Disclaimer: I do not own anything in this marvelous universe; it all belongs to C.S. Lewis. Some dialogue belongs to Disney and Walden Media who are responsible for allowing this wonderful film to be created.

A/N: Another requested fic, this time for Claudette who had been interested in seeing a multi-chapter fic set in LWW. So Claudette, this one's dedicated to you :grins:.

This first chapter is a sort of missing scene from the movie that takes place after Lucy's first visit to the wardrobe. I know Lucy, Susan, and Peter do not see the Professor (in the movie) until after Edmund enters Narnia for the first time, but I felt it best to use him in this case. As for the scene itself, when Edmund first shouts at Peter, the look on Peter's face really got me. And with Susan's and Lucy's responses, I felt so bad for him. This scene expands upon that row.

No, it's not another P.O.V. fic, I'm afraid :smiles sheepishly:. I'm keeping that one for Nighttime Demons, and perhaps other fics that follow. I actually found the inspiration for writing this when I started wondering why Peter seemed to go so incredibly hard on Edmund, much more than on his sisters at points, and so, the fic evolved from there. As for the medical references, I'm no doctor so I'm sorry if I got anything wrong, but I hope that won't deter anyone from reading it.

Anyways…Think of it as a sort of prequel to Nighttime Demons, although it can be considered a standalone piece, as well :winks:. Enjoy!

"Speech"

/Thoughts/

Memories (as well as emphasis)

Multi-Chapter. Non-Slash.

.:Fever:.

Chapter I: Origins of Fear

By Sentimental Star

(Professor Kirke's House, Some Hours After Dinner)

"Why can't you just do as you're told?" he demanded, angry and frightened all at once, hearing the tears in his own voice and not liking it.

As their mother hushed the younger boy, Edmund looked up at him, still breathing heavily, and gave a half-hearted glare. He did not say anything, but the look he gave him spoke for itself.

Feeling the tears burn at the back of his eyes, he whirled and slammed the door of the shelter shut, plunging them all into darkness.

Softly clearing his throat, Peter leaned his forehead against the cool glass of a window in the library where he sat in a window seat and quickly dashed away a single tear as he gazed out into the darkness beyond, thoughts in the past.

"When will you grow up?" he asked in exasperation, voice soft.

His younger brother's reaction startled him. "Shut up!" Edmund exploded, stalking over to him and yelling into his face, forcing him to back up. "You think that you're Dad, but you're not!"

He felt his eyes widen as he caught a quick glimpse of the angry tears that rushed into the ten-year-old's dark eyes before the younger boy whirled away and rushed into the hallways beyond the spare room.

And something cracked in him at that.

Susan's response did not help much. "Well that was nicely handled," she advised him darkly, before turning and marching away.

He felt the tension in his shoulders build, vaguely aware his face was stricken.

"But…it really was there," Lucy insisted, causing him to quickly school his features and turn to face her. She looked crushed.

He gave her a stern look. "Susan's right, Lucy," he told her firmly. "That's enough."

Another clearing of his throat and a quiet sniff as he dashed away a second tear, then…

"I say!" came the surprised exclamation from behind him, making Peter start and hurriedly turn around to face the entrance to the library. "Young man, what are you doing here?"

With a white beard, small, circular glasses perched on his nose, and a large tuft of wild white hair, dressed in a crimson and gold evening robe, the older man in front of him could only be the Professor.

With Mrs. Macready's order of, "Above all, there will be no disturbing of the Professor," running through his head, Peter hurriedly stood to his feet. "I'm sorry, sir," he apologized rapidly, "I didn't realize--"

"Oh, don't worry, dear boy," Professor Kirke interrupted him warmly, waving his hand and moving to examine one of the shelves, "you just startled me, that's all. I did not expect you or your siblings to come in here for a few days at least." As he spoke, the Professor lightly ran his fingers over the spines of the books, apparently looking for one in particular. "Ah! Here it is!"

He turned to Peter who had slowly resumed his seat, facing the man, and smiled at him. A decidedly mischievous light sparkled in his extraordinary blue eyes, a look that the boy had seen in very few other adults. Waving the rather thick book at the teenager, the Professor continued, "Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. I always thought it was a marvelous bit of work, if only the critics did not insist upon doing an in-depth study of its contents." He examined it, turning the book end over end. "As it is, I've never seen a better portrayed image of European government."

Peter managed a smile. "I have read it, sir."

The Professor cast him an approving look. "Very good. At least these schools have gotten something right."

The teenager managed another smile, but it was small and tired.

Apparently, the Professor noticed. Coming over to the window where Peter sat, he placed the book on a nearby a table and stood in front of the boy. "You are not as happy as I mean you to be," he spoke up, voice soft. It was not a question.

Peter glanced at him, before looking down and shaking his head, "No, sir," he whispered.

The Professor perched on the arm of a nearby chair. "I don't suppose you'd enlighten an old man, hmm?" It was asked gently.

Peter gazed distantly out the window. "I suppose it all began three years ago…"

(Flashback, Three Years)

"Mamma, why are we here? Mamma?" five-year-old Lucy lightly shook their mother's arm, trying to squirm out of her lap.

The doctor's office was not exactly the most interesting place in the world for an energetic little girl such as Lucy. Peter himself, for all his ten years, was starting to become bored. He had even started counting the number of fleur-de-lis that made up the pattern of the wallpaper.

Susan alone seemed contented, playing with one of the dolls their parents had allowed her to bring along—and she was a year younger than him. Lucy's own doll lay discarded on top of their mother's purse.

Mamma's face was very white, and she lifted Lucy back into her lap from where the younger girl had begun to slip, handing her a picture book she had fished out of her purse. "Waiting for Eddy to get better. Now, hush, darling."

As Lucy was distracted by the picture book, Peter turned and looked at the door that separated him from his little brother and father, young brow furrowed in confusion and worry. He could hear very faint, very muffled voices from behind the door (his father's and the doctor's), but could not make out what they were saying.

Impatiently, he tapped his fingers on his leg.

Mamma and Daddy wouldn't tell him or Su or Lu what was wrong with Eddy. All he knew was that Eddy had gotten sick and fallen. He didn't know why, though, or what it was that was making him so sick that they had to immediately take him to the doctor. Mamma and Daddy wouldn't say.

So now, Peter was left to worry and to try to figure out what was going on. There was a very strange tightness in his chest whenever he thought of what had happened to his little brother, and he couldn't identify it. Whatever it was, he didn't like it.

Suddenly, the heavy wooden door creaked open as the doctor exited, and Peter jumped to his feet as Susan stopped playing with her doll, and Mamma and Lucy looked up from the picture book.

The doctor smiled sadly at them and turned, holding open the door for Daddy as he came through, holding Eddy in his arms.

Peter's throat felt funny for some reason as he looked at Edmund, who was clinging to their father's neck and shaking softly.

The doctor began to speak, directing his words at Mamma who had stood with Lucy in her arms, but so that even Peter and Susan could hear, "Your son has scarlet fever, Mrs. Pevensie."

There was a small gasp as Mamma's free hand flew to her mouth. Peter felt himself tense. /Scarlet fever? Don't people die from scarlet fever? But this is Eddy! He can't…/

Peter's frantic thoughts were interrupted as the doctor continued speaking, "I would guess he's had it for about a week by now. Were there no signs of it? No rash, no fever, no fatigue?"

Their mother was very pale when she spoke. "I noticed a small rash a couple of days ago, and he did seem more tired than usual, but I didn't think…" She looked, Peter realized with surprise, very close to tears.

"He has scarlet fever, Mrs. Pevensie," the doctor repeated gently, "had you waited any longer to bring him to see me, it could have developed into rheumatic fever."

All color left Mamma's face as she sank down into the chair again. Lucy, who had the least idea of what was going on, started crying. "Mamma! Mamma!" she pleaded, scared.

Susan, moving now, hurried over to their little sister and mother, and took Lucy from Mamma's arms into her own, hugging her. "Shh. Shh. It's all right, Lucy, Mamma's just startled," she murmured.

Peter didn't think Mamma was "just startled." To him, she looked as scared as Lucy.

Papa placed a strong hand on her shoulder, still holding Edmund, and turned back to the doctor. It was then that Peter himself started feeling scared, for Daddy's face was very pale, too. "Is there nothing to be done?" he demanded. But his voice shook a little.

Peter curled his hands into his sleeves and swallowed uncomfortably, feeling tears burn at the back of his eyes but refusing to let them fall. What did Daddy mean?

The doctor looked slightly unsure. "There might be a way," he hedged, "However--"

He cut himself off as his eyes suddenly fell on Peter. The ten-year-old, abruptly feeling very much exposed, quickly turned away. He swallowed again, shielding his eyes and trying to do the same with his emotions.

It didn't work too well.

"Peter…" the voice was faint and weak and scratchy, and came from the small, shivering bundle in their father's arms.

Almost instantly, Peter turned back around, his china blue eyes falling and locking onto his little brother's dark brown ones which had finally turned away from Papa's shoulder, glazed with fever. A flushed face gazed at him, and a small hand strained in the direction of the older boy.

Swallowing a third time, and feeling his eyes swim with unshed tears, Peter answered the unspoken request and crossed the last few feet between them, gently enclosing the seven-year-old's straining hand with his own.

The doctor appeared to come to a decision upon seeing this interaction between the two brothers, and his gray eyes hardened with resolve. He turned back to their father. "There is a way. But you must realize, Mr. Pevensie, it has only very recently been discovered. There is talk circulating around Oxford about possibly researching into it more deeply in a few years, but nothing has been confirmed, yet. I believe you may have heard of penicillin?"

Papa, who was an academic in his own right, nodded.

"Then that is what I'll prescribe, as well as a full line of antibiotics," the doctor went on. "He must take those antibiotics, because if he does not, at this point it will turn into rheumatic fever. I have the specifics, if you and Mrs. Pevensie would join me just over there." He indicated another set of chairs (this with a table between them) across the waiting room with a tilt of his head.

Their mother quickly nodded, once again handing Lucy (whom had crawled back into her lap once her tears were through) over to Susan and standing.

Their father glanced down at his two boys with a half-smile. "Will you take your brother for a few minutes, Peter? It shouldn't be too long."

Peter didn't hesitate, but immediately nodded, opening his arms to receive his little brother. But he did not say anything. He couldn't. He was too scared.

Daddy allowed Edmund to cautiously slip out of his arms and into Peter's, very gently settling the younger boy's own around his brother's neck. Eddy, too sick to really care about all this handling, buried his face in the ten-year-old's shoulder as the older boy quietly sat down in the seat his mother had only moments ago occupied. Susan, likewise holding Lucy, settled beside him in the next chair.

As Peter very carefully arranged Edmund in his lap, the doctor led their parents over to the far side of the waiting room. "A fine set of children you have there," the doctor told their parents softly as the three adults made their way to the seats.

But Peter heard nothing else, for his entire awareness had narrowed down to the shaking seven-year-old he held in his lap.

It was very strange, this awareness of his. For he suddenly understood how his parents must feel. Right now, he did not (and would not) want to let go of his brother for anything, terrified that if he did, then Edmund would somehow disappear.

And still, he did not let his tears fall.

Eddy felt very tiny in his arms. Very tiny and very frail, and terribly, terribly helpless.

And it was then, as his arms convulsively tightened around his little brother's trembling form, that Peter found himself shucking the role of child, and taking on the role of protector. Finally accepting every bit of what being a big brother meant.

(End Flashback)

The Professor sat back against the chair's back (having abandoned his perch on its arm some time ago) as Peter finished his tale and dashed an errant tear away. Marveling, he gazed at the young man across from him in not so little awe.

He had never had any siblings, and could not profess to entirely understand what being an older sibling entailed. He had had younger cousins, of course, that he used to see quite frequently (and sometimes still did), but it wasn't quite the same as having siblings.

Clearly, the oldest Pevensie loved his younger brother to a painful degree, and was sure he loved his sisters just as much. But the Professor wondered that he did not seem entirely aware of that himself.

He studied the young man thoughtfully for a few moments, as the thirteen-year-old struggled to regain some of the composure he had lost. And when Peter finally looked at him again, appearing to expect a reprimand, the Professor allowed his eyes to narrow slightly and gave the teenager a penetrating look. "Answer me only this, young man: would you die for your brother? Your sisters?"

Peter, forgetting all formality, gaped at him. What?

The Professor narrowed his eyes a bit more and leaned forward. "Would you die for them?" he repeated firmly.

The thirteen-year-old slowly closed his mouth, and the Professor was pleased to see the emotions flit rapidly through those china blue eyes as he thought furiously about the question.

/Would I/ Peter wondered. Remembering the most recent months with Edmund, and even his sisters, hurt. But really…/Could I just sit idly by? Could I stand to have that happen to them/

The very thought felt like driving a knife through his heart—or perhaps a sword—and not just because he had promised his mother he would look after them.

He swallowed, face pale, and glanced back at the Professor. "I don't know, sir," he admitted truthfully, voice soft.

The Professor smiled and, standing to his feet, stretched a bit, before (ever so briefly) resting a hand on the thirteen-year-old's head. "I ask only because you seem not to understand how deep love can run." He let his hand fall to his side and reaching out with the other, picked up Gulliver's Travels from the table. The Professor turned back to Peter, eyes twinkling again, "Heigh-ho, off to Lilliput with Gulliver, I think. Rest well, young one."

And having said his piece, he walked out of the library. But not before Peter caught a muttered, "I feel it in my bones, I do. Something is going to happen. Well, bless me, if something doesn't happen…"

Whatever else he said was lost as he walked out of an earshot. Still, Peter gazed after him, long after he had disappeared, with the Professor's question echoing in his ears: Would you die for them?

TBC

A/N: I know, I know, I ought to be working on Nighttime Demons (which I am, promise :smiles: ). But I just saw Narnia again this weekend, and well, what can I say? I was bitten :grins:. I'm not quite sure when the next chapter of this will be up (I'm aiming for next week, but we'll see), so please keep your eyes peeled! It will take place after Susan's and Peter's discussion with the Professor in the movie.