Susan was more than a little surprised when Edmund cornered her in the sitting room the moment their mother had gone to start a fresh pot of tea. It was as though he had been waiting for the moment when they were alone, something so delicate on his mind that he couldn't bring it up in front of anyone else. His face looked stern, though there was a hint of worry in his eyes that made her stomach do an awkward flip.
She tried to ignore how close he'd gotten to her by adding another stitch to the embroidery in her hands. Her mother had been so happy to find out she knew how that she'd insisted they do it together at least once a week.
"Yes, Ed? Can I help you?" Her voice was even, but there was a tone to it that gave away the concern of what he was about to press on.
Edmund was quiet for a moment longer. Watching her, waiting for her to maybe say something further, too afraid to press forward. He didn't know that he really wanted an answer. He just knew he had to ask. His lip went between his teeth and he looked back over his shoulder to make sure his mother was truly still occupied. The moment his head turned back around, he grabbed her hands to make her stop her stitching and forcing her to look at him.
"Are you and Peter dating?"
The color drained from her cheeks almost immediately, her eyes widening just a fraction. Her lips parted as she tried to find something to say, but only managing to take in a deep somewhat shaky breath. It was these questions she had always wanted to avoid. These moments that made her feel sick to her stomach. Her only choices were to be honest and face rejection from her family or lie. Neither felt particularly wonderful in that moment.
"What are you on about?"
He didn't let go of her hands, but rather squeezed them tighter in his own. "I talked to Peter a few months back. We went to lunch. Lucy and I were worried, you guys were keeping to yourselves so much in that apartment. I asked him what was going on and he said you'd found someone to fancy. Said you both had. Was why you were so preoccupied and couldn't come by for so much as a chat." He swallowed roughly, once again making sure his mother was no where near by, and lowering his voice in case it was somehow too loud at a whisper. "He wouldn't give me names or even tell me about her or anything about your boyfriend. I haven't seen you guys so much as even mention anyone new in your lives."
"So you jump to the conclusion that we fancy each other? You realize how ridiculous that sounds, don't you, Edmund?"
"Susan, I'm serious." He let go of her hands, going to stand up and cross his arms over his torso. "You guys were always pushing the limits in Narnia -"
"Edmund -" She began her objection weakly, eyes closing and face burying in her hands.
"Don't tell me it's not real! I remember it and I know you do too! I know you two loved each other then but it was easy to turn a blind eye on it all. I thought maybe since we were back, we were with other people, it'd be different, but those looks and touches - they're still there. I see them Susan, even if no one else does. I just - I need to know." He took a deep breath, staring down at her, waiting until she lifted her face from her hands and looked up at him fully. "Are you?"
Susan wanted to deny it. She wanted to tell him he was wrong and overanalyzing. She wanted to say that she'd broken up with whomever it was Peter had said she had dated. She wanted to say that Peter's girlfriend was overseas. She wanted to think up a thousand lies, to keep things the way they were and not admit to the awful things she had now done under the guise of love.
All she could manage was a quiet nod, her eyes watering. Edmund's expression softened, relief there at having finally gotten the truth.
The moment was broken, no full reaction able to be given, as the tinkling of bone china and the sound of their mother's heals on the sitting room floor echoed. Susan stiffened, pushing the emotion off her face with a forced smile. Her mother was quick to give a grin as she placed the tray down onto the table.
"Who'd like some milk?"