Chapter 14: He's Lying
Lucy's feet throbbed and ached with a pain that she's never felt before but she pushed on. She couldn't stop. She knew if she or Edmund gave up the residents of Narnia would be put in danger and they would never be forgiven. That was a thought that she couldn't even bear. It left an ache in her chest; it physically pained her.
She sniffed and brushed the sleeve of her shirt across her nose. Her throat felt scratchy, her eyes watered, and her muscles began to ache but still she pressed on. She would not give up on Narnia. She knew it and those that inhabited it would never give up on her.
"You alright, Lu?" Edmund's voice cut into her clouded mind. His lips were pressed into a line, so hard that the color in them had faded and was replaced with a dull white. Or was that the cold?
Lucy nodded her stuffy head. "Yeah, 'm fine," she responded, doing her best to be as convincing as possible. The last thing she wanted was for Edmund to worry about her and for them to slow down at the cost of her well-being. She could swear up and down and state with confidence that she would die for Narnia and if that had to happen…
"How long do you think we've been walking?" She asked the question that sat on Edmund's mind. The ache in his knees jumped to the forefront of his mind as soon as the question was asked.
He never had the ability to judge when time passed, not even with the obvious signs of nature staring him right in the face. That was Peter's strong suit along with making clear, concise decisions and keeping calm under pressure. Edmund focused on strategy and planning and no one was a better swordsman than he.
"Dunno," he finally replied. "Not long enough, I reckon. I know the castle is big but I didn't expect the tunnel to be this long."
Lucy nodded and forced her legs to continue to carry her away from their captors. Her heart began to beat a little bit harder than usual, she didn't know if that was from fear or if that was from the grips of illness that was starting to swoop in on her.
She forced the thought out of her mind. Maybe if she didn't think about it, if she didn't believe she was getting sick then it wouldn't happen. Thoughts had strange powers. After all she was begging for a place to go to escape the effects of war and the hostility between her older brothers when she first discovered Narnia.
"Ed, look." Lucy grabbed Edmund's arm and pointed. He squinted through the darkness to see what it was that she was pointing at. His heart leapt for joy when he saw it. A small beam of light. But then he hesitated. Lucy pulled on his arm. "Come on, Edmund!"
"But Luce, what if that isn't our way out?" He asked. He didn't like seeing the discouraged look on her face but the question came out before he could stop it. It was as if Susan had taken over his body and he had to say something logical.
"We won't know until we try," she said after a moment of silence. "And even then, would you just want to go back?"
Edmund glared at her. Of course he wouldn't want to go back. Not after all the time they spent walking. Especially not back to the castle that used to be his home but then became his own prison! It was wrong. It lit a fire in his belly to the point that all he saw was red and gave him the urge to take out the White Witch with his own bare hands. But then again, if it weren't for him they wouldn't be in that mess.
He sighed. Who was he to blame? Himself or her? He couldn't find a right or wrong answer to that question no matter how much he thought about it. It only wound up with him getting a headache.
"There may be an ambush waiting," Edmund spoke up.
Lucy smiled. "That's okay, we have this." She reached behind herself, grasping at her belt, and revealed her small knife.
"Oh, that's great, if we ever get attacked we can fend them off with a toothpick," Edmund quipped. He couldn't help it. He couldn't stop the sarcastic comment from bursting out of him. He had to lighten the mood somehow.
Lucy rolled her eyes, though her smile never faltered. "Come on. Now it's my turn to protect you."
Edmund grunted. "That's making you a little bit too happy." But he followed Lucy closely as they pressed on. He was surprised that they she had managed to keep her knife on her when they all but tore his sword out of his hand. They probably didn't expect someone like her to pose that much of a threat. Edmund shook his head at his own thought. If that were the case she wouldn't be down there with him.
Their shoes scuffed against the stone floor. Their words had died away long ago. Edmund's lips were pressed together again and Lucy was doing everything she could to keep her eyes open. Fatigue had hit her like a speeding truck. Whatever it was that she had caught it was getting to her fast. But she couldn't let it win; she had to stay away and alert.
"Luce, I think this is it." Edmund moved past her to where the beam of light was coming in. A bitter cold wind came in through a hole in the stone wall and it made him shiver momentarily. He placed his hand on the wall, feeling around for a crack or maybe a loose stone. "Give me that." He held his hand out to Lucy and she slapped the knife into his hand. Edmund stuck it in the hole and began to work it against the rock.
He didn't know how much time had passed by the time the wall fell away. He made a mental note to check that if they ever got control of the castle again to make it easier to get out. But he guessed a lot of time had passed so the exit got sealed off. Either way his arms were tired and hung by his side when Lucy jumped up and raced to his side.
"You did it!" She exclaimed. Edmund thought her voice sounded a bit nasally but he ignored it while handing the knife back. "Where are we going now?"
It only took a moment for Edmund to come to a decision. "Lantern Waste," he replied. Lucy gasped. His jaw was clenched, so hard she thought she saw a muscle twitch. That was a face she's seen often enough to know that his mind wasn't going to change.
"Okay, let's go."
"Do I need to slow down?" Edmund yelled over the whistling wind. His body swam and pulled and stretched behind her watery eyes. She blinked and the tears fell freely down her face, stinging her cheeks when the wind whipped around and hit her square in the face. She brushed her stinging eyes with her sleeve and shook her head.
"No, keep going!" She called back. She pulled and tugged on the hem around her neck to try and get warmer but it was futile. Her body felt as if it were wrapped in the thickest blanket in the world. While the heat would soothe her on a normal day it was getting much too hot for her. She sniffed every few minutes and she struggled to keep her eyes open but she didn't say anything to Edmund. She didn't want to slow down. She had to keep going.
She lifted her knees high to traverse through the thick snow. Behind them their foot prints were already being filled in by the thick snow. That was good. If their tracks were being covered and then wind blew hard enough no one would be able to find them.
Her foot caught on something and she started to fall forward until she abruptly stopped. Edmund pulled on her arm until she got to her feet and he leaned close to her face.
"I'm fine," she said and tried to push him away.
"You're sick," he responded. "If you wanted me to slow down—"
"I did not want you to slow down!" Lucy spat. "I was a Queen! I thought you all would start to listen to me more by now. Or did you forget that I made important decisions during the Golden Age too?" She sniffed again.
Edmund took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, of which the remains floated off into the air. He brushed his hand against his red nose, turned, and knelt in the cool snow. When Lucy didn't immediately climb onto his back he wiggled his fingers. Lucy huffed but leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his neck. He stood and he hooked his arm beneath her knees and started walking again.
Lucy turned her head and rested it against his back, staring off into the blank whiteness of the snow as it continued to fall down. Her eyes grew heavy amidst the rhythmic footsteps, beat of Edmund's heart, and his breathing. She struggled to keep them open but the pull of sleep became too strong.
Seeing Lantern Waste again was bittersweet. He remembered the first time he stepped through to Narnia. He remembered coming back the second time with Peter and Susan. He even remembered the hunt for the White Stag that sent them back to their home, their real home, in Finchley after years of ruling. His body couldn't settle on one emotion, they all hit him hard at once robbing him of his breath for a moment.
He swallowed thickly and adjusted Lucy. She was so still for a moment he thought that she had frozen but she was only in a deep sleep. Edmund started towards the right past the lamp but then stopped himself. Who's to say that the gate between the worlds would be open? It was too big a risk to take, it would be best if he found a place for them to rest. He vaguely remembered that Mr. Tumnus's cave was nearby and headed in that direction.
His whole body was weary. His limbs were heavy and he barely had breath left in his body. When he spotted the caves in the distance his body filled with renewed energy and he surged forward, picking up the pace.
The temperature wasn't that much difference in the cave dwelling than outside but it was enough to get Edmund to sigh in relief. He carefully set Lucy down on the couch and went to light a fire in the stone fireplace. It took him a couple of tries but he finally got it going and then went in search for a pot and some leaves to make tea. When that got going he searched for a blanket to cover Lucy. Her nose and cheeks were bright red, standing out against her otherwise pale skin.
"Ed?" Lucy spoke up, her voice raspy.
"Yeah?" He sat down on the cushion and brushed her hair off of her forehead.
"Do you think Peter and Susan are going to come?"
Edmund bit down on his lip. "I think they're going to try as hard as they can to help us and to help Narnia."
She nodded. He started to get up when she spoke up again, grabbing onto his arm. Seeing her with watery eyes made him wish that their mother was around at the moment. "You're not going to leave me are you?"
He swallowed. "Of course not, Lu. I'll stay right here. I'm just going to go look for some berries or something to help you feel better."
She nodded and let go of his arm, settling onto the couch again. It didn't take long for her breathing to even out and get filled with snores. Edmund watched her sleep for a while, until the fire started to get low. He went out and got more wood to throw on the dying flames, checking to make sure that no one had found them. Edmund tossed the branches onto the low flames, waiting for them to grow and the heat to touch his face before backing away and checked on Lucy once more.
He carefully removed her shoes and tucked her legs beneath her on the couch. Careful not to wake her, he reached over and took her knife off of her. She stirred against the pillow making Edmund hold her breath. Her facial muscles tensed up for a moment before relaxing and a look of piece settled onto her face once again.
"Sleep well," Edmund whispered. He leaned over and lightly pressed his mouth to Lucy's forehead, careful not to wake her. He turned the knife around, the cold blade pressing into his palm, and carefully put it into the sheath that was attached to his belt. "I'm sorry. I can't have you in danger because of me."
He kissed her forehead again, crossed the small cave, and stepped out to brave the harsh winter once more.
A/N: *Sheepishly waves* Anyone still around? Hopefully I can pick up some new readers. Thanks to those who continue to stick around and are patient with me. I hope you enjoyed this chapter!