A/N: This is the official sequel to my story The Call of the Horn. It's set a month or two after the original, and only a few weeks prior to The Last Battle. If you're a new reader, please give it a try even if you haven't read any of my other stuff; since it's written from Edmund's angle and he wasn't around for TCotH, the storyline shouldn't be too hard to follow. As a note of forewarning, this is pretty much a Lucy/Caspian pairing even though no romance really takes place.
To my readers of TCotH: Thank you all for being so supportive. This is dedicated to everyone who gave their feedback, especially Mitzuko-chan. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Narnia and all of its locales and characters original to The Chronicles of Narnia are trademarks of C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. They are reproduced here solely for enjoyment and not for profit.
1. Chapter 1
". . . Pity smouldered like decay at his heart. He would never rid himself of it. He knew from experience how passion died away and how love went, but pity always stayed. Nothing ever diminished pity. The conditions of life nurtured it. There was only a single person in the world who was unpitiable, oneself."
He stopped there, propping his elbow up on the armrest and resting his chin in his palm, mulling over the words. The discouragement of self-pity? He thought he might disagree. Pity for oneself was appreciation for the trials and impossibilities of a lifetime, a recognition of regret. To have self-pity was to understand life realistically. Better to have to some measure of self-pity than to deny the bad parts of your own life. Heaven knew he of all people shouldn't glaze over the bad choices he'd made, but remember them and try to make some kind of atonement. But then, he guessed he shouldn't feel bad for himself, since everything had always been his free choice – thinking now, he supposed it was an impossible argument.
Edmund was reclining in his favourite armchair in the sitting room, reading his newest literary acquisition: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene. As much as he liked the book, though, his wished Peter were home for some brotherly conversation. Edmund certainly could have used him around tonight. Unfortunately, Peter's latest job had forced him to get a small flat on the other end of London, and now the family saw him only at weekend suppers. It was hard luck, because he rather thought everyone needed Peter around to keep the family together. His nature to do good by everyone always made things easier whenever there was friction between them – and lately, Edmund felt that they were more and more in want of Peter's commanding presence.
Their bond as a foursome had weakened over the years, becoming less like it was in the war years and nothing like it had been in Narnia. They were drifting apart, growing up, finding their own lives in a world where there was no magical country to rule over. Peter and Susan had left school now; Peter was pursuing higher education – he was nearing the end of his third year at University – and Susan had her job at the dress-shop. She used to volunteer at a veterans' hospital, but that had finished and now she spent the reminder of her time at social gatherings. Invitations, nylons, and gossiping about so-and-so's party were Susan's pastimes now.
As for Lucy, she had her own goings-on; summer studies, her girls' chorus, and a group of friends of her own. But Lucy was always Lucy, the enduring source of cheer and youth and good in their lives. She might laugh less, but she still smiled and told stories, forever reminiscing – Do you remember, remember when Peter slipped in mud right before we met the Terebinthian king? Here, her cheeks might be pink from rouge instead of dancing, but that didn't matter. She still befriended the weak and reached out to the lonely, as Valiantly as she could in this world. Sometimes he caught her looking wistful, in a small moment on her own, but mostly she devoted herself to others. Edmund would never admit it, but she was very much a comfort to him, especially when they had first discovered there would be no going back. Her shining presence and continuous reminders of the happy times had helped ease the transition from Narnians to Britons. The problem was, comfort and gentleness were Susan's gifts.
As they sought to find their own paths in this world, somewhere along the line Susan had declared their beloved Narnia make-believe. Juvenile and for children, she'd called it one night, causing a huge row. Lucy had cried, Peter alternated between yelling and lecturing, and Edmund had watched it all without uttering a word. From then on ties had been strained between them all. Susan had surrendered herself entirely to the "modern woman" that every fashion advert seemed to be touting. With her pantyhose and pin-curls, it was hard to remember his sister as Susan the Gentle, robed in regal gowns and hair that fell to her feet. She went often to parties and dances, escorted always by a different young man, many times retuning in the early hours of morning. She cared for little else, and became quite cross if anyone mentioned Narnia in front of her.
In response, Peter and Lucy had each developed their own methods about remedying Susan's apparent disbelief in their country. Lucy's strategy was simple: to remind her how much she loved being a queen in Narnia. Lucy, forever the naïve and trusting one, truly believed that Susan had forgotten it – or as she put it, "gave up the memories because they hurt too much." Lucy kept up a constant stream of encouragement around Susan, retelling the old stories and describing the things she loved – had loved – about Narnia. Oftentimes, though, this angered Susan to a point where Edmund had to step in to defend his younger sister from the harsh tongue of his elder.
Peter's approach was rather more realistic. "Let her have her fun," he said. "She feels lost. We all did. When she finds Him here, then she'll come back to us." Whenever Peter said this, Edmund often had to bite his own to tongue to keep from pointing out that he hadn't found Aslan here either, because he knew that Peter had. He was practically shining with the light of the Lion, for heaven's sake. But Edmund forgave his brother this dogmatism, and Peter continued to humour her – or "guide her" as he put it – because as High King, his highest goal was to keep the four of them united.
Unlike his siblings, Edmund wasn't going to waste his time reminding Susan what she was forgetting or waiting for her to come round. He knew she being stupid and selfish, and that no amount of trying could persuade her to "believe" again. He was sure she still remembered Narnia, only now she considered herself better and more grown-up than any of it. Edmund was all for letting her do whatever she liked. However, if the situation required it – usually when Susan was giving Lucy a hard time – Edmund had no trouble telling her how ridiculously she was acting. Peter heartily disagreed with this reasoning, because it meant that the pair of them often came to heads with Lucy in the middle, and without himself around to act as mediator. As recently as last Christmas Edmund and Susan had had a shouting match in Lucy's bedroom. They really hadn't spoken much since.
Despite their diluted relationship, however, Edmund knew that Susan missed all three of them. She may loathe the very basis of their ties as brothers and sisters, but she missed the ties all the same. He could tell Susan still wanted to be a sister to them, only without Narnia in the picture. She often made efforts to take Peter or Lucy along when she went somewhere. Lucy's giving personality made her the best target, and many times she was pushed into accompanying Susan and her flighty friends. That was exactly the difficulty Edmund had faced this evening, because Peter hadn't been home to side with him, and Susan had used her influence – she'd always been good at that – to convince Lucy to come out with her.
Lucy had taken some persuading, but Susan had been very eager to bring her along tonight. If there was one thing to be said about his younger sister, it was that she hated to make others unhappy. Edmund had watched the hesitation on her face while Susan explained that tonight would be "a good one" and they simply had to wait until their parents were in bed. Lucy gave in, and spoke privately to Edmund when he tried to change her mind. "Don't worry, Ed, I'll be fine," she had reassured him, and Susan had promised to be home at midnight.
Now he was waiting up for them, reading to distract himself, but it wasn't helping very much. He glanced at his watch once more; it was nearly a quarter to one and he was getting more unsettled every second.
The telephone rang and Edmund leapt out of his seat. Who on earth would be calling at this hour? His mind instantly jumped to the worst as he yanked the earpiece off the cradle, silencing the ringing. Luckily the sound couldn't be heard upstairs, where his parents were asleep, but Edmund knew the neighbours that shared their phone line wouldn't be pleased at being woken in the middle of the night.
"Hullo?" he said, trying to speak quietly.
"Edmund?" said a voice. The other end of the line was loud and distorted, and he had a hard time distinguishing the speaker.
"Robert?" he asked. "Is that you? Why are you calling?"
"Edmund, you might want to come down here. Your sister's had a bit much to drink and she's not doing too well."
"What? Is she all right?" He didn't even bother asking which sister, a fact that did not escape his appreciation for irony. "Where's Susan?"
He heard Robert mumble something about "not around" and his instinct went off like an alarm bell. Susan would never. . . He swallowed, and asked the most important question. "Where are you?"
"Twenty-seven Cardinal Avenue in Lower Morden. The house at the corner."
A/N: So what do you think? The Lucian bits really won't be mentioned until Chapter 3 – I like to think that people can enjoy the majority of this story as just a regular Narnia fic, even though it's a branch of a LucyCaspian.
Next up: In which Edmund comes to Lucy's rescue, and finds England's ugly alternative to royal suitors.