The Chronicles of Narnia – Sleeping Habits
(A/N – C. S. Lewis owns everything to do with Narnia not me)
The Pevensie children had always had different sleeping patterns which amused their parents. Lucy was a light sleeper, though she could instantly fall to sleep anywhere. The slightest creak of a door or a floorboard would rouse her from sleep. Being the naturally lively child that she was, she didn't mind being woken up and very rarely complained. Edmund, however, was her complete opposite. He was a deep sleeper and nothing seemed to wake him up except, strangely, a thunderstorm. His eyes would snap awake when there was a thunderstorm and he would be unable to sleep for the duration of the storm. Edmund, like Lucy, had a vivid imagination and would often suffer from terrible nightmares. Though he never woke up from them or recalled having them in the morning, his family discovered that he spoke in his sleep and they could usually piece together what the dream was about. There was an instance during an air raid when Edmund had slept through the siren and instead of wasting precious moments trying to wake him up, Peter and his mother had carried him down to the bomb shelter. He had been in the midst of a nightmare then and his shouts had scared Lucy into thinking they would be captured by German soldiers. He had woken up the next morning to be scolded by Peter, causing Edmund's normally grumpy morning mood to become worse.
The Pevensie parents had always commented that they could always tell when their two eldest children were worried or stressed as it showed in their sleep. Susan's anxiety was expressed in the form of sleepwalking. It had first begun when Edmund was born and then later with Lucy. The sound of a crying baby would cause Susan to rise from her bed, sleepwalk into her parents' room, pick up a cuddly toy from off the floor and place it inside the cot. Her parents would watch her then fall to sleep lying by the cot. In later years, Susan often found herself waking up in her parents or brothers rooms and on one occasion on the landing. As Lucy got older and she began to share a room with Susan, she took it upon herself to follow Susan when she started sleepwalking to make sure she didn't harm herself. On the occasion when Susan had woken up on the landing, she found a blanket covering her and Lucy sleeping next to her. Usually when Susan was sleepwalking no one woke her up. But one time when Susan had come dangerously close to falling down the stairs, their father had discovered that saying Susan's name and clapping his hands in front of her woke her up without startling her.
Peter suffered from insomnia when he was worried or stressed. At home in Finchley, Peter would try reading books until two in the morning to make himself tired or watch the traffic go by his window. On occasions when Peter and Edmund had to share a room, Peter would often find himself watching Edmund sleep until the sound of his brothers breathing caused him too to fall asleep. Sometimes he wished he could fall to sleep as easily as Edmund and Lucy but when he listened to Edmund's nightmares he was grateful for his insomnia. Peter always woke up early the next morning tired but he did his best not to show it. When the Pevensie children became Kings and Queens of Narnia, Peter found that his insomnia doubled for the first few months of their stay. He soon found a new way to cure his sleeping problems. If he had problems sleeping, Peter would find himself visiting his brother and sisters rooms to convince himself that they alive and okay. His siblings knew about Peter's nocturnal wanderings but never mentioned it.
It was during one of his nocturnal wanderings that Peter witnessed a strange sight. He had just left Lucy's room after bidding her goodnight and was walking towards Susan's bedroom, when he heard furniture being knocked over from further down the corridor. Following the sound, Peter found himself stood outside the open door of Edmund's bedroom. Pale moonlight shone into the room allowing Peter to see what was causing the sound. Susan was sleepwalking around the room, knocking into chairs and tables and stumbling over discarded clothes and shoes on the floor. Closing the door quietly behind him, Peter watched as eventually Susan found the edge of Edmund's bed. Edmund lay asleep under a mound of bedcovers, disturbingly still. Peter's fingers itched to go over and check his brother's pulse.
Susan reached over and started to stroke the hair away from Edmund's closed eyes. In the moonlight, Peter could see silent tears rolling down his sister's face. Quietly he moved towards where she sat at Edmund's bedside, stopping at the foot of the bed when he heard her murmuring to their younger brother.
"I am so sorry, Edmund," she murmured, her voice barely over a sob. "I am so sorry I couldn't help you. Please, please, Ed, forgive me. Next time I'll do better, I promise."
Peter's heart clenched in both a mixture of guilt and grief at Susan's broken words while he frowned in confusion at their meaning. It was a month since their coronation and the defeat of the White Witch. There had been nothing Susan could have done to save Edmund after he was stabbed, as she had arrived barely moments before the end of the battle with Lucy and Aslan. How could she possibly think it was her fault? thought Peter. If anything it was his fault for not realizing sooner the danger both he and Edmund were in.
Peter's brooding thoughts were distracted again by Susan who had begun speaking to the sleeping Edmund again.
"I don't know what to do, Ed," she confided. "Mother will be so disappointed in me. I promised I'd help look after you all and I'm not doing a very good job about it. If Peter doesn't get a decent nights sleep soon and stops worrying, I'm afraid he's going to have a breakdown" – Peter's eyebrows shot up in surprise at his sister's statement – "and you? Oh, Edmund, what am I going to do with you? You almost d-"She choked on the last word, failing to suppress a sob. "I feel so useless," she whispered, sadly.
"You're not useless," Peter said, earnestly, moving to kneel down in front of Susan so that they were at eye-level. He decided it was best to wake his sister up before she could become even more upset. Clapping his hands in front of Susan's face, he called out, "Susan!" Slowly Susan blinked her eyes, shook her head and focused on Peter in front of her. "You're not useless, Susan," repeated Peter, firmly.
Susan frowned at him and replied, indignantly, "Of course I'm not useless, Peter. Why would you say that?" She looked around at her surroundings in confusion before her gaze rested on Edmund's peaceful face. "Oh," she murmured, her tone sounding defeated.
Peter couldn't tell if she remembered what she had been sleep-talking about or not, so he decided it would be safer not to bring it up.
"You know Edmund loves you, don't you, Su?" Peter told her, watching as she smoothed down Edmund's bedcovers.
Susan smiled slightly and wiped the tears from her face. She turned to look hopefully at Peter. "Really?"
"Of course," smiled Peter, reassuringly. "He knows that you would stop anything – or anyone – from harming him if it was in your power." Susan's face faded into doubt. Peter moved to sit next to her on the bed and put a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Su, there was nothing you – or me – could have done to stop Ed from being hurt by the White Witch."
After a moments consideration, Susan grudgingly agreed, "You're right, I know, Peter. I was too far away and you were fighting. But, Peter? What if we'd been able to stop Edmund from going to Her to begin with? Maybe if we'd been nicer to him at the Professor's house he would never have left us and then he never would have got hurt."
"Maybe," agreed Peter, with a sigh of regret. Ever since they'd entered Narnia and Edmund had run away from the Beaver's home, Peter's dreams had revolved around 'What if?' scenarios. He knew it was partly causing his insomnia. "But we can't change the past. We'll just have to do our best to make it up to him."
Susan smiled and nodded. "We can do that," she agreed, hugging Peter.
"Come on," smiled Peter, tugging at her arm before standing up. "We should get some sleep."
Susan nodded but she seemed reluctant to leave Edmund's bedside. Peter looked at his younger brother to find him still sleeping peacefully, having not moved since his brother and sister had entered his room.
"I think we should stay here tonight," Peter said, ignoring Susan's frown of disapproval when he pushed Edmund's sleeping form to one side of the four-poster mattress. He froze momentarily as Edmund murmured in his sleep and moved his head in the direction of his brother's voice. When he didn't wake up, Peter patted the space he had made and looked at his sister. "This way I make sure Ed doesn't have any nightmares and you don't do anymore sleepwalking."
Susan raised an eyebrow at him and put her hands on her hips. "And I can make sure you get some sleep instead of roaming the castle," she retorted, before climbing onto the bed and scooting close next to Edmund.
"See? It benefits both of us," replied Peter, his eyes twinkling in amusement, refusing to let Susan get the upper hand. He waited until Susan was lying down before he also lay down on the bed, pulling a discarded blanket from the foot of the bed to cover both him and Susan. "Goodnight, Su."
"Goodnight, Peter," she replied, before grasping hold of Edmund's hand and falling to sleep.
Edmund awoke the next morning to the peculiar sensation of not being able to feel his left hand. Slowly he opened his eyes, squinting in the morning sun, and almost leapt out of his skin when he found Susan's face little more than inch from his own. Edmund's startled intake of breath and jolted movement didn't wake Susan from her slumber. It occurred to Edmund that he'd never seen Susan seem so peaceful and relaxed as she was at that moment.
Edmund made to sit up when he realised his hand seemed to be clamped to the bed. Looking down between himself and his sister, he found the reason why he couldn't feel his left hand. Susan's own left hand was intertwined with his and though it wasn't a tight grip, the second hand on top of theirs was adding enough weight to cut off the circulation in Edmund's fingers. Edmund suddenly did a second take. A second hand?
Edmund managed to lever himself up onto his right elbow so that he could crane his neck to see passed his sister. Edmund's eyes nearly jumped from their sockets as he found Peter sleeping on the other side of Susan, his arm resting over Susan so that he could also hold Edmund's hand. Though he couldn't see his brother's face, Edmund could tell by the rise and fall of his chest that Peter was also still asleep. That puzzled Edmund even more. Usually, Peter was awake long before his little brother surfaced.
Edmund allowed himself to fall back again onto his pillow, deep in thought.
"Peter? Susan? Are you in here?" whispered Lucy, pushing open Edmund's bedroom door and then trying to close it again behind her quietly. "Edmund, are you awake? I've lost Su –"
Lucy broke off with a delighted grin when she found both her two older siblings asleep on Edmund's bed. It was about time they both had a decent night's sleep instead of worrying about Edmund, she thought to herself.
"Lu?" Edmund's hoarse whisper interrupted Lucy's thoughts and she moved to his side of the bed. Edmund turned awkwardly towards her whilst trying not to wake up Susan or Peter. "Help me, I'm trapped!"
Lucy climbed onto the bed, ignoring Edmund's grunt of pain as she sat on his legs. Looking down at Edmund's trapped left hand she found it hard to stop the giggle that threatened to wake up their sister and brother.
Edmund glared at her from beneath the hair that had fallen over his eyes. "It's not funny, Lucy!"
"No, it's sweet," replied Lucy, ignoring the look she received. Placing her hand on top of Peter's, she added, more seriously, "And, besides, it must have done you some good. I didn't hear you have anymore of those horrible nightmares last night."
Edmund looked surprised and then thoughtful as he looked down at the linked hands on top of his own. "I didn't?"
Lucy shook her head and then grinned, "Of course, that doesn't help free your hand now."
Edmund smiled slowly. "I don't mind," he replied, putting his free hand on top of Lucy's hand. "Just this once."
"Should we wake them?" Lucy asked, as she looked over at her older brother and sister who still slept soundly.
"No," Edmund shook his head. "They need their sleep. But stay here, Lu. Then at least I've got someone to talk to."
Lucy smiled in delight. As his little sister began to chatter on about her upcoming visit to Mr Tumnus, Edmund looked over at Susan and Peter and realized just how lucky he was to have them and their strange sleeping habits. And Edmund planned to tell them that as soon as they woke up.