After the whirlwind of the first few days was over, Edmund found himself spending more and more time sitting as far forward on the ship as he could. He would sit quietly, watching the horizon race towards them, or talk to Caspian, when the king had free time between his duties. He was a good companion. It was as comfortable being quiet with him as it was to talk. On one particular afternoon, they’d had hours to themselves. Their conversation had meandered through discussions of politics and kingship to stories from their respective times on the throne to their childhoods, and slowly they’d fallen silent. Edmund leaned his head back against the wood and closed his eyes. The sunlight felt wonderful on his face and a sea breeze flapped his shirt against his skin. Then Caspian spoke.
“How is Susan?”
Edmund looked over at Caspian, startled out of his reverie. Then he remembered what had happened between Caspian and Susan just before they left. Edmund watched Caspian as the king impassively watched the sea. Edmund took a moment to weigh his words.
“She’s doing alright. She’s...” Edmund shrugged. “She’s getting farther and farther from Narnia.” He thought that if he didn’t have this pesky lump in his throat he’d say something to allude to their kiss, but he couldn’t quite do it.
Caspian looked over at him as though he knew exactly what Edmund was thinking. “We were young, you know. I was thirteen.” He leaned forward and propped his chin on his hand, blond hair cascading down his arm. He’d undone the braid Lucy had given him that morning.
Edmund frowned, not sure what Caspian was trying to say. “I don’t think thirteen is too young. I kissed a girl at fourteen, sort of.”
Caspian shook his head. The abundant sunlight ringed his head with a halo. “I meant that I didn’t know what I wanted. Your sister was beautiful and intelligent and fierce, and I thought that that meant I should kiss her.” He held up a hand to stop Edmund from interrupting. “But it wasn’t what I wanted.”
Edmund frowned again. “What did you want, Caspian?”
Caspian tucked his hair behind his ears with nimble hands. “Two years later a prince from Archenland came to visit us for a few months. We grew very close. The night before he left, we kissed in the garden. That is what I wanted.”
Edmund felt as though he’d missed a step on a staircase and gone lurching forward. “Oh.”
Caspian turned his head to look at Edmund. “Oh?”
“I didn’t know.”
Caspian shrugged. “No one ever does, do they?” He bundled his hair up into a bun before letting it fall again to ripple over his shoulders. “The point is, Edmund, that I would very much like to kiss you. If you would like to.” His eyes were so clear, so earnest, so steady on Edmund’s own.
Edmund felt something zing through him, straight through his heart. “I--” He paused. “Yes. Yes.”
Caspian moved along the bench until their shoulders touched. He brought one hand up to Edmund’s cheek. His hand was callused in places, but he brushed Edmund’s cheek breathtakingly gently. Their eyes met, brown to gray, and Caspian leaned forward until their noses brushed. Edmund saw freckles he had never noticed before, and then his eyes were closed, and everything was Caspian. It was soft and firm and warm and everything his disastrous first kiss hadn’t been, and he could think of nothing else but the gentle pressure on his lips, Caspian’s hand on his face, and his own hands moving to Caspian’s glorious silky mane. It was sunshine and wine and laughter and a rushing river of all the things about himself he’d suppressed until now. When Caspian eventually broke their kiss and pulled back to look at Edmund, Edmund couldn’t say a word. He just pulled Caspian back in.