Hover Over This
Disclaimer: I don't own the Pevensies or Narnia, but it's fun to dream.
I knew I shouldn't have been hovering.
Really. I did.
But because my brother was unconscious (and because my brother was unconscious) there was nothing to hinder me, as I hovered with obviously practiced expertise next to his bedside, fiddling with pillows and changing out the bandages on his temple, where a long, jagged, still-prone-to-bleeding-at-odd-moments gash stroked the contours of his pale skin, stretching its hideous malformation on past his jaw. Pus seemed to be festering around its edges, where blood was attempting to crust-over and scab in hopes of leaving nothing behind but a rather gruesome scar.
Lucy's wailings could be heard from down the halls- she, too, wanted to help her brother to return to the land of the living. But Susan, Aslan bless her, was just as adamant as Edmund could be with me, at times, and refused her little sister to gain her feet. At least, until the fevered Queen was cured of her own ailment.
"You're getting quite adept at this, Your Majesty," commented a Badger Healer, by the name of Glindel, while she replenished my fast-depleting stock of fresh bandages and poultice, "Though, you may want to ease up: if you keep cleaning the wound, you'll never give it a chance to heal on its own."
I dabbed at a new leak and looked up at her with a tired smile.
"My apologies, dear Badger. I can never seem to comfort myself at the sight of my sibling's blood."
"Yet you seem to have no trouble baring your own," came a voice from the entryway, and Glindel curtsied.
"Your Majesties. I shall take my leave now."
"Yes, thank you, Glindel," I said distractedly, and faced Susan, as she perceived me with slightly hardened eyes, "What do you mean, I have no trouble baring my own? Do you think I like fighting?"
From the corner of my eye, I could see Glindel making a hasty retreat, frantically signaling approaching servants that they, too, should avoid confrontation with Narnia's rulers, for the present time. Susan, however, did not pursue the explosive topic of conversation, and instead opted to sit next to me on Edmund's bed, removing the bowl of healing salve from my hands and turning her attentions to our little brother.
"I got Lucy to lie down. Finally," she announced, dabbing paste on the slight bruise below his collarbone (a bruise I had gone over at least half a dozen times already) and brushing bangs away from Edmund's lidded eyes, "She really wanted to help out."
"She's feverish," I said.
"She's Lu," Susan countered, stirring her finger idly in the salve, "She doesn't seem to care about her own health, when it comes to her siblings."
"She loves her siblings, though. Doesn't that count for something?"
"Not if it hurts her to show it, it doesn't," she snapped, placing down the bowl atop Edmund's bedside table with a violent clatter, "There's a definite line between showing loyalty and being blatantly daft."
"When your siblings are in danger," I murmured firmly, "That line is anything but definite."
"Oh, go on," Susan growled suddenly, not meeting my eyes, "You think you're so clever! We both know that you were completely aware of what could have happened."
"Ed needed me. I wasn't exactly thinking of anything but that."
"But you should have!" she cried, leaping to her feet, "One of these days you won't be so lucky, you know that? Then what? How can you-?!"
"-Please stop jabbering," Edmund said, his voice so low that both Susan and I jumped in shock, my own heart thudding painfully in happy surprise, "I feel like I'm about to throw up."
"We'll get you a bucket," I grinned, too content to consider anything but the pale, tetchy, beautiful scowl that Edmund was currently firing in my direction, and feeling my stomach twist and jerk around with a myriad of overwhelming emotions- all of which were vying for time on my countenance.
So far, only Glee had wrestled its way through.
"Oh, Peter, leave him alone," Susan leaned across him to kiss his eyebrow, and sat back to smooth his hair, "How are you feeling? Besides your stomach, that is."
"I don't know. Lights seem a little dim."
"It's a little after midnight," I told him.
"Oh. That would do it."
Seeing that he was still disoriented from his injuries, and in dire need of catching up on the day's events, I gave a beseeching look to our Gentle Queen, who clearly understood, but still shot me a look that easily read, 'We'll talk later,' before swooping over to kiss Ed one more time and then pat the side of my face in parting, the doors clicking shut behind her.
I turned back around, intending to launch into a quick summary of what had happened after Edmund had been knocked out, and was halted by a startling, searing look of agitation, which burned heatedly into my own gaze. Black eyes, lit with an odd fire, like live coals filled with sparking embers, fumed silently through the gates of sleek, black iron lashes, which were thrown open to accept as much light as they could garner from the scantly lit quarters.
I froze as the frighteningly sharp mind behind them swept a quick, concise evaluation of my well-being, my expression, and (I believe) my very soul.
"You hovered," Edmund said accusingly, appearing quite put-out by this, the iron gates fluttering shut, the fire hidden from view.
"Yes, I-" I paused, squinting at my brother wonderingly as inspiration struck. He did not move from where he lay, yet something in his countenance told me that he knew exactly what I was thinking."You're not talking about while you were sleeping, are you?"
"No," Edmund said quietly, in a dangerous manner, "I'm not talking about when I was sleeping."
I didn't know what to say to that. 'Yes, I hovered, and I'm glad I did!' would send him into a tirade about the importance of rank and duty, telling him that it didn't matter would throw him into a spiel on patriarchy...
Telling him I loved him more than my own life would only serve to give him the fuel he needed to recklessly and devoutly risk his neck, his freedom, his mind... for me. If he didn't violently harangue me first.
"So where was it?" Edmund asked after a few minutes, having opened his eyes to stare blankly at the intricately carved roof of his King-sized bed. I frowned.
"Where was what?"
"Your life-threatening wound."
I gaped at him and he caught my stare, his face turning hard. The decorative scar seemed to, somehow, make him even fiercer.
"You don't have a single scratch on you- You had to take some of Lu's Cordial, didn't you?" At my silence he turned away from me, making a small noise that sounded heartbreakingly like disgust, "I know you weren't dying before I blacked out."
"I- I don't-" my voice caught in my throat.
"Let me guess- the head? I know the Minotaurs love hacking at them. Did you take an axe to the cranium? Is that why you still can't answer me?"
"Or maybe a Wolf got to you first. That would be your jugular. The leader would reach you before the others, take you by the neck and rattle you around until your blood carpeted the ground, and then his pack would tear you to shreds. The throat is their favorite part. Still sore, Brother? Can't talk?"
"Edmund. Stop it."
"Oh!" he sat up, face entirely too bright, color highlighting around the edges of his shining eyes, a spurious smile jeering at me,"A Tiger! They are typically unconventional, but they've been known to crunch an entire head off in one, clean snap. Lion, must've been a real mess..."
"The only explanation left-!" he roared over me, the hue around his eyes darkening until a flushed red covered most of his face, eyes snapping with barely suppressed lightning, a feverish sheen of sweat dampening the front of his nightshirt, "-Is that some Hag bewitched you when your back was turned! What was it, High King? A curse? Hag got your tongue?!"
"Ed, you're making yourself sick," my mouth said, but my mind was reeling with the heated spite that was issuing from my little brother's lips. I reached out to gently push him back into the pillows, "Just settle down and-"
"No!" he slapped my hands away, twisting in one quick, sloppy motion from the sheets as he stood- wavering dangerously- to his feet, "No, don't touch me! I'm mad at you!"
"Because you hovered!" Edmund screamed, eyes slamming shut in the force of his tone, his fingers curled so tightly into his palm that I feared they would draw blood- his gash was already deciding to re-open itself, dribbling dark liquid onto the front of his white, damp night clothes, "Because you stayed when I told you to go! Because everything- everything, Peter!- hinges on you coming out of battles like that alive! This whole family hinges on-"
He coughed and then gagged, quickly dropping from view behind the high edge of the large mattress, where the sound of further gagging and retching spurred me to race around the obstructing furniture, just in time to see him expel a good measure of bile and half-digested food onto the woolen rug resting beside him.
Moving fast, I dropped down next to him, ignoring the twinge in my knees when they banged against the cold, stone floor, as I hurriedly caught my little brother by the shoulders and reeled him back before he had the chance to fully collapse into the pool of sick. With an aggravated sigh, he allowed himself to fall back against me, all anger with me appearing to have been vomited up with every other bad thing that had been boiling agitatedly within him. I kissed the forest of curls amassing and abounding about his head, noting the humid heat that was rising from it with no small amount of trepidation.
"Go through all that," Ed muttered sullenly, spitting the sour flavor from his mouth, "And I don't even get to berate you properly."
"Susan's going to really give it to me later."
"Good, you deserve it."
We sat there quietly, both staring unseeingly at the wall, with Edmund propped up against me, his chest rising and falling rhythmically. An unspoken apology seemed to well between us both in our armistice; Ed, for yelling, and me, for making him. I kissed his head again and he carefully patted my arm: We were forgiven.
Edmund sighed again.
"Looks like I caught Lucy's fever."
"Yeah," I said, crossing my arms around his chest and resting my head on his, both of us closing our eyes, "At least it will give you time to heal. The bed-rest."
Our position was perfect for me to feel the muscles in his scalp pull his face into a scowl, "Bed-rest was the last thing I wanted to resort to."
"Lucy agrees with you."
"I hate being sick," Edmund sulked, "I can't move around normally or think in a straight line or move right-"
"You already said that."
Despite myself, I grinned, marveling at the person that was called Edmund Pevensie.
"Everything tastes funny, too," he yawned, comfortably assituating himself deeper into my hold, "Even water."
"We really need to get you some sleep, Ed."
He fell silent again, pulling me into the stillness with him, the both of us entranced at the heavy, tentative question that still lurked powerfully in the air above. I could feel the question appealing to him, wanting him to ask it of me. But it was his question, not mine. How he cared for it was up to him. Would he feed it if it begged? Or would we both ignore its deafening weight?
"Hey, Peter?" he was straining underneath it, I could tell.
He shifted a bit, warmth radiating from his back into my chest.
"Why'd-" he sighed off a yawn, "Why were you hovering?"
"While you were sleeping?" I joked lightly, keeping my voice low.
"No, not while I was sleeping," he smiled sleepily, and I felt my emotions fighting for the front stage of my face again.
"Because..." I began slowly, "...Because a spear shaft can be pulled out, and it's wound can be closed in a single swallow," I picked up his hands and closed them over the soft thumping on the left side of his chest, pressing them there a moment to absorb the feeling of his pulsating heartbeat, "But this-" I patted my own hands down on his, which covered his heart, "-Destroy this, and there is no coming back."
Salty liquid spilled onto my folded hands, but it was neither dark nor sticky.
"I hovered because everything- everything, Edmund- hinges on this."
And, within my hold, I could feel it beat with blessed life.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones," Proverbs 17: 22
Hello all! Hope your summers have been going well thus far!
I know I promised a few of you to get the next chapter of P.E up this past weekend, but I got writing, and this one-shot sprang out instead. I'm trying to write the sisters (:O Spoiler!) but they aren't cooperating like you'd think they would...Just another reason to adore them, I suppose. Rest assured, that I am trying to get the next chapter out ASAP. Scouts honour.
The ending may seem a bit rushed, even choppy, in its transitions- so feel free to pick at that. Points also go those who find grammar/spelling mistakes. I'm sure there's plenty. -__-
Thanks to all who have read!
Spurious- not authentic
Armistice- a agreement to stop fighting, if only momentarily
Harangue- to make a long, earnest speech