Written for prompt #6 over on the LiveJournal community 100foraslan.

Edmund wasn't like his siblings. He wasn't valiant, or magnificent, or gentle. Sometimes he suspected he was the least virtuous of them all. Other times he thought virtue was nothing more than uncommon skill in acting.

Beneath his veil of noble compassion, Edmund knew he was contaminated. Contaminated, because he had long ago stopped even trying to be perfect. Why should he? It never worked, anyway.

He often wondered if there were other people like him. Dirty people, people who were not as pure and spotless and good as they seemed on the surface.

When he met Caspian, Edmund didn't need to wonder anymore.

For all his pretensions to virtue, Caspian was tainted. Edmund knew it from the way his eyes blazed when he thought of his uncle; knew that, however much he hated Miraz for living, he hated him all the more for dying and leaving him to pick up the pieces of the kingdom.

Edmund knew – and he relished the knowledge.

Sometimes, when everything became too much, they stole away from the castle with a bottle of wine from the cellars. Out in the woods, hopelessly drunk and rebellious, they played quoits with their crowns as an act of secret defiance and degradation. They made violent love amid the decomposing leaves and dirt until they could no longer remember what they were doing, or why they were angry. Bodies spent and rebellion thwarted, they would return to the castle and curl up in their separate beds to sleep off the alcohol in their blood.

When he woke the next morning, Edmund wondered how it was that Caspian, with all his imperfections, had come to mean more to him than any of his morally superior peers, and whether it was right or wrong.

He didn't really care.