Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia. If I did...well, let's just say that Caspian wouldn't be played by a 27 year old or have a Spanish accent and dark hair. :)
A/N: I feel bad because I haven't posted ANYTHING whatsoever in so long. I still need to update some of my other fics...but until I do, here's a fun one to occupy you in your boredom. ;) Jill and Eustace are 14, Lucy is 15, Ed is 16, and Peter is 19. And this was going to be about Thanksgiving until I realized that they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in England. Interesting bit of trivia for all my American readers. ;)
If you review I'll give you an imaginary Three Musketeer bar. They're good. Veeeery good.
Scrubb residence, November 27th, 5 years after the Silver Chair
Eustace Clarence Scrubb looked up from his book at the sound of his name. Alberta – no, Mum – he reminded himself, stood looking down at him, a stack of books in her arms.
"Yes, Al—Mum," he replied, catching himself with some difficulty.
Alberta put her head to one side and sighed at her son's curious behavior.
"Eustace Clarence, your cousin phoned this morning. Lucy Pevensie…" she paused, "…you know, Helen's daughter?"
Eustace barely managed to keep from groaning at his mother's tone.
"Yes, Mum. I know who Lucy is."
Alberta rolled her eyes and shrugged.
"Well yes I'm sure you would. Especially considering she and that brother of hers stayed with us that one summer. Though it has been several years, you know."
"What did she phone about?" Eustace asked, suppressing the temptation to roll his eyes.
Alberta set down her books on the table and scratched her head, fiddling with a bobby pin absently.
"Well she told me that when I invited her family over for dinner, you invited That Girl too."
"That Girl?" Eustace asked, raising an eyebrow in question.
Alberta gave him a pointedly annoyed look and sighed again.
"Yes. That Girl. Your friend from school?"
Comprehension dawned in Eustace's mind.
"Oh Pole. Right. It's all right if she comes over this afternoon isn't it? The Pevensies got into town a few days ago, and Pole and I really wanted to…discuss some things with Edmund and Lucy."
Alberta nodded, but her son noticed a strange look in her eye.
"What is it?" he asked, meeting her gaze.
"Nothing, Eustace Clarence," she replied, swallowing hard. "I'm just glad you aren't going by first names—yet."
Then she turned abruptly and left the room, leaving Eustace to puzzle over this strange, rather unexpected statement.
At exactly six o' clock, the doorbell rang. Eustace scrambled to get to the door before Alberta, ran a hand through his tousled hair, and opened the large wooden door with his heart beating rather quickly.
Helen and David Pevensie—who was home on furlough—stood just outside. They greeted him with a quick, "Hello, Eustace!" and a hug (Uncle David shook his hand) and then made their way past him.
Susan, who was just behind her parents, gave her cousin a quick smile and hugged him tightly.
"How are you, Eustace?" she asked, rumpling his hair with a slightly patronizing grin that was at least meant well.
"Wonderful, thanks," Eustace replied quickly, forcing a smile as Susan swept past him into the house. Peter was next, greeting him with a firm handshake.
"Good to see you, Eustace," he said with a smile. "I don't believe you were so tall the last time we saw you."
Eustace grimaced and shook his head.
"Al—Mum says that I've grown like a weed. I'm almost as tall as her now."
Lucy was the next person to address him; she stepped forward to give him a hug before he could get out of the way.
"How good to see you again! And isn't it simply wonderful that we got into town just in time to be here so we could have dinner with you on the only night you're free? I was so pleased."
"It's good of you to come," Eustace replied, tactfully extricating himself from the youngest Pevensie's warm embrace, which he didn't mind nearly as much as Susan's.
Lucy waltzed in to give 'Auntie Alberta' a hug, and Edmund, the closest of all his cousins, held out his hand, which Eustace promptly shook.
"Hullo old chap," he said with a grin. "Had any more sword practice since we last saw you?"
Eustace grinned back and shook his head.
"Not much. Though Pole and I usually have a few rounds of archery every now and again."
Edmund nodded, and his dark eyes looked serious.
"Never know when you might get back. It's best to keep in practice."
Then he pushed past Eustace without another word.
Eustace glanced around the corner of the porch, and gave a disappointed sigh as his friend failed to appear.
"I guess she couldn't come," he muttered, returning to the house reluctantly.
Then, just as he was about to shut the door, he heard the quick honk of an automobile horn, and a door slamming shut from somewhere on the street.
Eustace opened the door again, and a relieved smile crossed his face at the sight of his friend.
"Pole! I thought you'd never show up."
Jill raced up the steps to his front door and beamed up at him.
"Never show up, indeed! I'm only two minutes late!"
Her cheeks were rosy with the chill in the air, and her light brown curls gleamed in the porch light.
"Come on in," Eustace said, gesturing to the door, his throat suddenly gone dry. "But you'd better watch out. Al—Mum's a bit cross this evening. Harold had work and couldn't be here for dinner and they had a fight. "
Jill nodded solemnly, looking a bit concerned for a moment, and then grinned at him.
"I'll be on my best behavior."
After a few minutes of introductions, everyone gathered around the table for dinner. At his parents' request, Peter blessed the meal, and the Pevensies, Alberta, Eustace, and Jill ate their supper with rather less than the usual fuss and conversation. Eustace couldn't help but notice the suspicious looks that Alberta kept giving Jill. The talk was mostly between the adults, with a word here and there from Susan or Peter. Though Edmund and Lucy managed to appear interested, Jill was beginning look rather bored as she finished her meal and pushed back her chair.
"So, Jill," Alberta finally brought herself to say, stumbling over the name. "You're in Eustace's classes at the Experiment House?"
"Dreadful name for a school," Eustace muttered, leaning back in his chair and pushing his plate forward with a sigh of contentment.
"Yes, we are in a few of the same classes," Jill admitted. "We take Grammar, Arithmetic, and Archery together, but Archery's only on Wednesdays."
Alberta raised an eyebrow, but nodded in acknowledgement.
"Do you have a beau?" Susan asked suddenly, ever the matchmaker, and glancing at Eustace.
Jill blinked three times in succession. Eustace turned three shades of red. Lucy bit her lip and tried to keep from smiling. Edmund barely stifled a laugh. Finally, Jill managed to stammer an answer.
"A beau? I'm afraid I don't quite know what you mean."
"Oh you know, dear," Susan said, smiling condescendingly. "A sweetheart."
With all that lipstick on, her lips cover almost half her face, Jill thought wickedly, though we can perhaps excuse her for this thought due to the fact that it was mostly true.
She shook her head decidedly, giving Alberta and Susan a sweet smile.
"I'm afraid not. Only good friends."
She gave Eustace a quick wink, which Alberta noticed with growing apprehension. Susan, however, wasn't ready to let this conversation end without a answer that satisfied her.
"But surely there's someone," she said, flipping her dark hair behind her shoulders. "Every girl has somebody that they like."
Do you suppose she needs all that makeup that she's wearing? Jill thought naughtily.
"I'm afraid not," Jill said out loud, leaning forward and raising an eyebrow. "I'm not exactly like every girl."
In the deafening silence that followed, Eustace knew that he had to do something. And by the look on Susan and Alberta's face—not to mention Jill's—he'd better do it quickly too.
"Al—Mum?" he asked, standing up abruptly. "Is it alright if Pole and I make some cookies? I'm feeling awfully hungry for some dessert."
Alberta gave him a bewildered look.
"Cookies, Eustace Clarence?" she asked. "But I have some pies ready, and you don't know a thing—"
"Cookies," Eustace confirmed, interrupting his mother. "I'll have some pie later. Besides, Mum, we never have cookies."
"All right," Alberta replied after a moment's hesitation, shrugging and shaking her head. "But be sure to clean up the mess when you're done."
Eustace glanced at Jill, who hastily got to her feet. Together, they walked quickly out of the living room. Eustace couldn't help but notice the wistful gaze that came from Lucy as she watched them go.
When they shut the kitchen door, Jill leaned against the wall and let out a sigh of relief.
"Thanks, Scrubb," she told him gratefully. "I don't know how I ever manage to get into situations like that. The hostile looks your mother was giving me made me wonder if this dinner wasn't going to end up like the Autumn feast in Harfang almost did."
Eustace still stood by the door, watching her contentedly and trying not to blush at her words of thanks.
"Think nothing of it," he replied, looking down. "It was getting a little uncomfortable for the rest of us too."
Jill gave him a quick grin, and then shook her head with a rueful laugh.
"A beau indeed. I think 'dear cousin Su' was just trying to make me angry."
She wanted to add, "And did you notice the little looks she kept giving you?" but then decided against it, knowing how touchy Eustace could be when it came to talking about that sort of thing.
"Do you know how to make cookies?" Eustace asked as he faced the kitchen, running a hand through his hair. "Because I have no idea."
Jill giggled once and shook her head exasperation.
"So you volunteered me to make the cookies," she said, giving him a playful poke in the arm. "Really, Scrubb. You don't know very much at all, do you?"
"Not about cookies," Eustace replied with an apologetic grin.
"All right," Jill said, sighing and tossing her curls. "Bring me the flour, sugar, and vanilla. I assume you keep eggs and butter in the icebox?"
Eustace nodded as he turned to face the many cabinets. Eventually, after much exploring, he found the flour and the sugar. Jill already had a mixing bowl out, and was stirring the butter in with two eggs.
"It's lucky that we have those eggs, you know," Eustace remarked, putting the sugar and flour bags on the counter with a thump. "My parents are vegetarians, and we don't eat many animal products."
"So why do you have the eggs?" Jill asked, blowing a stray hair out of her eyes and scooping the sugar into the bowl.
"Mum went to a dinner the other night and needed the eggs for a cake," Eustace replied, watching Jill as she stirred the bowl violently. "Those are left over."
Jill glanced over at him, and then at the stack of ingredients.
"Where's the vanilla?"
"Couldn't find it. I think we're out."
Jill sighed and shook her head.
"Oh well. It's just for taste. Do you have any salt?"
"Right here," Eustace said, pulling the box out of a drawer. "I appreciate this an awful lot, Pole. I absolutely love cookies."
"It's no trouble at all—at least, not much trouble," Jill replied with a quick grin, stirring with a flourish.
A few ingredients later, Jill covered two cookie trays with the cookie dough. Then she turned to the oven, turning one of the dials and frowning at it.
"I wonder how one is supposed to tell when the oven is hot enough."
Eustace dipped a finger in the cookie bowl, tasted the dough, and shrugged casually.
"I suppose you could stick a finger in, and if the oven is hot enough to burn it, than it's hot enough to bake the cookies."
Jill rolled her eyes and sighed at her friend's antics, but Eustace wasn't done.
"But I suppose if that wasn't hot enough by that time," he continued with a grin, "I'm sure that by the time you had finished hopped around the kitchen screaming, 'MY FINGER!' and shouting a verbal assault at the oven, it would be more than ready to bake the cookies."
Jill whirled around and swatted at his hand, which was dipping, yet again, in the cookie bowl.
"Very funny," she said, trying desperately—and failing—to keep a wide grin from crossing her face. "And stop eating raw cookie dough. It can give you Salmonella, you know."
Eustace shrugged and dipped his finger in again, ignoring Jill's scorching glare.
"What do you care?" he asked playfully, licking his fingers clean and sending her a grin. "For all you know, Salmonella is a skin condition one gets from touching flour."
Jill stuck out her tongue at him.
"Very funny," she commented, picking up a piece of cookie dough and tasting it carefully.
"Be careful you don't get Salmonella," Eustace teased, pulling one of her curls.
Jill shot him another glare and then closed her eyes to concentrate on the taste. After a moment, she frowned and shook her head.
"Too much salt," she muttered, glaring at the cookie bowl.
She turned and picked up a cookie tray, sliding it into the oven quickly and making sure to keep her fingers clear of the hot surface. She did not want to hop around the kitchen screaming angrily at the oven as Eustace had suggested.
"I think it tastes perfect," came his voice from behind her.
"I'm glad someone thinks so," murmured Jill, slamming the oven shut.
"You know, you two quarrel about as much as an old married couple," said a dry voice from the door.
Both Jill and Eustace whirled around. Edmund stood there, leaning against the doorframe and smirking at them, a humorous twinkle in his dark eyes. With a quick push from Lucy who was behind him, Edmund stumbled into the room ungracefully.
"What's the matter, Ed?" asked Peter with a grin, helping his brother up as he entered the room behind them. "Lose your balance?"
"I was tripped, your honor," Edmund replied solemnly, standing and pointing at Lucy condemningly. "She's the guilty party!"
His younger sister giggled at him and poked him in the stomach. Peter shook his head at the two of them.
"Really, Ed. It's too bad that your pitiless, evil younger sister is always knocking you down," he said, giving his younger brother a faked compassionate glance.
Edmund glared playfully at her, and then grinned at Peter.
"Oh yes. Me and my pitiless, evil sisters. And brother."
To Jill and Eustace's great surprise, Peter stuck out his tongue at Edmund in a most unkingly fashion and swatted him over the head, and then stepped over to the cookie dough, hesitating with his finger above it.
"May I?" he asked Jill courteously.
Jill giggled and nodded, giving Eustace a pointed look.
"At least your cousin is polite enough to ask," she remarked with a grin.
Eustace shrugged. It only took three words to explain the difference between him and Peter.
"He's a king."
"Doesn't mean you can't be polite too," Jill retorted.
Peter tasted the cookie dough and let out a sigh of satisfaction.
"It's magnificent," he stated, smiling at Jill's delighted grin.
"Rather," added Eustace, grabbing a bit more, and earning a glare from Jill.
Lucy stepped further into the room and pulled a chair out, sitting down carefully. Edmund leaned up against one of the cabinets, and Peter took his place beside one of the doors.
"So Jill," Lucy said cautiously after a moment, watching the younger girl thoughtfully, "Eustace wrote to us that you were excited about meeting…other Narnians."
Jill flushed eagerly at the thought, and she nodded enthusiastically.
"Oh yes! Scrubb told me about some of your adventures, but he couldn't remember everything."
She turned to Peter and gave him a shy grin.
"Scrubb said that you were given 'the Northern' part of Narnia. Did you spend much time with the Marsh-wiggles?"
To her surprise, all three of the Pevensies groaned aloud, and then Edmund and Peter burst out laughing.
"Did we spend much time with them?" Edmund gasped in hilarity. "Peter, do you remember when—"
"—Mudgloom visited the Cair?" Peter finished with a grin. "How could I forget?"
Lucy giggled, and an impish grin lit up her face.
"I don't think any of the wiggles ever forgot that incident either."
Jill put her head to one side and gave the Pevensies a puzzled look.
"What incident?" she asked, wondering how such glum and melancholy creatures could produce such a hilarious memory.
Eustace raised an eyebrow and watched his snickering cousins with curiosity that was not unlike Jill's.
"Yes, what incident?" he echoed Jill. "I don't think I've heard this one yet."
Lucy, regaining control of her giggles before either of her brothers, began the story with a mischievous smile.
"Well, it was about three years after our coronation; most of the wiggles had been in hiding during the White Witch's reign, and they were just beginning to trust humans again."
She giggled, and Jill gestured impatiently with her oven mitt.
"And so," Lucy continued, biting her lip and smiling at the memory, "Mudgloom the Marsh-wiggle appeared at the gate of Cair, demanding to see us."
Edmund stepped forward and interrupted her.
"In reality, I believe his actual words were, 'I want to meet with whoever is in control of this land now, though I shouldn't wonder if you don't let me in. And even if you do, I'll end up in the dungeon like as not. And if they don't throw me in the dungeon, I'll be turned to stone I shouldn't wonder, though that's doubtless why the other wiggles sent me on this errand in the first place.'"
He said this little speech with such a wiggleish expression and tone of voice that everyone else burst out laughing, especially Jill and Eustace. Lucy poked him in the side and shook her head, putting on a serious expression for a moment.
"Yes, Ed. Mudgloom did say that you were the most wiggleish of the four of us."
Edmund gave Lucy a meaningful look and patted her on the head.
"I'll have you remember that they nicknamed you 'Smiley', my dear younger sister."
"Better than being so solemn and glum all the time," Lucy shot back with a playful grin. "Not that you'd know, Edmund the Boring."
"Not to seem rude or anything," Eustace interrupted, giving Edmund a pointedly annoyed look, "but do you mind continuing?"
Lucy giggled, and then grinned impishly at Eustace.
"Patience, cousin dear," she replied primly, giving him a pat on the head. "Not going back to the way you were B.D. I hope?"
Eustace turned crimson and looked down at his feet. Edmund, realizing that Lucy's playful words had jabbed deeper than she knew, spoke up in the defense of his cousin.
"Of course not, Lu. Goodness knows he's not as bad as before then. Now stop stalling and get on with the story."
Eustace gave his cousin a grateful look, and then swiped another taste of cookie dough.
"B.D.?" Jill inquired, raising an eyebrow. "What's B.D.?"
"Eustace hasn't told you about Dragon Island?" Lucy asked, giving her cousin a surprised smile as he blushed again.
"That's another story for another time, right Lu?" Edmund said hastily, giving Lucy The Look. Lucy took the hint, and continued with her story.
"Anyway, Mudgloom showed up at the front gate, demanding to see us. The guards almost didn't let him in; they thought he was one of the Witch's minions that had escaped in the Battle of Beruna."
"But then," Peter put in, grinning and leaning back against the wall as he remembered, "Ed came riding along on Phillip. He had been away from the Cair for awhile for some reason or other—"
"I had been visiting the Beavers," Edmund stated, crossing his arms and trying not to grin, but failing miserably. "And you have to keep in mind that it had been a long day, and I was rather cross and tired."
Lucy rolled her eyes and elbowed him.
"So that's your excuse, is it?" she asked with a grin, and then turned back to the others. "Mudgloom saw Edmund coming and stopped him; of course, none of us had ever seen a Marsh-wiggle before, and Edmund, being tired and cross and worried about this strange looking creature did what any self-respecting knight would do, but what probably wasn't the best idea considering that Mudgloom was supposed the be the wiggle's diplomat."
"What did he do?" Jill asked.
"He drew his sword."
"Not only that," Peter continued, barely containing a laugh as he spoke, "he shouted, 'Back, frogman, or taste my steel!'"
At this, everyone in the room burst out laughing.
"You called…a Marsh-wiggle…frogman?" Eustace panted between laughs, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"How Puddleglum would've loved to be called a frogman!" Jill giggled, her eyes twinkling.
"Not a frog. Not a man. I'm a Reshpectabiggle-wiggle," Eustace said, imitating their Marsh-wiggle friend.
Lucy and the others, all having heard the story from Eustace before, all burst out laughing anew.
"So what happened then?" Jill finally asked when they were all calm enough to continue talking.
"Oh Mudgloom sputtered for a while, and I apologized and we let him in," Edmund replied, grinning as he remembered.
"They were our allies for 12 years after that," Peter mused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Then we blundered back through the wardrobe and ended up back here."
"Oh wiggles," Lucy giggled, shaking her head with a sad smile. "How I miss their glum, merry ways."
The five children sat in silence for a moment, none of them speaking as they remembered the place each of them longed to see again. Then, Eustace sniffed the air curiously.
"Do you…smell something burning?" he asked to no one in particular.
"The cookies!" Jill gasped, eyes widening as she spun around.
Oven mitt on her hand, she carefully pulled the door of the oven open. And groaned.
"What?" Eustace and Lucy asked simultaneously.
Jill grabbed the cookie tray and pulled it out, revealing a batch of cookies, most of them dark brown, and a few of them black. Eustace and Edmund both groaned, and Peter laughed halfheartedly.
"Don't worry, Jill," the High King said, giving her a smile. "That's just the first few."
Lucy pushed past him and grabbed a spatula, standing beside Jill, who was blinking back tears of embarrassment and irritation.
"I'll scrape those off, and we can put some more on," she said quickly, smiling brightly at the younger girl.
Jill gave her a grateful smile; Eustace came up behind them and took a look at the ruined cookies, whistling at the sight.
"I thought you said you knew how to bake cookies, Pole," he remarked, picking up one of the charred objects and looking it over carefully. "This thing isn't even edible."
It was the wrong thing to say.
"Well that's nice, Scrubb!" Jill spun around, face red and blue eyes blazing. "You volunteer me to make the cookies, tease me about Salmonella, poke fun at my comments, steal the cookie dough, distract me so I forget about the cookies, and then tell me I can't cook?"
She ripped off the oven mitt and threw it at him, turning and storming out of the kitchen, cheeks flaming, and leaving a very bewildered Eustace standing there, holding the oven mitt and looking rather distressed.
No one said anything for a moment. All three of the Pevensies just stood there, staring at their cousin, who was now turning rather red himself.
"Aren't you going to go after her?" Lucy finally asked, giving him a significant look.
"After her!" Eustace sputtered. "Go after Pole…when she's angry?"
"You were the one that riled her up," Edmund remarked, earning a glare from Eustace.
"I didn't mean to; I was only stating the obvious! Heavens knows you can't eat burned cookies," their cousin protested.
"But you didn't have to say so," Lucy retorted sternly.
No one spoke for another moment. Eustace stared at the kitchen door that Jill had gone through, still swinging back and forth. Then he swallowed hard.
"Go on, Eustace," Peter said quietly from his side of the room. "You're the one who began the quarrel. Go make it right."
Eustace looked down at his shoes, and squeezed his eyes tightly shut.
Oh WHY must I have a High King for an older cousin?
He looked up again, and locked eyes with Edmund. His cousin raised an eyebrow, and then jerked his head toward the door. With a sigh, Eustace marched forward and pushed through the door…
…just as Jill pushed through from the other side. The two collided in the doorway, and Jill fell forward, landing hard on the kitchen floor, while Eustace caught himself and grabbed onto the counter. Hesitating for only a fraction of a second, he reached down and grabbed her hand, pulling her gently to her feet.
"You all right?"
Jill nodded embarrassedly, blushing, but then meeting Eustace's gaze.
"Sorry. I shouldn't have stormed off like that."
Eustace gave her an apologetic grin and shook his head.
"My fault. I didn't mean it about the cookies."
"Yes you did," Jill retorted, her eyes glinting.
He shrugged and sighed.
There was a moment of silence as the two friends stared at each other, and then they started to smile. Then Edmund cleared his throat.
"What'd I say? An old married couple; that's what you sound like. Quarrelling and forgiving each other-just like that." He snapped his fingers.
Everyone in the room turned to Edmund and gave him a glare. Lucy elbowed him, and he raised his eyebrows.
"What? What'd I say?"
Eustace and Jill exchanged a grin, and then Jill marched over to the counter, grabbing a burnt cookie and thrust it into a bewildered Edmund's hands.
"Call us an old married couple again, and I'll make you eat the whole batch," she threatened, frowning in mock seriousness, but eyes sparkling with fun. "This time you only get one."