Hey everyone! I know I should be updating A Brother's Sorrow, but I have been swamped with school and Real Life this week and have no chance to write Lucy's POV. I had started this story last week, but wasn't going to post it until after I was done with ABS; however, Valiant said she couldn't wait to read it, and so I thought I'd publish it a little bit early.
Once again, this story (which will be multi-chaptered) is based off of JustValiant1717's fic King and Lionheart. It seems every time I go to re-read a part of that story, I'm struck by inspiration for yet another story. Val has been gracious enough to allow me freedom to write each one, for which I thank her profusely.
If you all haven't read her fic, you definitely should. She is absolutely amazing and has such a way of spinning words that sucks you right into the story without you realizing it. The way she writes the Pevensies' relationships is so poignant. My heart hurts with each new chapter she writes. She has become one of my favorite Narnia writers and I promise you will not be disappointed by what you read of her work.
Achem… Okay, now that I'm done gushing. This fic is a look into the happenings in and around the time when Edmund took that extra tesserae that caused Peter to not talk to him for a year. Val wrote both boys with such hurt from the incident, as well as sorrow and guilt, that I wanted to explore just what had happened a bit more.
So far, this story is shaping up to be all in Edmund's POV, but Peter has been asking quite insistently for his turn. So, his POV might show up in a later chapter. If you'd like to lend strength to his cause, please let me know in the comments, and I will definitely take a greater look into writing more from our dear Pete's POV as well. ;^)
Disclaimer… I wish I did own it, but sadly I don't. I have to content myself with reading amazing fanfictions as well as the books over and over again and watching the movies. *Sigh*
~~~~ Line Break ~~~~
"I don't want you to worry about it. We have enough. We'll make due."
The words greet me as I slip into the living room, closing the front door behind me. They're coming from upstairs in our room. I frown, let my school bag drop to the floor, and creep up the stairs on tiptoe.
"We're… we're always running out by now." Peter's hoarse whisper answers her.
I wince. Peter had caught a cold early last week, and it had turned to influenza three days ago. It's all but taken his voice from him. Mum's kept him bedridden, bundled in all the extra clothes and blankets we possess in an effort to keep him warm. We've even lit the stove early to try and help. We don't usually light it until after the first few snowfalls so we can save the cost of fuel.
"I've taken care of it." Mum is being insistent.
I reach the top of the stairs and peer over the landing into Peter's and my bedroom. Peter is lying in his bed, propped up on pillows. His face is flushed and sweaty with fever, his eyes are bright, and his lips are chapped and bleeding. All that coupled with the gaunt expression that has entered his eyes… He looks nothing like Peter. Mum is sitting on the bed beside him, a bowl of something that steams in her hand. It's probably soup because she's lifting a spoon to his lips even as I watch.
The sight of Mum having to feed Peter sends a jolt of fear through my soul. Never has Peter been too weak to help himself. He's the protector and provider. He is who I run to with my problems, who I look to for guidance. The possibility of losing him at the Reaping each year is bad enough; I can't stand to see that possibility again, here in our own home.
Aslan, please help him. I pray to the being my father would tell me stories of late at night when I was sick. I'm not sure who Aslan is, but Dad said that He watches over us and keeps us safe. Peter doesn't like it when I talk about Aslan – or Dad – but I've always found comfort in talking to Him. Makes Dad seem not so far off, and I'm willing to try anything at this moment. Peter looks like he's at death's door.
"I just want you to concentrate on getting better, all right?" Mum continues after Peter swallows the bite she just gave him. "Your brother has been very worried about you. It's getting harder and harder to keep him out of here. He needs you to keep an eye on him."
"I know." Peter responds. "I'm doing everything I can, Mum. I'm sorry that I'm not able to help." He presses a hand to his mouth to stifle a cough. "Just one more day, and I'll go back to work. I promise. And I'll go see about getting another tesserae. We'll make it through to next month."
"No, Peter." Mum's tone is firm. "You will stay and rest until this flu is completely gone. You will make yourself worse by trying to do too much too soon. I told you that when you had the cold; it's doubly true now that you have the flu. And you will not be getting another tesserae. You know how I feel about either one of you boys doing that. I'll see if I can get some more work. We'll make it. We always do."
Peter looks ready to argue, but Mum shakes her head, "No, Peter. No arguments. Please." She reaches up and brushes Peter's bangs from off his forehead. "Forget about this and try to rest. Your brother will be home shortly. I want to be able to tell him you're doing better."
Mum moves to stand up, and I rush down the stairs skipping over the creaky steps. I'm in the front entry by the time she's reached the top step. I open the front door and slam it shut.
"Edmund, is that you?" Mum calls. The stairs creak as she walks down them.
"Yes, Mum." I step into the living room in time to wrap my arm around her waist and give her a hug and a kiss. "Love you. How's Peter?"
She kisses me back, "I love you too. Peter's fine. Feeling a bit weaker today, but his fever's down. He should be better by the end of the week. He sends his love."
The smile she gives me is tight around the edges, and I can see the worry hidden in her eyes. "Can't I see him?" I beg. I've been barred from Peter's presence ever since he fell sick. Neither he nor Mum wanted to risk me catching whatever it is he has. Not with my lungs being what they are. I've been sleeping with Mum in her room.
"You know the answer to that. Now, go get your homework done. I have some work left to do, but then I'll come in and start making dinner. There's a slice of bread on the counter for you."
My shoulders slump, but I nod my head, "Yes, Ma'am. Thanks for setting my snack out."
Mum lifts my chin so that she's looking into my eyes, "He's getting better, Edmund. I promise you. Don't worry about him."
"He's my brother. I have to worry." I protest. "If I don't, there won't be anyone to keep him out of trouble."
Mum chuckles and smooths my hair back from my forehead, "All right then, don't worry as much. I'll be in the back if you need anything."
She moves off towards the door leading to the back room where she's set up her laundry washing business. The work is hard and long, but it's been the only thing she's been able to find.
I hate it. Hate the long hours it forces her to keep. Hate the way it stoops her shoulders and rubs her hands raw. Hate the way it keeps her out in the cold, because no matter what repairs Peter and I make on that back room, it still manages to let the cold air in.
I grab my book bag from the front entry and head into the kitchen. Instead of sitting down and doing my work, however, I take stock. Peter and Mum usually worry about how much food is in the house, but I'm not ignorant of how little we actually have.
There's a loaf and a half of bread in the cupboards and a dozen potatoes in the bin along with onions and a few carrots. No fruit. Even though it's the end of autumn and the harvests have come in, fruit is still too expensive to have more than as a treat on one of our birthdays. There's some smoked meat left in the attic, but not much. Peter and I haven't been hunting for almost two weeks between taking a break and him getting sick.
We usually have more than this, but it's close to the end of the month. Peter was right. Usually by this time, he and I are augmenting most of our diet with meat and greens we find in the woods. I chew on my bottom lip as fear starts to build in me.
Mum had looked so tired when she came down. Her eyes were dim, and there were new wrinkles lines between her eyes. Dark bags sat underneath her eyes, and she has lost a lot of weight. There is no way she will be able to take on more work and still keep going. It isn't fair to expect her to. She already does too much.
So do something about it. A voice inside me says harshly. Don't ask. You know she won't let you do anything anyway. Just do it. Peter's sick and so now it's your responsibility to care for her – and him.
I clench my jaw. There are two options open to me. I can either go hunting by myself… or I can go take a tesserae.
My stomach clenches at the consequences of both. I've never gone hunting alone. It wouldn't be such a big deal if it were summer, but it's the middle of autumn. If I were to have a problem with my lungs or an accident, there would be no one to help me. But the other option…
I swore to Peter I wouldn't take another tesserae. Swore on our father's grave. If I break that oath – I don't even want to think of what Peter might do to me. But what else can I do?
I groan, sinking into a chair at the kitchen table, and begin to pick at a splinter. I keep waiting to hear Peter tell me to stop with his usual underlying current of annoyance or feel his hands bat mine away from the offending sliver. But they don't come.
"What am I going to do?" I whisper to no one.
"Be strong, Dear Heart." A deep whisper sounds in the room.
I jump and look around, searching for the source of the voice, but no one is present. I sit still for a few minutes more, waiting to see if whoever – whatever – that was will occur again. It doesn't. I swallow thickly, struggling to put – whatever that was – behind me.
I square my shoulders, my thoughts turning back to the problem at hand. Mum is right. We are okay for right now. We have some money saved up, so if things get desperate we can use that. And I can help Mum with her laundry – without her knowing it of course – but I can do some while she is out making deliveries or while she is sleeping. It's what Peter would do, and with him not available to do it, the responsibility falls on me.
I don't mind. I'm grateful for the opportunity. Peter and Mum don't let me do too much around the house. Not because they don't think I can, but because I get sick too easily. They're scared – and if I admit it I'm scared – that one time I'll catch something I won't be able to shake and then it'll be my turn to take that last walk into the woods.
You'll be all right I tell myself, getting up to get my snack. I have to be. Mum and Peter need me right now.