Disclaimer: This story started as I reread SouthwestExpat's "Under the Sea, inspired by Edmund's quote/thought: "'Not five minutes later, Lucy found me, coming back from her tea with Mr. Tumnus.' Edmund shuddered. If Lucy had come any sooner, she would have recognized the Witch at once, and the Witch would have known she was recognized. Things might have taken a dreadful turn, maybe worse than they had gone."
So this story first belongs to C.S. Lewis, then to Jules Verne, then to SouthwestExpat, then to any reader who cares to read this story.
A/N: So…"Kidnapped" was a tale meant to be lighthearted, to help me practice writing humor. I loved it and I'll try to do it more.
This is not that kind of tale. This is a three-to-five-chapter story that explores some dark possibilities.
It's made me wrestle with the truth in Romans, in Genesis, and I'm still not sure I understand it, or if I won. Maybe by the time the tale is finished being written it will be better.
But, as a warning—this is dark.
Christmas fluff will come after, I promise.
"would you take the nails from His hands?"
—Jeremy Camp, "This Man"
The cold chilled the skin of Edmund's fingers, numbing them. He blinked, feeling the bite of it on his nose as well. Though he couldn't see it, he was pretty sure his nose was turning red. The rest of him was warm, however. Confused, Edmund looked down. He saw the ground, closer than it should be, and a much shorter body wrapped in the oddest clothing.*
He raised his arms, looking at the small boyish hands. The sword calluses were missing, as was the scar running across one palm from the dagger he'd prevented from stopping Peter's heart. He clenched his fists; the fingers in front of him clenched as well. They were his, he could feel them (barely, in the cold), but he didn't understand why he had the fingers of a child. He shoved them into the sleeves of his shirt, looking around.
Trees, covered in heavy snow; he saw a world of white. It was Narnia. He guessed it was, anyway. It looked like the woods at the northern edge of Narnia; Archenland didn't have these types of trees, Calormen was desert, and there was no smell of the sea.
But it was also most definitely winter. He blinked, feeling the cold settle in his cheeks and ears. He took a step; the snow crunched under his feet.
It had been summer when he'd gone to bed. He remembered the feel of the thin coverlet, the flickering of the lamp on the ceiling, the way he'd been dwelling on what his sisters had told him, aching over it, unable to sleep...
That was the last thing he remembered. Now he was child in uncomfortable clothing, standing in a forest in the middle of winter. Had he walked through a door in his sleep? They'd walked from summer to winter once before-
Wait. What was that sound? Faint, something he only heard because the world was absolutely silent. It was far away, quiet but familiar. That was it—the runners of a sledge, sliding on the snow, mixed with the sound of bells-
A sound that made him suddenly fearful, though he barely remembered it, a sound he'd heard as a child with unmarked hands-
The Witch. Edmund's heart went as cold as his fingers; he knew that sound, knew what was coming. He sucked in a quick breath. He—he was here, he was back, back where his first time in Narnia began, somehow he'd started over-
And she was coming. He knew her now, knew the evil, the cruelty, the sound of her wand and the thrust of her sword, and he would not, he would never, choose her again.
Was that—was that why-
Hide! It was Edmund's quick and furious thought, he was an idiot, and he dove for the trees behind him, leaping as far as his child's body was able, trying to leave no footprints. He breathed, crouched, and jumped again, slamming into a tree. He huddled there, trying to force an untrained body into the quiet breathing and absolute stillness it hadn't done before, that only his brain remembered. Please, Aslan, let her pass me by.
Please let me—let me set this right.
I didn't know. I didn't know what would happen, the first time I chose her. Please, more than anything else, let me set this right.
He cowered behind the tree. Aslan, hide me. Then into sight swept a sledge drawn by two large, white reindeer with gilded horns, with a harness of scarlet leather, covered by the ringing bells. And there, sitting there, as he'd remembered in some of his nightmares, sat the fat dwarf in the polar-bear fur coat and red hat, and behind him, as beautiful as he remembered, crowned with gold, and as cruel as the Calormene Tisroc (he could see it now), was the Witch.**
Her eyes stared straight ahead. This, Edmund remembered, tensing in fear, was where she called out "Stop!" and his worst actions began-
But she never saw him. The sledge passed him by. Edmund watched with disbelieving eyes as it continued on its way. He straightened, waiting—but the bells were growing fainter.
She hadn't seen him.
She hadn't seen him.
He hadn't eaten her food, made her any promises, heard the temptations that grew into sin inside him.
He'd never told her about Mr. Tumnus.
He'd never become a traitor.
The Witch had no claim to any blood, for he'd never broken the law and given it to her. Aslan, You hid me, You sent me back to make this right, and now it is. Edmund's head, a boy's head, a boy's head with a man's relief, fell back as he laughed, quietly, but with the joy of a convict made completely innocent.
He drew in a breath that was almost a gasp, and shook himself. Lucy. He would go find Lucy, and enter into her joy this time, for real, and together they would tell Peter and Susan about a wonderful world that needed them. He wondered if Lucy would remember too.
He turned towards the direction he thought Lucy would be coming from (also towards the almost-faded sound of bells)—he didn't quite remember where Mr. Tumnus' house was from here—when he heard Lucy scream.
He froze. The bells, Lucy, a Daughter of Eve to young and tall to be mistaken for a Dwarf—Lucy! He ran towards the sounds, pelting as fast as he could, this stupid, stupid body, please, Aslan, let me be faster—he had to follow the tracks, follow the sleigh, Lucy!
Words, no, yelling, fear and anger mixed.
"No! No! Let me go! Let me go!"
His sister's voice. His sister, who knew the Witch for what she was, thanks to Mr. Tumnus.
A laugh. A chilling, cold laugh, cruel and confident, and a tinkling as if all the bells were rung as the reins were shaken to urge the reindeer onward.
Edmund ran faster, but he was not fast enough. The Witch had her prize, and would have gone for home immediately. Lucy would never have answered her questions.
Edmund stopped, panting, when he could no longer hear the bells. He blinked, trying to keep his eyes clear. Think. He had to think.
Peter and Susan aren't here. I could go back to get them—no, I can't. The door doesn't stay open, that's how I got to tease Lucy about it for so long—I was a beast to her. Aslan, Lucy. I can't go get them. Here, then. Mr. Tumnus—he would help, Lucy's taught him courage, and the Witch doesn't know about him, but what could we do? Oreius, then, he has to be here somewhere.
Oreius. Edmund pictured the strong, suspicious Centaur in his mind and wondered what would happen if a Son of Adam showed up at his cave—Oreius had told them stories, at their request, and Edmund thought he knew were Oreius was now, though those memories were fading—and if that Son of Adam knew his name and his history and demanded his allegiance, or his help, with only one sibling and not three, and no Aslan to back Edmund up—Edmund did not think that would go well.
He had to try anyway. For Lucy's sake.
He turned towards the Northern Mountains—Oreius was somewhere there, that way. Too far, but close enough for a message. There was someone closer, wasn't there? A cave close by where Edmund stood now. He could walk there in an afternoon.
Edmund scrubbed his weak boy's hands across his face and set out determinedly. Together, he and the Centaur could come up with a plan to rescue Lucy. Soon, before the Witch could be cruel to her. Edmund refused to consider what would happen if the Witch decided she liked Lucy as a statue instead. She'd want information from Lucy first.
He tried to tell himself that was reassuring.
He tried, through the first hour of cold, an hour as miserable as the time he'd walked from the Beavers' house to Her house, slipping and sliding, wet through, and so very, very cold.
He tried, as the trees thinned and the mountains began, and he realized he was very hungry too. He'd had no Turkish Delight, no Beavers' dinner, no tea with Tumnus.
Lucy probably has had worse. Edmund winced at the thought. He had to save his sister.
The whole point of hiding from the Witch was that no one had to pay the price.
Please, Aslan, don't let Lucy be hurt because I hid like a coward.
You couldn't have fought her, his rational side reminded me. Edmund slipped on some stones, and caught himself on the hillside, hand sinking into snow.
I could have tried. He picked himself up. The cave with the first group of Aslan's followers should be ahead soon. There was a Robin in it, Edmund thought, a friend of the Beavers and Oreius, a Robin who knew everyone. The Robin would help him find the right people
You wouldn't have won. His rational side was still arguing. Edmund took another step.
Fine. I wouldn't have won. I could have tried something else. Edmund leaned against a tree, panting. I could have gone to find Lucy. We could have both hidden. Then-
Then she'd be safe right now.
His logic had no answer for that.
It didn't matter. He was at the cave anyway.
There was no one there.
The nest on the ledge jutting out from the roof was in shambles, and cave was cold, and everything left in it was sticks or dirt.
They'd left, Edmund realized. Sometime right before the Four came, Robin had left.
Oreius was too far away. Tumnus now too, and the Beavers. Lucy-
Lucy would be dead or stone. Lucy! I can't do anything! There's nothing left to do! I should have gone after them!
Edmund crumpled to the floor of the cave, his hands over face, breaking down in sobs. "Aslan!" he cried, his heart ripping, his mind helpless. "Aslan! Aslan!"
*So, when I first wrote this I wrote him wearing a long fur coat, then in the middle of writing the second chapter realised he wasn't wearing a fur coat the first time he was in Narnia. *Facepalms...or rather, I said, "Oh, you idiot" out loud, because I realised I'd written who-knows how many descriptions of the coat into the story.* I went back and checked, by the way. He wasn't wearing the coat, he was even shivering.
**Descriptions are taken almost directly from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
A/N: I know there's a very good reason Lewis wrote, "What would have happened, child? No one is ever told that." I know because "what if's" even in this fictional world are already driving me crazy. I don't know for certain what would have happened if Edmund had hid (or the next chapter), but I think, while we're not told for certain what would have happened, we can learn from seeing the choices we weren't allowed to take. Sometimes. Maybe. Lewis is probably right, and I'm probably wrong, but I'm going to write this anyway, because I'm learning from it. Somehow I don't think he'd mind. Perhaps because I'll be proving his point in the end, if the story lets me?