Author's note: This is my first foray into the writing world of Narnia. After reading several glorious stories by authors such as elecktrum and MyBlueOblivion and Sentimental Star (GOREADTHEIRWORKS), and seeing Caspian, and thumbing through the books again, I thought to myself, "Geh. I just love me some Edmund. And brotherly interactions."
So I got to daydreaming and wondering and rereading (fanfics). This is the result. It's all written, and other than this little prologue the chapters are long-ish. …I can't write simple things.
Some things in here (Ed's eventual full knightly title and the word "pavilion", to name a few) I kidnapped directly from elecktrum, who is my Northern star when it comes to Narnia. But don't worry, I asked if I could borrow them! This story is therefore dedicated to the patience and guidance of elecktrum, and the poking and prodding of my twin sister. Without them, I'd still be doodling this in a notebook at work. (So really it's all their fault.)
The Winter Prince
Narnia was real.
"Lucy!" Edmund called, one arm wrapped around his middle for warmth. The other hand cupped his mouth to help his voice travel, not that it did much against all the snow.
Narnia was real.
"Lucy! Where are you? I think I believe you now!"
Edmund Pevensie saw the lantern, felt the cold, heard snow crunching beneath his feet, and knew his sister had been telling the truth. He wasn't even sure why he'd doubted her in the first place, since she never lied. In the corner of his mind that wasn't always angry, he wished he'd believed her.
The rest of him was busy being cold and lost and wanted the familiar comfort of his little sister, even if she was annoying.
He wandered through the frozen woods for nearly an hour shouting for her, growing more desperate with every step he took. The world was getting darker as night approached, and the constant snow flurries covered his tracks before he even thought to look for them. He wondered if there would be any hope for him after the sun set. What if Lucy had already gone home? She would never know he'd come after her. She would never know he was missing, never know to look for him.
No one would ever know.
Edmund stumbled, landing in a snow bank and shaking so hard his teeth chattered. In that moment, what he wanted more than anything, even home, was his brother. Peter would take care of him. Peter would help, as he always did.
Or, rather, as he always had, before Edmund began to push him away.
I don't want to die here, Edmund thought, terrified and struggling to stand. He barely made it to his knees before collapsing again. Please, I want to go home. Peter, help me…
As the last of his strength faded, Edmund imagined he heard footsteps crunching toward him in the snow. A shadow fell over him, long in the twilight, and he tried to turn further onto his side to see if it was one of his siblings.
The cold nose of a dog pressed into his neck, snuffing gently. He thought the dog asked, "What are you? A Dwarf?"
Dogs can't talk, he complained to himself. "Not a Dwarf," is what he whispered.
"What, then?" the dog demanded. "You are in the Queen's forest, speaking to a Wolf in her Secret Police. You will answer, creature. What are you?"
"'m Edmund," the boy managed, wondering why his last dream had to make so little sense.
"Edmund?" The dog—Wolf—nosed him again, firmly enough to push him onto his back. One large paw settled threateningly on his chest. Edmund was cold enough that he barely felt it. "A Faun of some sort?"
Edmund's attention drifted to the Wolf. It was big and dark, covered in coarse fur, but its eyes were intelligent and it was warm, so Edmund couldn't really find it in himself to dislike the Animal.
The Wolf bared its teeth at him in a snarl, growling low in its throat. The weight on Edmund's chest increased, and he wondered why it didn't hurt. "Answer me now, creature. What are you?"
"A boy," Edmund slurred, his eyes finally dropping shut. "I'm just a boy."
The Wolf startled and danced quickly away with a slight whine of confusion. "Son of Adam?" it gasped.
But Edmund fell into darkness and couldn't respond. His last conscious thought was for his siblings, and how much he hoped they would one day find him, even if he wasn't alive.
Bellus had been in the Queen's service less than one full lunar cycle when he stumbled upon the Son of Adam. Nothing in his training covered the proper Police response to such a discovery, especially not Captain Maugrim's standing orders that he "patrol the forest and not get in anybody's way with his incompetence."
Still, there was a Son of Adam freezing to death in Her Majesty's woods. Humans were important, somehow dangerous, and Bellus knew he had to alert someone to its presence. The question was whether he'd get in more trouble for leaving it to die or for presenting it (hopefully still alive) to the Queen.
And if he did decide to transport it to the Queen for her judgment, how would he move it? It was long and gangly, like a newborn foal, and would doubtlessly be dead before he could drag it back himself. Surely nothing as slight as this Son of Adam could survive in the snow much longer.
The best thing, Bellus decided, would be to try to get the Human back to Her Majesty so she could decide whether or not to kill it. If it died on the way, well, at least he could say he'd tried. That only left the matter of transportation. Taking a risk, Bellus lifted his nose to the twilight wind and left his self-appointed charge, seeking out any Animal big enough to take the Human's weight.
After some quick searching, he found a bay stallion. Bellus bullied and threatened mercilessly, throwing about his position in the Secret Police to secure the Horse's cooperation. Soon they were racing through the early evening toward Her Majesty's castle. The Human never stirred, but at that time Bellus didn't know enough about Humans to recognize this as a warning sign.
Captain Maugrim intercepted Bellus at the gates, taking his report to the Queen while Bellus and the Horse waited, panting, in the statue courtyard. At length they were led into the throne room and made to wait again. The Horse adjusted his substantial weight, shifting in the awkward way of all Horses as he carefully folded his legs to lie down. Bellus watched in confusion as the Horse gently took the Human's clothing in his teeth, tugging the spindly creature down until it was sheltered in the protective curve of the Horse's body. The Horse studied the Son of Adam as it settled before stretching his neck to tenderly nibble at its dark hair.
"The Queen may kill it yet," Bellus felt compelled to point out, his ears pricked almost perfectly forward in interest. "You should not grow too fond of it."
"I will help him live," the Horse vowed quietly, nosing the Human soothingly, "even if all I have is the warmth of my body."
Before the Queen arrived, the Son of Adam began to stir, shivering badly but fighting to open his eyes.
The Horse nuzzled him again, tilting his chin up. "Be calm, Son of Adam. Breathe deeply."
He shifted weakly, curing into the Horse's warmth. "Who…?" he managed to sigh in question.
"My name is Philip."
"Philip…I'm so cold." He trembled helplessly, trying to think, trying to remember."Where's Lucy? Did she get home?"
"You will be warmer soon if you stay close to me. Breathe deeply."
He obeyed, too miserable to be nasty and wanting to know where his sister was. The breath caught in his throat, turning into a deep, dry cough.
By the time he got control of it, the Queen had arrived. She studied the boy and Horse, ignoring completely the insignificant Wolf that found them both. "Tell me," she said, voice cool as her Winter, "are you a Son of Adam?"
She dazzled his tired eyes, all white and tall and beautiful. "I am," he whispered. "I'm Edmund." His dark gaze wandered, tracking the line of her crown down to her furs, her dress, the long crystal spear held easily in her hand. She was unlike anything he had ever seen, more wonderful than the Talking Animals, with a presence he could nearly feel, despite his cold.
Power, he realized. She had so much power, more than the Horse or the Wolf, more than Peter, more even than Dad.
But he could feel the kind Horse trembling around him, and he wondered absently exactly what kind of power it was.
"Well, Edmund." A glint of cunning turned into her smile, curving pale lips. "But you must be cold. Here, let me get you something warm to drink." She produced a small vial of liquid, sparing one drop for the floor. It turned into a steaming drink. When she inclined her head slightly, a Dwarf scurried out from behind her throne, taking up the goblet and transferring it into Edmund's numb fingers. Another figure trailed the Dwarf, hesitating at the edge of the shadows and waiting, watching. Hoping.
Edmund could barely hold the goblet, much less sip. What he did manage to take was too hot, burning his mouth and throat. It settled heavily in his stomach, and he thought with distant embarrassment that eventually he would probably bring it back up.
He wanted to go home. He wanted Peter. But all he could do was clutch the goblet for its heat and curl into Philip for his warmth.
"My Wolves tell me you were lost in the forest. What did you seek, Son of Adam?"
"My sister," he said miserably, pressing his forehead into the Horse's neck. "She came here earlier, but I couldn't find her."
"Your sister, you say."
Bellus looked up from the Human sharply, unused to the slight note of triumph in the Queen's voice. Her cold eyes were locked on the small Son of Adam, watching him as Captain Maugrim sometimes watched a suspect he knew would flee and make good sport.
It was not a pleasant expression.
"Do you have two sisters, Edmund? And perhaps a brother?"
The sick spreading through Edmund fogged his mind, but he nodded despite it. He wondered if his siblings had noticed he was missing yet.
"I see. And are they here in Narnia as well?"
"No," he whispered, thoroughly wretched. "Peter and Susan didn't even believe Lucy about Narnia. I didn't either, until I was here. But it doesn't matter. Lucy's gone home, and now they'll never find me."
The Queen descended from her throne, casting the Human in her shadow. "Will they come back to Narnia?" Edmund shook his head, his face still hidden in the Horse's neck. "Dear one, why would you think that? Surely they would not leave you here, cold and lost and sick." She bent low to whisper in his ear, her wand very near to touching the quietly frantic Horse. "Don't they miss you? Don't they love you?"
Edmund gave a tiny sound that made Bellus shift uncomfortably, suppressing an answering whine of sympathy. Only Philip could feel his slow, hot tears. "They probably don't even notice I'm gone. They never do."
"Poor little Son of Adam," the White Witch murmured soothingly, stroking her pale hand over his dark hair. He shivered helplessly, taken by the building fever she stoked with her voice. "Do you know who I am?"
He shook his head again, wanting to listen but panting with some unnamed fear. Her words burned him, and he was filled with the painful desire to stay, to hear her commands and follow.
"I am the Queen of Narnia," she said, "and if you stay with me, I will make you my Prince. When your brother and sisters someday come to Narnia as you have, they will be your subjects, your servants, and regret every moment they ignored you. Isn't that what you want?"
To be noticed. To be wanted. To be loved. He gasped, twisting away from the Horse as he fever spiked. Yes, he thought. But she needed him to say it, even as her fever took that ability from him.
She smiled to conceal her frustration, an expression that made Bellus shrink away and stopped Philip's breathing. The Witch beckoned toward her throne without looking, summoning the old Faun that lingered there. "This is a doctor who lives near my castle," she said gently. "I brought him here just for you. Maugrim will show you the special room I have, a room fit for royalty. It, also, is for you. You will go to sleep a mere Son of Adam, but when you wake, dear one…you shall be my Prince."
Edmund's fever-bright eyes watched her, weighing the truth of her promise even as he tried to grasp the meaning behind her words. He fell into unconsciousness still straining to understand.
"Majesty," Maugrim growled when the boy collapsed, slinking forward with his eyes locked on Philip and his hackles raised, "what of this Horse?"
"I care nothing for it," the Queen answered dismissively, standing briskly. She turned her back on the collected creatures. "Leave him for the boy. After all, my new pet will need a good mount when he begins his service."
Bellus tried not to flinch again, knowing the pride of Horses and wondering what this one's response to such an insult would be. But Philip didn't react other than to shift slightly, adjusting the Human's weight against his large chest. After the Queen was gone, the elderly Faun approached Edmund carefully, checking his temperature, heart rate, and breathing.
"He is quite ill," the Faun said softly, tweaking his spectacles to distract himself from the terrifying presence of Wolves. "He will need a warm bed and careful watching. I will need to make some teas and medicine."
Maugrim's upper lip curled in disdain. "Make all the teas you want, rickety old Faun. It is no concern of mine."
Bellus startled. "But, Captain, the Queen said—"
"What she said," Maugrim snapped, snarling at the younger Wolf, "was for the Human's benefit. You will find a place for him to recover or to die, and you will see to their security. The Horse and the Faun are not to leave his company. Even you couldn't make a mistake with all your prisoners in one room. Take care of it or I will take care of you, once and for all."
Maugrim loped away, sending up a call for his lieutenants. Four of them materialized from darkened corners of the room, following hot on his trail as he raced for the Western Wood in search of more Humans.
When Bellus would have stood rooted in shock, the old Faun sighed deeply, shaking his head. "There you have it, then. Take us to a room, Wolf, and we will do as he says."
Bellus growled under his words. "And what is that, old doctor?"
The Faun laid one hand across Edmund's forehead, soaking in the unnatural heat. "We will watch him recover," he murmured, curling his hand into a fist and drawing it away, "or we will watch him die."
Caught in fever, Edmund slept, and his sleep was filled with dreams. They started as scenes of war and terror in England, quickly replaced by Wolves and Queens and endless Winter. There were Fauns and Horses, too, but nothing he did in his dreams could save any of them. They died, all the creatures of Narnia, all those who would not bow to the Queen. She made him her Prince, and he killed in her name. His brother and sisters knelt and then fell, and Winter reigned victorious.
The world shifted. Heated. Ice and anger turned to fever and fire and red banners under a golden sun. The Western Wood melted into spring. Peter stood as High King. Edmund knelt and then fell.
And across the world, a Lion roared.