I'm not entirely happy with this, but I figure that at this point it's pretty much as good as it's going to get. The Summary comes from Pablo Neruda's Letter On The Road. Happy New Year!
Edmund can't make himself forget Narnia.
He feels listless, hard-earned power and knowledge belonging to a king his rightful age bubbling like mercurial poison in his veins, and he flits through each day as though through half-lived dreams.
The war has been over so many times in his mind, because no war can go on forever and he has long since grown up; but in reality it just goes on and on like no war back home ever had, although the Germans don't fly over so often anymore.
They're sent back to school. When he first hears about it, Edmund wants to laugh incredulously, because he had been in charge of a country and now they want to teach him maths, but he fears that once he starts, he will never be able to stop; and he'll become just another madman laughing forever, and there are some pretty terrible stories about the Bedlam Hospital.
Even worse than his expectations, Hendon House is like an inch he can't scratch out, a contradiction of everything Narnia had always stood for: freedom and honour (masked in blood and lies and ice; water frozen forever and the illusion of a winter that never ends.)
He grits his teeth, swallows polluted air and more carbon dioxide than feels natural, and tries not to choke on it; truth and lies and secrets and mithridates at breakfast for years and blood on long forgotten battlefields and snowflakes catching on his eyelashes and -
He is no longer used to it; to sitting on hard wooden chairs when he once sat on a throne, forced to listen to masters who demand respect but have done nothing to earn it, and it feels perverse to be called "Pevensie" rather than "Your Majesty"; to be a nothing more than some random meaningless child again.
He hasn't been a child for so long, because ruling a whole country had made them grow up so quickly (king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen.)
Whispers follow him as he walks around the school, equal parts Peter Pevensie's younger brother and different this year. He ignores them, too used to the mixture of king and traitor that used to taunt him, always just around the corner and darting out of sight, barely saved from the charge of treason that Edmund himself should have been slapped with and spent his entire reign trying to atone for.
He sees fights daily in hallways, ignored by the teachers who prefer to drink weak tea and gossip when they think their charges don't notice, full of disparaging glances and patronising tones because to them they are all children, pathetic weaklings to be protected from the world and all its evil.
He wants to scream at them; shout that as king he has seen things they couldn't bear to even imagine, all while those idiots (he will not call them his peers; there are only three people in the entire country worth that) concern themselves with petty things like which girl to take to the Christmas party.
"Your brother got into another fight," says a boy shorter than him, with hair like that mischievous Prince Corin's (or was Cor the irritating prankster? Why can't he remember?) and eyes a shade lighter than a Calormene crescent. He looks familiar, but Edmund can't quite place him.
Already he is beginning to forget, ancient memories twisting and taunting him with every turn like the White Witch's Cruels.
"Not my problem, mate" he shrugs, turning a page to squint at the worn, faint text. Peter gets into fights at least once a week, because never mind what he mutters under his breath about preferring swords, always just a tone too low for anyone except Edmund to hear, he's always ready with fists raised to any who try to walk over him; but Edmund lets the rage boil up inside of him like in the archetypical witch's cauldron; and if his palms are bruised by his own sharp, unfiled fingernails and his mouth bitten on the inside so often he tastes blood with every swallow, then no one needs to know; because by the Lion's Mane, he's still a king, even if no one will acknowledge it, and he will continue to act like one even if it fucking kills him.
It might, in the end.
(But once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen; Aslan had promised.)
He squeezes his eyes shut at night in a useless attempt to dispel nightmares of cold, ruthless beauty and soft skin, eyes like flints of broken ice and the way cruel, inhuman lips formed lilting whispers, enchantments that could bring the world to its knees and bind it in chains of ice and rough, scalding silver.
He thinks he can remember the way the soft breeze after each victory seemed to whisper Aslan, back when they were younger (older, the dorm-room mirror taunts him). But it's hard, when he dreams of nameless Narnians falling on battlefields he should be able to name and warm blood flow across undisturbed snow on endless forest floors. Sometimes his dreams are so vivid he actually hears metal clash, sword to sword to sword to sword in a dance of endless steel; sweat pooling in the gaps of his armour as he feels either the euphoria of winning or the clenching in his gut when he was certain they would lose.
In the middle of some English prep about Shakespeare, he thinks of Rabadash hanging on a loose nail, swearing vengeance from his god Tash, before Aslan turned him into a donkey, and can't stop himself from laughing at the memory.
His roommates look at him weirdly. Edmund tilts his head up, chin raised and faces them head on (still king) and no accusations ever come. It's wartime, and none of them really want to push and isolate each other. Almost all their fathers are dying somewhere on foreign soil.
Sometimes, Prince Cor asks him who the traitor who repented was. He never answers, and it never happened, but it haunts him nonetheless.
Soon he'll be unable to tell real memories from false ones.
He thinks of the White Witch, Jadis; the woman who lied to him and betrayed him, and fed him sweets he once loved, because she's the only one whose face remains entirely clear in his mind.
He hates her all the more for that, and even more because sometimes he finds himself wavering over how evil she'd really been.
Things were clearer in Narnia; she hadn't haunted him so much in Narnia.
But in England, where she'd never even been, she seemed to be everywhere: in the badly hidden fear in the eyes of almost every civilian they passed in the streets, in the dark shadows marring his mother's face as more and more reports of the Nazi's progress and the tales of the gas chambers and torture camps in occupied Europe reached them. She was laughing at him through very snowflake that fell outside, seen through thin, misty windows; in the interested looks he sometimes got from girls from the Saint Finbar's across the road, and hidden inside every bite of Turkish Delight his mother sent by post, given to one of his roommates, any of them, because sweets were scarce nowadays but the sight of it made him want to be sick.
("Even a traitor may mend. I have known one who did." He said thoughtfully, facing the raging man who was later to become the only peaceful Tisroc of Calormen in living memory.)
Sometimes, it seemed that whatever he did, it was never enough, because she was always there, a memory tied together with flesh and bone and blood, like an infection that refused to go away, like those bloody Germans who wouldn't give up, as determined to conquer as Prince Rabadash had been to marry his sister.
His loyalty is still to his country, of course, but England is no longer his home. There is something about England that makes him remember everything he'd much rather forget, because the memories haunt him, and his life there is less substantial than the lies the White Witch had told him.
She had lied, hadn't she?
It had been so much easier back in Narnia.