I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. I'm about to post about four or five fics that never made it onto this site. This is the first.
When Peter is nine, his aunt sends him candy for his birthday. It's not the cheap kind that they sell at the corner store, not the kind that sticks in the wrapper and on your teeth, but smooth, creamy peppermints and gold-foiled butterscotch marbles that melt over your tongue and linger for hours and hours. It's also the expensive kind, so there isn't much of it. There are only three pieces of each kind. They are quite precious to him – he likes his aunt, and her gift is quite a treasure, so with a self-control that astounds his parents, he manages not to eat them all in one night, but saves his six candies for "a special time."
The first peppermint he gives to his mother, when her dear friend Julia moves away from Finchley. He finds her crying on the porch, and even though he is perturbed at her tears, he knows he has to do something about it, and the only thing he can think of is to sit beside her, reach into his pocket and pull out one of his prized candies. With a muffled sob in her voice, she tries to tell him to keep it, but he insists wordlessly, pressing it into her hand. After a long battle of silence and entreating blue eyes, she unwraps it, and eats. And Peter knows he has done his job. She folds her arms around her eldest son and tells him tearfully how lucky she feels to have such a caring boy.
The first butterscotch, he gives to Lucy. She had wanted to play with him and Edmund, but they were building a secret lair in one of the high trees, and when they lifted her up into the branches, she got scared. He is afraid she will run and tell Mother, which means he and Ed will get in trouble, so he offers her a compromise: he'll give her a candy if she won't tell. Of course, he also knows it will make her happy, and he can't resist doing something to earn one of those gleaming smiles that Lucy has become so good at. And when she pops it into her mouth, her lips curve until her beautifully crooked teeth are in full few and her eyes dance with the joy of being allowed to enjoy one of her big brother's treasures. He smiles, too. And she keeps her word.
The second peppermint goes to Edmund, though not because Peter gave it to him. Peter comes home after school one day, sets down his books on the table in the family room, and heads upstairs to the bedroom that he and his brother share. When he comes in, Edmund is hurriedly shoving something in the crack between the bed frame and the mattress, guilt written all across his face, shoulders hunched defensively as Peter comes to stand before him, asking what he's hiding. Ed refuses to say, and Peter pushes him aside, fingers digging where he has seen Edmund hiding something; what he finds is a crinkled piece of silver foil and a faint peppermint dust floating to settle on the sheets. Peter doesn't feel angry, really, he just feels a sick sense of disappointment in the loss of both his candy and his trust in his brother. He doesn't say anything. Perhaps that hurts Edmund more than words would have.
The third peppermint is a gift to Susan, who was picked on by the boys from Peter's school when she came to walk home with him. He gives her more than the candy in that he also punches one of the other boys in the nose and tells them to leave her alone, which they do, scattering across the school yard. But she is still crying, and even though on the inside he is sighing, girls, he takes the piece out of his coat pocket and offers it to her (he doesn't keep them at home anymore after what Edmund did). She accepts gratefully, and later that evening, she helps him with his chores and tells him in a small voice that she is thankful for his protection. He thinks it is a candy well-spent.
The second butterscotch is the one he proudly presents to his father when he gets the job he's been wanting. Mr. Pevensie comes hurrying through the door, removing his hat and kissing his wife on the lips before happily announcing that "By Jove, I got it!" and Peter is so proud and happy for Father that he can't think of anything to do but hurry off to grab the candy and give it to him, even though the man isn't terribly fond of sweets. It's just that he doesn't know how else to say how terribly happy he is. His father ruffles his hair and smiles at him, accepting the gift with proper ceremony, and Peter brims with delight. He has one candy left.
Peter sits alone on his bed. It is just past bedtime, and the lights are out, but the moon is out too and it's enough for him to see by. He is cross-legged, in his blue flannel pyjamas, thinking, staring at the last little gold-wrapped candy in his lap. This will be the first candy from his aunt that he actually gets to eat himself. He thinks he should save it for a special time, but another part of him says that this is it, that he shouldn't have to wait any longer, that he may as well, so he carefully unwraps it until the honey-brown candy is resting on its wrapper on the bedsheets. And then he hears it, a small, smothered sob from the bed across from his.
"Ed?" he asks softly. He doesn't want to get caught up after bedtime. When he gets no reply, he tries again. "Edmund?"
He moves across the room, abandoning the candy on his bed. He perches on the edge of the mattress where Edmund is supposed to be sleeping, reaching across and putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. Ed shies away, trying to wrest him off, but Peter's hand only grips tighter until Edmund stills, though he still trembles. Peter asks in a whisper,
"Ed, what happened?"
"Go away," Edmund says miserably, still turned away. But Peter thinks he already knows the answer, noticing now the bruises on the side of his brother's face. He runs two fingers over them, and Ed flinches.
"Did the boys at school do this?" he asks quietly. Edmund freezes, and again Peter has an answer. "Hold still."
He moves back to his bed, the last, lonely butterscotch piece glinting on its foil. He picks it up with just his fingertips so it won't get sticky before it's eaten, then takes it back over to where Edmund has of course not held still, now sitting up in bed with his arms wrapped around his skinny knees.
"Here," Peter says. He holds out the candy. He still has a hard time trusting his brother, but he will never have trouble loving him. Edmund eyes him for a long moment, tears mingling with the bruises on his cheeks, before reaching out with a shaking hand and accepting it. Peter watches it make its way to his brother's lips before it was gone – he would never taste his candy, never enjoy the gift given to him.
And yet, when Edmund shyly puts his arms around Peter's shoulders and whispers his embarrassed thanks, Peter knows it was worth it.