Chapter Four: Edmund and Caspian
Edmund lay in Caspian's arms, tracing the contours of the other man's shoulder. "You were so bold," Edmund laughed in amazement. "I didn't notice it at the time because you were also being a tease, but how did you ever get the courage to say all those things to me? How did you know that I would feel the same? How did you know that I wouldn't get angry with you?"
"I think that you did get a little angry with me," Caspian said, laughing as well. "But I knew that you wanted me. I figured it out when you told me that it had been 1300 years since a man looked at you. The way you looked at me – I thought that you would eat me alive. It took me a little longer to realize how much I wanted you."
Caspian pulled the embroidered blanket away from Edmund's body. "Stop that," Edmund said, pulling the blanket back over himself, immediately. "Why do you keep doing that?"
"Because I like looking at you," Caspian said. "You're beautiful."
"I am not beautiful," Edmund said, indignantly. "Girls are beautiful. And you're the one who dresses like my mum. No, I take that back, my mum doesn't have anything as pretty as you do."
"Is that your way of telling me that you think I'm beautiful too?" Caspian teased.
"No," Edmund objected and he reached up, grabbed Caspian's head and kissed him and then bit him, gently.
"Ow," Caspian said, rubbing his own lips. He pulled the blanket away from Edmund's body again.
"Stop that," Edmund said, pulling the blanket back over himself, "I'm … shy, I guess." He leaned up and bit Caspian on the lip again.
"Ow. Shy? You weren't shy a few minutes ago."
Edmund grinned. "You were. I never would have thought it from the way you were flirting with me earlier, but you got shy once we got started."
Caspian blushed. "It was my first time doing anything like that," he said.
This was a bit of a surprise from someone as handsome as Caspian. "Really?" Edmund asked. "You've never even done it with a girl?"
Caspian shook his head. "Susan was the first girl that I ever courted, actually. There wasn't much opportunity with my uncle always breathing down my neck. We only ever kissed and held hands. Oh, and there was that one time --"
"Don't tell me!" Edmund said, in horror, trying to wipe the image of Susan ever being anywhere near Caspian from his mind.
Caspian smirked. Edmund got the distinct feeling that Caspian enjoyed teasing him. Edmund leaned up and bit Caspian again.
"OW!" Caspian said, more seriously this time. Edmund looked up and saw that Caspian's lip was bleeding.
"Oh, sorry," Edmund said. "I didn't mean to nip you that hard."
Caspian brought his finger to his lip, then pulled it away, looking at the small smear of blood on his finger. "That's all right," he said, after a long moment, "later, when you are gone, I can think of you every time my lips starts to hurt."
Edmund raised his eyebrows. "You are a very odd person," he said.
Caspian smiled. "But I haven't given you anything to remember me by," he said and, as quick as lightning, he bent down and bit Edmund on the lip.
"OW!" Edmund objected. "Good God, that hurt!" As if on cue, the room began to dissolve around him and Edmund went from lying naked in Caspian arms to sitting in Latin class listening to his teacher drone on and on. He put his hand to his mouth. There was no injury, but Edmund could swear that his lip was tingling.
-- -- --
Peter was in Edmund's room at school, talking to him.
"How long was it?" his brother demanded. "How long did our last visit to Narnia last?"
Edmund thought for a moment. "About two hours, I guess. Why do you ask?"
"Two hours," Peter breathed. "I believe that it was our shortest visit yet. Why do you think that is?"
"I don't know," Edmund said, a bit irritated at this new batch of pointless questions. "Maybe Caspian just needs us for brief little bursts of advice now, not for a long time like he used to." Really, Caspian had blown the horn last time so that he could get Edmund alone in a corner and kiss him, but Edmund didn't tell Peter that.
Peter scratched his chin. "Maybe. But when he first started blowing the horn, sometimes we would stay for days, even a week. Now it is rarely longer than one day. What if the horn only has so much magic and we are using it all up?"
Edmund had to sit down to think about this. It made a fair amount of sense. Or maybe it was Aslan's doing. Maybe now that Caspian was blowing the horn so that he could kiss a boy instead of a girl, Aslan had decided that they didn't really need to stick around for very long.
-- -- --
"I don't know," Peter told Caspian, doubtfully. "It sounds terribly dangerous. And it isn't even as if your people have any experience in seafaring. This will be the first ship that the Telmarines have built in years."
Caspian was prepared for objections. "Part of the reason for building the castle at Cair Paravel was so we could build up a sea trade. We've got to start building ships at some point, we might as well start with the Dawn Treader."
"I love the name," said Lucy who was practically quivering with excitement at the whole idea of sailing adventure.
Peter looked at her in mild annoyance. "It just seems awfully ambitious," he said. "And the consequences if something went wrong could be very, very bad."
"Caspian's not ambitious," Edmund said, giving Caspian a teasing look. "He only wants to reconcile the Telmarines and Narnians, defeat the giants, rebuild Cair Paravel, start a new network of trade, sail off and discover new islands … all preferably within the next year or so."
That caused them all to laugh. "Construction begins on the Dawn Treader in three weeks," Caspian said, after a few moments. "For better or for worse."
-- -- --
"You handled Peter very well back there," Edmund told Caspian later. "You are learning to be authoritative."
"Well," said Caspian, "I had already decided that I was going to do it. There didn't seem much point in false deference."
Edmund smiled. "A year ago you would have either stammered and spluttered and given in to anything he said or you would have got sulky. You were very kingly."
Caspian sighed. "I never feel kingly when I am around Peter. I'm always thinking to myself this is High King Peter the Magnificent and I feel like such a fraud."
"I know the feeling," Edmund said, before thinking.
Caspian looked at him, sharply. "I suppose that we are in the same situation, in a way. I swore allegiance to Peter when I was crowned. He will always be ahead of me. If he used his rank, then he could make me do as he saw fit. But somehow, I am still called king. It is sort of like that for you, no?"
Except that for all intents and purposes, you rule Narnia in your own name and we are like visiting dignitaries, Edmund thought, but he didn't say it. "Except that I'm King over you and you have to do whatever I say," he said instead. Caspian cocked an eyebrow at him. "Oh, do I, King Edmund?" he asked, putting his arm around Edmund's waist. "Most certainly," Edmund replied, arrogantly. Caspian pretended to think about this for a bit. "I recall swearing allegiance to King Peter, but I don't believe that I ever swore allegiance to King Edmund. So I don't have to do anything he says." "King Edmund was crowned 1300 years before you," Edmund objected.
Caspian shrugged. "I have a hard time believing that a 1300-year-old man could have such a nice looking arse."
Edmund choked and Caspian smiled in triumph. He had won this round. "Why are we talking about King Edmund in third person?" was all that Edmund could come up with.
"I don't know," Caspian said, "but if you happen to see him, can you tell him that I'd like to get him alone and --" Caspian leaned close and whispered something obscene in his ear. Well, at least he had the dignity to blush a bit while he was saying it.
Edmund grinned. "We are alone, you halfwit."
"Then I guess now is my opportunity," Caspian said and kissed him.
-- -- --
A week or two later, Edmund was kissing Caspian when he felt something tug at his sleeve. He pulled away, abruptly.
"What's wrong?" Caspian asked.
"I think – I think I have to go," Edmund said.
"Already?" Caspian asked.
"Yes," Edmund said. He suddenly grabbed Caspian around the sides. "Listen – do you miss me when I'm gone?"
"Do you miss me when I'm gone?" For some reason, Edmund felt that it was desperately important that he get an answer before he went back.
"Terribly," Edmund had been expecting a clever reply, but Caspian sounded so sincere. "I can't let you be taken away from me."
And Edmund was back in England. He groaned in frustration. How long had that visit lasted? An hour? Less? This was beginning to become very troublesome.
-- -- --
Edmund found Peter in the dining hall. Normally, he would be a bit nervous about approaching Peter in front of his brother's friends, but at the moment, it didn't bother him.
"I need to talk to you," he said, tapping Peter on the shoulder.
Peter sighed and looked at him reluctantly. "Is it important?"
"Yes," Edmund said, knowing perfectly well that Peter knew what this was about.
When they were in a secluded corner of the hallway, Edmund turned on his brother. "Why weren't you in Narnia a few minutes ago?" he asked.
Peter ran a hand through his hair and shrugged sheepishly. "It's just hard, you know. Being there, being here. I was busy a few minutes ago and I knew that Caspian didn't really need us – he never does. So I just sort of decided that I wasn't going to go. I feel sort of strange, really. I didn't really think that it would work. I thought that the horn would just pull me along anyway."
"So you're coming back next time?" Edmund asked, relieved.
Peter shook his head, slowly. "I don't think I am, Ed. You know how much I love Narnia, but I don't think that I am doing much good there anymore. Caspian needs a chance to really come into his own and he'll never get it while I'm around. It's different with you and Lucy."
Edmund scuffed his feet.
Peter smiled at him. "You were the one who kept telling me that it was so annoying, being called out of our world."
"It was," Edmund sighed. "But not anymore. Things are … different."
Peter looked at him, firmly. "If Caspian calls you again, then I shall have to depend on you and Lucy to advise him. You, especially. Show him how to be a good king, alright?"
"Alright," Edmund said, feeling very unsure.
-- -- --
"Look on the bright side," Edmund was trying to cheer Lucy up and failing miserably because it was usually Peter who cheered her up, "at least we won't get bossed around so much. Peter and Su were always telling us to put on a coat or eat our carrots like we were bloody three years old."
"Or not to sit on a ledge?" she asked. They were sitting on a ledge at Cair Paravel (still half finished), looking out at the sea.
"Exactly," Edmund smiled, "we're going to fall and break our necks."
Lucy gave him a small smile. "Does this mean that you get to start bossing me around now?" Lucy asked.
Edmund snorted. "It's not like I've never tried to tell you what to do. You just always ignore me." Lucy giggled. "Besides," he went on, "I've got better things to do with my time in Narnia than boss you around."
"Like kiss Caspian?" Lucy asked, slyly.
Edmund looked over at her. "Susan told you," he said, finally.
Lucy's eyes widened. "No. Susan knows? It was just obvious. Every time he lays eyes on you, he looks like he is going to eat you up. And you are always alone together."
Edmund squirmed, uncomfortably. He wished that he could just leave, but Lucy was looking at him carefully. "Look, it's not --" Edmund began, but Lucy cut him off.
"I'm happy for you," she said. "I really like Caspian." Then she hugged him and as Edmund's gut reaction to someone hugging him was usually to push him or her away as hard as possible, she almost ended up splattered on the ground below them. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to sit on the ledge after all.
"I'm afraid that Aslan will be displeased with me," Edmund admitted to her. "Back when we were ruling, 1300 years ago, he told me that that I was wasting all my time with fooling around with men when I should be ruling Narnia. So I stopped. But I don't know if I can stop with Caspian."
Lucy frowned at this. "You'll have to stop if Aslan asks you to, won't you? But I don' t think he will."
Edmund crossed his arms. "Two boys together is wrong. Everyone knows it," he kicked his feet out in the air. "I don't know what is wrong with me."
Lucy tried to hug him again, but this time Edmund anticipated it and leaned away so that he almost ended up splattered on the ground. Sitting on the ledge was really not a good idea.
-- -- --
This time, Edmund didn't even have time to grab his trousers. He barely managed to lay his hands on a ragged towel and wrap it around his waist before he was standing in Narnia, dripping on the marble again. At least this time, there was no one in the room but him and Caspian. And Lucy. Damn.
Why was he always the one who was taking a shower when the horn was blown? It was like the horn knew that Caspian wanted to see him naked. Lucy, who was in her nightgown, but not otherwise troubled, was giggling at him. Again.
Caspian was staring at him with a flushed face. Again. The young king made a brave attempt to speak. "I am sorry. I called to speak to you both about the Dawn Treader. I …" Caspian trailed off as he ran his eyes up and down Edmund's body very openly.
Lucy rolled her eyes. "Oh, go on, you two," she said.
This was all the encouragement that Caspian needed. "Shall we go get you cleaned up?" he asked Edmund. Edmund was pretty sure that by "get you cleaned up", Caspian meant "have sex in the next room".
Edmund narrowed his eyes, a bit angry. "Anything that will get you to stop leering at me in front of my sister."
When he and Caspian were alone, Caspian was even more ardent than usual. "I've missed you," he said, his lips moving down Edmund's chest. "I want you. I love you."
Edmund pulled away and looked at Caspian. Then, he laughed and shrugged it off. It was nothing. He started kissing Caspian's neck. "Ed … Edmund," Caspian muttered after a moment. He pushed Edmund away. "I meant it. I love you."
"Stop it," Edmund said, kissing him. "No you don't." Edmund gave him a long kiss, slow on the lips.
"Yes I do," said Caspian when they were finished.
Edmund groaned in frustration. "You can't love me," he said. "I'm a boy."
Caspian shrugged and smiled, but his eyes were troubled. "Never stopped us before."
Edmund rolled his eyes. "What I mean is someday you'll have to marry some beautiful princess or great lady and you you'll be so in love with her that it'll make anyone watching sick to their stomach."
Caspian thought about this for a moment. "Maybe. But I still love you."
Edmund bit him on the lip.
-- -- --
It was a rare thing for Edmund to be in Narnia and not be with Caspian, but that night, he was walking down the beach alone. He had almost forgot what a good place an empty beach could be to clear one's head. After a long time, he turned and looked back and he saw a gigantic lion standing not ten feet away. Aslan.
Usually, when Edmund looked at Aslan, he felt great reverence, but not tonight. He forgot how good and great Aslan was and everything that the lion had done for him. Edmund was angry. "Why?" he asked. "Why can't I be with him? Why is it so wrong for me to care for him?"
Aslan looked at him and Edmund couldn't tell if his expression was stern or sympathetic or loving. Maybe it was all those things. "Did I say that it was wrong?" he asked.
"No, but --"
"Then do not put words into my mouth, Son of Adam," Aslan growled.
Edmund crossed his arms, but even in his current state of mind, he couldn't argue with Aslan. Instead, he asked a question. "Why were Peter and Susan able to come back to Narnia even after you told them that they wouldn't be?"
"I told Peter and Susan that they shouldn't come back to Narnia. I did not tell them this without cause. Because your brother and sister came to Narnia when I advised them not to, things will be harder for them. They will find it harder to go back to living in your world."
Edmund thought about this for a moment. "So you did it for their sakes?" this was something that he hadn't considered.
Aslan nodded, if it is possible for a lion to nod. "Of course. I told you as much. I told you that your brother and sister have learned all that they can from this world. But also for Narnia's sake. It will be harder for Caspian as well, because he kept calling them back."
"So it was up to them the whole time? What you told them – it was just advice?" Edmund stepped closer to Aslan, slowly.
"Every man decides his own destiny. Even if he does not always realize it."
"Free will and all that," Edmund said. His voice was shaky and he was trembling. Must be the cold.
"Do not worry too much," Aslan said, kindly. "They made the right decision, in the end."
Edmund shook his head. "I'm sorry. I was angry with you a moment ago. You told me, long ago, that it was wrong for me to be the way that I am – with men."
"Edmund," Aslan said, gently, "I think that you have misunderstood me. Treating your body lightly was wrong. For much the same reason that it was wrong for your brother and sister to keep coming to Narnia – it wasn't helping you and it wasn't helping Narnia. In fact, it was hurting you," Aslan's voice was very deep. Edmund found that he had a hard time looking the Lion in the face. "But love – love is never wrong." Edmund looked up, sharply.
"The horn," he said, "it doesn't work as well as it used to."
"The horn is a magical artifact. Like many magical artifacts, it has limited capacities. If you use it when it is not truly needed, then it may start to break. Someday, it may not work at all."
"And that is certainly no good for Narnia," Edmund said, frustrated. "He has to stop using it." Aslan gave no sign of either conformation or denial, but Edmund knew that it was true. Edmund may never see Caspian again, but the horn must be saved.
Aslan looked at down at him. "Do not panic. There are more routes to Narnia than by the horn. When Caspian has need of you, I have a feeling that you will be here. I understand that he is about to undertake a dangerous voyage."
"Yes --" Edmund had been looking at the ground again, and when he looked up, Aslan was gone.
-- -- --
"If you are not back in three months, then I am blowing the horn," Caspian's arms were around Edmund's waist as they tried to bid one another goodbye. Aslan was standing nearby with Lucy. Aslan would be taking them back himself, this time.
"Don't," Edmund said and Caspian bit his lip, lightly. "Ow."
"Six months, then," said Caspian.
"No," Edmund insisted and Caspian bit him on the lip again. "Ow. Don't use it again. Aslan said that I'd see you soon."
"One year, then," Caspian said and Edmund glared at him. Caspian sighed. "Fine. I won't use it. But I'll miss you."
Edmund rolled his eyes, a bit embarrassed. "I'll miss you too."
"I love you," Caspian said.
Edmund punched his arm. "Shut up."
"I do," Caspian was perfectly serious. "I love you."
Edmund knew that his face was crimson. "Later. Don't say that here."
Caspian leaned down and bit Edmund's lip – hard this time. "OW," Edmund objected. "Fine, I love you too. Prig."
Caspian seemed satisfied, because he smiled. Edmund walked back towards the others, trying to ignore Lucy's snickering at his bloody lip. "I'm ready," he told Aslan. He looked back and saw Caspian positively smirking at him. It occurred to Edmund that Caspian had wounded his lip, but he had neglected to give Caspian something to remember him by.
Edmund hoped that he would be coming back very, very soon.