I want to give everyone fair warning that things get a little smutty towards the end. Section 6 has a hard R rating (smut-hunters, feel free to scroll right down). Everything else is innocent, I suppose.
I honestly have no idea what happened with this piece. It started out as a single drabble, and turned into a sort of mini-series. In actual fact each section is almost a piece in its own right, so I just hope it doesn't read to jarringly choppy.
Oh, and I'm shamelessly blending bookverse and movieverse here. Hopefully it won't be too confusing.
Firelight illuminated the ceiling of the great cavern, casting deep shadows that danced and writhed on the walls. The air was chill; her icy presence still pervaded every corner of the room, hours after her meagre ghost had faded into nothing. Edmund hesitated in the doorway, dark eyes trained on the slouched figure opposite him.
Caspian sat perched on the ledge of the blazing oil channel, scuffing his boots against the stone floor. His hand hovered idly above the flames, fingers dipping down to touch the fiery tendrils and retreating again before they blistered. His face, half-obscured by a curtain of dark hair, was troubled and thoughtful. Edmund stepped carefully out from the archway, clearing his throat softly. Caspian tensed, his hand halfway to his sword before he recognised the intruder. Relaxing slightly, he composed his face into a guarded smile.
"King Edmund," he greeted him politely.
"Prince Caspian." Edmund sat down beside him, eyeing his hand with mingled concern and confusion. "You'll get burnt if you do that, you know."
Caspian removed his hand from the flame, looking mildly exasperated. He ran his thumb over the deep cut in his palm, thoughtlessly sucking at the residual blood that came off on the pad.
"If you like, Lucy can heal that for you."
"It is but a scratch. It will heal well enough." He closed his fist, eyes fixed firmly on the floor.
Edmund sighed. He was used to this. The distant, respectfully detached manner the prince always adopted in his presence. It was as if there was a wall between them, some tangible force that held them at arm's length in spite of Edmund's efforts to break through them. There was a strange, magnetic pull emanating from the Telmarine youth, different from anything he had felt in the presence of any of the lovers, suitors, or casual recipients of his idle flirting last time he had been in Narnia. His feelings for Caspian were as much curiosity and uneasiness as they were desire. Something about the prince unnerved him deeply. That strange feeling was, more than anything, what had brought him down to the heart of the How to find him.
With a jolt, Edmund realised that he had been silent a little too long. Caspian was toying gloomily with the sleeve of his shirt, creasing it between thumb and forefinger and then smoothing it out again, clearly lost in his own thoughts. Edmund did not have to ask what he was thinking about.
"There's no point dwelling on it," he said softly. "She's only powerful if she can get inside your head. You need to move on and forget about it."
Caspian glanced up in surprise, looking confused to find that he still had company. He frowned thoughtfully. "Are they…are they real?" he asked earnestly, momentarily forgetting to be guarded. "Her promises. Can she really do what she says she can?"
That was how she worked her magic. Edmund knew it all too well. The witch always knew what her victims wanted most; knew how to invade their minds and captivate them with offers of fulfilling all the desires of their heart. He wondered briefly what Caspian could want so badly, that he would consider selling out his supporters.
"No," he said firmly. "No. She tempts people to her service by promising them things she knows they can't resist. As soon as she's got what she needs, she starts showing her true colours."
Caspian turned away, looking agitated. He sat there for a moment, fidgeting and thinking hard, before jumping to his feet and making a hasty bow to Edmund.
"I must go and…ah…I take my leave." He turned on his heel and hurried from the chamber, leaving Edmund alone by the fire feeling more than a little frustrated.
Edmund lowered his hand towards the flame, passing through it and pulling back when it began to burn uncomfortably. He stared at his undamaged finger, the corners of his mouth twitching. He saw why Caspian did it – there was something very comforting in that gentle, prickling pain.
The Narnians had fought bravely, meeting the Telmarine onslaught with unwavering determination. The Telmarine soldiers were now throwing down their weapons, plodding miserably across the river to be herded into groups by Glenstorm and his sons. Caspian, much to Edmund's disconcertment, was helping one boy out of his armour on this side of the river and talking quietly with him in their strange lilting accents. The boy, Edmund observed, looked to be no older than himself, and was divesting himself all too eagerly of his weaponry.
"You are the son of the old stable hand," Caspian was saying cheerfully. "You used to sneak up to the dais after meals and steal scraps from my plate."
The boy blushed profusely. "I am sorry…Sire," he said meekly. "I was so very hungry, and you always used to pick so at your food. I couldn't help myself." He bowed his head apologetically.
"Why, I am not offended," grinned Caspian. "You might have asked me to share."
The boy's eyes widened in horror. "We should both have been whipped! I for being impertinent and you for associating with servants' children in public," he said, shaking his head.
"True." Caspian pulled a dagger from the boy's sleeve and tossed it casually into the water. "You are a little young to be serving in the army," he commented.
"They wanted our forces to seem as large as possible. I would much rather have served on your side, Your Majesty." His eyes were wide and earnest.
Caspian, having ensured the boy was weaponless, clapped him on the shoulder. "Perhaps you shall yet. Off you go, then." The boy bowed nervously and waded out into the river.
Caspian turned and met Edmund's befuddled glance with a defensive shrug. "My people," he said simply.
The five monarchs dropped to their knees before the majestic figure of the Lion. Edmund could feel unconditional love, warmth and approval rolling from his golden form in waves. The first time he had met Aslan he had been frightened, over-awed. Now, the presence of the Great Lion only filled him with joy and relief and trust. He felt, in those few moments, like one of the great kings of old again.
"Rise, Kings and Queens of Narnia."
And so they rose, heads held high, straight-backed and proud in the warm sunlight. High King Peter, the Magnificent. Queen Susan the Gentle. King Edmund the Just. Queen Lucy the Valiant. And…
"All of you."
Caspian looked up uncomfortably, still kneeling low on the ground. "I do not think I am ready," he said, not meeting anyone's eyes. Edmund felt a stab of sympathy for the prince, who looked utterly lost and suddenly an awful lot younger.
Aslan smiled gently. "It is for that reason that I know you are."
Expression still terribly uncertain, Caspian rose to his feet. Edmund could see his Adam's apple bob up and down as he swallowed nervously. He glanced at Edmund, and there was that feeling again- the irresistible attraction, the fluttering stomach, the burning curiosity. For the briefest of moments, Edmund thought he could see those same emotions reflected in Caspian's eyes, mingling with the fear and joy and pride at standing there as a king of Narnia for the first time. Then it was gone as all eyes turned back to Aslan, and Edmund cursed himself internally. How had this bizarre attraction to the other boy managed to cement itself so firmly inside him?
Aslan's golden eyes trained on him, and Edmund felt a jolt as he realised the lion could see right through him.
The sounds of laughter and revelry filled the glade, infecting all in the vicinity with a sense of triumph and euphoria. Bacchus' wild Maenads danced with a fury the likes of which Edmund had never before witnessed, and he felt infinitely grateful for the presence of the Lion that kept the celebration from tumbling over the borders of sanity.
In the midst of this exuberant madness, Edmund felt strangely calm and peaceful. He had never been much of a dancer, nor a drinker, so he sat comfortably against the trunk of a large oak tree and watched the festivities unfold contentedly.
His older siblings had not approached things quite so moderately. Peter was whirling round and round the glade with a beautiful nymph in his arms, and Edmund could see that the High King had had more than a bit too much to drink. Susan he had lost sight of some time ago, but on his last glimpse of her she had been pink-cheeked and distinctly ungraceful in her movements, giggling madly at Aslan-knows-what. Lucy, though she had been permitted nothing stronger to drink than cider, was nonetheless making very merry indeed with a group of lively fauns. Trumpkin, red-nosed and more cheerful than Edmund could ever remember seeing him, was standing in the middle of the glade performing a bizarre sort of jig and guffawing heartily. And Caspian…Caspian was coming over to him, detaching himself from a group of nymphs and grinning broadly.
"Not dancing, Edmund?" he asked, collapsing dizzily on the grass beside him.
"I don't care much for dancing," Edmund replied, stifling a grin of amusement. He'd never pictured Caspian, of all people, getting so drunk on the very eve of his coronation. But then, Bacchus had that effect on most people. When he thought about it, Edmund supposed it was strange that he wasn't drunk as well.
"Well, that's not much fun." Caspian accepted a glass of wine from a passing faun and gulped it down thirstily.
"Don't you think you've had enough of that?" Edmund quirked an eyebrow.
"Certainly not. It's very good – want some?" He held out his empty glass. "No, wait, 's empty. D'you know where that faun chap went?"
"Don't try and stand up now, Caspian. You'll fall over." Edmund grabbed his wrist to prevent the young King from rising. Caspian shrugged good-naturedly, settling back down on the grass.
"Your hand's warm," he informed Edmund candidly. "You have nice hands. Nice everything, actually. You're very…very handsome…"
"You're very drunk." Edmund raised his eyes to the heavens, trying to ignore the fresh wave of butterflies that had erupted in his stomach as Caspian spoke.
"Only a bit," protested Caspian. "We Telmarines, we have…we have good with…um, drinking." His hand wrapped around Edmund's waist as he spoke, and Edmund froze. He had a feeling he ought to push Caspian away now, but his brain didn't seem to be working properly.
"When I'm around you…it is like…" Caspian trailed off, looking thoughtful. "I am not a poet," he said, shaking his head vaguely. "But maybe…" And before Edmund could react, Caspian's lips were pressed to his, and he was being pushed back against the trunk of the tree with the taste of sweet wine consuming his senses…
"Caspian, stop that." Edmund placed his hands firmly on Caspian's shoulders, pushing him back. "You're not sober."
Caspian gave him a mournful, slightly hurt look. "You're no fun," he said, shaking his head sadly. "I am only trying to – Peter!"
Peter came staggering over, looking elated. "Cas…Mund…come join in!" he gasped, chortling. "Fauns are having a big dance…great fun, great fun. Well, come on!"
Caspian got unsteadily to his feet, leaning heavily against the tree for support. "Coming," he said, giving Peter a short push for no apparent reason. Peter's grin widened and he retaliated with a punch that flew wide of its mark. And so the two boys pranced off, leaving a slightly disgruntled Edmund behind. Well, they'll be sorry tomorrow, he thought to himself in amusement.
He was acutely aware of the lingering taste of Caspian's lips on his.
Caspian studied the paper intensely, frowning in concentration as he dipped his quill in the inkpot and began to write. His handwriting was sloping and elegant, and Edmund felt a little jealous of his steady hand – his own penmanship had always been messy and shaky. Even back in the Golden Age, many years into his reign, Peter would never let him near official documents. Though it had annoyed him greatly at the time, in retrospect Edmund suspected he had been fortunate. The task at hand was not particularly thrilling, with or without permission to hold the pen.
Come to think of it, there was no particular reason why Edmund should be in the study at all. He had come up earlier with Cornelius to deliver a batch of papers to the King. Cornelius, after a brief discussion of their contents, had taken his leave a long time ago. Edmund had lingered, perched on the windowsill not far from the desk, to keep Caspian company in his work. Absorbed as he was in his task (allocation of revenue from export of fine Narnian wines, as it happened), he seemed barely aware of his companion's altruism, but continued to pore over documents, occasionally jotting down figures and details in his curly hand.
"Difficult?" asked Edmund, as Caspian dropped his quill in disgust and rested his head in his hands.
"No," he sighed. "Just boring."
"You are allowed to take a break, you know," suggested Edmund casually. Since his coronation Caspian seemed to have relaxed ever so slightly in his presence, even to the point of their establishing a sort of easy friendship with one another. Caspian needed little convincing to act on this advice.
"It is a good plan," he said, pushing back his chair and stepping over to the window where Edmund sat. He rested his hand on the windowsill, brushing it softly against Edmund's as he did so.
The tiny action sent a jolt through Edmund's body and he stared at the other King, looking for a sign as to whether it was accidental or deliberate. Caspian's face was blank as he rested his cheek in his palm, gazing wistfully out at the city bathed in warm afternoon sunlight.
Recklessly, Edmund moved his hand further along the sill so that it came to rest more decidedly on Caspian's. The Telmarine's gaze swung around to meet his, his expression unreadable. Edmund's pulse quickened. Caspian's fingers gently, almost tentatively, stroked the back of his palm. Without really thinking, Edmund leaned forward until he could feel the other man's breath on his lips…
The study door creaked, and Caspian released his hand and whirled around to meet Doctor Cornelius who had returned bearing a new correspondence of some kind.
"A letter from the Duke of Galma, Sire," he announced. "Regarding, I believe, the state of the alliance between his country and ours. It had best be attended to promptly."
Caspian gave his old tutor a small smile, his countenance completely composed once more. "Good," he said heartily, "anything for a break from all this wretched accounting."
He went straight to work on the sheet, not looking up when Edmund slipped silently from the room.
Edmund lowered himself onto the soft bed, allowing a long-repressed sigh to escape his lips. Red embers glowed merrily in the fire that had been prepared for him by the servants. He yanked off his boots, tossing them aside as if they had done him personal insult, and shrugged off his confining doublet. The changes in fashion since he had last been in Narnia never ceased to surprise him, though he supposed he ought to have expected it. The Telmarine nobility favoured elaborate brocades, soft velvets and silks, and highly structured shapes. In his day, it had all been loose-fitting tunics and thin, supple leggings. Caspian and Peter suited the style beautifully, but Edmund felt quite ridiculous and was always relieved to strip down to his comfortable linen shirt and breeches in the evenings.
He had scarce accomplished the fiddly task of getting all his ties and clasps unfastened, when a tentative knock alerted him to the presence of a visitor. "Come in," he called casually, assuming it to be one of the servants up to fuss with his bed linen. Instead, in burst the very last person he had expected to come visiting him in his private quarters at night.
"King Edmund, I…oh." Caspian coloured, stepping back slightly. "I did not realise you were undressing. My apologies for the interruption." He did not avert his eyes, a fact that Edmund felt acutely aware of.
"Nonsense, Caspian," replied Edmund, feeling as if there was something large and bulbous stuck in his throat. "Was there anything you needed?"
"Well, I…" He broke off, biting his lip. "I should not have come," he said softly. "I just…well, what happened today, and…"
A sudden sense of confidence, or perhaps madness, seized Edmund. He got up off the bed and came purposefully forward, swinging the heavy door shut. Then he turned to Caspian, perfectly calmly, and kissed him full on the lips.
Caspian froze for a minute, then suddenly responded so eagerly that Edmund nearly fell backwards. Caspian sucked hard on his lower lip, one hand fisting in Edmund's hair while the other grabbed him by the hip and pulled him closer. Edmund, feeling irrationally as though this development had been planned for and anticipated, allowed himself to be pushed back onto the bed while the Telmarine king continued to kiss him like there was no tomorrow. It was quite amazing, really, how fast an innocent situation could turn into something so much more fierce and hormonally-driven.
"Caspian," he murmured throatily as the other boy's lips left his and began trailing down his jaw, causing pleasant little shivers to run down Edmund's spine. "What…what's going on?"
"I don't want to talk about it," muttered Caspian against his skin, without pausing in his ministrations. "Please, just…" Now he was kissing Edmund's neck, sucking and nipping gently at a pulse point. Edmund inhaled sharply.
"Please what?" he gasped, trying to keep hold of his coherent thoughts as Caspian's soft lips continued to explore his sensitive skin. Caspian didn't reply, preferring instead to begin battling with the laces of Edmund's shirt. Edmund gave up on the conversation, and turned his attention to the frustrating process of getting Caspian's superfluous clothing out of the way. Not an easy endeavour considering the fact that he was almost completely pinned to the mattress, but he managed it. A few more agonizing minutes found them completely naked on the bed, bodies pressing together in the most intimate of places. Caspian's breath was coming in ragged gasps as Edmund ran his hands along his bare torso, skimming down towards his groin and then dodging, brushing tantalisingly against his thighs. A sort of strangled whine escaped Caspian's throat and his hands began to do some exploring of their own.
Stars exploded behind Edmund's eyes, and he threw his head back as Caspian caressed him slowly, torturously. His hips bucked reflexively. Caspian's lips ran down along his stomach, leaving goosebumps on his skin, all the while moving closer and closer to the centre of his arousal. And then…he cried out wantonly as Caspian took him fully in his mouth. Heat and pleasure were overwhelming his every sense, and he writhed and bucked helplessly and he knew, vaguely, that he was spouting a string of gibberish from his mouth but he simply didn't care and he was getting closer and he couldn't think and…
With a shriek that he afterwards suspected must surely have reached the ears of his parents back home in England, he exploded into Caspian's mouth in a white-hot flash of pleasure. When he was completely spent he flopped back against the pillow, gasping for air. He knew he probably looked like a fish out of water, but it didn't seem to matter, and he shut his eyes and struggled to regain some sort of coherent state of mind. And then he became aware that Caspian's breathing was still laboured; that his eyes were still clouded with lust, his every muscle tense with need, as he kissed Edmund with passionate urgency that set his stomach tingling all over again.
"Please," Caspian gasped against his mouth. "Edmund…" Edmund responded by kissing him back violently, trying to match his passion and desire. Edmund had many faults, but he would never be accused of being an indifferent lover.
"Mmmh…" Caspian groaned incoherently as he began to prepare Edmund for what he wanted, and Edmund winced at the strange and slightly uncomfortable sensation of being probed there. His discomfort was short-lived as Caspian's fingers brushed against something inside him that caused him to arch his back and let out a low whimper.
And then Caspian, having by now quite obviously reached the limit of his self-control, turned him around and pushed into him without any warning whatsoever. Edmund gasped, gritting his teeth at the sharp pain, but Caspian's hand reached around and fondled him soothingly. Something more animalistic awoke in Edmund, and he began pressing back into Caspian as hard as he could. "Take me!" he gasped, and his Telmarine lover needed no further encouragement whatsoever. Caspian moaned urgently right beside his ear, his ragged breath tickling Edmund's cheek, and for a few minutes nothing existed in Edmund's world save for the unbearably sweet pressure that was building up inside him again, and the cries and garbled utterings of his lover as he thrust into him unrestrainedly. For the second time that night, Edmund was swept away completely by a blissful explosion somewhere in his abdomen. Behind him, Caspian gave one last wild jerk and cried out his name once more.
The two boys collapsed heavily onto the bed once more, and Edmund wrapped his hand in Caspian's hair as the other king pressed his cheek to his chest, trembling slightly and breathing as if he had run a marathon. He was gasping out something in between breaths, but Edmund could not understand a word of it and, frankly, was not too worried. He felt so warm and tired and comfortable…conversations could wait until tomorrow, he thought as his eyes drifted blissfully closed.
Edmund gazed down at the dark russet hair behind which he knew was concealed the face of the youth curled up against him. Caspian was fast asleep, his shallow, even breathing lightly tickling his skin. Edmund could not remember the last time he had woken up so happy. He ached all over, but it couldn't stop the huge grin that spread across his cheeks. He had spent so long dreaming about Caspian, longing for him in silence, but never had he imagined that that would happen.
Caspian was stirring, brushing his hair sleepily out of his eyes and blinking up at Edmund.
"Morning," he yawned, knuckling an eye. "How are you?"
"Wonderful," replied Edmund as casually as he could, feeling suddenly a little awkward. What was meant to happen now?
"Um, I'm trying to remember what I came to tell you last night."
Edmund laughed. "I thought you just dropped in because you wanted sex," he teased. Many a true word is spoken in jest, he thought inwardly, unable to stop the feeling of anxiety that was rising in his chest.
"No indeed!" Caspian sat bolt upright, looking horrified. "Oh, that's it…I was going to tell you that, ah, I'm in love with you. I suppose it is a little redundant now."
"Perhaps." Edmund felt as if he had a very large, very fluffy and very warm bunny curled up in his chest. If his insides got any fuzzier, he thought, he might as well turn into a bunny himself. He grinned even wider, unable to stop the ridiculous mental image that came to mind. "Um, if you don't mind me asking…how long have you been in love with me?"
Caspian looked at him somewhat sheepishly. "A while, I think. It sort of just crept up on me."
"I know the feeling." Edmund leaned over and pressed a soft, tender kiss to Caspian's lips. "Well, I'm in love with you as well. But I suppose you already knew that."
Edmund would have quite liked to stay like that all day, but it wasn't long before Caspian declared he had to get up and get on with his work. He left the room quite hastily, and for the rest of the day his manner was as distant and indifferent as it had ever been. But this time it didn't bother Edmund, for now he knew that Caspian simply had his own way of displaying affection. Edmund rather thought he could live with that.
His eyes were dry as he stepped up to face the Great Lion, clothed once more in his old school uniform. He had known this was coming; known he would not be permitted to linger in Narnia forever. He looked into Aslan's golden eyes and silently thanked him for everything that had been allowed to pass. He knew, once again, that the Lion knew exactly what he was thinking and could anticipate anything he might do next. It didn't matter what he wanted, or what Caspian wanted. Aslan knew what was best, and he had to trust in the Lion's wisdom. He could only be grateful for what he had already been given.
He wished he could spend a hundred years with Caspian, but he didn't think that even then he would be able to figure him out completely. He was so restrained, so guarded in public; so dutiful to his people; so loving, so passionate and dedicated underneath it all. He was standing straight-backed and proud before the assembled people, and Edmund knew how much courage it took him to keep that stoic face intact. Last night Caspian had wept bitterly into his shoulder, for they had both known, instinctively, that when the next sun rose they would have to part. Caspian would move on with his life and make the best of the situation, as he always did. Edmund wasn't needed in Narnia anymore.
As he stepped up to the arch that would carry him back to England, Caspian turned quite suddenly and looked him straight in the eye. There were no more tears, no dramatic goodbyes, no passionate embraces or public displays of affection. There was only that sorrowful gaze, that sense of regretful understanding that passed between them in one brief moment. His feet seemed to move of their own accord as he took that last, fateful step forward. Narnia disappeared, and he was standing on a crowded train station as the great steam engine roared into view.
He bit his lip, praying that Aslan would keep Caspian safe.