Disclaimer: I do not own any of CS Lewis' books or characters or actors that play the characters.
Notes: This is totally AU from the books and movies, yet still maintains many elements from both, so sorry if this is confusing or weird.
It had been ten generations since the Telmarines have invaded Narnia. Over two hundred years since they exterminated, or nearly so, all of the beasts and tree-spirits. Those that had not been killed in the great battles between Telmar and Narnia were captured and killed for sport. Any that had tried to escape were hunted, the Dwarves, Centaurs, Satyrs, Fauns, any beast or bird that uttered the language of men. The trees that housed the Dryads were cut down for lumber.
Only the humans, the precious few remaining of the Old Narnians, were allowed to survive. But they were treated as no better than slaves, subject to the rule of the Telmarine kings, forced to earn their living with back-breaking labor.
And now, it was Miraz who sat on the Telmarine throne, first of that name. For the past centuries, Miraz's ancestors have worked to blot out the existence of the "Old Narnians." So thorough had been the Telmarines in the scourging of the land that even tales of talking beasts and mystical creatures became whispered rumors, lost in the wind. Yet, these rumors, and perhaps more, still remained everlastingly strong.
"Peter! Peter, wake up!" the shrill voice of his youngest sister pierced the dreams of the sleeping teenager.
"What is it," he mumbled, rubbing at his face. He was annoyed that he was awoken from the escape that was sleep, now painfully reminded how lumpy his bed was and how thin the blankets were.
"It's them," Lucy said, and Peter realized how frightened her voice rang in the dark. He could barely make out her shape next to his bed but he could tell that she was trembling. "Telmarine soldiers. They're back!"
Instantly, Peter was awake. Sitting up, he gently put his hands on her small shoulders to calm her.
"It's alright, Lucy," he whispered. He became aware of the noises, shouts and heavy footfalls, coming from outside the small house they lived in. He could see many torch lights flickering and waving about from the window.
"Go to your room," he told her quickly. "Lock the door and don't come out. Close the windows and get into bed. Don't come out, do you hear me, Lucy?"
When she would not stop shaking, he pulled her skinny frame into his arms and pressed a kiss to her hair, trying to reassure her. She was crying, afraid.
"I wish Mother was here," she whimpered, her small hands clutching at Peter's worn nightshirt.
"Shh, it's alright, it's alright, Darling," Peter whispered, gently running his hands over her back and frantically trying to calm his sister while his own heart was pounding in a wild panic as the shouting grew louder outside. His mind tried to work out what to do. He knew that the village could not hope to fight the soldiers off, not after the last raid. What did they want?
"Look, Lucy, you're going to go up to your bed and lie down. Go to sleep – you'll have Thomas-Bear with you, right? – and you'll wake up in the morning, and everything will be fine. I'll be down in the kitchen making you breakfast, and everything will be alright, I promise."
Finally, Lucy nodded and pulled away. "Good girl," Peter said, and gave her a little push towards the door. She ran out, the pink of her dressing-gown fluttering behind her. As soon as she was gone, Peter turned to the other occupant of his bed, Edmund. Amazingly, his little brother had not yet awakened through all the noise. The boy could sleep through an earthquake.
Peter shook him awake. "Edmund!" he whispered fiercely.
"What?" came the sleepy whine of the 12-year-old.
"Telmarine soldiers! They're here!" said Peter, just as a loud pounding on the door sounded, making both of them jump. Raucous yelling, tinged with the heavy Telmarine accent could be heard, demanding and angry. Eyes wide, Edmund froze with fear while Peter sprang up out of bed. The older boy yanked on his trousers and thrust his feet into boots.
"I want you to stay here," Peter said sternly to Edmund, while tucking in his nightshirt. "Lock the door behind me. Put a chair up against it. Close and bar the windows and don't open them until I get back."
"I'm coming with you!" said Edmund, snapping out of his stupor, and he jumped out of bed as well.
"No!" said Peter, his voice tense and clipped. He grabbed the smaller boy and gave him an angry little shake. "Do as you're told, Edmund!" and he ran out of the room with Edmund stubbornly trotting after him.
"I'm not staying behind!" yelled Edmund indignantly, following Peter to the parlor. Peter just had time to grab his father's sword off the mantel and strap it to his waist when the door was kicked in with a terrific smash. The two brothers stilled, frightened, as three armored Telmarine men barged into the room.
"Ill-mannered peasants!" one of them snarled, pointing a crossbow at them. "Did you not hear us knocking!"
"We have done nothing wrong," Peter said bravely, staring right at them and trying not to let his voice quiver. He stepped in front of his brother, shielding him. "Please, leave our home. We have no valuables to give you."
"Hold your tongue, boy!" another one snapped. He grabbed Peter roughly by the arm and yanked him towards the door. "You will come with us. You two," he barked at the other men, "take the other one."
"Stop!" yelled Peter, twisting in the soldier's grip. He saw the other two Telmarines grab hold of a struggling Edmund. "He's my little brother. He's just a kid! He hasn't done anything wrong, sir, please! Let him be!"
Peter grunted as the one holding him grabbed his collar and jerked him up, nose-to-nose with the soldier. He gulped and fought his panicky breathing and kept his face unflinching as he was rudely scrutinized by the Telmarine.
After a few moments, the soldier holding Peter smiled a sneering smile. "I know you," he said in a nasty voice. "Or rather, I knew your father. Pevensie."
The soldier laughed as Peter's jaw twitched at the mention of his father. "He was a foolish man, your father. Fought, when he should have yielded. And he died. Don't be stupid like your old man, boy, and you may yet live."
"Don't talk about my father!" Peter growled, before he could stop himself, his fists clenching at his sides.
The soldier chuckled cruelly. "And I know your dark-haired sister," he drawled, watching with amusement as Peter's face went pale.
"Susan?" gasped Peter.
The soldier merely laughed again and shoved Peter out the door so that he almost fell. "Leave the other one!" he called to his men. "We have no need for him yet."
"No! Where are you taking him, you brutes?" Peter could hear Edmund yell from inside the house.
"Stay inside, Edmund! For my sake, just stay inside!" Peter yelled behind him as the other two men came and hauled him up by the arms, dragging him off to the village square.
The cold of the early winter night hit Peter like a punch and he immediately started shivering, as he was only wearing his thin nightshirt. The soldiers walked him, none too gently, to where Peter could see dozens of other families also being dragged out of their homes. He saw men and women, youths and girls the same age as he, all huddled together at the town center. He was made to join them and they were held at sword point.
Trembling, Peter looked around and saw armed men everywhere, on horseback and on foot. He gripped the hilt of the sword at his belt, but knew that it would be foolishness to try to draw it. He would be dead in an instant, along with his family.
The sobbing and frightened clamoring of the crowd went silent as an arrogant Telmarine official rode forward on his stallion. He gave a drawn-out, disdainful look over the assembled people.
"What do you want?!" shouted a man, breaking the silence. The townspeople immediately began shouting, cursing and shaking their fists at the man on horseback. "Leave our village in peace!" cried an old woman. "We have give you horses, sheep, swine! We have give you grain and milk! What more would your king take from us?!"
"Silence!" shouted the official, and the soldiers behind him raised their crossbows at the people. Immediately, the din quieted and angry faces were replaced by ones of fear.
Smirking haughtily, the official raised a scroll and began to read. "By the decree of his Majesty, King Miraz, the head of each household in each Narnian village will be required to give up two members, young and of good health. They will be given the privilege of laboring for our gracious King, taking part of building a newer and better nation. Their work will benefit our country and be remembered in its days of glory. Resistance will be punished. Long Live the King!"
A shocked silence descended over the town as the herald finished speaking, the only sound being the crackling of torchlight and the nickering of horses.
"You would take our children from us," came the low gasp of the man that spoke before. "You would make them into slaves!"
"Murderers!" screeched another. "You have taken our homes, our lives, our land, and now you would tear the remnants of our families apart!"
"Narnians," spat the official, disgust in his voice. "Ill-bred, ungrateful, and ignorant. Is it not time you all paid the king back for his kindness? For letting you live on his land? We will have our prisoners, yes, we will drag your children from their beds if you do not give them up willingly!"
Peter felt a fury unlike he had ever experienced before build up in his stomach. He did not even feel his own hand moving as his sword flew out of its sheath, pointed menacingly at the Telmarine who had made the decree. He did not recognize his own voice, guttural and laden with rage.
"Try and take them, then." As if his words were the spark that started the fire, all pandemonium proceeded to break loose.
Like water bursting from a dam, with a mighty roar, the villagers surged against their captors, screaming and fighting. Arrows flew through the air, killing and maiming, yet the townspeople attacked back with such a ferocity only borne of having their children threatened. Soldiers were dragged off of their horses and bludgeoned. Lances and crossbows became useless at close distance.
Peter was consumed by battle-lust as joined the frenzy with a shout, rage and the fierce protectiveness for his loved ones overwhelming him.
Yet, such a fight, though valiant, was doomed to be lost. Peter rained down blows upon any Telmarine that got close to him, slashing and hacking. But he stopped and watched in horror as he saw more and more soldiers converge upon the small town. The townspeople were being slain like livestock and the soldiers were now attacking their homes as the violence escalated. Children and the elderly were being dragged out of their houses. The soldiers were throwing their torches at the cottages and barns, burning and pillaging.
Letting out a wordless cry of horror, Peter saw Edmund and Lucy being dragged out of their home still in their nightclothes, fighting and screaming. Wildly, Peter beat off a Telmarine that was attacking him and ran for his siblings.
In a fit of rage, he stabbed at the Telmarine that held Edmund, saw the man drop. Barely pausing, Peter brought his sword down with all his might at the arm which gripped a sobbing Lucy by the hair. A scream and a splash of blood were all that registered in his mind as he swung the sword again, in a horizontal arc, decapitating the soldier.
As his sister started to collapse, Peter grabbed her and lifted her up. He looked around him and all he saw was destruction and death. Screams of people and animals filled the air. In his young life, he had not seen so much carnage since he was a child, when the Telmarines had attacked the first time. The fire had glinted off of blood-stained metal the same way as it did now, and Peter felt his sword-arm grow slack. His lungs were hurting.
Flame and steel. Fire and sword. Father dying. They would die, all of them, by the fire or by the sword. There was no valor in such slaughter, only the cacophony of screams and bellows. Letting out a breath of defeat, Peter made his choice.
"STOP!" he cried to anyone that would hear him. "Stop! Stop!"
As a group of horsed soldiers charged towards him, he did nothing but shield his two siblings with his body. He dropped his sword to the ground and fell on his knees, his arms spread wide in a sign of surrender.
A horse reared, screaming its discontent, as the rider pulled the animal just short of crushing Peter with its hooves.
"Too cowardly to fight, boy?" the men sneered at him.
"Take me," Peter said, his voice cracking yet unwavering in his courage. "Take me as your prisoner, and your king shall have his slave. Leave them be, I beg you!"
They laughed at him, the noise harsh among the cries of the dying. So loud.
"What makes you think the king would want just one measly youth? His decree called for two from each household."
"They are no good to you dead! I will go with you willingly." Peter cried, firmly shoving his wriggling brother behind his back when Edmund tried to leap out at the soldiers. The Telmarine on the horse stared at the blond boy, barely a man. The weight of the world upon his shoulders, so young. Eyes so blue, a panting mouth, red with exertion and tinged with flecks of red. There was a long, draw out moment, as Glozelle stared at Peter, appraising him.
"So be it," said the bearded horseman, who was their leader and general. At his signal, the soldiers stopped their attacking. The killing and screaming, muted.
Two men came and grabbed Peter from where he knelt, hauling him to his feet and presenting him to their general. So young, so young, the general thought, but the boy has the courage of a king. He dismounted and stepped closer to the prisoner. So fair, he mused, and brought a gloved hand up to the panting boy's cheek, not quite touching him, impressed when the boy did not flinch away.
"Let me say goodbye," said Peter, quietly but firmly as he looked straight into the general's eyes. The soldiers laughed mockingly and made to hit him for his impertinence, but the general silenced them with a raised hand.
"Let the boy say goodbye to his family."
They released Peter and he turned to Edmund and Lucy. Picking up his father's sword from where it lay in the dust, he presented it to his younger brother.
"This is yours now, Edmund," he said and clasped the younger boy's shoulder.
"Don't do this, Peter," wept the younger boy. "We can fight them! Don't give in like this!"
"I'm sorry, Ed. So sorry," whispered Peter and took his brother into an embrace. But the younger boy pulled away, tears of betrayal hurt in his dark eyes.
"You're leaving us!" hissed Edmund angrily. "Just like Mother and Father! Just like Susan!"
Ignoring his brother's words, though they tore at his heart, Peter knelt before Lucy. She ran into his arms, wailing into his chest. "I'm so sorry, Darling," Peter said, his voice heavy with tears. "Be a big girl for me?"
They grabbed his arms and dragged him away before he could say anything else. They bound his hands with coarse ropes and made him walk while tethered to one of their horses. As he walked away from the only life he knew, Peter looked back over his shoulder and saw the frightened, huddled masses of the townspeople, his friends and his family. Their pain, his pain. And he knew, that whatever coming hardships he would have to endure would be worth it, to see them live. Those that died would get a burial instead of being fed to the soldiers' hounds. The boy turned his head and continued walking, bound, towards his new, uncertain life.
Notes: Thank you so much for reading! Please please review and let me know what you think. Susan's absence will be explained later, and Caspian makes an appearance very soon.