Disclaimer: I do not own The Chronicles of Narnia, or any people, places of things therein portrayed.
Note: I got the idea in my head to take up a word challenge – I took a list of 25 words from an icon challenge on livejournal, added ten more of my own, and decided to be inspired as they came along. I may add my list and the titles of the answers in my profile if I can remember. This is the answer to challenge number 14 – Winter
As the first winter since the fall of the White Witch approached, many in Narnia remained apprehensive. Memories were long and the first bite of winter's chill stuck to the very marrow of Narnian bones. Leading them in this endeavor was High King Peter who looked to the coming season with worry. He tried to hide it from his siblings, but one evening after dinner, Queen Susan and Queen Lucy confronted their elder brother.
As the three sat in a small parlor on the north side of Cair Paravel, Peter sighed as his sisters demanded an explanation for his recent uneasy behavior. "It's just that this is the first winter since, well, you know. I was speaking with Tumnus who mentioned that quite a few Narnians are worried that this winter will bring back bad memories, and worse enemies."
"But that's silly!" exclaimed Lucy, who frowned at her brother. "The Witch isnot coming back, and winter can be such fun!"
Susan shook her head with a grim expression on her face. "Peter's right, Lucy. During astronomy lessons with Kirun, even he looked nervous when he mentioned the upcoming winter months, and that the stars indicate that the first snow is a week away. I don't think I've ever seen a centaur nervous before."
"And it's not just our subjects I'm worried about." The girls waited for Peter to take in a deep breath before he continued. "I'm worried about Ed."
Lucy didn't understand at first. "Edmund loves winter!"
"Maybe before, in England, but after the Witch…" Susan trailed off and all three remembered: Edmund running off to the Witch's castle, the abuse and terror he had been put through in her clutches, the foul winter the Witch spread over Narnia.
Peter nodded glumly. "Ever since the talk about the coming of winter started he's been acting withdrawn. I've barely seen him all week, he's always hiding away somewhere. I even asked his valet how he's doing, but Panus will only say that Ed's been staying up late working."
Susan had to agree. "He's been eating faster than usual, leaving the table before dinner's over.
"He's been distracted during training."
"He zones out of conversations, as if something heavy burdens him."
Lucy tried to interject, "Why don't…" but did not get to finish as Peter and Susan continued to worry and fret over Edmund's recent attitude. Finally, Lucy gave up trying to be heard and left the room.
Waking up a week later, Peter found that, to his great dread, it was beginning to snow as Kirun had predicted. He hurriedly threw on some clothes and darted down the halls to where Lucy was happily eating breakfast with a tired-looking Mr. Tumnus. "Lu, have you seen Edmund?"
Lucy smiled at her eldest brother. "Good morning to you too, Peter. Would you like to join us? Su's still in her room fretting over the snow, but Mr. Tumnus and I plan to finish up breakfast and then keep helping with the preparations outside."
Distracted, Peter barely registered what she said, only that she had not answered his question. "That's nice, but where's Edmund? I hope he's not locked up in his room."
Lucy glowered at her brother. "If you had listened to me at all this week, you would know where he was!"
Peter blinked, trying to recall when Lucy had tried to talk to him about Edmund. There were a few times when he remembered Lucy trying to interject a comment while he and Su were trying to figure out how to keep Edmund from getting depressed on the first snowfall, but that was it. "I'm sorry, Lu. I didn't mean to ignore you."
Not able to properly stay mad for long, Lucy gave him a small smile. "That's alright Peter. You've just been more of a worry-wart than usual."
"You're a gem, Lu. If you see Edmund, send a Bird for me, would you?" Before she could answer, he was gone.
Lucy turned to Mr. Tumnus. "Is it very bad of me that I didn't tell him where Edmund is?"
Tumnus shook his head, his face betraying his weariness. "I think King Edmund has enough on his plate without having the High King acting…" he searched for the right word to use.
Tumnus smiled. "Acting like an overprotective older brother."
Peter and Susan, who had soon joined him, found themselves flummoxed. Cair Paravel was nearly empty, except for a few Animals darting to and fro for some unexplained reason. This caused their worry to increase ten-fold; they were convinced that everyone had broken down completely at the sight of the snow and were all hiding somewhere. Before they could fall into a full-blown panic, Lucy ran up to them with a huge smile on her face. "Come on, come on, it's almost time! Get your warm clothes on and meet in the Great Lawn. Hurry, you don't want to be late!"
"Late for what?" called Susan, but Lucy had already bounded away to her own room to change. Peter and Susan shrugged simultaneously and went to follow their sister's instruction. Usually it was best just to give in to Lucy instead of trying to get an explanation out of her.
Twenty minutes later, the two eldest Pevensies hurried together to the Great Lawn which lay a mile or so to the west of Cair Paravel. There was now a fine layer of snow on the ground, but luckily they had both dressed warmly. Susan frowned as they neared. "Is that…Peter, do you hear music?"
And indeed there was music, such music as the fauns and satyrs played at their night dances, though it was still early afternoon. Reaching the lawn, the High King and eldest Queen stood dumbstruck at the sight before them. Great open-sided tents encircled the Lawn, the tables beneath them overflowing with food and drink to feed the many denizens of Narnia who graced the Lawn with their presence. Fauns played their pipes, Centaurs chatted to the side with the Badgers, and Dryads danced with a menagerie of Animals around a great bonfire in the middle of the Lawn.
"There you are!" Peter and Susan looked as Lucy, red-faced from cold and excitement, ran over to them. "You're late, we had to start it without you."
Susan looked incredibly confused. "What is it?"
Lucy grinned. "It's the Annual Reclamation of Winter Feast!"
Peter also looked incredibly confused, and Lucy's answer had not helped that. "We have an Annual Reclamation of Winter Feast?"
"We do now! It's to celebrate the fact that the White Witch no longer controls the seasons, that Winter is free from evil and can be a time of ice skating, and Christmas, and drinking hot chocolate in front of a cozy fire."
"And who's idea was that?" Peter asked as he tried to rack his brains for any of their subjects mentioning the feast.
Lucy's grin grew wider. "Edmund's, of course!" she exclaimed and pointed toward the ring of dancers.
Peter and Susan's eyes widened at the sight. Edmund, the little brother they were so worried about, the one who they thought had been hiding away from winter's approach, was dancing with a group of Wood Gods and Dryads. The smile on his face was genuine, his laughter pure. In fact, Edmund looked like he was having a marvelous time attempting to learn the steps of the dance as the Dryads called out instructions even as they laughed with their light, airy voices.
Edmund caught sight of his siblings and, making his excuses and bowing to the Dryads, he darted across to them, the smile still wide on his face. "There you are! I'm sorry we had to start without you, but the Satyrs started pouring the wine and Lu and I felt it best just to let everyone go at it."
Peter couldn't keep the astonishment off of his face. "You did all this?"
Edmund nodded, pleased with his work. "It took a few weeks to plan out everything and send invitations and such, and I probably pushed harder than I should have. Luckily Lucy figured me out and helped with the preparations."
"Why didn't you ask us to help?" asked Susan.
Edmund fidgeted where he stood. "Well, I thought about asking. It probably should've been planned by all of us, but you two have just seemed so worried these past few weeks! I just thought I shouldn't add one more thing to that."
Lucy couldn't help but laugh at the situation, and the look on Peter and Susan's faces. Of course, she had tried to tell the two not to worry about Edmund, and even let them in on the plan for the Reclamation Feast, but they had been too busy being worried to heed her. "Now will you listen to me when I'm trying to talk to you?"
Susan and Peter had to grace to look embarrassed. Susan hugged her sister. "We're sorry Lucy. We didn't mean to ignore you."
And we won't do it again," promised Peter. Then he turned to Edmund. "And we're sorry we were acting so distracted. We thought…well, we thought you might not be looking forward to winter this year."
Edmund rolled his eyes. "Peter, Su, I love winter. You know it's always been one of my favorite seasons. Granted, I don't really care forenchanted winters, but I'm certainly not letting what happened with the Witch change that I like real winters. Plus I kind of thought that fearing winter meant we weren't trusting in Aslan and his promises. That's actually how I convinced everyone that this Feast was a good idea: no one wanted the Witch to win, and everyone wanted to please Aslan."
The young king's speech certainly hit something in each of his siblings. Peter and Susan felt somewhat ashamed of their fears, and Lucy was so proud of her brother that she hugged him tightly around his waist. Hugging her back, Edmund lifted an eyebrow at his slightly brooding older siblings, as if daring them to do the same. Soon all four children were in a pile of hugs. Seeing their monarchs, the Narnians let out a great cheer before a rather drunk Faun began hugging a nearby Rabbit which then led to a hugging free-for-all that, in later years, became a tradition of the Annual Reclamation of Winter Feast. But Peter and Susan never forgot the lesson they learned that winter: never to doubt the strength of their brother, and to always listen to their sister.