"Peter Pevensie! Get inside right now!"
Peter stepped carefully over the threshold and stood resignedly on the mat, water pouring from his hair and clothes. Susan stepped closer, ignoring the fast-forming puddle around him which soaked right through her felt slippers.
"Where have you been? It's a miracle if you haven't caught your death out in that weather!" There was a hysterical edge to his sister's voice. Peter ducked his head, not daring to look her in the eye.
"Sorry? We've been frantic! Edmund was on the verge of going out after you! Look, let's get you dried off." She seized the front of his shirt aggressively and dragged him up the stairs, ignoring the muddy trail he left on the floor. She could clean that up later.
Lucy rushed out to meet them, her eyes pink and swollen. "Oh, Peter!" She flung her arms around his waist, saturating the front of her pinafore. "I thought something had happened to you!" She drew back, eyeing him anxiously. "Gosh, what has happened to you?"
"Nothing." Peter swallowed hard. "I just wanted a walk. I didn't mean to scare you all, I'm…I just didn't think."
"Well, that's obvious."
"Su," hissed Lucy disapprovingly. "Peter, just go and change. You'll catch cold if you don't get out of those wet clothes."
Peter didn't move. "Lu, I thought…I thought I heard him. I thought he was calling me. If I'd just followed his voice a bit further, I could have…" He broke off, shaking his head sadly. "It doesn't matter."
"It won't help, you know." Edmund emerged from the landing, looking uncharacteristically sympathetic. "All this searching and hoping and worrying. The Professor told us it would happen when we weren't looking for it."
"Peter, go and get dressed," urged Susan. "You're getting water all over the place."
Peter glanced apologetically at the pool of water that had gathered at his feet. "Sorry," he said, turning and retreating to his bedroom. Once inside, he pulled off his wet things and dumped them carelessly on the floor. He crossed to the closet mirror and stared at his reflection – pale, thin and boyish. He had been a man, once. His muscles, firm and chiselled from hours of swordplay, had bulged from beneath his luxurious layers of silk and velvet. He had been strong, brave, chivalrous – magnificent in every way.
He shook his sopping wet hair out of his eyes, allowing himself to sink miserably to the ground. He was too drained, too desperate, even to put on his usual mask of boisterous stoicism.
Huddled naked on the floor, trembling with cold, Peter had never felt less magnificent in his life.