I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. But I did pull an ohcEEcho!Peter and have an asthma attack, which led to rambling, which led to this incoherent bit of carp. Or trout. Whichever you prefer.
The Other Boys
Edmund cries the first time the other boys hit him. He cries because it hurts, of course, but he also cries because he's found out that Mother was wrong and Mother has never been wrong before. You see, Mother told him that Peter would look out for him at school. Mother told him that if he ever needed anything he could just ask Peter. And Edmund believed her, so blindly, but as he lies there on the cold floor with bruises and a bloody lip, he knows that she was mistaken. Peter did nothing.
It doesn't occur to Edmund that Peter was probably far, far away, or that Peter probably wouldn't have been strong enough to stand up to them anyway. It doesn't occur to Edmund that Peter would probably have done everything he could to stop them, and it doesn't occur to Edmund that Peter had the same injuries the first time he came home from school too. None of these things occur to Edmund because all he can think about is the cold floor and the bruises and his bloody lip.
Edmund smiles the first time the other boys hit Peter. He smiles because Peter is finally there, standing above him with his fists clenched and ready to show the other boys just what happens when they hit a Pevensie. And when Peter takes that first hit, Edmund smiles because the bruise that's there will be there because Peter is finally behaving like an older brother ought to. The second time they hit Peter, though, he smiles a little less, and the third and the fourth times are even harder to watch, because Peter, even though he's there and standing up for Edmund, is not fighting. He is crying. He doesn't know what to do. Edmund feels a little sick and a lot disappointed and a lot angry when Peter is pushed to the floor and kicked to a bruised, bloody mess. Mother says Peter did right not to fight back. Edmund thinks Peter is a fool.
It doesn't occur to Edmund, when he goes off to become king with the woman who understands what Peter doesn't, that maybe she will hit him like the other boys did. It doesn't occur to Edmund that even though Peter does not fight back, it was nice to have someone to bleed with. It doesn't occur to Edmund that even though Peter won't beat up the other boys, he will beat himself up for letting Edmund slip through his fingers, and it doesn't occur to Edmund that in a different world, Peter could become a warrior. None of these things occur to Edmund, because all he can think about is Turkish Delight and how he'd make a better king anyway.
Edmund doesn't cry or smile when the sword pierces his flesh and buries itself in his stomach. He doesn't do either one, because he's a little too shocked at the blood pouring out over his fingers and the roaring, rushing silence pooling in his consciousness. He's not sure why he did it. He thinks he might have realized, at some point during all that chaos and noise and panic, that it is as much his job to fight for Peter as it is Peter's job to fight for him. And he wonders if this is what Peter felt like when he let the other boys hit him and hit him and hit him, this kind of numb shock and wondering if you've actually done anything to help. He knows that right now Peter is finally actually fighting back. He is fighting for Edmund. Edmund wonders as his mind begins to crumble, what is it that changed?
It doesn't occur to Edmund that Peter has always had the courage to fight; he was just afraid of disobeying Mother but now Mother isn't there and he can do what he was born to do. It doesn't occur to Edmund that Peter has always wanted to fight for him, he just didn't because back in England right and wrong weren't as clear as they are here, and it doesn't occur to Edmund that when Peter cried the first time he stood up for Edmund, it wasn't because it hurt but because he's found out that Mother was wrong, and Mother has never been wrong before. Mother told him that if he just talked to the bullies, they would leave Edmund alone. It doesn't occur to Edmund that now, Peter would rather die than not fight for Edmund. None of these things occur to Edmund, because he is dying and you really don't think about these sorts of things when you're dying.
Edmund laughs the last time the other boys hit him. He laughs because Narnia has given him perspective, not to mention strength, and he knows now that the other boys are only as scary as he's going to make them out to be. He laughs because he realized now how silly he was being before; justice isn't about Peter hitting the other boys for him; justice is about looking the other boys in the eye and realizing that life has been just as unfair to them as it has been to him. And when he does, when he looks them in the eye and laughs and isn't afraid, they leave him alone and wonder what is it that changed?
When he looks up, Peter is watching him, and he realizes that Mother was right: Peter is looking out for him, and if he needs anything (which he doesn't most of the time now) he can just ask Peter. And Peter, watching the retreating backs of the other boys, realizes that Mother was right; all he had to do was talk to them, he just didn't know how to do it before. They share a look, and everything that didn't occur to Edmund occurs to him now. He doesn't laugh and he doesn't cry and he doesn't smile.
But he does step forward and give Peter a hug.