This story is based in the Golden Age, not long after Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy become rulers of Narnia.
I still don't own Narnia, but I have a team of hot-shot lawyers with acres of cash trying to acquire it. Until then, I'll stick with fanfiction. As always, I would love to know what you think about this.
Elecktrum beta-read this and solved the ending for me. Thank you again. If you haven't already, please go and read her stories.
Summary: When Edmund is struck with an old problem from England, he wishes he could get his sisters to understand the way Peter does.
Peace and Quiet by eriphi
The library was dark, and the treatise he was reading was dull, so Edmund jumped when he heard his name.
The speaker was silhouetted against the sunlight in the corridor. He couldn't see her expression, but her arms were crossed and she tapped her foot impatiently.
"What do you think you are doing?"
"What does it look like, Lucy?" he asked irritably.
"It looks like you are sitting in a dark room reading a book on one of the loveliest days of the year."
Edmund felt rotten, and it made him snappish. "It's not a book. It's a collection of treatises from before the hundred year winter, and this is the first day I've had free to read it. I told you this morning I wanted to be left alone."
"You are impossible, Ed. Come outside for a bit."
"Please. It'll do you good to be out in the sun and get some colour in your cheeks. You've been so pale recently."
"Susan put you up to this, didn't she? I told her I wanted some peace and quiet today."
Lucy had the good grace to blush. "She's worried about you. She says you are in danger of turning into a Toadstool Person if you do not come out of this musty library and into the daylight."
He ignore the insult. There was no way he would admit to being unwell to his sisters, because he couldn't stand the fussing. They would worry too, and Edmund knew by experience that there really wasn't anything to worry about. All he needed was some peace.
"Peter and I are going to teach the Fauns to play cricket. You are the best bowler out of all of us, and I promised that you would show them how to spin bowl."
Edmund sighed. "No, Lucy. I've got to read this."
She came closer, looked over his shoulder and read the title on the page. " 'The Clan Structure of the Northern Families and its Implications on the Dwarvian Wars of Independence'. Even you have to find that ridiculously dull."
"It's necessary. I wanted some background before the negotiations next month."
"It's a whole month away. They'll be plenty of rainy days when you can lock yourself away with all the old books you want. Come on, Edmund." She grabbed his hand and tried to pull him up.
At last, he snapped and hit her hand away. "Leave me alone. I don't want to play your stupid kid games, and I don't want to come outside to fool about with the stupid Fauns. I want some peace and quiet to finish off work. Someone has to rule this country while you are larking about."
Lucy clutched at her hand where he had hit her, and her lip trembled.
"Go ahead and cry, you silly baby."
"I hope you do turn into a Toadstool Person! You are mean, horrible boy, Edmund."
"I know," he shouted, but Lucy did not hear. She had already slammed the door and was gone.
Edmund felt like he could have cried too. The headache he had been dreading was starting to make itself known. He put put his forehead on his arms and said under his breath. "Not again, please not again."
He had woken this morning with a stuffed feeling in his head and sharp lights in the corner of his vision that were all too familiar. When it happened in England, a headache like a bombing raid was sure to follow. It had never happened in Narnia before, so he had hoped that staying away from the light and the noise might prevent the worst of it.
It had worked for most of the morning. He had managed to hide his shaking hands at breakfast, and the excuse that he had to read Mr Tumnus' essays seemed to have satisfied his siblings. He felt pretty ghastly, but he had managed to read some of the tiny writing and perhaps he would even be able to remember it later.
But the harsh sunlight had started it off again, and the slamming doors and yelling hadn't helped either. He felt sick and no matter how much he rubbed his eyes they felt as hot and dry.
With an effort he calmed his breathing and it seemed that the Narnian air may have had an effect because the pain started to ease off a little. With a little effort he managed to focus on the tight script to read it.
Then the library door was flung open again.
"Edmund Pevensie!" said a shrill voice.
His heart sunk deep in his chest. This was just what he needed. As if Lucy hadn't been enough.
"Susan," he said with as much sarcasm as he could manage. He didn't look up. He was afraid that if he did she would notice the red of his eyes.
"I hope you are pleased with yourself. Lucy is sobbing her heart out and she was only trying to be kind."
"Being kind would have been listening to me when I said I wanted to be left alone."
"If someone hadn't asked you along, you should have sulked like a grumpy child."
Edmund summoned the energy to say angrily, "I would not. I would have sat here in peace and quiet and finished off this treatise that I have been trying to read all day but can't because I'm being interrupted. Instead I am pestered by idiot sisters who are expected to govern a country, yet can't understand a simple instruction. LEAVE ME ALONE!"
The headache slammed back into him like a train, and he had to resist a whimper.
"Well excuse me for trying to be kind and thinking about your well-being," Susan said, but he hardly heard.
She continued talking, but the words were lost in the din of rushing blood in his ears. He wanted to put his fingers in them to block it out, but he knew it would make no difference. Eventually, when it became too much, he said, "Look, it's a lovely day, as everyone keeps trying to tell me. Don't you have some fooling about to be doing?" It was barely a whisper, but mercifully it stopped her talking. She didn't seem to notice that anything was wrong.
"Susan, for God's sake, stop trying to be my mother."
As always, she reacted angrily to this curse word as well as the accusation. "You are such a... such a child, Edmund." Then she snorted in a way their mother never would and slammed the door. She was muttering as she did so.
Edmund closed his book in a cloud of dust and coughed. There was no way he could finish the reading it now. The headache was worse than ever. Susan seemed to have that effect on him.
He should go to bed, but he didn't put it past either sister to be standing guard outside the door to drag him to play stupid cricket. Also, the more sensible part of him said, he was not sure he would make it while his head felt like it was going to explode into a million tiny pieces. He put his head down on the table again. Perhaps if he could doze here for a bit he might feel a little better.
The next time the door opened, it did so with barely a creek. He only heard it because all his senses were on edge. It was closed just as quietly so the flash of sunlight was brief. Almost silent footsteps crossed the room towards him and a gentle hand rested on his shoulder.
"Is it happening again?"
Edmund looked up. His vision was blurred with tears and he had to rub at his eyes again to clear them enough to see his brother. "It's not so bad," he lied.
Peter crouched down. "Your face is telling fibs then."
Edmund would have frowned, except even the thought made his head hurt. He put his head down on the table again. At least he could close his eyes again. "Leave me alone, Peter."
"I don't think I can do that. Come on. You need to be in bed."
"Don't want to go," Edmund said, and hated that he sounded like a spoilt child.
"I am the High King and that outranks plain old King. So it's an order."
There was no point arguing because Peter hauled him up to stand anyway. He looked his brother in the eye. "You look truly awful, Edmund."
"I feel awful," he admitted.
"Do you think you can manage? I could carry you..."
Edmund shook his head furiously. "Not this time. Don't you dare."
Shaking his head had not been a good idea. It was difficult enough just standing and trying to hold a conversation. He closed his eyes tightly and willed the nausea to pass.
It didn't. He vomited his breakfast on the library floor. Peter didn't panic, for which Edmund was eternally grateful.
"Sorry," Edmund said eventually. "I didn't want to ruin your day."
"At least it's not all over my trousers this time. And the girls told me I couldn't bowl for toffee, so I was on the sidelines anyway. Come on, or I will carry you, right past Susan, Lucy and fauns."
"Peter. You wouldn't!"
"Don't bet on it. After all, there's nothing left in your stomach to threaten me with this time."
Edmund muttered in answer.
Being sick might not have helped the headache much, but at least the worst of the nausea was gone, so it wasn't as hard as he imagined to start walking. He needed to lean on Peter more than he would have liked, but his shaky legs were keeping him upright. Together they left the library.
The light that streamed through the large bay windows seemed too bright to be allowed. Everything was bleached and full of glare that surely must hurt even Peter's eyes. Edmund squinted, but it didn't seem to help.
He was glad that Peter turned into one of the candle-lit internal corridors as soon as he could. On a beautiful day, no-one would be in these passages, so they would not meet anyone. Edmund thought he would prefer being swallowed by the ground to being seen in this state. Peter as witness was bad enough.
"You really should have told Lucy and Susan what was the matter," Peter said eventually.
"It wasn't so bad then. I thought it would just go away."
"But you said they never went away," Peter said. "I thought that when you got a warning it was going to happen it always did, sooner or later?"
"That was in England. I hoped it would be different here," Edmund tried to explain, but even to his own ears it sounded a bit pathetic.
Peter patted his shoulder gently. "Poor old Ed. At least this time you're not being sick on the headmaster's shoes. And remember that time you tried to play rugby like this. You could hardly even stand, let alone catch a ball. I really did have to carry you that time, and I had to throw those trousers in the bin. They were ruined."
"Not helping, Peter," Edmund mumbled. He wanted to sleep.
Who would have thought it was such a long way back to their rooms? He lost track of where they were. It seemed to be a maze of candlelit, empty corridors. His legs felt shaky and his feet seemed to be attached to someone else's body. Peter kept saying things like "Not far now," and "Come on," but Edmund stopped paying attention and just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.
He stumbled once and Peter tutted and slung his arm over his shoulder. "You are a stubborn fool, Edmund."
He didn't have the strength to reply.
They stopped eventually. Without Peter's support, Edmund would have landed in a heap as his feet got tangled with each other.
"Here we are," Peter said. He used his knee to nudge the door open.
Edmund couldn't see inside the room because of the glare of sunlight, but he got a distinctly pink impression before Peter lifted him off his unresponsive feet and across the threshold.
There was a joke in this, Edmund thought. He wished he knew what it was. When he tried to protest, he couldn't get his mouth to form the words. Peter dropped him on the bed.
Edmund threw his arm over his face to block out the sunlight, while Peter moved around the room without talking. The sound of his footsteps and pulling the curtains across the window seemed terribly loud. Edmund felt a blanket placed over him and he tugged it over his aching head. He wished it would just stop!
Peter sat on the floor beside the bed. He gently rubbed small circles on his brother's back the way he had at school. The reassurance didn't make the headache go away, but made it easier to ignore. Gradually, Edmund relaxed, and fell asleep.
Peter listened for his brother's breathing to settle. He was asleep within minutes, but Peter left his hand on the younger boy's shoulder for a little longer in case he should wake. When he was sure that Edmund was properly asleep, he pulled himself an embroidered flower cushion from the little sofa. He had chosen Lucy's room because it was closest. He thought that Edmund hadn't even noticed.
He made himself comfortable beside the bed. There were some books piled on the bedside table, and he picked the first to read. It was titled "Satyr poetry - Memory of the Beginning of Events". He managed a couple of verses before he gave up.
The combination of the warmth in the room and the lull of Edmund's breathing soon had an effect. Peter fell asleep, propped against the edge of the bed. The last thing he remembered was a line from the poem.
'The tales of our lives are echoes of what has gone before.'
Peter looked around the school room stupidly, as if he would find another Peter sitting there.
"You, boy," the Form Master said. "Come with me."
The physics teacher shrugged at his young pupil. "Mr Pevensie, I suggest you go with Mr Blake," he said when Peter showed no intention of getting up from his seat.
Blake was already striding down the corridor, and Peter had to run to catch up. It was forbidden to run in the school, but on this occasion, Blake didn't complain. He didn't explain either, but Peter hadn't expected him to. Pupils didn't need explanations and one didn't ask for them or risk the belt. Briefly, Peter wished that Edmund would learn that rule.
"Your brother is in the Junior Form," Blake said, as if he knew that Peter was thinking about Edmund. It wasn't a question, but Peter nodded anyway.
"There has been an incident. I think we will need your assistance."
Peter's heart lurched. Without thinking he said, "What happened? Is he all right?"
"That is enough of your impertinence." The teacher dabbed at the sweat on his forehead. "You will do as you are told."
They hurried through more of the corridors. The other boys were in their classes, so the place seemed deserted. The only noise was the swish of Blake's cape and their hurrying footfalls. It did not help Peter's sense of dread when he realised they were making for the Headmaster's office.
His imagination created a hundred different scenarios, each more chilling than the next. Edmund was being punished, he had been hurt, he had hurt someone else, he was dead...
Stop it, Peter thought to himself. This was helping nobody.
So his immediate reaction on seeing his brother sitting on a chair outside the office was one of relief. He was alive, and whole, and for a moment that was enough for Peter.
"Edmund," he said.
His brother looked up, and the warmth of relief faded.
"Crikey, what's wrong?"
Edmund looked ghastly. His face was grey and his eyes were red. He was shivering all over.
"I hit someone," Edmund said simply.
Peter turned to Blake, and, without thought for the consequences, he demanded again, "What happened?"
This time Blake answered. "He won't tell us. The other boy is being dealt with at the moment."
Peter crouched in front of Edmund. "Are you ill?" he asked.
"Then your face is telling fibs."
Edmund didn't relent, but continued to stare at Peter with glassy eyes.
"Edmund," Peter started to say, but was interrupted by the office door opening. It was the headmaster. Gallacher was huge man with an iron temper. He was leading out a boy by the name of Smithy who clutched a handkerchief against nose.
"You hit Smithy?" Peter demanded of Edmund.
"He was as'ing for it," Edmund said. He was beginning to slur his words.
There was not a gentler boy in the whole school, Peter thought. Of all the lads Edmund could have hit, there wasn't one more undeserving than Smithy. But despite the blood, he still looked better than Edmund.
"Back to class, boy," Mr Gallacher said to Smithy, and gestured him back along the corridor. "Now you, Edmund Pevensie. Come into my office."
"But, sir..." Peter said. He stood in front of his brother.
"No arguments. Get back to your class, boy, I have to deal with your brother."
"I brought Peter," Mr Blake said. "I thought he could be of some help, because something is clearly something wrong with the boy..."
"Yes. He has a cruel, bullying nature," Gallacher said. "Which needs to be beaten out of him. Just like the rest of these ungrateful little curs."
Edmund had pulled himself to his feet behind Peter. "It's all right, Peter," he said.
"Silence," Gallacher said angrily to Peter. "Or I will have you in here next."
"Leave it," Edmund said. He was shaking, and for a moment, Peter thought he might faint. Then he seemed to collect himself. With small steps he walked towards the tapping foot of the Headmaster.
He managed to get to the doorway. Then he stopped. Without warning, he was sick all over the Headmaster's shiny loafers.
Blake moved fast. With a sweeping motion he grabbed at Edmund and pulled him away from Gallacher just as he was raising his hand. "I'll just take the boy," the Form Master said quickly. "Find out what happened. Get him to bed. Peter, come with me."
He ushered them away before the Headmaster could say anything. Blake had Edmund tucked into his arms, where he didn't seem to have the strength to resist. His feet didn't seem to touch the floor.
It took only minutes to reach the dormitory at the speed they were walking. They travelled some of the little-used passages, so they didn't meet anyone. Blake threw open the door to Peter's room and almost dropped Edmund on his brother's bed.
He addressed Peter. "Help him clean up. And stay in here, let him sleep it off. For heaven's sake, don't go anywhere near the Headmaster if you value your hides." He bent down to look Edmund in the eye. "Lad, I know you didn't mean that, but you've made your life here that bit more difficult. Keep your head down."
He left in a swirl of cape.
Edmund flopped back on the bed and threw his arm over his face.
"What happened? Are you all right?" Peter asked quietly.
"Headache," Edmund mumbled. "Just need some peace and quiet." He turned away from his brother and refused to say anything else.
So Peter sat down beside the bed, and rubbed gentle circles on the younger boy's back until the hitching sobs settled into regular breaths.
Peter jumped awake and hit his head against the bed post. The speaker was talking quietly, and he thought at first it was Edmund, but when he checked his brother was still sleeping.
Lucy's head was poked around the door, and she said "You're both here. I was looking for Edmund. I thought something might be wrong. He was really angry at me and Susan, and well, I never thought if something was really the matter and then I wondered if there was, so I came to say sorry and..."
Peter mouthed 'he's sleeping', and she whispered. "Oh, I'll be very quiet, like a little mouse." True to her word she was noiseless as she sat beside Peter.
They sat in silence for a while.
Finally the door opened again. It was Susan. She opened her mouth to say something, but Lucy headed her off.
"He's sleeping," she whispered. "Peter says we must be quiet."
Peter shrugged. He did not tell the girls that the first time this happened, Edmund had slept through the arrival of the whole rugby team, a fisticuffs between two junior boys and an accidental splashing by someone trying to split the fight up. He had only woken six hours later when his stomach had complained, and then gone back to sleep for another twelve hours.
Susan came to sit beside them, and they settled down to wait.
It was some time later that Edmund cracked open his eyes. His vision had cleared, and the headache was better, but not gone. He knew immediately that he could sleep for hours yet, so he wasn't sure what had wakened him. Perhaps it was the silence?
The room was filled with gentle light from the curtained windows. Susan was lounged on the sofa reading a large bound book. She turned a page without a sound as he watched. Peter and Lucy sat cross-legged on the floor with the chess board set up between them. It looked like Lucy had the lion's share of the pieces.
All three were concentrating so hard that they didn't notice that Edmund was awake. Truth to tell, he didn't feel awake. He smiled sleepily to himself about the lengths one had to go to get a bit of peace and quiet around here. Then he let his eyes close and was asleep in moments.