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Author's Note: Hi, everyone! Well, since I just watched LWW again, I figured I better post the next chapter of this fic—especially since so many people have asked for it and, personally, I have several chapters that I'd really like to get up. It also helps that there seems to have been a lack of Peter and Ed stories recently. I suppose everyone is enjoying the new playground that Walden Media gave us too much :winks, grinning:. So here you are, Peter and Ed (as well as a large helping of Lucy) fic to boot—I hope you enjoy!
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)
Those Who Speak
By Sentimental Star
Chapter Four: Coping
(Later That Same Evening)
"The German Luftwaffe dropped bombs on London again tonight…" the radio announcer's voice rang out in the oddly silent bedroom, causing Peter to squeeze his hands into fists where he sat on the arm of a stuffed chair and gaze blankly out through the window at the swiftly darkening night. "Areas under fire include--" but the announcer's voice suddenly scrambled and quickly ceased.
Peter whirled around, sharp reprimand on his lips, to face Susan who had turned off the dial. She gave him a look and, frowning, indicated the single bed in the girls' room with a pointed nod of her head.
A faint sniffle broke the silence, before wordlessly being hushed.
Peter crossed the floor with Susan on his heels to sit on the mattress and offered a small smile to the two youngest Pevensies, who were cuddled together in the bed.
"The sheets are all scratchy," Lucy mumbled, voice tiny and picking listlessly at the unfamiliar fabric. Edmund's hand reached out and stilled it. She glanced at him, and he offered her a sort of half-smile which she attempted to return, before curling up a little closer to him.
Susan smiled faintly, holding onto the bedpost. "Wars don't last forever, Lucy. We'll be home soon."
As heavy silence cloaked the room, each child heard what she had left unspoken: If home is still there.
When the silence became oppressive, Susan tensely smoothed her rumpled skirt and cleared her throat, raising an eyebrow at Edmund. "Isn't it time you were in bed?"
Edmund smirked—not unkindly—at her. 'I'm already in bed,' he signed.
Susan rolled her eyes impatiently, a smile tugging at her lips in spite of her best attempts to suppress it. "Not our bed, your bed. You can cuddle all you want with Lucy tomorrow."
Edmund's smirk widened. 'Yes, Mum,' he mimicked warmly.
"Ed," Peter scolded lightly, his own grin threatening to break free.
Edmund merely continued smirking, and proved successful when an errant giggle escaped Lucy and Susan's fondly exasperated smile finally broke out on her face.
In the noticeably lightened atmosphere, Peter spoke up again, "In any case, you saw outside." His gaze swept all of his siblings, "This place is huge. We can do whatever we want here. Tomorrow's going to be great," his full attention returned to Lucy, "really."
A slightly larger and braver smile at last brightened Lucy's face. Even Edmund and Susan were eased. Peter, his big brotherly duty done for the day, relaxed.
The silence that settled over them then was rather more soothing. Soon enough, as Susan flitted about getting ready for bed in the background, and Peter and Lucy quietly began to talk, Edmund found himself drifting off to sleep.
With Lucy's warm body curled against him, and Peter's deeply reassuring presence hovering over them, Edmund was gone. Within minutes, he was soundly asleep.
When Susan came back from the bathroom, she lightly touched Peter's shoulder, drawing his attention from Lucy, and indicated the bed with a small smile. "Peter, perhaps you should head to bed. Ed's already out."
Both he and Lucy glanced at Edmund where the younger boy was curled snugly against the younger girl, breathing softly and eyes shut.
A slight, amused smile touched Peter's lips. "Maybe I should," he murmured. Slipping off the end of the bed, he padded around to the side Edmund was on and gathered his younger brother into his arms.
Edmund, still asleep, sighed quietly and lightly dug his face into Peter's neck.
Gently biting his bottom lip, Peter loosed a small chuckle. "All right, Eddy, let's go."
Recognizing his brother's voice even in sleep, Edmund's arms reached up and wrapped around Peter's neck.
The older boy's face eased dramatically, and he dropped a tender kiss on Edmund's forehead.
Bidding the girls a quiet "Good night," Peter carried him out of their sisters' room and into their own.
(The Next Day, After Lunch)
The worst of being in the countryside was that when it rained, you were cooped up inside with nothing to do and unless you were exceptionally creative, little could be done to pass the time.
That wasn't to say the Pevensies were unintelligent—in fact, they were a great deal brighter than many of their age-mates, able to see things that perhaps others were not, and able to understand concepts a little more fully than adults had come to expect of children.
But the war affected everyone. The Pevensies no less than anyone else. Childhood games and made-up stories had no place in a war-torn world—or, at least, that's how Susan and Peter viewed it. Not purposely; even Susan loved stories and games. But the environment they had been forced to live in for the past two years had done more than its share of damage to make-believe and silliness: their mother worked long hours as a seamstress in order to earn enough money for the family while their father was away fighting on the Continent, and Peter and Susan had taken on the roles of surrogate parents to their two younger siblings, trying their utmost—as Edmund and even Lucy did—to help out Mum.
Although he hated to admit it, Edmund thought that maybe some good could come out of being sent to the countryside after all—their older siblings would be forced to be children again. At least for a little bit.
It even seemed to be working. Susan had dragged her three (extremely bored) siblings into the sitting room a few hours after lunch (they'd explored the house as much as they dared earlier that day when they realized they'd be stuck inside) and proceeded to engage them in a guessing game of sorts, using an old, musty (very big) dictionary.
And it had worked…for about ten minutes. But Lucy soon grew bored again, and went to look out the window, while Edmund tried (without much success) to begin working on the kite he planned to give her for her birthday.
He'd found some old twine and several bits of wood, and had started fashioning the frame with Peter's pocket knife (which he'd borrowed), but he was a bit clumsy with the blade and accidentally nicked his left index finger.
His hiss of pain did not go unnoticed by Peter, who was dutifully submitting to Susan's quizzing. At the first indication that something had gone wrong, his older brother's hand immediately seized his own. The pocket knife dropped to the table with a clatter. "Ed, what happened?" the thirteen-year-old demanded, "Are you all right?"
Wincing as his arm was practically pulled from its socket (he was sitting in the chair across from the couch), Edmund struggled to sign as his one hand was held up for Peter's inspection, 'I'm fine, you git! Let go—you're hurting me!'
Peter, apparently, did not notice, frowning as he studied Edmund's finger. He tugged on the younger boy's arm. "Come here a minute."
With a groan, Edmund stood and allowed himself to be drawn towards Peter. He had to remind himself repeatedly that he'd promised Mum to help Peter, that he would try to be patient with him, even if it did mean letting him indulge in a fit of overprotectiveness every once in a while…
"You should have let me help," Peter sighed finally.
But that was pushing it. Edmund scowled, and would have yanked his hand free of the older boy's hold had not his brother taken his handkerchief out of his pocket at that moment and wrapped it snugly around Edmund's finger when a trickle of blood started seeping from the tiny cut.
With a second irritated (but not too irritated) groan, the younger boy let his forehead drop against Peter's shoulder, scowling into the fabric of his shirt, /No fair. Did he have to go all worried on me?/
Peter seemed to know what he was thinking. Giving a soft chuckle, he tied off the handkerchief and gently pushed Edmund upright.
While the ten-year-old continued to scowl at him, Lucy, who had heard the commotion and came over to the couches to see what the matter was, now spoke up, "Is everything all right? What happened?"
Peter turned to her, sliding Edmund a small smile as the younger boy lost his frown and quickly moved to clean up the scattered parts of the kite, "Never you mind."
When Lucy pouted, Edmund mentally thanked his brother and made sure to be swift and discreet about sweeping away his project. He meant this to be a surprise for her, but knowing his sister…it would be difficult to keep it that way.
He sighed quietly as a disgruntled Lucy went back to her window-gazing and closed up the pocket knife. Handing it back to his brother with a faint smile, he started hunting around their immediate area for any sort of puzzle or board game he could engage his little sister in.
In the background, Susan struck up her guessing game again. "Gastrovascular, Peter."
Edmund bit back a smile as the older boy checked his groan. Clearly, even Peter's considerable patience had its limits.
"Come on, Peter, gastrovascular," their twelve-year-old sister repeated impatiently.
"Is it Latin?" he finally sighed, glancing at Edmund when the younger boy knocked his head against the wooden table in the center of the rug with a half-smothered yelp.
Grimacing lightly and rubbing the back of it as he straightened, Edmund happened to look up at that particular moment and catch the long-suffering look on his older brother's face. Smirking slightly, he decided it couldn't do any harm to rescue him from potentially dying of boredom. Making sure to catch Peter's eye, he signed, 'Yes, it's Latin. Latin for 'worst game ever invented.''
Peter stifled his laugh as Susan, who had caught the brief exchange, scowled at them and slammed the dictionary shut.
Edmund held his hands up placatingly and signed, 'Come on, Su. Even you have to admit that guessing words from the dictionary is a little desperate.'
Susan groaned unhappily. "But what else can we do?"
"We can play Hide and Seek," Lucy suggested hopefully, having rejoined them at the sound of the dictionary slamming shut.
Edmund raised an eyebrow. /That's…actually not a bad idea/ he thought.
Peter and Susan traded skeptical looks. "But we're already having so much fun," their older brother muttered, flopping back on the couch and conveniently missing the annoyed glare Susan shot at him.
"Come on, Peter, please?" Lucy prodded, tugging at his arm where it rested near her on the back of the couch. When Peter glanced at her, she poked out her bottom lip just the slightest bit. "Pretty please?"
Hastily smothering his laugh as he recognized the look and saw Peter beginning to crack, Edmund decided to help her out. Giving his older brother's side a gentle poke, before scrabbling his unwounded fingers against that same spot, the younger boy grinned as a ticklish Peter squirmed away with another laugh, 'Come on, Pete. It's not like there's anything better to do, and it's one of the best ideas she's had all day.' His grin widened when Lucy stuck her tongue out at him playfully, obviously having caught that last part.
Peter, helpless against the combined front of his youngest siblings, heaved a resigned sigh and looked at Lucy, "One…two…" He started grinning in spite of himself when a brilliant smile blossomed on the eight-year-old's lips. "Three…four…"
Laughing silently, Edmund grabbed Lucy's hand and the two of them took off running as Susan rolled her eyes and followed. It should be duly noted, however, that she soon passed by both of them.
Peter's voice carried through the hallways as his younger siblings scrambled for hiding places. Susan found the first one, pushing open the lid of a large, empty trunk and clambering inside.
'Don't forget the lid, Su!' Edmund reminded her, throwing out a series of rapid signs as he and Lucy dashed past her.
She rolled her eyes again, but a fond smile lurked at the corners of her lips as she pulled the lid shut—making sure to keep it open a crack.
Peter's voice followed them as he and Lucy clattered down the steps into the main foyer, and then up another set on the other side, darting into one of the many rooms that lined this hall. Catching sight of a floor-length curtain out of the corner of his eye, Edmund bundled the two of them behind it.
"Am I staying with you?" Lucy panted quietly, eyes sparkling and laughing softly, but unable to sign because he still held her hand.
Edmund paused, considering it, then shook his head and gently pushed her back out into the room with a warm grin. 'We have a better chance of winning if only one of us stays here. I'm sure you'll find a good hiding spot, but be quick about it! He'll be here soon.'
Lucy rolled her eyes this time, but returned his grin and scampered off as he ducked once more behind the curtains and pressed his back against the wall.
"Eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety, ninety-one, ninety-two…"
He heard the opening and shutting of a nearby door, and deduced correctly that Lucy had found her hiding spot.
"Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one-hundred!"
"I'M BACK! I'M BACK! IT'S ALL RIGHT! I'M BACK!"
Jumping at the sudden sound of Lucy's (rather loud) voice, Edmund hurriedly shoved aside the draperies and reached out to snag the corner of his little sister's sleeve as she darted past him. Pretty certain that Peter had heard her, but nonetheless wanting to make sure they both remained hidden, he grabbed Lucy from behind and covered her mouth, carefully hauling her back with him behind the curtains.
Keeping her quiet proved to be another matter.
Too excited to properly sign or remember they were in the middle of playing hide and seek (truthfully, she had forgotten all about it), she pulled his hand off her mouth with both of hers and looked up at him with a dazzling smile, "Oh, Edmund!" she gushed. "It was so wonderful, and magical, and—and—I had tea with a Faun and he was perfectly lovely, and there's a wood, and snow, and a Witch, and no Christmas, and it's all in a wardrobe, Edmund! A wardrobe! And--"
Edmund had no idea what she was going on about. She'd only been gone for a few minutes, if that, and certainly not long enough to have tea with anyone, let alone a Faun.
He did know that if she kept chattering, Peter would find them within minutes.
"Here you two are!"
Make that seconds. Rolling his eyes in fond exasperation, he pulled Lucy out from behind the draperies Peter had thrown back to stand in front of their grinning older brother. "You know, I'm not sure you two have quite got the idea of this game!"
Undaunted, Lucy continued her chatter, "Oh, but, Peter, I've been gone for hours! There was a lamppost in a wood and the tea Mr. Tumnus made was delicious and--"
"Whoa, whoa, slow down, Lu!" Peter exclaimed, gently grabbing her shoulders and shooting a bewildered look at Edmund. His younger brother shrugged helplessly. "What?"
Lucy suddenly seemed to understand that neither of her brothers knew quite what to make of her at this moment, and subsided into honest confusion, "Weren't you wondering where I was?"
Edmund's eyebrow shot up. 'Isn't that the point of hide and seek, Lu?' he signed, just as bewildered as their older brother. Frankly, he was a little worried that Lucy had somehow hurt herself quite badly and, as a result, was now quite muddled.
"But…" she looked between them in utter puzzlement, and would have continued speaking had Susan not chosen to join them at that moment.
"Does this mean I've won?" the older girl asked with a slight grin.
"Possibly. But at the moment, I'm more interested in what Lucy is going on about," Peter replied, perhaps a bit too tightly.
Susan gave him a small frown before glancing around at the three of them, suspicion causing her to frown even more. "What she's 'going on about,' Peter? Whatever are you talking about?"
Peter hushed her. "Just listen a minute, Su." He turned back to Lucy, "All right, Lu, what wood? What 'Mr. Tumnus?' Who's he?"
"He's a Faun!" she exclaimed, her excitement rearing its head again.
"A Faun?" Susan repeated, scandalized, only now starting to understand how very queer this entire situation was turning out to be.
"There's nothing there, Lu. Just the back of the wardrobe, see?"
Those were the first words Susan spoke when she and Edmund emerged from the wardrobe a few minutes later, after they had entered the spare room and unlocked it. She and Edmund had climbed in, intent on exploring this wood that Lucy had been so excited about.
Now, she held back a few of the fur coats, and there, sure enough, was solid wood paneling, and no other wood of any sort.
Peter, who had remained outside the wardrobe with Lucy, now spoke up tersely, "One game at a time, Lu. We don't all have your imagination."
"But I wasn't imagining!" she exclaimed. "I was there! I had tea with Mr. Tumnus! I saw the wood!"
"Yes, the wood in the back of the wardrobe, Lucy," Susan replied softly, and with no little exasperation.
Edmund, where he sat on the floor of said wardrobe with one knee pulled to his chest, frowned as he noticed Lucy's lower lip starting to tremble. It wasn't like his little sister to insist on such a fantastic thing being real, and certainly not with such stubborn determination as she displayed now. Peter and Susan clearly did not believe her, and Edmund feared they would accuse her of outright lying.
"Hadn't you better drop it now, Lu?" Peter added quietly. "You've had your fun, but--"
"I'm not lying!" she cried, and Edmund winced, noticing as he did so that tears were starting to snake down her cheeks.
"That's enough, Lucy," Susan responded tightly, seeing the tears and hating them, but angry enough to ignore them and walk out of the room before she could change her mind.
She left Lucy alone with the two boys. Desperate now, the younger girl spun on her brothers, "You have to believe me! It was there—I promise it was there! It's different now, but it really was there!"
Peter's jaw locked. "Susan's right, Lucy," he advised her shortly. "That's enough."
He glanced once at Edmund, and then walked off.
Lucy and Edmund were left staring at each other. As she watched her younger brother, several more tears trickled down Lucy's cheeks. If even Edmund turned away from her—Edmund her best friend and constant companion, Edmund who had always believed in her no matter what—she would be heartbroken.
But Edmund did nothing of the sort. Standing, coming over to her, he put his arms around her shoulders and held her against his chest. A hand smoothed down her back and then fingers played across her spine, signing, 'I believe you, Lu.'
That, and that alone, caused her to burst into tears.