I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies.


Farewell

"You promised," Edmund says, his voice hurt and the slightest bit accusing. Peter, seated at his desk, puts his face in his hands, shoulders hunched defensively. He is silent for a moment, rubbing at his eyes tiredly, then he says in a weary voice,

"I know, Ed. I'm sorry."

"But you promised," Edmund insists from across the desk, his hands curling into fists at his sides.

"I promised," Peter agrees morosely. "I'm breaking my word. I'm sorry. But I…I have to. I'm bound by duty to go."

"Duty." Edmund's voice is bitter.

"Yes, Edmund," Peter says, lifting his head up to try and meet his little brother's eyes, but Edmund turns his back on him. "Please don't be like this."

"You promised," Edmund says. Peter can hear the tears in his tone.

"By Aslan, Edmund," he says, harsher than he meant. "Don't be like this. I'll be back."

"You promise?" the younger king says scathingly, his back still turned to his brother. Peter bites his lip angrily.

"For the love of Aslan, Ed," he mutters unhappily. "You know I have to. It's our country – as High King, I'm sworn to defend it."

"Perhaps you shouldn't have sworn two things that conflict one another," Edmund says resentfully.

"I'm sorry."

"Not sorry enough to stay."

"No, not sorry enough to stay," Peter agrees. He isn't happy about this, but he knows he must. There is a long moment of tortured silence before he stands, staring at his brother's velvet-clad back, the longish dark hair that curls around the backs of his ears, the litheness of his form.

"Edmund," he says. "I leave tomorrow at dawn. Will you see me off?"

The younger king is silent for a long while. When at last he turns back around, his deep brown eyes are glittering with tears, and the silent hurt upon his face is painful for his brother to watch.

"Yes," he whispers. "I'll see you ride off, Peter, and every night I will lie awake and wonder if you've been killed, or if it will happen the next day, or the next – it will happen. I know you won't come back. If you ride out, you ride to your death."

"I will come back, Edmund," Peter said quietly, but firmly. "I'll return to you. You can no longer trust my word, but perhaps you can still trust me enough to know. No matter what happens, no matter the cost to me, I will always return."

Edmund avoids his eyes. When at last he lifts them to gaze into Peter's startling blue, he says but three words.

"Be safe, Peter."

Peter clasps him close, kisses his temple and lets him weep softly, not once telling him it does not befit a king, or that it isn't all right. When the shaking body in his arms at last stills, he rests his chin on Edmund's dark hair and sighs.

"I shall miss you terribly, Ed."

"And I you," Ed whispers into his neck.

Peter pulls away, looks his brother in the eyes somberly and finally bends to kiss his forehead once more.

"Farewell."