Title: The Products of Fever
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Edmund is bruised and amused, Peter is sick and guilty, and everyone else just tries to stay out of their way. Shortish story drabble thing.
AN – This is the outcome of procrastination from reading about poor Hester and all her suffering in the Scarlet Letter. Enjoy.
When the two young men came tramping through the halls of Cair Paravel, all were quick to jump out of their way. One, the older, was staggering slightly. He had dark circles under his eyes and beneath a tan he was the pasty white of one who had been sick for a while, and only recently begun to recover. His breathing was ragged, but his blue eyes were on fire with anger and something else.
The other half jogged, half walked behind him. This one had a completely fabulous black eye, split lip, and bruise running up and down his jaw line. He was limping ever so slightly, thus the odd gait that he performed pursuing the other came into existence. "Slow down, Peter," he groused. "You'll only tire yourself. And myself. Ourselves? Just take a rest."
"I'm fine," Peter said through his teeth. "Stop following me."
"Then stop going places and stay still."
"I told you, Edmund, I'm – " he broke off into a stream of coughing. Edmund looked at him with an eyebrow raised. The effect was somewhat lost, though, due to the younger king's terrifically decorated face.
"Are you quite finished now?" Edmund asked after a moment. "Or are you going to insist on parading around when you clearly are anything save for 'fine',"
"You should talk," Peter said. He glanced at his brother and then away. "Look what I did to you!"
"I told you all ready, Pete," Edmund said with a world-weary sigh. "You were delirious."
"You should've fought back!"
"And hit my sick brother? The one who was practically bursting into flames from a fever?" The youngest Pevensie boy scoffed at his elder sibling. "Please, Peter. You were practically def –"
"So help me, if you say 'defenseless', I will…I'll…I'll think of something rather horrid to do to you later," Peter threatened.
"Well you basically were," Edmund said while crossing his arms.
"Look at your face!" burst out the High King.
"…I said 'basically', not 'totally'," amended Edmund after a moment. He poked gingerly at his eye. "And this one was just because I didn't see you coming and you were startled to have leaning over you when you woke up. You took me by surprise, there, Pete. I forgot what a nasty right hook you have."
"And what about your lip? And the other bruises?"
Edmund shrugged. "The lip was my own fault, actually."
"Susan said I threw a book at you!"
"Well, technically it was an Atlas, and you'd been threatening to throw it for a while before you did. I should've ducked." Edmund said. "You were shouting something about the Calormen Empire stealing your pancakes. Plainly, you were not in your right mind. That is, unless the Tisroc did, in fact, take your breakfast away."
Peter shook his head and teetered away down the hallway. Edmund followed a half a step behind him, ready to steady him if he should lose his balance. Peter glanced down at Edmund's feet, took in his limp, and ground to a stop, breathing growing even more labored. He leaned slightly against the wall.
"Maybe you should sit," Edmund suggested.
"You first," Peter said. "Why are you limping? Did I tackle you?"
"Actually, it was the opposite. You were out, I think, to get your pancakes back. By the time I managed to stop you, you'd almost collapsed trying to draw your sword. I didn't expect you to make a run for it, so I had to sort of seize you. Of course," Edmund said, a slight grin twisting up onto his face. "You may've moved on to a new hallucination by that point and was not headed for Calormen. It was getting very difficult to tell."
"This isn't funny,"
"I know, I know." Edmund said. But the slight twinkle in his eyes gave away his fib.
"Stop thinking this is a joke!"
"Yes, you are!"
A Vole chambermaid waddled out into the hallway. She took one look at it's occupants, squeaked, dropped her basket of dirty laundry, and ran away. Neither king noticed. For all of the Cair's staff had been instructed by the queens to allow their brothers to work this out themselves. And, of course, they all were expecting King Peter to plunge into a guilty pit of bottomless despair at any moment, and those sorts of plunges were always closely followed by one of King Edmund's rages. No one really knew which one created the worst aftershocks. Both tended to leave nothing but a trail of destruction in their wakes.
"No. No, I'm not. Peter, look at me. Do I look like I'm laughing?" Edmund had managed to get control of himself. Mostly, it was by keeping the image of Calormen stealing Narnia's pancakes as far from his mind as possible. It was a decidedly difficult task. "See? Perfectly serious. Now can we find somewhere for you to sit?"
"Not until you tell me all that I did," Peter said.
"Pete, I don't – "
"Then I'll stand here for as long as it takes you to tell me."
Edmund neglected to point out that the wall was doing most of the standing. Peter was performing some sort of leaning ritual against it. "Fine." he said after a moment. "But sit!"
Peter paused. The brothers stared each other down, and finally Peter sighed and sunk to the floor. "What did I do?"
"That's pretty much it," Edmund said. "Except for then, after I, uh, contained you again and hurt my ankle, there was the whole matter of you thinking I was…well, how do I put this…"
"Spit it out,"
"You seemed to think I was an assassin of sorts." Edmund said. "And you may've sort of…pulled a dagger out from beneath your pillow –"
"I knifed you?!" Peter's knees almost buckled. "Where? Aslan, Ed, I –"
"No, no!" Edmund waved his hands rather desperately. "You almost knifed me. There is a difference, Peter!"
"Point is, we got the blade away from you and you didn't want any of that, so you managed to get me with your left hook that time." Edmund said very fast, and all in one breath. "See? No harm done."
"No…no harm done? No harm done!" Peter looked as if he was about to plunge forward into his pit of darkness and despair. "Ed! You can hardly open your left eye, your bottom lip is broken open, it looks like you got hit with a sword on the side of your face, and you can't walk without limping!"
Edmund opened his mouth to respond, paused, shut it, and then opened again, choosing what he saw as the best course. "It isn't your fault."
"Stop saying that," Peter growled. It turned into a hack. "It was so."
"Peter – "
"What?" Edmund shook his head from side to side. "No."
"Oh, come on, now. I deserve it!" Peter said, his eyes now alight as if he'd just thought of the most brilliant thing ever to grace a person since Mister Tumnus discovered scarves.
"I'm not going to hit you, Peter," said Edmund flatly.
"Do it! Then we'll be even," said Peter. "Fair is fair."
"You were delirious with a fever…actually, now that I think about it." Edmund pressed a hand against Peter's forehead, and then shook his head. "No, you aren't delirious now."
"Edmund, just club me one!"
"No." answered his brother. This was silly knew the younger king. Peter was practically begging him to smack him. Scratch that, he was begging him to smack him. And oh, was it tempting…no. Edmund chided himself for even considering it. He could never hit Peter.
"Hit me, Edmund!"
Their argument eventually faded when Susan and Lucy decided to intervene. Edmund thought that his sisters had managed to make Peter forget about his ridiculous request. He thought that it was over, that the matter was settled. It wouldn't be for another three months, when all of his bruises had healed and the limp had vanished from sight. It was when Edmund got a cold from staying out in the rain for much too long. It was late at night. It was an hour after Susan had proclaimed that Edmund had a fever. It happened five minutes after everyone ought to have been sleeping.
Edmund heard the door creak open. He, however, was curled up in his blankets far too tight and his head was filled with far too much cotton to care. Besides, he knew it was Peter, just checking up on him. What he didn't expect was to be poked awake. "What?" he rasped irritably.
"You're sick, now, it'll be fair," Peter whispered. "Hit me."
Edmund groaned, and wacked him with a pillow.