Title: Four Times Edmund Didn't Die, and One Time He Did (But It Wasn't My Fault)
Summary: *Challenges 9, 10, 13, 30, and 33* Finishing up my challenge fics with a bang, here is my response to the stereotype that I keep killing Edmund in my fics.
Disclaimer: I don't own Narnia, or any references to certain British comedies
Note: Readers seem to have gotten the impression that I kill Edmund a lot in my fanfiction. Not counting post-Last Battle fics, or dreams, I have killed Edmund in my previous fics exactly twice. I've killed Peter once, and Lucy and Susan each once as well (the latter two in the same story, granted). But do people complain about that? Noooo. So here are four times Edmund did not die, and one time he did, but it wasn't my fault. =D
Note 2: Looking over these again, I should probably tell you that the second section is what gives the story its T rating. However, only the fourth and last sections are actually meant to be serious.
Edited to Add: Forgot to mention that there are clearly references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this. Because that is one of the most awesome movies ever (but yah, I don't get all the credit for the blatant ripoff of the Tale of Sir Lancelot).
Professor Kirke could easily see how Narnia had changed the Pevensie children. It was the little things, like how Peter had become brilliant in chess overnight, how Susan held herself with regal poise, how Edmund could hold his own in a philosophical debate, or how Lucy calmed Mrs. Macready down after the incident with the water-pipes. Most of all, the Professor noticed how close the four children were. Arguments happened, but there were never harsh words spoken in anger. He had yet to hear any of them even raise their voices against their siblings, something quite odd for such young children – and especially compared to how they had acted before (particularly Edmund).
This was why the Professor was startled one day, late in summer, to hear Susan viciously yelling at her younger brother, her voice resonating from the main hallway. The Professor quickly left his office and looked over the railing at the scene below. Edmund was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, half sprawled on the floor; Peter was kneeling at his side, but carefully not touching his brother, a look of guilt on his face. Susan stood above the pair, hands on her hips and reminding the Professor so much of his own mother when she was angry that he nearly blanched.
"…blithering idiot, why in Aslan's name would you be roughhousing at the top of the stairs, you irresponsible, imbecilic nit-wit? You could have gotten seriously hurt, you could have gotten yourself killed, broken your fool neck with your reckless, immature lunacy! I have half a mind to take you over my knee, king or not, and make sure you know how asinine it is to romp about near precipitous inclines…"
The Professor thought he heard Edmund mutter, "Not good when she brings out her extended vocabulary," but it was hard to tell over Susan's diatribe.
Thankfully for Edmund (and Peter, who was apparently being considered an accomplice in Edmund's near-fatal stupidity), Lucy approached with a cold compress, which she helped Edmund place on the bump on his head. "Oh Susan, do calm down. I told you, he doesn't have any broken bones. However," she said, glaring at Edmund when he started to thank her for her support, "he could have done anything from broken his leg to broken his neck, or rolled into one of those suits of armor and been impaled with their spears, or even gotten that one, final concussion that would put him into a coma from which he would never come out, like I warned about last time, so perhaps I should let you continue, Susan."
Both boys were cringing so terribly that the Professor decided to announce his presence. "I take it young Edmund here was injured several times in Narnia?"
Susan, though startled at his appearance near the bottom of the stairs, only looked at him a moment before returning to glare at her brother. "He has nearly died…"
"…or actually died, at least for a moment," added Lucy.
"…or actually died," continued Susan, "at least once a year, every year for the entirety of our reign." Edmund winced, both from the memories and from the fact that Lucy was pressing the ice of the cold compress quite hard against his bruised head. Susan's glare seemed to increase, if that were possible. "I had hoped that once we were back in England, this tendency towards courting death would stop."
Edmund gave her a hesitant, courageous smile. "Look at it this way, Su. I probably nearly died so much that Death just thinks I'll stand her up again."
The Professor decided that he was done examining the changes Narnia had made to the Pevensie children, and dashed away as fast as humanly possible, determined to keep what hearing he had left intact.
2 (Pain) (As might be suggested from the title, this is the section that gave the fic it's T rating, so please expect mentions of torture and violence and gruesomeness)
"How do we get ourselves into these kinds of situations?" asked Edmund, his eyes glazed over with agony so intense he actually was not feeling it anymore. Though, that could be because of the poison.
"What kinds of situations?" asked Peter in reply. The High King bit back a shout as his broken femur grated when he tried to get a better angle next to his brother.
Edmund was still looking straight ahead, part of his muddled mind wondering if there were really two doors to their prison, and why they kept merging. "This kind of situation. Where we go out on a simple hunting trip and get ambushed by an evil sorcerer that we've never even heard of. Where we're kidnapped and tortured while said evil sorcerer tries to extort an abominable amount of money as ransom from our sisters. Where we're about to be rescued, but apparently the tower we're in has caught on fire and we're going to hopefully die of smoke inhalation before we're burned to death."
Peter shrugged, wincing as the movement jarred his concussed head. "Well, if we aren't rescued soon, you won't have to worry about the fire. I'm fairly certain you're going to die first from the fact that I'm presently shoveling your guts back into your stomach, and not succeeding very well." The older king's voice was tight as he said this, elbow-deep as he was in his little brother's blood.
Processing his words, Edmund looked down to where part of his intestine was slipping past Peter's fingers. "Oh. That looks bad."
The ashen pallor of Peter's face was not just because of his broken leg (or his concussion, or his cracked ribs, or the lacerations on his back). "No, bad would be a severe understatement."
"This should probably hurt, shouldn't it?" asked Edmund dumbly, while silently wondering if that darker bit was part of his kidney.
Peter's eyes had a haunted, angry look to them. "The fact that he was happily vivisecting you before being distracted by the present attack would indicate that, yes, this should be hurting you."
Edmund blinked. He did not really remember being vivisected, though when he thought about it he did remember hearing agonized screaming which could have been his own. "Oh. Then it's bad that I can't feel anything, then?" The tight line of Peter's mouth, and his silence, was the answer. A moment of eternity passed and then Edmund repeated, "Again, how do we get ourselves into these kinds of situations?"
Peter gave a choked laugh. He never got a chance to speak, though, because just then the doors – door? – burst open to reveal Lucy, valiant in her blood-spattered armor and with her sword in hand. Her helmet had been lost in the battle and her hair was a wild, golden halo. The word 'Valkyrie' ran through Edmund's confused mind and he nonsensically wondered if this was the end.
However, Lucy wasted no time, and soon Edmund tasted the sweet juice of the fireflower on his tongue. His stomach flared with agony for a moment, then calmed. His senses began returning and he pushed himself straighter against the wall he had been leaning against. A terrible snap, a shout of pain, and heavy breathing told him that Peter's leg was now better as well. Edmund smiled at his little sister as she returned to his side to check on him. "How goes the battle?"
Lucy was not smiling, but she rarely did so during wars. "We have the sorcerer's forces on the run."
Peter shook his head, the fireflower juice being surprisingly useless for headaches, even when the concussion is healed. "And the sorcerer?" he asked, his tone implying the satisfaction he would take should he still be alive.
"Taken care of," answered a woman's voice at the doorway. They looked up as Susan entered the room, bow in hand. The calm she exuded was betrayed by the lines of worry that creased her forehead. "We need to leave before the fire gets here." The others agreed, though Peter looked rather put out that he was not the one to deal with the sorcerer who had caused so much trouble.
The last vestiges of pain were fading and Edmund stood, helping an unsteady Peter to his feet. "Then let's go home," he said, and the Four moved as one to leave the dark, bloody prison.
Only an echo of Lucy's final words rang through the empty cell: "How do you always get into these kinds of situations, anyway?"
It was a deceptively happy spring day for Peter and Edmund as they strode through the halls of Cair Paravel alone (though, in fact, they were surrounded by bodyguards, as befitted kings of Narnia). The brothers chatted and laughed about the most recent squirrel-related incident (this one involved newts and mud and, unfortunately, Susan's favorite dress). The sun shone, the birds (and Birds) sang, and everything was perfect.
Which was why it should have been expected that the peace and happiness would be shattered when an arrow shot through a window and into Edmund's chest (some of the bodyguards instantly scattered to find the perpetrator, while the rest formed a protective barrier around the kings, but they tend to be mostly ignored in the immediate following). The Just King collapsed limply to the ground, Peter barely catching the body as it fell. The High King gave a sob. "Oh, Edmund! This is all my fault!" Then his eyes blazed. "No, another has slain my brother with their foul arrow, and I shall have my vengeance against them! Dear brother," he said to the man in his arms, "I shall rid Narnia of the vermin, and you shall not have died in vain!" Letting Edmund drop the rest of the way to the floor (his skull making a cracking noise against the marble tiles) Peter leapt to his feet and drew his sword, Rhindon, prepared to do battle.
"Er, Peter, I'm not exactly dead yet."
Peter blinked and looked down at Edmund (who, besides rubbing the back of his head, was looking remarkable well for someone with an arrow in their chest). The High King held back tears, realizing that his poor brother was likely to languish in agonizing pain until the blessed relief of death took him. "Ai, my poor brother! Would that I could take your dismal place! I shall catch the foul beast who did this, and make sure you were not mortally wounded in vain!" (It should be noted that the guards had caught up with the perpetrator by then and were already leading him to the prison cells)
Edmund sat up, rolled his shoulder (which was still stiff from that morning's sword practice), and began tugging at the arrow. "Actually, I'm feeling quite well. Help me up, will you, and I'll just come with…" Then he looked up at Peter, who was looking a bit wild-eyed. "On second thought, I'll just stay here then and wait for Lucy, shall I?"
And with that, Peter dashed down the hallway, crying out for vengeance (while the Narnian courts were already preparing an arraignment for the arrested suspect, as per the laws Edmund had set down ages ago). Edmund waited until his brother was gone before letting one of the guards (an unflappable centaur who was known for being circumspect) help him to his feet. The Just King worked a little longer before finally pulling the arrow free. "Got you!" Edmund looked over at the centaur guard. "When do you think he'll remember that I'm always wearing that enchanted, impenetrable armor I got five Christmas ago, and that the arrow merely knocked my breath out and got caught in the threads of my vest?"
(The centaur, wisely, stayed silent).
Edmund couldn't breathe.
He felt the pressure of the water increase around him as he was pulled further and further beneath the waves. The creature that had wrapped itself around his chest squeezed tightly, so tightly, but he could not tell if the burning in his lungs was from his broken ribs puncturing one of them, or simply from lack of air.
The young king struggled violently, trying to free himself from the creature, trying to keep from breathing in the salty water. His chest was in agony, and black spots and burst of tiny lights dotted his vision beneath closed eyelids. He heard a shrill shriek and automatically opened his eyes. The water was dark and murky, even without his greying eyesight, but he could see the obscured head of his attacker, circling him and coming ever closer. A mouth opened wide to reveal rows of white teeth, heading right for him, an unholy grin.
It nearly did not matter at all, for unconsciousness pulled at Edmund as his screaming lungs begged him to let them work. He sent up a prayer to Aslan, his thoughts turning to the siblings he would leave behind. The rows of teeth disappeared into blackness, and he could only hope that unconsciousness would keep him from feeling the fatal bite.
Suddenly, the pressure around his chest slackened and, even at the verge of insentience, Edmund could feel hands under his arms, pulling him upwards. He was about to let go, let his lungs breathe, when the pressure of one hand disappeared, only to cover his nose and mouth, preventing him from breathing even if he wished it. Edmund struggled with what strength he had left, but the hand was firm. Only when he felt the brush of wind on his face did the hand let go.
The king automatically breathed in, relieved when cool air entered his still-burning lungs. His chest flared with sharp, stabbing pain, but it was nothing compared to the sweet relief of air. "Your majesty?" He looked over at his savior: an older mermaid, who he vaguely remembered was one of their best fish-herdesses. Edmund tried to thank her, but he began coughing instead, a dry, hacking cough that deepened the worried expression on the mermaid's face. "We must get you to shore, quickly. That sea serpent may have been an infant, but it still can cause great damage."
The fact that the giant creature that had just nearly killed him – and may still if he didn't get this lung looked at soon – was an infant was shock enough that Edmund did not try to talk again. Before he knew it (and he may have passed out at one point) he was being pulled onto shore. He was barely out of the water before Lucy was tipping a drop of healing cordial into his mouth.
As the cordial worked its great magic, Edmund lay on the sand, watching the clouds move in the sky as the sound of worried, bustling siblings and subjects surrounded him. After the last muscle healed, he took in a deep breath of fresh air, and thanked Aslan that he could.
Edmund pulled an apple from the tree limb above the one he was sitting on. He grinned, knowing that this apple would be better than the one he had eaten before that, just as that apple had been better than the one before that. It was how things were here: everything further up and further in was deeper and more beautiful and better than everything before. Edmund, however, was not going to keep the delicious pleasure of this apple for himself; instead, he tossed it over to Peter, who lazed on the next tree limb over. The High King grinned and took a large bite, relishing the delectable taste.
Edmund smiled back at his brother, and then just breathed in. The air here was crisper, fuller than the air Before. At least, he thought it was; it was hard to remember Before, sometimes, because here there was no 'before' or 'after'. There was only Eternity. It was almost an academic thought to remember Before, because how could one dwell on the sufferings of the Time Before when one was constantly in Love?
A shiny, red apple flew Edmund's way and he deftly caught it. He smiled at Peter in thanks, and bit into the fruit. Pure sweetness entered his senses, and he reveled in this Creation, awed by its simple beauty and texture. In truth, Edmund could only continually thank the One who created it, thank Him for just this single apple, for the chance to share this sweet elegance with his brother, for the never-ending time to enjoy such a simple pleasure. He did not hurry in his thanks, or even in eating the apple, savoring each bite.
For he had Eternity to do so.