Crossing Blades

Disclaimer: I own nothing. CS Lewis created Narnia, Disney caricatured it, and I am just borrowing it.

Summary: During Prince Caspian, after the failed battle, Edmund has a quiet word with Caspian regarding etiquette and conduct.

Author's N: Another one shot, based on yet another moment in one of the films, this time Prince Caspian. I apologise for the slightly blunt ending to this, but I couldn't' think of a way to end it that seemed appropriate.

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The air of Narnia seems stifling this evening, even as Peter pokes at the fire to warm us all a little longer. He, Caspian and I are sat just outside the How, under the pretence of wanting to talk. But those two have had little to do with each other since the failed attempt at Miraz's Castle. I glance up at my brother, and I cannot help the shudder that runs through me. I barely recognise him. He was once so proud, so noble, and so kind. Now he is willing to draw blades with one chosen to be King after us. Now he is willing to start meagre fights in a train-station. This is not the Peter I know.

But then, perhaps that Peter is gone for good.

I shift a little, and open my mouth only to close it again. I want to address the issue, but with Caspian here, it'll be awkward at best. Not to mention that the likelihood of Peter actually responding in any way that could be perceived as positive is about as likely as me turning into a hummingbird. My heart yearns for the world we knew – whether in Narnia or in England. Peter was always the careful one, the sensible one, the protective one. He was the one who cared. How and why could he have changed so quickly? Was the prospect of being taken from Narnia truly so hard on him, more so than any of us? And if that were true, did it mean that he was allowed to blame his attitude on such a thing?

Our small family could have risked my bratty ways; they had been well used to them. When we returned home from the Professors, I remembered with guilt how mother seemed surprised at my changed ways; I had gone so far with her as to apologise for my crass behaviour, and she had put her arms around me. For the first time since our father had left for the war, I had not pushed her away. It should have eased tension between us, my not seeking to consistently undermine Peter or Su, but for some reason, Peter became the troublesome one, and we grew used to snappish fights between he and Susan, and once or twice he even reduced Lucy to tears.

I had hoped that our returning to Narnia (for I could not bring myself to assume, as Peter and Susan had, that we would never return) would also return our Magnificent King, but it seemed to only incise him. Admittedly, the shock of finding ourselves within a Telmarine infested country with few friends and even fewer certainties most likely did not help, but I hadn't expected Peter to be so… well, brash. I had no idea what sort of impression he'd given Nickabrick, and I supposed I shouldn't have been too worried, for the good mammal seemed undyingly loyal to us, but worry I did.

As for Prince Caspian... well, where to start?

I had seen the way his eyes lingered on Susan from the start, and disliked him in the same instance. I'd fought to keep my feelings at bay though, for we needed as many allies as we could, and he seemed to know the ways of our world more than we ourselves did. He had almost won me over when he'd helped us against Miraz, but then, he'd ruined it. Any sense of brotherliness towards him had been completely dashed the minute he'd chosen to cross blades with my brother.

If he'd have known the stories, as he claimed, if he'd have heard our reputations, he would never have dared. But he was presuming upon his impressions of us, and he had dared to raise a sword up against his own King, a fact that he seemed to be consistently ignoring. I could not let this pass. However, to try to address the situation with Peter about would be tricky at least, impossible at most.

So when my brother eventually admitted that he was getting chilled, and retired into the How, I chose to stay behind, watching Caspian begin to gather his things. "Caspian," I spoke, as he moved to leave. He turned, raising an eyebrow. He was a little more patient with me than he was with my brother, but I could sense the harrowing distrust that seemed to hover about him like a cloud. "I think we are in need of a talk."

The Prince pursed his lips, and I watched for his reaction. "It is late, Edmund. I would rather retire. Perhaps tomorrow-"

"You misunderstand me." I interrupted, and now there was no hint of friendliness in my voice. "Sit, Caspian." I wondered whether he'd directly refuse me. He seemed to consider it for a moment, and then, wisely, he sat on a rock a few steps from me. I nodded, turning to face him. "I would like to speak to you for a moment without interruption or petty words."

The brunette narrowed his eyes a little, and shifted. "Edmund, it has been a long day. We are both in need of rest. Tomorrow would be a better time for this."

I snorted. "Tomorrow we will be preparing for battle, and facing new challenges. Tonight is the only time we have, Caspian. I'll not take up too much of your time, but I must address an issue. Please, by the Lion, just listen."

"You use the Lion's name so casually?" He asked. I rolled my eyes, shaking my head.

"Not casually at all. Now: to the matter at hand. I am not pleased with your conduct, Caspian. Not one whit." He spluttered on a breath of air, and I watched with mild interest as his hand strayed to where a sword would normally be. But the sword, gratefully, was in the How, and not with us. Otherwise I have no doubt that he would have challenged me then and there to some sort of duel.

"I would have you remember that you are speaking to a Prince." Said he, and I raised an eyebrow. I resisted the urge to stand, to gain advantage over him. A clever and wise Centaur had once taught me to conduct with voice alone; that size and height was not always an advantage; that sometimes mannerism and tone was a better way to gain respect and put across one's point. I drew his lessons to memory now, and cleared my throat, clasping my hands in front of me as I spoke.

"I will ignore that… for now." I watched him across the still flickering flame of our fire. "I'll tell you flatly, Caspian. Since coming to Narnia, and since our first meeting with you, I did not like you." He started a little, clearly not expecting this reaction. "I watched the way your eyes lingered on my sister – yes, I saw that." I added, at his stunned glance. "But I chose to ignore it. Su's thoughts and mind is her own. I'm sure she'd tell you if ever you tried anything." I paused, gathering my thoughts. "However, the more important issue is about one who will not speak against you, to you… do you know of whom I speak?" He shook his head, bemused. I nodded; I had figured as much. "I assumed you would not. The one I speak of is my brother, Caspian. Peter. Your High King." I raised a hand as the Prince made to protest. "No. As you claim to love Narnia, and wish for peace, he is your High King. Since our first meeting, you have not exactly deemed him with respect, and though I admit he has not reacted as… Kingly…as one might expect, you have not helped."

I leaned forward, making sure I had his gaze upon me. "Listen closely to me, Caspian. If there is one mistake you will make, it is to underestimate the bond between my siblings and I, and each other, of course. Let me put it to you blunt me – if you cross blades with my brother again, you will find my blade against you also." The Prince swallowed, and I watched him take in this information. I knew that as a thirteen year old, I probably did not seem like much of a threat to a seventeen or so year old as he probably was. He was bigger, stronger, and more battle hardened than I. But I had experience on my side. I had ruled a Kingdom for fifteen years, and I had had to make decisions that had sometimes drawn me close to tears. "Do I have your word that you will give Peter the respect he deserves?"

Caspian took a breath. "May I ask a question first?"

"Of course," I promised.

"Why are you so loyal to him? He has hardly been kind to you, from what I have seen, and it seems as though he often brushes aside your thoughts. So why are you so loyal to him?"

"When we were crowned by Aslan, each of us was given a title to complement our personalities, and as a sort of… guide, I suppose." I watched him nod, and continued on. "Lucy is Valiant, Susan is Gentle, I am the Just, and Peter is Magnificent. Those titles were given to us for a reason, Caspian. For some of us, it has been a hard road to live up to such names," I swallowed, thinking of my own trails. "But for one like Peter, his reasoning was clear the minute he became Sir Peter, and in fact before that. He is loyal to his friends, and his family. He may have strayed lately, but I know in his heart those loyalties are the same." I prayed beyond prayer that this was true.

Caspian nodded, slowly. "I wish I had known you all when you were Kings and Queens," he admitted. "It would be easier to believe."

"There are many ways for one to be Magnificent, Caspian," I said quietly. "Not all of them are immediately visible." I cleared my throat, and stood, watching the Prince stand alongside me. "I think you will be a good King, Caspian the Tenth," I offered softly. "But bear in mind my words. I'll not warn you again, and a man who is foolish enough to face two blades may bear greater mistakes."

The brunette nodded, managing a weak smile. "Thank you for your advice, King Edmund." He spoke my title for the first time, and I wondered if this was his way of notifying me that he was taking in my advice. "I will certainly try to be the King that Narnia deserves."

"All one can ever do is try, Prince Caspian," I assured. "But personally I have a feeling you might succeed." I cleared my throat, and rolled my shoulders to rid myself of the slight tension there. "Now, if you will excuse me, I need to find my brother… I have a few things to say to him, too."

Caspian smiled a little, reaching down to fetch our goblets. "Then I pity him, King Edmund."

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Author's N: Thoughts, comments and criticisms much appreciated.