It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king.
- TS Eliot
They say that Peter is day, and Edmund night.
"That's ridiculous," is all Peter says.
In Calormen, they whisper that the slim, dark-haired king is made of shadows and silence, that he hides blades on his person like street performers hide coins with nimble fingers, that he uses words the same way that an archer savours each arrow.
In Archenland, it is said that the tall, blond king is made of light and laughter, that he can wield any sword with equal amounts of surety and talent, that he has a particular fondness for stories and jest.
Once, when he is still very young, Edmund accidentally kills a bird with his new slingshot.
"It's alright, Ed," Peter says, after his younger brother tearfully confesses. "But now you have to remember the responsibility that you hold."
In the first year of their reign, Peter organises an ambush on a dangerous band of Jadis sympathisers.
He learns the hard way that not all intelligence is reliable.
"It's not alright, Pete," Edmund says, sombre eyes turned towards a grieving, guilt-ridden king. "But now we have to make sure that it doesn't happen again."
The Galmians come bearing gifts. To the High King they give, among other things, an assortment of delicious sweets found only in Galma. To the Just they give, among other things, a weighty tome on Galmian law.
"We understand that Your Highness is particularly fascinated by the legal studies," they explain.
Edmund's grin is decidedly mischievous when Peter confronts him about his missing sweets, tone somewhere in between exasperation and amusement.
"What did you expect me to do?" Edmund asks, the epitome of innocence. "Eat my law book?"
At school, the other boys look at Peter as the epitome of the perfect student. The younger boys seek his favour, the older boys clamour to call him their friend, and the instructors never have anything but praise for the quality of the elder Pevensie's work.
"The younger Pevensie is clever, to be sure," an instructor says to a colleague one day, "but he does not possess the same charisma that his older brother has, nor does he possess his brother's ability to keep out of trouble."
"I can fight my own fights, you know," Edmund drawls, tone somewhere in between exasperation and amusement.
Peter shrugs as he washes the blood off his knuckles. "You're my brother," is all he says.
Peter always has an easy smile on hand, but it never works on Edmund. It has been a week since they've returned home from home, one week since Peter learned the awful truth of growing up that is unique to the Pevensie children.
Edmund never utters a word, but Peter can't shake the weight of his brother's steady, penetrating gaze, and finally the older boy sighs and gives in.
"I didn't really want to talk about it," Peter begins one afternoon.
"I never said you had to."
"Who am I without Narnia?" Peter never was one for wasting words.
Edmund studies his brother carefully for a long moment. The silence stretches itself thin between the two boys, and Peter can feel the pressure of his sadness bearing down on him with each passing second, and then –
"You'll always be Peter Pevensie," Edmund finally says.
Peter inhales sharply, an unreasonable fury coiling itself tight within him. He opens his mouth, not quite sure what it is he's going to say, but Edmund isn't yet finished –
"You'll always be a Narnian."
Jadis sometimes finds her way into Edmund's dreams.
Peter knows when she does, because the morning after is always the same – Edmund's eyes will be shadowed, his mouth pressed into a thin line, a fine tension visible in every long, lean limb.
"In my dreams, she tells me that I belong to her, and always will, no matter where or when I am," Edmund murmurs after one particularly bad night.
"You don't belong to Jadis," Peter says automatically, and a corner of Edmund's mouth quirks cynically.
"Don't I?" Edmund asks, and despite the way he lounges in his chair and the lazy, careless drawl in his measured tone, there's a burning half-pain, half-fear simmering there, just underneath the surface.
The command is etched indelibly onto Peter's face. "You belong to Narnia."
They say that Edmund is night, and Peter day.
"That's idiotic," Edmund says, "because you mean to say that Peter and I are completely different. But in the mornings, when you look up into the sky, you know that the moon and stars are still there. It isn't as though they just disappear when the sun rises. It's just that you can't see them."
Edmund hates mornings, always has, whereas Peter has always loved them. This explains why Edmund is surly as they wait at the nearly empty train station, refusing to answer Peter's light-hearted chatter with anything that isn't monosyllabic. And then –
"I can feel them thrumming," Peter says suddenly, weighing the small box carefully in his hands.
"Can you?" Edmund asks idly, glancing down at his watch without really seeing it. He's already looked at it countless times in the past ten minutes, and knows what it's going to tell him. They're running late.
Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, his mind murmurs repeatedly, almost like a prayer. Please keep safe. Please keep breathing for at least a handful of minutes more.
"The magic is so strong," Peter breathes. He looks at his brother, a gleam in his eye that Edmund warily recognises. "Imagine how easily we could do this ourselves, with just these rings."
"No," Edmund says, voice flat, even though something leaps within his chest. He imagines that he can feel the magic thrumming throughout him as well now.
And just as quickly as his excitement flared up, Peter's entire body seems to visibly deflate. "You're right of course, Ed," he says ruefully. And then he laughs, a genuine laugh, even if it is tinged with pain and regret. "Lost my mind for a second there."
"Yes, well," Edmund says, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth, "it's been known to happen with you."
Peter returns the grin, and the two men settle back into their wait.
"Isn't it funny to think," Peter says into the comfortable silence, "that we'll always be kings?"
"No," Edmund replies easily. He can just glimpse the smoke of the train in the distance. Finally, his mind sighs. Hold on, Narnia. "We'll always be brothers."
"My brothers," Susan says quietly at the funeral, "were always two bodies, one soul."