Deleted from Monochrome. Post P.E. Cain and his driver are OC's.
2435 Finch Street, Year 1945
"Right on this street, here," Peter said as he leaned over the front of the seat and pointed, "It's the second house on the left."
"Shall I park up the street, sir?"
Cain was already pulling his pack over one shoulder as the car gently glided around the bend in the road, "That's sounds perfect, Cameron."
"Very well, sir." The driver's sharp eyes landed on an empty square of space beside the sidewalk and expertly slid the car into place, "Will you need help with your baggage, sir?"
Peter laughed aloud, giddiness overriding etiquette, and Cain took that as his cue.
"That won't be necessary, Cameron. We can get it."
But Cameron, who hadn't known Peter as long as Cain, didn't realize the blonds' animation was from being so close to his family. Or, more importantly, that Peter was really a powerful King in a magical land called Narnia. To Cameron, Peter Pevensie was an impoverished wunderkind who had managed to attend Hartbee's by marks alone, and was unfit to spend time with Cain, or to influence how Cain decided to use his family's' servants. The energy that poured out of Peter during the drive was all Cameron had to judge the boy by and the older man actually broke his own protocol by turning fully around in the seat to look directly into Cain's eye.
"It's no trouble, sir. It would be my honor to assist."
But that incipient loyalty to his friends was growing stronger every day, and Cain chose that moment to bend his protocol with an easy grin, reaching out to pat the shoulder of an official chauffeur uniform in a chummy manner.
"What kind of rugby player would I be, if I couldn't lift my own bags?"
Peter caught his eye, grinning widely, and fairly leaped from the car with his suitcase slung over his back, standing impatiently for Cain to catch up.
"Have a nice week's vacation, Cameron," Jacobs called without looking back, and exited the vehicle.
"Hurry it up, would you?" his friend called from the boot, practically dancing on the spot with his eyes glued to the little house with the white-wash gate down the street.
"One month," Cain said slowly, inserting a spare key into the lock of the boot, "You've been separated from your family from one month. That's still too soon a reunion for my family."
"Too long for mine," Peter smiled, tugging another of Cain's bags in his free hand, "They'll be happy to see you, you know."
"First things, first," Cain scowled suddenly, "I need to have a little talk with your brother. We haven't even come close to winning a game since he was with us..."
There didn't seem to be a single thing that could make Peter frown that day, and this passing comment was no exception, even though it came dangerously close to broaching why Edmund left Hartbee's.
The tall young man's face split with happiness, and he pounded Cain on the back as they crossed the street and opened the little white-washed gate to 2435 Finch Street. The gate creaked sideways to a grey flag-stone path with a loosely defined garden exploding from the English dirt. To be sure- the garden was nothing compared to the ones that abounded at Cain's mansion back home. But here there was an unquestionable beauty to the wild array of lavender, poppies, sunflowers, and hyssop. They tumbled over each other and climbed the gates, honeybees humming and floating around like nursemaids, putting their wards to rest in the beds. Cain had a fleeting moment, as they walked down the stone path to the red front door, to wonder if the garden had always looked like this, or if it was styled after another garden from another place...
Then the front door was thrown open and the auburn-haired Lucy Pevensie launched herself into Peter's arms with a girlish squeal, making the homeward young man drop his belongings just in time to catch her up from the pathway.
"Peter! PeterPeterPeter! You're back!" She kissed him repeatedly over his face, and Peter was spinning her while Cain looked on with a frozen look of uncertain bemusement.
"We've all missed you so much! I was just baking- sorry, that's flour on your shirt, now. But no matter!" And she proceeded to kiss her brother's cheek once more, while being kissed in return.
"Peter!" cried a new voice, and Cain turned to look up the small set of stairs, uncertainty refreshing itself as Susan Pevensie made herself known to the joyous party. As tall and breath-taking as ever, she swept down to her siblings and was instantly captured by her brother's strong arms. Peter was quick to kiss her cheek, but Susan was more careful in placing hers, and Cain realized it might have something to do with the bright red lipstick she wore.
"Cain," she smiled, when Peter had traded her out for Lucy again, swinging the smaller girl up onto his hip.
"Susan." He smiled back and took her offered hand, though was unsure of what he was intended to do with it. For a moment, he did nothing but hold her hand in his, but swiftly released it when Lucy signaled over Susan's shoulder that he was intended to kiss it.
Peter grinned, and Lucy laughed, and Susan seemed a bit put-out.
"Let's get all of this inside, shall we?" Peter asked, picking up his two heavy bags with a single hand while keeping his sister perched on his side, "Where's Ed gotten off to?"
While Peter forged the way into the small London home, Susan fell into step with Cain.
"I'm so glad you decided to stay the week with us."
And really, Thomas would be eating all of this up- To spend a week of his life with the enigmatic Pevensies already felt like something straight from a dream. Whether in public or in private, they always seemed genuinely glad to be with one another. Cain didn't know if he would be able to be as chipper if he suddenly went from his wealthy and powerful situation to a single, small house in London.
"You'll be staying in Peter and Edmund's room, we made up a space for Peter so that you could have the bed-"
"-I can take the floor," Cain said, startled that he hadn't even considered his presence might displace someone else.
This time, Susan's smile was more like Cain remembered. It was suddenly much easier to smile back.
"No one will be sleeping on the floor," she assured him, "Peter and Edmund are used to bunking together."
"Or you could even use our parents' bed until they get back later this week. They've been on a trip for the past few days. They called, just before you arrived, actually..."
And as Susan chattered into his ear, they made their way thought the front door into a small foyer, a simple library-study mishmash on the left, a staircase on the right leading up and out of sight. Between the two was a thin hallway that led back to a sunlit kitchen, and beyond, Cain could make out another garden, more wild and full than the one in front.
Peter had dropped his bags by the foot of the stairs, so Cain did likewise, and meekly trailed him after as they squeezed through the hall to the flour-coated kitchen, the back door to which Peter promptly threw open and bounded out of again.
"Ed!" Peter called, jogging to a small woodshed at the far back of the yard. It was covered in ivy and roses, and it seemed that the trellises nailed to its sides were the only thing keeping the tiny building up. Peter, rather bravely, in Cain's opinion, pounded a fist on the dilapidated door.
"Edmund! Open up!"
There was a sound like gunfire, and a waft of black smoke curled out from under the door. Coughing started up from the inside while Peter tore the door off the bolt and a slim figure stumbled out, hiding his face into a crooked arm.
"Ed- Edmund, are you all right?" Peter caught up his brother by the chin and shook him a little.
"What on earth were you doing, Pevensie?" Cain demanded, fanning the air as the smoke cleared, "Trying to make a bomb?"
The younger Pevensie brother's face was covered in black dirt, his eyes covered by rounded aviator goggles, which left clear white circles around his dark eyes when he drew them up to rest on his brow. Along with the long apron, work gloves, and the mussed hair, the younger boy looked a lot like a mad scientist.
"Just a little too much kick," Edmund wheezed, brushing his brother's hands off of his face, "Gerroff! I'm fine, Peter."
"I'll be the judge of that!" the older boy declared, keeping his hold on the coughing and sooty figure. And Cain had thought Edmund had been prone to protectiveness.
"This is probably the fifth time," Lucy announced, as she rejoined them with a damp cloth to wipe at her brother's smudged face. Edmund's nose wrinkled under her ministrations, but didn't push her away.
"She's been giving me trouble lately. I think the belt needs replacement."
"She?" wondered Peter, looking to Lucy.
"I think the petroleum does, too," Lucy teased, making Edmund frown.
"She's a... car?" Cain guessed, just able to make out the form of tyres though the grayish air.
"A motorized bicycle," Edmund said proudly, using Peter's shoulder to stand, "I've been building her from scraps."
"He's been raiding our neighbour's rubbish bins for weeks."
"I always asked permission first!"
Lucy rolled her eyes, like it was an old argument, and Edmund gripped his brother's arm excitedly.
"Here, I want to show her to you-" he started dragging Peter into the somewhat aired-out shed.
The place was lined with workbenches with abandoned hammers and wing nuts. Smoky windows made the lighting dim, but the hole in the roof allowed a shaft of sun to hit the wall with a large unintelligible set of blueprints, presumably for the bike itself.
Edmund was energetically pointing out different features of his invention, from the handle bars to the tailpipe. To Cain, it really looked like any old manual bicycle. But the chain ran through a small compartment, presumably where the engine was held, and the seat was wider and more cushioned, the tyres fatter and with more tread. The assortment of different metals was precarious, to say the least.
"I've been testing different types of fuel," Edmund was saying, "So far, kerosene has run the best. Strange, I know," he told them, when their faces twisted in surprise, "But I thought I'd better try everything. What you just had the fortune of seeing was my test of bacon grease. Snappish stuff. Imagine what it does to your innards."
"You aren't..." Peter said slowly, letting his little brother tug at him to look at different aspects of the bike, "You aren't going to... sell her, are you?"
"You know I'm not," Edmund returned.
"It looks a little... dangerous," Cain supplied, sensing that was what Peter was driving at, "You sure you're healed up enough to ride?" Not that a healthy boy would come out of a wreck with that monstrosity any better than an injured one...
Edmund snorted, "Building her is all I'm going to do until this-" he jabbed a thumb in a gesture to his spine "-is all fixed up. About another two weeks and I should be as straight-backed as I've ever been. But never mind that." He swung a long leg over the bike's side, and straddled the seat, thumbing the handlebars and pointing to what looked like a compasses welded to the center.
"I added this to help navigate, though it'd probably be easier to just to use the sun, and this-" He flicked a small device on the right bar with his index finger, a small gauge popping up. "-This measures kilometers per hour, the engine sends a reading through this wire and- Well. It's all pretty technical, but it basically operates just like any other bike you'd find in a shop."
Cain thought it might be a little too hideous to be sold in a shop, but felt it would be inconsiderate to say so to "her" creator.
"It's... really, really good, Ed," Peter struggled, trying to find a way to appease his genuine pride in an intelligent brother, and genuine anxiety that said intelligence might lead to further injury.
Edmund's grin was wicked. "That's not even the best of it."
"What's the best of it?" Peter asked warily, as he eyed the welded medley of metal that held the seat to the rest of the frame.
Something in Edmund's face gentled as he looked at his brother, and he swung his leg back off of the bike, "Another time. You just came home, after all."
The brothers smiled at each other for another moment, and then Edmund turned and seemed to realize Cain was there for the first time.
"Jacobs! How are you?"
"Better than you, apparently. You get time off from classes and you use it to be productive?"
"Everyone needs a hobby, I suppose- And how're the Hartbee Hawks doing lately? I heard the rematch with the Beavers didn't go over too well."
The memory alone was enough to bring the scowl back to Cain's face, "Beavers play dirty."
"That we can attest to," Lucy quipped, "You boys should head back inside. I've had Susan watch the biscuits for me so they wouldn't burn."
Edmund swore he'd give up the bike completely if Lucy would promise to make him biscuits everyday for the rest of his life, and when Lucy bluntly refused, Peter groaned anew.
"That was delicious," Cain said, surprised that he'd actually enjoyed a dinner that was cooked from cheaper store-bought supplies, "I don't think I've ever tasted anything like it!"
"It's an old recipe," Susan said, collecting his cleared plate with a pleased smile, "From our great-grandmother."
"She must have been quite the cook."
"We never met her," Peter cut in, while covering his own portion in a heavy amount of relish, "But Grandmother never stops talking about how much better the food was when she was a child."
"Let's not talk about Grandmother," Edmund said, grabbing back the relish from Peter and getting up to put it back into the icebox, "Just thinking about her is exhausting."
Lucy saw Cain's look and quickly explained;
"Grandmother is from old blood and isn't so kind as to let us forget. She likes to play favourites. Each of us has been her favourite one at some point or another."
"She liked pitting us against each other so we'd fight over her," Edmund said, rejoining them by partly collapsing back into his chair, "Most of it is due to the fact that our Grandfather died while we were kids. She's lonely. So she holds expensive gifts over our heads and tries to make us dance for them."
"It used to work," Susan added.
Edmund's nose scrunched, his dark brows drawing a V. "Why do you think I'm trying to get this bike finished on my own?"
"Why?" Peter asked, "What's she using this time?"
"Would you believe it? The old Bentley."
Peter half-laughed, half-gaped, more than a little thrown, "She swore she'd never give that up! She used to let us sit in it just to tell us we'd never get it!"
"Yeah? Well she knows nothing else works anymore, so she's gone and pulled out the stops." Edmund leaned back and spread his arms out wide, "Behold: Her newest favorite!"
"I'm her little lamb," Edmund continued darkly as he recalled the blandishment, "Her precious grandbaby."
Peter grimaced, and Lucy consolingly patted his arm.
"What's worse!" Edmund exclaimed.
"Worse? Aslan's mane, Ed, what else could the old lady do?"
"Let me tell you, brother: Lucy, of all people, is suddenly a flirty, carrot-topped menace!"
The young girl grinned roguishly and turned to Cain in a companionable manner, "She always has been bad with insults."
"Susan is a socially inept, below average student that gets by on good-looks!"
Susan frowned, clearly more bothered by the statement than she should like, "I am falling behind a little in my classes..."
"Is that what the lipstick is for? Susan..."
"I know, I know! It's stupid," she cut her older brother off, already scrubbing at her lips with a handkerchief, "I shouldn't let that woman get to me."
"She shouldn't be insulting you in the first place," Cain told her strongly, feeling a hot anger on behalf of his new friends, "How would she like it?"
"Not at all," his classmate answered, hackles visibly rising, "She'd probably disown the first person to try."
"And you, dear brother mine, are (get this) trying to weasel your way into her heart by going to medical school!"
"That one was a stretch," Lucy pointed out, "She always has a harder time trying to put down Peter."
"Lion alive," Peter muttered, rubbing at this eyes with the palms of his hands, "Can we just... forget that she exists for a few hours?"
And surprisingly enough, they did. Cain watched as the conversation swung immediately to Narnia and Aslan and their adventures as King and Queens, one of them starting, the others interjecting to fill in part of the story. At times, small revelations would be made, and Cain felt strange, that such close siblings would still have more to discover about one another. Years of living through a strange world, and they could still reveal dimensions to their persons that would surprise the others.
Thomas would be green with envy.
"I can hardly believe some of this," Cain admitted.
They'd moved to the sitting room, a room across from the study that Cain had initially missed upon his entrance to the house. It was a small room, but the Pevensies seemed fine with sharing the space, doubling up on chairs and sprawling across the carpets in a manner resembling cats.
"Some of it?" Edmund wondered, from where he was leaning against Peter's shin, "You'd think that after you accept the reality of magic, anything would be open to you."
"You faced off with a entire Calormene navy, armed with nothing but a small caravel and a squadron of mermaids?"
"That's Merfolk, and the arrival of the Sharks helped to damage their ships. The Calormene navy wasn't exactly powerful. They just had an impressive number of ships," Susan corrected, sounding a little stung that the idea of two girls being able to come out of such odds alive was unbelievable.
"Besides," Lucy giggled, "Calormenes aren't good swimmers. They're a desert nation. Once the idea got across to them that they might get wet, they pretty much turned tail. A lot of it was waving swords and threatening with such thick accents that it was impossible to tell what they were saying."
"Not for me, it wasn't," the older sister bit her lip, "I'm glad you couldn't make that out."
"And let's not forget certain brothers that heard their sisters were in danger and summoned our navy to attack," Edmund recanted to the ceiling.
Peter grinned in a way Cain had only seen once before- and that had been before he tried to kill their old Headmaster.
"Was the Narnian navy very good?"
"The best," Peter said proudly. "Not even Archenland could compete. The navy was virtually every marine Animal under our banner. And our army couldn't be contested either, because we had our own version of the Royal Air force integrated with it."
"Brilliant. Who thought of that?"
"Peter, at First Beruna," Edmund shifted a little, his back obviously aching from his poor posture, "We needed a way to hit them before they hit us, and we decided dropping boulders from a thousand feet up might just do the trick."
"And who dropped the boulders?"
"The Gryphons," all four said, looking at him as though it should have been obvious. Cain supposed that, to them, it was.
"The use of Gryphons as opening attack was sort of a signature move of our army for a long time," Edmund explained, using his hands to demonstrate the movements of the fighting, "It was psychology, mostly. Our enemies would know it was coming, but there was never anything they could really do to about it. We had armour developed so that it was harder to arrows to take down our Gryphons. It wasn't until the Telmarine catapults that boulders could be thrown back."
"But that is an entirely different story for an entirely different evening!"
Susan stood, looking pointedly at the grandfather clock beside the sofa. Its face read ten-forty-one. They'd been sitting for hours just talking and Cain hadn't even noticed the time.
"I can't wait to hear about it," he confessed, and the Pevensies smiled as they rose for bed.