I don't own Narnia or the Pevensies. This, and the previous fic, were inspired by prompts done in collaboration with SubOrbital.
It was winter in Narnia. The snow had fallen, blanketing the world in innocence, draping a white sheet over everything from the lamppost to the shining turrets of Cair Paravel on the Eastern Ocean. And the Narnians were joyful – the world was beautiful, the harvest had been more than enough, and they were at peace; asking for more would be greedy. Yet for one shivering boy, alone on the ramparts with the snow settling into his dark hair, the beauty could not heal, the food could not fill, and his mind was not at all at peace.
His cloak, thin and billowing in the insistent wind, whipped around his ankles as he gazed out over the castle walls. The ocean seemed a pale grey, and the sandy shores were dulled in contrast to their usual vibrancy. There were no gull cries to ease the silence, nor did they swoop over the sea like they would any other season. And in the back of his mind, there was a steady doubt, wondering if life would ever return to the land, wondering if winter would ever come to an end, or if as to pay the debt of his sin, it would stretch into eternity and damn his country.
He desired little more than to return to the warm castle halls, where his sisters would no doubt be planning the solstice ball. There was no pleasure for him in watching his most hated season take hold, but he forced himself to watch, as if he could keep vigil by doing so, no matter how it pained him in his heart. So intent was he on the world outside the wall that he did not notice another young man step out of the castle, squinting up at him in the harsh snow-glare of the morning.
"Ed!" the man called after a moment. The boy turned, an involuntary sigh of relief escaping his chill-chapped lips to frost in the air. "Come inside. You'll catch your death out here."
He did not reply, but silently made his way to the stairs and descended, booted footsteps echoing in the empty courtyard. He was slightly surprised when he looked up and found that the other young man had waited for him, icy blue eyes somehow warmer than everything around them, lips playing in an easy smile. When the boy approached, his companion fell into step beside him, casting him a questioning glance. It went unanswered.
The two reentered the castle through a small side door, stepping into the welcoming heat of a torch-lit passage. The elder led the way through the corridor, the boy trailing obediently behind, until they emerged into a tall, carpeted room, lavishly decorated with tapestries and portraits. A towering fireplace was lit and crackling away fiercely. There, the boy found himself steered to a soft couch, gently pushed into the cushions, and his wet cloak peeled from his shoulders.
"There you are," the elder said, smiling and hanging the cloak to dry by the fire. He reached over and brushed some of the snow out of the other boy's dark hair, then settled down onto the opposite end of the couch and crossed his legs. After a few minutes, filled by the pops and hisses of the fire, a faun entered bearing a tray with two steaming, identical teacups. The two young men accepted them gratefully. Another long moment passed as they sipped their drinks.
"Edmund," the elder said at last, the hint of a question in his voice. The boy looked up from where he'd been staring into his tea and met his eyes, albeit reluctantly. "What were you doing out there?"
"Thinking," the boy replied quietly, reverting his gaze back to his tea.
Another long pause.
"Are you all right?
A shrug. In truth, he boy wanted nothing more than to say that no, he was not all right, not in the least, that he needed somebody to put their arms around him and tell him that it was all right, that the snow would melt and this pain would ease and that it was all right to cry, for he hadn't in so long and it was beginning to hurt, but he couldn't. When you were fifteen, you didn't get those kinds of people. You had to learn to cope on your own. So he left it at a shrug and drank again from his bitter cup, feeling the steam ghosting warmly across his face.
He looked up wearily, then set his teacup on a neighboring table. The elder did the same. They locked eyes for a moment, and the boy tried, he tried so hard, but he couldn't help it – the warmth of the other boy's arms seemed to be weakening his resolve, melting the ice in his own eyes so that they glimmered with spring hope, slipping down his pale cheeks, dampening his already damp tunic. And the blue-eyed boy knew what to do.
Scooting across the couch, he pulled his brother to him, wrapped his arms around him and told him it was all right, that the snow would melt and that his pain would ease and that it was all right to cry. Held him until his sobs stopped shaking his frail body, stroked his hair and kissed his temple, clasped him in a tight embrace with steady arms and promised that spring would come one day.
And Edmund, leaning into his brother's strong embrace, finally felt winter come to a close inside himself. Peter smiled.