A More Savage Place

Disclaimer: I own nothing. CS Lewis created the characters, and his estate are their keepers. I promise to return all once I am through, more or less intact!

Summary: Nothing happens the same way twice.

It is nearly twenty years later – in Narnia's time, that is – that Edmund and Lucy fall back through the wardrobe, in a tumble, the hard wood of the floor barely registered as they both take in their surroundings, and then each other. A splutter of incredulous laughter from the dark-haired boy, and then they are hugging, crying, and letting out a soft whoop of joy. Lucy pulls away just a little to study her brother, her eyes wide and smiling. It is wonderful to see Edmund whole again, wonderful to see him with two ears, and no scars. For Edmund, it is equally a relief to see Lu with her long hair again, and her bright smile.

Eventually, they manage to still their laughter, and Lu frowns as she picks out the sounds of Peter, still counting to a hundred – nearly there now. She and Edmund look at each other in confusion for a moment, until a grin spreads across her face and memory sparks. With a soft cry of happiness, she stands, pulling her brother – a far easier feat now that they are both children again than it once was – to his feet, and bounding from the room. As she is about to leave it, though, she skids to a halt, Edmund nearly crashing behind her, and turns to him, her expression suddenly very serious. "They can't know, Ed. Su and Pete, they can't know. They'd want to see, and…" She shudders, and Edmund mirrors her actions as she thinks of their elder siblings discovering Narnia. He nods, pulling Lucy in roughly and hugging her tightly.

"They won't know," he promises, then pauses, remembering how things were the first few years of being in Narnia. Kneeling, he meets his sister's eyes. It's more habit than necessity now, as they are very nearly the same height now. "You will come to me, if you have the nightmares?" Lucy's face crumples for half a second as she remembers those times, and swallows hard, nodding. She looks up at her brother, meeting his eyes with a stern and strangely motherly gaze.

"You must do the same," she asks softly. "Promise me."

"I promise, Lu," Her brother responds, and they hug once more before moving from the room, not even glancing back at the wardrobe, leaving Narnia behind.

Over the next few weeks, Susan and Peter comment on the strangeness between the younger two. They are used to seeing Lucy and Edmund fighting – all right, Edmund fighting, and Lucy sulking – but not this easy comrade that edges on fierce protection. There are a few times where Peter swears he sees Edmund sharpening bits of wood into weapons – but how and when his brother learned to do that is beyond the older boy. There are times when Susan walks into the room she shares with Lucy to find her sister doing tricks with a kitchen knife – the sight nearly giving her a heart-attack.

Neither of them understands what has happened to the younger two, and when they try to talk to the professor about it, he gives them a vague answer about the changes of war – nothing satisfactory – and tells them to count their blessings.

When Lucy runs to Edmund for comfort after a nightmare instead of Peter, the older brother has to admit, it hurts – more than a little bit. Attempts at voicing his frustration by arguing with Edmund go nowhere- the other has gained a strange momentum for peaceful talks; making it almost impossible for the other party to remain angry. With a huff and a sigh, Peter decides that he will never understand the boy, and instead turns to resenting him.

Weeks turn into months, and the wardrobe lays all but forgotten, breathing in the dark, musty space of the spare room. Whilst Lucy and Edmund are very careful not to mention it (or 'hide and seek') ever again, there is a certain nervousness about them. When rainy days are aplenty in the countryside, they pester Peter and Susan into playing chess or board games – or they do their own thing, meanwhile keeping a careful eye on both siblings.

But some things cannot be determined. After all, as they were often warned in Narnia, the Lion has a will of His own. And one morning, whilst Lucy and Edmund volunteer to go into the market to pick up the ration coupons for the Professor and the Macready; who Lucy has actually taken the time to get to know – apparently, her first name is Rose – Susan and Peter begin to talk in low voices. An agreement reached, they head up to the spare room, where they are fairly certain the troubles began. Neither of them are blind, and it is very clear that something happened here, something to change their siblings. Of course, it could simply be pretend games, but…

Despite it all, Susan and Peter are still children themselves, and any sense of magic is enough to make their eyes wide and their heart's beat faster. As they open the door to the spare room, Susan swears she can hear a soft humming come from the wardrobe itself – but of course, that must be insanity talking, surely? Wardrobes don't hum. Still though, she cannot help but move over, and open the door to the wardrobe.

The gust of wind that breezes through is enough to frighten her, though perhaps not as entirely as it should do, for she does not close the door in the next moment. Instead, Susan – usually so calm and collected – turns to her older brother, a bright question in her eyes. He grins a bit at her, nods, and reaches forward to take her hand. Neither of them are entirely sure as to what they will find, but… well, at this point, nearly anything seems possible – and neither of them has ever shied away from adventure, real adventure.

It is at that moment, when Susan and Peter begin to make the steps from the spare room and into the wardrobe, when Lucy and Edmund return, breathlessly laughing and chattering, noses pink from the biting cold outside. As Lucy calls out for her siblings, Edmund takes the coupons into the kitchen for the Macready, when they next see her, before joining her sister, who is suddenly looking more frightened than he has ever seen her. Her face is white, and she honestly looks as though she might vomit. "Ed," she whispers, and in that moment, Edmund understands in a sickening crash. Neither Peter nor Susan are to be found, and neither Edmund nor Lucy are blind or deaf to the hum of the Lion…

"He wouldn't dare," Edmund murmurs, and Lucy simply shoots her brother a dark look, before running up the stairs, cursing her short legs and longing for longer limbs, her brother not too far behind her. Together they eventually reach the spare room, the door opening in a flurry of panic, but too late, it seems.

The door to the wardrobe is wide open, and on the floor, a small bluebottle buzzes around.

Author's N: Reviews, criticisms, and thoughts are always appreciated.