Rating: PG (Just to be safe)
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: Spare Oom, post LWW; Gen.
Summary: Edmund has a surprise for his sister.
Since the three elder Pevensie children had returned on holiday, the household had been holding its collective breath. Susan, who had once been known as the Gentle Queen, had been snipping at everyone in her vicinity. She had been viciously harassing the last of the breakfast dishes one morning when her brother approached with an olive branch. Promised a surprise, she followed Edmund into the entryway and had just enough time to notice the knapsack by his feet before she was blindfolded and whisked out the door.
Edmund had led her through enough twists and bends that Susan was thoroughly flummoxed as to their destination. She thought the cab ride had been a little overkill, though he insisted it was a necessity. She bit back a growl of frustration; she really did not have the time for any of this. But her younger brother generally asked so little of her, and had obviously taken great care in planning this, that she felt obligated to humor him.
"Edmund, please tell me I can remove the blindfold now?" Susan continued to trail after her brother, one arm tucked neatly in his. They had often played this form of 'follow the leader' in Narnia, using it as a way to build trust and teamwork in those first few months. It had been quite a difficult game to master as they each had to first conquer the nearly overwhelming urge to lead one another headlong into a tree.
"Not yet. Just a little further."
"Not too much further, I hope. There are quite a few things Mother needs my help with today."
"I convinced Lucy and Peter to cover for you. You've just been in such a mood lately; do you want to talk about it?"
"It's so childish." Susan's blush was obvious despite the blindfold.
"It's just . . . I assume you have been enjoying the maturity of our fellow students as much as I have?" He nodded. "My frustration is due to my failure to tolerate my so called peers. I refuse to play their ridiculous little games and am now a social pariah. I, who was the epitome of society, am reduced to watching these spiteful little princesses swan about from the sidelines." She grimaced. "Silly as it may seem, I have been unable to stop thinking of all the party invitations I did not receive. None of it matters a whit in the grand scheme of things, but there you are."
"Silly, but understandable." He would have nudged her shoulder in a commiserating fashion but, considering the circumstances, settled for a gentle pat on the hand instead. "Never the less, I wanted to help you take your mind off of whatever had been bothering you, so I started thinking what you would have done back Home when you were angry or frustrated. Archery was out: try as I might, I couldn't find a decent set anywhere. And we all know there is only so much gardening a person can do. So," He whipped the blindfold off with a flourish, allowing himself a small self-satisfied smirk at her gasp of delight. "Horses were the only thing left."
"Now, I know they pale in comparison to the Hell Bitch and her ilk," he continued, indicating the row of placid mares waiting in their boxes, "but they are quite serviceable. Careful," he squeaked as she threw her arms around him, muffling his voice, "my form can no longer endure such verbose displays."
"You're squishing me!"
"Oh, sorry dear. What a wonderful surprise. Where on earth did you get the money for this?"
"I've been helping Mr. Wheeler with his deliveries. You know? The grocer a few blocks down? Well, there are a number of older ladies nearby who have difficulty getting around. Mr. Wheeler keeps a list for each of them and will send out a re-supply when he knows they are running low. That's kind of how I got the idea for today; Mrs. Finn has a nephew who works at the stables. She gave me the address when she found out how interested I was."
"Delightful Edmund, truly, there is just one small problem: I'm definitely not dressed for such an activity."
"And just what do you think is in the bag? As if I would head an expedition without provisions! There is a place for you to change inside the tack room, I'm told."
"Whatever did I do to deserve such a thoughtful brother!"
She did not bounce off with renewed energy; that was the hallmark of their younger sister. She did, however walk with a lightness that had been missing from her step for some time.
Edmund was escorting the horse he had selected to the hitching post when Susan re-emerged. He grinned at how very much like Lucy she looked wearing borrowed trousers and sturdy pair of Peter's old shoes. "I went ahead and gathered your tack," he gestured at the twin piles of leather, cloth, and metal, "but I figured you would prefer to choose your own mount. There's a young lady towards the back that looked like your cup of tea, though."
They worked in silent concert despite that it took a moment for the former sovereigns to find their rhythm. Every movement of their preparation was carefully observed by the Stable Master, though Edmund had assured him that they were both accomplished riders. Young men have a tendency to boast about things they have no real knowledge of. By the time the last strap was in place, and double checked, the Stable Master was more or less satisfied with their skill.
"Speaking of tea," Susan called over her shoulder as they trotted out, "that's quite the picnic you've gathered."
"I thought we could make a real adventure out of it; have tea in some meadow or secluded glade. There is bound to be an echo of Home somewhere in these woods. We could consider this the first step in the search for a potential refuge."
"Some place we could let our hair down, so to speak? That is a marvelous idea! Though, it is very optimistic of you to think we should find it on the first go."
"Not at all, sister. I am sufficiently fortified to carry on our search as long as necessary. Perhaps we should include the others on the next outing?"
"No, let's wait until we've found the spot. It can be a surprise!"
AN: This was my submission for the Narnia fic exchange; my first one! You should know two other potential plots fell half-written to the wayside in pursuit of my prompt. One turned into a shouting match and the other kept throwing bunnies at me while it wriggled around, refusing to be written. Thanks for reading!