It had been a week since I asked Emma if I could court her and it was a wonderful week. Even with her in bed and sick I loved every minute I spent with her. We read like we always did book after book. I borrowed Edmunds chess board and taught her chess some more she was becoming better with each game Ed even joined in for a few games with her. Susan, Lucy and even Eliza spent time with Emma talking just keeping her company while she was bed bound. I saw Eliza and Ed were becoming closer with each day. And I could not deny that when that little bran called Ed Edda it was the cutest thing.
The times I spent alone with Emma were amazing I kept my arms around her and couldn't help but kiss her cheek and hair all the time. We talked about things all the time now. Our hopes fears our childhood what Emma wanted to do when she was well. Emma even asked me to check on Snow to make sure she was ok. Emma kept reminding me that I was to teach her how to fight as soon as she was better. And many times though out the day she would fall asleep in my arms making me either rest were we are or lay her down to take care of some work. After Emma insisted I keep working and not put it off I promised I would work while she was asleep.
So here I was at her desk reading over papers and signing them when Edmund walked in. He had a large sheet of parchment in his hand and I knew by the look on his face it wasn't good. Ed stopped in front of me holding out the parchment, "it's the outpost they aren't letting up. Really you would think that they would get the point that she's gone and not coming back but no they fight on." I took the letter and read over it quickly.
"I was sure with the added men they would back down and realize it was a useless endeavor. I guess I was wrong." The witches followers were relentless now they were fighting back with more purpose than ever before.
"We're going to have to ride out there's no avoiding it now no matter how much we wish not to go. They lost ten men already we can't put it off anymore." Ed was right it was time.
" I know you think we can get everything together in a week." I was staring at the letter I my hands I didn't want to do this.
"Yes I'm sure we can manage." Ed paused and I knew what his next thought was. "What of the girls when do you want to tell them."
I thought it over right now was not a good idea Lucy loses her appetite when she is worried. Susan gives us the quite treatment and I rather not deal with that all day. "After dinner would be a good time. I'll tell Emma too this would happen after I finally start to court someone."
"It was bound to happen sometime but I guess I need to tell Eliza." Ed stared at his boots.
"I haven't asked you about her too much you care for her." Ed's face blushed a slight shade of red.
"I care for her but she is so apprehensive about everything. I have to stop myself from doing the slightest things. I'm scared to even hug her without asking the last time I did she froze so fast that I was scared she was going to run off. It's one step forward then two back sometimes. I understand why but I just wish she could trust me." Ed shuffled his feet and I could tell he was embarrassed to admit this about them. "I know it will take time and I just need to be patience but its killing me."
Poor King Edmund the Just you finally met a girl who doesn't fall into your arms at one of your charming smiles. It must be horrible having to work for a woman." I knew I was pushing some sensitive Buttons but Ed always did just have to smile at a girl and they swooned at his feet. I loved that he had to work at it with Eliza it would be good for him to know how to woo a women to loving him.
"Very funny Pete. You had it easy with Emma you pulled her out of the cold and then the two of you were inseparable since. I have to ask Eliza to come to me after she gets off work just to see her. I so badly want her to quite being a maid but I know she won't have it. I guess I need to find a token for her for when we leave." I could see Ed's head working trying to think of something. It's an old Narnian custom that when the men go off to war or battle there women or sweethearts exchange tokens. It's usually a necklace or small trinket that can be kept on them while there away. Women usually give there men a handkerchief or scarf that can be tied to a belt or inside armor. Lucy and Susan don't give us tokens so this would be the first time Ed and I would ride off with tokens that someone gave us. The tokens are usually given back when the men return if for some reason the man is killed in battle the thought is the women has a small gift that was from the man the cared for. And that the man died with his token on him thinking of his love. It's a romantic custom that many follow still to this day.
"I'll have to do the same for Emma I have no idea what to give her. Right after I said this to Ed I had a picture flash though my mind of a small necklace that lays in a velvet box in a drawer in my room. Aslan came a few weeks before Emma came into Narnia to give me the box that I would know when I had to use it. I think this was why Aslan gave it to me. The box held a necklace that was a small replica of my sword and shield. They held the same red markings that made up my life size ones. It then made me wonder if Aslan did the same for Ed.
"She's not going to be well by the time we leave. Are you going to be able to fight with that on your mind?" Ed came and leaned on the desk to face me. He crossed his arms waiting for me to answer.
"I'm going to try," I glanced over at Emma who was still asleep in her bed totally unaware of what happened, "I know it's going to be hard and I'm going to think about her night and day but I need to know how to do this. I doubt this will be the last time I have to leave her." I tore my eyes away from Emma to look up at Ed.
"We can hope it's the last and only time but I should get the preparations started." Ed put his hand on my shoulder before he spoke again; "I'm going to need you there with me to make sure we are prepared properly. To do that you need to be a part of the preparations as well." Ed bore his eyes into mine he wanted me to really hear what he was saying.
"I know ed. I'm going to have to leave her here alone now." It pained me to say it but I had to now I couldn't take care of her all day and help get everything ready to go at the same time.
"Take the rest of the day with her I will let Orious know to ready as many men as he can to leave in a weeks' time. After that I'm going to go find Eliza and speak with her." I was thankful for Ed to give me the rest of the day with Emma one more day to soak up everything about her. I went back to my work but it didn't last long I couldn't stop thinking of how to tell her. I did make the decision to tell her when she woke but she didn't give me long. A few hours after Ed left us Emma woke up I went straight to her scrambling to put words together to let her know what's going on. As Emma sat up I slid in next to her wrapping her in my arms. I loved having her here her back against my chest and shoulder my arms around her waist her head on my shoulder. I took a deep breath taking in the scent of her hair. I tried to let her presence sooth the fast pace of my heart and the racing of my mind. "What's wrong Peter you were fine when I feel asleep and now you're not what happened while I was asleep."
"How do you know something happened." Oh Aslan I'm I that transparent right now.
"I can just tell now what happened." Emma looked up at me her head falling on my shoulder. I took a deep breath again; "we got another letter from the outpost."
"And?" She bit her lip as she looked at.
"The fighting didn't stop Ed and I have to go ride out with troops to stop them. We are leaving in about a week. I have to help Ed prepare as well this week." I kept my eyes on her the entire time.
"How long are you going to be gone." Her voice was calm but I could tell she was trying to get all the information before reacting.
"I don't know could be days to weeks. Months if they dig in pretty well but I doubt that long." I didn't want to lie to her and say a few days and it be weeks.
"And you have to go?" I nodded at her, "we must we put it off as long as we could."
"You're not going to let me go with you are you." Oh no never not in a million years.
"No you're still recovering and can't fight. I bring you and I'm just asking for one of them too kidnap you to get to me. I won't put you in any danger just to have you with no matter how much I care for you. I will fight better knowing your safe here in the castle protected." I squeezed her in my arms trying to emphasize my point of her protected and safe.
"Alright I guess we will just have to spend as much time together as we can until you can leave." Emma slid her hand over mine.
"One more thing it's a Narnia custom for when a man goes off to battle his sweetheart and him exchange gifts. They give each other tokens to keep while he's away. I haven't given anyone anything before I wanted to give you something when I left." I watched her face waiting for a reaction.
"So I need to find you something for you to take with you." She was looking up at me the question hanging between us.
"Yes, its usually something small like a scarf handkerchief or something like that." Emma nodded up at me .
"I'll think so something. Have you told Lucy and Susan?"
"No we will after dinner though. I think you may be strong enough to walk to the dining room tonight." I ran my fingers though her hair behind her ear.
"Really great I can put on normal cloths and get out of bed." The smile on her face lit her up. I kissed her cheek something I tried to do often as I could. After the other day when I almost broke down and slipped and kissed her I couldn't help but lean in and kiss her cheek many times a day. And with the looming clock over our head ticking down the time for me to ride off to battle I knew I wouldn't stop kissing her.
I was in my small room of the servants quarters when a knock sounded on the door. This was unusual as no one came to see me this time of night. As I opened the door and there stood Edmund he was rocking on his feet a habit I had come to realize meant he was nervous or excited he ran his hand though his hair making it stick up in many places. He was looking down to the floor before be looked up at me. "Are you alright Edmund?"
"Yes um no I don't know." This was odd I had never seen Edmund so confused before or so nervous.
"Can you uh come for a walk with me?" He ran his hand though his hair again making it stick up even worse. I took the step closer to him and for the first time I reached out to him and took his hand. "Bran's asleep." Again he ran his hand though his hair shifting from foot to foot. Feeling braver than ever before I stretched my free hand out and tried to put his hair back into place. I smiled to myself at my boldness when I saw his hair was back to normal and Edmund took my hand in his. "Do you mind if Susan watches him as we walk." Something was really wrong I had never seen him act like this and he never has asked to spend time with me alone. Bran was always there Edmund never hesitated with Bran he knew that were I go Bran dose. Edmund need me now and I knew he was the type of man to never admit that he needed someone. So I did the only thing I would do for him I nodded to him and let go of his hand to pick Bran up he stopped me. "Let me." He leaned down and with tenderness he had never shown to me he gently picked Bran up and cradled him to his chest and shoulder. I took Brans blanket and wrapped it around him as Edmund settled him to his chest. He took my hand and for the first time I felt tightness in his grip that was never there before.
I followed him as he took me up the stairs and to Queen Susan's room where she quickly accepted to watch Bran while he slept. Edmund handed Bran over to Queen Susan I kissed his bald head before Edmund took my hand and without so much as a word lead me down the hall. Then up a set of stairs on one of the landings he pulled a curtain away and pressed a stone a small door no more than five feet high and three free wide opened. He led me though it silently going up a spiral stair case it seemed never ending. It ended at a wooden door when he shouldered it opened we stood in a tower overlooking the sea. We could see the water crashing against the rocks and next to that the woods high on a cliff. Glass windows of reds and golds kept the harsh cold wind from blowing in it was there that Edmund stopped.
My grip tighten on his hand we were alone and truly alone somewhere where no one would know where we are. My heart picked up I steered out the window hoping I was wrong. When Edmund looked down at me, "I'm scaring you aren't I." I nodded not trusting my voice. "I'm sorry never you know that. I.. I just wanted to talk to you alone and didn't want interruptions." He placed his free hand over my cheek, "no one knows of this place it's where I come to think when I need time alone. I wanted to talk to you that are all." He stroked my cheek with his thumb the rough skin tickling my cheek. "Let's sit down." I let him pull me down to sit on the window set overlooking the sea.
We sat there hand in hand Edmund rubbing his thumb over the back of my hand. "I have something I need to tell you."
"What is it?" I knew I was talking low but Edmund sounded so sad so scared. The just king wasn't sitting here with me just Edmund the boy.
"The outpost out near the lantern waste is being attacked by the white witches followers Peter and I have to ride out in a week with troops." There's no way that this is what scared a mighty king like him there was something else to this.
"Will I be able to see you before you go?" I didn't know where that came from I rarely seek him out but with the knowledge of him going off and not knowing what will happen I needed a few more times like this.
"Yes I will make sure of it. That's part of the reason why I wanted you to come up here with me." I knew now would not be a time to talk that he may change his mind so I just nodded and squeezed his hand. "I want you to be at the gate when we leave and I have a token I would like to give to you then." I looked up in his eyes he was being serious.
"I can't do that Edmund a king cannot be seen giving a token to a servant maid. For me to see you off and accept a token from you would be horrible for you." I tried to make him see this it was one thing to walk and talk in privacy but another to openly exchange something with deep meanings as tokens before battle.
"We are back to this again. I care not for what anyone thinks about it. Who is going to care and what are they going to do about it. It's not like they can take my crown Aslan himself gave me." I could tell Edmund was getting upset about this.
"The court cares I care. If you involve yourself with a maid no one would want to court you or accept any attempt at marriage you will forever tarnish your reputation and I will not be the reason for it." I let go of his hand and walked away from him. "If I let you give me a token and accept it in front of the entire kingdom it says to them we are courting and are together. I can't let you do that."
"And what if I want that," he stood and came to me taking my hands in his, "to let the entire kingdom know that I care for you. Is that so wrong? Your beautiful Eliza you know that." He ran his fingers down my cheek as I shook my head at him he couldn't be saying this not to me. I pushed back tears that threated to fall. "You're so beautiful why can't you see that." I blinked and the first of many tears fell Edmund just whipped them away with a swipe of his finger. "Pete was very right he told me all I had to do was smile and any girl I wanted would fall into my arms. His words were that I had to work at it with you that you wouldn't just fall for me. You're the strongest women I have met. I don't even know if my sisters could have handled what happened to you so bravely. Please just come see me off and dame what the kingdom thinks." I was steady crying now and Edmund was just brushing them aside as they came.
"How can I say no now." I tried to stop the tears I hadn't cried a tear in front of anyone since Bran was born. Before either of us could stop it Edmund pulled me to him wrapping me into a tight hug one I wouldn't accept from anyone but him. "I'm sorry do I need to let go."
"It's ok." For the first time in almost two years I let myself put my arms around him and lean into him. It felt good to let someone sooth my tears I had endured them alone for so long. "I'm so happy your letting me hug you." Edmund made me giggle into his chest. "You're not going to let me official court you are you." I could already hear the hurt in his voice.
"No, I'm broken Edmund I'm fine now but tomorrow this may scare me. I have my good days and bad days about this. There are times when I walk down a hall and a man is walking behind me and all I can hear is the sound of his boots on the floor. All I can think about is when is he going to grab me. When a simple touch makes me cringe. You have no idea how much it took for me to stay calm tonight. If you were anyone but yourself I wouldn't trust you. I can't be what you want me to be not now." I looked up into Edmunds eyes the deep brown held so much in them. They bore into me trying to look into my soul.
"I have always understood that I don't ask for any more than what you can give me. I will be right here by your side until you're ready." Edmund pushed my hair out of my eyes as he smiled down at me and I could see why he said girls would fall at his feet. "Can you sit with me for a few minutes before I take you back to Bran."
"Oh course I can I trust he's in good hands." We went back to the window to sit together I let him keep my hand I was becoming used to it. There were times like now that I draw strength from his hand being in mine. "Do you know how long?"
"I'm going to be gone," I nodded at him, "not sure it varies." Depending on how well their dug in. He wasn't saying it but I knew it was the truth. "I'll find time to spend with you before I leave." I nodded at him knowing enough was said between us tonight. We sat there holding hands watching the dark wave's crash against the shore. The silence and the scent of Edmund beside me lulled me to sleep in that tower. Never having been comfortable around men and here I am asleep next to one. I felt arms under me and a weightless feeling as arms lifted me up. The steady feeling of feet under me let me know that he was taking me home. And when I felt the mattress and blanket I knew I was home and then I remembered Bran. I opened my eyes to get up to go get him. Edmund was there sitting next to me looking down at me, "sleep I'll go get him you've had a long day."
"Are you sure."
"Yes sleep Eliza for me." Edmund lifted my hand to his lips and placed a small kiss there. "Good night my beautiful Eliza." And he left as I drifted off to sleep I did hear him bring Bran in and place him in his bed before leaving.
So I'm super excited about this last part it came out of no where and I love it. I was going to drag out Edmund and Eliza thing longer but this just felt right and the right time to do it. So a name change is really in order just drawing a blank. I'm finally getting a vague idea of where everything is going. I have way too much time to day dream at work. And with that I'm back off to bed staying up late writing then the plummer waking me up way to early makes me sleepy. So like always review and let me know what you think. Oh and thank you to the three people who review on a regular basis I love to see that.