‘What’re you doing?’
Edmund starts at the sound of his sister’s voice, his hand smudging the page he’d just finished writing.
‘Nothing,’ he says, his hands moving to cover the parchment while he cast about trying to think of something that might distract her.
‘Doesn’t look like “nothing” to me.’ And there goes any chance he had of managing this. ‘Who could you be writing a letter to?’
‘Nobody. It doesn’t matter.’ He tries one last time. ‘Did you want something, by the way?’
It doesn’t work.
‘Nice try, but no,’ Lucy says. ‘I’ll admit I’m curious, though. The only people on this ship you know well enough to write to are me, Caspian, and Eustace. And you— hang on,’ she stops, mid-sentence, and turns to give him a thoughtful look. Edmund thinks it’s possible she saw something in his expression when she mentioned Caspian’s name; her next words confirm it. ‘So, what’s going on between you and Caspian, then?’
Lucy's tone is free of any hint of suggestiveness or judgement; instead, she seems both curious and interested. Edmund decides to see whether the nonchalant approach he’s seen Peter use to great effect will work for him.
‘Nothing,’ he says. Lucy snorts in disbelief.
‘Pull the other one, Ed; it’s got bells on. Come on,’ she continues, ‘You can tell me anything. You know that.’
Edmund rolls his eyes; the conversation is beginning to irritate him. He might love his sister, but he wishes she’d mind her own business. With a bit of luck, Caspian isn’t anywhere near here; this is a conversation he’d like, if possible, to keep between himself and Lucy. That said, knowing his luck, Caspian is right outside.
‘There's nothing to tell.’
He hopes Lucy will take the hint and leave him alone. It doesn’t happen.
‘Oh, come off it, Ed!’ Lucy's frustration is clear. ‘Do you think I’m some kind of idiot? I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. And I’ve been watching you. I’ve seen the way you look at him, and the way he looks at you. And those looks mean only one thing.’
‘Lu, nothing’s happening, all right?’
Edmund can feel his cheeks flush with embarrassment, as he tries to get Lucy to leave the topic alone, and his irritation at the situation he’s in increases. Whatever’s unfolding between himself and Caspian is delicate, and precious, and there’s no bloody way he wants anyone else barging in and spoiling it.
Lucy crosses her arms and looks straight at him. Her next words are devastating.
‘Ed, you don’t have to hide it from me. I already know.’
He stands, frozen, staring at her. What has she seen?
‘You— how?’ His voice cracks on the question; he hopes she hasn’t noticed.
‘It’s written all over both of you. You think I don’t notice how you are almost never apart? I’m younger than you, Ed, but I’m neither blind nor stupid.’
Before he can manage to articulate a reply, Lucy’s plucked the parchment out of his fingers and is skimming it.
‘I knew it! You should let him see this, Ed, assuming you haven’t told him already.’
‘I can’t.’ Why can’t she see it’s impossible for him to let Caspian see this?
‘Whyever not?’ Her voice is soft.
‘I can’t lose him, Lu.’
‘Do you think something like this could make any difference to what and how he thinks of you?’
And that’s what Edmund loves about Lucy; her inability to see anything but the good in people. She can read something in his face, he’s certain of it, because her tone is very gentle; he finds himself speaking without consideration of what the consequences might be.
‘You do it. I can’t. I can’t.’
And at the realisation of what he’s just said hits him, Edmund lunges for the door and through it. He’s looking for a place to hide from everyone - and from Caspian in particular. He needs time to process this, to figure out what to do next, and to come up with a plan to cope with Caspian’s reaction.
He hopes he hasn’t just made a huge mistake.