A Gray Afternoon Rating:
He was just someone who made her heart beat a little faster one rainy day, and maybe that was all that really mattered in the end. Author's Note:
Late response to Weekly Challenge #16
: Love at justkingedmund
. And I totally didn't study for a Biology Long Test and
a Chemistry Long Test for this, so... Disclaimer:
I met him on a gray Thursday afternoon, and didn't fall in love with him.
If a surge of feeling rising in my chest merited the term falling-in-love, then maybe I did; if an hour-old acquaintance could encompass the entirety of such a leap, maybe I took it. But I didn't fall in love with him—not the way I had read about in my beloved, well-thumbed books, at any rate, where jewel-wreathed princesses kissed frogs and mermaids cast themselves into forbidden seas for princes out of reach. He was just someone who made my heart beat a little faster one rainy day, and maybe that was all that really mattered in the end.
He entered the shop with his warm-eyed brother—who could mistake them for anything but brothers, those two young men, as like as day and night?—, shaking the flecks of water from his dark hair and smiling mutedly at some joke his older companion had made.
“You never laugh at jokes anymore,” observed the one with the sunlit hair, even in the darkness of the rain-encased room.
“There's something hovering... something that keeps me from finding them funny lately,” he answered in a grave, quiet voice that danced at the edge of my hearing.
He ran strong fingers along the broken spines of old, proud books sitting upon their mahogany shelves while his brother strolled towards my counter and introduced himself with an unintentionally charming smile.
“Peter Pevensie… believe you know old Professor Digory Kirke…? Friend of the family, just as he is yours… recommended we come visit this place, owned by your father, the Professor said?… Very charming indeed, and he mentioned this was a veritable treasure trove of hidden things…”
He was a lovely man, the brother, kind and easy and sweetly humorous, almost courtly in his manners, but my gaze was continually drawn to the slim, slowly-pacing figure at the other end of the room. He walked among the weary volumes like a man stepping in a cathedral, his very steps measured and reverent, face uplifted to the stained glass art of faded titles and leather covers. A single line was drawn across his forehead as he bent forward to examine a book more closely.
His eyes… what I could see of his eyes caused a swift throb of something
to cause a shudder in me. Grave they were, deep, dark, infinitely sad
with some secret memory or knowledge, and my heart began beating faster—
“His name is Edmund,” his brother interrupted me, and I blushed.
“He seems very sad,” I fumbled.
The brother was quiet. “Yes,” he said.
The solemn young man, as though sensing our discussion of him, turned his head in a quick, fluid motion, and his dark eyes met mine. A girlish, thoroughly frustrating thrill ran through me as he made his way to the counter.
His manners were as impeccable as his brother’s, but his speech and his gestures were laced with an enigmatic gravity that thoroughly fascinated me. He spoke little, but his words were well-chosen; since my mother had always scolded me for having an overly-lively tongue, I found myself conversing easily with the dark-haired man, filling the gaps where his own words should have been, and barely noticing as his brother discreetly slipped away to scrutinize a few pages of an old philosophy book.
We spoke on an afternoon when the rain fell down, and I found my heart beat a little faster not because of the way he smiled at me, but because of the way he didn’t
. His were speaking-eyes—they conveyed dialogues with a single eloquent glance—he traced stories upon the top of the counter with his hands—but never once did he smile. Nevertheless, he kept me completely absorbed.
“Why do you seem so unhappy?” I finally ventured to ask.
“Do I truly seem that way to you?” he said, humor touching his voice.
“Well… yes,” I confessed.
His eyes softened, saddened even further. “I feel…” he began, “I feel lately that something I lost long ago—or something that once lost me—is calling out to me and I don’t know how to—to find it.” He raised his head. “I’ve told my brother about this, and he understands, but I…”
The loss that filled his speaking-eyes were deeps I dared not plunge into, and I was rather glad that his golden brother chose that moment to put his book down and cheerfully rejoin the conversation.
Before they walked out of our quaint shop into a rain-curtained world, they turned back to nod their heads respectfully and call a polite, “Good day!” I nodded back and the brother manfully made his way out into the thick sheets of rain; but before the dark-haired one could leave, I said, “Wait!”
I meant to say thank you: Thank you for making my heart beat faster, for walking among our old, used books like they were things to be admired, for transforming a gray afternoon into a silver one. But instead, I said, “I do hope you find what you’re looking for.” An inevitable blush accompanied my statement.
For a heartbeat he stared. His answer came, hazy through the sound of clattering raindrops, “Thank you—I hope so too,” and then—incredibly—he flashed a quick, winning smile and, without great aplomb or circumstance, Edmund Pevensie walked out of my life.
I found him again a few days later, among the sweetly-standing graves scattered in the cemetery. It was mere minutes after the end of the Professor’s service that I went to stand before the headstone, as gray as that afternoon had been, with his name and his age—so young, only a year older than I—marked in fresh, garish strokes.
I placed a single rose before it and wondered, as a grieved ache wrung my heart, if he had found what he had lost.
Uh. Yeah. That was so much sadder than I expected. To clear up a few things, Edmund wasn't in love with her - at least, I don't think so. He was perfectly happy when he got to Narnia in TLB and didn't seem to have any regrets, so I don't think he left any loves behind. He was troubled because of the appearance of Tirian, which I imagine happening a few days before. And the girl left a rose on Peter's grave as well, later on - and she blushes a lot 'cause she's a redhead. I even have a name for her, if you can believe that.
I am so, so tired. That note just rambled on.
Thanks for reading! :)