Author's Note: Yes, it has been two years since I have updated this story. Since then, I have had quite a few people yelling at me, requesting that I finish. I'll admit, it was partly the new movie, and partly my need to prove I could actually finish a story that has this chapter here right now. I am not sure how many people are still reading, but if you are, I do hope you'll enjoy it. Feedback is love, but do remember, it has been two years, my writing has grown and changed (hopefully for the better) since then.
Disclaimer: Sadly, the entire world is the work of C.S. Lewis. I merely cause his characters pain and misery.
Thank you so much to all my wonderful and devoted readers. Even after two years, I still receive reviews or people favoriting me or this story. I must be doing something right. So this one is for all of you.
"I want to know every place that Dorjan stayed in Narnia. I want to know which ship brought him from the Lone Islands, I want to know everyone with whom he spoke, any and all possible supporters of the Lone Island renegade. And Aslan's mane, I want King Peter found immediately."
Susan paced in front of the four thrones, attended by Laskar the fox, her aide de camp, Orieus, and Igno, head the Gryphon wing. She refused to allow any more Narnians to find out that their High King had gone missing during the night, while their Just King continued to recover from a near-deathly assassination attempt that threatened still to unhinge the royal rule in Narnia. The citizens would be close to turmoil should word get out, and with ambassadors from the Lone Islands, Galma, and Terebinthia all in attendance at the castle, Susan knew it was absolutely imperative that the nation remain calm.
"Your Majesty, we of yet still cannot figure out how High King Peter left the castle without our knowledge," Orieus spoke up carefully, clopping forwards, hand on the hilt of one of his blades. "If we might speak with King Edmund, as head of the Security order, and King Peter's closest confidante-"
"King Edmund is still recovering. When Queen Lucy deems it fit for our brother to have visitors, you will be notified, General Orieus, on my word," Susan agreed, nodding.
"My lady, I have sent out three Gryphon scouts to the west, south, and north, but none have reported any sighting of King Peter near the castle."
Susan sighed, wringing her hands worriedly before her, but that was all the emotions she would allow to escape.
"Report back to me the moment any of your scouts return with any news. Rask, send out a detail to scour the streets. See if anyone knows anything. Ask no questions, but bring me some answers. We must find King Peter."
The three aides nodded, bowing and taking their leave of Queen Susan with her permission.
Standing alone in the middle of the throne room, the dark-haired daughter of Eve turned to face the four thrones, staring at the two to the left. Remembering what Dorjan had said to her, knowing that the man had heard her speaking to Lucy, didn't make her feel any better. And maybe she wasn't supposed to, but in the end, what she had said to Lucy was true. Peter and Edmund couldn't survive without each other. Well, Edmund might, out of sheer determination to prove he could do it, but he wouldn't be the same. And in the end, he would run himself into the ground with that same stubborn determination.
No, Peter and Edmund would not last long. Edmund was still healing, and she knew he needed Peter. Peter – only Aslan knew where he was – she was certain needed their younger brother now more than ever.
"Stupid git," she murmured, but her words were lost in the hollow emptiness of a throne room that seemed to know two of it thrones wouldn't be filled for a long, long time.
"How is he?"
Lucy looked up from the large armchair she'd set up beside Edmund's bed. When Susan finished closing the door and moved towards them, she let herself curl back into the plush cushioning, eyes on their brother.
"He's still asleep. He's trying." Lucy's voice was carefully soft, the patience of a healer who would sit up all night with their patient just for the hope of seeing a change.
Much had changed since Edmund was first poisoned, but very little for the better. The teen's face was pale, yet flushed with fever as his body fought to expel the toxins left by the poison. Her older brother had yet to wake up, and his breathing was still shaky at best, so slow that it kept Lucy awake with anxiety. Every time he exhaled, she waited and waited for him to breathe in again, but she never heard the sound. But just when she was about to leap up and make sure he was alright, he would inhale, slowly, shakily.
It did nothing to calm Lucy's racing heart, because the same thing would happen less than a minute later.
A quiet clink on the nightstand had the youngest monarch looking away from her brother again, and Susan met her gaze with a soft smile, lifting the cup and saucer off the tray she'd just set down.
"I thought you might do well with a cup of hot tea, Lucy."
The cup was warm in her hands, the tea wonderfully soothing as it slid down her throat, calming her racing heart before pooling in her belly, sending a pleasant warmth through her limbs.
Susan perched carefully on the edge of the bed, adjusting the blankets over her brother and wiping a cool cloth over his heated, freckled face, while Lucy sighed and silently sipped her tea.
"I wish he would wake up soon," the older of the two queens admitted, gazing down to her younger brother.
"It's only been half a day since Peter gave him the antidote." Lucy shifted upright and stood, wrapping one arm around her sister and pressing a kiss to the top of her dark hair, hair as dark as Edmund's.
The action surprised Susa, but she leaned against Lucy, allowing her sister to reassure her, allowing herself to find comfort in Lucy's arms. With Peter gone and Edmund sick, they had to do what they could to take care of each other. The Gentle Queen couldn't stay there for long, but she would stay long enough to make sure her brother and sister were alright, before returning to the search for Peter, returning to running the kingdom.
"He'll get better, Su. Grendenan said it would be slow, but we'll make sure he gets better."
The dark-haired queen sighed, taking Edmund's clammy hand in both of her own, even as her eyes slipped shut.
"I know, Lu. I know."
Walking back into the room to find her brother not only awake, but up and about was more than a shock for the Valiant Queen. Her older brother had time to push one more shirt into his traveling bag before Lucy pushed her shock aside.
"It's only been two days since you got medicine! You can't just get up and wander about, much less leave the castle, which is exactly what you're trying to do!" Lucy clasped the rucksack Edmund had placed on the bed and easily tugged it away from her older brother's reach. "You shouldn't even be standing! Just yesterday you couldn't even sit upright on your own!"
In Lucy's defense, Edmund looked as though he could barely stand. In Edmund's defense, not only was he sitting up, he was standing, as he had been for the past ten minutes, putting together the small travel pack before Lucy had walked in on him.
"Lucy, don't try to stop me. I know Peter is missing and I have to find him." The dark-haired king was leaning heavily against the side of his bed, obviously short of breath, but he refused to give the Valiant Queen a chance to comment on that fact, just as he refused to lie there when his brother was missing and probably needed him.
And yet it didn't take much for Lucy to put a hand on his arm and push him over onto the bed. The Just King didn't have any strength to fight even the gentle shove, and he struggled upright, breathing heavily.
"Just think about this for a second, Edmund," Lucy pleaded, quickly seating herself next to her brother, a supportive hand on his arm this time.
But Edmund quickly shrugged her hand off.
"Who are you? Susan? I have thought about it. Peter's out there because of me. I know he's not better yet, and if you could find him, you would have by now. I have to go find him myself."
"Peter wouldn't want you rushing out after him at the cost of your health!" Lucy jumped up and crossed her arms over her chest, standing in front of her brother and making it that much more difficult for Edmund to stand up. "Not after he spent so much time taking care of you!"
"Lucy, I'm fi-"
"You're not fine! You almost died, Edmund!" The youngest of the four Pevensies was full of righteous indignation, and she poked her finger hard into her brother's sternum. "You stopped breathing! If Peter hadn't hit you, you would still not be breathing! It's been weeks of watching you get worse and worse, not knowing what would help, not knowing if anything would help." There were tears in Lucy's eyes now, but she kept going, refusing to give her older brother a chance to argue. She was so happy to see him awake, but so terrified of the ramifications should Edmund overtax himself, which he was sure to do if he rode out in search of Peter.
And she knew something bad would happen, as certainly as Edmund would find a way to get to Peter.
Edmund seemed to know that he shouldn't try to speak right now. Not only was he shocked by what Lucy was saying, but Lucy so clearly needed him to be strong for her. The youngest Pevensie boy gently wrapped his arms around his sister as her righteous cries became choked with emotion.
"Alright, Lu. It's alright. I'm right here though, see? Come now, what's with the waterworks? You've got me here to terrorize you for a long time yet."
Lucy's hands had since curled into the loose white shirt Edmund wore, and even as she leaned into him, she could feel his ribs poking through the fabric, could hear the breathlessness he was trying to hide. She couldn't help remembering Susan lifting Edmund into her arms to get him back to bed. Knowing that she had been able to do that, knowing her brother was so far from alright, did very little to calm her down.
"You can't leave, Edmund. You just can't. Let Susan and me find Peter. We need you here. Peter needs you here. Please, Edmund!"
"Alright, Lu, alright. I'm right here. I won't leave. I'm right here, alright?"
The dark-haired king pressed a gentle kiss to his sister's hair, rubbing her back to try and calm her down. He wasn't Peter, he wasn't Susan, but he still loved Lucy. And he would always be sure she had someone to look after her.
Yet even as Lucy held onto her older brother, she knew, somehow, that 'right here' wasn't going to last. She'd almost lost him twice, and she couldn't bare to lose him again.
"Where did you come from?"
Peter opened his eyes, staring up at the blue skies far above him. Stray clouds puffed up the corners and the tops of the trees tickled the fringes of his vision. Behind him somewhere was the sound of small feet tapping against the crumbled stone walls of the ruined castle. Peter smiled faintly and – from where he was lying on the green green grass – tipped his head back to see the small boy hopping from stone to stone on top of the ruined wall.
"I came from the east." He pointed through the giant stone windowpane, bare but for the arches; the glass had long since broken away.
In between them, Tego snorted quietly and shifted, resting her head on her forepaws as she watched them silently with dark eyes.
The boy, whom Peter had named Thomas, turned an equally dark gaze on the blonde boy lying in the grass.
"I came from that way." He pointed in the opposite direction, towards the west, before laughing and striking a pose. "I'm the King of the West!" Jumping down off the ruins and ducking under an archway to what used to be a door, Thomas plopped down next to Peter on the grass. "Tego must like you too. She never lets anyone come near me."
Peter shifted up onto one elbow, gazing towards the she-wolf, who stared back at him with that same searching gaze she'd had when he first caught sight of her. He had to wonder exactly how many people tried to come near Thomas, but he didn't get a chance to ask.
"Maybe she thinks you can help me get home," Thomas continued, picking at a piece of grass, breaking it into tiny pieces before finding another blade, repeating the action.
"Do you know where you need to go?" Peter asked, sitting upright now, watching the dark-haired, knobbly-kneed boy with his blades of grass. Thomas shook his head, sparing one glance up at Peter.
"I have to go home."
Dusting his hands off, the boy stood up and moved over to a moss and ivy covered section of wall; motioning Peter over, he tore the ivy away, brushed the moss off the stones. Underneath, weathered into the stone, three crowns had been carved into an arch over a fourth, which had criss-crossing arrows pierced through it. Etched elegantly beneath the four crowns was a single word: 'Anderitum'. Peter frowned at the image, dimly recognizing something in the image before him, but the thought eluded him.
"I want to go home. But I can't find it." Thomas looked sadly from Peter to the image before pulling back. Ivy half-covered the carving as he turned and moved back closer to Tego.
Peter was still frowning as he followed the dark-haired, freckle-faced lad back over to his pseudo-protector, placing a hand on the boy's back.
"We'll get you home soon, Thomas. I promise."
Sad, dark eyes looked up to Peter then and he sighed, leaning against the older boy, nestling his dark head against Peter's shoulder.
"How can you bring me home when you can't even remember who I am?"
"Majesty, we still have no word on King Peter. General Orieus and Laskar have tracked down a group of Lone Island's old government supporters. They are more numerous than we expected." Igno's wings flapped once before one tucked away and the other swept out in front as he bowed formally to Queen Susan, reporting as soon as he had landed on the balcony to the throne room. The gryphon had a worry in his eyes that he tried to hide, but as a messenger, hiding had never been his forte.
And Susan did not need her sister's intuitiveness to see it. The Gentle Queen pressed two fingers to her lips and turned, pacing the length of the four thrones and back again.
"How many are there, Igno?"
The gryphon tried to hesitate, not wishing to answer, but his response was still immediate.
"At least 50 strong, Your Majesty. We've not yet caught all of them. Laskar reports that though Dorjan is dead, his mission is far from over. He was not the head of the snake, Majesty."
Susan knew that was the last thing she wanted to hear. Dorjan had almost cost her both of her brothers, and with it, Narnia and her livelihood. And yet, with Dorjan not the head of those who wished harm on Narnia through her Kings, the fact that Dorjan had been found and killed and his mission failed would only leave those remaining to either desperate measures, or another strike.
"Who is their leader?"
Igno could only shake his head. "Those we have caught have yet to speak, Majesty. General Orieus and Laskar have taken an entire contingent out to scour the town, including some members of Edmund's security order. He has given express orders for the heightened security of your majesties. The general believes there is a possibility of others returning to finish the work Dorjan failed to complete. In such a case, King Edmund is at high risk."
Susan understood that. And she was going to make sure that her brother and sister were as safe as they could possibly be. They would need a 24-hour guard, and her brother's chambers at least one security detail. If Dorjan's supporters found out that Peter had left the castle… No.
"Igno, focus every effort on finding King Peter. Make sure no word gets out of his disappearance. Your silence is imperative. Send the security details to my brother's chambers. No one is to enter or leave without my express permission."
"I don't think it will be quite so easy, Susan."
The older Queen was surprised to hear her sister's voice and she turned to face Lucy, who stood in the doorway to the throne room. She looked tired. She looked sad. She looked…terrified.