[fanfic] The Chronicles of Narnia: I Thought I Lost You Somewhere
I Thought I Lost You Somewhere
TITLE: I Thought I Lost You Somewhere
AUTHOR: clockwork_sky (LJ)
LOVELY BETA: tanief_twen (LJ)
FANDOM: The Chronicles of Narnia
CHARACTERS: Lucy Pevensie, Edmund Pevensie, Eustace Scrubb
PAIRINGS: Heavily implied past* Edmund/Lucy
WARNINGS: Non-graphic sibling incest
PROMPT: philosophy_20 (LJ): #11, Extrinsic
RATING: PG-13 (for pairing and mild suggestiveness)
TIME SETTING: Eustace, in the Dawn Treader movie, states that it's "Day 253" since Ed and Lu arrived, in his diary. All the "date" notations refer to this. Pre-Dawn Treader.
STYLE NOTE: This fic changes from first person (Eustace's diary) to a more standard third-person narrative, during the story.




1. not essential or inherent; not a basic part or quality; extraneous: facts that are extrinsic to the matter under discussion.
2. being outside a thing; outward or external; operating or coming from without: extrinsic influences.

Eustace hears them whispering at night. He keeps meticulous record of what he sees, what he understands.

The only problem is, he could never hope to understand.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my first installment both of my philosophy_20 (LJ) table, but also of a rather large and extensive head-canon that has been building itself in my head about Narnia for the past several years. I had refrained from writing anything, partially out of nerves, but mostly because I couldn't figure out what the best way to go about it was. Eventually, I decided that given the fact that my head canon spans several decades of bits of information, it only made sense to begin chipping away at it in pieces. Given my recent adoration of the film version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this story is what impressed itself upon my mind to write. This is my first Narnia fic.

Please note the warnings (don't like, don't read), the fact that this fic is mostly movie-verse based and centric. I'm familiar with the books, but not as well.

*As for the "heavily implied past" Edmund/Lucy-ness, this basically is the fundamental thing the shipping in my head canon. Edmund/Lucy (and Peter/Susan) became fact and realized during The Golden Age. This sort deals with some of the aftermath of that a while down the road after they've come back.

Title from Here is Gone by The Goo Goo Dolls. Not all lyrics applicable, but I found a lot of them to be.

I Thought I Lost You Somewhere

From the diary of Eustace Clarence Scrubb:

Dear Diary,

(Day 224)

My cousin Lucy has absolutely no sense of time or propriety. Everyone else in our family seems to think she's perfect, or else ignores her. (The latter, I wish I could do.) As if sharing a room with Edmund isn't bad enough, now it seems I'm to contend with sharing it with the both of them some quarter of the time.

It all started about two weeks ago (approx. Day 210). I've been counting the days since they arrived. For the first few days it wasn't quite as bad as it could be, but the longer they're here the more 'at home' they make themselves.

They spend a lot of time alone together, as much as they can—out in the garden, sitting in Lucy's room, even at the kitchen table. They're still on about that Narnia nonsense that they and their other wretched brother and sister kept talking about when we went round to visit them last year. This would be just fine with me except for the fact that they are beginning to lose any discretion they once had about it. They're welcome to their miserable delusions if it keeps them out of my things. At first, they'd simply stop talking if I or one of my parents walked into the room. Now, they hardly even flinch and just lower their voices to the most obnoxious hisses imaginable. Alberta and Harold simply take the wiser course of action and ignore them, but I'm afraid my perceptiveness simply cannot ignore such complete idiocy going on under my roof—let alone in my bedroom.

Anyway, as I was saying relating, about two weeks ago, I had just managed to begin to drift off to sleep through the irritating sound of Edmund's breathing as he slept—so noisy and heavy and discordant, and at random intervals he mumbles stupid things about Narnia and battles and witches and the like. (It's ridiculous, and would almost be better if he snored.) Then I heard a rattling at the door. I'm not a little child and I know far better than to believe there's even any such thing as monsters, so I wasn't afraid. I tried to ignore it and sleep, but then, I realized that the sound was that of someone knocking.

Alberta and Harold observe a normal and healthy bedtime, so I knew it certainly wasn't them. There was only one person it could be, and I wasn't about to invite more interruption into my life, so I closed my eyes.

Then the blasted knocking grew louder, not all at once but slowly, like the dripping of a leaky tap. Then Lucy started whispering for Edmund. I heard him mumble once in his sleep, but another firm knock on the door and he was wide awake again and went and opened the door—my door—at some ungodly hour I don't care to imagine.

That night might have been irritating, but it was to be the least of my troubles. That night, at least they had the courtesy to simply sit down beneath the door frame, making their whispering very slightly less annoying. Apparently Lucy had some sort of nightmare—something about Edmund and a witch and a magic potion of some kind. I think it was about Edmund dying as the result of something to do with the witch. If only I should be so lucky. In any case, that's exactly the reason, apart from it being completely useless, that I don't fill my head with such ridiculous fantasies.

As I write this, I'm sure I'm suffering from sleep deprivation. Not once, but twice since the aforementioned incident, Lucy has come to my room to speak to Edmund long after civilised human beings should be asleep. I chose not to write about this until now because I assumed this was simply further proof that my cousins, the Pevensies, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, were actually raised as wild savages. However, last night, instead of simply going back to bed or staying at the door, when Lucy knocked and couldn't immediately wake Edmund, she barged right in! I never looked around, but closed eyes only go so far when I cannot close my ears. They seemed to be wittering on in hushed whispers about the same nightmare from two weeks previous. However, at some point, even my perceptive mind couldn't be bothered to further decode their meaningless and fanciful drivel, and so I fell asleep.

If I manage to survive the remainder of my cousins' stay, I should be awarded a medal.

Note to self: Formulate plan to permanently hamper any and all future plans on my cousins' parts to make nuisances of themselves.


Two Weeks Previously (Day 209)

One night, the wind picked up over Cambridge, sweeping across the landscape with a cool rustling—blowing in a storm. Everyone in the Scrubb household, including the two house guests, lay sleeping. Rain began to pour, hard and fast enough to pool at least an inch out in the street before it drained.

It was probably the most exotic thing to have happened in the Scrubbs' neighbourhood in years.

The wind practically blew the rain in sideways as gusts brushed past the houses, howling with one of the world's loneliest noises. The wind blew a misting of the rain in through Lucy's window, as all the windows in the house were always open.

Accustomed to much worse than this, Lucy slept on with hardly any trouble, even as the mist of cool rain dampened her face and a few strands of her hair. Soon the wind carried itself in a slightly different direction and the water stopped getting inside, for the moment.

She simply pulled the bedclothes closer to her chin and shifted slightly in the bed, a soft hum in her throat. And then she was once again far away, lost in dreams. Dreams of the singular place she missed most of all. Dreams of home.

Somewhere, far away, the ruins of a once great castle were shining in the sunlight. Even the picture of so much time passed away, the picture of forgotten destruction, was beautiful as the sun rose over the sea and touched the white stone.

Lucy could feel the smile playing on her lips. Looking down, she briefly felt the chill of the waves as they crashed gently against her legs, she realized she was barefoot, standing within the tide's reach. Her legs were long, lean, elegant, draped over by a now-dampened, deep blue Narnian gown. Her smile turned to a grin that almost hurt to hold as she reached down and pulled the gown up, the dampness now brushing her knees and the fabric bunched up about her thighs. She watched the perfectly clear water cover her feet and the draw back out gain, making her pleasantly dizzy.

Curling her toes in the dampened sand, she laughed softly and could hardly help spinning around on her tiptoes as she turned to look at the horizon—so unspeakably beautiful that it was only then that she realized she was alone. She was speechless, and yet it hardly mattered because there was no one there to speak to. For the moment, however, nothing could serve to dampen her mood and her mind filled in the gaps, maintaining this happy fantasy a while longer.

She gave up trying to keep the bottom of her gown dry and let it fall from her hands and soon she had lowered herself to the ground, lying on her back and looking up at the perfect sky, cloudless except further out to sea. Behind her, she caught another glimpse of Cair Paravel's remaining stones and she thought of the last time she'd been here.

Only then did the dream begin to waver—because she'd been here so many times in her dreams, dreaming both of memories of when it had stood and these fantasies of what remained in its wake. However, she'd never quite been able to dream her family here—not here, not now. Only glimpses of the past seemed possible.

She closed her eyes, hanging onto the feel of the rising sun. The beams of light heated the sand beneath her back, between her fingertips, warming her slowly all the way down to her feet paying about at the edge of the water's reach. The warmth—so real, so perfect, it couldn't possibly go away.

But then, she felt the deep, prickling rush of the cold water running up her spine and the back of her neck, and she felt for a moment that she might be submerged.

When she opened her eyes again, she seemed to awaken not to her bedroom but to somewhere lying on the firm, dry ground, looking up through a thick canopy of leaves and pine needles. Blinking a few times, she was convinced that being at Cair Paravel had been a dream, but she still didn't awaken. Such is the sleep of youth, of growth and of dreams we'd rather not wake from.

Lucy stretched a bit and got to her feet, the next thing she felt being the dagger and bottle of cordial dangling from around her waist. Dreams often offer no explanation for the things a person believes while having them—this time, Lucy didn't believe that she was alone.

Still looking up to the sky and finally down and around the forest, she came to the surest conclusion as to who might be with her.

"Edmund?" she called. A few more steps and a short search and she frowned—no answer and no sign.

"Peter? ...Susan!" she tried, yet in vain. Her frown only grew deeper as she moved further and without fear into the dark wood.

She blinked a few times and finally closed her eyes, listening, she believed, but when she opened them again, she felt another cold rush—this time of wind—on her legs, and could not believe what she saw. The wind, this time, was biting at her legs with snowy cold teeth. She hugged herself tightly and pressed forward against the wind, drawn by some force she did not know.

Snow had fallen in its due season in Narnia for the entirety of her reign, but this wasn't simply snow—it was a blizzard, and deep. There had only ever been one winter—the Winter—when the depth of the snow and cold had been so deep.

Finally, Lucy came upon something distinct in the barren black and white landscape.

Upon seeing Edmund, the first thing that caught her attention was his face. She gasped with a start when she saw how very young he was. She had not seen him that way in quite a long time, not since—It was only then, as she extended her hand slightly, that she saw how tiny her own hands were. Small, almost chubby and childish. Looking down at her own body, she immediately recognized the clothes, the cape, the frame and size of her body. Then, with a dread even colder than the blizzard and snow, she looked back down at Edmund and realized why he was lying on the ground, breathing so heavily.

This wasn't right—it hadn't been in the snow, and they hadn't been alone. And where was the Witch?

"Peter! Susan!" she cried again, desperately, this time for help in her small, fragile voice—the voice of a child—as she dropped to her knees by her brother, seeing the deep and fatal wound in his stomach. The fear, the panic, was almost sickening—and she couldn't do this, she shouldn't have to. This wasn't right, she hadn't been alone.

One small, shaking hand reached for her healing cordial while the other touched Edmund's forehead, carefully but firmly.

"E-Edmund?" she asked, voice shaking as she hadn't anything close to the strength to hold back tears.

"L-Lucy-" came the reply—a question but cut off by the laboured but terribly slow breathing.

Lucy uncapped the bottle and gently poured a single drop onto his tongue. It should have worked—it had worked, something in the back of her mind told her. But reason did not listen when she was watching her brother dying, all on her own. No Peter, no Susan, no Aslan, no one. Not even the Witch here to blame.

Edmund's breathing continued to slow, the rasp of a sound in his throat as if he might say something, but it might simply have been from the pain emanating up from his side.

Lucy's hands were still shaking and small fingers brushed back through his hair, gripping softly at the warmth, desperately, as she poured another drop onto his tongue—hoping against hope now that his breathing had become a faint echo and finally died away in his throat, along with him.

Even after the terrible silence, hope kept her awake—kept her asleep—for a little while. No stirring, no sound came from Edmund's lips after that—no movement of his body, save for when the grief overtook Lucy's small frame and she wept over him, leaning against a breastplate that kept her cheek from his still-warm chest. Messy, wind-matted curls fell over her face, got into her weeping eyes, but she didn't care.

And it seemed, at first, that only her cries woke her.

Never had she been more relieved to see her bedroom in Cambridge. When she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was the painting on the wall, and for a moment she was still—caught a breath.

Then lightning flashed—illuminating the ridges of the paint and causing Lucy to start. She looked up and saw the window open, noticed the cold gusts of dampened wind blowing into her room. She got onto her knees and leaned across the bed immediately, closing the window and then the curtains.

Relief was coursing through her veins as she glanced at the brass knob on the door and hugged her knees. She could still feel her pulse racing in the thin skin, just behind her ears, even as her breathing slowed to normal. She sat there for a long moment, glancing back at the pillow and trying to convince herself to simply go back to sleep.

Then another clap of thunder sounded, seeming closer still to the window, and Lucy found herself on her feet.


Edmund almost never slept soundly anymore. He was constantly dreaming of battles and of war.

The weight of responsibility he felt, walking into town and seeing the soldiers, seeing young men walk up to enlist, was nearly unbearable. He had a decade's experience on them if he had a day. Yet each morning he awakened and the bathroom mirror told him different.

And so he was trapped here, sharing a room with Eustace Clarence Scrubb, watching from a distance as other people signed their lives away to go and fight the Germans.

Restlessness was no stranger, so when Lucy came to knock on the door, she only had to say his name once for him to start and be mostly alert. When he answered the door, she took a quick step back, as if she were surprised to see him there. He met her eyes and then noticed that her dressing gown appeared a bit disheveled, as if she'd put it on in a hurry, and it was hanging loosely over her night clothes, not even tied. He cleared his throat to regain command of his changing-again voice from sleep, and in the selfsame moment, Lucy took note of her dressing gown and made a bit of a silent fuss, straightening it and tying it neatly.

He pretended not to notice and moved on to what he presumed to be more important matters. She looked both a little pale and a little flushed. His brow creased slightly into a frown.

"What's the matter, Lu?" he asked softly, giving her a weak and odd little smile. "Don't tell me you've found a magical cupboard that could get us out of here." In spite of his somewhat weary sarcasm, there was no mocking in his voice. At this point, it may have been more vain hope.

Lucy managed to return the smile he gave her, just as weakly.

"No such luck, I'm afraid." Then she couldn't bear it anymore and she took a step closer, leaning up just enough to whisper much more softly, still far enough away to look him in the eye. "I... had a bad dream."

"'Bad dream'?" he repeated, still not quite in the same hushed whisper she'd managed.

Lucy pressed two of her fingers against her lips, hushing him and glancing toward Eustace, whose back was turned, seemingly yet oblivious.

Edmund followed her gaze and also spared a glance to Eustace, and then back to his own bed. Without further thought, he turned a bit and put his back to the door frame, sliding down until he was seated in the floor. He nodded reassuringly for Lucy to do the same.

They sat close to one another, both with their knees pulled to their chests, not quite touching. After a moment, Edmund shifted, noticing the mirror of movement and breaking the reflection.

Lucy was busy gathering her thoughts, looking at the wood grain's pattern in the floor.

"Bad dream?" Edmund hissed again, softly.

"I..." Lucy began, glancing back up and meeting his brown eyes—bright and shining with life. Not dull and emptying, like before... "I dreamt that you died."

Edmund was visibly a little taken aback as he blinked a few times, eyes widening a bit. Then he cleared his throat softly, squirming slightly in spite of himself.

"Lucy-" And it was almost a gentle rebuke, mostly because he was afraid of what might come next.

She opened her mouth to continue, but before she did she sighed and reached out, gently gripping his forearm through the fabric of his shirt. His eyes followed her hand, and it was at that moment he realized he had to listen to her. She tugged softly and opened her mouth again, this time finally managing to speak as she let her hand fall away.

"Edmund," she reassured him as best she could, even as she was pleading. She waited for just a moment and he simply fixed his gaze upon her, leaning back a bit against the door frame.

"Not like you to have nightmares," he remarked, trying feebly to break her nervousness, his own. It didn't work very well, but she cleared her throat softly and continued.

"I was in Narnia."

Edmund glanced away from her for a moment but immediately his eyes were back on hers—they all dreamed about Narnia and they all knew it. Narnia was with them, always, both waking and asleep. However, judging by the way she was looking at him, the way her lightly freckled cheeks were still pale, he thought he knew what she'd been dreaming about. However, he didn't interject as he twisted the fingertips of his right hand into the left sleeve of his shirt, fidgeting.

"The White Witch—at first it seemed everything was fine. I was at the Sea, near where Cair Paravel stood. It was in ruins, the way it was the last time we were there, but everything seemed... all right. Peaceful. But then, somehow, I was in the Wood, and for some reason I knew you were there-"

"Lucky guess," he interjected weakly, teasing, but Lucy wasn't in any mood, still pale and nervous in a way that still seemed off.

"...when I was dreaming, I was... older. Again. Taller and-"

For once, Lucy seemed to notice Edmund's discomfort with the subject and yet again she dropped it. Most of the time she did simply because she knew it was silly.

"-Anyway, then," she continued, frowning as her gaze grew distant, lost in the maze of memories that now seemed jumbled, "when I found myself in the Wood, I was alone. Actually, most of the time when I dream about Narnia, I'm alone—but it doesn't feel like that. Then, I closed my eyes and it was... winter... the Winter, again. Cold and empty and... there was you. We were both just little children again and-"

She trailed off again, eyes moving to Edmund's left side, where she knew a scar should be but wasn't anymore. She looked away as quickly as she caught herself, but it was too late not to be noticed.

"Lucy, you saved me. Years ago. No matter which calendar you're going by, it's been years."

"I know."

A silence passed between them, and Lucy wouldn't look at Edmund as she sighed heavily and blinked a bit quickly, trying to will the pressure, the ache behind her eyes to go away.

"D-Don't cry, Lu," Edmund pleaded.

"I'm not," she insisted with a rather resolute sniff and a weak but genuine smile as she looked back up at him.

"Especially not over me," he insisted in turn, grinning with some strange expression between smugness and self-deprecation.

"Ed," she scolded, but then his smile broadened and she laughed. Then, suddenly, it felt normal again, as if a fog had lifted. Edmund was all right, and that was all that mattered. She pressed her hand softly to her forehead and brushed a stray strand of wavy hair away from her face.

"All right, now?" he asked, very much doubting his ability to read her.

"Fine," she agreed. Then she sighed heavily and decided she ought to finish her story anyway—and besides, she didn't want to get up and go back to her room again. Nights here were long, boring and dull. Most of the time she managed to sleep through them, but now that she was awake the idea of going back seemed dreadful. "...it was the same, except we were alone. Peter and Susan were gone—nothing, no one. Nothing was the way it was supposed to be. No Mr. Tumnus, no Beavers, nothing like it was then, not even..."

Edmund understood what she was omitting, what she didn't even want to say, and he wouldn't make her.

"Lucy, you most certainly are never going to be alone in Narnia."

"If we ever get to go back..."

"We will," Edmund insisted, for once sounding like the more sure of the two.

"I miss them," Lucy admitted.

"Susan and Peter?" Edmund asked, unsure.

"Of course them. You knew that. I meant... Mr. Tumnus, the Beavers—everyone we knew..."

At first Edmund tried to think of something to say to lessen the blow, but as he really allowed himself to remember, he said nothing. The only thing he could think to do was to do the same thing she'd done for him—he reached out and touched her forearm, gently, and briefly before pulling away again.

She smiled, gratefully, and then looked down at the floor, letting her eyes focus, mind lost again in memory but this time of what had been instead of what terrors might have. Her soft frown slowly became a smile and then she laughed, hardly audible.

"Do you remember-" she began.

Then, the next hour passed by in a blink. All the while, Edmund and Lucy tried to extend the single, stolen uninterrupted hour into two hours, a day, if only they could have. Still, they could almost trick their minds into believing that there, against the door frame, Narnian time touched them, and for a few moments Cambridge was all but forgotten. For a few moments, they were home.


The Previous Night (Day 223)

Each time Lucy managed to drift off to sleep, she awoke again within an hour. Each time she would glance up at the clock and watch it steadily but so slowly tick away toward the small hours of the morning. At some point, she just gave up trying and found herself lying on her back, staring up at the ceiling.

Arms stretched out a bit above her head, she could feel the waves of her hair splayed out across the pillow, soft and tickling. The sensation sent a shiver through her, and again she was reminded of the cold—cold, ice, wind, Winter. Nothing about the room was cold, but Lucy nonetheless found herself pulling her arms back down and slipping down further beneath the bedclothes. Her fingers nervously fidgeted beneath them, clasping at each other and then at the stitching on her nightgown. She still looked around, blue eyes wide, awake and searching.

The more she thought about Narnia, the more she and Edmund talked about it, the more heartsick she felt for the home and the life she'd had. Even the memories of their more recent visit were beginning to lose their colour and life in her mind.

Twice recently, she'd met Edmund in the doorway—twice because of the same nightmare with little variation. Both times he'd died, lost to the cold. And then, both times they'd spent most of the night seated in the doorway, talking of the past until she was sure it wasn't true.

This night, there wasn't a nightmare to draw her out of bed. This time she knew with full certainty that Edmund was safe and sound in bed, just a few steps down the hall. She tried to tell herself to simply close her eyes again, but she found herself watching the curtains sway softly in the breeze. She couldn't help being reminded of the Dryads, dancing through the night in the Wood. Thoughts of the world coming back to life after winter—her least favourite season, with good reason—filled her mind. Spring and warmth—touching and feeling something again.

She glanced at the clock once more and pressed her lips together tightly as she glanced back up at the ceiling. Finally, she realized she was never going to get to sleep unless she at least went and talked to him.

Unbeknownst to his sister, Edmund had managed to fall into a fitful sleep that night. However, sleep didn't mean peace for him. Sometimes when he dreamt of Narnia, he dreamt of its beauty and freedom and of how he'd loved it there. Other times, he dreamt of her. The Witch might have been long dead, long lost to the world of mists and shadows and darkness where she belonged, but it did little for Edmund's mind when he could feel her touch, cold as ice. He couldn't understand how he hadn't seen it, hadn't noticed it, from the very first moment—how even her stark, cold beauty foretold of her world of endless dark and lifeless stone.

When he dreamt of Jadis, his trust in himself wavered. Day after day, he looked longingly as so many young men marched off to war, off to their deaths. Each day knowing that if he were there, he could help them. And yet, on nights like this when his dreams twisted the world and all the things he knew about it, he often wondered which side he would be fighting for. He was strong, he knew he had to be, but he could feel the lack of his true years, even in his sleep. His body tensed as he looked after the two paths, one chosen but both always ever-so-visible in his mind. All it would take was one misstep, one more mistake and he'd be, he would have been, hers forever, locked in the smooth but cold and hard as stone and ice embrace, his only glory in killing and death...

Lucy's knocking and whispering for Edmund didn't seem to be having any effect. She tried knocking a bit harder, supposing that if she managed to wake Eustace he might be cooperative enough to answer the door if only to get her to stop. She knew that to the rest of the world they lived in now, feeling such a strong inclination to just see Edmund, it being enough to calm her to sleep, was strange. The only good fortune in this case was that cousin Eustace was too young to understand why it was strange.

She paused for a moment, waiting, and then placed one more much firmer series of taps on the door, enough to echo in the hallway. Behind another closed door, she heard Uncle Harold clear his throat and chortle in his sleep and she started a bit, reaching down and grasping the doorknob, turning it as quickly and steadily as she could until it clicked. She glanced behind her once and then stepped inside Eustace and Edmund's room with no further trepidation. When she closed the door behind her, she heard Eustace make a sort of soft grumbling sound in his throat and he squirmed a bit beneath his bedclothes. Standing on her tiptoes, Lucy waited for a long moment, seeing if she had awakened him, but both boys seemed to still be asleep.

She reached down and gripped the fabric of her dressing gown, fidgeting nervously as she crept across the room, avoiding Eustace's textbooks and jars of insects and creaky floorboards with careful balance. Finally, she stood at Edmund's bedside and she released the fabric, both of her hands free at her sides, twitching slightly as she thought about what she should do.

A smile played about her lips as an idea came to her, and then she thought she shouldn't, so she bit down softly against her lower lip, feeling it curl in beneath her teeth. When she let it go, she sighed and watched him for a moment. She knew she could wake him and that he probably wouldn't mind very much. Still, he'd been so easily awakened before; the fact that he wasn't this time made her hesitate.

She reached up and brushed her hair behind her ear and reached down, letting her fingers gently brush against the soft, if a bit bumpy surface of the blanket that lay over Edmund. She watched her own fingertips for a long moment before she finally looked back up at his face. She couldn't help thinking of when they'd both been so much younger, half a lifetime ago.

Her fingers ran just beyond the edge of his body, feeling the faint indication of its heat through the layers of fabric but never quite reaching it.

Watching the rise and fall of his chest, seeing the colour in his face made her swallow hard and again feel the distant sting of tears. The past and Narnia may have been to far away to think about, no matter how much she wanted to, no matter how much she tried. Her dreams weren't, though—they were just closed eyes away.

She let one of her hands trail up and she raised her hand a bit off the bed. She almost touched him—just his cheek or his hair or something, just to prove to herself that he was alive and warm and there and real. They never touched anymore.

Bumping in a hallway, hands brushing as they helped one another lift something, those things happened with a regular frequency. However, deliberate touching was something else entirely. She could still feel the resonance of his touch on her arm, that night a couple of weeks earlier, for no other particularity than its rarity. She didn't understand—she supposed she didn't dare to imagine to understand—why things had become this way, now that they were in Cambridge when they needed each other most.

Lucy knew that she and her siblings were considered odd by most. And for years, she hadn't cared. It was the one thing in this world that made any sense. Prior to going out to the country, before they went to Narnia for the first time, the Pevensies had never been anything if not almost wholly unremarkable. Just another set of pale, knobby-kneed British children—just another exemplar of some beacon of innocence in a hellish war.

When they'd come back, they were different. More different than anyone. But it had never mattered to Lucy until now. She'd seen the loss of the lives they'd had slowly tear at Peter and Susan, but she'd believed she and Edmund were different. It had never really hurt before apart from a dull, distant sense of longing. Even divided in their differences, until now the four of them had always been together. Until now, even as she'd felt the bony or too-round angles of her body, saw them in the others, she'd been able to hold each of them, anytime she liked. For a little while, then, she could find the world they had known again.

Now Peter and Susan were gone off to America, and all at once, after they'd come to Cambridge, Lucy found that even she and Edmund had an unspoken new rule. She hated it. Hated it for its own sake and because the longer it went on, the more pushed away from Narnia itself she felt.

She swallowed hard and again she was keenly aware of her hand. It would be so easy to reach out and just touch, and she thought it'd make her feel better. Still, she didn't and simply watched as if from a distance away. How had such a simple thing—touch—become so complicated?

Unaware of Lucy's inner conflict, Edmund was not even so far away from a world of dreams, memories and confusion. His steady breathing increased, becoming heavier and laboured. His skin seemed to heat, to flush, warming him against tendrils of ice and frozen breath, whispers of a world he never wanted, never had wanted. Suddenly, the battling within himself worked its way outward and he shifted once in the bed, practically thrashing as if to push something or someone away. Still lost in a world of sleep and dreams, his skin became a bit more pale in spite of the heat, sweat showing the faintest gleam on his brow.

All at once, Lucy saw the transformation from apparent peacefulness to this, and she didn't even have to ask, have to wonder what was happening. Even before the single inarticulate word escaped his lips...


...Lucy had seated herself on the edge of the bed. She reached up and carefully extended her hands—still a bit smaller and fuller than she remembered them—until she reached his shoulders and gripped them firmly, holding him still gently.

"Edmund," she said, loudly enough for Eustace to stir and groan again. She glanced over her shoulder at him, but she couldn't bring herself to care so much as to stop trying to wake Edmund from his nightmare. Still, her brother didn't awake, so she turned herself a bit until she was resting her weight against her knees which were softly pressed in against his side. He squirmed away from her, toward the wall, but she kept hold of his shoulders and shook him once. "Edmund," she tried again, a plea edging into her voice.

With a start, Edmund awoke, sitting bolt upright in the bed with a gasp.

Lucy kept her hands on his shoulders long enough to brace him against colliding with her, until she could manage to scramble backward a bit. Then she let go again, back pressed against the bottom railing of the bed.

Edmund slid back against himself and took a deep, relieved breath as he reached up and rubbed the back of his neck a bit, squinting against the blur of sleep.

"Lucy?" he questioned, looking her up and down as she sat by his feet, knees half pulled to her chest as her nightgown spilled over her body, a bit too big for her. He reached up and rubbed at his eyes a bit as she didn't immediately offer anything in reply. "What are you doing in here?"

Lucy tensed a bit, feeling a twinge of accusation in his voice, though she knew he hadn't meant it. She looked down and pulled at the hem of her gown.

"I came in here, because-" Then she trailed off, the number of reasons she could have given all catching in her throat and rendering her silent.

Edmund felt the sting of guilt in his chest as he saw that he'd made her feel the need to defend herself, and he glanced around the room quickly, briefly checking to see that Eustace still seemed to be asleep before he straightened his posture and pulled his legs up until he was properly sitting. He leaned forward a bit, toward Lucy, but then found himself again at a loss for what to do next, apart from talk, so talk he did.

"I'm all right, Lu. You've had that dream twice now, and both times I've been fine." He paused for yet another moment and realized how harsh that may have sounded, especially in his hoarse, hushed tone. He cleared his throat and laughed softly, trying to show her how he'd meant it. "Come on, Lucy. I'm sorry. Just sort of saying that I'm all right and you don't need to worry about me. What time is it, anyway?"

Lucy finally looked up at him sharply, pulling her knees up further against her chest and resting her chin against one of them. She finger-combed her hair over one of her shoulders and sighed as she leveled her gaze at him.

"Edmund," she said, insistently, as she raised her eyebrows, one the slightest bit above the other, dubiously.

"What?" he asked, voice lowering to little more than a rattle as he lowered his chin and his gaze from the intensity of hers.

"I know," she replied, reminding him more than anything else.

"It doesn't matter," he insisted, looking back up at her eyes cautiously and a little defiantly.

She sighed and got to her feet, making no move to walk away but instead of sitting, she stood at the edge of the bed.

"It does matter if you're still having dreams about the Witch this many years later."

"You don't know that."

"Were you dreaming about something else?" she asked, pointedly.

He watched her eyes for a long moment and resisted the urge to lie, glancing down and away in lieu of a response.

"A-Are you all right?" she asked, much more gently.

"Fine. She didn't try and kill me in mine," he replied firmly.

Lucy sighed and again she sat down just on the edge of the bed, closer to him this time.

"We could spend a hundred years talking about Narnia and springtime and beauty and our friends, but it's not going to make any difference if you don't start trusting yourself. Hasn't it been long enough?"

"Why should I?" he sighed, slumping a bit until he was below her eye level, nearly lying down again, supporting his neck with his hands. "Do you?"

"You know I do."

Edmund looked up at her eyes and exhaled heavily, allowing himself to lie back the rest of the way against his pillow. He might have known she'd say something like that, and he almost might have known it would have the rather annoying effect of making him feel just a bit better. Somehow, she still managed to say something and make everything seem like it was all right and still. He pressed his lips together and thought for a long moment, and he thought he'd nearly come up with something worth saying when she broke eye contact and was moving again, obviously determined about something.

"Lucy, what are you doing?" he hissed, voice cracking a bit. This just one of the many indignities he usually managed to ignore. He felt the rush of cooler air as she lifted the bedclothes above him, holding the corners together tightly in her hand as she got up briefly and turned her body, slipping down beside him nearly before he could even get the words out. He could feel his side pressed to the wall, but the bed was small enough that it hardly mattered. Even if he'd turned onto his side, he'd have still felt her body heat along his, she'd have still been pressed against him.

He looked at her, eyes widened as he swallowed hard, furrowing his dark eyebrows into a bit of a confused frown.

She simply met his gaze in turn, nothing but the gleam of her determination evident in them. She pressed her lips together, rubbing them back and forth against one another as if she were trying to remain quiet. The truth was, for a moment she didn't trust herself to speak.

Edmund cleared his throat and turned onto his side a bit, facing her still, as he realized there was no arguing with her. What was worse, he didn't really want to. The heat was welcome, natural—not liked panicked sweat or the touch of ice and cold.

Lucy was so close she could even feel the vibration of his voice as he cleared his throat and she looked down, determination tinged with a bashfulness she couldn't help. Her cheeks grew hot, and even looking down didn't help. She pulled the bedclothes back up over them both, but there was no room, no division between them evident, even in the rise of the blankets and sheets around their bodies. Finally, she spoke, began to try to explain.

"Edmund, she can't hurt you anymore-" she began, because to her, her actions and this subject were very much related.

"Lucy," he hissed, quietly as he met her eyes intently and insistently before leaning in closer to her ear as they lay facing one another, "Aunt Alberta or Uncle Harold catches you in here in the morning..." He trailed off, knowing Lucy would understand him. There was simply an entire world of things neither of them could explain even to each other, let alone anyone who didn't understand.

"I..." Lucy began, breath shaking before she paused for a moment and regained control of her voice. She didn't whisper quite so lowly, though she still knew that only Edmund could hear her, as she was now keenly aware of the sound of Eustace's rhythmic breathing as he slept. "I won't be here in the morning."

"Lucy, why-" But again Edmund found himself unable to articulate the question as he met her eyes again. She simply gazed back at him levelly, maybe even the spark of knowing challenge in her eyes—something she most certainly wouldn't say, but she had no intentions of moving her head from the opposite edge of his pillow.

They weren't even quite touching, but Edmund could feel his heart pounding, this time not from fear. Only, maybe now it was fear. Fear of losing track of time and reality, who they'd been and who they were now.

Finally, Lucy did shift a bit and leaned her head against her hand, resting against her elbow as she looked at him, frowning a bit curiously before trying to smile reassuringly. Her hair spilled down over her hand and she used her free hand to pick at and trace the faded pattern on the pillowcase, but this time she didn't look away.

"What? Really, Edmund, it's all right..."

Lucy felt a slight rush of adrenaline when he reached out to her, a mixture of fear, confusion and an excitement she wanted to deny. However, she kept quiet and watched him intently, though he seemed much more intent on watching his own hand. She felt him grip the fabric of her dressing gown, and she heard, more than felt, her own sharp intake of breath. When he tugged at it, though, he simply pulled it more securely around her, and with the motion pulled her a bit closer to him.

Her eyes flicked down toward his hand and she blinked quickly before she met his again. She pressed her lips together, thoughtfully, as she tried to keep her breath even. In her effort, finally her lips broke into a smile as she laughed a little, under her breath, looking down again.

His hand didn't immediately pull away. Instead, he felt the warmth of her body beneath his hand, veiled and trapped by the sheets and blanket. Her breath rose and fell, evenly, except for a soft shudder at first, not so different from the laugh that followed.

Finally, he cleared his throat and tried to regain command of his voice.

"Lucy," he began, gently as he knew how. "What are you doing in here?" he repeated, letting his hand slide along her side, softly touching the small of her back through the layers of her clothing.

"I couldn't sleep," she responded simply, quickly, keeping her eyes trained away apart from a shy glance upward. "And I know-I can't sleep here. Please—Please, Edmund, don't talk about that."

A sound caught and cracked in Edmund's throat, but this time it was intentional. There were so many things he wanted to talk to her about, wanted to ask given this most recent turn of events, but she'd forbidden it and he knew to listen. Instead, he took a deep breath, almost a sigh and tried his hardest to relax, tried his hardest to feel that this was simply normal.

"Fine," he replied sharply, but the weak smile he managed could almost be heard in his voice, and it drew her eyes, slightly narrowed into a glare, up to his. "What would you like to talk about?"

"Stars?" she suggested softly, a playful smile now firmly settled on her lips. During their times in Narnia, Edmund had always taken a keen interest in constellations, in the astrology that seemed to truly move through the natural world there. Here, astrology was empty and without meaning—yet another thing about the world that Lucy still couldn't help finding foreign and strange—but she knew he knew which she was asking him to talk about.

For a moment, she saw his smile widen, the keenest look of satisfaction on his face, but then he furrowed his brow a bit and cleared his throat, hand shifting and drawing a bit away from the small of her back.

"M-Maybe not," he replied, uncertain and reluctant to disappoint her.

Lucy watched his eyes and her own eyebrows knitted together a bit in turn as she tried to read him. There were so many things that they simply wouldn't talk about now. Each and every time she tried to remember why, it just stung a bit more and she wondered at the rules they seemed to have agreed upon, yet again. She tried to think of something, anything, to say in response, something to break the awkward silence. Instead, she simply found herself reaching up with her small, pale hand, brushing her fingertips against his cheek there in the dark.

He closed his eyes, but he didn't try and pull away. Carefully, she let her palm rest against his skin, feeling his warmth and how smooth it was. Everything else was so quiet and still that she could feel his breath fall softly against her wrist, and she immediately noticed his heartbeat. She let her hand trail back until she gently pressed two fingertips gently at the end of his jaw, just beneath his ear.

"Your heart's racing," she gasped, laughing a little—again, these little moments made her forget and it seemed absurd.

Edmund's dark eyes fluttered back open quickly and he raised one brow at her, just a bit. He smiled a little, eyes even darker and narrowed slightly, as if he'd just been challenged. His movements were intent, steady, but slow enough to give Lucy pause to wonder what he was doing as he pulled his hand away from her back. He pulled it away from her completely, just for a moment, until he reached up from beneath the blankets and reached out, gathering some of her dark, soft waves of hair between his fingertips, brushing them behind her ear and combing them down, careful not to pull at a single of the nighttime tangles, smoothing them away with steady hands that spoke of practice. When he'd finished, he brought two of his own fingertips to mirror the motion of her hand, touching just beneath her ear.

He smiled again, somehow smugly and sadly all at once.

"And yours isn't?"

Lucy blinked rapidly a few times, mouth opening to supply some clever response, but she found none. She couldn't stop herself returning that smile, but she looked away and could feel her cheeks colouring. Now it was her turn to softly clear her throat as she glanced away, but instead of pulling away as well, she leaned into the touch slightly, letting her eyes close. After a moment, though, she knew she had to say something.

She took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders slightly, gently getting him to pull his hand away before she met his eyes again, pointedly.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Are you still afraid of her? Of yourself?"

He didn't want to meet her eyes, but try as he might, he couldn't turn or look away completely. That was, after all, the reason she was here, he reminded himself.

"I'm not afraid."

"You're not? What are you, then? You still dream of her."

"It's hard not to," he admitted with a hard swallow. "This. All of this. Everything that's happened to us is my fault."

Lucy looked a little confused at first, until she realized that he wasn't simply talking about the War, and she frowned.

"Edmund. I... I wouldn't change any of it."

Something about his eyes almost seemed to flinch, but he didn't look away from hers, then. He couldn't.

"You wouldn't? Not anything?"

"Not anything," she replied, firmly.

"What if all of this was just part of what she wanted? What have we—what have I done to you? Let alone Peter and Susan. All of it's-"

"Sshh," Lucy insisted, drawing her fingers away from his pulse and pressing them softly to his lips. She pulled away as quickly as she'd touched them, but she let her hand fall down and press softly, tentatively to the left of his chest, just above his heart, still feeling the rapid beating. "You don't really think—You can't, Edmund. Do you really believe Aslan would have just let this happen if it were your fault?"

Edmund thought about it for a moment, doubt running through his mind and showing in every inch of his being. But then, as he watched Lucy's bright, blue, never faithless eyes, he shook his head a little.

"No. No, but then why is everything so different here?" he asked, unable to stop his eyes from wandering down again, looking at their forms beneath the bedclothes—so much closer than before, but he could still see the distance between, and it immediately made him look back to her eyes, his cheeks flushed.

"I... I don't know," she admitted, looking down and gripping the pillow a bit with her free hand. She shook herself a bit and looked back up, smiling as brightly as she could. "Edmund, you know I-" Then she stopped, thinking again of the boy in the bed, just across the room. He was still fast asleep, but there were some things she simply couldn't say anymore—not to herself, not to Edmund and certainly not to anyone else. "-I'll stay," she told him.

"Lucy," Edmund replied, wearily and worriedly. "You can't. What if-"

"No," she interrupted, again, hushing him by putting a single finger across her own lips this time. "I mean... I'll stay, until you fall asleep."

"What for?" he asked, softly, trying to express with his tired eyes that he wasn't complaining, though he certainly wouldn't say as much.

"...I'd rather it be me than the Witch that sees you off to sleep," she replied after a moment, eyes begging in turn for his acceptance of this.

He hesitated, just for a moment, but as he let his eyelids fall to blink, it was hard to open them again. Lucy's warmth was so close, so real, so very unlike ice and chill—he couldn't find it in him to send her away, to deny her.

"All right. But don't fall asleep, too, or-"

"Edmund," she scolded. "I won't. Now, stop talking."

"Never going to get tired of telling me that, are you?"

"It doesn't seem very likely," she admitted with a smirk. Then, she stopped talking herself and pressed her hand back to his chest, feeling his pulse against her palm, indulgently, before letting it slip down a bit to his waist, pressing softly until he turned as she wanted him too, a bit closer to being on his back. He watched her, a bit bleary eyed as her movement—familiar and new warmth—enveloping his body in safe quiet.

Lucy let her hand trail back up and find its resting place, firmly resting against the left side of his chest. She squirmed closer until she could lay her cheek against the right. She let her eyelids close, just for a moment, and she knew she would have slept, if only she could have.

"Lu-" he began, nervously as he felt her relax against him.

"Quiet," she hissed back, still wide awake, even with her eyes briefly closed. When he obeyed, she simply inhaled deeply, holding her breath for a moment until she had to steadily exhale. Then her eyes were open again and her fingertips gripped very slightly into the fabric of his shirt as she fixed her gaze on the wall beside the bed. She didn't let go of his shirt entirely, but began to stroke softly up and down. She heard a sound catch in his throat—a sound that made her smile, but she pressed her lips together again and forced herself back into some world of safer memory. Then, sound silenced, replaced by steady, peacefully quiet breathing.

Edmund had been deeply asleep for a long time when Lucy moved again. She hadn't let her eyes close, but she'd been perfectly still for what must have been nearing an hour, apart from her steady stroking up and down as his grip slowly relaxed on the fabric. Finally, she tilted her chin up, cheek brushing against the opposite side of his chest. He squirmed a bit, but showed no sign of waking, so she sat up, leaning most of her weight against one arm as she still felt her legs lying alongside his. She watched the rise and fall of his chest and then his face—now not at all beset with nightmares. She smiled a little, sadness gone from it, in spite of its fragility.

She glanced around at Eustace, almost completely unmoved from where he'd been when she had entered the room. She glanced at the clock and sighed, frowning a little at it before turning her attention to Edmund once more.

Reluctantly, she slipped out from beneath the covers and put her feet on the floor, standing as quietly as she could. Then she turned back to the bed and pulled the blankets back up around Edmund, smoothing them down as snugly as she could to make up for the gap she'd left, hoping he might move away from the wall a bit after she'd left, now that there was enough room. Her quiet concerns were only distraction, until she'd run out of things to fuss over and knew she should definitely leave.

A moment's hesitation more, and she swallowed hard, clearing her throat softly again, this time for no one to hear. Pressing one knee back into the edge of the mattress, she finally gave up her fight and leaned in, pressing her soft, tender lips to his temple, letting them linger for just a moment as she felt tears sting her eyes once again even as she smiled until it nearly hurt once she'd pulled away. Taking a deep, stabilising breath, she pulled away and gently touched his dark hair once before returning to her own bedroom, tiptoeing carefully the entire way.

When she lay down again, it took her yet another series of long moments to fall asleep. She knew she would, but this time her reluctance had nothing to do with nightmares and dreams—only with trying to hold on and remember where she'd just been. Remember what it felt like, remember that it was real—not just a dream like the imagined Dryads in the rustling of the night wind.

She watched the curtains blow in the cool breeze and tried to remember Narnia, to remember before they'd come to Cambridge, to remember so many things, but the one thing she wanted to remember most of all, the one thing freshly pressed upon her mind, was the feeling of her brother lying safe and sound beside her, simply feeling his breathing, his warmth and voice so close she didn't have to keep on imagining them. She tried to remember it and forced herself to remember that none of this was his fault—no one was at fault.

Finally, she turned her eyes away and turned away from the window, letting her eyes close. Then, for a fleeting moment, she tried to remember when the word 'brother' had meant something so much simpler, so much less important—a time when it'd meant something people in this world could understand.