A/N - Written for the Narnia Exchange Fest over at LJ.
Give Me Your Country and I Will Defend It
He sits in silence, his head propped up on his arm as he listens carefully. The news on the radio speaks of one battle after another, of the empty promises made by the leaders of their countries, of each bomb, each attack and each death. That is all that he hears when he listens to what people say. Under the statements of hope, lies the element of fear, and under every piece of news, Peter knows that there's something else he doesn't know.
Each piece of news makes his head lower and his shoulders hunch with tension, but his siblings seem less worried than him. He watches as Lucy and Edmund play a game; she giggles when he tries to cheat, and he laughs as he explains why what he does is not cheating in the first place.
Peter finds it unsettling how carefree they seem. Shouldn't they worry? Shouldn't they be scared? Shouldn't they worry if they knew any of the casualties, be it friends… or family?
He looks up to see Susan sitting in her favourite place near the window with a book in her lap, she frowns at him as her expression settles onto something that borders very much like worry. "Maybe you should turn off the radio."
The newscaster was speaking of how the authority is optimistic of the new peace treaty. Peter doesn't believe a word that they are saying.
"Not yet," he tells Susan. He turns the knob to increase the volume as he leans forward to listen intently.
Susan sighs before she closes her book and stands up. With gentle words, she reminds Edmund and Lucy that it's time for bed. Reluctantly, they trudge out of the living room. Once their younger siblings leave, Susan turns to him. "Coming?"
Peter settles further into his chair as he shakes his head. "Soon," he says, and he even ignores the tired sigh of his little sister when she turns around and leaves.
Peter doesn't resent them for not caring as much as he does. They're young, he tells himself. They shouldn't worry. But even as his siblings sleep, their hearts full of hope and optimism, Peter listens intently to the radio. With each passing second, his frown deepens as he tries to understand what they are trying notto say.
He listens, thinks and worries in silence as the fading light from the lamp blurs his vision and keeps him from staying awake…
Because that is what adults do.
Narnia is nothing more than a mere fairytale made-up by Lucy. Peter convinces himself that it can't be real, because it is not normalfor it to be real. Real is air-raids and boys going off to war, not-real is a world hidden in the back of a wardrobe that no one, even smarter people than them, has ever come across.
But then one day they fall through a door, land in snow, and as Peter looks up at the lamppost that looks out of place in this magical world, he realises that he doesn't know what real and not-real is. It's a moment, a small one that he will later ignore, but at that time, Peter experiences the one thing he hasn't had since he and his siblings had left home: hope.
Edmund betrays them but still they save Narnia. Peter rides at the head of an army with his brother and two sisters helping to lead the charge.
He doesn't stop to think why he seems comfortable with the thought that so many creatures look to them for support and leadership. He doesn't wonder why he is the chosen one or why no one questions it.
He feels ready, almost like he has trained his whole life for this moment. It would be later when he thinks of a former life where he had no power only to remember the hopelessness he felt because he wanted change that he couldn't give.
He makes a promise to always use what he can to change things for the better.
"Rise up, Sir Peter Wolf's-Bane, Knight of Narnia."
His title is thus: High King Peter the Magnificent, Emperor of the Lone Islands, Lord of Cair Paravel and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion.
There are too many names, he thinks. It feels like only a moment ago when he was simply Peter—just Peter—one name that told anyone who met him who he is and what he stands for.
As he seats himself on the throne with the sword across his lap, he wonders what each name means and what he must do to live up to the meaning of all these names. The task is too daunting to consider and too terrifying to ignore.
His only consolation is the inclusion of his siblings who are seated on either side of him. He might do what's wrong or even occasionally what's right, but with his family, he would never have to make the decision alone.
That thought make his titles seem more manageable than before.
Sometimes he forgets how much time has passed. There have been instances when he gets news of suitors who request Queen Susan's hand in marriage. Such requests make Peter narrow his gaze in mistrust, because in his mind, Susan is still a child.
But then he sees her when she trains with her bow and arrow, how tall she is, how feminine she is when she releases the quarrel from between her fingers, only to realise suddenly that she is older. He sees Lucy next, playing amidst the gardens and sees a young woman rather than a small girl, even though her innocence still shines through just as brightly. Edmund's change is more apparent. His young brother has a short beard that he maintains with the help of a sharp blade that was gifted to him recently. Peter suddenly remembers that he never taught Edmund how to shave like he always thought he would. There was no need for such mundane duties when there were enough beings around to help with all sorts of issues.
Such a realisation was not easy to come by. He hunts down the nearest looking-glass and squints at his image. He has watched the change happen so subtly that the final look takes him by surprise. He is older himself, taller with a hard jaw and broad shoulders. He sees the small crinkling lines beside his eyes and the thick beard along the line of his jaw. His reflection was once of a boy, and such a memory seems not so long ago.
Peter's thoughts are suspended when the Captain of his guard enters the hall breathlessly. His mailed fist is tight against the handle of his sword, and Peter instantly worries.
"What is it?"
"It's Prince Rabadash, Sire. His army is on the move."
Peter's gaze narrows as his glance falls once more on his reflection in the looking-glass. "Summon my sisters and brother. Tell them that I will be in the war room."
Once the Captain of his guard leaves, Peter moves swiftly down the hall of their palace and enters into the large room lined with maps. He prepares for the meeting with his siblings, unrolling all that they might need and reviewing the books that contain information on their own armies.
Peter frowns as he gathers the information he needs, as he thinks and worries, and wonders if this will be another battle lost or won…
Because that is what Kings do.