SAVE FOR THREE
Three: A Three-Legged Kitten
Disclaimer: Wisp is based off of a cat I once owned. The Pevensies are not based off of a cat I once owned. Patterns are discerned here.
"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy," Job 8:21
It was raining on Edmund's face and he didn't appreciate it in the slightest.
Of course, he could blame no one but himself for the whole fiasco. Hadn't he been the one to say, "University just isn't for me"? Rotten luck. Rotten luck for being so rotten at engineering.
Eighteen years old, graduated top of his class from Wilpshire Academy in Kettering, and with several offers for full rides at Oxford, Cambridge, King's College, and Harvard, Edmund Randall Pevensie had only then announced to his family that he did not intend to further his education. They had been, of course, shocked. Not one of them- especially Edmund's older brother, Peter, would have thought that a mind like his could just stop pursuing knowledge. But Edmund, as always, had decided to take the unexpected route.
"I have Things to do," Edmund had continued, as the dinner table gaped openly. "Things that I can't put off by going to school."
His father had come close to threatening him, their mother close to begging, and Susan had definitely tried bribing, but Peter and Lucy (who knew very well what sort of Things Edmund needed to do) had helped him.
And now it was raining on his face, in an alley in some God-forsaken part of London, at night, alone, without a leg to stand on.
Not too far away from where he lay, his precious Creature was shattered on its side. The motorized bicycle that Edmund had spent so much free time working on was in shambles. The headlights, barely attached by a wire, flickered light down the alley into the darkness. The back tire had rolled somewhere, the engine ticking like a sullen bomb as it cooled down from its overheating. The frame was complete twisted. It would take a Giant to pull it straight again. Edmund did not think he could find a Giant in England. There was nothing for it.
"You served your King well, you monstrous thing," Edmund told the broken bike, feeling the ripples in the puddle he lay in through his trousers. "And may you move on in peace."
The light flickered out and stayed that way. Edmund couldn't see his own hand in front of his face.
"Aslan's blessings, Creature."
"I can't see a blasted thing!" erupted a low voice from the darkness and Edmund lay very still and listened in the shadows of the low alley. The rubbish sacks and bins, littered so tightly around his body immediately calmed him- once oppressive, now a perfect hiding place. Edmund sent a silent thanks to Aslan, who always listened.
"He came this way, didn't he? On that stupid bike?"
There were two distinct voices, both male. Edmund didn't trust either of them in the slightest. He had been following those voices for days. Vandals; nothing like Tanya Hennessey's string of robberies at the Walsburg Pub or Charlotte Dawson's little stunt with Lucy. They found houses, automobiles, and pets and ruined them. Edmund had drawn the line at the pets. Two cats drowned. One dog brutalized. It was enough, and Peter had completely backed him, just like always.
"Think he got lost?"
"Maybe. We should go. You know he jumped Calvin's lot in an alley once? And there was four of them. You do the math."
Ah, Calvin's lot. Edmund smiled. He remembered them very well.
"Calvin's lot isn't our lot. We're worth three a piece of those boys."
There were footsteps. Edmund had never quite realized how loudly he breathed. Then-
"Jeez! What was that?"
"What was what?"
"Something just crawled over my foot!"
"A rat, probably. Buck up."
There was a metallic clang, like the lid of a rubbish bin. Edmund tried to draw in his legs, but he couldn't really move and he wasn't sure he wanted to know if his paralysis was due to fear or something more permanent.
The second voice swore loudly, "There it is again! It just pulled on my shoestring!"
"Stop being such a baby, Howard- Argh! Did you see it?"
"See what? Stop messing around!"
"I'm not messing around! It was effing huge! It just went behind that bin!"
A scuttling scrabble whispered through the alley. One of the voices squealed in a highly feminine manner, and Edmund had to restrain a startled laugh at the bizarre change of events.
"I have never seen a rat that big- It's monstrous, Howard!"
"Oh my god, John, it's looking right at us!"
"What's wrong with its eyes?"
"What' wrong with its legs?"
"It's gotta be diseased. Quick- let's get out of here before it scratches us or something!"
"All right you baby," said Howard, who sounded very relieved.
Their footsteps retreated. The scrabbling sound stilled. The rain made Edmund shiver.
And then something disturbingly warm jumped onto his chest.
Edmund's eyes shot open to match a pair of glowing green orbs. A long tail lashed in a flash of lightening, little paws gripping the front of his shirt with sharp and dirty claws.
"You are rather large," Edmund agreed. "And, if you'll forgive me, a little like a rat, being wet and all."
The large kitten perched on his chest let out a low, mournful yowl. Its fur was matted flat, its eyes frightfully big on its face, and when Edmund craned his eyes downward, he could tell that the poor wet thing was missing one leg. It kneaded his chest, bringing a little feeling back to the skin trapped under his soaked clothing, and purred so loudly that he could feel the vibrations in the very tips of his toes. Edmund let his head fall back into a rain-rippled puddle with a splish and closed his eyes against the storm. Thunder shook the ground under him and the faint rumbling of the three-legged kitten hummed in his very lungs.
"At least they're gone," he muttered.
It was a small but rather nice compensation for his predicament. Definite injury and (quite possibly) murder were no longer Edmund's primary concerns.
"Wouldn't it be odd," he said breathlessly, trying to feel his arms or legs or move at all, "if I were to drown in a puddle that was only a centimeter or so deep?" He could barely hear his own voice, washed away by hushing sheets of wind and water and the tremble of electricity through the night sky. "I've always known I'd go in a way that was wet, you know. But hot-wet. Blood-wet. A sword fight or a rock slide or beheading or something terrifically gruesome. Not..."
Not in a cold puddle in an alley in some God-forsaken part of London, at night, alone, without a leg to stand on.
Edmund lie there and thought, lulled to a half-awake state by the continual purring of the kitten, and the massage of its big, soft paws against his heart.
"I guess it will be glorified over time," Edmund continued rationally. "I drowned in a sea of the blood of my enemies. I was subjected to Chinese water torture. I was kidnapped by Mermaids and am kept alive with magic in Atlantis, somewhere under the Bermuda Triangle."
(Edmund had always secretly wanted to sail through the Bermuda Triangle.)
"No matter," Edmund said, rousing himself as he forced his eyes to blink open. "My King will find me. He's daft, you know," he confided to the kitten, which purred and watched him with smiling eyes, "Thinks he has to be this perfect bloke. He's not. He shouldn't be. But he thinks he should, so he'll find me. In the nick of time, too." Edmund squinted; eyes adjusted enough so that he could make out the crippled form of Creature again. "He'll probably blubber."
(Peter would, most definitely, have interjected that he never blubbered- he simply expressed manly emotion in a medium that was a little saltier than others. Seeing that Peter's sodium intake had not lowered from his time at Hartbee's School for Young Men, this was hardly surprising.)
Edmund shivered. The kitten purred louder, and stood up, working its padded paws hard against Edmund's collarbone. Somehow, this helped a little.
"You're a brick," Edmund told the kitten, managing smile. "As noble as any Cat in Narnia."
The kitten meowed. It sounded like a knowing meow.
"When Peter gets here," Edmund swore, "I'm taking you home with me. I don't care if Mum throws a fit. I'm keeping you on, my good Cat. I'll dry you off and brush your fur and name you... something... and feed you until you're so fat you can't stand."
The kitten stopped purring and fixed a glowing eye on him.
"Fine," Edmund said, "I'll keep you trim. But for all your skeletal structure, that's really all you have, you know. You're a little wisp of a thing."
"Meooow," said the kitten. And it smiled.
Edmund, who was used to smiling Cats, did not initially react. Then he remembered where they were and marveled.
"You did just smile at me, right cat?" he asked. "I'm not off for the bin? I've my head on straight?"
"Meow." It smiled again. This time, it looked more mocking, and Edmund laughed aloud, uncaring who or what heard him in that alley or how much rain he inhaled with an open mouth.
"A Talking Cat here in England! However did it happen? I don't suppose you can form words in this world, can you my good Cat?"
The Cat shook its head. Edmund felt like laughing again, despite the rather tragic news.
"So sorry. Perhaps with some training... By Aslan, it's good to see you!"
The Cat's eyes squinted to hard with glee when Aslan was mentioned, they almost closed. It hopped off of Edmund's chest and began to wind his way under Edmund's chin, purring, rubbings, sticking his little cold nose against Edmund's neck. And Edmund could have sworn that he heard a soft and amused voice say, "And you, my King."
And that is the exact predicament that Peter (who had torn through the streets in the Old Bently and blubbered not at all during the drive) finally found them. He hastily parked the car where it stopped, leapt from the driver side into the heavy rain, and fell to his knees beside his brother. Fisting his hands in his coat, he shook Edmund a little, hoping to rouse him. Failing this, he checked over all the vitals- bloodflow, heartrate, and for breaks in any major bones, but particularly around the spine- and found his brother perfectly, lethargically fine.
If the rain falling on Edmund's face became a little saltier after that, there was no one but a stray cat to witness it.
A/N: Wisp will return in Susan's story, and it's possible that Creature will be resurrected. The subject of doors between worlds will be prominent in that tale, reaching back hundreds of years in both worlds.
Thanks to all who have read Save for Three!