I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. This story doesn't exactly do a good job of summarizing my political beliefs, either, so don't make assumptions.

Sometimes, Peter would still wonder what made it necessary. Even the Warrior King – even the fearsome, battle-skilled champion of the Narnian north – sometimes, behind the helmet, he still doubted that all the war and killing would ever come to anything, that the blood that stained his name forever would ever result in a final peace. For whatever his reputation, he was, after all, only a boy. Not a scared, little boy, like he had been upon entering his beloved Narnia, but a boy nonetheless, and Mother had always said that to harm another being was to sin.

Would he accept damnation to defend his country?

The tapestries were beautiful, nothing like the actuality of the events they depicted. It had taken them two years to complete the series that detailed his family's rise to the throne. And his fingers would trace along the red-thread blood of the slain beasts at his image's feet, watching the fair-haired boy's face, set in noble determination, and he wondered who could possibly think he had been that calm and cool, that guiltless. The songs, too, about his battles – war was glory, so they told him, but in the thick of it, there was nothing glorious about it.

Did anyone understand war without fighting in one?

He was poised in the saddle with his sword held high. It was not his first battle, and his army did not question him, though he had scarcely seen his sixteenth year, and though they did not know of the thoughts lurking behind his visor. They knew only the sun glinting off his armour, the shine of his shield, the courage that the golden lion upon their banners brought them. And as one, they charged forward, a symphony of hoofbeats and righteous cries and pounding feet and the whoosh of the gryphons' wings as they soared to the kill.

His blade hummed through the air and the repulsive head of an ogre flew across his vision, spattering his breastplate with crimson. Its glassy, staring eyes bored into his before it struck the ground, and for an instant he wondered if ogres had families, if it even wanted to be in battle, what he will ever do if he must fight a man. And then the next was upon him, and he thrust his sword through the minotaur's heart as it bellowed in agony and gurgled pink blood-bubbles to the end of its life. And Peter, he felt his heart break just a little more, and again he wondered.

What gave him any more right to live than they?

He fought on, thankful that Edmund had been too ill to ride out with him, because he never wanted to see this and never wanted any of his family to have to. Claws raked through his armour, tearing gashes in his arm; a mace connected soundly with his chest, leaving a dent that made his breathing laboured; an axe clipped his calf, gifting him with a limp; it went on and on, but so did he, hacking away at the wall of life he had labelled "enemy" until again he stood knee-deep in corpses and lifted his visor to see what his victory had cost him. A sea of bodies stretched as far as he could see.

When would it ever end?

The march home seemed endless. He washed the dirt from his tunic, cleared the blood from the grooves of his armour, polished his shield until it looked more like a decoration than a tool, but found no way to wash his soul of his wrongdoing. When he slept, it was with his heartbeat in his ear, thudding out how very alive he was, reminding him of what he had that he had ripped from others. His nightmares were not of his own death. They were the reality of his memories, how his hand had stolen the breath from so many living, thinking beings, how he couldn't see why he had done any of it.

And how his body ached! He felt on fire, lit with the pain he had inflicted on others, and he could find no consolation to cool him. What was it that made his efforts worthwhile? What could give meaning to the suffering he endured, and the suffering he created? When would he be at last allowed to rest, to shut his eyes and no longer dream of madness? By the time he reached Cair Paravel, he wanted nothing more than to forget the terror and remorse of being a soldier.

His weary mount struggled through the castle gates, flanked by his centaur captains. There was a welcoming party, as always, alive with cheering and waving banners, but he was too tired to pay it much notice; he slipped off his horse and sent it off before offering the crowd a salute with as much of a smile as he could muster. And it was then that he saw.

Three faces in the crowd; little Lucy, face framed by her chestnut hair, alight with a smile that echoed feelings he thought he could never feel again; wise Edmund, with a grim nod of understanding, welcoming him home without a word; gentle Susan, the faint curling of her lips testifying to her pride, promising that no matter his sin, she would accept him. He saw them, and he saw much more. He saw the crowd around them, saw the women and children of every species, saw their peace, saw what could happen if he did not make nightmares for himself. He saw why.

He lay on the white-clothed table. The healers had finished tending to his wounds, but he did not leave the still room. He ran his fingers down his sides, stopping to feel the bandaged rip in his skin hidden beneath the folds, and thought, for Lucy. He felt the dull stab of pain in his legs, where he had stumbled and fallen too many times, and thought, for Edmund. He gently touched the scabbing cuts across his cheeks, acknowledging the sting, and thought, for Susan. At last, his hands came to rest over his heart, where the skin had turned a mottled blue and shallow cuts were littered, and he knew why – he had said it himself, long ago; he had known it since before his first battle:

For Narnia, and for Aslan.