Disclaimer: I do not own anything in the world of Narnia; everything belongs to C. S. Lewis.
A/N: Here we have it: my first Narnia fanfic and my sixteenth story altogether. The reason I chose to write about Narnia is for two reasons: one, I adore the series, and two, I love the relationship between Edmund and Peter and the way it grows over time to where it's indissolubly devoted; they eventually become each others closest friend. I must say, I was a little unsure of how to go into this universe at first; when I first began writing, I was actually tempted to try composing it in first person. Ultimately, I chose to stick with third, and the reason for that is because I feel like I'm able to capture a character better this way. I think if I tried writing a fanfic in first, I'd have a lot of trouble because these are not my own characters, and I just feel like I wouldn't be able to portray their emotions and personalities correctly. But back to the story; I love it! Taking up four days of actual writing and two for editing, I greatly enjoyed working on this, and as I hardly did any planning before I began work, much of this is sudden and came from what was running through my mind at the time. And let me tell you, I did by no means intend for this story to be so long; once I got writing, so many new ideas came to me and wanted to be written, and I kept going until I was like, "This is it. This is what I've been trying to create." For anyone who would like to know, this takes place in the first movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, after the Pevensie's coronation; it's not based on the book. As there are no cuss words in the movies and books, this is devoid of language; if C. S. Lewis had wanted his stories riddled with bad words, he would have done that himself, and I didn't want to incorporate that into my own.
Feel free to review and tell me how I did, as this is the first time I have ever worked with these characters. Also, let me know if you would like me to publish Peter's chapter, entitled "An Older Brother's Anguish". Eventually, I will post it anyway, but the sooner you ask for it, the sooner I'll have it done!
All the thanks in the world!
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sin."
1 Peter 4:8
Long ago, there once was a king—or queen—who gazed out from a balcony belonging to a great citadel, the breathtaking capitol of Narnia: Cair Paravel, with its glass roofs and marble columns and alabaster walls. Once, it had been this king—or queen—looking out with fascinated eye across the cliffs and caves and beaches of the Great River Delta, out to the shores of the Eastern Sea, and far beyond into the glistening midnight waters. They had looked up at the heavens to see the elegant moon and the burning planets, the comets and stars that peppered the velvety black, and had been in wonder with its beauty, just as one of Narnia's new kings now was. The young lord looked around the kingdom he now shared with his siblings with soft eyes and an expression that wasn't quite a smile, yet was peaceful. A soft summer wind brought pale pink petals with it that brushed through his hair and over his face, and he could faintly hear the low, whispering voices of the dryads from whose trees these cherry blossoms had come from.
English boy—Narnian king—Edmund Pevensie wasn't really sure what exactly to think of himself right now, the awe of having just been crowned only hours earlier still one of his foremost thoughts. He could still remember the way his lips had pulled up into a brilliant smile of sheer happiness as he had looked upon the four thrones of the castle, in one of which he would sit, ruling beside his sisters and brother. He could still hear the gentle rumble of Aslan's voice as the Great Lion had announced his new title, could still feel the delightful heat of the name radiating languidly through every cell in his body. Edmund the Just; that was who he was now, a king of Narnia, sitting at Peter's right hand and only a few paces away from Susan and Lucy.
He thought of his sisters, amazed at the warmth it gave him; Susan, his gentle, sometimes overbearing big sister that he loved dearly, and Lucy, the valiant little queen whom he adored more than he let on. They both were a part of his world, his life.
But not quite so much as Peter.
The High King, Peter the Magnificent. The title of his brother filled him with a delicious warmth that had nothing to do with his own happiness, and a smile tugged his lips upward for a moment. Narnia's High King—his High King. Peter was High King, and Edmund, still somewhat surprised not to feel the knot of envy and malice in his chest, wouldn't have had it any other way.
It was still almost implausible to Edmund that he, of all people, was a king, and the ache resurfaced in his chest as past actions took up residence among his thoughts once more; although, he argued, they had never truly left, only slinking away for a few glorious hours. Entering Narnia as a boy hungry for attention, he had transformed into somebody unrecognizable, and he liked the person he was turning into. He had dreamed of becoming a king less than a week ago, but it had been empty wanting, selfish and cruel, without real heart. He had wanted power and to be in control, to make others suffer the way he had, to give people a fiery self loathing, an inside hurt that no amount of healing water could quench. And he had betrayed the people he loved most in the world, all for a power that was never his to inherit in the first place.
Hard to think that had been his outlook on life only a few days ago.
Things were different now; he was different, no longer the monster he had once been, if that was believable. After years of loneliness and anger and jealousy and greed, it had only taken a few moments for every evil desire coursing through his young body to ebb away, and the disastrous fire within him was extinguished by something more powerful than any title: love, pure and simple and without reservation.
There was the love of his sisters, sweet and caring and inviting, sweet spring, part of his heart. Susan's arms wrapping around his shoulders from behind, his face buried in her shoulder for just a moment; Lucy's small hand placed comfortingly on his, her little arms tight as they wound around his waist, and he rested his head atop hers.
However, even more than the love he felt for Susan and Lucy was the love of two others who filled the majority of his heart and made his chest swell with so much emotion that it confused him at times.
Aslan's soft truth, purrs of forgiveness and love, the feel of his long, golden mane tangled between a child's fingers; the sacrifice the True King of Narnia had made, giving his own life in exchange for Edmund's, allowing himself to be killed, to bleed out on the Stone Table, fully aware of the Deep Magic that would bring him back into this world. Peter's soft smile, his real smile, as he joked with him, actually joked with him by saying not to wander off, his brother's proud gaze as he had refused to leave this new world; Peter leaning over him, blue eyes wide and flooded with tears as he blinked furiously, the feel of his own chest slamming into his older brother's as he had been yanked into a hug that—literally—took the breath right out of his lungs.
The notion of having someone love him, love him long before they had ever met him, had made Edmund's eyes sting with something he refused to let fall, because he was actually loved, even with the sins he had committed still in plain sight and causing consequences that could have been truly disastrous for all of Narnia. Aslan was everything good and whole, everything light and perfect and so utterly wonderful that it had shaken Edmund to the very center of his being. To have someone die for him, to have Aslan die for him, made something in his chest dangerously tighten and crawl up his throat and make it hard to swallow, and he was everlastingly grateful to the True King, offering up all that he was to the Lion; his love, his loyalty, his life, and his very soul.
Now the concept of loving Peter this much, however, wasn't quite as simple, and it terrified Edmund in some ways. After years of telling himself he hated his brother, years of being a complete pain and a bother, after ultimately betraying his brother and everything he himself could one day be, Edmund was at a loss of how he was supposed to show this boy just how much he honestly loved him with all of his strength. It made Edmund nervous, having never felt such devotion to someone in his entire life as he did to his brother, and, though he tried to tell himself otherwise, it scared him a little, the way his chest seemed to expand whenever Peter flashed him a smile, laughed, gripped his shoulder comfortingly. He could still feel a slight tension between them brought on by years of bickering, but since the moment Peter had smiled at him in Aslan's camp and had said, "Try not to wander off", it had steadily begun to fade away. He felt closer to his brother, physically and emotionally, a bond that was strengthening and becoming something solid, the pull Edmund felt to Peter so powerful that he had willingly thrown himself into battle against the White Witch in order to keep Peter safe.
Edmund had regrets. He was ashamed of ever allowing the temptations the Witch threw at him with candy and sugar coated words to take hold of his being, strong enough to pierce his greedy soul and make him betray everything that he was. He regretted abandoning his family, making them worry, for causing them so much stress and grief, especially Peter. He hated himself for making Aslan suffer, even though the Great Cat knew he would ultimately live. But there was one thing Edmund didn't regret, and that was taking a broken edged staff in the stomach, shattered crystal shards tearing through flesh and muscles and bringing crimson blood and so much pain he could barely breathe; even though he had nearly been killed by Jadis in the process, he could never regret this because he had protected Peter in the only way he knew how, and that was enough for him.
And here he was, Narnia's then traitor and now it's youngest king. Before and after. Past and present. There and now. Who he had been and who he was and who he was becoming.
Edmund deeply inhaled the summer air, then exhaled softly as he looked out into the Narnian night. He had been in this magical world for nearly a week of Earth time now, and, as he looked out at the sheer beauty of the universe he now called home, Edmund allowed himself to truly bask in its enchantment, to let the warmth of this world flow into his weary heart, and he realized he was in love with this place. Not just Narnia itself, but its inhabitants: the beavers, Lucy's friend, Mr. Tumnus. Philip, Edmund thought somewhat dryly; he actually liked the horse.
He knew what he was leaving behind, back in England, back on Earth, and it made him sad to think of their mother, waiting for the time when they would return home and unaware that it would never come. He thought of their father who wasn't even sure when he would be home. Edmund could remember the man named Collin Pevensie, the images dimmer here than they had been back home—no, Narnia was home now, he corrected. But he could still see the chiseled face and strong features which he knew Peter would soon come in to, the pale blue eyes that all of the four children had been born with save himself, the way the man's eyebrows would furrow when confused, just like Edmund's own did, blonde hair cropped neatly and face clean shaven. The image of his mother was fresher, sadder somehow, as he saw her waving to them the day at the train station, brown eyes shimmering from tears, and Edmund cursed himself for brushing away her hug. He could see her, lips pursed in concentration, an expression Susan could almost perfectly match, could see her give a soft smile, a smile quite similar to his own, and feel her fingers brushing away the hair on his forehead. He could remember her reading bedtime stories to Lucy, back when they were all younger, his mother's face younger and brighter, laugh—
He stopped, eyes widening forlornly.
He couldn't remember his mother's laugh.
The young king in question looked over his shoulder to see Peter standing in the opening that led out onto the balcony, an inquisitive half smile on his face. "What are you doing?"
At the sight of his brother, something in Edmund relaxed and tensed at the same time, but the tranquil sensation won over for the moment and he gave his brother a quick little smile. "Wouldn't you like to know," he replied, tone not in the least bit scathing or cold; instead, it was gently teasing and strangely warm, even to his own ears, as he was not quite yet accustomed to the reactions Peter had been managing to pull out of him.
For a moment, Peter's expression was a bit surprised, and then he seemed to understand that Edmund had been bantering with him, and a pure, wonderful affection lifted his mouth into a stunning smile and he gave a soft laugh.
Edmund felt his breathing catch for just a heartbeat, because Peter hadn't smiled at him like that in at least two years, and it made his heart ache in both an enjoyable way and a painful one; why had he wasted so much time trying to outdo and wound this noble creature?
As Edmund smiled back somewhat shyly, he noticed something different about Peter's stance, the way he held himself; almost like he was trying to remain where he was, even though he wanted to move. The younger boy watched as he bit his lip, looked of to the side, and then back to Edmund, eyes sparkling in the moonlight and clearly radiating a question.
Can I join you?
Edmund blinked, lips parting in a small 'o', as he saw the inquiry clearly now on his brother's face; the way his mouth was pulled up almost nervously, golden brows raised above gleaming eyes. Somehow, Edmund realized, he looked almost vulnerable, of all things, which was strange since Peter was anything but weak.
If this had been happening a week ago, Edmund would have flat out ignored Peter, either that or bluntly rejected him. But this wasn't a week ago, and this wasn't England, and Edmund realized there was no way he would ever be able to refuse his brother again.
It didn't require a verbal answer. All it took was a large, honest smile from Edmund, the same one he'd given Peter the day he'd returned to him at Aslan's camp, and Peter was immediately moving forward, smiling the exact same smile he'd given Edmund that day, this time without any signs of impending stress.
When Peter was on his right side and looking out over the sandy beaches and moonlit water, and Edmund had his elbows perches on the balcony's stone railing, he found himself watching the elder boy with soft brown, almost black, eyes. Peter, like Edmund, had already taken off the cape he had worn at the coronation, but still wore the silky dress clothes he had been in since this morning. He looked tired, the ware of the last few days and the Battle of Beruna still evident, even after his wounds had been healed; but he was happy, a lightness to his movements and expressions that Edmund hadn't seen in a long time, and it made him smile. His thick hair was disheveled, possibly from the earlier dancing, and hanging in blonde wisps over his forehead, the golden crown of the High King tilted on his head more toward the left. At the sight, Edmund felt himself really smile; Peter, at the moment, looked very young and adorable, and it made him happy to see his older brother, for the time being, without worry.
The younger of the two looked back out over the ocean, watching as the waves lapped at the sand, the faint rushing of the tide reaching his ears on the breeze. He smiled. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
He didn't have to glance up to know that Peter was looking at him, already able to feel his brother's gaze. "Yeah," Peter said softly, voice adding even more beauty to the night. "I've never seen anything like it. It's almost prettier now than in the sunlight."
What he said was true, in some ways; Narnia was beautiful at any time of day, in any season; even, Edmund admitted painfully, winter. In the daytime, it was so open and majestic that the very heat of the sun flowed into Edmund's bones and warmed him from the inside out. At night, though, it held a mysterious quality that it somehow lacked during the sunlight hours, a dusky peace that was just as beautiful and maybe even more soothing to Edmund than its sunny counterpart. But the younger brother had a feeling Peter much preferred Narnia during the day, where everything was clear and dazzling; just like his brother, Edmund realized. He himself felt closer to the darkness, even though a childish fear of the black had somewhat crept back into him over the last few days. Edmund felt more like he belonged there, away from the world of his siblings and everything bright. He knew he had always been different than the other three, more introverted, quieter, less affectionate, and where his siblings were blessed with blue eyes and sunnier complexions, Edmund had chocolate brown eyes and pale, ivory skin, skin tone closer to his elder sister's, the look being completed by untidy ebony hair.
He looked back at Peter somewhat sadly, realizing he wouldn't have minded in the least if he had looked more like his brother. But it had always been that way, Edmund wanting to be more like Peter, especially during the last few years. Then, it was about becoming better than him; now, it was simply honoring him.
Trying to keep his thoughts from traveling in a darker direction, into places he wasn't ready to venture, Edmund asked casually, "Where are the girls?"
"In their chambers, getting ready for bed. You should have seen Lu," Peter said dotingly, words more of a laugh. "She was about to collapse on Susan, she's so tired."
A smile of his own came across Edmund's face as he imagined little Lucy, eyes drooping and lids slipping shut, as she tried to stay awake and not miss anything, her frame beginning to sag against Susan as the older sister pulled her off to bed. She had enjoyed today more than maybe anyone except Peter, and it made Edmund's heart soar to know that.
He glanced up from the corner of his eyes at Peter, catching the yawn his brother had just stifled. "You seem pretty tired yourself."
Peter smiled at Edmund, but didn't deny it. "We've been busy." And then he cocked an eyebrow just slightly; a question.
Edmund rolled his eyes affectionately, if nervously, looking away from Peter and back out over the Eastern Sea and praying his brother simply believed he didn't understand what he had silently asked. But Edmund had, and as he felt heat creep up his cheeks, he knew he wasn't ready to answer that question, not yet. Not the one Peter had been trying to ask for two days now and the one Edmund had not yet given him a chance to: Are you okay?
Of course he wasn't okay, even though he tried to make Peter and his sisters believe otherwise. In spite of Lucy's healing cordial and a night of rest after the battle, he was still a bit sore, but the physical problems weren't all that Edmund knew Peter worried about; his brother was more concerned with how he was coping. Edmund didn't want him asking that, was scared of him asking it, and so he glanced away from Peter resolutely.
Unfortunately, Peter didn't miss the blush flood his brother's face, and Edmund heard him sigh, understanding somewhat Edmund's thoughts and deciding not to push. However, the result of him not prying left them in something that neither could stand, especially Edmund: silence, and an awkward one. Wile he was the one who didn't like to talk as much, it was him more than Peter who hated when the subject ended on an uncomfortable note, and so he tapped his fingers lightly against the stone, looking anywhere but at Peter, too afraid and too willing to start a conversation back up.
Luckily, he didn't have to, as it was Peter who understood it was his job to lead. "What were you thinking about earlier?" he asked, looking down at Edmund just as the younger boy looked up.
"When I first came out here. You looked…well, really focused. Deep in thought."
"You couldn't even see my face," Edmund argued.
"I didn't have to. The way your shoulders and back were tensed was enough to tip me off."
It came as a surprise, but not a bad one in the least, for Edmund to realize just how observant Peter was when it came to him; on the contrary, it actually made him nearly smile, but he bit the inside of his jaw to keep the emotion from sliding up his face.
"What?" Edmund asked innocently.
"So, what were you thinking about?" Peter demanded lightly, smiling with something that would have once been annoyance but was now fond exasperation.
Edmund grinned at Peter, shaking his head once as he closed his eyes, then reopened them to look down at the lower half of the castle, able to see the lights flowing out from windows, the glow casting beams on the trees outside. A sense of timidity welled up inside him as he realized he wasn't sure how to phrase the answer to Peter's question without directly leading to the very thing his brother had been trying to ask him since after Beruna. He raised his gaze and looked back out to the water, the glow of its surface reflecting back onto his face and making him appear even paler than he already was. He sighed.
"I was just thinking. About everything, I guess."
"What do you mean?"
So he's really going to make me spell it out, Edmund thought, somewhat aggravated, but more at himself for not being able to handle any of this by himself than with Peter. "Just…everything. The last week, today. Narnia."
Peter was facing him now, a smile tugging at his lips. "A bit overwhelming, isn't it?"
"Just a tad," Edmund replied sarcastically, but his voice was missing the biting edge that he had hoped to achieve; instead, it sounded somewhat shaky. Gosh, he was nervous, heart hammering unnervingly against his ribs, a lump beginning to obstruct his airway and make swallowing difficult.
The eldest Pevensie missed nothing, highly aware of how Edmund's retort had barely held any of the sardonic sting it should have and instead sounded awfully small. He took a deep breath. "Edmund?"
"What else is there?"
Edmund looked up at Peter, lips parting to deny anything else was bothering him, but he saw an expression on Peter's face he'd grown accustomed to seeing these last few days: determination, steadfastness to find out what Edmund wasn't saying. Against his will, it made every excuse die on his tongue because Peter really cared. Almost choking on air, Edmund looked down at his hands, thankful that they weren't trembling. "Do you have to be so observant?" he asked quietly.
He earned a rough chuckle from Peter, and the older boy put a hand on his hip. "Always, Ed. Now what's wrong?"
Edmund exhaled slowly, looking downward on dark shores as his thoughts floated a world away, focusing somewhat dimly on a face, one he would never see again. "I miss Mum," he admitted softly as the edges of Helen Pevensie's face blurred in his mind, her smile already beginning to evaporate and leave him.
Peter said nothing. There was no need to, for the harsh intake of breath was enough for Edmund to know that his brother understood. The older boy did not try to comfort him, something Edmund was somehow grateful for and yearned after at the same time, because it was still too soon for their bond to delve in these unknown depths. They had only just begun to get along a few days earlier, and while Edmund was beginning to warm up to this new relationship, this new, unfamiliar warmth, he wasn't ready for the moment that he knew would inevitably come, when the time would arrive that would determine if their rapport would rise into something concrete or fall and disintegrate before his very eyes.
Edmund anxiously looked up and met his brother's steady gaze. "Do…do you?" he asked, referring to their mother.
Something twisted in Peter's features for just a moment, a tightening of his eyebrows and the pulling of his mouth into a painful line; and just as Edmund was able to comprehend his bother's expression read sadness, he seemed to regain control of himself. Peter attempted to smile. "Of course I do," he said heavily, trying to achieve an easier, light tenor and nearly succeeding. "And Dad."
Trying not to think back to his father, Edmund turned away from the boy at his side that looked so much like this man he didn't want to remember, and he stared at the sky, chest tightening. "Will it get any easier? Missing them."
Peter sighed, a somewhat forlorn sound, as he lifted his face and looked to the same sky the younger king gazed at so intently. "I don't know," he half whispered.
A fierce pang hit Edmund's heart, but it wasn't as painful as it could—should—have been. The knowledge that he would never see his parents again hurt, but the ache was not unbearable; he had Susan and Lucy. Aslan. Peter. His brother's words of uncertainty weren't as disheartening as he had feared they would be, and it was all because Peter was beside him, feeling quite similar. This was a burden he could share with all of his siblings.
For just a few moments of silence, Edmund let himself think of Aslan as he had last seen him, the Cat's giant head butting affectionately against his chest, deep laugh rumbling from his throat and into the boy's slight body. He could still feel the Aslan's thick main, warm and softer than it looked, and see his gracious, timeless honey gold eyes watching him with all the love in the world. Edmund's nostrils flared with the recalled tang of wild earth that was about the Lion's righteous figure, pleasant and terrifying.
Though it hadn't been out rightly stated, Edmund had sensed a farewell in his last encounter with Aslan; not forever, but for a while, and it made him sad to know that he wouldn't see this beautiful creature, the Great King who had died in his stead, for a long while.
But he had Peter, and Susan and Lucy, and that was really all he needed.
"Kings," he mumbled softly, more to himself. "I can't believe we're actually kings."
Peter laughed in understanding, crossing his arms over his chest in a relaxed manner. "It's not going to be easy, ruling over this place."
The weight of the silver crown Edmund now wore on his head was a comfort and a burden, and he swallowed thickly. "Is anything?"
The eldest boy was silent for a second, deliberating, until, with completely certainty, he said, "Yes."
Edmund looked curiously up at him. "What?"
Peter eyed him softly, gaze unusual as it seemed to be both searching and almost revealing at the same time, but before Edmund could come to even partly grasp his brother's look, he had turned away with a small laugh and a crooked grin. And Edmund realized, shocked, that Peter was blushing; his cheeks had color to them, and while he didn't looked entirely comfortable, their was a fondness to his smile that Edmund was unable to comprehend.
At Edmund's questioning look, Peter gave another smile. "Never mind." He sounded, strangely enough, nervous.
For now, Edmund decided to let it go, but he still wondered just what his big brother had been thinking about to draw that kind of almost flustered reaction out of him. So he nodded and turned away, storing this information away for a later moment, and tried not to let Peter see just how interested he was.
The breeze blew across his cheeks, salt air and the smell of clean soil, and Edmund found himself being pulled into a sense of peace, almost as if Narnia itself was trying to soothe him. As he closed his eyes, he could feel tranquility attempting to wrap around his soul, to lull him, wanting to protect him from his every fear, and he wanted so badly to fall into it, to be swept away on albatross wings and ride the land on a lion's back. He wanted to feel clear blue water beneath his feet, the sun warm on his skin. It was a gentle calling.
And then he thought of Peter, and the desire to bask in this perfection fled him as he opened his eyes, breaking whatever trance had been pulling at him.
Because it wasn't perfection, not with the darkness of sin still heavy on his heart, not with the pain and sorrow that tried to gnaw at him. And, most of all, it wasn't perfection without Peter.
Edmund balled his hands into fists, cool stone beneath his knuckles, and forced himself to take several deeps breaths so that he could calm his racing heart enough to speak. "Peter?"
Edmund could see Peter looking at him, his expression baffled. "What for?" the High King asked.
What for? Edmund snorted thickly, looking downward as that horrid, cotton like feeling clogged his throat, and he felt a faint stinging at the back of his eyes. "For everything. Being a prick, for one."
Peter lifted a hand, and while Edmund watched from the corner of his eye as his brother reached up to touch him, he felt something within him tense at the oncoming contact; not because it wasn't wanted, but because he didn't deserve it. Peter must have noticed the tightness in his posture, because his hand hesitated above the younger boy's shoulder, and when Edmund looked him full in the face with heavy eyes, Peter's expression was worried and, surprisingly, a little lost, like he wasn't exactly sure what he was doing.
"Ed, come on," he began, lowering his hand with clear reluctance so that it hung at his side. "That's in the past now, just like Aslan said."
"I was jealous of you."
The confession was sudden, raw with self loathing as it burst from Edmund's lips. It was true, so true and so stupid, so human, that it disgusted Edmund to have ever felt like this toward his brother. But envy was a human emotion, and he could do nothing except admit the truth to Peter, even as he realized he was beginning to answer that one question he had tried so firmly to avoid for as long as possible. Yet he couldn't stop, not now.
Edmund stared at the Magnificent with dark eyes as he watched his brother's own blue widen at his words, and he heard Peter's breath strangle in his throat, saw his lips part. He didn't exactly look shocked, but the emotion was still faintly there, overshadowed by something Edmund thought to be painful understanding. Of course Peter had known he was jealous of him, it was obvious, Edmund realized.
"You were always the popular one, the one who smiled and laughed and made everyone like him without even trying," he continued, a tiny quaver sneaking into his voice. "You always had Mum's praise and Dad's respect because you were the eldest and the man of the house when he left. Susan and Lucy adored you, still do, and I knew they loved you in a way they didn't me. Everyone loved you. Even me." Edmund sighed shakily, tone growing quieter. "Especially when I tried to hate you."
The words poured from his mouth like acid, bile burning the back of his throat and the flush of his own anger traveling from his cheeks to his eyes, where they began to burn with something he refused to even consider were tears. He could feel a faint tremble traveling down to his fingers, and he clenched them so tightly that his fingernails dug into his palms. But he didn't stop; inflicting pain upon himself felt good right now.
Edmund gave a deprecating laugh directed to his inner self, closing his eyes for just a moment to try and stop their stinging as he took the time to gather his bearings, acutely aware of how close Peter was to him, able to feel the heat his brother radiated and hear the shallow breaths he was taking. "I wanted so much to hate you," he continued, "but you made it hard, even when I was mad at you. I wanted your approval, to make you proud, but then I would remember something you had done to make me mad, and I would push that notion out of my mind. Deep down, I think I knew you wanted to do what was best for me, but I thought you were trying to replace Dad, and I hated it. I wanted…wanted to hate you so much, but I couldn't. Ever."
"When I came back the day at Aslan's camp, I almost wanted you to hate me."
He turned his face to Peter, mouth drawn in a painful scowl as he looked bluntly upon his brother's wounded face, eyes large and trembling and lips forming words that refused to be made known. And when he did manage to say something, it was to ask, "What?", his voice so fragile that it nearly broke Edmund's heart.
Edmund had to look away, too afraid that he would shut his mouth and pretend none of this had ever happened. However, the comprehension that this was the only time he would ever be able to say these things to Peter kept his resolve from yielding. "I was the traitor, Peter. I didn't deserve to have you or the girls or Aslan, and I thought that maybe everything would be better if you would just push me away and say goodbye. Some part of me wanted you to not ever forgive me, because maybe then it would be easier to leave, to not have to face my sin head on, and then maybe I would be able to keep you three safe. But I was being selfish, wanting that, and I was even more so because I wanted you to forgive me."
"Ed, really, it's—"
"Peter. Shut up," Edmund said, voice cracking, even as he tried to steady it, and he closed his eyes and attempted to block out Peter's hurt expression, wishing more than anything that he was not the cause of that pain. "I…I wanted more than anything for you to forgive me, even than for you to hate me," he admitted, sounding awfully young at the moment, even to his own ears. "I was scared that morning, when I stood in front of you three. I was afraid I'd be turned away, even though I knew it would be better if you did reject me. Maybe…" He swallowed thickly. "Maybe I thought it would be better if…if I were dead."
In just one second, Peter's eyes went from soft to outraged and frustrated, and he glowered back at Edmund, his features twisting into a mask of looming rage, anger rising along with his voice. "That doesn't give you the right to throw yourself into a spear, you idiot!" he spat, nearly pulling a flinch from Edmund. "You almost did die. Do you honestly believe things would have been better that way?"
"I don't know!" Edmund yelled back, his own fury growing with every word that fell from Peter's lips, yet he somehow managed to keep his temper in check better than Peter did. "At the moment, I couldn't have cared less about what happened to me. I just wanted to keep you safe!"
Oh no. Edmund nearly clamped a hand over his mouth at his words, the reality of them, and the affect that they had on both him and Peter, because it was totally true; he hadn't been thinking about his own life in any way, only Peter's, and he had been determined more than anything to keep his brother alive.
It was almost like he had physically hit Peter; he watched his brother pull back, face unguarded, shocked, as he stared at Edmund, eyes rounded with pain. "Edmund, it…it's not your job to protect me."
"Then who else will?" Edmund countered bitterly, glaring fiercely at his brother. "I wanted to at least try and make up for some of the evil I did, and I thought that if I died protecting you, maybe I would earn just an ounce of mercy. But it's not that easy, and I was just being a coward again." He gave a harsh, hoarse laugh. "And you know, I was still too weak to leave you three, even if it meant keeping all of you safe. I was too selfish. Because maybe if I had never come back, you wouldn't have been hurt and more Narnians would have lived and…and Aslan wouldn't have had to die—!"
"You know he did that willingly!" Peter retorted, voice quiet and incensed but holding a softness it hadn't possessed before Edmund's confession.
"That doesn't matter because he died. He died when I should have been the one to, and I would have been dead even earlier if not for him. I was supposed to die on the Stone Table, and then when the Witch stabbed me. I-I should be dead now."
"That is not true!" Peter interrupted fervently, eyes blazing blue fire as he glared at Edmund, and the younger boy found himself speechless for just a few moments. "How could you…how could you even think that?"
Edmund was one who was able to remain calm in most situations. He had discovered over the last few days that he actually did not have that quick of a temper, and that it was easier to remain composed than to blow up in anger. If enraged enough, he had a fiery temper and a sharp tongue, but for the most part, it took much persisting to get him riled up, this having been his attitude before his father had left for the war and Peter had begun to grow into the protective, sometimes unintentionally harsh big brother that he was. Up until this point, Edmund had managed to predominantly keep his emotions in check; the breaking of his voice, the shaking hands, the slight sting behind his eyes…they were the only signs that he was beginning to wear down.
However, at Peter's furious question, the spark, Edmund felt the fuse ignite, and then everything came out in a garbled rush as he exploded.
"Because I don't deserve you!" he screamed, voice pitching up an octave as he turned to completely face Peter, chocolate eyes livid and wild with emotion. "Because I'm a traitor, and I don't deserve any of this! I shouldn't be king, and I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't even be alive, Peter!"
"Don't you dare!"
Edmund's eyes widened at Peter's yell, an uproar pitched deeper and possibly more vociferous than his own, each word emphasized, sharp and pain filled. Without even realizing the older boy had moved, Edmund found just few inches separating himself from Peter, his brother having come closer, so close that it made the younger's heart ache to have Peter so near and knowing that he was so undeserving of this magnificent king. "Don't you ever, ever, say you shouldn't be alive, Ed," he growled, hands moving up to grip Edmund's shoulders firmly, fingers digging into the material of his shirt and, beneath, his skin, shaking Edmund slightly to stress his words. "You have every right to be here. You came back, and that's all that matters. Aslan forgave you. I forgive you, Lucy and Susan do. Why can't you see that?" he asked desperately.
Edmund pulled away as soon as the words left Peter's mouth, trying to put space between himself and his brother once again, struggling so hard to put up the crumbling barrier that had been in existence for years now, the one that had steadily been weakening since he'd realized just how evil he had been to his brother; the one that kept Peter at a distance. But there was no time to throw it back up, and he was already so weak from trying to keep it in place, and, more importantly, he couldn't seem to find it.
Instead, all he could do was shout back. "Because it doesn't make any bloody sense for you to forgive me!"
He glared at Peter, entire body trembling with anger at himself and guilt and so much pain and sorrow and fear that it nearly drowned him. The prospect that this boy, this utterly benevolent soul, could ultimately accept him back, almost as if his betrayal had never occurred…that Peter might actually love him…the concept was unknown to Edmund, yet completely desired after.
Peter watched him, face so distressed and astonished at the same time that it tore at Edmund's heartstrings, and all he wanted to do was fall at his brother's feet and beg him not to turn him away. Yet he stood glaring at Peter, body shaking as he waited for the boy to say something.
The Magnificent lifted a hand, and Edmund watched as it steadily drew toward his face, until he could feel a soft pressure on his cheek; Peter's thumb. Too shocked and choked to even try to push him away, Edmund remained still, knowing good and well that Peter would be able to feel his quivering. The pad of his brother's finger moved gently over his cheek, up to the hollow beneath his left eye.
When Peter pulled his thumb back, illuminated in the moonlight and by the faint glow of the torches, there was a single tear drop on it. "Edmund," he whispered, his own voice ravaged.
And then Edmund was acutely aware that his face was wet.
He was crying.
At the knowledge that he had been crying for at least the last half of his declaration, a fresh flood of horrid tears obscured his vision, and then they were gushing miserably from his eyes and falling down his cheeks, and he couldn't believe he was actually crying. He had been trying so hard not to let the moisture in his eyes take control of his emotions, but when the reality hit him that he was actually telling Peter his deepest fears, he understood that this moment had been in the making for years, and he found that in front of his big brother, he couldn't make himself stop crying. Ashamed, he lifted his hands up and covered wet eyes with the heels of his palms, trying to stop his breathing from doing that annoying hitching sound.
He had seen Peter's face, so tragic and painfully familiar, and he wished his brother wouldn't waste that emotion on him; not so much because he felt himself unworthy, but simply because he hated seeing Peter sad. And now, even with his eyes squeezed shut and his hands over them, tears steadily making fresh tracks down his cheeks, he knew Peter was still looking at him like that, and it physically hurt.
Forcing himself to look at his brother, he lowered one hand and opened his left eye, hot saltiness on his face and neck and wrists, and when he looked at Peter, he saw his brother watching him with so much earnest longing that Edmund had to bite back a sob because he wanted to genuinely believe in his brother. He glanced down for a moment, then back upward. "I don't get it," Edmund mumbled, voice fracturing, the heel of his palm painful over his right eye as he attempted to push the tears back into his skull; tears that, no matter how hard he tried to make them end, steadily descended his cheeks in crystal clear tracks, and he glared down at the space between them, too ashamed to look up at Peter. Trying to repress the way his shoulders trembled, biting down on his bottom lip until he could faintly taste iron blood, he was unable to stop crying, his chest constricting with every word. "I don't understand how you can forgive me after everything I've done. I betrayed you, I almost got you and the girls k-killed. I was horrible back home. And you act like it's nothing, like m-my betrayal wasn't beastly, w-wasn't evil." He wiped furiously at his eyes, but it did little good as more saltwater escaped them, and he took a shallow, aching breath. "You should hate m-me, but you don't. Why?" He glared up at Peter, furious and confused and scared. "Why don't you hate me, P-peter?"
A startled yelp exited his lips as Edmund suddenly found himself wrapped in strong arms, his chest pulled flush to his brother's, and Peter was holding him.
Peter hadn't hugged him in years; a better way of wording it would be to say Edmund hadn't ever really allowed him to in the first place, never giving him the chance or wanting him to. So it was understandably scary for him when he realized Peter was actually holding him, and even more so when he didn't want him to stop. He remained unmoving, arms at his sides as they were crushed against him, and he was horribly aware of just how hard he was shaking now that he was pulled against Peter's chest.
"It's easy, really," Peter replied gently, thickly, like he himself was close to tears. But that was absurd; Peter didn't cry, not strong, solid Peter. Not Edmund's rock. No, his brother couldn't cry, because Edmund couldn't remember truly seeing him cry; childish scrapes were one thing, but he had never seen Peter cry out of real emotion, not even when their father had left. Not that Peter was unemotional; it was just the opposite, his feelings being the fire to his soul, sometimes clouding his decisions and making his actions rash. The only time in memory that Edmund could even remember seeing his brother on the verge of crying had been when he had awaken on the battlefield to see Peter looking down at him with tear filled eyes, smile relieved and overjoyed and grateful. But he hadn't let them fall.
Peter didn't cry.
Of course, Edmund had just believed himself to not cry.
He felt a hand cradling the back of his head, fingers brushing through his hair, and Peter's warm, shaky breath on his cheek. "I love you," the young king replied quietly, voice soft and affectionate and filled with a choked emotion, and Edmund's eyes went wide. "That's why."
The desire to flee, to pull away from Peter and curl in on himself, to keep himself safe…this desire was still within Edmund, slight panic flashing at the physical contact, at being held by his brother. His heart lodged in his throat and his body jerked with tears, but he found that more than anything, he didn't want to pull away because Peter was actually hugging him, holding him and comforting him.
Edmund stiffened for just a moment, battle raging within him to either tug free or sink into his brother's warmth. He inhaled sharply, preparing to extricate himself from Peter's hold…
And found himself sobbing hopelessly into Peter's shoulder instead.
Because he forgave him. Peter forgave him, even after every horrible thing he had done, even after betraying his trust and everything that made them brothers. Because he was here, because he wasn't going to abandon him. Because Peter loved him.
Edmund felt his heart break out of sheer relief and at the same time swell with so much happiness that the organ ruptured from his throat as a wail, and he gripped the back of Peter's tunic and buried his face against his neck, hot tears running into his mouth and onto Peter's skin. Not that Peter minded; Edmund could feel his brother's shuddering breath, and then Peter's arms were squeezing him with enough force to shatter his ribs, but Edmund could have cared less because it felt so good to be held. One hand on the back of his head, fingers gripping his hair, and the other firmly on his lower back, Peter held him protectively and allowed him to cry freely, and when the time came when Edmund began having trouble catching his breath, he was instantly soothed by a hand rubbing over his back and the softness of Peter's voice.
"Shh, it's fine. I know, Ed. I know."
"No-no, you don't," Edmund whimpered, grip on Peter's shirt so tight that his hands began to ache, but he refused to let go; what would guarantee this boy would still remain if he did? He breathed in deeply, inhaling Peter's smell and trying to memorize it: summer and clean laundry and sunlight.
Over the hiccupping of his tears, Edmund heard Peter laugh wetly, then felt a delicate brush to the top of his head, on his hair; a kiss, and his brother sighed into the wavy mass of raven hair. Edmund tensed, unused to Peter using such an action to convey emotion with him. "I do. Trust me."
Edmund sniffed, wiping one of his cheeks across the material of Peter's shirt, refusing to move. "Of c-course I trust you," he said, wishing his voice wasn't so congested with tears and didn't sound so little. But his words were true; he did trust Peter, more than anyone save Aslan.
"Then please look at me."
Even in this moment when Edmund felt his every defense beginning to crumble, there was still a small trace of resistance, and he did not want to let Peter see his face, not now. However, the urge to ultimately please his brother was beginning to triumph over everything else, and even more so was the desire to obey Peter; he couldn't deny him, whether it being because he was High King or just his brother, Edmund didn't know. Still, for just a few more moments, he forced himself to shove his face deeper into Peter's neck.
Lips brushed against his left temple and warmth flooded over his skin as his brother turned to him, and Edmund's breath caught on a fresh bout of tears. "Please?" Peter asked, voice a laugh at Edmund's stubbornness and still somewhat without true cheer.
This time, the amount of forlornness in his brother's voice broke all of his resolve to remain hidden, and, still trembling, he unclenched his hands and pulled them back to where they lay on Peter's chest. He lifted his face from his brother's neck to watch him nervously with large eyes, tears glittering as they caught in his lashes. Edmund tried to bite back the hitching sounds that exited his throat, but they refused to be dismissed and entered the world just as a few more tears fell from his eyes.
With his lips parted, Peter gave a trembling little sigh that could only be a laugh, blue eyes swimming stormily as he looked softly at Edmund, and the younger brother watched as the elder lifted his hands, hands much larger than his own and several shades darker. Slowly, Peter reached up and let the tips of his fingers graze over Edmund's face, and then they were gently cupping his cheeks, Peter's thumbs padding over the tear tracks that glistened on them.
Edmund was frozen, but for only a moment. Mortified because he was still crying, he tried to jerk his face away from Peter's hands, but Peter would have none of that; before Edmund could even look away, the older boy had caught his chin with his left hand and was forcing him to look directly back at him. Edmund blinked quickly as Peter sighed, and then his fingers began delicately tracing around and over his eyes, brushing aside the hair from his forehead. Edmund's lips trembled as his brother's palm skimmed over them, his hands on Peter's chest shakily flattening to where his right rested directly over the older boy's heart, the beat strong and steady and oh so comforting against his small hand.
"You…" Peter began quietly, voice catching as his hands stilled on his little brother's face. "You do know I love you, right?" he asked nervously.
Edmund felt his eyes go wide all over again as his brother said that word once more: love. It made something within him melt, and whatever it was caused his tear ducts to inflame, because in answer to Peter's question, a broken sob spilt from his lips and more tears fell hotly down his face and onto his brother's hands. And even now, when he was so utterly happy that he could hardly stand it, he continued to cry because he couldn't help it.
Behind the mist of tears, Edmund saw Peter's eyes enlarge, hands fumbling as they caressed his cheeks, believing Edmund's tears to still be from sorrow. "Hey, hey," he mumbled worriedly, moving closer to the younger boy until the back of Edmund's hands were pressed against his own chest, palms still over Peter's, and Peter brushed his fingers reassuringly over his soft cheeks. "Why are you crying?"
And then, with tears falling onto his lips and coating his face, Edmund grinned brightly up at Peter, giving him a watery laugh. "Because I know," he said, his hand moving from Peter's chest until his palm was resting over his brother's right hand on his cheek, his other hand remaining over Peter's heart.
Peter looked at him for a moment, almost as if he didn't understand, and Edmund felt fear beginning to try and worm its way into his stomach at the idea that his brother couldn't hear what he hadn't said. But Peter's lips quickly lifted into a small curve, then to a pure, angelically beautiful smile, and he turned his hand to wrap around Edmund's as he gave a small laugh of his own, craning his neck downward to bump his forehead against Edmund's.
Because, Edmund realized, Peter had understood what he couldn't quite yet, after years of pain and hurt and estrangement, put into words: I love you too.
Edmund twined his smaller fingers through Peter's, amazed to find himself craving the feel of his brother, and he held his hand tightly, blinking tears down his cheeks and smiling as he hiccupped. He could feel Peter's breath fanning over his face, warm and comforting.
"I'm lucky to have you as a brother," Peter said, the tip of his nose touching Edmund's as he looked at him with suspiciously bright blue-gray eyes, eyes that were, Edmund realized, in fact brimming with tears. At his brother's words, Edmund felt himself blush, but he didn't pull away, entirely too entranced by Peter's gentle, if tearful, smile, the sentiment in his big brother's eyes an amalgamation of complete affection and trust and pride and love, the last of which emotion made Edmund's chest feel very light and his soul tremendously warm.
Voice still filled with tears and somewhat husky, Edmund gave a slight smile, wishing he sounded as sincere as he felt. "I think it's the other way around, brother."
Peter closed his eyes and laughed, trying, Edmund realized, to push away his own tears, even as one trailed gracefully down his cheek. Releasing Edmund's hand, his slipped his arms comfortably around the younger's waist, pulling him close, just as Edmund found his own arms wrapping securely around his brother's back, and he sighed as he closed his damp eyes and rested his cheek against the base of Peter's throat.
He could barely hear his brother's reply, it was so soft. "Maybe we're both lucky."
Maybe that was true.
Some time later, when almost all of the lamps of Cair Paravel had been extinguished and most of it's inhabitants were sound asleep, Edmund found himself in his brother's room curled against Peter's side, hands fisted in the soft material of the his brother's nightshirt and legs tangled with the older boy's longer ones beneath downy blankets. Head resting on Peter's shoulder, he was highly aware of nimble fingers stroking through his hair, his brother's chin resting comfortably on the top of his head. Edmund's breathing came more gently now, no longer strangled by tears, and his eyes felt heavy and still somewhat wet from crying, any tear tracks on his face long ago removed by Peter's careful hands. He buried his nose into Peter's shirt, closing his eyes as he inhaled contently.
Peter's fingers stilled at the action, then moved from Edmund's hair to his face, and the younger boy looked up to see the elder gazing at him, eyes tender and concerned in the dim torchlight as he cradled Edmund's cheek. "You alright?" he asked, a finger brushing over the skin beneath Edmund's eye, as if to wipe away an invisible tear.
He's worried about me, Edmund thought, feeling pleased by the idea and also a bit exasperated; Peter had better things to worry about now that he was High King. Still, knowing that his brother loved him enough to worry when absolutely nothing, at the moment, was wrong made Edmund's heart swell within his chest, and he smiled somewhat shyly up at Peter. "Yes."
The High King smiled back, flashing bright teeth, and draped his arm over Edmund's back, wrapping it loosely around him, other hand moving once more to the younger's hair so he could continue stroking through it. "Good. I'm glad."
"Me too." Edmund burrowed himself further against his brother's side, relishing in the warmth he gave off. He looked up at Peter with a child-king's eyes, eyes that were beginning to show signs of sleepiness, but they remained alert for the moment. "And you? Are you okay?"
He felt the older boy's hand tighten where it rested against his stomach, and Edmund watched Peter laugh, the sound rich and enchanting. "I don't think I've felt this good in a long time," he responded softly.
The Just King smiled tenderly, face diffidently affectionate as he hid it against Peter's shirt, an indication that the older king's reply had made him happy. He heard Peter chuckle, his arms tightening around Edmund, as he physically told him he understood; words weren't necessary. Not anymore.
As he sank into the heat of his brother's body, Edmund found himself quickly being overcome with sleepiness, even as he tried to stay awake, and he yawned. He could tell Peter was still awake, the eldest king's breathing not yet deep enough for sleep, and so Edmund fought to stay beside him in consciousness, a battle he was progressively losing.
"You should sleep," Peter said, able to tell Edmund was battling slumber.
Edmund shook his head against the boy's shirt, forcing his eyes open. "Not sleepy," he mumbled, causing Peter to laugh quietly. Edmund lifted his face to glare softly at him.
"Ed, you can hardly keep your eyes open."
"You're not fairing so well yourself, O mighty king," Edmund retorted, voice devoid of any actual venom, which he knew Peter would be able to tell.
It was true though, now that he was actually looking up at his brother. Peter's eyes were growing heavy as well, exhaustion about to get the best of him. But, like Edmund, he was fighting it off for as long as possible, and when Peter shrugged artlessly, Edmund gave him a crooked, rare grin.
"We're both hopeless," Peter muttered, smiling as he looked to the ceiling, then closed his eyes as he released a breath.
Edmund continued to watch him, fascinated by how much Peter had seemed to age since he had come to Narnia; not just his actions, but physically as well. His face didn't seen as round as it had been back in England, the last traces of baby fat beginning to disappear and give way to a lean jaw and strong neck. There was a new regal air to his features; golden hair falling naturally over his forehead, blue eyes piercing and bright, smile even more radiant. He had changed, but it was in a good way, just as Edmund's own transformation had benefited him in the long run.
As he looked at Peter's relaxed face, the image of him earlier, that strange, almost smile on his face, came to Edmund's mind. He saw his brother, eyes reflective and seeking and enlightening as he had looked upon him, the way he'd turned away and dismissed whatever he had been thinking, cheeks colored by a blush. Curious, Edmund pushed himself upward, the top of his head against Peter's jaw. "Pete?"
"Hm?" said boy asked sleepily in his throat.
"Earlier, when I asked you if anything was easy, you came up with something that was, didn't you?"
Peter went rigid against him, eyelids tightening. He didn't answer.
But Edmund saw the way he swallowed and could tell he was biting faintly at the inside of his bottom lip.
That was his answer.
"What was it?"
Peter sighed, eyes opening, blue irises staring upward, away from Edmund. But he was relaxed now, body molded back into Edmund's. He remained silent.
"Peter?" Edmund asked, lifting himself up on his elbow to look down at his brother and allowing the boy's hand to fall away from his hair, his eyes timid.
"Is," the Magnificent said simply.
Peter's eyes moved until he was looking up at Edmund. "You said was. Past tense." He picked his hand up once more and gently placed it entirely upon Edmund's head. "It should be is. Present tense."
Edmund's brow creased, hand releasing his brother's shirt to lay flat over his chest. "I… don't understand," he stated quietly.
Peter gave a half laugh, ruffling Edmund's hair. He gazed at him fondly, a faint blush that was visible to the younger in the subdued light staining his cheekbones. "Well, it is easy to love you."
Edmund's eyes grew large, mouth opening, and heat crawled up his own cheeks at his brother's words. But he didn't look away. The statement touched his heart, affecting him more than he realized it would, a change beginning to take place inside his soul that he wouldn't be able to fully understand for another several years.
But what Peter said was impossible; loving him couldn't be easy, right? He was such a foul git and didn't deserve to have Peter by his side. So…
"How?" he asked brokenly, voice an incredulous whisper.
Peter seemed to recognize every insecurity and fear chasing through his heart, for he lifted his head up enough to look at Edmund levelly, gaze steady and mouth pulled into a small, wholesome smile. "Because you make it easy."
Before, when Edmund's tears had finally subsided, he had hoped he would be done with crying for a long while, where never again would have been too soon. Now, however, to his embarrassment, he felt hot moisture well up in his eyes and slowly spill from them, even as he smiled. And, without thinking about it that much, he moved his arms and twined them around Peter's lower back, deciding it wasn't so bad to be weeping right now.
Peter sighed as he realized Edmund was crying, simply muttering, "Silly," tone loving and somewhat amused as his own arms encircled the younger king, and he leaned down to plant a soft kiss to one of Edmund's closed eyes.
Instead of shying away from the touch, Edmund heaved a pleased sighed and, for once, found he didn't really mind very much as he felt his brother's lips trace over his other eye. He felt Peter smile, and then the older boy buried his face in Edmund's hair.
For the first time in years, Edmund could find no anger in his heart. He felt safe and, while no where near as strong as he had often told himself, he felt forgiven and loved, even if he could not just yet find it within himself to absolve his sins; however, there would be plenty of time to learn how, and he would have his three favorite people in the universe with him to help along the way. There was Lucy's loyalty, Susan's gentleness, and Peter's all consuming strength and trust.
Eyes closed, wrapped up in Peter's arms, he welcomed the sweet sleep that came upon him as he felt his brother's affection and devotion settle into his very core, right next to Aslan's eternal love.
And that was all he had ever wanted.