look at her brother.
Edmund shrugged, scowled and laid on his bed, turning his back to his siblings and pulling his quilt up to his chin, tucking it in under his neck. A few moments later, he curled up into a ball.
"Come on, Lucy," Susan said, sticking out a hand. "Let's go back to bed. You must have been dreaming."
Lucy took the proffered hand, still looking confused.
"But... It can't have been a dream..."
Peter watched them leave, a sad smile on his face.
'Poor Lucy, she has always had such an active imagination...'
He stood up to turn the light out, but not before he came to a realisation. Turning to face his brother, jaw clenched with suppressed rage, he hissed.
"Is that what you were up to? You were encouraging her, weren't you!"
He received no response.
He stalked out of the room, the anger returning. Edmund had gotten worse since that day, but at least now he simply ignored Lucy rather than encouraging her. Throwing his own bedroom door open, Peter stormed inside and slammed it shut. He leaned backwards for a moment, closing his eyes. There wasn't really any reason to get angry; he couldn't change the past.
Perhaps if I have a word with him later...
Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself off the wall and went to walk to his desk when he paused, and looked around.
"What the bloody hell-?"
It had been a quiet day for Susan, who had chosen to practise her knitting. Helen had taught all her children the art, but only Su had found it slightly interesting. In the grey, watery light coming through the bedroom window, she had settled on the borrowed kitchen chair where she did all her knitting. Attempting to cheer herself up, she hummed a small tune as she resumed work on the hat she was making for Peter's perpetually cold ears.
She paused for a moment to take a look at her handiwork and frowned. The disgusting shade of brown still wasn't enough to distract her from the growing lump on the left of the hat; she'd never been able to get both halves to match properly. The cross pattern she had attempted to make had merged together into an interesting knot that even the deftest fingers would fail to untie, and a hole near the middle of the material finally convinced her that perhaps she didn't have much as skill in knitting as she would like to.
As a rare sign of defeat, she momentarily slumped her shoulders and settled the needles and wool on the table.
Lucy had been in the room a short while ago rooting around underneath her bed, getting covered in dust in the process. She ran out, her prize clutched to her now grey chest, dust bunnies clinging precariously to her hair as she went to commandeer the kitchen table. No doubt by now it would be covered in several types of cloth, her doll's new haircut likely hideous and knotted with string and ribbon. Or perhaps the poor thing had a crown, made from errant twigs snapped off the washing basket.
Susan glared at the mass of wool, sitting innocently on the tabletop.
"Perhaps I should have waited until we could get another colour..." she muttered, removing the needles from the brown pile and depositing the mess into a drawer, ready to be untangled later on.
She then leant back in her chair, looking out of the window idly.
"I wonder what the dear Professor is doing."
The day after Lucy claimed to have returned to Narnia, Peter and Susan went to speak with the Professor. They were both worried that she was losing her mind, and not just barmy as they had joked.
"He'll write to Father if he thinks there is really something wrong with Lu," said Peter. "It's getting beyond us."
They knocked on the door, and the Professor allowed them in.
"I'm quite at your disposal," he said as they took a seat on the chairs in front of his desk.
"It's our sister, sir, Lucy," Susan began, playing with the hem of her skirt. The Professor merely nodded as he picked up his pipe, stuffing it with tobacco.
"She thinks she's found a magical land in the upstairs wardrobe."
The old man lifted his head, surprise and shock flitting across his features. "Really?" he asked, motioning for her to continue.
"Lucy thinks she's found a forest," Peter sighed, hands folded in his lap. "It's like talking to a lunatic; she won't listen to reason."
The Professor raised an eyebrow. "You don't believe her?"
"You do?" Susan asked, shocked by such an idea. This respectable man, believing such nonsense?
"One only has to look at her to see she is not a lunatic, my dear. So what is left? Does your sister lie often?"
"So why do you not believe her?"
"Edmund said she was lying," Peter replied instantly, but confusion crossed his features as he said it. Susan suddenly felt empty, almost depressed, and more than a little frightened – hadn't Lucy done a similar thing the previous night?
"Edmund never said that. He called her barmy, teased her, but-"
"Lucy said he went into the wardrobe with her last night!"
"And then she said he didn't," Susan pointed out, her fear growing. This was an odd conversation, and she knew that something was wrong. Peter was right – Edmund shouldhave gone into the wardrobe, somehow she knew that. But he didn't.
"Logic!" the Professor interrupted. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools? Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth."
He shooed them out, ignoring further protests and closed the door. Susan turned to Peter.
"Why did you say that?"
He shrugged, looking as lost as she was. "I honestly thought for a moment he had. I fear this madness might be contagious."
With that, he wandered off, hand to his forehead as if trying to hold a headache at bay. Susan watched after him, lost in her own thoughts. She too had felt what Peter had said was correct, even though she knew it wasn't. What made her think that?
What have we done? she though in horror.
At that moment, the door opened and the Professor stepped out, surprised to find Susan still in front of the door.
"Would you care for some hot chocolate?"
Since their return, Susan had written several letters to the kindly old man who looked after them, but had received none in reply. To begin with she had thought that perhaps the post wasn't running properly, but a letter from their cousin in Wales disproved her theory. She then assumed he must be very busy, but he had promised to reply the second he read one, and he really didn't seem like the kind of person to lie.
Her current theory was that something bad had happened to the Professor, encouraged by news of strange events occurring nationwide.
"'M tellen yu, thare's ah beeg ol fis' down een tha rivur, n' it 'as t'ree 'eads! T'ree!" one old man at the fishmongers had been claiming.
"A whole herd of pigs just jumped out of the well? Where did they come from?" she had heard from a woman sitting behind her on a bus a few days before.
"All ma sheep died!" a farmer had been lamenting in a pub on the corner. She passed him to talk to her father, but on her way out she heard the same man still talking.
"Funny thing, yu know. All ma goats, they're all right as rain. Breeding like no one's business."
It's possible that something has happened to him, though I do hope it hasn't.
She was about to get up and fetch a drink from the kitchen when she heard the faintest shriek come from the next room.
End chapter 3
The twig/Lucy thing is real – me and my aunt used to do it when we were Lucy's age. Though I don't think my mum knew till the basket was wrecked... (Please don't let her read this...!)
Hopefully, I'll get at least up to chapter 5 up before the 4th of September (when I go to college to do my A levels), but as you can already guess – I'm not promising nothing. ) Sorry. I do promise, however, that my arse isn't going to move from this kitchen chair till it's finished, though... Except to sleep and to get my results for my GCSE's. D
Sorry for the wait, and please review! I promise no more annoying author's note unless it's important! Also, sorry - the rulers aren't working for some reason... (pout)