Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, just love 'em.
Rating: Putting this one up at R for themes and events.
Summary: Peter learns just how harmful loving Edmund can be. The question is, will he realize before it manages to destroy them both? Will he be able to cope, knowing its his love that puts Edmund in danger? (this is NOT SLASH)
Author's Note: Erm...These next two chapters have actually been written and posted for a long time over at ff.net. I'm assuming most of you read over there, but for those two, maybe one of you who doesn't, here it is. Don't hate me! I've just been too lazy to post them here. Anyway, this is 'interim' so I have only one class and its a bit slower around here, so hopefully I can pop out a couple more chapters before Semester 2 starts.
Dedication: This one again has to go out to SubOrbital, for more reasons than one. A)She actually helped me write it and get Dorjan’s character complete. B)She’s the one who got me to write it. C)This is a thank you for writing a chapter of her story nice and quick. So Sub, I love you! I hope you enjoy, and enjoy how it has been changed! Though some lines are the same.
The whole room went completely still, save for Edmund, who was still gasping and choking on the bed in Peter’s arms. The guards moved forward on instinct after that moment’s hesitation, but Peter stopped them with a look. He brought Edmund closer to him, pulling his younger brother into his lap, arms wrapping more tightly around him, before he turned back to gaze at the supposed healer.
“What do you want?” Susan spoke from the side, breaking the silence before Peter could. The man turned to her, sneering.
“Quiet, wench,” he responded, eyes turning back to Peter. “Do you even know who I am? Do you even know what it is you took from me?” Peter’s expression did not change, his icy-blue stare did not falter.
“I have never seen you before. Never.” The contempt in his voice was evident.
“An even greater crime! For not only are you unaware of the crime, but you are unaware of whom you committed it against!” Dorjan spoke with a passion in his voice as if he had somehow been anticipating this moment for far longer than he could bear, and now his moment had finally come, "I was a King before you stole it all away from me, Peter. Do you know what it is to rule, to live in true luxury, to have all you desire, only to lose it all to a barbarian king? Well now it is your turn to lose something most precious to you!" And he began moving, stalking towards the bed with the vial still clenched so tightly in his hand that only the corked top could be seen. Peter instantly pulled Edmund closer to him, as though trying to hide his gasping brother from Dorjan's view.
"I stole nothing from you, you have no right!" His eyes narrowed, voice dropping to a menacing whisper. "I do know what that feels like, and if you do too, than you'd help to stop it, now." Dorjan merely began to laugh again, staring condescendingly down at Peter.
“Don’t you see, foolish boy?” the healer cried out mockingly. “I want you to suffer. Suffer for the riches and wealth you took from me. Suffer for the anguish you caused my family,” he spat, before leering at the gasping boy in Peter’s arms. “Suffer, boy.” Edmund seemed unaware of the events unfolding around him, his wide-terrified eyes staring blankly as violent tremors continued to wrack his body. Dorjan’s head cocked to the side, eyes filled with little concern. “He looks pained, so sad.” Peter’s eyes flashed, hands tightening in their grip on Edmund.
“I caused you no anguish. If you wish to make me suffer, then make me suffer. But leave my brother out of your dispute, for he has done nothing to you,” Peter grit out, defensively. A small sound escaped from Edmund, one that could only have come from the effort of trying to take a proper breath and Peter whirled away from Dorjan. “It’s alright, Ed. Just a little bit longer. Just hold on a moment longer," he whispered, eyes softening to tenderness as he gazed into anguished browns. Edmund did not answer, could not answer, though he blinked slowly a moment later, the only part of himself that he could control. Peter wanted to take that as an 'ok,' and he smiled softly, kissing the younger King’s forehead, trying to reassure him. "That’s it, Ed. Just hold on." He turned back to Dorjan again, the tenderness instantly replaced with vivid fury, unable to block out the feel of Edmund heaving against him. He could even feel the gentle sensation of eyelashes against his neck when Edmund blinked, and he realized now was not the time to talk. "Give me the medicine. Now."
“You forget your place, boy.” Dorjan hissed. But then he shrugged, face set in a sinister sneer. “I wished to make you suffer, and oh how I have succeeded,” his tone matched the triumph he felt. “I am making you suffer most greatly.”
If Peter could, he would have rushed to the man and taken the vial forcefully, but he could not. He simply refused to let his brother go. He knew Dorjan's words were true, frightfully, and horrifically true, but he wanted this to stop. Not because of his suffering, but Edmund's pain.
"Yet you would make him suffer too? You would make someone who is truly guilty of no crimes suffer for another's crime?" Peter ground out from between clenched teeth, his hand moving to cradle Edmund's head against his neck, trying to calm him and comfort him at the same time.
“My family was guilty of no crimes before you destroyed their lives!” Dorjan cried, passionately, throwing his clenched hand up in front of Peter’s face. But he stopped before it came into contact, quickly composing himself. “It was my intent to let you suffer through the effects of this poison, let you feel my anguish turned physical before it killed you. But after I took on the job of Narnian healer, after watching you closely for months, I knew it would not be enough.” He nodded to Edmund, who had yet to regain his breath, nor stem the pain that wracked his body. “And so he became my target. I wanted to make you suffer, and it worked tenfold. After all, both of you are so connected-” he turned and grinned grotesquely at Susan, “-kill one and the other will follow.” Susan dimly remembered something very similar coming from her mouth not to long ago, and clapped a hand to her mouth.
The man turned back to the bed and reached out, about to press a finger into Edmund’s cheek. Peter jerked Edmund sharply away from the would-be assassin. “Don’t you dare touch him,” he growled, voice low. The healer sneered, nonplussed at the King’s anger. He leaned forward, putting his face right before Peter’s. Peter stared back, eyes full of malice, refusing to back away.
“I give you what you gave me, boy. This is on your conscience. It is you who caused this.” He leaned back again, opening his hand to reveal the small vial, though not close enough for Peter to take it. He held up the tinted green glass to the light, fiddling with it idly. "How does it feel, Peter, to be helpless, to have no power over your own fate? How does it feel?" Dorjan asked casually. Peter grit his teeth, blue eyes flashing again.
"I do have power of my own fate," he hissed angrily. He opened his mouth to speak again, but whatever he was about to say fled his mind as Edmund seemed to freeze against him. He whirled back, eyes wide, to see Edmund's mouth open, but no sounds were escaping him, not even the smallest breath. "Ed!" Peter cried softly, but fiercely, trying to reach him. Edmund's eyes slowly flickered up, catching onto Peter's. His lips moved silently and yet Peter was not quite sure that Edmund truly saw him. He leaned down, whispering his words against Edmund's temple, so as not to be heard by Dorjan. "Come on, Ed. You need to breathe. Just calm down. Try a small one, I'm right here; you're safe. Lucy's here, Susan's here, I'm here. We've got you. Just try...one small one...just one..."
Edmund seemed to react not at all for a few moments, and Peter was truly feeling the weight of helplessness wash over him. "Come on, Ed, you can d-" the small sound that escaped Edmund's mouth cut him off once more, and Peter watched him anxiously, thumb smoothing over his cheek, waiting for another one. And it came. Edmund's eyes fluttered, dimming slightly, but something seemed to break within him after that tiny breath, and he sighed out another long, yet small breath, before he went limp against Peter. Peter's eyes were wide and he hovered his hand over Edmund's nose and mouth. Breath, air, he could feel it. Weak, barely there, but there. The same hand was then pressed to Edmund's chest. A heartbeat. Again weak, much too slow, but there. Peter let his hand once more come up to cradle Edmund's head, keeping him safely in place tucked beneath Peter’s chin. He turned back to Dorjan, eyes frightfully terrified. "Please just give me the medicine," he gasped, almost begging now.
And still Dorjan was completely nonplussed by Peter’s pleas. He continued to fiddle with the vial as he had while Peter was focused on Edmund. He ignored Peter’s words completely, almost thinking out loud.
"…Destroying people's lives with a simple scratch of your quill, never having to pay the consequences as something so little to you becomes something so big to them… Well you know what, your majesty, with a simple flick of my wrist, I can destroy your life." Dorjan smiled softly to himself, eyes still focused on the vial. “It is truly amazing, is it not, that all I must do is-” he opened his hand, letting the vial almost slide from his fingers before he caught it. He glanced up and around as everyone in the room jerked instinctively from his actions before he finished his sentence. “-open my fingers, and I can destroy your life.”
Peter’s eyes narrowed, the blue eyes again the stormy grey they had been in the kitchens.
“You have no right to do this. You have no right to murder him.” Dorjan crossed his arms, staring the High King down unflinchingly.
“An eye for an eye, Peter. This is your punishment. His death is your punishment. And you shall live with that guilt, with this fate, for the rest of your life. You are powerless, boy. You are powerless.”
“Our fates are our own, you have no right,” Peter intoned again, quiet words spoken with conviction.
“You have power over your own fate, but do you have power over his?” Dorjan replied, tapping his arm.
"He should have power over his own fate," Peter whispered fiercely, the anguish in his own blues now clearly evident. "You punish me for something I did not do, for something he did not do. He is an innocent! I do not even know you, how could l have done anything to you?"
"Something you did not do?" Dorjan growled with fierce rage, "Something you did not do!" Dorjan stalked closer to Peter, holding up the vial, "You stole my life from me, Peter! And now you deny your part! You best rephrase that or I shall show you what this medicine looks like upon the floor."
Peter merely gazed unflinchingly back at Dorjan, knowing he could not move away because he was not allowed to move. But that did not stop him from making sure that Edmund was as far away from the man as possible, and as close to Peter as possible. "If I tell you what you wish to hear, will you give him the medicine?" he asked darkly, fiercely.
"You tell me the truth, not what I wish." Dorjan said with no hint of sympathy in his voice, "Tell me the truth!"
"He has been telling you the truth!" Lucy cried angrily, cutting in from her spot across the room. "You monster, you ask for lies!"
"You best shut your mouth, little girl," Dorjan said as he took the lid from the vial and teased to tip it over. "Peter, you stole my life from me, now your brother will pay for it and it shall be on your head. Die, Edmund, die because of your brother's crimes!"
"No!" Peter cried, his body jerking slightly, wishing he could move forward. "We have not moved, do not break your word!" he gasped desperately, eyes frantic.
"I want to hear your full confession," Dorjan said sternly, holding the vial open and tipped slightly, prepared to spill it. "I want to hear you say the words I long to hear. And perhaps if I do, I might consider giving you the medicine. But you dare not lie to me! You stole my life from me with one signature! I was merely a piece of paper to you! My life and my family were simply words that you no longer even remember! Confess your own crimes now, or I shall return that flick of your wrist with one of mine own!"
Peter gazed down at Edmund, still resting in the crook of his neck, blissfully unaware of all around him. He leaned his own head down, resting his cheek against his brother's forehead, feeling the dark curls brush against his face as he did so. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, allowing Edmund's presence to calm him once more. He opened them again, lifting his head so his hand could stroke the dark curls back, eyes almost...defeated. He continued to trace his brother’s image with his eyes and his face fell once more. He turned to Dorjan, eyes almost desolate. "How can I confess if I do not know what it is I did?" he asked softly, voice rather tiny.
Lucy could not believe what she was hearing. She continued to rein her anger in, but it was fast working its way to the surface once more. She did not want a repeat of what had happened the first time she spoke up, but the disbelief at seeing her eldest brother give up, was not something she would have believed could happen. And yet at the same time, a tiny voice reminded her that Peter would truly do anything to safeguard Edmund’s life, any of their lives. But she knew that Peter was not one to just destroy the lives of any people. To be forced to confess a crime he did not do, Lucy could hardly stand it, but she held her tongue.
"When you took back the Lone Islands, you signed a law that barred all slavery and you made no provisions for those whose livelihoods depended on it!" Dorjan said with rage in his eyes. "You took my wealth, my home, my title, you took it all. I could not feed my children! The slaves took everything and I was powerless to do anything! I lost more than you are about to lose right now. You are a monster, Peter! A monster! Say it! Say it now! Tell me with your own lips that you are a monster who condemns children to death! A monster that upsets what he does not understand! Tell me you are a monster whose brother will die because of his cruelty!"
"I would never condemn children to death!" Peter cried, his anger rising once more in disgust. "You are about to kill the Just King, because you lost people who were never yours to begin with!" he ground out, arms tightening around Edmund as his body tensed in loathsome anger.
"No, Peter. I am about to kill the Just King for people who were mine to begin with. An eye for an eye." Dorjan said coldly.
"They are people, not property!" Peter's eyes narrowed. "They are free, free to choose their own fates. You have no right over them, nor do you have any right over Edmund. This is not an eye for an eye. You are asking for a heart when nothing was taken from you." Peter could hardly believe this man. Slaves? He was depriving Narnia of her King, over humans that he cared little for?
"No, Peter. For my son, who most definitely belonged to me!" Dorjan said with a flicker of hesitation in his eyes. "This is an eye for an eye."
“Your son is not property either, he is your son.” Peter’s eyes narrowed. “You are truly a monster. Give him the medicine, now. You have no right to withhold it.” He turned back to Edmund, rubbing his cheek once before checking that he was still breathing, though he could feel the very faint rise and fall of Edmund's chest against his own. “How did your son die?” he asked in low tones.
Dorjan seemed to hesitate once more, but only for the smallest moment. He leaned in rage burning once again.
“Are you going to confess your crimes or not?” he countered, voice just as low as Peter’s.
"I committed no crime by freeing those people. Your son did not die because they were free." Peter did not turn as he spoke, his eyes still studying Edmund's face.
"That is it. You have sealed his fate with your defiance." Dorjan said as he turned the vial and spilled some of the liquid out.
Peter turned at the sound of someone's cry, and he jerked forward slightly. The others in the room jerked as well, but they were stopped from rushing forwards by Peter. "Stop!" he cried at the man, eyes desperate again. He did not even look at the liquid on the floor, only stared wildly between the tiny vial of tinted glass and Dorjan's face. "You told me I have no control over his fate! How dare you take from him what is not meant to be taken!" Dorjan stopped spilling, shoving his face forward into Peter’s suddenly.
“Do you still not understand Son of Adam? I am through talking with you. I never had any intention of letting your brother live. Clearly there is no need for me to try and save him.” He laughed grotesquely. “And you pathetic Narnians thought I was actually helping.” He leaned close to Peter’s ear, whispering words meant only for the blonde king- words that coursed like a poison through Peter’s veins.
“He’s worth just as much as you are, simply because you love him.” He leaned back, allowing everyone to hear.
“Simply because you love him.”
Something in Peter’s eyes flickered, and his stiff posture fell as he quickly looked down at Edmund. The peaceful look on his brother's face contrasted sharply with the turmoil he felt inside. He ran a hand down from Edmund's temple. He pressed a kiss to his brother’s forehead, eyes filling with a sad acceptance. The room was silent, so silent, and the healer stood with triumph as a very tiny breathy sob escaped Peter, it was so small, so tiny, yet it seemed to echo throughout the chamber Peter turned his head slightly to the side, his eyes looking down to the sheets, whispering brokenly.
"l...l am a monster.”
"You are a monster who is responsible for his brother's fate. Tell me it is your fault that Edmund is like this. Tell me it is your fault that Edmund could die." Dorjan taunted, sneering as he toyed with the vial.
Peter's shoulders slumped even more, but still he held his brother to him, glad that Edmund was not awake to hear this. Not that Edmund had truly been awake at all since his collapse. But he was at least glad that his breathing was present, despite being faint. He was just...sleeping. But it was still not a natural sleep. His breaths were not sure and full and even. His cheeks were pale yet flushed with fever, and the heat emanating from Edmund's body reminded Peter that Edmund was anything but alright. His brother was truly dying. "It-" his voice broke slightly and he swallowed thickly. "It is my fault that Edmund...could...die," he whispered, unable to wonder if perhaps that statement was actually true.
"You are a pig, aren't you, Peter. You are not worthy of living," Dorjan scowled. "Aren't you? Aren't you?"
Peter tried one last time, turning defeated eyes to Dorjan once more. "I am not worthy of living." And those words were spoken rather firmly, for he never truly believed he was anyway. He nodded his head slightly, motioning to the King lying against him. "But he is."
"You are not worthy of anything, are you, Peter?" Dorjan stated, rather firmly, insisting that he hear it again. "Are you?"
Peter squeezed his eyes shut, trying to keep himself calm. Edmund needed him. Lucy watched as Peter shut his eyes, sensing that he was trying to close out Dorjan's words. She could hardly believe what this man was doing, what this man was doing to her brothers. The growl that escaped her mouth was too low to be heard, and she took a step forward, unseen by the others. Peter finally opened his eyes again, the once defiant blues now quiescent, almost subservient.
"No..." he whispered, so softly it was barely heard.
"Then perhaps you will poison yourself in exchange for me giving the cure to him," Dorjan said as he revealed another vial so that both hands were now full. "Well? Since you are not worthy to live? Since you are a pig and a monster and have no worth, because you are spit ..." He said as he did just that, spitting out at Peter's face, "You are scum, filth, bile, excrement. You are worthless to the world, and to all who inhabit it! You are nothing to anyone!"
Lucy’s eyes flashed.
"Shut up!" She cried, unable to take it anymore. “Just shut up!” She lunged forwards, blinded by her anger. “Leave him alone! Get away from them!” Peter's head whipped to the side, his eye wide and wild.
The healer turned at her cry, and he shook his head.
“Tut tut, little girl. Look what you did.”
Lucy stopped short, realizing what she had done, realizing just what Dorjan had done. But it was too late. The man opened his hand, the small vial falling to the floor, shattering in a shower of red liquid across the stones.
Well, there you have it. Please don't hurt me! *runs away, ducking the stones and other things being thrown at her*