A/N: Another long story behind this one, which I'll leave to elsewhere for the sake of brevity. This one's dedicated to a friend of mine from church, who'll be heading out before too long for a new job. Best of luck to ya, and thanks for the memories, the laughs... and most importantly, for being a true brother in Christ. Gonna miss ya, but I know the friendship won't be broken.
Anyway, I don't own anything you recognize from Lewis's amazing masterpiece. Takes place not long after the end of Prince Caspian.
And for any of you wondering, the title comes from the Greek word for 'brothers.' Conveys a deeper sense of a bond than the English version, I think.
"Peter? I... need to talk."
There was a short pause in which I heard various scuffling noises before the door opened, and my brother simply gave me a small nod. "About time, Ed. You've been very quiet lately. And that usually means something's on your mind."
I couldn't suppress a slight smile at how well he knew me. The truth was, I had been quiet. I'd barely said a word the rest of the train trip (after realizing where my new torch had been left), and even a few days afterwards what was on my mind hadn't gone away. And that meant there was only one thing to do: go to Peter.
Glancing over his shoulder, I noted there was a half-finished letter sitting on his desk. "You're not busy, are you?"
Peter only rolled his eyes in a good-natured manner. "Ed, a letter to the girls can wait in favor of my brother who's right here at my door."
And that was why I usually went to Peter. He always seemed to know exactly what to say, especially when it came to me. Another slight smile began to slip onto my face. "Thank you."
My brother chuckled. "Save the thanks until I've actually helped you out." He motioned towards a chair. "What is it, Ed?"
Slowly I made my way over, and Peter closed the door. There was so much going through my head, I hardly knew where to begin. Fortunately, he was used to this, and patiently waited for words to come out of my mouth.
I started with him. "How does it feel, being told you're... not coming back?"
The answer was accompanied by a bit of a shrug. "Not... quite as awful as I might have expected. It's not a feeling I particularly like, but I'm needed here in our world now. It's where Aslan wants me at the moment. Who am I to question his judgment?"
Spoken like a true King. Then again, he'd always been one, at least in my eyes. Our first experience in Narnia only solidified that fact, it had just given him the title he'd already had. As Lune of Archenland had said that a king must be first in every attack and last in every retreat, so too had Peter always been first to his family's defense and aid, and last to back down when it came to us. Granted, he hadn't done it all the time, he wasn't perfect, after all, but even so he'd done his best.
"I'm glad you're... handling it all right. I'm not sure I'd have taken it that well."
Peter grinned slightly. "You'll understand better when your last time comes. We'll have much to talk about when that comes, I'm sure."
I nodded. "You're... certain I'll go back?"
"Quite. Aslan probably would have talked to you along with Su and I if you weren't."
Nodding again, I fell quiet. That was the reason I'd come, I truly wasn't sure if I liked that thought.
"You seem like you're not sure you like that thought."
He was good.
I never shared things outwardly as often as the rest of my family, and yet still Peter was able to read me exceptionally well. Then again, we'd fought side-by-side for how long? One tends to get to know a person fast in such a case.
"Peter... going back just won't be the same without you coming too..."
Peter stroked his chin, something he'd never been able to keep from doing once he started, regardless of whether a beard was there or not. "I'm not sure what to say, Ed... why is it you feel like that?"
Judging from his own expression, mine was completely incredulous. "Peter, how can you ask something like that? We've always been a team... the Just was never at his best without the Magnificent there supporting him. You're... you're my brother. Such great times we've had there... it just... won't be the same, doing it without you..."
I stopped there, trying to keep myself in check. Which was probably more out of habit than anything else, I felt comfortable around Peter, and even a King does have his hard moments. Right then, so many things I'd learned from my brother were flooding back to me. Tricks with the sword during spars for practice. The lengths a King must go for his people. The value of my family and how I should treat them. I couldn't even put it all into words. Another adventure in Narnia would be amazing, but... it would be tainted without Peter.
Amid my onslaught of racing thoughts, I suddenly realized his hand was on my shoulder. "Ed... the Just will never be without the Magnificent."
No answer came from me. I didn't have one. I wasn't sure one would have come out of my mouth even if I did.
"Were I in your position, you know what I'd think you'd say to me?"
I could only shake my head.
Peter smiled at me. "You'd tell me you'd never be far. That you'd always be fighting for me, wherever I was. That what you'd taught me would stay with me. That all you'd ever done for me would have left its mark. And because of all that, you'd still be right there with me."
And again, I was speechless. Peter didn't seem to mind, however, as he went on.
"You may have been the Just, Ed, and I the Magnificent. But each year, I saw you grow more magnificent yourself. You proved that our last adventure. You were the only one who really wanted to listen to Lu... that was far more king-like and magnificent of you than anything I'd done then."
I couldn't hold his gaze any longer. I dropped my head, which caused my brother to chuckle softly. "I may not be with you physically, Ed. But I can never fully leave, either." He ruffled my hair a bit, as he always did when trying to get me to lighten and loosen up. "And next time you go, Narnia will still have both the Just and Magnificent. You've found your own magnificence."
I gave him a small smile, which he returned. My voice finally found itself again, and I said, "I suppose you're right. And... you've taught me so much... the effect you've had on me... well, I can't exactly get rid of you that easily, let's put it like that."
His face reddened slightly as he smiled a bit wider. "Good. It means I've done my job. And I want to stick around you as long as I can."
I chuckled some myself, still sorting things through but feeling better able to do so. "Peter, you've been so much to me... a King, an advisor, a brother, a friend... I can't thank you enough."
He simply replied, "You don't need to. You're my brother, Ed. How could I ever treat you otherwise?"
That did it.
I knew I didn't do it often, but I yanked Peter over for a brotherly embrace. It was the only way to properly express myself, as the words just weren't coming. "I'm going to miss you the next time around..."
There was an 'urf' noise before my brother responded. "In all honesty, I'm probably going to be a slight bit jealous, but that'll be tempered easily enough. You'll tell me all about it, won't you?"
"As soon as I get back."
And with that, I felt better. We'd always share those years we had in Narnia. I'd have more, while all he could do now was hear my further tales, but we'd still share the bond. Nothing could ever break that bond, whether he was there at my side experiencing it all with me, or in another world entirely.
And even better, for the first time I realized that would always be enough.