A/N: Alrighty, Chapter 6!
He sees him again. He always does. The young, black-haired, pale-skinned boy always visits him in his dreams. Sometimes, he tends his wounds. Other times, the boy strokes his hair and whispers nonsense.
He's feverish, he knows. He's hallucinating.
And yet, the young boy seems so painfully familiar.
He remembers a massive battle, but not in This Place.
No. He remembers it was in the Other Side of the Wardrobe. Narnia, his dreams call it.
He remembers fighting Cold. She was terrible that day, he remembers.
Ice. Fire. Blood. Water. Warmth. Golden.
He remembers the stiff yet strangely comfortable feel of armor, clinking whenever he'd move. He remembers riding a strange creature, a horse with a horn.
Then he remembers the bugle call. The majestic battle cry that tore from his mouth, urging everyone around him onward. He remembers the first clash, the screams that came from the front line, the horrifying monsters and creatures whose blood he spilt. For Narnia.
Then he sees her. The ice in her eyes seems to pierce through his very soul, and he vows to end her, to put an end to the fear in this country. His country.
He looks around, although he doesn't know exactly what he is looking for.
Then he sees him again. The boy. Still the same hair and skin, although now he is clothed in armor much like his own.
Cold is coming closer now, her wands slicing through air and relentlessly destroying anything in her path. One by one, his army falls in front of her.
Eyes blazing, he too cuts down any who stand in his way. They are about to meet now, a clash of fire and ice. She is so close.
Then there he is again! The young boy jumps down and prepares to fight Cold herself.
As he watches, the outmatched soldier of Narnia stands in front of Cold. In a split second, the fight is over before it has even begun.
She has stabbed him with her wand, the silver contrasting cruelly with the warm red that oozes out from the inflicted wound.
Before he falls to the ground, the young boy seems to glance his way, mouthing something.
The dream sharpens, and the unsaid words hit him like a rock. He hears them as clearly as if they had been shouted in his ear.
As he watches him fall, the pain is too great! The anger, driving and fuelling him. The sight of the young boy's body, lying lifeless on the ground.
He can feel warm hands, trying to pin him down, trying to keep him still.
"Dreaming again, probably."
"Shall we give him more of the sleeping pills, sir?"
The doctor shakes his head, reluctant. Nightmares evidently plague this young man, and he is loath to force him into another torturous slumber. Besides, the supply of sleeping pills is slowly being consumed.
"No. Let him up…"
The army nurses, also youths learning the intricacies of army medicine, remove the body restraints and leave, going back to their usual routines. Peter, for his part, opens his eyes – and is nearly blinded by the dim lights.
"Are you alright, son?" the doctor asks kindly, putting a hand on Peter's shoulder. Peter sits up painfully and swings his legs over to sit on the side of the bed, facing away from Dr. Thomas.
"I'm fine, sir." Running his hands through his hair and leaning forward while folding his hands on his knees, Peter does not look fine at all. In fact, he looks very lost.
"Peter. Is that your name?" It is standard procedure, to make sure the battlefield experience hasn't addled a soldier's memories and sense of identity.
"I…I think so. My last name…Pevensie."
"Yes, yes." The doctor encourages him, coaxing him out of his state of confusion. Going around to face the youth squarely, he asks more details.
"Where is your home?"
"Fi…Finchley, I think it's called." Peter's voice is hesitant, as if he isn't sure of his answer.
The doctor senses this, and follows up.
"Are you sure?"
At first, Peter looks ready to answer the place of his dreams and nightmares. Narnia. He feels and remembers a life there, but for some reason he believes that this doctor will not believe him. Instead, he nods.
The doctor looks relieved. Next, usually family is the topic.
"Do you have any siblings?"
At this, Peter's face lights up. Even his heart feels lighter, as he remembers the love and light of a warm home.
"Yes, two. Two sisters, and the loveliest girls in all of Finchley."
The warmth is evident in Peter's voice, the love for his two queens radiating through. And yet, the doctor is confused.
"Only two? Don't you have a brother?"
The word brings chills up Peter's spine, the dreams and nightmares flashing back.
Dark hair. Dark eyes.
Staring into my soul.
But he quickly brushes it off.
"Yes," he replies with all certainty. "Only two. Two sisters. No brothers."
Finished with his examination, the doctor leaves Peter, puzzled.
Perhaps this "Ed" might be a cousin? Another close relative?
Either way, the doctor is a busy man – and does not go back to the conundrum throughout the day.
The doctor is finished with his questioning, administering of medicine, bandaging, recording, and other duties at midnight, and the lights in the tent turn off completely, as even the orderlies and doctors retire to their own tents for some few well-earned hours of sleep before the early morning shift at 4 a.m.
Left alone in the pitch-black of the tent, Peter is limited to brooding and meditating, as he is too scared to fall asleep.
Instead, he turns to his memories, trying to make sure he is who he really is.
Dark hair. Dark eyes.
It is useless. He keeps remembering that boy, the idiot who foolishly threw himself in front of the White Witch.
There. He remembers. The White Witch, she was called.
Left with the lingering features of cold, blazing eyes and the white, elegant yet terrible angular face of Jadis, Peter has no choice but to re-enter slumber once again.
And once again, he dreams.
He finds himself on a battlefield. Fell creatures surround him left and right, their carcasses littering the whole field. The metallic smell of blood pervades the air, and the smell of death lingers.
He spots Narnian soldiers, some bleeding and struggling, others supporting their wounded friends and brothers. Still others allow themselves a few tears, kneeling over their fallen comrades. Everyone seems to be making their way towards the banner, the majestic red lion rampant flapping in the wind. It is there that the healers have set up their station, the Dryads and their daughters administering their herbs and bandages.
Although his army stands victorious, Peter cannot help but feel that this battle won must have come at a horrible price.
He seems to float closer to the banner, knowing that nobody can see him or sense his presence. Muffled cries echo all around, as wounds are bound and bones set back into place.
Then, he sees himself. Startled, he looks into the face of the man he once was, tall and proud. This Peter is truly a King. High King. Despite himself, dream-Peter feels again that familiar longing, to be the man, the king he was. Is. Even in his battle-worn state, with grime, dried blood and sweat on his face and body, he carries himself with the air of a warrior and royal, his eyes wise and caring as they look over his army.
Or what was left of it. As dream-Peter watches, King Peter's face grows worried and anxious, as if he is looking for something he cannot find.
"Harne," he beckons to a nearby centaur. "My brother?"
Nodding to acknowledge his king, the centaur replies, "None have seen him, Sir. The last time I saw King Edmund, he was caught in battle fury, wiping out any who dared stand in his path."
/Did he have a brother?/
He watches the scene play out before him, as High King Peter runs to find where his so-called brother has gone. "Ed! Edmund!"
/Edmund. So his name is Edmund./
No answer. The only sound in the battlefield is a constant clashing, as if a battle still rages.
A glimpse of red cloth and silver armor, and the High King knows where his brother is. Some way in the forest on the outskirts of the battlefield, the Just is still caught up in his bloodlust, swinging his sword and hacking at enemies unseen.
His voice is soothing now, like a mother to her baby.
"No! No! Get away from him! Peter!" Clearly unseeing, Edmund continues to hack wildly, unearthly cries erupting from his throat, the desperate guttural sound sending chills up dream-Peter's spine. It is him, the dark-haired, fair-skinned boy. Although a man, the resemblance is unmistakeable.
/So this is Ed. My…brother./
High King Peter approaches, ever so slowly. Finally, he is close enough to grasp the flat of his brother's blade. Edmund still struggles. Clawing and punching, the echoing cries of "Peter! Peter!" filling the air.
With a start, dream-Peter realizes that as even he draws closer, the one he calls brother does not have dark eyes.
No. In his bloodlust and battle fury, in his mad effort to keep all destroyers and enemies away from his High King, Edmund's eyes are red.
"Shhh…"Gently, the High King takes away his brother's sword and holds him tightly in his arms. Tighter and tighter he embraces him, until Edmund can struggle no longer.
Instead, he gives up, and slumps against his brother's form in total surrender. Kneeling on the ground and arranging Edmund on his lap, the High King Peter allows a few tears to fall down his cheeks.
"Edmund…oh, Edmund…why must you do this? Why must you drive yourself to the point of fury and exhaustion?"
For indeed, in all his effort, the Just King has fallen unconscious, the energy all gone from the battle hard-fought and won.
But even unconscious, the younger king smiles, and whispers a reply to his brother's broken plea.
"You would do the same for me."
Left with this vision of brothers, Peter wakes up.