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A Gray Afternoon 
25th-Feb-2009 01:30 am
Title: A Gray Afternoon
Rating: PG
Summary: 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: Not mine!

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! :)
24th-Feb-2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
I like this. Mostly because it isn't a romance it's a love story. I think it's a lot like those of us who fall in love with Edmund in the books even though we know he's unreachable. The story also shows that people can touch our lives even for a moment, even if you don't really know them.

Good job!
24th-Feb-2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm glad I got that across! It wasn't so much that I wanted to show her completely in love with him or anything - I wanted to show how Edmund could touch a life, perhaps without even knowing it himself, and the effect he could have on at least one person.

And Peter, a character I've never particularly liked while reading the books, sort of came to life for me here, and I find that I do like him very much. Not that I didn't before - I just never thought much about him.

Thanks for commenting! :)
24th-Feb-2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
Well, it definitely came across well. I enjoyed it.

I agree, I wasn't much of a book!Peter fan. I enjoyed movie!Peter, and book!Peter caught my interest and admiration in elecktrum's series. (go and read. You will fall in love with book!Peter and then fall in love with Edmund even more, if that's possible.)

And, you're welcome. =D
25th-Feb-2009 07:48 am (UTC)
Elecktrum was the very first Narnia author I really followed - I discovered her a few years ago, not that that was difficult. She was on EVERYONE'S favorites list! She's amazing. I did love her Peter - still do, 's'matter of fact.
25th-Feb-2009 01:54 am (UTC)
I really like this. It's not one of those shippy OC fics that can either be alright or just...horribly Mary-Sue. Your words are simple but deep (like Edmund in this!). :D
25th-Feb-2009 07:53 am (UTC)
Oooh, thank you! I'm so glad you thought it was okay - my greatest fear was that it would turn people off because of the slight romance angle. Not that there actually was any romance, but I know it might have disinterested me, if it had been someone else's work.

Thank you again. :D
25th-Feb-2009 03:53 am (UTC)
OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS. I don't even know where to begin! Edmund in a bookstore, being so wonderfully Edmund. My heart just skipped a beat. His eyes - speaking-eyes, what a fantastic description. And the smile he flashes at the end! I am so happy right now, just from reading this. Yours is a very elegant style, I'm quite jealous. :P

25th-Feb-2009 07:56 am (UTC)
Are you kidding? I'm so jealous of YOUR style. The first thing I read by you (and never commented on, I'm sorry, I was sort-of-lurking at the time) was Secret Places of the Sun, and I just went, "Damn." But I'm glad you liked this one: thank you thank you. :D

I AM TOTALLY FRIENDING BACK. ;) I love friending.
1st-Mar-2009 11:36 am (UTC)
Again, love.

Edmund is my favourite character and I truly adore the way you write him, with that little touch of shadow. Particulary good job on your oc as well and lovely descriptions.
It's really interesting to see glimpses of what happened to the other characters, that we never got to see in the book.
1st-Mar-2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
Edmund's my favorite too. I especially love the way turkeyish writes him, with, as you said, that touch of shadow.

I'm so glad you like my work, since I've been posting here and there and haven't been receiving much comment or reaction. Then you came and were absolutely lovely, so thank you. :) You've really brightened my day.
2nd-Mar-2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
This has to be one of the most achingly beautiful fanfics I've ever read. Absolutely lovely. Because like lady_lirenel said, it isn't a romance, but it is in it's own way a love story.

Out of curiosity, what is the girl's name?
3rd-Mar-2009 08:27 am (UTC)
Thank you so, so much. I'm glad it managed to touch you.

And the girl's name is Abigail. :)
27th-Apr-2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
I usually am leery about the first person but you make the narrator her own person while gently conveying us through a moment with Edmund. Very, very well done, especially the smile.
3rd-May-2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked this well enough to overlook the first person narrative! I really enjoyed writing this piece, and I think I might have suffered a mini internal explosion while writing the smile. Thanks again! :)
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