It rains on the day of the London premiere of Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
"Typical," sighs Anna, fussing with the blue silk of her dress and clinging onto Will's arm.
Will ducks his head under the umbrella that Andrew is trying to hold over all three of them. It's practically a torrential downpour, and he peers at the crowds in their anoraks and plastic ponchos, with their sodden notebooks and photographs thrust forward for autographs.
From where they are, they can't see the others. It's strange to be apart, to walk down the red carpet so alone. In some ways, Will thinks, it feels like any other premiere—girls screaming his name and holding out Narnia promotional photos. Only this time, the photos of him are nearly three years old and his name is almost lost in the stream of Skandars and Bens.
"Oh!" says Andrew suddenly, pointing ahead of them. "I can see Georgie! God, I still can't believe how much she's grown."
Will squints ahead, trying to follow Andrew's pointing finger, and Anna's arm tenses suddenly in his.
They sit in plastic seats, staring up at a cinema screen that won't show their faces.
"This is so weird," Anna whispers.
"What is?" Will asks, but she doesn't respond for a moment, as they are distracted by Skandar, Georgie, Ben and Will P. filing onto a stage in front of the screen to introduce the film.
"Us being down here while they're..." Anna says, trailing off. "Will, are you okay?"
"You can't do that," Will hisses to Skandar in a corner at the after party, taking the first chance he's given to have a word with him. "There'll be dating rumours all over the place—"
"I'm sorry, what?" Skandar interrupts, nearly spitting out a mouthful of champagne. "Are you talking about me and Georgie?"
"You were holding her hand," Will says as quietly and calmly as he can. "It's inappropriate."
"She was nervous," Skandar says incredulously. "It was never inappropriate when you did it."
Will grits his teeth. The truth is, it was about ten times more inappropriate when he did it, but all he does is shake his head and tell Skandar, "She's older now."
That night at the hotel Anna undresses in the bathroom, pulling damp silk over her head and peeling down her stockings, avoiding her reflection in the mirror. When she re-enters the room, Georgie is already in bed, tucked in, face smiling at her from a fluffed-up pillow.
"Don't I get a goodnight hug?" she says in a small voice, a perfect pout on her pink lips.
Anna freezes, halfway to her bed. "You're too old for goodnight hugs," she hears herself say. Her voice sounds shaky and uncertain.
"Am not," retorts Georgie.
Anna turns, goes to her. The hug is tight and Georgie's breath is hot against her skin. When she starts to pull away, Georgie pulls her back.
"No," says Anna firmly. "Georgie. No."
"I'm old enough," Georgie insists, wetting her lips with her tongue.
Anna laughs a choked, pained laugh. "Not to me you aren't."
"I have a secret," says Georgie, grinning toothily at her from across the hotel room. The nightlight flickers and Anna sighs.
"George, I'm tired. Let's just go to sleep, okay? You can tell me in the morning," she whispers.
Georgie pouts. "But I want to tell you now."
"Tell me in the morning," Anna insists, rolling over onto her back and staring blankly up at the ceiling.
"I want to tell you now."
Anna says nothing. This is the best tactic for ten year olds, she's found—ignore them and they get bored. Eventually. It worked for Lulu when she was ten, though sometimes ended in temper tantrums. She waits, listening to the blissful silence. Georgie's given up already. Anna will be able to drift off to sleep in peace in no time—
"I fancy you."
Anna's eyes snap open. "What?" she hisses, but all she gets in response is a giggle. "Georgie, don't mess around. Just go to sleep. And don't say that to people if you don't know what it means."
"But I do know what it means," Georgie says proudly. "And it's true."
"No, it's not," says Anna tiredly.
"Don't tell me how I feel," Georgie says hotly, sitting up suddenly in bed.
"Georgie," sighs Anna, running a hand back through her hair. "Georgie, go to sleep."
"But," says Georgie. "I fancy you. I really do."
"Georgie," says Anna once again. "Don't be silly. Go to sleep."
Georgie makes a frustrated noise, but does, eventually, fall asleep.
Anna, however, is up half the night.
"She said she fancies me," she tells Will the next day.
Will snorts. "She also fancies the boy who lives next door to her, the entirety of the football team at school, and occasionally James, depending on what mood she's in when you ask her," he says.
"Yeah," says Anna, "but I'm a girl."
Will makes a non-committal noise, teams it up with a one-shouldered shrug, and goes back to his sandwich.
"They keep saying she's 'grown up so well'," says Will, frustratedly buttering toast the following morning. "What does that even mean? Grown up well? It's not a skill, everybody does it."
"It means people now find her sexually attractive, Will," Anna tells him tiredly, her voice dull as she drags her fingers back through her hair, and Will fumbles with his knife, dropping it with a thunk onto the table.
"But," he says, "but..."
Anna sighs. She looks exhausted, dark shadows under he eyes. "She's only fifteen, I know," she says, "but that's how it goes, these days, isn't it? Don't you remember everyone saying that sort of thing about Skandar after Prince Caspian?"
He just doesn't remember being so disturbed by it.
"Oh, this is just awful," he's saying only minutes later when the others have joined them for breakfast, bringing with them the day's newspapers with news of the premiere.
"What?" says Skandar, bewildered, leaning in to peer at the page Will is looking at. "It's all good things, isn't it?"
"Little Georgie Henley has grown into a fine young woman," Will reads aloud. "No doubt she'll be the star that teenage boys will be lusting over this summer."
Georgie makes a gagging sound. "I'd rather not be," she laughs, reaching to steal a slice of Will's toast while he isn't paying attention.
"Oh, that's not that bad," says Skandar, rolling his eyes. "They're just making an observation."
Will says nothing. Anna is staring into her teacup, stirring the liquid in a slow, steady circle.
Georgie corners him in the corridor when breakfast is over, newspaper sheet crumpled in her fist and eyes shining wickedly, lined with dark pencil.
"Why does it bother you so much?" she asks, head tilted on one side, curious. Her voice still sounds young and uncertain and he can tell she's attempting to put on some sort of act.
He can smell her sugary-sweet perfume, see the swell of her chest in her tight t-shirt, and he can't speak.
"Does it hit a little too close to home?" she murmurs teasingly, and he pushes past her without a word, bile rising in his throat.
Her fingers curl between his, small and soft, her palm sweaty.
"I'm scared," she confesses. Her voice is small and soft, too. She's twelve and overwhelmed -- somehow all of this is so much more terrifying once puberty kicks in and the tiniest glance from a stranger makes you self-conscious.
He squeezes, gives her a big grin. "I'll look after you," he promises.
Cameras flash. Click-snap. The feeling hits him at one of the flashes and the intensity of it almost makes his knees buckle. He swallows around his shaky smile and grips her hand tighter.
He's crying when Anna knocks on the door. It's the first time he's cried in years, and it's been even longer since someone's seen him do so. He's sitting on the bed, sheets rumpled beneath him, his legs splayed out and a hand pressed to his forehead. His face is flushed and hot with embarrassment even before she sees him. He's coughing, spluttering, and wiping tear tracks from his cheeks when he opens the door. He feels like he wants to throw up.
"Will," gasps Anna, instantly taking him in her arms.
In the beginning, she doesn't ask questions.
It's how they work.
He's got a headache so painful that it feels like his brain is going to burst out of his skull, but he's not crying anymore and the feeling of mortification has passed. He sits opposite Anna on the bed, sipping at a glass of lukewarm tap water.
"I won't pretend to understand," she says, regarding him carefully.
Her eyes search and study his face the same way Georgie's do, but where Georgie is clueless and unsuccessful, Anna finds things. Their eyes are the same shade of blue, too, clear and pale. There's a striking similarity there that he's never paid attention to, but he sees it now. It should be the other way around, he should be seeing echoes of Anna in Georgie's appearance as she grows up, but it's the opposite as he looks at Anna before him—they've got the same wide nose, pale and lightly freckled skin, straight brown hair.
When he tosses his empty glass aside and kisses her, her entire body goes tense and tight. Her fists ball at her sides, her chest constricts. Her lips are unresponsive, but she's not pushing him away and so he persists, insists, mouth hot and salty with tears against hers. Eventually she gives in, relaxes against him, a heave of her body and a sigh between his lips.
There are no questions, even when his fingers scratch along the line of zip at her jeans, even when his hand finds its way inside. But when he touches her, feels the hot soft skin between her legs, everything crumbles and falls apart.
"No," she says simply, fingers tightening around his wrist. His lips go to her neck, moving wordlessly against her throat. "No, Will. It's not—let's not. It feels wrong," she says quietly, trembling fingers zipping her jeans back up.
He presses closer still. He's hard against her thigh and he knows she can feel it. "Will..." she murmurs, helpless and confused.
"Anna, just let me—it's—I'm sorry, I need..." he stammers, trailing off, and he tugs at his own zipper forcefully, pushing the waistband of his boxers down over his cock.
The cool air hits his skin and Anna gasps softly. "Will," she says, urgency in her tone this time, "what are you doing?"
He attempts a smile, tries to make it look natural and comforting and warm and everything he thought he was. "I'm sorry," he laughs, and he sounds completely insane. "I'm sorry. We can forget about this later, I just need—Anna, it's me, right, it's us, so it's okay, can you just—can you look at me?"
She does, and she looks scared, her Georgie-blue eyes wavering nervously. But he holds her gaze and she seems to relax again, nodding and murmuring, "Uh huh. Okay. Okay," even when he presses against her hip and curls his trembling fingers around his cock. He keeps his eyes on her, keeps her eyes on his, and comes quickly, a choking sound in his throat and his eyes welling up once again.
She kisses him gently on the cheek before she leaves, whispers, "I'm worried about you," and he throws himself down onto the bed, not even bothering to cover himself back up. The clock by the bed blinks 09:46 and they have to check out soon. He stares at the ceiling, eyes stinging, and Skandar comes up from breakfast to find him that way, legs spread, cock out, flushed cheeks.
"Jesus, Will," Skandar laughs, oblivious, covering his eyes. "You could at least try and cover your tracks after your morning wank. There's this thing called common courtesy."
Anna pulses and throbs with every step to her own room. It's like Will's fingers have left some sort of print or mark and she can feel the long, large shape of them against her with every movement. That, and the long, large shape of his cock rubbing against her thigh. She fingers the damp spot at her side, wonders vacantly if she has any other jeans with her to wear today. She doesn't think she brought any, and she finds herself—logically—wondering if Georgie would lend her something.
The thought makes her heart skip a beat. It makes her feel somehow ill. She chalks it up to Will's odd behaviour but it doesn't make her feel any better, and she wipes at the damp patch of denim, panic coursing inexplicably through her.
Georgie is in their room when she enters, working on an English Literature essay. Anna presses her hand to cover the damp spot of denim and asks meekly, innocently, "What book are you studying?"
"Lolita," says Georgie with a slow, sly grin.
Anna freezes for a moment, and Georgie holds up her copy of the book. It's got a picture of a young girl wearing heart-shaped sunglasses on the front, and she's sucking on a red lollipop seductively. How can they possibly teach this in schools? Anna wonders.
"Do you think it'll be an automatic fail if I say that Humbert doesn't seem like that much of a monster to me?" Georgie ponders, tapping her chewed biro against her lips.
"What?" Anna asks, rooting through her suitcase for a spare pair of trousers.
"Humbert," Georgie repeats. She waves the book at her again. "Did you ever read it?"
Anna finally spots a skirt in the bottom of her suitcase. She pulls it out and heads for the bathroom to change, shaking her head.
"But you know the story, right?" Georgie asks.
"Oh. Yes," says Anna, and shuts the bathroom door behind her.
She knows the story.
"Where're the others?" asks Skandar when Anna meets him in the lobby, dragging her suitcase behind her. He's slumped on a sofa and flicking through a copy of Woman and Home and looks utterly bored.
"I don't know," says Anna. "Well—Georgie is reading Nabokov. I told her to get a move-on. I don't know about anyone else."
"Nabokov?" snorts Skandar. "What's she reading that for?"
Anna wants to laugh it off and say something like This coming from the teenage boy reading about anti-aging beauty products, but something in his tone makes her suspicious, and all she can do is answer the question.
"School," she says, frowning. "She's writing an essay on it."
"I doubt they make people read Nabokov for GCSE," says Skandar doubtfully, chuckling to himself. "She was doing Hamlet last time I checked."
He goes back to the magazine and Anna just stands there, her frown still creasing her brow and setting her lips in a straight line.
"See you in New York!" says Will P. awkwardly, taking Will by the hand. His handshake's weak, loose.
"Yeah," says Will, smiling, shifty.
This is the moment that they all break off, and go their separate ways. It's two weeks before the United States premiere. This reunion seems oddly anti-climactic—Will doesn't feel that he's really 'caught up' with anyone at all, and Michael and Will P. are still complete strangers to him. Nothing has gone the way he expected.
They're standing on the street outside the hotel, and each 'goodbye' is awkward for different reasons. He and Anna are both living in London now, but on opposite sides, and their parting is the most awkward of all.
"I'll call you, Will, okay," she says quietly as she hugs him. She sounds worried.
"Okay," he says, and watches her get into the taxi she's sharing with Ben and Will P.
"I need somebody to drive me to the train station," announces Georgie suddenly, clicking her mobile phone shut and appearing next to Will.
He coughs, glancing around, but her eyes are focused on him and only him. He wipes his forehead. It feels damp and hot.
"Hello-o," Georgie sing-songs.
Suddenly her hand dives into the pocket of his jeans. For a split-second he's stunned, feeling nothing but her small fingers wedged into the pocket, encased in tight denim and pressed against his thigh, and then they're gone with a triumphant jangle. She waves his keys in his face, looking at him expectantly.
They don't talk throughout most of the car journey. Being in the company of Georgie Henley and experiencing an awkward silence is one of the most disconcerting, unsettling things that has ever happened to Will.
He coughs and drums his fingers on the steering wheel as they come to some traffic lights.
She reaches over to him. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her long slender arm stretching, and his heart leaps into his throat.
She flicks on the radio, humming along to some girly bubblegum pop music that he thinks she really should have grown out of by now. She reapplies some lip balm, smacking her lips obnoxiously, and the sickly-sweet watermelon scent fills the car.
It makes Will want to throw up.
"I," says Georgie proudly, as they stand on the platform waiting for her train, "am doing a photo shoot here next week."
"Here?" says Will. His voice sounds hoarse. It feels like he hasn't spoken in about a month.
"Not in the train station, silly," Georgie says, pulling a face at him like, duh, and sticking out her tongue. She twists her legs in their bright purple tights. "In London. On Wednesday, I think. Except it might be Thursday."
"We should do something then," she continues happily, like she wasn't shamelessly seducing him with newspaper headlines and too much make-up only hours ago.
"Uh huh," he says weakly.
The train pulls in and she throws her arms carelessly around his neck like she always used to, up on her tiptoes, her body flush against his. "See you later alligator!" she yells behind her as she pushes through the crowd onto the train.
"In a while, crocodile," he mumbles to himself, hands in his pockets, kicking at an empty cigarette packet as he walks away.
Georgie shuts her eyes as the train pulls out of the station. She thinks about the car journey. She could have talked, she supposes. Could have started up a conversation about the premiere, about how nice the hotel was, about anything, but for some reason, she enjoyed seeing Will squirm like that. He was obviously uncomfortable. She knows it could be for any number of reasons, knows it's probably unhealthy for her to keep telling herself she knows why.
But she can't help it. She loves to replay situations in her mind, imagining the effects her actions had on him. She saw the way he tensed up when she reached towards the radio. Maybe she could have reached again, and he would relax because he'd assume she was changing the station, but this time she'd gently place her hand on his arm—his big, strong arm—and she'd gently stroke her fingertips in circles over his warm skin. He'd go stiff, hardly daring to breathe, and then the traffic lights would flick green and they'd set off again, the sudden motion jerking her hand off his arm, and they'd drive on like nothing had happened.
But then she'd reach for her lip-gloss, applying it carefully, dragging the little brush back and forth over her lips. And his eyes would flicker back and forth, he'd be trying not to watch her but he wouldn't be able to help himself, and the tension would rise and rise until it was like he had no choice. He'd pull over. He'd knock the lip-gloss out of her hand, leaving it to spill in a sticky puddle on the seat, and his lips would meet hers with such force that she'd forget to breathe. He'd press against her, whisper to her I've wanted to do that for so long, and she would miss this train altogether because they'd be too busy making out in his car.
She sighs wistfully, opening her eyes again and watching the city slide past the windows. The longing makes her heart ache, but it's a dull ache she's been feeling for years and she's used to it. She remembers his body's reaction when she hugged him just now and she smiles to herself.
He'll crack eventually. She knows it.
"What are you wearing?" says a deepened, breathy voice on the other end of the phone line when Anna picks up, tired and impatient on an evening the next week.
"Who is this?" she snaps back, pulling her dressing gown tighter around herself.
Georgie giggles. "Jeez, relax," she says. "I was only kidding. You're always so serious lately, Anna. It's boring."
"Well I'm sorry if I don't find the threat of a heavy-breathing pervert funny."
She doesn't really mean to lash out like that, but she's been so stressed lately. She listens to the silence on the other end of the line.
"Anna, I miss you," Georgie's voice says, then.
She sounds young and vulnerable and, for a change, one hundred per cent serious. And Anna actually feels a little sad to hear the words. Things just haven't been right lately and she misses Georgie too, but she misses the old Georgie. Little Georgie. The one she protected and mothered. The one who didn't make her feel uneasy.
"Don’t be silly," she hears herself saying, automatically brushing it off. "I'm still here."
"But not like you used to be," Georgie says. "We're not like we used to be."
It starts on set, when she's wearing her gorgeous green dress and Anna is kissing Ben. She doesn't notice right away, but then there's a hot aching in the small of her back and a wetness between her legs and she shifts uncomfortably, thighs clenched tightly, for what seems like hours.
Finally, finally they cut, and she rushes to Anna, but Anna's being taken aside for a word with Andrew.
Mentally, she runs through every swearword she knows, whirling round. And there's Will, arms crossed, sun beaming down on his golden hair, concerned look across his face.
"Georgie?" he calls. "What's wrong?"
Georgie doesn't want to move to go over to him. It's hot and slick between her legs and she twists desperately. "I need Anna," she says helplessly.
Will scoffs. "You want Anna over me? What can Anna help with that I can't?"
Georgie looks down, silent, and somehow, then, he knows, hurrying over. He just looks at her and she grimaces, eyes still cast down, and he swoops her off towards the trailers. When they're out of sight, he scoops her up into his arms, carrying her the rest of the way. He stands outside the bathroom door, texting Anna an S.O.S. while she cleans herself up. She's mortified but Will hardly bats an eyelid.
"It could be worse," he tells her through the door. "When Daisy first got hers we were at my Uncle's wedding."
Anna arrives within minutes, a spare pair of knickers in one hand and an Always pad in the other.
"Least you didn't stain your dress," she says, all smiles. "The costume department would've murdered you."
"That, darling, was perfect," says the photographer, smacking his gum and winking at Georgie.
"Aw, are we done?" Georgie asks, pouting, her hands on her hips.
She's never done a photo shoot like this before, all on her own, but Teen Vogue want a whole spread on her, and it's so exciting. The yellow chiffon dress she's wearing is soft under her fingers and expensive and she wonders if she'll be able to keep anything.
"Sorry, darling," the photographer shrugs. "You were too good, we've got all we need. You can nip off and change now."
Georgie does, drawing the curtain around her and turning to look at herself in the yellow dress one last time in the mirror. She places her hands on her waist, bunching in the fabric. She likes the way it makes her body look—it gives her curves like Anna's. She remembers the last time she and Anna went shopping together, a year or so ago, and how they shared a changing room and filled it with the most ridiculous outfits they could find, things they would never buy. Anna looked good in everything, but Georgie still wanted to tear it all off her.
She remembers how Anna wanted to try on this awful strapless purple thing, and how she had to take her bra off to get the 'full effect'. Eyes closed, she told Georgie and turned her back, but, surrounded by mirrors, there was one angle that was perfect, and Georgie didn't close her eyes at all. She barely blinked. She remembers, still, remembers Anna reaching behind her back for her bra clasp, her chest thrust forwards, the black garment dropping onto the cluttered floor...her breasts pale and heavy with dark round nipples, her head low and her hair hanging in gorgeous tendrils over her chest. It probably lasted all of five seconds, and then the purple thing was being pulled up to conceal her, and that was it.
That image will probably stay with her forever, Georgie thinks as she sways from side to side, admiring her reflection. She wonders what Anna would say if she could see her now. Anna thinks she's too old for goodnight hugs, and not old enough for kissing, but is she old enough for a dress like this? It's cut low and the fabric is slightly sheer. She can just imagine Will throwing a fit over it like he did over that article in the newspaper. This is disgusting, he'd say, they're sexualising her. They can't see her that way. It's horrible.
Why is it so horrible, she wonders? Why does it bother him so much? He hates the idea of guys perving over her, even though she knows he's guilty of the same crime. She runs her hands down her body, cups her breasts together in the loose fabric. She imagines her hands are Will's, imagines him pressing his hands to her chest as her heart beats frantically inside. She can almost hear his voice—this dress is inappropriate—as she runs her hands down to her thighs, pushing the fabric up, up—I can't believe they'd put you in this, he'd say, stroking the fabric, it's practically transparent, it's disgraceful, what were they thinking?—and then his voice would tremble and break as his hand slipped between her legs and he felt just how wet she was—
"Miss Henley? Are you ready?"
Georgie yanks the dress over her head. "Uh huh, nearly," she says, her voice coming out a little high. She pulls on her clothes as quickly as she can.
She hesitates, then takes a deep breath, grabs the yellow dress, and stuffs it into her handbag. "Yeah," she calls, "I'm ready."
In the taxi she brings out her phone and sends a text to Will. She tells him simply that she's in the area, and he can let her know if he wants to meet up at all in the next few days. She's got plans, of course, but she can rearrange them if need be.
Will stares at the words for so long without doing anything that his phone's screensaver starts up. Irritated, he flips it shut. He presses his fist to his mouth, slumping against the wall. This is it. He throws some things into a bag, and is out of his flat in seconds.
Before long he's sitting in a dingy room in a hotel not so far from his flat. He takes a long, deep breath, and takes out his phone again. He taps out the name of the hotel and his room number into a text. His disbelief at what he's doing makes his fingers sweaty and slip along the keys and before he realises what's happening, he's sent the text to Anna.
Swearing under his breath he starts a new message, 'sorry wrong number' and sends it on to her as quickly as he can.
Then he takes another deep breath, finds the first message again, and anxiously sends it to its intended recipient.
Anna will openly admit that it's a bit of an overreaction. People send texts to the wrong number all the time, particularly clumsy and forgetful people like William Moseley. An accidental text message doesn't, in itself, require her to drop what she's doing and travel halfway across London.
But it's not just the text message. It's the way Will's been acting lately in general. The way he seems so all-over-the-place, so lost, so confused. The fact that, not so long ago, she walked in on him crying and then left with his come on her jeans is enough to make her worry, surely. And now he's meeting someone in a hotel for the night, and that fact alone is so unlike the Will she knows that she can't help but want to get to the bottom of it.
Plus, if she remembers correctly, Georgie is staying in the same area this week, so if Will's perfectly all right and sends her on her way, she's always got a second option for the night. It's probably about time she and Georgie had a proper chat, anyway. Sighing, she pulls her jacket tighter around her and heads down the steps to the tube station.
In ordinary circumstances, Anna Popplewell has an innate skill of connecting the dots.
These are not ordinary circumstances.
The hotel's disgusting. That's the first thing she notices.
She feels like a detective or something as she looks around the lobby with its peeling wallpaper and bad lighting. Will's never been one to flaunt his money but he can easily afford a room somewhere better than this. There are two men at the front desk, but one is half-asleep and the other doesn't acknowledge her at all, so she just checks Will's text and heads up the stairs to the floor he says he's on.
When Will opens the door, he looks understandably surprised to see her. He also looks absolutely terrible, exhausted, the skin dark under his eyes, and when she peers past him she sees he's already started on the drinks from the minibar.
"Those are insanely expensive, you know," she says, lamely.
"The room was practically free," Will says, apparently by way of explanation, "I had money to spare."
There's a pause, and then Will pulls the door wider open and wanders off across the room.
"Why're you here?" he asks. "I didn't mean to send the text to you."
"I know," she says, stepping inside and shutting the door behind her. "But I was worried about you."
"So you could have phoned," he replies, picking up a bottle of something from the bedside table and taking a swig from it. "You didn't have to actually come and find me."
"Well, I'm here now," she says stiffly, crossing her arms. She can't help but feel slightly pissed off about his attitude.
"Well, you shouldn't be," he spits back.
"You're meeting someone here, I know," says Anna. "Listen, I just want to talk, okay? I want to know what's going on. Why are you being so—so weird?"
"Oh, you can talk," says Will. "You barely spoke to anyone at the premiere. You've been weird lately too."
"It's nothing," she says, "it just felt strange being around everyone again. Everyone's all grown up and different and they've shared this experience that we weren't there for. Of course I was acting a little weird."
"Well, maybe that's my reason too," Will says childishly.
"It's not," says Anna. She's not even sure it's her reason, but her issues aren't the point right now. "What happened at the hotel last week, that was..."
She doesn't even have the words. The memory of Will pressing himself against her thigh stays with her, replaying itself in her mind, and the look in his eyes right now reminds her of the way he stared so intensely at her before.
"It was fucked up, I know," he says hoarsely. "I can't explain."
"Can you try?" she urges. "I don't mind, Will—if I'd really minded you know I would have left. But it was weird. And it came out of nowhere, and I don't understand. And now you're meeting someone in this awful room, and—you're meeting them for sex, aren't you? Of course you are. Who is it? It's not a prostitute, is it?"
"A prostitute, Anna? No," Will scoffs. "Listen, just go. I'll sort myself out and then we can talk, okay? Soon. Just not now."
But then there's a knock at the door, and it's too late. Too late for lies and cover ups and excuses. The knock is a sharp, jaunty little tune, and one that Anna's heard countless times before. It's the knock that the four of them have been using since The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, at trailers, hotel rooms, bathrooms, to let each other know it was one of them at the door.
Anna's stomach lurches.
The worst part of all of it, is that there's some part of her that's not surprised.
When the door opens, Georgie's surprised to see both Will and Anna looking back at her, their faces pale and drained.
But she says, "Ha," and grins stupidly, jokes, "Two for the price of one!"
Neither of them say anything. Will looks absolutely stricken. She brushes past him, into the room, and sits down on the bed, handbag in her lap. She's sitting on something hard, and she shifts aside to see that it's a small liquor bottle, empty. She flicks it across the surface of the bed and it clatters into two others.
"This hotel's gross," she says, conversationally, and Will and Anna look down at her.
"Georgie—" says Anna, and then stops herself. She runs her fingers back through her hair. She looks good today, Georgie thinks, in a loose-fitting red dress and leggings. "I know why you're here."
Georgie leans back, thinking. "You do? Why am I here?"
She knows Anna won't say it, and she's right, as Anna turns to Will instead, her expression oddly pleading.
"Will, just—please tell me it's not what it looks like," she says, begs, and Georgie can't quite stifle her peal of laughter.
Will says nothing.
"What does it look like, Anna?" Georgie asks, kicking off her shoes.
"I can't help it, Anna, I can't, Georgie, it's just—there's all this—and I'm—god, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, it's fucked up, I know," Will's babbling, then, reeling off apologies and broken explanations.
He's clutching at bottles from the minibar and there are tears pricking at the corners of his eyes and fuck, he doesn't even know what he looks like. Only he does—knows he looks like a madman, a pedophile, a pervert. Trying to find excuses where there aren't any.
"I don't know if anyone's ever told you, Will," says Georgie calmly when Will stops to take a breath, "but I'm not actually nine anymore."
Anna sinks down onto the floor by the bed, her head in her hands. Will looks at Georgie. She's wearing something sheer, low-cut, all soft yellow fabric, and every time she moves, his eyes are drawn somewhere new. He wishes this could be easy, wishes Anna hadn't turned up. He knows, deep down, that it can never be simple, whether Anna's involved or not, but he likes to think if she weren't here he'd be able to forget and pretend that what he's doing isn't disgusting, isn't shocking. He could down another few drinks until he'd convinced himself entirely, and then he could let himself go, give in to what he's been wanting for longer than he'll admit.
When Georgie stands up and comes closer, so close that she's pressed up against him, lithe and soft and sweet, Will wonders if maybe he could give in anyway, all else be damned.
Anna just watches from the floor, watches Georgie stand up on her tiptoes, bring her face in close to Will's. She can't quite believe it's happening but at the same time she's wondering whether it's happened before, how many times, how long this has been going on. Georgie curves her hands around Will's hips, her fingers sliding neatly through belt loops and Anna looks at her pointed toes and her long, long legs, the smooth pale skin of them, leading up, up, disappearing beneath billowy yellow fabric.
Georgie kisses him and Anna curses, under her breath. The floor gives out underneath her.
Will holds Georgie gently like she's a frail doll or something, his palms just resting against her back, her shoulder. Anna finds a sick fascination in the eagerness of Georgie's kiss and her mind runs away from her, wondering, hoping, wondering if that's the way Georgie wants to kiss her as well. Will's faltering, breaking, his hands shaking and shuddering for a moment before clutching her tight and letting out a sigh.
"I have a tummy ache," Georgie groans, throwing herself into Will's lap and curling up, her hot face buried in his neck.
"Aww," Will murmurs, his hand sliding easily over her stomach, rubbing soothingly.
"We have to get back onto set," says Anna, standing at the edge of the tent. "Can we find her some Calpol?"
"I don't want Calpol," Georgie whines. "I want—I want Willpol."
She kicks her little feet and snuggles closer to Will, and even though Anna's impatient and worried they're going to be in trouble if they don't get back to Andrew fast, she can't help but notice and be impressed by how easy this affection is. It's amazing how quickly they've all become attached to each other, only a few weeks into filming—it's really like Will's the big brother, protective and almost fatherly.
"Come on, Georgie Porgie," Will says, standing and lifting her up, hardly buckling at the weight. "We'll make you feel better."
Anna feels sick, sick to her stomach and she realises with a jolt that part of it's jealousy. It only makes her feel worse and she wants to push past them and get out of there, go home and pretend none of this has happened. She thinks about Will crying and getting himself off and she thinks pathetic and she thinks disgusting, and then she thinks about that one time, plastered after a night out with friends, that she came home and took off all her clothes and got under the covers and fucked herself until she nearly passed out.
She wasn't thinking about any of the guys she danced with at the club.
"Please, please," she moans, mostly to herself, her head in her hands again, the sight of Will and Georgie blurring at the corner of her vision. "Please—let's not do this."
Will says her name, and he goes to her, slipping down onto the floor with her, prying her hands away and pulling her into a tight, fierce hug.
"I can't help it," he murmurs helplessly. "I just can't fucking help it."
Anna looks up over his shoulder, sees Georgie standing there with one ankle bent childishly, one of the straps of her dress slipped down. She's chewing her lip uncertainly. Waiting.
When Will pulls back Anna kisses him out of some sort of desperation, to remind him who he is, to remind him who they are, who they all are. Everything's fading, she's got limited resources left and her heart throbs and aches inside of her as Will's lips move back against hers, without question. It's not right, it's not quite what she wants, but it's Will, and she loves him.
She will always, always love him.
Georgie has a bottle in her hand. Vodka. She takes a sip of it and it tastes like the worst thing in the world, stinging her tongue and throat. She makes a disgusted face and Will sort of smiles. She doesn't need it, anyway, so she passes it to Anna, and her heart sinks a little when Anna swigs from it gladly, swallowing hard.
"I don't want it like this," Georgie says as she shuffles up the bed and leans back against the pillows.
"Me neither," say Will and Anna, almost in unison.
She wants it, wants it more than anything in the world, and the feel of Will's lips against hers is still coursing through her whole body and making her burn for more, but—she doesn't want it like this, with the two of them drunk and denying and hating themselves. She wants them to remind her what they are, what they all are.
She thinks of growing up with them always by her side, looking after her, and she wants that.
She wants them to show her that they still love her, so she says so.
She falls open at the slightest touch. Will's hand curves over the hot skin of her shoulder and she exhales, long and low, head tilting back, eyes falling closed, legs parting so naturally it's almost by instinct.
"Georgie," he breathes. "Georgie—"
He wants to tell her he's sorry, wants to make sure she knows he's not a monster, knows he's not disgusting. He wants to, but the words don't come out. He's not sure she cares.
When his lips touch hers again, something inside him that's been slowly unravelling all this time falls entirely apart.
"I love you," he murmurs against her lips and she pushes back against him forcefully. Her tongue slides between his lips and it's messy and unpractised and Will's body thrills at it, his fingers curling between her splayed legs.
"We love you," Anna half-echoes, half-corrects, pressing in at Georgie's other side.
Will feels Anna's hand against his, both of them touching her, touching her, and somehow he's so, so comforted by Anna's presence, knowing they're doing this together. It can't be wrong, somehow, if Anna does it, because she does everything right, she always makes the right decision even when Will's lost and floundering with no sense of which way to turn.
"Just—tell me you want this, Georgie, please," Anna says, her voice shaky, and Georgie pulls away from Will and turns to Anna instead, her hand cupping Anna's face in a surprisingly mature sort of way, stroking gently, reassuringly.
Will realises it then, that maybe it's not just Georgie who needs reassurance, maybe all of them do.
"We're going to be okay," he hears himself whisper as Georgie's lips meet Anna's, soft and gentle and slow.
Something's been grinding, churning, pushing its way along and refusing to give in. Right now, it slides and shifts and clicks into place, almost easily, and Will breathes out, and lets it go.
"You guysss," Skandar moans, flopping down onto the sliver of bed that's left. "Go back to your own room."
"Our room doesn't have a king-sized bed," states Georgie simply, stretching out happily.
She has Will on one side, large and strong, his arm around her shoulder, and Anna on the other, soft and silky and warm, curled up, her knees against Georgie's thighs.
"Neither does mine," says Ben. "What did you do exactly, to swing this?" he asks, nudging Will in the ribs. "Did you pretend to be Brad and Angelina or something? I don't—"
"We did not," says Will, chuckling. "It was a mistake, I don't know."
"Well, there's way too much space for just the two of you," says Anna sleepily, burying her head in a mountain of pillows. "I think we should all sleep here."
"Hear hear," Georgie cheers.
She looks at Anna's face, the slightly smudged make-up across her delicate eyelids, the dark eyelashes fanning out across her freckled cheeks. Usually she would be longing to reach out and touch her, stroke her fingers across that skin and press kisses to her lips, but right now she's content just to be here, between them, safe and warm and cosier than—
"We're like—what's the expression? Bugs in a rug," Ben says, "or something. Like a bug in a rug. That's right, isn't it? And there's that song, too..."
Skandar snorts. "How much champagne did you have, Ben?"
"There were five in the bed and the little one said, roll over! Roll over!" Ben sings, cheerful and out of tune, and Georgie grins tiredly into the pillows. "So they all rolled over and one fell out—"
"Nobody's falling out, Ben," Anna informs him, her voice grumbly and low. She shifts against Georgie and her long purple dress rustles.
Even when Skandar's tugging at her feet and Will's ushering the three of them out of the hotel room, Georgie can't stop grinning. Maybe it's the glass of champagne she was allowed at the premiere giving her this warm, fuzzy feeling, maybe it's the excitement of bringing Prince Caspian to the UK finally. But being between Will and Anna on that bed—she feels like her heart's bursting out. She's just—happy. So happy.
Anna holds her tight, so tight, when Will pushes into her. She feels the pressure of Anna's fingertips against her skin and the heat of Anna's breath against her neck, and she feels Will, she feels Will everywhere, the slick, gentle nudge of him spreading sparks of warmth through her whole body. It's like their fingers inside her, only better, the real thing. It's what she wants, what she's wanted ever since she first found out what this was.
"You okay?" Anna breathes, and Georgie nods, shudders a little with the pleasure of this feeling, good and weird and full.
It doesn't hurt, just feels a little uncomfortable for a moment and then Will's pulling her to him and moving, moving, and her body adjusts and moves with him and it's perfect. It's so perfect she almost wants to cry.
"You're okay," Anna says, and Georgie can feel her grin, against her bare shoulder.
"I'm a bit more than fucking 'okay', Anna," Georgie replies, and her voice surprises her with how unsteady it is, raw and breathless, and for once neither of them reprimand her for swearing.
She's naked, she's so naked, long gangly limbs and small breasts and bony hips all against them, that mole on her inner thigh, the ugly bright ridge of her appendicitis scar on her stomach. There's no stolen dress to tart her up, turn her into something she's not, to disguise herself, to make things easier for them. She's just—Georgie.
And they're just them. Anna's breasts just how she remembers them, but this time warm and heavy against her, and there's Will with his taut muscles and hairy legs, and he's inside of her, thick and hot and hard, pumping life back into her, into all of them. She feels safe with them, safe and sound, knowing right in her core that everything's going to be okay.
She liked making them feel uncomfortable, liked bringing their attraction to light, but there was something about it that made her feel empty and not quite herself. She doesn't seduce, and Will and Anna don't get seduced—not by her. Nobody can turn this into something it's not, and maybe that's a blessing and a curse at the same time.
When he comes she doesn't feel stupid, or embarrassed or used, or full of regret or pain, like girls her age do in magazine help columns or Sex Ed. videos. She feels hundreds of other things, all of them good, knowing she's making this happen to Will, making him gasp into her hair and shudder. And when she feels a little bit overwhelmed, then, it's okay, because she has Anna pulling her close for kisses and then crawling down between her legs and doing something that makes Georgie's back arch high.
She licks her and strokes her in circles with her fingertip until all Georgie can see is stars and this time her heart really is bursting out, she's sure of it, sure she can feel it splashing hot colour and release over all of them. And this time Will holds her, holds her all the way through it as she's tensing and jolting in his strong arms, and he whispers and chuckles soft and hot in her ear when she comes down, sweating hard and sucking in the air she forgot to breathe.
She wants to do the same thing to Anna, and she wants to make Will gasp and shudder again, and she wants to do all of it over and over until the world ends.
Maybe she's naïve, but right now it really feels like they can.
The light of the morning is harsh and painful through the thin curtains that hang in front of the only window.
Will rolls over, squinting. He kicks at the sheets and they tangle around someone else's leg. He sees Georgie and regret and sickness wash over him instantly almost out of habit and then he looks at her, really looks at her, gorgeous Georgie sleeping beside him, her lips slightly parted. He feels a rush of love instead. Kisses her forehead. Runs his thumb gently over the scar on her stomach, the mole on her leg. Leans down to kiss Anna's hand, too, where her arm is draped over Georgie's body.
Anna wakes, looks at Will blearily, slowly. Her eyes are small in the bright light. She looks small and scared, but it's okay, because they're together. He takes her hand and holds it, and she sinks her head down, nuzzles into Georgie's soft brown hair.
"I love you," she whispers, voice muffled.
Will knows she's talking to both of them. "I love you too," he whispers back.
It's not long until they'll have to get up, leave, go home, split off. Deal with this, make decisions. And it's not long until the US premiere of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when they'll have to see everybody, face everybody, and stand in front of cameras again as though nothing has happened. But for now, all there is is this.
In a grotty hotel, floor scattered with empty bottles and discarded clothing, the day begins.