Edmund couldn’t sleep, though he was tired to his bones. Wrapping himself in a robe, he crept out of his room, his bare feet stinging on the cold stone, and to his brother’s. Though not even a year older, Edward seemed to know so much more than he did. He stopped outside the door and listened. There was no sound within. He was probably asleep, as Edmund himself should be at this hour.
He pushed the door open and went in. In the darkness, he saw a faint lump on the bed, his brother huddled beneath the blankets.
“Ned,” he whispered. “Ned!”
Edward didn’t stir, so Edmund climbed onto the bed and shook him. “Ned.”
With a kind of snuffling noise and a shake of his great golden mane, Edward lifted his head and opened his eyes.
“Ned,” Edmund said again. “Wake up!”
“What is it?”
“He’s here!” Edward sat up, wide awake now. “He was going to London. Where is he?”
“No, he’s not here. Why would he be here? No, I’ve just been thinking.”
Edmund sat huddled on the edge of the bed, shivering. Edward lifted up the blankets and he slid underneath. The two boys lay together, face to face, talking softly into the dark.
“What do you think it would be like,” Edmund said, “to be the son of a king?”
“You’d have the finest horses. Swans and peacocks every night for dinner. The best wine, the softest furs…”
“You’d march at the head of an army and no man would dare bar your way.”
“Oranges from Spain every day for breakfast.”
“No, they’d bow when they saw you coming. They’d fall to their knees and beg you to spare their miserable lives!”
“And no-one could keep you at your lessons. No Latin, no French. And Master Richard Croft had best beware, for we would brook no slight from him!”
Edmund yawned. “No-one to wake you up on cold mornings.”
“We’re not though,” Edward said a little sadly. “We’re not sons of a king.”
“No, we’re better than that. We’re the sons of the Duke of York!”
“When we go to London, they’ll know who we are. There go the sons of my lord of York, they’ll say and throw their bonnets in the air. The Earl of March and the Earl of Rutland come, see? they’ll cry and they’ll strew our path with roses. As fair as their mother and as brave as their father, is what they’ll say. And we shall bow, just little bows, and give our blessings to the crowd.”
Edmund’s eyes were closed and he breathed softly through his mouth. A stray strand of hair fell across his eyes. Edward yawned.
“You’re the best brother I could wish for, Ed,” he said softly. “And we will ride at the head of an army one day. You and me.”
The words drifted into Edmund’s half asleep mind and filled him with warmth. He wished he could respond, but his mouth didn’t seem to be working. You and me at the head of an army, he thought. The sons of the Duke of York…