Disclaimer: I am not C.S. Lewis, not in anyway related to or associated with him. If I was, I'd be playing up the sibling fluff like hell, the Golden Age would have gone into detail, and the Pevensie children would most likely never have gone home. Or if they did, there'd be plenty of angst when it happened.
This is a bit of a blend of the book and movieverse, leaning more towards the movie. My absolute favorite moment of the whole thing was when Edmund was healed, and Peter pretty much tackled him in a hug. But as much as I love the brotherly love aspect, I decided the girls should get some Edmund-cuddling in, too. Because let's face it: everyone wants to cuddle Edmund. -Grins-
I also blame overly emotional Peter on the fabulous elecktrum, who made me fall in love with the idea of him that way.
Enjoy, and feedback is much appreciated!
Understanding and Home
It was an odd night, to be sure. His siblings had, in their own ways, always showed him some form of affection, even if he'd come to scoff and ignore them. But after the battle, during the return to camp, and all throughout the festive celebrations that had been thrown, they kept ... touching him. Susan less so, more of a casual hand on his arm whenever he happened to pass by her, but her eyes continued to follow him everywhere he went. Peter would come up behind him at the strangest moments and throw an arm around his shoulders, once even kissing his temple in front of a pair of captains he'd been discussing the battle with - much to his mortification. Lucy was the most obvious of them all (as always) running up to catch his hand, dragging him off to dance, or simply hanging around as she leaned on his side. It was disturbing, awkward, and comforting all at once.
Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to tell them all to shove off.
He found himself thinking about it as he finally retired to his tent, pleading exhaustion. His family had been much closer when he was younger. Before being shipped off to boarding school, Peter had been his best friend, always running off on adventures with him. Susan wasn't so much of a bore then, often playing their 'damsel in distress' whenever they pretended to be brave knights and warriors and such, even though she much preferred to play 'house'. Lucy was always too small to play along, but she'd always loved to cuddle in the first lap she could find. They hadn't been all each other had, but things were different then.
Then boarding school came, and Susan started to 'grow up'. Peter had insisted he wouldn't, but after another year he had all his own friends and no time for his siblings. Edmund had resented that, resented him, for he never made friends quite so easily as Peter did. And in his resentment, he'd begun to turn against a bewildered Lucy, who couldn't understand why her older brother was suddenly so mean.
He jumped, turning to look at Peter. "Sorry? D-did you say something?" he stammered, trying to calm his pounding heart.
Peter remained several steps away from him, watching him with an expression of pained understanding. They'd discovered the night before that Edmund did not like to be snuck up on, a remnant of his time with the Witch. He was still rather jumpy even now, in the safety of Aslan's camp. "I asked what you were thinking about."
Edmund smiled weakly. "Just ... thinking. Nothing important."
Peter frowned. "Well, stop it. It gives you an awful look on your face."
Edmund raised an eyebrow, unable to help himself. "Are you asking me to appear unintelligent?"
"I'm not asking anything," Peter returned, a smirk slowly growing across his face. "I'm telling!"
He darted forward, hands moving to tickle his younger brother's sides. Edmund shrieked both in surprise and delight, for this was something they had not done in ages. He squirmed and struggled (even though he really did not want to get away), calling for Peter to stop. Then a hand grazed his stomach, and his eyes went wide as it throbbed angrily. "Peter! Peter, stop! Please!" he gasped, curling instinctively.
The hands on his middle vanished, moving instead to his shoulders as his brother supported him. "What is it? What's wrong?"
He took several deep breaths, trying to calm himself. "I'm fine," he managed at last. "Just ... sore. Not the stomach, please."
Peter's eyes narrowed. "I thought Lucy's cordial healed all of your injuries."
"It did," Edmund hastened to assure him. "It's just sore, is all."
But his brother continued to stare at him. "Your lip ... " he murmured.
Edmund blinked. "Sorry?" A hand reached out to touch the corner of his mouth, and he hissed in surprise at the sudden flare of pain.
"Your lip is still wounded," Peter repeated, frowning deeper now.
"Oh. Well, that's ... the Witch did that, is all," he told him awkwardly. "I suppose the cordial couldn't completely heal the effects of her magic, then."
This was the wrong thing to say, and he knew it in the instant that Peter was suddenly yanking up his tunic. His armor had already been removed and exchanged for fresh clothing upon their return to camp, and he tried to back away, knowing what his brother would find. But Peter's hands were firm, and he found his stomach exposed to the night air.
Peter sucked in a sharp breath. "Edmund ... "
"It's nothing," he said hastily, scrambling back. "Just a battle scar, is all." He turned away, tugging his tunic back down uncomfortably. His hands strayed back to his stomach after a moment, touching the fabric that covered the remaining scar from where Jadis had stabbed him with her shattered wand. "Just a reminder," he finished softly, his voice barely a whisper.
"Edmund ... " Peter said again, his voice pained now.
Arms suddenly came around his shoulders, and he started again. But before he could properly deal with the surge of fear, the arms tightened into a full hug, pulling him gently back against his brother. He closed his eyes, remembering that moment after the battle when he'd been healed and Peter had so suddenly tackled him in a hug. It was warm and comfortable all at once, and for the first time in years, he allowed himself to relish in the feeling of his brother's affections.
"I was so scared ... " Peter whispered suddenly. "I thought I'd lost you, Ed."
He swallowed hard. "I thought I lost me, too."
Peter turned him around then, and he launched himself against his older brother without question. He was caught up once again in a hug, and he felt the top of his head being kissed. "Oh, Edmund! " Peter cried softly, squeezing him tight. "I'm so, so sorry!"
He frowned at that, but he was too comfortable with his face buried against Peter's shoulder to pull away for a proper glare. "What do you have to be sorry for?" he demanded. "You haven't done anything."
"I shouldn't have been so harsh with you," Peter said miserably. "I broke my promise."
"Promise me. Promise you'll never grow up without me."
"I promise, Ed. We'll stay brothers and best friends forever."
"You still remember that?" Edmund asked at last, his voice deadly soft.
"How could I forget? I've always remembered, Ed. I just ... when Dad left, I promised him that I'd look after everyone. And then Mum asked me to take care of all of you ... "
For the first time, Edmund realized quite suddenly exactly what their parents had put on his older brother's shoulders. He wasn't sure if it was something to do with being in Narnia, or Aslan's help, or simply a moment of revelation, but he finally understood the responsibilities Peter had been forced to accept. And rather then be annoyed, he just felt sorry for him, and incredibly guilty about what a prat he'd been when his brother had needed his support most.
"I'm sorry," he said finally, squeezing his older brother tight. "I'm sorry I never realized."
"You're sorry?" Peter returned, his voice thick with tears. "I'm supposed to be looking after you, and I let you be hurt!"
Edmund smiled suddenly, pulling back to look up at Peter as he blinked back the tears that were welling in his eyes. "All right, so we're both sorry. I forgive you, and you forgive me, right? So let's be done with it."
Peter laughed, sniffling as a tear managed to streak down his cheek. "Agreed," he declared, offering a hand.
Edmund accepted, and they shook on it solemnly.
The next minute they were both grinning, and caught each other up in a hug again. "I know I don't say it as often as I should," Peter said at last, "But you are my best friend, Ed. And my brother."
Edmund swallowed again, snuggling against Peter's shoulder. "You're my best friend and brother as well, Peter." he murmured. He hesitated, but if there was ever a time to say it, it was now. "I love you."
There was a choked sound above him, and his head was kissed again. "I love you too, Ed."
They stood together like that for quite some time, each taking comfort in the fact that they were both alive and whole, and with one of the people they loved most in this world and the last. Peter reveled in the feeling that for once, his brother didn't shy away from him. For Edmund, he enjoyed the feeling of warmth and safety that being held by his brother gave. In a way, it reminded him of being with Aslan.
"I think I love Narnia, Ed," Peter whispered suddenly. "For bringing us back together and making us all a family again."
"I love Narnia, too," Edmund returned with a fierceness he hadn't known he possessed. "I wouldn't be here now without it."
"In my arms?" Peter teased gently.
Edmund thumped him in the shoulder, but there was no real force behind it. "Stupid," he grumbled, sounding a bit more like himself for the first time in the last few days. "I mean ... " He paused, frowning as he searched for the right words. "Narnia made me myself again," he said at last. "I became the worst I could be, but now I can see that and move past it. I love Narnia and Aslan, for teaching me that."
Peter sighed, but the tone of his voice was warm. "I suppose there's no help for it then. We're staying."
"We have fought for our country. The least we could do is continue to protect it," Edmund pointed out with a faint smile.
"It's decided then," Peter declared.
Edmund watched him with an amused expression. "Don't the girls have a say?"
"As if Lucy will want to leave," Peter snorted, reaching out to pull some blankets down from his hammock. "And Susan will go along with majority vote. So we stay."
Edmund frowned, watching Peter awkwardly try to adjust the blankets into some sort of nest on the floor without actually letting go of him. "What are you doing?"
Peter shot him an amused glance. "It's not as if we'll both fit into the same hammock. And I'm not letting you out of my sight for the rest of the night."
Edmund rolled his eyes, but couldn't find the will argue. Instead he allowed himself to be tugged down to the ground, wrapped in blankets as his brother pulled him close. He leaned on his shoulder with a soft sigh.
He was nearly asleep when he heard a voice whispering above him. "Do move over, Peter. I can't get near Ed with you wrapped around him like that."
He blinked sleepily, looking up into the darkness. "Susan?"
"Shh," his older sister said softly, and he felt her arms come around him from the other side. After a moment, lips brushed against his cheek.
"You all could have waited for me," he heard Lucy complain from somewhere. "I want to hold Edmund, too!"
He oomphed as a small weight settled on top of him, wincing at the sharp flare of pain.
"Mind his stomach, Lucy," Peter lectured.
Susan's voice was sharp with alarm. "I thought the cordial healed that."
"It did," Edmund managed at last as Lucy shifted slightly more towards Susan. "It's just a scar."
"It's a painful scar," Peter admonished. "Do be careful, Lu."
"I am!" Lucy protested, sounding wounded.
"Is there anything to do for it? Maybe we should call a healer," Susan fretted.
"It's fine, Susan!" Edmund sighed. "It's just a scar. It only hurts because it's from the Witch."
There was a long silence, and he prepared himself to settle down for sleep at last.
"Edmund?" Lucy asked suddenly, her voice soft. "What did she do to you while you were there?"
"Lucy!" Susan gasped. "You know we mustn't speak of that! Aslan said - "
"But Aslan doesn't know Edmund like we do," Lucy protested. "I don't need to know why. I just want to know what she did to him, because if he doesn't talk about it, he'll have nightmares for ages. We can't help him if we don't know."
Susan hesitated. "Well ... "
"It might do you some good, Ed," Peter admitted reluctantly. "But only if you agree to it."
He was silent for a long while, debating. Aslan had listened to everything already, and had promised forgiveness. But ... as much as he found he loved Aslan, he wasn't Peter, or Susan, or Lucy. Aslan was family as well, in a way he'd never expected. But Aslan was someone to be respected, rather than one of them.
And when he thought about it, he did owe them this much at the very least.
"There was a dungeon," he said slowly, his arms tightening around Lucy. "All made of ice. I was chained in there for what seemed like days, with shackles on my legs. They only gave me moldy bread to eat, and the water was frozen solid. I met Mr. Tumnus there." He smiled faintly, but his voice came out bitter. "He told me Lucy and I have the same nose."
And slowly, the story came out. Of the information he'd spilled, of the way she'd hit him and treated him as a slave. How terrified he'd found himself when he finally realized the wolves were being sent to kill them all. How Ginarrbrik had taken great pleasure in threatening and beating him at every opportunity. Of shivering in her sledge, and wondering if he'd ever be warm again. The fox who'd called him 'Your Majesty', and then looked so disappointed in him when he'd confessed where Aslan was in a desperate effort to save its life. All the creatures he'd watched her torture; even the memory of the innocent butterfly she'd turned to stone for no real reason. He told them that the night Oreius and the rest had come to save him, they had literally saved him moments before he was about to be killed.
He found himself crying somewhere in the middle, soft, silent sobs as tears streaked his cheeks. He hated that he sounded so weak, but his siblings never scolded or begrudged him his tears. Lucy openly cried with him, clinging tight to his chest as she was careful not to touch his scar. Susan kissed his cheek, smoothing the hair from his eyes and murmuring comfortingly whenever he shuddered. Peter held tight, squeezing a bit whenever he confessed a particularly nasty detail.
"I still keep hearing her voice." he whispered at last, sniffling. "'You're here because he turned you in ... For sweeties'."
"Oh, Edmund!" Lucy sobbed, burying her face against his chest.
"But you're all right now," Peter said softly, and he wasn't sure if it was specifically to him, or for all of them. "You're back, and we're all together again. Narnia is safe and the Witch is gone because of you, Ed. No one else."
Edmund snorted faintly, sniffling as he tried to find a way to dig for a handkerchief without dislodging Lucy. "I'd say you lot helped more then a little."
He found a handkerchief pressed to his nose, and Susan lifting him up a little as she demanded for him to blow. He sighed, but gave in. It wasn't as if he had much choice in the position that he was in anyway.
"I'm sorry, Edmund," Lucy cried, looking up at him with tears still streaking her cheeks. "Oh, if only I'd met the Witch instead. Or if I'd seen you come in behind me, and we'd both met with Mr. Tumnus together - "
"Stop that," Edmund told her sharply, more than slightly alarmed at the thought of Jadis getting her hands on his little sister. "What's done is done, Lu. Aslan said so. And if you hadn't met Mr. Tumnus, we wouldn't be here now. So don't blame yourself for what I've done."
Somehow in the darkness, he could see the warm smiles Peter and Susan were giving him.
Lucy looked thoughtful for a moment. "Then ... couldn't it also be said we wouldn't be here now if you hadn't met the Witch?"
The other three stared at her. "What?" Susan whispered.
Lucy frowned, looking slightly uncomfortable. "Well, it's just that ... If Edmund had never met the Witch, we never would have gone after him and met Aslan. And if we hadn't met Aslan ... "
"We wouldn't be where we are now," Peter breathed. He laughed suddenly, and Edmund and Lucy both made noises of protest as he squished them together in a hug. When he pulled away at last, they could see his warm, delighted smile even in the shadows. "You both brought us here, and together. You brought us home."
"Home," Susan echoed softly, leaning in to squeeze them all. After a moment she kissed each of her younger sibling's heads. "Narnia is home then, is it?"
Lucy grinned. "We're home, silly. Wherever we're all together is home." She looked thoughtful again. "But Narnia's so lovely and pretty, I suppose we could call it home, too."
Peter laughed again. "Could we?" he teased.
And they all found themselves curling up together in another tight hug before at last settling down as Susan gently scolded them to sleep. Edmund found he was still sandwiched between his older siblings with Lucy curled carefully around him, and decided that it was a rather nice place to be. He was warm and loved, and he could finally see that.
But still, for the sake of argument ...
"It would have been a lot more practical to do this in the girls' tent you know," Edmund grumbled. "They have beds."
"Do shut up, Ed," Peter mumbled sleepily.
And he did.