Disclaimer: Chronicles of Narnia belongs to C.S. Lewis, Disney, and Walden Media, not me.
Susan's shoes clicked on the floor as she scurried down the hall, fuming inwardly. Peter was a dear boy, a good brother, but quite honestly he and Edmund hadn't gotten along in…well, she couldn't remember.
You think you're Dad, but you're not!
"Ed, are you in here?" she called as she looked into the boy's bedroom. She didn't see him, but she knew from experience that her baby brother would be hiding someplace. Susan checked in the closet and pulled back the curtains. No Edmund. "Ed, you ought to come out."
There was a soft little sniffle.
Susan smiled. She laid down on her stomach and looked under the bed. "Hi, Ed," she said softly.
Edmund was curled up under the bed, his freckled face buried in his crossed arms. "Go 'way, Su," he mumbled thickly.
"Ed, darling, please come out," Susan coaxed. She reached under the bed and touched her fingers lightly against his silky hair. He ignored her. "Come on, dear."
Edmund raised his head. His dark eyes were red-rimmed and swollen; his round cheeks were flushed. "I don't wanna," he sobbed. "I wanna hide under here until everything's back to how it was."
"I know, darling," Susan said. Her slim fingers continued to smooth his tangled hair. "We all do."
"I wanna go back," Edmund wailed. His small shoulders trembled. "I want Daddy to come home!"
Now Susan reached both arms under the bed, one hand playing with Edmund's hair and the other pressed against his hot, wet cheek. "We all want Dad home," she repeated. "Nobody wants him to be out fighting. We all want him safe with us." Edmund sniffled again. "Now, just come out from under the bed, darling, it's too dusty down there."
She heaved a sigh of relief as he started to wriggle out on his elbows. Once again, she'd managed to calm down Edmund- not an easy task. But she congratulated herself too early.
Peter burst into the bedroom and flopped down on his bed. "I swear, Susan," he sighed, "I have never seen Lucy get that hysterical before. She's never pulled anything like this, never! Now, that Edmund-"
Susan watched Edmund stiffen. His dark eyes narrowed and hardened.
"-that Edmund, he didn't used to be such a little beast, but lately that seems like that's all he can be," he said.
Eyes darting between brothers, Susan tried to think up something to say while purposefully avoiding looking at Edmund. "He's not really a beast," she said. "He's just tense."
Peter snorted. "Tense?" he said. "He's stiff and scowly and…and he bullies Lucy!"
Susan raised herself up on her elbows. Secretly, in her heart of hearts, she agreed with Peter. It was miserable to be around Edmund. He was always complaining about something, or pulling a face, or making fun of something. "But he used to be so cheerful," Susan said. "Remember when he was small, and pretty much anything could make him smile? He had such a sweet little giggle."
Peter put his hands behind his head. "Yes, Su, he was a nice kid when he was little," he said. "But the second he got into that boarding school, something just snapped in him."
Susan sat up. "Like what?" she asked. "Did he fall in with the wrong crowd, or-"
"Not exactly." Peter was starting to look uncomfortable. "He might…I think…well, I'm not really sure, but maybe…"
"Maybe the other kids picked on him," Peter rushed out. "Honestly, Su, everyone gets picked on at some time or another. But he really didn't need to take it personally."
Susan's jaw dropped. "He got picked on?" she said. "You never told me that. Edmund never told me that!" She tried to look under the bed, but she couldn't catch a glimpse of her youngest brother. "How badly did they bully him? Did they make fun of him, or did they hurt him, or…?"
Peter was extremely uncomfortable now. "Su, I don't know!" he said. "It was…he was…it was just…I was busy, Su, and Ed's younger than me, and I didn't think-"
"Mum told you to take care of all of us!" Susan said. "Why wouldn't you take care of our little brother?"
"I don't know," Peter said. "But anyways, Edmund's always been-"
He was cut off by a small sob. Susan watched Peter's face completely drain of color as Edmund crawled out from under the bed. His dark hair stuck up in all directions, his freckled face was pale and dirty, and his dark eyes were clouded with tears. "I knew you didn't care!" he sobbed.
Susan gathered him into her arms. "It's all right, darling," she soothed. "It's all right."
Peter knelt down on the hard floor. "Ed, really, I didn't mean it," he tried to say. Edmund turned his head towards Susan's shoulders and flung his arms around her neck, sobbing.
Susan turned on Peter. "Now look what you've done," she said. "Things were bad enough, and you just had to go and make them ten times worse!"
"Go down to the kitchen and get him some water," she ordered. "Go on, Peter." He got up to obey, his lips drawn in an unhappy line. Susan pressed her cheek against Edmund's hair. The younger boy continued to cry, quiet and choked little sobs that made his small body tremble.
"I knew he didn't care," Edmund whimpered. "I knew it. I just knew it."
"Peter does love you, darling," Susan said.
Edmund rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. "He might love me, but I don't think he likes me very much," he choked out before bursting into fresh sobs.
Susan rubbed his back with the palm of her hand, making soft little soothing sounds and pressing small kisses against his cheeks and temples. Edmund drooped in her arms, his sobs growing quieter and quieter until finally his dark head fell against her collarbone and his thin arms slipped from her shoulders. He was fast asleep.
The door clicked. "Su, I brought the water," Peter said. His blue eyes looked paler than usual.
"He's sleeping now," Susan said. "I don't think I want to wake him."
Peter set the glass down on the night table. "How…how much did he overhear?" he ventured.
"All of it," Susan said. She shifted Edmund on her lap. "Why do all children get heavier when they sleep?"
"Here, let me take him," Peter begged. He lifted his baby brother into his arms, cradling him against his chest, and set him down on his bed. Edmund sighed and rolled over onto his stomach.
"Don't you think you would have noticed if other boys were picking on him?" Susan said. She couldn't believe that Peter, her own brother, who cared for her and Lucy so tenderly, could let Edmund fall by the wayside.
"I was busy, Susan," Peter said. "I only saw him at dinner and on weekends." He smoothed his thumb along the babyishly round curve of Edmund's cheek. "I just didn't really notice anything." He looked at his sister; his blue eyes were squinched in the corners, as if he was trying not to cry. "It's a lousy excuse, isn't it, Su?"
She patted his arm. "We just not to be more gentle with him," she said. "Maybe…maybe he'll start to open up to you again, if you just try."
I love how they expanded on Edmund's character in the film, giving better reasons for why he's such a prat. And really, it's hard to remember how little he is in the books. I mean, he's only ten. He's just a baby.
Again, written from Susan's point of view. Her character intrigues me; she and Edmund are much more complex than Peter and Lucy, as much as I love them.
Edited to remove excess "darlings." I hadn't proofread this one very well, and when people (thank you so much, kind reviewers!) pointed it out, I realized how obnixious it was. So yeah.