Title: Familial Food Planning, or Queen Susan's Plan For The Cheering Up Of Her Brother, King Edmund
Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia.
Summary: Written for the Narnia Fanfiction Fest at the narniachronicle livejournal community. I claimed the prompt: the relationship between Edmund and Turkish delight after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Susan always prided herself on two things: being logical and understanding what was best for her siblings, even if they did not know it themselves. Often these virtues coincided, with Susan using her practicality to help her siblings. She might not be a mighty warrior to protect them in battle, or a great healer to fix their physical hurts. But she could understand them. And plan.
Nearly a year after she, Peter, Edmund, and Lucy had become Kings and Queens of Narnia, Susan sat in the blue parlor, her own personal retreat, pondering her siblings. Specifically, her thoughts turned to her youngest brother, Edmund. The already quiet boy had recently grown even more silent and solemn, and Susan was determined to set her mind to the task of figuring out what was wrong and how to fix it.
Fact: The downturn in Edmund's mood had a parallel relation to the downturn in the weather. Winter was approaching.
Fact: Last winter, Edmund had betrayed his siblings and Narnia to the White Witch.
Conclusion: Edmund was wallowing on his previous actions, and feeling guilty.
This was a fairly logical conclusion, especially considering that Edmund still grew grave whenever the White Witch was mentioned, not looking any of his siblings in the eye. Susan found this rather frustrating, as she (as well as Peter and Lucy) had long ago forgiven Edmund. She also knew that Edmund knew this, and that he knew Aslan and the Narnians had forgiven him as well.
Susan frowned as a thought came to her and she had to revise her conclusion.
Fact: Edmund was extremely good at judging the attitudes of various creatures, including his siblings. Therefore, logically, he knew that they were all true in their forgiveness of him.
Fact: Edmund had spoken with Aslan.
Fact: Aslan said that there was no need to speak with their brother about the past. It was logical to assume, therefore, that Aslan had told Edmund to move on from his mistakes.
Fact: Edmund likely postulated from this that he needed to forgive himself, if Aslan did not tell him outright.
Hypothesis: If Edmund has forgiven himself, or is trying to forgive himself, then he is not feeling guilty about what he did.
Theory: If Edmund is not feeling guilty, it is likely his quietness results from another worry.
Which led to another postulation:
Fact: Edmund once sold out his siblings to an enemy for little more than candy.
Fact: It is a well known maxim that history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Conclusion: Edmund is worried that, if he once betrayed his family he could do so again.
Susan sat back in her chair and sipped her hot tea. Obviously, this would never happen. Her little brother was devoted to Aslan, loyal to Peter (both as brother and High King), and fiercely protective of his sisters. Perhaps Edmund knew this as well, or at least held the determination to never return to who he had been.
Conclusion: Perhaps Edmund feared more that his siblings, or the Narnians, believed him capable of a relapse into treason.
Setting her tea down, Susan picked up her notebook and dipped her pen in the inkstand, which sat next to her on the side-table. Her deduction solidified, she now had to work on a solution to the problem. As she wrote down her conclusion and underlined it, Susan nibbled on the end of the quill. She smiled as the ideas came and soon the sound of scribbling echoed through the parlor. Queen Susan had an idea.
A week later, Susan sat at the dinner table with her siblings, entirely smug at how well her plan was going. She had known she would have to work rather covertly, so as not to raise suspicion before the final part was enacted. Now, her idea was coming to its conclusion after a successful prelude.
The first part of her plan included the introduction of Familial Food Planning. For each dinner, each of the four siblings would be in charge of one part of the meal: appetizer, soup and salad, main course, or dessert. After some cajoling, Susan managed to get the others to agree to her "family bonding" plan. So, for the past five days, each sibling tried their hand at creating the assorted courses (with varying amounts of success: how Lucy managed to burn soup, she'll never know). Under the guise of forcing her siblings to learn how to cook and bake, Susan succeeded in forming a situation conducive to the final part of her plan, while luring everyone into a false sense of security.
Keeping the final part secret was aided unintentionally by Peter on the second day. It had been Susan's first turn to make dessert, and she was attempting to prepare a crème tart. As hoped for, Peter's sweet-tooth intervened and she spent most of the afternoon attempting to chase him away from the tart, and trying to force him to make the salad he was in charge of creating. Finally, after an incident involving a Faun, a head of lettuce, and three eggs, Susan had angrily declared that they would all be fixing their food separately from then on. Peter, Edmund, and Lucy had hastily agreed in order to placate her, and hurriedly left the kitchen. None of them saw her smile; they had walked right into the palm of her hand. Count on Peter to be so predictable.
Now came the final phase, and Susan had to admit she was slightly worried. There was a statistically small chance that the plan would backfire on her. Still, it was a chance she was willing to take for her brother's sake.
Setting her fork down, Lucy smiled at Peter, who sat next to her. "The fish was wonderful, Peter! Where did you get the recipe?"
Peter grinned back. "Surprisingly, I got it from the Marshwiggle chieftain who visited two days ago. Of course, he assured me that we would probably die a slow, agonizing death after eating it, but that just means it's one of their better recipes." Catching Edmund reaching across Susan to pick up the water pitcher, Peter kicked his brother under the table. "Manners, Ed."
As Edmund scowled and Lucy laughed, Susan stood up from the table. "Time for dessert!" Taking the covered bowl from the serving table, Susan placed it in the middle of the table and sat down again. With a flourish, she uncovered the bowl and smiled angelically. "Eat up."
Three shocked faces stared at the bowl, which contained several small dessert squares covered in powdered sugar. It was frighteningly easy to tell what Susan had made. Lucy squeaked, hastily covering her mouth with one hand. Peter looked up at Susan, eyes wide in astonished horror. "Su...Susan, that's…"
Her face blank of any hint of understanding, Susan answered calmly. "Turkish Delight, yes. I remembered the recipe from when Mum used to make it. I had to make some substitutions, but overall I think it turned out well." She turned to her right and looked straight at Edmund. "Of course, you'll have to tell me what you think."
Edmund's face was chalk-white and Susan had to clamp down on the uneasiness in her stomach. She watched as her little brother stared at the dessert, his hands clenching at the end of the tablecloth until his knuckles matched the white fabric in pallor. For a moment, all four siblings sat, frozen in place, as Peter, Susan, and Lucy stared at Edmund while their brother's eyes remained fixed on the Turkish Delight.
Then, in a flash, Edmund leaped to his feet. "Sorry, uh, I have…work. I have to go. I have things…I need to go."
He turned to dash away from the table, but Susan caught his arm. As he looked at her, his eyes pleading with her to let him go, Susan leveled her brother with her firmest glare. "Sit," she ordered, her voice low and serious. It was the tone that brooked no argument. Edmund, his arm shaking under her hand, numbly lowered himself in the chair, trying to lean as far away from the table as possible. Susan picked up a piece of Turkish Delight and placed it firmly on his dessert plate. "Eat."
Peter glanced between the two of them, looking ever so much as if he wanted to turn back time and throw the dessert out the window. "I say, Su, maybe we shouldn't…"
Susan sent her older brother an even fiercer glare, and he shrank back in his own seat. Giving each of her siblings a stern look, she placed a piece of Turkish Delight on each plate, including her own. "Eat," came the general order again.
Lucy, sweet Lucy, succumbed first; though Susan suspected that Lucy had deduced at least part of her plan. The young girl took a small bite of the candy, chewing slowly and thoroughly before swallowing and taking another bit. Susan nodded and took a bite of her own piece, raising an expectant eyebrow at her brothers. Peter could only give Edmund a helpless look before he too gave in and began eating his dessert.
Then all eyes turned to Edmund. The king, looking every bit the young child he was, stared at the Turkish Delight that sat mockingly in front of him. Slowly he grasped it between his thumb and forefinger, as if not wanting to touch it any more than necessary to lift it from the plate. The moment stretched long as Edmund held the dessert in front of his face; his siblings said nothing, didn't move, barely breathed.
His face now matched the powdered sugar of the treat, but he forced his mouth to open and then take a preciously small bite. He swallowed almost without chewing, before forcing himself to take another bite. Susan noticed in appreciation that this time Edmund actually looked like he was tasting it. The siblings ate in silence until, finally, all four pieces were gone.
Wiping her mouth free of sugar, Susan asked politely, "Well, how was it?" as if she had not noticed the ordeal she had just put her siblings through.
Peter glanced as the others before replying with a hesitant voice. "It was…good?"
Lucy smiled, and Susan knew she understood. "It was lovely, Susan. May I have another piece?"
Susan nodded and, as Lucy picked out another square, she turned to Edmund. "Ed? Did you like it?"
Edmund's forehead was furrowed, as if he did not understand his own thoughts. "I…it tasted…good. Better." He brought his dark eyes up to look straight at her. They shone with confusion, relief, surprise. "It tasted better." Susan nodded, understanding what he could not quite articulate. "I don't…I didn't think it would. That it could."
Lucy shook her head, her grin framed with powder. "Of course it tastes better, silly."
Edmund still did not seem to understand, so Susan took pity on him. She squeezed his hand gently and smiled. "Nothing spoils the memory of bad magic food so much as the taste of food that is made with love."
Understanding reached Peter's face and he smiled. "And with trust," he added.
"And faith," declared Lucy fiercely.
Edmund closed his eyes tightly, breathing in a shaky breath. When he opened his eyes, Susan was delighted to see that they now held a light and a strength in them that had been missing for too long. Edmund straightened his back, and lifted his chin. "You're right. I have never had Turkish Delight that was this good. I think…I think I'll have another piece."
Susan smiled and handed him another square, before taking one herself as a reward for a plan perfectly executed. Lucy was on her third piece, and eying the bowl with a measuring eye. Peter sat back, rubbing his chin with his hand. "I only have one question, Su."
She looked up from her plate. "Yes?" Her mind whirled. Had she missed some aspect in her planning? Had she forgotten to explain something? What had she done wrong?
Peter sighed and eyed the dessert with a look of disgust and disdain. "Did you have to make it rosewater flavored?"
The dark-haired queen stared at her brother, flabbergasted.
Fact: Her older brother was an insensitive boy.
Conclusion: There was only one answer to his question.
With calm precision, Susan threw her half-eaten piece of Turkish Delight at Peter, leaving him with a rectangular print of white powder on his forehead. Lucy laughed and Edmund nearly choked on his Turkish Delight.
Susan smiled. The plan was successfully concluded.
Just, FYI, I'm probably giving up reading/posting fic for Lent. If you review this story after midnight tonight, you probably won't get a reply until after Easter. I always try to reply to reviews, but since I'll be MIA, it will take awhile.