Entitled: Garden of Evil
Fandom: The Chronicles of Narnia
Length: 2,000 words
Disclaimer: I do not own The Chronicles of Narnia and etc.
Notes: This is like the lovechild of a Narnia poster and Lolita. I mean, the plot is nothing like Lolita, but I feel like the style is getting there, so it deserves some credit.
Notes2: WhenLighteningStrikes is not allowed to bother me for fic anymore. Just. No.
The first thing she remembers about Peter is that he is blond. Criminally blond.
Edmund is her least loved because when she looks at him, she can pick out some of her own features, find herself looking into her own eyes. It's eerie, and uncomfortable, because she has never been sure if she and Edmund share the same streak of wickedness, if sometimes her own lips will gain a slightly nasty twist, sharing a synchronized smirk.
Following this same train of logic, Peter is her favorite sibling because he looks nothing like the other three. She imagines he must take after their father. Or perhaps he isn't even really her brother at all—perhaps he, like so much else in her life, is some mixture of illusion and fantasy, something that she so desperately wanted that Narnia had plucked him from her imagination and given him blood.
Peter is nothing like Edmund.
Peter is nothing like her.
In her dreams Caspian is looking at her with heavy eyes and saying things she cannot hear, though she watches his mouth shaping out the words. His hands are upwards and open, and the longer she looks at him the more it hurts, but the memories are still sweet and charmed and nothing, nothing like the thing eating her from within, and while she sleeps Peter dies and she is the one holding the knife.
When she wakes up her heart is pounding and her stomach jumps, her hands clammy, she claps them tight over her mouth, sealing everything shut, and looks into the blackness until she can hear herself breath again and the violent, rattling sobs have slid back into her chest.
Peter doesn't lock his bedroom door, and she just has to be sure, so she walks across the hall into the boy's room and kneels beside him, letting her own breaths match his, and feels calmed by their synchronization, oddly quiet.
She lifts his hand to her lips, and maps out his scars. Age has faded but these have not, and every one of them is a pressure against her chest, squeezing, until she cannot bear to continue and can only bow her head, his hand caught between hers, his fingers curled and strong, locked in a paradise of temptation. Peter is a biblical name. She is a good girl and so she knows this, counts her sin by the sips of gin in teacups.
This is not Narnia, this is not childhood, and when Peter's eyes open and finds his sister kneeling at his side, her face hidden behind wet fingers and rigid shoulders, he does not whisper her name or touch her hair like she used to. He should have. She hates him.
She loathes him with a perfect and ringing clarity so pure that her head rings with it, and the backs of her eyes burn into white. She despises him with an animalistic intensity demanding she tear him from and to her, and she just doesn't know anymore.
"Bad dream?" Peter asks, but rolls over just the same, leaving her heart to shiver. She is ancient and a fledgling, and there are no gardens and no apples in London, not with this sag, with the market stretched so thin, but still temptation waits.
When she speaks she touches the air with her mouth, feeling it brush past her lips, "I don't dream."
"Of course you don't," Peter agrees solemnly, so tired and so weary that she wants to strike him, wants to relive those years of strife when they fought with or against each other, wants to destroy him and build him back up. She wants so much.
She goes back to bed.
It's what Edmund starts calling her, soft and never where Peter might hear, and he's not all bad at least. He's like her. Dark eyes and pale wrists, tossed black curls and a cowlick. She looks back at him and his challenge and then looks down at her book.
"What was wrong with Su?" her words made so exact. Edmund smiles.
He says, "I won't tell Aslan."
Her stomach does a sick little thing when he drops the name. She studies the letters on the page before her, all of them pretending to be words. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"And because you used to tell me stories," Edmund looks out the window, and gray London looks back, "I won't tell Peter. I won't tell anyone but one person."
"Edmund," she means to sound calm, she really does, "What do you want?"
"Don't ever let Lucy know," he says immediately, and in his drab clothing with spindly white limbs, she sees herself and knows.
"Eve," she says.
Edmund does not smile.
Edmund keeps his promise. He never tells anyone but her, but Eve. He doesn't have to. Lucy does it for him.
Lucy, who cannot tell a lie, who listens to the voices and always knows what's right. Little Lucy. And Edmund looks at her and then at Susan and he puts his face in his hands and looks like he might be sick. She feels much the same, and her face is hot, and Peter is looking at her silently, but not smiling, because he only loves her when someone else does.
"Su," Lucy says, needling voice eating into her, "Su, it's okay, isn't it? Aslan told me so, he told me there's nothing stronger than love—"
"Luce," Edmund begins to drag her, "Luce come on."
She listens to the door shut but keeps standing, frozen, in the shadowed room she'd grown up in. It seems so much smaller than it had, once. Peter keeps looking at her, lips just parted, before he looks down and gets to his feet, shuffles. He says, "Susan," in that way, and her cheeks feel hot, her lips parting and there is a deep ache within her, tugging and wanting to be filled, such a horrible emptiness.
When he blinks she notices that his eyelashes are golden and strange, and she wants to kiss every single one. She loves the color of his skin, loves the smooth angle of his jaw, loves his girlish full lips, loves the way sweat dampens his hair, sticking straight blond locks to his brow. She loves him more than her immortal soul, and therein lies problem.
"I never wanted this!" she yells, because the words can't be kept any longer and they explode in the air between them, "It's just that there never was anyone else and it was just the two of us for so long and—and it isn't my fault! It isn't!"
"It's fine," Peter says, which she knows must be a lie, because Peter is a king and Peter is a human and Peter is a boy and Peter is her brother. He is just a boy and she is never sure if he is real or if he is only there to protect her—as if Peter could steer the course of rockets.
It's all imaginary, really. "It is not fine!" Susan yells at him, burning, "It is not bloody fine! It will never be fine and I just want to go back to Narnia and I can't!"
He goes very still for a moment, his expression shifts, and it is then that realizes she has never seen him so angry. She has seen him running to a battlefield and smacking Edmund for being mouthy and she has seen him with Caspian and oh, wasn't that a sight. "Yes, you can!"
"It isn't real, Peter!" she snaps, with a bubble of laughter coughed up and naked in the air, "It was just a silly game!"
"You've been there!" he takes her shoulders and presses down, but doesn't shake, and she thinks he might almost be crying, "Susan, you've seen it! It's real!"
"This is real!" she gestures down the length of her body and to the window, her teeth clenching to quiet the chatters, the fever of jitters crawling up her spine, "Don't you get it? I can't go back anymore! I don't want to!"
"You just said you did!"
"I can't see Aslan anymore!"
In the sudden quiet, she can hear the far-off drone of engines in the sky, of a city struggling to its feet and the smack of spoken words colliding.
"What do you mean?"
Susan looks at him, trying to age his features. It turns him into a stranger, into a man, one that she has seen before and known and talked with. "I just want to go," she says in a small voice, "Before he can leave me."
"He wouldn't—" but Peter stops, then, because their faces have grown so close together, and he can't seem to decide if he should pull away or not. She looks at mouth and wonders if they'd both drop dead, should she choose to kiss him. "But you have to," Peter says, his fingertips pressing until she has to take a tiny step forwards, hands bracing against his sides, like they're both drunk and dizzy. "You have to." He repeats, "Please. Please, I don't want to—you just can't, Suze."
She's past the point of reservations. She's past desperation and sorrow and fury and guilt, for there simply isn't room for such things when she's filled so full of longing. And she wants to say yes. She wants to lie. She wants to let go.
But she can never let go.
It's why she touches his mouth but doesn't kiss him, and it's why she walks away.
"I can't do it." Peter says, an hour later, pulling himself onto the roof. She does not look at him. She cannot bear to grieve again. He sits down beside her, his legs longer and dangling, and leans back on his hands, looking up.
"I just sat in the closet," he said, and if she weren't staring so hard at the rooftops, she might have seen him look at her, "I can't go back. Maybe I'm too old."
She bites her lip, and then turns to him and brushes at a few damp blond hairs, "You've got snow in your hair, Peter," she tells him, as there's not a cloud in sight. A muscle in his jaw jumps, but he does not look away, and the message is clear.
She has damned him.
"Thank you," she says, her hands freezing and her nose turning red—she must look like a mess. Peter takes her hand.
"I can't do anything without you, Susan," he shrugs awkwardly, "I just…It's okay, isn't it?"
"No," she sqeezes his hand, "It really isn't."