Narnia – Hidden Memory.
(A/N I don't own the Chronicles of Narnia – they belong to CS Lewis. Probably my last story in a long while. Thanks for reading.)
It was a strange feeling to be flying through the air, clothes and hair ruffled by the breeze. It was both exhilarating and calming at the same time. Edmund, however, didn't get much of a chance to ponder on this as he crashed painfully and heavily into a tree. He slid down the bark in an ungainly heap, distractedly grateful for the chain mail he wore. His back felt like one big sore bruise. Lucy appeared at his side, hands on hips, looking distinctly unimpressed.
"Why did you let him do that?" she asked with a frown.
"I didn't let him do anything," growled Edmund, through gritted teeth, as he struggled back to his feet. "If you can do any better, please, be my guest."
Lucy sighed in exasperation before squaring her shoulders. Resolutely, she walked forwards and into the dense forest where an angry growl echoed. She left Edmund standing alone in the clearing, feeling both irritated and embarrassed at allowing the creature to take advantage of his lapse in attention.
A scouting fox had informed King Peter that some of the White Witch's loyal followers were still in hiding in this part of the forest. All four monarchs had set out that morning to track them down. It had taken four hours of riding to find the enemy and a heated fight had ensued. At the end, must of the traitors had either run off in fear or reluctantly surrendered. The surprise problem had been a vicious sprite that obviously planned to go down fighting. The children had been warned that sprites in Narnia were magical creatures that could inflict mysterious illnesses upon people when touched. With this in mind, no-one had wanted to get too close to the sprite. With help from the centaurs that had come with them, they had managed to corner the traitor into a dense part of the forest. Edmund had been shocked when the sprite had made a lunge for him and his momentary shock had stopped him from fighting back. The next thing he knew the sprite had lashed out at him and flipped him like a rag doll through the forest.
He ignored the cold ache in his chest where the sprite had touched him, as he made his way back into the clearing. Lucy's chiding still irked him and when he returned to Peter, Susan and two centaurs tying up the now captured sprite, he felt useless.
Lucy saw him and eagerly ran over to her brother. "I'm sorry I was mean to you, Edmund. I didn't mean it," she apologized. "Are you badly hurt?"
"I'm fine," Edmund replied, managing a small attempted smile. "It was my own fault."
"Don't be silly," protested Lucy, reaching out to lay a comforting hand on his arm. A feeling of dejected hurt overwhelmed her when her hand came into contact with Edmund, causing her to jerk back in surprise. "Edmund!"
"Lucy!" cried out Edmund, in equal surprise, as he felt an electric shock hit his arm from where she had touched him.
"What's going on?" asked Susan, in concern, having witnessed her younger brother's and sister's exchange.
"Nothing," replied Edmund, quickly.
"I . . . don't know," responded Lucy, slowly, still looking at her brother in confusion.
Susan frowned but allowed the moment to pass as she turned her full attention onto her younger brother. "Did that sprite hurt you?"
"Just a painful shove into a tree," replied Edmund, waving her concern away. "I'm fine."
In truth, Edmund did not feel fine at all. In fact he felt mildly nauseous. Susan looked far from convinced and studied her brother's appearance with a critical eye. When he swayed slightly as he made to move away from his sisters, Susan reached out a steadying hand. The moment she touched his shoulder, a wave of despair, nausea and unforgivable guilt crashed through her, causing her to stagger back in shock. The longer she held onto her brother's shoulder the more intense the emotions hit her, driving her to her knees and pulling Edmund with her.
"Susan!" Lucy's and Peter's voices sounded distant to Susan's ears. She was only aware of Edmund's troubled eyes staring through her. His face was etched with agonizing pain and Susan realized they had both shouted out in pain.
Where Susan gripped Edmund's shoulder in a vice-like grip, Edmund could feel his skin searing in a painful heat. His skin tingled from a dozen mini electric shocks that were causing black spots to dance in front of his eyes. Unable to take much more, Edmund managed to pull his shoulder out of his sister's grasp and stagger to the ground a few paces away.
"What was that?" murmured Susan, as she slowly came out of her shock. Slowly the emotions that had emanated from her little brother were fading.
"Su, are you okay?" asked Peter, concerned, as he pulled her into his lap.
"I'm . . . I'm fine, I think," she reassured him, distractedly. Her eyes were still fixed on the crumpled form of her brother. "Ed-"
Lucy had already made her way to her fallen brother and was concerned to see that his face was pale and he was shivering. She was about to brush his hair from out of his eyes when she gave a startled yelp. Edmund had suddenly bolted upright, just missing cracking heads with her and with surprising speed started to crawl backwards away from her. His eyes were both panicked and pleading.
"Don't come near me, Lu, please," he all but whispered, before staggering unsteadily to his feet.
"Ed," called out Peter, confused. "What's the matter?"
Edmund whirled, almost falling again, before regaining his balance. "I'm sorry," he told his siblings, frantically, shaking his head in confusion. "I'm sorry. I can't –"
Without finishing his sentence, Edmund turned on his heel and disappeared into the forest.
"Ed!" exclaimed Lucy, jumping to her feet.
"Something's not right with him," Susan told Peter, urgently, as he helped her to her feet. "When I touched his shoulder it was like I was feeling all of his emotions at once."
"It happened to me as well," agreed Lucy, eagerly. "I think the sprite hexed him when he threw Edmund out of the clearing."
Peter looked shocked. "The sprite touched him? Why didn't he say anything?" he demanded, before sprinting after his younger brother. His two younger sisters chased after him.
They were beginning to fear that they had lost their brother in the dense forest when they came upon another small clearing. The sunlight struggled weakly to reach passed the thick green canopy. Half-hidden in shadows, Edmund sat with his back to a tree trunk, his arms wrapped around his knees, which were pulled tightly to his chest. His forehead rested on his knees and Peter could just make out that his brother was shaking.
Cautiously, Peter stepped closer to Edmund and spoke gently, so as not to startle him. "Ed –"
"Go away," Edmund's response was muffled by his knees and his voice was thick with desperately concealed emotion.
"Let us help you, Edmund," Susan spoke softly, holding Lucy back from running to his side.
"Please, Ed," Peter asked, kneeling down next to his brother's huddled form.
Edmund leaned away from Peter slightly, his head moving to one side so that Peter could see his brother's lost expression. "Don't touch me, Peter." Though Edmund's voice was still partly muffled, the pleading tone surprised Peter and the girls. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't want to hurt you like I did with Susan and Lucy."
"You wouldn't hurt me," replied Peter, confidently. "We just want to help you. If the sprite is responsible for this, then we need to get him to take the spell off you."
Edmund just looked at Peter silently. The intensity of his stare worried Peter.
"Ed, what's the matter?"
"I should never have been saved after the Witch killed me. I've been nothing but a hindrance to everyone," he responded, in such a matter-of-fact tone that Lucy and Susan protested at once against his words.
Peter shushed them into silence. Turning back to Edmund, he made sure he had his brother's undivided attention before saying, "Ed, this has to stop. Everybody's forgiven you. Why can't you forgive yourself?"
Susan and Lucy moved closer to their brothers.
"I never realized how upset you've been," confessed Susan, referring back to her earlier experience. "I'm really sorry that we didn't help as we should have. We're all to blame; I just wish you would believe us."
"I wish I could give you a hug to prove we love you," responded Lucy, reluctant to get too close to her brother if would inflict more pain.
Peter was staring at Edmund thoughtfully. Something was bothering his little brother; something he obviously didn't want to share. Edmund's head whipped up to stare intently at Peter as if he had heard Peter's thoughts. His eyes were full of fear and panic.
"No, Peter, don't you dare," he warned, though his voice wavered. Both of his sisters frowned at him in confusion. "You'll be hurt and it'll be all my fault. Please, Peter, don't."
His brother shook his head and smiled reassuringly. "No, it won't be," Peter reassured. "I'm sorry, Ed. I need to know."
Edmund made to scramble unsteadily to his feet but Peter had anticipated the move and lunged at him. Wrapping his arms around his flailing brother, Peter pulled Edmund back to the ground in a tight hug. Edmund cried out in pain, causing Susan and Lucy to shout in alarm. A barrage of raw emotions hit Peter but he gritted his teeth against the pain, despite the growing intensity. Peter never knew that one person could contain so much guilt and burning sorrow inside their soul without breaking down.
Just when he was about to let Edmund go, Peter found what he had been looking for. As a wave of anger and fear crashed over him, an image suddenly forced its way into Peter's mind eye. The White Witch towered over him, like a bitter glimmering icicle; her deadly wand casually held in one hand. Her black eyes glittered menacingly at Peter, her face frozen into a smug expression that caused Peter's blood to turn into ice water.
"Did you really think that I would want to share my rule with a selfish, pathetic little boy like you? Poor boy, so horribly naïve. As we speak, my wolves are tearing that Beaver's dam apart with their teeth. Your sisters and brother will die agonizingly slow deaths with their last memory of you as the traitor that you are."
Peter's stomach twisted sickly and fear, shame and self-disgust overwhelmed him. The Witch leaned down and pulled him to his feet, her touch leaving an aching cold numbness to creep across his chest.
"For your disobedience, the last sight before I kill you will be the dead bodies of your family. Aslan was mistaken when he thought you had an ounce of good in your heart. I see the truth. You're rotten to the core."
Shocked by the Witch's speech and the barrage of guilt that tried to invade Peter's senses, he didn't see the Witch's hand reach out and slap him forcefully around the face.
"Peter!" Lucy's cry snapped Peter out of Edmund's memory and he once again became aware of his brother weakly struggling to leave his grasp.
As Lucy and Susan rushed forwards to pull Peter's arms away from around Edmund's shoulders, he heard his brother groaning in pain and saw tears streaming unheeded down his cheeks. Peter realized he too had been crying and scrubbed quickly at his face. He felt wretched from that memory that still lingered in his mind and overwhelmingly guilty for all the times he had cursed his brother's name while they were at the Beaver's Dam.
Edmund had managed to push himself a little away so that he was nowhere near his brother's grasp. He was staring at Peter with a mixture of regret and anger.
"Peter . . ." murmured Edmund, brokenly, his voice laden with pain.
"I'm sorry, Ed," Peter apologized, his voice wavering, still supported by his two sisters.
Edmund opened his mouth to speak, but instead his eyes rolled to the top of his head and he crashed painfully to the ground. Together, Peter, Susan and Lucy cried out in alarm as they scrambled the distance between themselves and their brother. Without hesitation, Susan reached out and turned Edmund onto his back, ignoring the wave of pain that hit her.
"What did you do, Peter?" she demanded, though Peter could tell she was more scared than angry.
"Never mind that," Peter brushed off, his eyes trained on the rising and falling of Edmund's chest. "We need to get him back to the clearing and to that sprite. Help me lift him up. Hopefully, he won't wake up until we reach there."
Susan nodded determinedly and helped pull Edmund to his feet. Slinging one of his arms around her neck and placing her arm around his back, Susan waited for Peter to do the same. Edmund's head lolled gently forwards onto her shoulder and though she felt a ghost of pain wash from him, she also felt a calming sigh of peace. Startled, she glanced at Peter and found that he seemed to be experiencing the same effect.
Lucy collected Peter's abandoned shield and Susan's bow before leading the way back through the forest. It was slow going but eventually they reached the clearing where the rest of their party were waiting. Everyone, except for the sprite, were instantly worried to see one of their Kings unconscious. After lowering Edmund to the ground and waving away the centaurs questions, Peter confronted the sprite that was still bound to a tree.
"What have you done to my brother?"
The sprite looked bored as he lazily answered, "Nothing his heart did not desire. His misery was almost choking me. It needed to be done. I cannot be blamed that you were blind to his plight before I stepped in."
"Release him from your spell," Peter ordered through gritted angry teeth. "Can't you see the pain you're causing him?"
"A mere side effect," shrugged the sprite, carelessly. When Peter moved to draw his sword, the sprite sighed in disgust and narrowed his eyes. "Fine," he muttered, snapping his fingers. "It is done."
Peter glared at him warily before quickly looking behind him at his brother. Still unconscious, Edmund lay on the ground with his head pillowed in Susan's lap and Lucy seated by his side. At Peter's questioning frown, both girls placed a hand each on Edmund's arm. Both girls broke into relieved smiles and Lucy reached down, unafraid, to hug her unconscious brother.
"He's alright, Peter," reassured Susan, gripping at Edmund's tunic with one hand. "I can no longer feel his emotions."
Peter swung back to face the sprite, still angry with the creature. "You're lucky," he growled. "Don't ever come near Edmund again or it will be the last thing you ever do."
Stalking away from the spitting captive and leaving him in the capable hands of his army, Peter rejoined his family. Crouching down, Peter brushed the back of his hand against Edmund's forehead and sighed in relief when he wasn't hit with a backlash of emotions.
Without warning, Edmund twitched awake, his eyes shuddering open. There was a quiet moment as he seemed to orientate his thoughts before he realized both of his sisters were holding onto him. He attempted to drag himself out of their grip but to no avail.
"Get off me," he pleaded, in a terrified murmur. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You can't hurt us," smiled Lucy, reassuringly, never once letting go of her brother. "The sprite took his spell off you. See? It doesn't hurt anymore."
Edmund looked confused but slowly began to relax as Susan smoothed his hair out of his eyes and leaned down to place a gentle kiss on his forehead.
"Hush, Ed, you're okay," she soothed. "You're not hurting anyone."
"No more pain?" he murmured, hopefully, looking up at her.
Susan smiled down at him. "No, no more pain."
Edmund started to smile back when his face suddenly tightened in anxiety. "Peter!" he called out, frightened. "Where's Peter?"
"I'm here, Ed," reassured Peter, moving closer, concern shining in his eyes. "I'm okay."
"I'm sorry I made you remember that memory," apologized Peter. "I hope you can forgive me. I never meant to hurt you. Why didn't you tell me what happened?"
Edmund frowned and murmured, "I didn't think it was important. I couldn't bear to think-"
"Nothing She said was true," Peter interrupted, lifting his brother's chin up so that he had his undivided attention. "You're not rotten, you do deserve to be a king and we're never considered you to be a traitor. Ever. Don't ever believe that we would."
"Whatever would we do without you?" added Susan, placing her hand against Edmund's cheek.
"You're sure?" Edmund hesitantly asked.
"Of course, silly," giggled Lucy, playfully smacking his shoulder.
Peter grinned and stood up. "Come on, I think it's time to go home. We've got a long ride ahead of us."
"Yes," agreed Lucy, eagerly, bouncing to her feet. "And then we can have something delicious to eat."
"We'll see," laughed Peter, reaching a hand down to help his brother up while Lucy assisted Susan. The moment Edmund was on his feet, Peter pulled him into a crushing hug. "I'm so sorry," Peter murmured into his little brother's ear. "Promise me, next time you feel bad you'll come and talk to me."
"I promise, Peter," responded Edmund, with a grateful smile, pulling away from Peter so that his brother could see the sincerity in his eyes. "No more sprites."
Peter laughed out loud, lightly cuffing his brother on the ear. "Defiantly not," he agreed.
Feeling better than he had in weeks, Edmund rode with his family back to Cair Paravel.