AN: This is a mix of movie-verse and book-verse, because I like angry Peter. Spoilers for everything.
"My dear Lucy." Aslan speaks and the love in his voice is unmistakable. Lucy beams.
Jealousy twists Peter's heart but the smile on his face doesn't falter. His siblings remain ignorant, but Aslan knows. Aslan barely looks at faces anyway.
Peter used to think he could share what he felt with his brother and his sisters but Lucy would never understand, Susan would refuse to believe and Edmund swore off jealousy having been frozen by it once.
Peter believes that Edmund would have understood. Better than anyone. If only it was about anyone but Aslan, his savior.
Then they are back in England, and Lucy feels Aslan's presence everywhere and Peter feels it nowhere.
Sometimes Lucy tilts her head as if listening to something, and Peter tries it later, at night, in darkness and quiet, and he doesn't hear anything.
"Pete," Edmund whispers from the doorway, gently, and Peter chokes back a sob, "we will be fine," his brother continues, "you'll see."
"Do you ever hear Him?"
"No. But I know that He is listening."
"I have faith."
Peter looks at him and doesn't say I don't, doesn't say I don't know where and when I lost it, or how to get it back. Doesn't say I'm not sure I want to, anymore.
"Goodnight, Ed." He says instead, and Edmund moves to let him pass and doesn't stop him, even though it looks like he wants to, his hand twitching briefly in his direction.
They are dragged back to Narnia and it feels both like a dream and like a nightmare. Peter takes a deep breath, breathing in the Narnian air, and is not sure if he wants to wake up or stay asleep. He doesn't have time to think too much about that, there is strife ahead and Aslan needs to be found.
Lucy goes to search for him. Caspian and the Narnians wait anxiously, but Peter has faith in her, more than he ever had in Aslan.
And in the end, she only has to search briefly for Aslan to find him.
Peter knows he could have searched for eons.
Peter stands before his master, solemn and respectful despite the turbulent emotions in his heart. The darkness growing there doesn't mean that the love is gone.
Aslan looks at him with knowing eyes before blowing a breath in his face. Wonderful warmth envelops Peter, like perfect sunshine and something suspiciously like joy grows in his heart.
"Aslan!" Lucy cries when she sees Aslan and runs to him. He laughs as she hugs him and all the warmth drains out of Peter.
"Jealousy is unbecoming of you, High King." Aslan says after Lucy leaves to find Susan.
Embarrassment colors Peter's face red. You gave her your love, he didn't say.
"I gave you the final word among your siblings."
"I don't need you to manage my relationship with my siblings."
Aslan's sharp look makes him regret saying anything.
"I love you all, Peter, just differently."
"I am your sword, she is your heart. People care more about their hearts than their swords."
"I am not people."
'You are not even close.'
Aslan does not need words to be spoken so he could hear them. His eyes close in sadness. "I entrusted you with my land and my people." 'With Lucy.'
Peter knows. Aslan entrusted him with all that he loves most. Peter knows and he loves and guards them all. He knows.
Aslan eventually sends them back. They pass through the doorway with as much dignity as they can manage. Once they are through, Susan touches her lips briefly and closes her eyes in pain, before she gathers herself, raises her head high and disappears for a few hours. She is not the same when she comes back.
She is never the same again.
"You are still a Queen, Susan." Lucy reminds her when she complains of everyone treating her like she's just a silly, pretty girl again.
"An exiled Queen," she snaps and Lucy can't say anything to that, can't offer any comfort. She herself is not exiled, after all.
Susan is looking at Lucy but her mind seems far away when she says, more to herself than anyone else, her hs pronounced easily instead of reverently, "If he can exile me from my land, I can exile him from my heart."
Lucy recoils and Susan snaps back to here and now, "I'm sorry Lu," she says, devastated, knowing the depth of her sister's faith and hating to hurt her so, "I just can't."
Narnians used to say that Aslan favored the Four and one of them, Lucy, above all.
Lucy never believed it. Lucy used to say that Aslan speaks to all but not many are willing to listen.
"Just try, Peter. Listen."
Peter never managed to convince her that Aslan spoke less to others than he spoke to her.
She would only shake her head and look at him with pity. "You have to open yourself to him."
He went on his knees and bared his throat and had faith. He waged war and made peace. He left Narnia and came back and then left again. He left himself wide open and Aslan bit into him; he may not have gorged on his flesh but he had gorged on his soul, leaving it in tatters, forever mangled.
"Peter," she says, reaching to take his hand, her eyes imploring. "Have faith."
He smiles softly, squeezes her hand gently before releasing it, and gets up. Her face hardens, and Peter reads determination in her frown and the press of her mouth. Her fists are clenched like she is going to fight for him and fight hard.
Faith is a personal thing but that doesn't mean it is not affected by outside influences.
There is a battle going on for his soul, and Lucy will be, as it turned out later, the one to end it.
Afterwards, in England, Susan dresses up and puts make up on. Her masks are obvious. He knows what she is going through, for he is going through the same, and he tries to speak with her. Something like hope unfurls in his chest. He is not alone.
But Susan thinks he wants to defend Aslan and Narnia, to change her mind.
He doesn't. He doesn't.
Susan, please, he begs with his eyes, the way he doesn't seem to be able to do with words. But Susan doesn't seem to have any faith left in her, not for Aslan, and not for Peter either.
Peter has often wondered why Aslan didn't make Lucy High Queen, but he never dared ask if he regretted not doing it.
(Aslan doesn't. It was always going to be Peter, because Peter was always going to love Narnia itself more than he was ever going to love Aslan, its Creator.)
When they die, they meet with Aslan. Some unfortunate souls can't see a way out, can't see anything but the dark. Peter doesn't admit to anyone that his vision flickers between warm blue sky and a dark damp stable.
Aslan himself disappears and reappears. He cuts Peter a look, knowing, but doesn't reveal anything to his siblings.
Peter is tempted. Not by the damp stables and the dark, he is tempted by a world without the Lion. That, however, is a world colder than the witch's Narnia, and Edmund, and the rest of his siblings, would never follow.
Susan, he thinks, hesitating, Susan.
She is not here with them now, and one day, when she dies, she might choose the stable. Lucy and Edmund will have each other, and Aslan, but Susan might end up alone, in the black. His vision goes dark for a moment, before it flickers back and he is once again faced by the Lion, silent and patient, and so hopeful it hurts.
His siblings notice that something is wrong.
"Aslan," Lucy asks, "why are you so sad?"
She noticed Aslan's distress, but not her own brother's. Peter hears a terrible, gut-wrenching sound and it is only when all of them turn to look at him that he realizes it came from him.
Edmund blinks and then all the blood leaves his face because he knows his brother, knows him better than anyone and this means goodbye and there is only one thing that can mean, now, when they are dead and going to their resting place. He makes a step towards him, desperate, "Peter, don't-"
But it is far too late. Peter blinks and his eyes lose focus and he cannot see or hear them anymore. Edmund stands there, frozen in place, staring.
Lucy is begging Aslan to do something, but he refuses. He says I can't, and he sounds like someone sank their teeth into him and yanked, ripping flash and spraying blood. She shudders and drags an unmoving Edmund away, and he never forgives her for doing that, for not at least letting him try to get Peter back, no matter how much he knows it wouldn't have worked. He never forgives her, even though she has forgiven him far worse.
Peter remains behind, and Edmund blinks out of his shock when his brother is just a tiny figure in the distance and looks, but all he sees is the great outdoors. He cannot see what Peter sees. He thinks of Susan. He knows how she feels about Narnia and with a strangled, guilty sob he prays that she remains damned, that she doesn't change her mind. He prays that she ends up where Peter is, so that he is not alone.
Aslan cuts him a sharp look, hearing, but Edmund has a spine of steel now, the way he didn't have as a little boy, and he doesn't back down. He prays again and again and again, and Aslan swishes his tail in agitation but Edmund doesn't care. One can believe in a God and not like him. Edmund will not renounce his brother (never again).
"Edmund, stop." Lucy begs, "I want to see Susan again someday. Please, stop."
Edmund hugs her, "Peter was wavering before you spoke and broke his heart." And it is not an accusation, just a horrible, gutting truth. It is cruel to say it, and he knows it is cruel but he cannot keep it in.
Edmund releases her and looks her in the eyes, "You think Peter deserves to forever be left in the darkness? You think this is just?"
She flinches, takes a deep breath, "Aslan gives much, but he also asks for much," she allows. "It is not always easy. It is not supposed to be."
Edmund looks at her steadily, forever the Judge, and Aslan interrupts before he can say a thing. Aslan's presence fills the room and Edmund knows what this is. Edmund is allowed to judge everyone but Lucy.
He turns to Aslan. He may not be allowed to judge his sister but no one ever said anything about judging the Lion.
Some time later, it could be minutes it could be years, Edmund feels a ripple and knows somehow that his sister has died. He waits for her and when she doesn't show up, he finally smiles. He thanks Aslan when he sees him, from the bottom of his heart, and leaves to find Lucy.
He doesn't see Aslan cry, for he had nothing to do with Susan's fate. He cannot make someone have faith in him.
(Edmund could have told him that he had Susan's and Peter's, and he lost it. That's not the same).
Susan dies and finds herself in the dark. She is not afraid and she is not surprised. She is not happy either. She-
"Susan," a familiar voice calls out and she laughs, delighted. She thought she would be alone, all her siblings with the lion.
She realizes quickly that Lucy and Edmund are not with them but Peter's presence gives her hope. "When do you think they will arrive?" she asks.
Next to her, Peter shrugs, "Time doesn't matter here. We can wait however long they need."
Susan is willing to wait, but- "What if they never come?"
Peter sighs and doesn't answer.
Time passes, and then, one day, or more like one moment, because there are no days and no nights anymore, Edmund shows up, without Lucy.
"I don't think she's coming," he chokes out when they embrace, heartbroken but resigned. "I waited for her as long as I could," he continues, "but she barely even remembers you these days." He hesitates before whispering, "Aslan cries for you sometimes. He cries for us."
Susan asks who is Aslan, and at the same time Peter says I don't care.
Edmund just hugs them tighter, and it doesn't take long for the chill to dissipate from his bones. Despite the sun and the warmth, despite the heaven and it all, he was always cold in Aslan's country, in Aslan's home. The truth is that he'd rather be with his siblings in the dark than without them in the light. It just took him awhile to accept it.
(Lucy never comes)