TITLE: To Trust Without Fear
For Capegio of that Bucket over there
Summary: An anxious Peter feels a need to test himself with disastrous consequences.
Disclaimer: C.S. Lewis owns the characters. I just love them!
Warnings: Some violence. Non-Incest.
To Trust Without Fear
To know the power you wield over another soul is both an exhilaration and a burden few men are able to bear. The burden of responsibility. The burden of duty. The burden of love. To truly wield such power and understand its depth is to be great. To wield such power, to understand it, and to treasure and respect it, well, that is to be good.
"Edmund?" Peter called out, poking his head into the study of his younger brother, the Just King, "Are you free?"
"Of course, Peter." Edmund said, standing up to receive his brother.
Peter entered the room and gave Edmund a dutiful nod, which was returned in kind. Peter sat down across from Edmund, before Edmund sat down as well. The two brothers shared a silent moment and smile before Peter finally spoke.
"Ed, I was thinking. It's been quite some time since you and I saw much action with our swords. You're one of the best swordsmen I know." Peter said proudly, before Edmund raised half a smirk.
"Peter, considering there are only two men in Narnia, this is hardly a compliment of much stature."
Peter gave Edmund a deadpan expression and shook his head, amused, "So do you want to spar or not, Ed?"
"If that is what you'd like, of course." Edmund agreed, "But not until we have bid Lucy farewell for her little trip to Galma."
"Of course." Peter nodded, pleased Edmund had agreed, "I do fancy a good rollicking with a sword. I just feel I am getting a little stagnant. I need a good challenge to keep myself sharp and ready."
"As you say, Peter." Edmund smiled softly, "As you say."
The two brothers spent the rest of the morning performing their duties before they, along with their sister Susan, made their way down to the docks to bid Lucy a fond farewell. Despite the fact she was now a young woman of sixteen, Lucy rarely travelled alone outside of Narnia. This was a rather momentous occasion for her.
Peter was already fretting over Lucy's coming departure. She was a young woman, and more than capable, but he could not help worrying for his baby sister. Such fretting only served to heighten his other current worries, including his fear that he was growing complacent in the peace Narnia had experienced of late. He wanted to be ready at all times for any sudden conflict or crisis that might arise. It was for this reason that he was eager to test his mettle against his brother in a sparring session.
When time came for Lucy to depart, Peter stood on the docks, pacing nervously. He was still in two minds about whether to let Lucy go at all. She would have none of this and was anxious to depart. The beautiful young queen rushed to Peter on the docks, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly.
"Don't worry, Peter. I will be perfectly fine. Mr. Tumnus will make sure of that." Lucy urged, squeezing Peter's arms.
Peter grumbled a begrudging agreement and let her go. Susan and Edmund flanked Peter as they waved goodbye to Lucy. Edmund could see Peter was fretting a little as he watched Lucy's ship set sail. Peter always worried about the girls, Lucy especially. Stepping to Peter's side, Edmund squeezed Peter's shoulder.
"She'll be alright, Pete." Edmund assured.
"But will I be, Ed?" Peter chuckled weakly, "I suppose we cannot keep her in cotton wool forever."
"Technically you could. You are High King." Edmund smiled, "She will be fine."
"Thanks, Ed." Peter said gratefully, "So, how about that sparring match?"
"You seem to be quite intent on this, don't you?"
"Very much so."
Sometime later the central courtyard of Cair Paravel was prepared for a sparring session between King Peter and King Edmund. Many Narnian gathered to watch the spectacle. The Kings would duel in full armour with swords, with the best of five rounds winning. When King Edmund emerged to a raucous cheer of applause, he greeted it with a subtle nod. When King Peter emerged to an even louder cheer of applause, he greeted it with much more fervour and excitement. It was a clear contrast between the two young men. Peter was a passionate man. Edmund was far more subdued and logical.
"So, Ed, are you ready for a thrashing?" Peter said to Edmund as the pair began circling each other.
"If you so desire it, my Lord." Edmund replied dutifully.
"Come on, Ed! Get into the spirit of it!"
"Alright, Peter." Edmund nodded, lowering his visor, "In that case, I am not ready for any kind of thrashing. I will however dispense one upon you in the very near future, Brother."
"That's more like it." Peter grinned, charging forward with a horizontal strike.
Edmund stepped aside deftly, before he sliced in vertically, scoring an immediate point on Peter. Edmund's blade just grazed the tip of Peter's coif at the back of his neck. In battle, it would have been an instant kill. Edmund was swift enough to ensure that it only grazed the metal before he drew his sword back.
Peter was furious. Already!? Edmund already had a point on him? Edmund had speed over Peter's power. Peter would have to adapt. He would have to give his power the advantage over Edmund's speed.
"So, Peter, about that thrashing?" Edmund said with a smirk.
"Shut it, Ed." Peter growled, turning back to Edmund.
Edmund assumed a defensive posture, sensing Peter would come hard at him on the next round. He was not wrong. Peter did not bother with any strike this time. He charged at Edmund, feigning a strike with his sword before he thrust his shield instead and smashed it into Edmund's visor. The shield thrust had enough force to knock Edmund's helmet right off. Edmund staggered backward but held his ground and tried to recover, only to find Peter kicking him back before he raised his sword to strike.
Edmund countered the strike with his shield, blocking the attack. Even though he managed to block he still took the force of the blow and staggered backward more. Edmund's speed was not helping him when he could not recover quickly enough from Peter's ceaseless power strikes to use it. Edmund was unable to counter Peter's blows and was knocked clear out of bounds.
"What was that about thrashing, Ed?" Peter smirked, flush with exertion.
Peter offered his hand to help Edmund up and Edmund took it. The pair returned to the centre of the sparring ring before they assumed position again. The points were even. Edmund was feeling a little flustered and dizzy from Peter's shield thrust to his head. It was a harder blow than he expected.
Edmund had little time to recover as immediately Peter charged at him again. Edmund was on the backfoot from the start. Using the same strategies, Peter powered Edmund toward a corner of the ring. He wasn't content for a ring out this time. He wanted to score the point. Edmund's shield was deftly blocking his strikes so Peter swung his sword with enough force to knock it clean off.
Now without a shield Edmund was forced to his sword to parry Peter's attacks. It was difficult to do as Peter's powerful strikes staggered Edmund, even when he managed to block. Edmund dove under one of Peter's strikes, which just barely missed his head. He rolled up behind Peter's back, kicking Peter in the ass and knocking him off balance.
"That hardly counts as a point, Ed." Peter groaned, turning and rushing back at Edmund.
"No, but it is awful good fun." Edmund smirked, dashing aside.
Peter used the unorthodox method of throwing his shield at Edmund's legs. The hit was enough to knock Edmund off balance. This allowed Peter enough time to catch him and deliver a strike that clipped Edmund's chest armour and knocked him to the ground.
Edmund groaned and took the moment to recover his breath. He was not feeling very confident at all. He pulled himself to his feet and walked slowly back to the centre of the ring. Peter wanted his sparring session and Edmund would not deny him.
Edmund didn't bother to pick up his shield or put his helmet back on. Speed was his advantage and he would use it now. Peter had two points and he had one. He needed to score the next point to keep himself in the duel.
This time when the next round began, Edmund charged at Peter. The two Kings met in a fierce battle of blows. Edmund's adrenaline had given him a second wind against his larger and stronger brother. Peter was a little taken by surprise at Edmund's strategy of fighting him head on, and in an effective manner at that.
Edmund deflected Peter's blows at such an angle that it was not a direct block. This caused Peter's momentum to continue and exposed his chest armour to a sound smack. Edmund's sword banged off Peter's armour and scored the Just King an equalizing point.
Two points each. Next point would win the match. Peter was infuriated that he lost the last point. He was completely into this match. His eyes were alight with fire and determination. To him this was a battle. Adrenaline coursed through his veins, driving him to fight with all he had. While Edmund still had enough sense to consider this nothing more than a charged duel, Peter had crossed the line. He would win at all cost.
Edmund had picked up his shield for this last round and used it to deflect Peter's first blow. When Edmund tried to counter with a blow of his own, Peter growled angrily and kicked at Edmund's leg hard enough to buckle it. When Edmund gasped, Peter slammed his shield into Edmund's face, smashing it backwards. Edmund still countered with his own shield and a last ditch flurry of strikes. Peter let out a mighty battle cry and stepped into Edmund's strikes, smacking them aside one after the other before he smashed Edmund's shield away with enough force to knock it out of his hand. The moment the shield was gone, Edmund was exposed. He made a last ditch effort to score a point against Peter's neck. Peter parried the strike and in the same motion thrust his sword at Edmund's chest with all his might. It all happened so fast that Peter did not even realize his sword had impaled Edmund through his chest.
The adrenaline of the fight didn't immediately register to Peter what he'd done. He raised his hands in victory, much to the stunned surprise of the horrified crowd. Peter threw off his helmet cried out in triumph until he heard the clank of metal hitting the ground. He turned back and his eyes went wide with horror. He realized his sword wasn't in his hand. The moment of the last strike played back in his mind. He realized now what he'd done. He'd run his own brother through with a sword.
"Ed!" Peter cried, falling to his knees beside Edmund.
Edmund's eyes were wide, staring at Peter in disbelief, "You ... you ..."
The fear, the betrayal, the look in Edmund's eyes was almost unbearable for Peter. Edmund made a sickening groan as he lay on his side on the ground, impaled by Rhindon. A pool of blood was forming around him and Peter was horrified that no one was helping Edmund. It was as if the Narnian feared that this was somehow the High King's will to slay Edmund.
"HELP HIM!" Peter screamed, "Help him!"
Peter was screaming in wild disbelief, frantic with guilt, disbelief, and horror at what he'd done. He'd lost his head and gone too far. He'd stabbed his brother. He'd impaled Edmund. The healers were quick to tend to Edmund, but the injury was grievous.
"Peter!" Susan screamed, rushing out of the crowd to Peter's side, "What have you done!?"
"Lucy!" Peter cried out to her, "We need Lucy!"
Even as Edmund began to fade in and out of consciousness, his eyes kept staring at Peter as if to say 'Why? I trusted you. How could you do this to me? Why, Peter?' Peter had no answer as Edmund was raised onto a gurney and rushed away to the infirmary. Peter was in shock, slumping down into Edmund's pool of blood. He screamed into it, his face smearing with his younger brother's blood. It was still so warm, but growing colder by the moment. Would Edmund suffer the same fate as well?
An hour later, Peter was a mess of tears outside the infirmary, pacing back and forth. With Lucy out to sea, there was no choice but to perform immediate surgery on Edmund. Peter knew the injury was grave, and the fact he'd received no news was truly troubling. When a healer finally came out to speak to him, Peter was shaking with his anguished cries.
"I'm afraid the news is not good." The healer said to Peter, behind whom Susan stood.
"Please. Is he going to be okay?" Peter asked frantically.
"I'm afraid he's lost ... too much blood. The injury was very grave. An artery was severed and there is significant internal damage and we fear his heart may have suffered damage as well. We have stemmed his bleeding as best we can and are doing our very best to aid him, but ... you must prepare yourself for the likelihood that King Edmund will depart this mortal coil in the near future."
Peter simply stood silently as he digested what the healer had said to him. He was numb with disbelief. He could only stare silently, mournfully, trying to comprehend how his little brother was facing death because Peter felt a need to prove himself and got carried away in the moment.
"I ... I need to speak to him." Peter whispered, his voice frail and ghostly.
"I ask that you do not keep him any longer than is absolutely necessary."
Peter merely grunted weakly in response as he made his way into the operating area where Edmund was laid out. All about Edmund were blood stained sheets. His armour was strewn about on the ground, and Edmund himself was naked as the day he was born. He was still on his side, his chest and back bandaged after some crude surgery. He seemed nothing but a boy to Peter in this state. A boy who trusted him.
Peter could not accept that Edmund would die. He refused to believe it. His speediest gryphon had already been sent out to track Lucy's ship. It was sailing north along the coastline so it should be easy to track. Foul weather had been sighted north and that would prove to be the biggest hindrance in reaching Lucy, particularly when time was such a critical factor.
"Ed?" Peter said softly, noting that Edmund's eyes were barely open.
Edmund did not respond. He was clearly on some kind of sedative herb. Peter surmised that the pain must be incredible. He still could not believe he'd thrust his sword into Edmund with enough force to impale him. He just wanted the point, and for that, his brother lay dying.
"Peter ..." Edmund whispered softly, "Why did you do it?"
"I thought ... I thought you'd guard."
"I didn't ... think you'd ... use that ... strike against me. I ... trusted you ..." Edmund moaned with discomfort, "... without fear."
"As you should have, Ed." Peter gasped, feeling quite endlessly miserable, "As you should have."
Edmund was too weak to say anymore. Peter couldn't even muster an apology. His mouth simply hung open, but words would not vocalize. In the end he settled for softly covering Edmund's hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. It was not enough, he knew that. He simply did not know what he could say to Edmund.
A little while later when the healers came to perform another series of actions upon Edmund, Peter watched. He watched as they removed his bandages and inspected the wounds on chest and back. Edmund groaned as he was given more sedative to help him deal with the pain. He couldn't move his legs. The healers weren't sure if it was because Peter had paralyzed him in the strike or if there was some other explanation why his feet were without feeling or ability to move. Time would tell.
Peter rushed out of the infirmary and right into Susan's arms. While she was attempting to comfort him, it was he who instigated the hug. A hug so fierce he raised her off the ground with it. When he finally set her down, she pulled back but kept her hands on his arms. She was angry, but she would not forsake her High King.
"Peter. What have you done to our brother?" Susan asked, her composure a stark contrast to Peter's anguished expression.
"I have betrayed his trust. He trusted me not to hurt him. I had no idea how ... sacred that trust was. All I wanted was that stupid point. I don't know why I wanted so fiercely to prove myself. Is this the price I pay for my greed and arrogance? Must Edmund be the price to humble me?" Peter asked, doing his best not to sob as he spoke, "I have lived here these years to defend my Narnia and my family. How can I be the one to hurt my family?"
The words lingered on the air between the two oldest monarchs. They were as mother and father of Narnia. Edmund was both Peter's brother, his best friend, and in some ways, almost a son. He would never dare say that out loud to Edmund, but it was how he felt at times. His pride for Edmund's change in character since the encounter with the White Witch was insurmountable. Edmund had proven himself in so many ways. To lose such quiet dignity, such grace, and such witty quips that Edmund possessed in great number, would be too much for Peter to bear.
Hours passed and each hour seemed to hasten Edmund's fate. His situation was still grim. All efforts were being made to save Edmund, but for Peter the only thing he wanted was for Lucy to be home with her cordial. That would make the difference. If Edmund did not survive long enough for Lucy to return home, it wouldn't matter how much cordial she gave him.
"Majesty." The lead healer, Demar said as he exited the infirmary to where Peter was still pacing anxiously, "We have an update on his condition for you."
"Then speak it!" Peter demanded quickly, "Please speak it quickly."
"His condition is ... precarious. I fear that ... his soul sickness is hindering his body's ability to help us stabilize his condition."
"I beg your pardon, Sir?" Peter asked in confusion, "Soul sickness? What in Aslan's mane is that?"
"Our task is to heal him in all ways. If his soul is not fighting to live, then his body will never succeed in doing the same either, Sire. We need both as one, fighting to survive." The healer stated, "King Edmund talks in his drugged state. He cries, but not for the pain of his injuries. He talks about trust. He talks about you, Sire. He keeps asking why you hurt him. He is delirious but I believe this has to do with why his heart and soul are lacking in will to live."
"That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard." Peter gasped, almost affronted by such a suggestion, "Surely you cannot be serious."
"As ridiculous as the deep magic, Sire."
Peter frowned and nodded his head begrudgingly. Even now in this land of wonder and magic, where things did not always happen the same way as in the world of Spare Oom.
"Sire, if you wish our medicine to work more ably, we need to cure the sickness in his soul." Demar said softly, "In this fashion, only you can help him, I believe."
Peter turned to Susan with anxious eyes. He nodded to the healer and led Susan away by the hand. She was the voice of sense and reason. She was the one who could approach a problem with the most calm and grace of all the monarchs.
"What do I do, Su?" Peter asked, squeezing her hands far too tightly, "I do not even know how to ask forgiveness. I have hurt him. My own flesh, my own blood. My brother."
Susan clasped Peter's face in her hands, staring intently at him, "You do what you have to do. You do not have the luxury of guilt. You must press forward. You must go to him. You must ensure he knows your grief for your mistake and your promise to never do harm upon him again. You have defiled his trust in you, Peter, and you must regain it. No matter the cost."
Susan's words reverberated through Peter, doing little to ease his guilt for his actions. Edmund's physical wounds could not be healed by Peter, but perhaps his soul sickness could be. With that thought and hope in mind, Peter set out for the infirmary to see his younger brother.
Edmund was shivering and sweaty, his eyes half mast. He was clearly awake but Peter knew he was likely under the influence of some kind of medicinal sedative. Peter's eyes traced the blood stained bandages on Edmund's chest and frowned. He sat down, sighing as he looked at Edmund.
"Brother?" Peter said softly, "Ed?"
Edmund's bloodshot eyes flittered around until they settled on Peter, "Pete?"
Peter smiled at the weak recognition of his presence. He did not fully understand why Edmund was made to remain awake when surely rest would serve a greater purpose. He would have faith in his healers, for they had proven themselves too many times in the past to be questioned now.
"Ed." Peter said softly, but firmly, "I do not even know how to tell you that I am truly sorry for what I have done to you. I have betrayed your trust. I have broken your trust in me."
Edmund stared at Peter silently, saying nothing. He was too weak, too out of sorts to formulate a proper reply. His eyes seemed to speak to Peter in lieu of any words. Peter knew Edmund was registering what he was saying. It was enough to urge Peter to continue.
"I was selfish. I was wrong. I used my own insecurities to fuel my need for self gratification of abilities I should know are already there." Peter had tears in his eyes as he spoke, realizing how very true his words were, "I have been anxious in anticipation of Lucy's departure. That is no excuse. I pride myself on taking care of my family. I know I have shattered something inside you that cannot be easily fixed. But I promise you, Ed, with all my heart, and on the crown I do not feel worthy to wear today, I will do everything I can to win back your trust. You trusted me to protect you, not hurt you. You trusted me without fear because you believed I would never hurt you as I have today. I beg you, fight to live, for me. I shall never be able to forgive myself if I do not get the chance to earn your forgiveness. I am in need of your grace, Ed, to give me the chance to prove myself to you again. Please do not let my arrogance and greed deprive Narnia of her Just King, or our family of the fairest of us all. I need you, Ed. Please. I love you. I am proud of you. And I am so utterly sorry for what I have done to you today. Please forgive me."
-- To Be Continued --