Title: Morning Light
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing concerning the Chronicles of Narnia.
Note: The answer to challenge 35: Morning. I've recently noticed a distinct lack of Lucy in my stories, and I sought to remedy this by writing an Edmund-Lucy sibling bonding fic (bonding not incest, thank you very much). Also a reminder, I am a classics major. I do not know science and anything I do know comes from Wikipedia, so please forgive any mistakes.
Lucy woke up to a hand covering her mouth. Heart hammering in her chest, it took only a moment for her eyes to get used to the darkness of her room and recognize that the hand belonged to her older brother. With his dark hair and clothes, Edmund blended in neatly with the black night, but she could still make out the mischievous smile on his face. Removing his hand, he whispered "Come on, Lu, get dressed and meet me at the stables.
"Edmund, what…" she whispered back, but he was already scrambling away towards the door.
He turned back and grinned. "We're sneaking out. Keep quiet, don't want to wake anyone else up. Oh, and wear good shoes." With that Edmund was gone, leaving a very confused Lucy behind.
Still, puzzled though she was, Lucy was not one to abandon a mysterious adventure and so she quickly dressed and slipped silently through Cair Paravel. Edmund was waiting for her, carrying a leather pack and with their horses already tacked up and ready to go. Seeing her approach, Edmund jumped into the saddle and reached out a hand to help Lucy as she scrambled to get on her own horse, still somewhat blurry-eyed from being woken in the middle of the night. Once she was settled, Edmund led them into a fast trot down to the beach that stretched along the eastern coast of Narnia.
Lucy graciously allowed Edmund a little time before she interrupted their ride with words, slowing her horse to a walk. "Ed, are you going to tell me why I'm up and riding about in the middle of the night?"
Edmund pulled his horse back beside hers and just smiled. "No."
Lucy rolled her eyes, which she hoped her brother was able to discern in the moonlight. "You do know that if the castle finds us gone, they're going to fall apart worrying." This was actually a fact she had learned well since their coronation two years previously, much to the relief of the Narnians.
She sighed when Edmund just gave her a smug look and jerked his head upward to indicate the shadow of an Owl floating above them. "Sharpbeak," he said simply to her unvoiced question about the identity of their guard. Apparently this little midnight escape had been planned well in advanced and approved, meaning Lucy had no argument against it. Realizing that she was not going to get anymore out of her infuriating older brother, Lucy just sighed and kicked her horse into a canter, feeling slightly vindicated when Edmund had to hurry to catch up with her.
Their ride remained silent until they reached the Cliff of Salni, beyond sight of Cair Paravel. The Cliff, which was technically more of a steep hill than an actual cliff, hovered above the ocean, and the river Salni cascaded over it in sheets, crashing into the sea below. Salni was home to several adventurous and playful Naiads who had channeled their river to a roaring waterfall, often too hazardous for most Narnians to go near. Which was why Lucy was wondering what they were doing there in the hours before dawn.
Edmund dismounted and tied his horse to a nearby tree. Still confused, Lucy followed his example before trailing him to the side of the Cliff. Edmund turned to her with a bright smile. "Follow me, step where I step, and go slowly."
Realizing he was meaning for them to hike up the precipitous hill, Lucy, brave as she was, felt a sense of trepidation. "Edmund, don't you think this is a bit dangerous? I don't think Susan would approve."
"Since when do we need Susan's approval?" asked Edmund, quite accurately. "Don't worry, I found a safe pathway. But just to be on the safe side, I brought this, in case you slip." He held out a strong rope which he tied first to his waist and then around Lucy's.
Despite her nervousness, Lucy was not called the Valiant by the Narnians for no reason. Her sense of adventure took over her wariness, and Lucy fearlessly followed Edmund as he began climbing. The darkness made the path even more precarious, so both siblings concentrated on their feet instead of talking. Not thought Lucy wryly that Edmund has said much anyway on this trip. She tried not to be frustrated with her brother, but lack of sleep and the exertion of trying not to fall to an untimely death and drag Edmund with her made Lucy a little more irritated than she usually would be with the situation.
Finally, they reached a small, horizontal shelf that seemed to wind across the Cliffs into the great waterfall. Edmund led her closer and closer to the falls, and Lucy came to a stop when she realized that the path led behind the water. Edmund grabbed her hand and gently tugged her forward. "Watch your step, it gets slippery."
Though the sky was already gaining a grey light as morning approached, the path behind the waterfall led into a cavern of darkness so that Edmund, only an arm's length in front of her, was shrouded in shadow. The only light was a grey mist from the waterfall which thundered by her head. After a few moments of walking, Edmund stopped abruptly, causing Lucy to walk straight into him. "Sorry, Lu, I should have warned you. We're here."
Peering around her brother, Lucy barely made out where the path widened into a shelf. "And what exactly are we supposed to be doing here?"
Edmund pulled her by the hand and sat with his back against the cold stone of the rock shelter. Tugging her down to sit beside him, he pulled his pack in front of them. "I brought breakfast." Fishing around the pack, Edmund pulled out some rather smashed muffins and a canteen of water.
Lucy sighed. "Ed, please tell me you didn't drag me out of my bed in the middle of the night for a harrowing rock climb just to eat stale muffins and drink tepid water."
He handed her an apple from the pack. "They aren't stale," Edmund said quietly and Lucy almost wished she hadn't been so harsh. She usually did not snap at her brother for his quirks, that was Susan's job, but she was tired and had already been in a rather foul mood for the past few days. Why did he have to bring her here now, why not some other time when she was feeling better and was more awake?
Lucy only had two bites of her apple before Edmund's elbow dug into her side. "What?" she asked sharply.
Edmund ignored her tone of voice and whispered, "Look."
Glancing up, Lucy followed his gesture towards the waterfall. The light behind the fall began to turn a light pink, nearly lilac, as the sun began rising over the eastern ocean. All of a sudden, the first golden rays of the sun must have broken the horizon, for the waterfall burst into a flame of gold and pink and white. Lucy gasped as the light grew and blossomed into a golden inferno, and at first she had to shut her eyes against the intensity of the brightness before she was able to take in the wonder before her. Thousands of small rainbows reflected off the falling water and played across the shelter, darting through Lucy's hands as she held them in front of her. With the roar of the waterfall and the golden light surrounding her, Lucy almost felt as if Aslan himself had come bounding into the hollowed rock, brilliant and wonderful and oh so beautiful. She could not stop the delighted laughter that bubbled from her throat, nor the grin that spread across her face when Edmund squeezed her hand and joined in her laughter.
Glancing over at her brother, Lucy smiled. "Oh Ed, it's so lovely! When did you find this place?"
Edmund looked from his sister back towards the fall. "I was exploring the first few months of our reign and one day I'd decided to try climbing the Cliff. By the time I found this rock shelter it was dark so I thought it would be safer to spend the night here than fall and break my neck walking down. And I woke to…this."
"But that was two years ago! You never mentioned it before." Lucy felt a pang of hurt that her brother had not shared this wonder with his siblings.
Edmund fixed his eyes on the rock floor. "I…I suppose I've still been a bit selfish. It's just…it was a place I could come and be alone, and be…closer to Aslan, I guess. It reminds me so much of him, like I can almost feel his presence, hear his voice. I didn't want to share that."
Now it was Lucy's turn to squeeze her brother's hand. "It's not selfish, Edmund. You're like Susan, you need to be away from people sometimes and it's not easy, what with being kings and queens and all. I don't blame you in the least for not telling us." Edmund gave her a shy smile, and Lucy could tell he was relieved that she understood why he had not told her before. Which left just one question. "Ed, if this is where you go to be alone, why did you bring me along this time? Especially after I've been so horrid to everyone lately."
The Just King squirmed under her questioning gaze. "That's why I brought you. I know, well, you've been missing Aslan a lot recently. I just thought, maybe, you would feel closer to him here, like I do, and feel better."
Lucy stared at Edmund as comprehension dawned on her like the rising of the sun they had just witnessed. Her brother, quiet, solitary Edmund, had brought her to his sanctuary, revealed his cherished haven, to lift her spirits even when all she had done was snap at him. "Oh, Edmund!" She threw her arms around her brother, nearly knocking him over. "Thank you! Thank you for bringing me here, thank you for sharing this with me. And thank you a thousand times for being you."
Edmund said nothing, just hugged her closely. After a few moments, he sat back, keeping one arm around Lucy as the waterfall crashed in front of them and the golden light of the sun wrapped around them and joy filled them.
The ending is not exactly what I wanted, but I couldn't think of anyway else to end it.