Title: Voice in the Wind
Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia and make no money off of anything I write.
Note: Answer to challenge 16: Strong. This came to me rather late at night, actually. I'm thinking the rather maudlin nature of it comes from the fact that a few days ago (when I wrote this) would have been the birthday of a friend of mine who died in January. So I suppose I've been thinking about death and being left behind. Somewhat fitting for Memorial Day as well.
As he leaned against the railing of the balcony overlooking the Eastern Sea, Edmund felt more than heard his brother come and stand next to him. "You need to stop this brooding, Ed. I mean it."
Edmund smiled, keeping his eyes fixed on the hypnotic waves below, barely lit in the predawn hours. "Last time, Peter, I promise."
"You better." Peter's soft voice conveyed his worry. "No one should spend so much time contemplating mortality."
Edmund sighed. "It's hard not to. Especially when you're a warrior; when you're always a hair's breadth away from being killed, when those around you die."
Peter's touch was light as air on Edmund's arm. "You're still thinking about last week's battle."
"Yes," came the whispered answer. The brothers stood there for a moment, mirror images leaning against the marble rail. Edmund broke the silence. "Peter…what would you do? If I had died then?"
Edmund thought he heard his brother suck in a breath, the sound nearly hidden underneath the soft crashing of waves. "I…I don't think I could have handled it. I don't think I could survive losing you, Edmund."
The younger man frowned. "Which, I presume, is why you have that blasted tendency to put your own life at risk to save mine." Peter's silence was answer enough and Edmund sighed. "You sell yourself short, Peter. Of course you would have survived if I had died."
Peter's voice echoed his stubborn insistence. "I don't think I would. You were always the stronger."
"I've said it before, Edmund. You are the strong one. Even in your deepest grief, I know you can prevail – because you have faith. I've always depended on that, clung to your faith even when mine was weak." There was a pause. "I have told you that, right? Please, tell me you know how much I depend on you."
His voice was almost frantic, and Edmund hurried to reassure him. "You did tell me. About a month ago, when I was fretting over the likelihood of a war."
Peter relaxed. "I remember. You were completely embarrassed…I believe your ears turned red." The brothers laughed at the memory but, as usual, Peter turned serious again. "I wasn't lying, you know. Your faith has always made you stronger. I would fall apart if I had lost you; but you have always had the faith that Aslan would not separate us forever. Where I would doubt, you believe that we would meet again."
Edmund gripped the balcony rail until his knuckles matched the marble beneath them. "I don't think faith makes death any easier to bear."
"Maybe, not at first. But faith keeps hope alive, if only a seed, until you are ready to let it be a comfort."
Edmund rolled his brother's words through his head, crashing in time with the waves beneath them. He shook his head with a smile. "I suppose…I suppose you're right."
"Aren't I always?" quipped Peter, his voice holding back amused laughter.
Wisdom spoken and heard, the brothers looked East, towards the newly risen sun who shone from her rest above Aslan's Country. She moved higher in her dance and Edmund sighed again. "I guess it's time to go in."
"And no more brooding?"
For the first time, Edmund turned to look at his brother, his face distraught. "Peter…."
The High King's expression was firm, but his eyes shone with love and care. "No more brooding, Ed."
Edmund closed his eyes a moment. When he looked back at Peter, his eyes were burning, but full of determined strength. "No more brooding."
"Good. Now, you better get going. The girls will be worried. And you have your duty to attend to."
Edmund nodded and started walking from the balcony. He stopped, half-turning his head so that he wasn't quite facing his brother. "Love you, Peter. Always."
Peter's warm smile was audible, even as the wind carried it away. "I love you too, little brother."
Edmund met up with his sisters at the atrium of Cair Paravel. None spoke, but in unison they walked from the castle, down to the chapel at the edge of the city where it seemed all of Narnian had gathered. The crowd was silent as the three approached a bed of white marble in the churchyard.
Releasing Lucy's hand, Edmund stepped forward. His voice was clear and strong, ringing out of the despairing quiet. "Friends, we have come here to this holy place, to remember and to mourn the loss of our beloved brother, Peter, High King of Narnia…"
Now that I think about it and read over it again, this is very similar to Autumn Leaves. But only in form, really. Autumn Leaves was more about Susan's hopelessness, while this is about Edmund finding the strength to move on. In fact, you could probably view them as companion pieces showing different responses to the death of loved ones: hopeless grief and mournful strength.