Disclaimer: I own neither Harold nor Alberta Scrubb, and I am glad of it. Nor do I own any other characters, and I am not glad of it.
A/N: Lest you hate me for always following "Eustace" with "Clarence," let me remind you that "his parents called him Eustace Clarence." This is all part of getting inside Alberta's (admittedly, annoying) head.
Alberta Scrubb was not looking forward to having her niece and nephew stay with them during the holidays. For one thing, those Pevensies—all four of them—were such bullies to her darling Eustace Clarence.
Eustace Clarence was a delicate child, small for his age but of extraordinary intelligence. Too much exertion or sun was not good for him, and sea air always made him sick. The Pevensies, by contrast, were loud and boisterous. They never missed a chance to humiliate poor Eustace Clarence or blame him for their wicked pranks. The poor child was so sensitive, but the Pevensies refused to see this.
It never ceased to amaze Alberta that Helen and Harold had grown up in the same household, yet had such different views on child-rearing. Helen actually spanked her children, and had since they were very young. This had undoubtedly made them the way they were—having to lean on God for the confidence to face life. Her Eustace Clarence had never been spanked, and he was full of self-confidence.
Another of their weaknesses, Alberta reflected as she chopped vegetables for the soup, was that those Pevensies never challenged authority. This made them weak and spineless members of a weak and spineless society. Eustace Clarence, she thought with satisfaction, had been taught to question authority, and she could see great things for him in a brilliant political career.
In short, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie were not at all the sort of children she liked, and, had they not been related, she would have nothing to do with them.
Yet here they were, walking up to the door with their boxes in their arms and their bags slung over their shoulders. (Rather, Edmund had boxes in his arms and bags over his shoulder; Lucy carried a basket and a small bag. Treating girls as easily breakable was degrading them, according to Alberta—yet another reason she did not like the Pevensies.)
As they neared the house, she clearly heard Edmund say, "At least you don't have to share a room with Useless. Be thankful, Lu, and do buck up. We're in this together. You won't be alone, I promise." (Being characteristically Alberta, she did not notice the love and respect with which he regarded his sister. Instead she only noticed that Edmund had called her angel names!)
The trouble began almost immediately. Edmund gravely shook her hand, which was all right in its own way, but Lucy gave her a tentative hug. Mff, sniffed Alberta, these children have no confidence whatsoever. Just as Lucy pulled away, she felt a hand thrust into her pocket. She reached in and pulled out—a half-dead frog. Lucy looked appalled and Edmund looked angry, both gasping out, "Eustace!"
The Pevensies could act admirably, Alberta decided even in her rage. Here she knew Lucy had deposited that frog there, but from the shocked look on said girl's face she had never seen it before. Edmund was glaring at Eustace Clarence, who, being the sensitive boy that he was, burst into tears.
Things went on this way for about a week—those wretched Pevensies playing all sorts of wretched pranks (stealing sweets, tracking in mud, and even leaving lights on during a black-out) and blaming them on Eustace Clarence.
That Saturday morning, the pranks were worse than ever. But after 9 o'clock, there were no more.
At lunch, Alberta chided Edmund about one of the pranks, and Eustace Clarence spoke up. "Sorry, Mum, I did that."
About five things in this simple statement astonished Alberta: (1) That he would say he was sorry (this being the first time in his life that such a word had ever come out of his mouth); (2) That he would call her that degrading appellative—Mum—instead of "Alberta;" (3) That he would voluntarily say that he did it when earlier he had denied it; (4) That he would say it in such a disgusting humble way; and (5) That it came so easily to him to say it at all.
After she recovered from her surprise, she snapped out the first thing that came to mind. "Eustace Clarence, call me Alberta!"
Her son looked up from his soup with a truly hurt look in his eyes. "Oh, sorry, Mum," came the reply. "I didn't think."
At this, Edmund unceremoniously choked on his (vegetable) soup and then guffawed. Though Lucy attempted to stop him, he only laughed harder until she joined him.
Then the unthinkable, the impossible, happened—Eustace began to laugh with them! "Sorry, Mu—Alberta," Eustace managed to gasp out, "but it's just so…" He couldn't finish his sentence.
"So strange," Lucy finished for him, amid gasps of her own. "Here he's been calling you Mum for weeks without your knowledge, and—" She laid her head down on the table and laughed hysterically into her napkin.
In punishment for this wild outburst (and, more importantly, for influencing her darling in their repulsive ways), Alberta confined them to their rooms for a week, putting Edmund in Lucy's small, upstairs bedroom to keep him separate from Eustace.
But much to her surprise and dismay, while Eustace was eating lunch (still quarantined from his cousins), she found a small stack of books in his room—a volume of Sherlock Holmes and a book of fairy tales. Under his mattress she found a small assignment book filled with Eustace's own handwriting about dragons and enchantments, magicians and talking mice, ships and winds and hurricanes, sea serpents and spells to make the unseen seen. The margins were full of tiny sketches, completed in obvious haste, of fantastic creatures, towns, bells, maps, and boats.
A/N: If any of you have any story suggestions or ways to make it better, please PM me or review!