[personal profile] gmtaslash
Title: Home is where the heart is given up
Author: Bridget
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia, post Dawn Treader
Rating: PG?
Disclaimer: If Lewis put this much angst in Narnia, it would probably have exploded. Since it didn't, I'm probably not him.
Notes: Way back in February, our good captain [personal profile] ineptshieldmaid gave us the prompt 'home is where the heart is given up'. While poking through gdocs recently, I discovered my writings on the subject. They're disturbingly introspective and angsty, but Trojie has been prodding me all evening and stopping me from having a wibbling meltdown, so here they are.


***

He's heard it too many times. Home is where the heart is. Every time, it sends a pang of something lancing through his gut.

Home's a lot of things. Home is Finchley, for starters. Their little terraced house, with the kitchen a step down and the lav out the back; where he sleeps next to Peter, soothed by his brother's breathing, that's home.

It's the only place that's home now.

He shifts, kicking a pebble away, frowning. Above, the English sky is rainy as ever, every drop beating on his face saying home, home. The stars are veiled by cloud, and all is dark. He shuffles backwards, poking at the vegetable patch with his toe, not wanting to look up at the constellations that are so alien.

Peter warned him about this, a year ago. About the last time, and about fitting in, and accepting. And Pete's done all right, really. He doesn't talk so much as he used to, and he's a lot more serious, but he's all right, really, Edmund thinks, burrowing his bare toes into the recently turned earth under his feet.

The soil is cool, and it tickles. It's a little damp, and Mother would have his hide if she knew, but for now, he enjoys the feel of it, alive against his skin.

If this were home, he thinks, it wouldn't be so quiet. All he can hear is the gentle susurration of night, overlaid with a distant engine and voices raised in drunken argument. If this were home there'd be Lu, for a start. She was never one for leaving him alone to his thoughts, and he'd always been glad of it, at home. If he were home she'd be talking beside him, softly, passing comment on their friends and family, the relations between those they loved, the plans for the future of the ground upon which they stood.

Something flashes before his eyes. A bat, probably. Smaller, sleeker than he's used to. He wriggles his toes again, feeling the damp sod shifting under him. Trying to feel a part of it. Trying to remember there's nothing below his feet.

Clodsley, now, he was a character. Edmund smiles as he remembers those serious eyes above the nose that Lu would persist in describing as woffly. The Mole always took it with good grace, but he'd caught more than a look or two between Clodsley and his companions, a shared knowledge and grace in understanding.

Home never had an orchard.

Home had a green lawn stretching out, wall on one side, cliff the other, a perfect space for a boy to roam, the ideal spot in which to look to the east and remember, and hope. It may be years and worlds apart, but he can still close his eyes and bring it to mind, the feel of the earth below his questing toes, the growth and life itching to break free.

Home is here, he reminds himself. He stretches back, cushioning his head with his arms, and looks up at the clouds above, blinking against the drizzling rain. No, home never had an orchard. Home doesn't have room for one. Home has these twenty square feet of - not grass, not any more, and he misses that grass with a fierce ache - and a little yard besides. A drain cover, a rusted tap, and, in one corner, Father's shed, home to dust and spiders and who knows what else besides.

Home is this earth shifting below his shoulderblades. Home is this damp soil in the light of a sliver of moon that ducks behind heavy clouds. It's the house behind him, dirty red brick with damp crawling up in the corners. It's his brother and his sisters, sleeping peacefully within.

He shifts and stretches, picks at the weeds sprouting from the cracks in the path.

He's old enough, now, or so Aslan thinks. Old enough that this can be enough. If he'd never gone, perhaps it would be, but when he hears a voice rising and others laughing, cutting through the night air, he doesn't think of Mrs Harper singing as she stumbles out of the pub on the corner, buoyed up by friends, neighbours and assorted hangers-on. He hears Peridan, somewhat the worse for a skinful, trying for his own rooms but being distracted by a song and dance.

He rolls over, unseeing gaze turned to the rotting fence and the nettles where Mother throws her dishwater, and smiles, remembering.

Home is a hauberk, sliding into place. Home is a sword, bumping with easy familiarity against the thigh with every stride. Home is the sweet smell of good green earth under his feet, and the bugles ringing out his presence, and the knowledge, with every breath, that this is where he is meant to be.

No. Home is the brambles fighting for a foothold by the Anderson. Home is the ash tree towering above him, the perfect spot for childhood frolics so many years ago. Home is the creak of Mother's footsteps inside as she checks her children are sleeping. Home is the creak of timbers under a fair wind, settling gently as they dry in the warm light of a Narnian morning. Home is -

Home is the hoot of an owl, dumb and senseless, endlessly seeking its prey below. Home is the distant rumble of engines. Home is a light high above, desperately searching for quarry. Home is a sudden blaring, higher than is comfortable, ringing in his ears. Home is shouts, cries, rapid footsteps, sudden motion. Home is Susan grabbing his shoulder, shouting meaningless words, dragging him up and to the bottom of the garden. Home is an unearthly whine that speaks of impersonal death.

It's that that jars the most, Edmund thinks, drawing his knees up close and hunching in the dank of the shelter. At home, death means something. It's dealt out by an enemy with a name and a body, there in the flesh to be seen and reviled.

'Everyone in?' Peter asks, his voice a little too high. There is a chorus of assents, and in the ensuing silence, Edmund picks at the corner of his nail and remembers. Grass and sea and blood mingle in his memory, all there, all personal. All but the work of a moment to recall, to hear, to feel.

Lucy is singing softly. 'Dressed in style, brand new tile, with your father's old green tie on...'

Where she learnt such a song is anybody's guess. Father wouldn't approve, but then, there's a lot Father doesn't know, about Lucy and the rest of them. Mother gives her a look, but the others don't say anything, and Edmund wraps his arms around his knees as he listens.

If he closes his eyes, he can see the last time he heard her sing that song. He can hear the waves, see the sail billowing in the wind, feel Caspian's hand resting against his own as the king throws back his head and laughs, rich and hearty. Home, this home, doesn't have laughs like that. He rests his head against the damp coolness of the wall, seeing again the glint in Caspian's eye as he complains that Narnians have no such songs and asks Edmund to teach him.

There is so much that Edmund would like to have taught him, had either home allowed it. So much that he could have learnt in return. Aslan always wanted them to learn, but what part of the lesson was it to return with so much only half-discovered?

A descending whine interrupts his reverie, and the shelter shudders. Peter catches his eye.

'All right, Ed?'

He shrugs, and nods. 'Just thinking about home.'
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