Disclaimer: Not mine... :P

WARNING: This is a slash story. If this offends you, please don't read it.

A/N: This story is set before the Pevensies return to England. It sort of follows movie canon... a bit... :)

HUGE thanks to my sister, The Salt Lake Queen, who has been my beta and pushed me along the whole way. Without her, I would have gotten very, very lazy.

Chapter 1: 'A Fool's Hope'

Making his way swiftly across the courtyard, Edmund saw the familiar sight of his beloved sister walking with the newly crowned king, said king's eyes never straying from her lovely face. He sighed quietly to himself, making his way over to them with a heavy heart.

"Forgive me for the intrusion, Majesties," he began, head bowed slightly in respect for the elder royals.

"No need to be so formal, Ed," Susan smiled gently. "Any particular reason that you came?"

"The seamstress requires your presence. Something about the last fitting of a blue dress?" Edmund said, watching Susan's face light up.

"Wonderful! I'll go there at once. See you both later," Susan said, turning and gliding off, throwing a smile over her shoulder as she went. Seeing Caspian's disappointment, Edmund decided to speak up.

"So," he said, clearing his throat, "nice day we're having." As soon as he said it, he wished he hadn't.

"I suppose," Caspian agreed, giving him an odd look. Edmund's heart fluttered and his cheeks threatened to heat up as their eyes met, but he pushed the blush down, determined to keep his composure.

"Susan won't take long."

"I hope not. Well, I will go and take care of other business. Until later," Caspian said, striding off with a smile, leaving Edmund standing in the middle of the courtyard alone.

At least that cheered him up, Edmund thought miserably, taking one last look in Caspian's direction before beginning to ascend the stairs, his heart heavy. His feelings were unrequited, he knew, but he held hope that one day his love would be returned. But he also knew that it was unlikely. Caspian was utterly infatuated with Susan and, though she did not express serious intent towards him, she did not seem to mind his advances.

I will simply let it go, Edmund thought. It is a fool's hope. Caspian was now a king, and had easily slipped into the position. He looked so handsome and regal when seated upon his throne, like the hero he was. For Edmund had long since decided that Caspian was indeed a hero. He had fought for Narnia with his life, even though he had been raised to hate it. His kindness and bravery had won the fierce loyalty of the Narnians, and the grudging respect of the High King Peter, yet another hero in Edmund's life. He was truly lucky to be surrounded by such good, brave people.

A sad smile crossed Edmund's face as he remembered the happy look Caspian had had on his face when he was crowned. He only wished that he could invoke such happiness in someone somehow; that he could do something to make Caspian happy. As long as his loved ones were happy, Edmund was happy.

"Are you all right, Ed?" a voice asked.

"Oh, hello, Peter."

"Don't 'hello Peter' me. Is something the matter?"

"No, I'm fine," Edmund smiled in an attempt to appease his brother.

"Well, do tell me if there's something wrong," Peter said, his previous alarm being replaced by an easy grin. "And try not to think too hard. You might break something in that skull of yours." Ruffling his hair affectionately, Peter continued on his way, laughing at Edmund's disgruntled expression.

Smiling slightly, Edmund thought of how he had missed the playful side of Peter. In Finchley, Peter had been so unhappy, a man in a child's body. Never the most eloquent of people, Edmund had just tried to keep his brother out of trouble, getting into fight after fight for Peter's sake. He was a Narnian at heart, and even in Finchley he would protect his High King, no matter the cost. It was his duty as lesser king and brother, and one that he would uphold until the day he died.

Shaking his head, Edmund stalked in the direction of the library, selecting a book at random from the shelves and quickly becoming immersed in it. Hours passed without his notice, and he was so absorbed that he did not hear the bell for dinner. A flustered servant telling him that dinner had already begun finally jerked him away from his reading, and he cursed himself for not noticing that the sun had gone down.

He hurriedly made his way to the dining hall, nearly falling down a flight of stairs in his haste. Upon his arrival, all eyes turned on him and he flushed, averting his gaze to the stone floor.

"I apologise for my lateness," he said quietly.

"Do come in, Ed," Peter said cheerfully from the head of the table. The rest of the diners resumed their conversations and the Just king breathed a sigh of relief, taking his place on Peter's right. Susan and Lucy were across from him and, to both his horror and joy, Caspian was seated next to him.

The Telmarine was smiling merrily, laughing loudly at something Trumpkin said. From the dwarf's expression, it wasn't supposed to be funny, but Caspian just gave him a good-natured smile and reached for the potatoes, spooning some carefully onto his plate. He was twirling his fork absent-mindedly as he examined the rest of the food, nearly stabbing Trumpkin as he did so. An angry comment from the dwarf had him apologising, though his dark eyes still sparkled with mirth.

Pulling his attention away from Caspian, Edmund's mouth watered as the delicious smells wafted up his nose. He proceeded to serve himself some venison and some of the little pastries that he assumed were of Telmarine invention. Upon taking a bite, he discovered them quite to his liking, with some herbs and vegetables as the filling.

"Where were you, Ed? We were beginning to get a bit worried," said Lucy, her bright eyes curious.

"I'm sorry, I was in the library and I lost track of time," Edmund explained.

"Promise to be more careful next time?" Lucy asked, smiling brightly when Edmund nodded and taking a drink of her juice. Though mentally an adult, she was in a child's body and Peter had forbidden her from consuming even a drop of alcohol.

"The castle is very safe," Caspian said, appearing disgruntled. "It is extremely unlikely that any harm would befall King Edmund within these walls."

"My sister wasn't implying your castle was inadequate," Peter snapped. "We were merely concerned for our brother, as siblings often are."

"I am sure he can take care of himself," Caspian replied, anger flashing over his handsome face. Edmund smiled slightly at the compliment, nibbling at his pastry again. It seemed that Caspian had noticed that he too could use a sword efficiently, though not as well as Caspian or Peter.

"Indeed he can. But we worry about him nonetheless," Peter said, his eyes daring Caspian to mock his concern.

"Well-" Caspian began.

"There's no use in arguing about it," Susan interrupted.

"Perhaps you're right," Peter said, settling back into his chair, still glaring at Caspian. Edmund stabbed at the venison at his plate, irritation blossoming as the other kings continued their childish ways, glaring at each other and arguing about petty things. He loved Peter as his brother and Caspian as one would a lover, but they were beginning to drive him mad.

"Just stop it, all right?" Edmund finally said, breaking up yet another squabble. "You've been arguing all evening." Peter and Caspian both stared at him for a few moments, then averted their gazes, Peter to his dinner and Caspian to Susan. Edmund sighed, watching the expression on Caspian's face grow gentler, anger dissipating. If only Caspian could look at him like that… but he did not have the beauty of any of his siblings. I am the odd one out, he thought sadly.

"Ed?" Peter murmured.

"I'll see you later, Peter," Edmund muttered. He raised his voice, addressing the rest of the table. "I am going to retire for the night. Thank you for the wonderful meal."

He strode away, feeling his siblings' worried gazes on him, able to hear them still.

"Now you have upset him," Caspian said. Edmund smiled at Caspian's concern, feeling considerably happier, but deciding not to return anyway.

"Me?" Peter snorted. "I'm his brother, he was upset that you were picking fights with me."

"So you are saying this is my fault?" Caspian growled. Edmund sighed in exasperation, climbing up the stairs as they continued to bicker. The tension between the two was terrible, and he was glad to be out of the crossfire.

He turned into a corridor, eventually reaching the room that he had been assigned. It was not as magnificent as Peter's, beautiful as Susan's or bright as Lucy's bedroom, but it was comfortable enough. He was situated next to Peter, with his sister's rooms across the corridor, so he was happy with the arrangement.

He pulled on his nightclothes, clambering into his bed with his sword at his side. Blowing out the candle and facing his small window, Edmund settled down, content to wait for sleep to come to him. When it finally did, he had dreams of dark eyes that gazed upon him with such love that it made his heart melt. And so he remained, dreaming on his bed with moonlight streaming across his frame, at peace until the sun would finally rise again.