I'll be Frank…
Disclaimer: If I was blessed with the middle name of "Staples", I would have tried to copyright the store…
Quite frankly, Peter didn't understand.
Of course, Aslan had said he wouldn't understand, but that didn't mean that the High King, formerly of Finchley, wasn't giving it a go. By all means, he should understand. Or, he thought rather darkly, should have. But the facts adamantly stood before him, causing him to grip his golden-threaded head with a stern fist.
Fact number one: He was being a blatant fool.
It was a wonder he hadn't noticed it earlier. It seemed obvious, now that he had the time (and the sense) to step back and appraise himself with rigid counsel. He had disgraced himself with childish actions and re-actions to the situation he and his family had been subjected to. Picking fights with school boys! What on earth had he been thinking? He was old enough to be the parent of some of them.
What's worse; Peter had managed to shove his frustration over those school boys with all the rage and steam of a bulldozer, before turning and plowing into his own siblings into his wallowing mud. He snapped at Lucy for trying to cheer him up, he argued with Susan, even when he knew she had been absolutely right about whatever subject they had been conversing about, and Edmund-!
Peter shook his head, stretching out the kinks in his neck for having had his face bowed to the floor for so long, and he allowed his piercing blue gaze to float along the walls of the school dorm, taking in the heavy rainfall outside that pounded on the roof like a cheerful Ettin and the distant shouts of boys from the Mess Hall, where they formed friendships and joined each other in playful banter. He momentarily wondered where Edmund was, and if he was trying to peek out of his shell long enough to make a friend or two "his age" from classes.
Fact number two: He had been the most blatantly foolish towards his own brother.
It was no contest, really. Among the three of his younger siblings, he had at least retained moments of warmth towards the girls. Accept a hug from Lucy when he was punished for his asinine attempts to put a notch in his belt, laugh at something Susan had said, and sometimes bring the both of them small gifts to show that he was sorry for his treatment of them. These, he realized with a small jerk in his heart, had been accepted warily.
No such luck for Edmund.
If something went wrong, and Edmund just happened to be present, Peter found it easy to unload the fault upon his brother. The vase broke? Really? He thought he might have seen Edmund playing with a ball in there earlier. Maybe he, Peter, had accidently knocked it over. No? That's right, as the Golden child, he would have told on himself if he was to blame. Maybe it was Ed's fault. Don't be too hard on him, right? If he lost a fight, or needed the help of his brother to win the fight, then Edmund had been in the way just before he had delivered the finishing blow. If he failed a test, then Edmund had been too noisy when he had been studying. If Edmund had the gall to bump into him, even on accident, then he found it so simple just to haul off and hit him as hard as he could as a warning to never get cheeky with him again.
It was too easy. Edmund made it too easy. Edmund never fought back.
Fact number three: Edmund had never been so obedient to Peter, than when he was a blatant fool.
Like a well-trained dog, Edmund came at the shrillest whistle. Get my book from the library! Eat your peas! Go to bed! Write home, will you? I don't have time. Weed the garden! Tote that barge! Lift that bale! It was like having servants again. It was like he had power again. It was like being in control, and Peter relished the feel of it. He could snap his fingers and Edmund would jump to do as he said.
There was one command, however, that Edmund never followed.
Fact number four: Edmund had yet to leave his side.
"Peter? Peter, wake up. You're dreaming."
The sleepy, drowsy voice of his little brother murmured into his ear, and Peter woke with a start, sitting up and staring as Edmund curled into a ball at the edge of his bed, sighing tiredly.
"Ed?" Peter's voice was cautious.
"You were having a nightmare, so I came in." His scrawny shoulders shrugged from within the over-large night shirt. "I thought you'd prefer that to screaming yourself raw all night."
Suddenly, Peter felt ready to box his brother's ears; forget thanking him and going back to sleep- this brat was getting a little big for his britches! What a pugnacious child, making fun of him for having a bad dream? Who did he think he was- God? Aslan?
"Oh, did you? I thought I told you that you couldn't come into my room anymore?" Peter nudged him with his foot- hard- in his side. "Move it!"
Edmund's breath came out in a 'whoosh' and he rolled off the side of the bed to land on his hands and knees. Peter felt a fleeting moment of guilt then set his face. He hadn't kicked him that hard, after all- just enough to move the lazy lump from his bed. Edmund stood, towering over Peter, where he sat, hunched and furious at, well, everything.
"I just thought that I should wake you up."Edmund said, slowly, reproachfully.
"I was fine! I don't need you to watch after me! You're not a knight anymore, Edmund, you're practically a baby! Just got to your own room and go to sleep!" Peter hissed through clenched teeth, and rolled over onto his side, back to his brother. The whistle sounded. The dog should heel…
The dog sat. Beside the bed.
Peter sat up and spun upon his brother, eyes flashing in the dark and anger clouding his mind.
"I told you to go to bed and leave me alone!"
Edmund took a deep breath from in front of him, his shoulders visibly slack, all of the fight retained in a tight, air-locked pocket, deep within his Heart of Hearts, and bowed his head to speak to his lap.
"Peter…you can tell me to do most anything, and I will follow your direction without a second thought. If you told me to jump off of a bridge, the only question I'd ask you was whether you'd prefer a cannon ball or a swan dive. But you cannot ask me to leave you by yourself, because Someone who reigns over the both of us ordained from the beginning what my Task was. And, in this manner, I have no choice but to put that ordinance before those that conflict with it. "
And he would say no more on the matter.
It would not be until weeks later that Peter found out Edmund himself had been plagued by nightmares that night, which was part of the explanation of how he had ended up in his room to begin with. But Edmund was true to his word, and Peter realized that wherever he tread, Edmunds' footsteps would practically overlap his own. Hateful words, spiteful swings, cold shoulders, burning glares, and malicious pranks could matter less to the Just King, instead they seemed to add coal to his desire to be near him.
Fact number five: Peter still didn't understand why.
Peter started as the handle on the door turned and the tall, thin form of his brother stepped through, into the darkness of the dorm. The figure paused, and then lifted a hand to the switch on the wall.
"No! Don't touch that-!"
-The lights flicked on and Peter let out a howl, clawing at his eyes and stumbling up from his perch at the window.
"Turn them off! Turn them off!"
"What the-"Edmund began to laugh and genially flicked the switch back down, making Peter sigh with relief.
"Agh, you nearly blinded me, Ed."
"And you nearly gave me a heart attack. Congratulations. You've been trying to do that for years."
"Says the man who liked to jump in front of flying spears and arrows."
"Likes. Likes, Peter, and you know it." Edmund plopped onto the bed next to his brother and lay back, throwing an arm over his eyes, letting out a contented sigh escape from his lips.
Peter let himself stare at Edmund for a moment, the at long last, burst out,
Edmund opened his eyes slowly, lazily, and turned them to smile at his brother, as if he had been writing for this question and was quite pleased to answer.
"Ruth, one, sixteen and seventeen."
Peter blinked. Edmund smirked, lips turning up like a cat.
"Read it," Edmund said, closing his eyes again and pulled a small book out of his pocket to chuck at his older brother's head. Peter deftly caught it and stared at the cover.
"Ruth, one, sixteen and seventeen." Was all Edmund said, cutting his brother off with a growing smile.
Peter cracked open the ancient tome and leafed through he pages, accidently ripping a few in the process, with the paper as thin as the shed skin of a snake. Finally, he arrived at the proper page.
"Read it aloud." Edmund said softly, pillowing his head with two arms.
Peter cleared his throat nervously and began,
"But Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you, "He glanced suspiciously at his brother, who told him to keep reading with an impatient flap of his etiolated hand. Peter placed his gaze back on the page, squinting in the dark to discern the faded text from the almost transparent page.
"For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God." A lump appeared in his throat, and he had to swallow before he continued on, thickly,
"'Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried'- Oh, Ed…" He stopped, thinking that was all his brother meant him to read, and water pressing on his eyes in heavy droplets.
But Edmund opened his mouth and read on, apparently from memory.
"'The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you from me.'"
Peter swallowed like a man dying of thirst and flung his arms around his brother, practically sobbing, but still selfish enough to hold back from doing so. Edmund opened his eyes and gently patted him on the back, squeezing his ribs with all the love his weak, English form cold muster.
"I told you once that I wouldn't leave you, Peter. I hope you know that I'm serious about that."
With a watery laugh, Peter nodded.
Quite frankly, he didn't understand.
But, then again, something like this wasn't meant to be understood, was it?
A/N: My first story…*dies of embarrassment*. Please review. If I mean to get better at this business, I need feedback. Critique.
You can just say "Good" and "Bad". It's simple, really. And all who do so will receive a free, cyber-cookie. Freshly baked.
Thanks to those who read my first attempt! -__-;