Hey guys, thanks so much for checking this out. This is my first fic, so any help would be great. Thank you to Gwenneth and Elecktrum for getting me obsessed with Narnia in the first place!
Usual disclaimer applies: this sandbox belongs to C. S. Lewis, I just like making sand castles.
I grunted and hefted my bag of books onto my other shoulder. I was slightly annoyed by the fact that I found it decently heavy….I was still accustomed to having much more strength. If I was still….well, if things were the way they should be, this bag wouldn't have been a problem.
I paused for a moment, pushing back the wave of grief, and resolutely drew a deep breath. Today was the first day of school for us since we had returned from Professor Kirke's house. I was approaching it with mixed and confused emotions. How does one go from being a High King to being a mere student, another boy in the classroom…?
The warning bell buzzed right above my head, making me jump and reach automatically for Rhindon. I paused again and scowled, trying to ignore the strange looks I was getting from the few students racing down the halls. I really needed to break that habit….but every time I tried, Orieus' words would pop into my head, screaming at me to never hesitate in battle….
I shook my head again, sending my too-short, unfamiliarly styled blond hair flying in every direction. I still kept thinking that I had a beard, that my skin was tan, that I was tall, muscular, and slender, with a crown of gold gracing my brow…
Biting my lip, I rushed to class. I had not had the chance to talk to any of my friends – oh, it seemed so long ago! – and I found myself wondering if any of them would be in with me today. I grimaced to myself. They would notice the change, surely; how could anyone miss it?
At least my predicament was better than Edmund's, and I felt a pang of pity for my younger, Just sibling. His former "friends" were nothing, nothing like he was now….once, maybe, but ever since Narnia….
The bell buzzed again as I practically flew into the classroom, silently berating myself. I had not been late for anything in very long time, and on the rare occasion I had been it hadn't mattered. I was the High King, and so therefore – as Edmund liked to joke – I could hardly be late for a meeting of some sort that was called by me. I couldn't punish myself…well, not in theory, anyway.
"You're cutting it a bit fine." The teacher gave me a warning glare, his tone of voice disapproving. My first instinct was to draw myself up to my full height, smile charmingly, and calmly dismiss the matter in a manner that left no room for argument and definitely confirmed that I was a king. I clamped down hard upon the urge, and it took all of my self control to duck my head, look ashamed, and murmur a fervent apology.
I didn't like it. It went against my being, my very nature….
I sat down in the first available seat I saw, which, luckily enough, was in the back of the room. I didn't know the people around me very well, either, and I avoided looking around for fear of catching the eye of someone I knew.
The class seemed to drag on for a cruel amount of time. It was math, something I was already well educated in, and something that I had been studying for more years than I was old in this world. Interestingly enough, I managed to notice during the first and only five minutes of my attention that math here in England was somehow simpler than what we had been learning in Narnia. It was surprisingly primitive.
Bored beyond reason, I gazed absently at my desk, trying vainly not to let my thoughts stray towards Narnia. Unfortunately, my seat was next to the window, and if I looked out I knew I would be unable to stop myself from comparing what the English called nice weather to the brilliant glory of my home. I sighed very quietly, my chest aching with loss, remembering our days as Kings and Queens….
"Peter Pevensie, pay attention!"
I started as something hard rapped harshly across my knuckles, turning them red. The blow stung, and although it was nothing compared to some of my past injuries, it took my by surprise. Again I responded with what seemed like the only reflex reaction I knew; I leapt to my feet with shocking speed, my hand flying to the hilt of my….nonexistent sword.
I blinked in confusion for an instant before I realized what was happening. The teacher and the rest of the class were staring at me in shock. I felt my cheeks grow warm, my hand dropping down. The ache in my chest had intensified.
"I ap – sorry," I half-managed, catching myself just in time. I had almost launched straight into the formal apology that I used when in court. Inside, I shook my head in despair. What was I going to do? I didn't belong in this world!
"What," the teacher said coldly, eyeing me with disdain, "Was that, Pevensie?"
I didn't like the way he was looking at me. It reminded me far too much of the many times I had had to defend Narnia, myself, and my siblings from opposing groups. Particularly the nobles who had thought we were mere children who hardly deserved the thrones.
They had regretted their tongues. I wanted nothing more than to make my poor excuse for a teacher regret his as well.
Instead, I summoned up my strength and battered the desire down. I was not usually so quick-tempered, but the sudden change from High King to anonymous schoolboy had not settled well with me at all. I hadn't been my true self in nearly a month, and neither had Edmund, Susan, or Lucy.
We were all lost.
"I'm sorry, sir," I said, hoping I sounded respectful. I almost bowed to him, and then caught myself just in time…again. "You startled me when you rapped my hand, is all." Now that I thought about it, why had he rapped my hand? It wasn't right for teachers to be able to "beat" students in class. What was this society thinking?
"You weren't paying attention." It was a statement, not a question. He was still glaring at me, and I did not like it. At all. If this had happened in Narnia….well, I wouldn't have had a problem telling him off. Or I would have just let Edmund deal with him. My silver-tongued brother could make even the most arrogant man feel ashamed with a few quick, well-delivered blows. Sometimes all he needed was the tone of voice.
I nearly bowed again, knowing how I would handle it if this were Narnia. I caught myself again and swore in my head. Would this ever end?
"I'm sorry, sir," I apologized yet again. "It may have appeared that I was not paying attention, but I assure you that I have absorbed the material." I nearly added something about the hand rapping, but I held my tongue, even though I definitely did not want to.
The teacher was not as convinced. He glared at me through suspicious eyes, making me squirm inwardly at the memories.
"You will do well, then, to answer the following problem." The way he said it made me stop and puzzle over it for a moment. Then it hit me, and I winced. I had spoken too formally for a boy my age in my society. He was trying to respond in kind, but he most likely thought my formalness was a way of being impolite. I let out a frustrated sigh.
The teacher strode over to the chalkboard, snatched a worksheet from his desk, and then started to copy a problem onto the board. As I watched him, I found that it was my turn for my eyes to narrow dangerously. The problem was not hard – not for me, at least – but it was definitely not one that would have appeared in our class. Or if so, it would not happen until the end of the year.
This guy was just determined to get me, wasn't he?
….not like I wasn't used to that.
He finished about thirty seconds later, writing the last number with a small flourish. He seemed confident that this would confound me. Too bad he didn't know who he was challenging….
Still, I couldn't help but give my dear teacher a warning. As he turned towards me, grinning smugly, I allowed myself to let go of a fraction of my true being. I drew myself up, bearing my body in a regal manner that could only be duplicated in Narnia. I lifted my chin, squared my shoulders, and let my cool blue eyes meet his suddenly uncertain ones. I knew that I was probably emanating what Edmund jokingly called "our scariest and most unpredictable weapon." I had never witnessed it for myself, obviously, but apparently I could give off quite an aura when provoked.
Saying nothing, I swept past him and to the board, letting my feet glide across the floor. I didn't let go completely, of course – that would have been more than disconcerting for the whole class – but it was as much I would ever allow, and I was happy about it. My centaur posture teacher would have gone crazy if she had seen me walking like this, but England didn't know any better.
Snatching up the chalk, I turned to the long problem and completed it almost absentmindedly, smiling a little to myself. I hadn't realized before how advanced Narnia was. Although with the centaurs' knowledge, it was hardly surprising…I should have guessed.
Just as I was about to finish, I heard the door open and turned around to see who it was. My mouth nearly dropped. What was Edmund doing here?
My dark-haired brother glanced around, saw me, and stared, looking confused. I shrugged, giving him one of those there's-this-guy-that-wants-to-do-me-in looks, and he frowned. Our silent exchange probably went unnoticed to the rest of the class – Edmund and I had a very close bond.
Then again, White Witches and Giants and wars and ruling countries might do that to you.
The teacher looked annoyed to be interrupted.
"What do you want?" he snapped. I bristled, and I thought I saw Edmund's eyes flash briefly.
"I'm sorry, sir," he said in a voice that sounded quite sincere – although it was fake to me, because I knew him so well. I could detect a hint of annoyance underneath his tone, and I knew that, without a doubt, Edmund was having as many problems adjusting as I was. "My math teacher had me come to this class. She said my original one was too simple for me."
I stifled a laugh. Calculus five billion would be too simple compared to what we knew.
The teacher flashed me a glare, and then froze, eyes widening in surprise at the completed – and correct – problem displayed on the board behind me. Now Edmund had to control his laugh. The class stared.
Seriously annoyed now, the teacher whipped back to Edmund.
"What's your name?" he barked. For a moment, I imagined what the expression on Oreius' face would have been if he had heard anyone speaking to Narnia's kings in that manner. It was quite funny.
"Edmund Pevensie, sir," Edmund said respectfully; the teacher's eyes widened in surprise. He turned to glare at me.
"It seems that brains run in your family," he said coolly, sounding angry for some reason I could not name. "Get back to your seat. You – " he pointed at Edmund, " – sit over there."
Edmund calmly went to the only other open seat – the one in the front row – while I retreated hastily to my back corner. He grimaced at me as we passed each other; I gave him my well-doesn't-this-seem-familiar look, and he gave me his Ha-I'm-in-the-front-lines-you're-not retort. I gave my eyes a minute roll that he caught immediately; we had perfected it in court over the course of our rule. He poked his tongue out in retaliation.
A few people snickered quietly, and I realized we hadn't gone unnoticed; although, thankfully, our wonderful teacher seemed to have missed the entire thing. Despite my annoyance with him, with the school, with England – the world in general – I managed a small smile. With Edmund here, everything suddenly looked three times better than it had. We were going to survive our first day of school.
"Edmund, hurry up. We're going to be late." I glanced uneasily at my watch; we were cutting it very fine. Our gym class was in four minutes, and we still had to make it to the locker rooms.
"Just a sec, Pete," his muffled voice came from the office's interior. He had been there for five minutes already, trying to get his schedule changed around so that he was in all of my classes. Of course, this was only because during the last three classes he had been sent to somewhere higher, because he was obviously bored with them. I was doing my best to look like I fit in so that we could be together.
Two minutes later he finally emerged, carrying a folded sheet of paper and looking immensely pleased with himself. I held out my hand, and he flicked the paper at me as we started racing towards the locker rooms.
I blinked in surprise.
"Ed, how did you manage this?" I asked in disbelief, a wide smile sneaking across my face. He had gotten the two of us into every single class together. Edmund looked at me in mock exasperation.
"King Edmund Silver-Tongue, remember? All you have to do is act dumber than you are so that you don't get moved up as well."
"You used diplomacy! Oh…those poor secretaries didn't have a chance."
"Hey, I'm not going to just let all of my experiences go to waste," he said seriously as we dashed into the locker rooms and hastily changed clothes. He hesitated slightly, and then added, "And neither should you."
I said nothing for a moment. His words hurt me, because they touched one of my most sensitive spots. Of course I didn't want to lose everything I'd learned in Narnia, but what could I do? Magnificence just didn't work here. I'd open a door for a girl, and she'd glare at me and tell me she wasn't interested, even though my only intent was courtesy. I would speak politely and people would think I was mocking them. I drew myself up to my full height and people thought I was intimidating them.
"I don't know how, Ed," I confessed quietly. He paused, and I could feel his eyes on the back of my head. I kept my own eyes down as I re-locked my locker with unnecessary slowness, avoiding the contact. I started when he laid a hand on my shoulder.
"You could start by looking up," he suggested softly. "The crown isn't what makes the king, Peter, so stop thinking that you have one and just let yourself go."
The bell rang, and he darted out the door. I remained frozen in place, watching him leap straight into his new life, eyes shining like the king he was. He was right. I was blocking myself from myself, blinding me to everything that I could be doing.
Thank Aslan for my annoying, headstrong, wonderful, wonderful brother.
I grinned, straightened up, and followed him out the door.
What do you think? I was planning on it being a one-shot, but should it be longer? I was thinking maybe they would join the chess club. Please let me know your thoughts!