A Broken Soul

Summary: Edmund feels damaged. Peter has some words for him. One-shot, brotherly bonding.

Author's Notes: This takes place about three to four weeks after the Coronation. Slightly inspired from Lifehouse's song "Broken".

Disclaimer: I own nothing, etc.

A Broken Soul

The clock was broken.

It was something Edmund had noticed minutes-or had it been hours?- earlier.

Since then, he had been staring at it. Just . . . sitting, and staring.

He hated it. He hated this. He hated the way he had been acting. He had been a brat. He had been a traitor. He didn't feel very much like the traitor part any more. He still felt guilty, sure, but he also felt redeemed. He hadn't healed from all the scars yet, but he knew he was in the process and for now he could take that.

But being a brat. . . was there any cure for that?

He promised himself he would try harder from now on. After all, he loved his siblings. They loved him and they had been so accepting, though he wasn't sure why. But he still felt himself having to watch everything. Despite the fact they had taken him back, and he was so very grateful, he still found a part of himself wanting to act like he had before. He knew, in his mind, that it was only habit, not really what he felt in his heart, but at the same time, he couldn't help wonder. . .

Was his heart too far gone to love his family as they deserved?

He loved his family. He knew that. He felt that. He just didn't feel as if he could love them as they sould be. Lucy- so faithful, so hopeful, so kind, even when he had been such a terrible older brother to her. Susan, who was so patient and who understood him very well. And Peter, his older brother who loved him so deeply. It was almost physically painful to be loved by somebody so whole when one is so damaged.

Edmund stared at his hands, almost as if searching for proof of the decay of his heart in them.

Edmund's head snapped up suddenly as the door creaked open. To his shame, Edmund felt a burning, wet sensation and part of him knew he was crying, while the other part of him was trying to blink back the tears.

He knew, without needing to be told, that it was Peter. Peter had come in every night to check on Edmund since the coronation. Peter thought Edmund was always a sleep, but he never was. He could time Peter's visits like clockwork.

Like the broken clock.

Like his broken heart. Broken soul.

That's what he was, wasn't he?

Suddenly, he felt very angry. He had the urge to get up and punch his hand against the wall, to destroy his perfectly made bed and throw his desk chair out the castle window.

Calmly, however, Edmund did none of these things.

Peter drew closer.

"Ed?" He asked curiously once he saw Edmund's eyes were open. Edmund found his mouth too dry to answer.

"Ed?" He asked again, this time a bit louder and not quite as gentle.

Edmund nodded in a swift jerk of his head. It wasn't much, but it was recognition of Peter being there, and Peter grabbed on to the opportunity. He hastily sat on the edge of Edmund's bed before Edmund turned him away.

"Ed? Edmund? Look at me! What's wrong?" Peter's tone was still hushed, but was now also becoming increasingly frantic. He had known Edmund had been a bit. . . well, off lately, but this catatonic state was an entirely new level and it was frightening.

Edmund slowly turned his head where he was finally facing Peter, but he kept his eyes downcast.

"I don't know why you love me." There. Finally. The words that had been held back for so long.

Peter's surprise was hidden from Edmund by the shadows around them, but it lit up his face.

"You know I love you. I told you, and I promise, Ed, I'll show you from now on, I swear. I know that. . . well, we've both messed up a bit, haven't we, but we're brothers Ed, and we can be that."

Edmund shook his head before he remembered Peter couldn't see him.

"No," he replied softly, "I know that you do love me. . . I just don't know why. I was a brat and a traitor."

Edmund heard Peter's sigh.

"Are we back to this again?" The older boy asked, "Edmund, you're not a traitor anymore. Or a brat."

Edmund slowly let his shoulders relax and his head rest again the back of the bed.

"I know I'm not a traitor. That's who I was, not who I am. But I don't feel worthy to call you brother. You're so. . . so. . . perfect." Edmund trailed off in a whisper. He knew Peter wasn't perfect; no one was, and Peter was far from it. But he was much closer to that mark than Edmund was, and everyone around them knew it. Peter was protective. Peter was loving. Peter could do no wrong. It clouded people's judgments, and now Edmund had been influenced by years of being taught to look up to Peter.

And Peter was a worthy role-model. Just not a perfect one.

"No. What has happened is as much mine fault as it is yours. But really, Ed. . . I wish you had told me these doubts before. I thought we were so far past this."

"So did I," Edmund replied. He still felt the same, but his mind was clearing slowly. His voice was now taking on a slightly calm, less despairing tone.

Edmund clenched his hands together, trying to string the words into coherent sentences.

"It's just. . . I may have been forgiven, I may be loved, and I may now know how to love, but. . . some part of me is still broken, Peter! Don't you see? My heart, my soul, my mind. . . not whole anymore. Repaired. Perhaps not restored."

It made Edmund incredibly guilty to find tears in Peter's eyes.

"Is that what you really think, Ed?"

"Yes," Edmund replied, though it was obvious the confidence was thin.

Peter shook his head fiercely, "It's not true, though. Edmund, you have to believe me! You have been restored. You are here, you are breathing, and you are whole. You are. Believe it, Edmund. For my sake, please?"

"For my sake." It was Edmund's last chain tying him to despair, and it had just been broken. For my sake. For Peter's sake.

Edmund smiled through tear-stained eyes and in the next room, he heard the clock strike. It was dawn.