Disclaimer: I own nothing in this marvelous universe; it all belongs to C.S. Lewis. Reminder: some dialogue belongs to Disney and Walden Media.
A/N: And so Fever comes to a close. I sincerely hope you enjoyed every minute of it, and enjoy this last chapter just as much as all the others!
Reviewers: All 109 of you, thank you!
Many Thanks: A Amelia Black, Morwen Pallanen, TimeMage0955, Jenn1, Hermione Eveningfall, Boleyn, ohcEEcho, Capegio, Kelsey Estel, Tarien Lakilea Tel'anor, Sara Wolfe, Tex110, and Sera and Tails
Epilogue: Origins of Change
By Sentimental Star
(England, Evening, Fifteen Narnian Years Later)
He'd become used to Lucy's adventurous nature over the years. She wasn't called Queen Lucy the Valiant for nothing, and though he could never quite stop worrying about her, he knew (now at least) that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. All of his siblings were, actually. And that hadn't been an easy thing to accept, but accept it, he finally had.
So when sightings of the White Stag in Lantern Waste had been reported, Peter wasn't terribly surprised when Lucy rushed off to find Edmund and Susan, an excited gleam in her eyes. Nor was he terribly surprised to find them standing with their mounts out in the courtyard a mere half hour later.
And he couldn't say he was oblivious to the thrill of adventure today, either.
They had been riding for well over an hour now, ever trying to keep the White Stag in their sights. It was autumn, and the Dryads seemed to have put forth their richest colors yet to accompany their monarchs on this ride. The sun shone brightly overhead, but though the day was gorgeous, Peter couldn't help but feel a sort of unease at the back of his mind. Like something was going to happen. Like something was going to change.
When Edmund, who had before been racing neck and neck with him, suddenly fell back, behind even the girls, and out of sight, his unease shot up a notch.
He about turned his horse companion quickly, calling over to his oldest sister, "Su, did you see where Ed stopped?"
Susan and Lucy hurriedly followed his example, steering their mounts in the same direction as his.
They weren't terribly alarmed, he knew. If he had to be honest, neither was he. Not by much, anyway. But one thing that assuredly had not changed over the years was the fact that Edmund, in spite of all his indignant protests, remained the one sibling of the four of them whom they all felt the need to be particularly protective of. His dance with death had not been forgotten by any of them, even all these long years later.
Thankfully, they just had to round a copse and found him with Philip in a small clearing not too far from Mr. Tumnus's cave.
Susan smirked. "Come on, Ed."
Edmund looked up at her with a small smile, gently patting Philip's neck. "Just catching my breath."
"Well, that's all we'll catch at this rate!" she exclaimed, grin widening.
Lucy joined in, eyes twinkling merrily. "What did he say again, Susan?"
"'You girls stay at the castle, I'll get the stag myself,'" the older of their two sisters mimicked warmly, deepening her voice to match Edmund's.
The younger of the two men gave her a sheepish smile, continuing to pet Philip's neck.
The two women started laughing and Peter chuckled softly, though he carefully surveyed his brother, not saying anything, just to make sure he really was all right. The reason for his stopping soon became clear.
Philip was breathing rather heavily.
The older of the two men's own smile softened. /Just like you, Ed/ he thought fondly.
Peter's eyes, however, suddenly fell on the most intriguing contraption which had appeared as if from thin air, metal, black, and with a lantern set on top of it and ivy winding around its trunk. Directly in the middle of the clearing.
"What's this?" he asked in amazement, dismounting and looking up at it, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. He supposed it made sense that there was a lantern, this, after all, was Lantern Waste. He could even see why it was called as such. But a lantern tree/How peculiar…/ he thought with an inward frown, the unease he felt heightening somewhat.
Vaguely, he heard his siblings dismount and gather around him. All three looking up with equally uncertain, puzzled expressions. He felt a little vindicated when he noticed Edmund looked just as uneasy as he.
Susan frowned a bit. "It seems like a dream…" she murmured.
"Or a dream of a dream," Lucy added, voice quiet. She appeared to be thinking hard. Suddenly, something seemed to connect and her eyes lit. "Spare Oom…" she whispered, glancing at her siblings.
The three other monarchs gave her startled looks.
She did not answer, picking up her skirts and beginning to run.
Peter started, automatically running after her. "Lu?"
"Not again," Susan grumbled, picking up her own skirts and following.
"Lu!" Edmund called after her, on Susan's heels.
Lucy turned back to face them and tossed a mischievous grin over her shoulder. "Come on!"
It was all Peter could do to not sigh in exasperation. Fond as he was of his youngest sister, her own delight in adventures had gotten her (and them) into more scrapes than he cared to count.
This promised to be much of the same.
The trees grew denser. Soon, they were not trees at all.
Peter blew his hair out of his eyes in irritation. "These aren't branches…" he muttered. Then gave a surprised "umpf" as one of the…furry things swung back and collided with his face. He nearly toppled into Lucy who was struggling her way through the…
"Coats," Susan murmured, "they're coats!"
Right. Coats. How could he have forgotten?
What happened next, he could never really be sure. He abruptly couldn't see anymore, and there was the strangest sensation—like his limbs were almost…compacting. But it didn't hurt. It didn't hurt at all, actually.
He put his arms up, shoving the coats out of his way. But still, he couldn't see.
Unexpectedly, Susan's elbows collided with his back and he gave a startled yelp, stumbling forward and noting dimly that his voice sounded rather…odd.
"Susan, you're on my foot!" he heard Edmund grump. He thought his crown had been knocked askew.
"I'm not on your toes!" she exclaimed in frustration. He noticed she sounded quite queer, too, almost like a young girl.
Then suddenly she was gone and Edmund shoulder accidentally collided with his and he went flying forward into Lucy, who seemed quite a bit smaller than she ought to be.
Somehow in the confusion that was the next several moments, Edmund managed to end up in front of him, and between he and Lucy, while Susan ended up tightly gripping the back of his…wasn't he wearing a jerkin before?
But there wasn't any more time to wonder or to speculate because suddenly all four of them were flying forward and out of the door of the…wardrobe. That was it. And into the spare room, toppling onto the floor with various "Oofs!"
Peter coughed, winded, before scrambling to his knees…and gasping as his eyes fell on what he was wearing. Not comfortable Narnian hunting attire, but his old clothes. Ones he thought ages and ages ago gone—his cotton trousers, suspenders, and long-sleeved shirt.
And there was Edmund beside him on the floor, ten again, and Lucy, eight again. And Susan behind Lucy, twelve again. And then he remembered, quite clearly, that he was Peter Pevensie, from Finchley, England. Oldest of four children, son of Helen and Colin Pevensie, whom he called Mum and Dad. And that Dad was off fighting a war in the Queen's name across the English Channel, and that he wasn't a king here, but a thirteen-year-old evacuee.
Then his siblings were through examining themselves and looked at him and each other. And before any of them could even suggest climbing back into the wardrobe, the door to the spare room slowly creaked open, and all four remembered that they had gotten into quite a spot of trouble with a game called cricket, and that was why they had come here in the first place.
No scowling, storming housekeeper entered the room, however. Just the Professor with an extraordinary little twinkle in his eyes. "Oh! There you are!" he smiled knowingly. "What were you all doing in the wardrobe?"
Peter glanced back at his siblings, a sheepish smile on his lips, before turning to the Professor. "You wouldn't believe us…if we told you, sir."
The Professor raised an eyebrow, suddenly looking remarkably like Aslan. "Try me," he replied, another smile slowly working its way across his face as he lightly tossed the cricket ball to Peter.
All the siblings' eyes followed it, before the four sets returned to the Professor's and four identical grins appeared on their lips.
Peter sighed, and gently tossed the cricket ball into the air. Caught it…and tossed it. Caught it…and tossed it.
Nighttime had fallen. The clock down the hall had struck ten o'clock. He was on his bed now, in his nightclothes, and waiting for Edmund to return from the bathroom.
He lay on his back, an arm folded behind his head, the other held up to catch the ball he had been tossing for the past several minutes.
It was so…strange…being back here, in England. The colors seemed duller somehow, less friendly. No fantastical creatures or faithful subjects living in the woods, rivers, valleys, dales, and sea beyond castle walls. No great, golden Lion to drop in every now and again when help was most needed.
He even now felt like he was trying to hang onto a dream, although it still felt so terribly, awfully real at the same time.
It had to be real. Something like that just couldn't be make-believe…could it? Bored war-time children they may be, but certainly…surely…their imaginations couldn't come up with something like that. And certainly not Aslan. Aslan wasn't something you could just…come up with.
And the Professor had believed them. That had to count for something, didn't it?
There was an abrupt dip in the mattress, and Edmund's cheerful face, strange in its boyish appearance, entered his line of vision.
"Brooding, O High King?" he teased warmly, grinning as a startled Peter missed his last toss and the cricket ball came tumbling down into his stomach, eliciting an "uf" of air from the older boy.
Peter scowled slightly at the hovering face, before sighing again and lightly shoving the ball off him. It rolled across the bed and dropped with a muffled thump on the floor. Neither boy really noticed. "Was it real, Ed?" he asked—very, very quietly—after a few minutes.
Edmund went still, looking thoughtful, and his grin faded. There was another few moments of silence before he finally replied, voice low and deliberate, eyes dark with ghosts that had never quite disappeared, "It has to be, Peter. Aslan would say we just have to trust in what we cannot see, and Lucy…you know how much faith she holds. We have to keep that faith, like her, even if there's no material proof. But if you want some sort of evidence, think of what's inside. We've all changed, Peter. Me most of all, I know. I used to be an absolute beast, and a traitor in the worst--"
"Don't!" the older boy ordered sharply. Abruptly, he sat up, pressing both his hands against his younger brother's mouth and cutting off whatever else the ten-year-old had been intending to say. The thirteen-year-old softened his voice, "Don't, Ed. You aren't a traitor anymore. If you ever really were…" He slowly lowered his hands.
Edmund bit his bottom lip, a sort of half-smile flitting across his face and eyes overly bright in the electric lighting. He leaned forward and gently pressed his forehead to his older brother's, smiling into familiar china blue eyes. "Look at us, too, Peter," he murmured, brushing back his older brother's hair. "Look at how far we've come, how close we've gotten again. That's not something a simple game or make-believe can fix. You've been there for my entire life, including Narnia, and I'm perfectly happy to have you there for another lifetime."
Peter finally smiled, brilliant and genuine, his own shadows receding for the time being. "Thanks," he whispered.
The younger boy smiled fully, kissing his older brother's forehead, and stood, quietly padding over to the light switch. A lit candle already sat on the nightstand beside the thirteen-year-old's bed, placed there by Edmund.
When the electric lights were snapped off, the ten-year-old more or less fumbled his way back over to the older boy's bed. Gently, he prodded his brother in the side, "Scootch," he muttered.
"Ed?" startlement laced Peter's voice, but he nonetheless obliged.
Edmund slipped into the rather large bed beside him underneath the covers, lying down, before grinning up at the other boy, arms folded behind his head. "Well, you couldn't very well expect me not to sleep next to you when you've been brooding for the past fifteen or twenty minutes, now could you?" The smile slipped, and the brown eyes darkened apprehensively, as he mumbled, "'Sides, I'd rather head off the nightmares while I can, and so much the better if it's for both of us. I guarantee you Lucy will be snuggling in with Susan tonight, and that Su won't object."
In spite of the statement, Peter smiled slightly. "They already share the same bed, Ed," he remarked softly.
Edmund merely blinked up at him. "Your point being…?"
Peter's eyes positively lit as he heard what his brother had not said.
Edmund, noticing this, scowled playfully, shifting onto his side to face the thirteen-year-old. "Of course you're happy we're back to our proper Earth ages," he grumbled good-naturedly. "Why wouldn't you be? You're able to mollycoddle us all you want now."
Peter grinned, lying down beside the other boy and putting his arms around him. "I am actually kind of glad, Ed," he admitted softly. "Makes it much easier to hug you this way."
The ten-year-old snorted quietly, not objecting terribly much. If snuggling against his older brother's chest and closing his eyes with a content sigh could be considered "objecting."
The two boys were silent for a few minutes, drifting contentedly among their own private thoughts and the mutual feel of familiarity and comfort, before Peter spoke up again, gently stroking his brother's hair, voice low, "I think we'll be all right, Ed. All of us. So long as we have each other."
There was a second, rather more sleepy snort, "Took you long enough to figure out," he mumbled.
Peter laughed softly, shaking his head. "As long as I have you," the older boy amended quietly, "I know I'll be all right."
His only answer was Edmund's reassuring sleep-breathing.
"Of course," the thirteen-year-old muttered, smiling, "you'll never be awake to hear me say that."
Lifting his head momentarily from the pillow, Peter blew out the candle. With a final, tender grin down at the sleeping ten-year-old and a dropped kiss, he rested his head on the pillow and shut his eyes. A tightening of his arms and a few minutes later, his own breathing matched the cadence of his little brother's.
(Flashback, Three Years—Earth Time)
Their parents hadn't wanted to disturb them. After all, older and younger brother looked entirely too comfortable, and entirely too adorable, sleeping together in the rather large bed, to bother.
Peter's arms were tangled around Eddy's waist, and held him with an almost desperate sort of tightness in sleep, speaking of fears and responsibilities only newly realized.
The following week, Mr. Pevensie would be summoned for military training, as rumors of a potential war flew like wildfire from country to country. He would still be able to come home frequently, still be able maintain his job at the university, but would remain on call.
Two years later, he would be ordered overseas (or, in this case, the English Channel) and forced to leave behind his wife and children.
Three years later, the four siblings would be sent to the house of an elderly Professor in the country because of the air-raids.
But none of that was known on this particular evening. All that was known was the two girls would be brought home tomorrow, and Eddy put through what the doctor had called "de-contaminisation." And for the moment, even those events did not matter.
For now, what mattered was simply the fact that two fevers had broken—one potentially deadly, the other not so—and that both brothers slept soundly through the night.
A/N: To all my readers, and all my reviewers, thank you so much for your feedback and the attention paid to this story! I sincerely hope you enjoyed this because I enjoyed writing it!
All the Best,
Preview of an Upcoming Fic:
Title: Those Who Speak
Summary: Edmund never met the White Witch. He found out about her from Mr. Tumnus on Lucy's second visit. He's also mute--Book and Moviebased.
Commentary: Not quite your typical revision of LWW. As for when I'll begin to post it—probably not until April, when I have the actual DVD. But for now, I'll give you a brief excerpt:
Prologue: The Stolen Voice
(Four Years Ago)
"I'm afraid there's nothing to be done," the doctor's voice was muffled behind the door against which the three siblings had pressed themselves. "Only a miracle will be able to restore it. The fever has stolen his voice. As of right now, Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie, your son will be unable to speak. Take him to any physician or therapist you wish, and they will all tell you the same. The fever has too badly damaged his vocal chords. I'm sorry."
There was a few long, awful seconds of silence, and then the three children heard the doctor's footsteps crossing the floor of their six-year-old brother's room to the door.
As the wooden door was pulled open, and the last of the doctor's orders were given, nine-year-old Peter, eight-year-old Susan, and four-year-old Lucy (courtesy of her older sister) all hastily stumbled away from the entrance.
The doctor emerged from the room only moments later, tall and daunting and terrifying dressed in his dark gray overcoat. At least to Peter who, as the oldest, understood the entire conversation far better than his parents undoubtedly would have liked.
His baby brother, mute? Impossible!
But as the doctor caught sight of the three siblings standing close together in the upstairs hall, varying degrees of fright in their eyes, and quickly turned away, Peter felt a leaden weight settle in his stomach.
Please keep an eye out, as well as for the next chapter of Nighttime Demons!