A/N: I guess you could say that this is Peter's "Scarred." I've had it kicking around in my Narnia folder for almost three years, and I finally got around to revising it, and, well, here it is. Let me know if it's too similar to "Scarred," and should it maybe be a second chapter to that one?
Disclaimer: I do not own Narnia or the Pevensies. I just torture them, apparently...
Peter was cold and tired. The blanket around his shoulders was thin and useless against the cold. And he couldn't sleep… again. How could anyone sleep, when the stars looked like that? Sugar crystals, pure and delicate, spilled across the black velvet that threatened to swallow them up.
But it wasn't the stars that kept him up, really. Lying on his back, staring at their unwavering brightness, he knew they were just in counterpoint to the real reason he was awake. It was the stench of battle, the guilt of war, the stain of blood which clung to him, perhaps only in his mind. The ground they slept on this night was hallowed. The swords at their sides were cruel. The dead they remembered as fearless.
The ground was made sacred by those who had fallen here, five years ago in the Battle of Beruna. Because of the fallen, this field was protected, and the only safe place for the delegation to stop as they made their way south to Archenland and Calormen. But Peter felt it, the sacredness, disturbed by the cruelty of the swords at their sides, the swords that had dealt out death one time too many. And it frightened him.
No matter how many times he killed, no matter what matter of creature he killed, he could never get used to the fact that he was taking away life. Swept up in the adrenaline, he was fearsome in the heat of battle, deadly with his sword, a force to be reckoned with. But if his enemies had ever seen him afterwards, they would, perhaps, not fear the High King as they did. He wept after every battle, for every person he had killed that day, and wept with the weight of the memories he carried. Memories of the faces of the men he had killed, memories of the look in their eyes.
He always wondered, as he watched the flames of the funeral pyres through the tears in his eyes, what the dead would say, if they could talk. Would they tell him their names? Would they speak of their hopes and dreams, their ruined futures, their scattered wishes? Would they tell stories about their pasts, relive memories from their happy childhoods, recount their secrets and fears? Or would they simply stand, silent, wishing for the one thing denied them—life?
He wondered if they knew they haunted him, if they realized that the reason he couldn't sleep was that they waited for him in his dreams. Those dreams made him fear the night. They stood facing him across a churned and bloodied battlefield, whispering to him. And though he could see their lips moving, though he strained to hear what they were saying, there was no sound. He heard nothing, nothing but the wind. He could smell the stench of blood and steel and sweat, taste the rotten air, see the swords they had died by, feel the wind that brought him the unintelligible whispers. But he could not hear a word spoken to him, not the screams of the dying, nor the laments of the living, nor the words of the dead.
And he was afraid.
He looked up at the sky again, watching the stars as they watched him. They were as silent as the dead. There were so many of them, and he wondered numbly if they were the number of the dead, uncountable and unreachable.
He sighed and rolled over, unable to bear the emptiness of the sky, the coldness of the innumerable stars. But as he looked instead over the deep green of the night-swathed field, the wind blew sinisterly through the tall grass, and he thought of the voices of the dead, trying to reach him again.
He closed his eyes, but the images burned in his mind, and he began to cry. A steady, callused hand slid into his and he squeezed it with all his might—something to hold on to in the swirling storm of his fear, grounding him. A small pair of hands pulled his head into a lap, and he buried his face on those knees and wept. A gentle set of hands laid a thick blanket around his shoulders and softly rubbed his back. And slowly he was comforted by those hands. Slowly the weeping ceased. Slowly he fell asleep, and for once—for the first time in a long time—his dreams were sweet, and the only wind was the ocean breeze, gently stroking his face as he danced with his siblings on the shore.
"He's finally sleeping," Edmund said, as the tight grip on his hand relaxed slightly.
"It's about time," Susan said, continuing to rub small circles on her brother's back.
"The dead won't bother him while we are here," Lucy said, stroking the golden head resting in her lap.
They remained that way the rest of the night, watching the stars and protecting their elder brother from the guilt that was his burden to bear, and the scars that would never heal.
A/N: I've got one more, probably tomorrow (about Professor Kirke, actually), hopefully, since I seem to be on a spree... Nothing for months, and then three in the span of two days! Wow! Let me know about that question I asked at the beginning, if this is better with "Scarred" or fine where it is. Thanks :)