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: To all my LJ girlies, you know who you are ;). I'd be nothing without you.
Lucy clapped a hand to her mouth, realizing what she had done, and Peter turned back to Edmund quickly, his sense of urgency redoubled. He did not know what to do. He was not sure why he still had hope. Edmund had not moved, still resting peacefully against Peter. Edmund did not know that Peter had just failed to protect him, failed to do what he had always promised he would.
The medicine that would ensure Edmund’s recovery had just been shattered on the floor, the red liquid mingling with the green glass shards of the vial, oozing into the cracks of the stones. He had seen it splash everywhere in tiny droplets of uselessness. Wait a minute…red? Peter glanced up again, eyes scanning the floor. Red liquid. Red. Red like the blood Edmund had coughed up onto his tunic so many nights. Red like the droplets that stained the outer balcony, a grotesque garden of roses amidst an unrelenting sea of stone
...Red like the poison he had seen the man pouring into his cup.
All eyes shifted to Peter as he carefully pulled his brother from his arms, laying him down so tenderly on the bed once more. No one had moved, the unyielding shatter of breaking glass continued to echo through everyone’s mind, until it was replaced by an awful stillness, interrupted only by the soft slide of Peter’s hand as it slipped out from beneath Edmund’s head, the raven-haired king once more cradled by the pillow. Edmund never felt the shift in positions, never felt the softness of the pillow, or the loss of Peter’s warmth beneath his cheek. Peter’s face remained completely calm, completely sedate, as though he were strangely detached from everything going on around him. Indeed, the room remained silent, watching Peter as he slowly pulled away from Edmund until only his hand rested over Edmund’s and he had turned to face Dorjan.
“That was not the medicine,” he said, so softly, yet so placidly, that even Dorjan was not sure he had heard him correctly.
“What?” Lucy questioned from the other side, still standing a step ahead of Susan. Dorjan turned at the sound of her voice, and behind him…Peter growled.
“I said…that was not…the medicine!” he cried, lunging at Dorjan so quickly and so suddenly that none had time to realize what was happening. Dorjan whirled around just as Peter’s right hand closed over Dorjan’s fist, trapping the remaining vial between their fingers as they fell to the ground in a fury of thrashing arms and legs.
“You want a monster, then you shall see a monster,” Peter snarled as he pinned Dorjan to the floor, his free hand gripping fiercely to the other’s neck. “If I am to be in charge of his fate, than you’ll not take his life from him.”
“I already have,” Dorjan hissed triumphantly. He unpinned his free hand before Peter could respond and slammed it into Peter’s face, knocking the king off of him. The two remained locked firmly by the hand, both refusing to give up the vial to the other. They thrashed again, desperate cries coming from Susan and Lucy. The guards instantly moved forwards to try and protect their King, but Peter and Dorjan were locked in such a desperate battle that an attempt to hit Dorjan would likely result in hitting Peter. But to jump in as well, risked giving Dorjan the chance to drop the vial, and that was simply not an option.
Susan watched in absolute shock as her brother and the supposed healer exchanged blows across the ground at the foot of Edmund’s bed. They were very evenly matched, and Peter returned all of Dorjan’s blows with fists of his own. Dorjan gasped when Peter’s fist found his face and he growled, turning them over with such energy, straddling Peter and grabbing his head, slamming it into the floor. Peter cried out from surprise before that was cut off as Dorjan knocked the air from his lungs.
“What’s the matter, Peter? Finally realized that I’ve clipped the wings of your little midnight devil?” he jeered tauntingly. Peter snarled and surged upwards, head butting Dorjan, reversing their positions once more. He slammed the man’s head to the floor in much the same fashion.
“You’ll never be able to clip his wings,” he hissed ferally, eyes once more the stormy grey they had been earlier, entrenched once more in his fury, entrenched in his own wrath, desperate for vengeance. The two continued to exchange blows, neither gaining the upper ground for very long.
“Peter!” Lucy screamed next to her, wanting to help as much as Susan, but neither able to do so. Susan did not know what to say, what to do. She glanced up as a movement caught her gaze.
“No…” she whispered. Edmund was no longer lying still upon the bed. He had begun shifting; his chest was rising and falling much more rapidly. “No…Edmund, no…” she gasped, knowing what was about to happen. She tried to rush forwards but was stopped by Dorjan and Peter, nearly tripping over them and breaking the contact that kept the vial unbroken between Dorjan’s fingers. She glanced up again in horror. Three more times she was unable to get past, get to Edmund, and Edmund continued to toss. His restlessness soon turned to thrashes as his breathing became even more of a struggle.
“Peter!” Susan screamed, knowing of no other way to get to Edmund. Peter could not hear her, could not hear Edmund, so intent was he on his furious battle with Dorjan. But if he was not there to calm Edmund, Edmund would not survive to get the antidote should Peter win his battle. “Peter!” Susan glanced up again. Edmund was gasping now, choking on the blood that was welling in his throat, too weak to pull himself upright and get it out, still unconscious to all else. On the floor before the bed, Peter and Dorjan continued to struggle endlessly, both fighting for the tiny vial that was held by both and neither at once. Peter flipped them both over again, knocking Dorjan’s head into the stones with enough force to temporarily stun him. His free hand instantly flew to meet his other, seeking desperately to pry Dorjan’s fingers apart, to win Edmund’s life back, willing it with all his strength, with everything in his being.
Susan watched her younger brother helplessly. Edmund’s choking was stronger now, his thin chest struggling desperately for air, for anything at all. His back was arching in agony, body trembling, fingers weakly grabbing for something, anything, twisting in the sheets. Peter’s fingers were twisting against Dorjan’s, the vial slip-sliding between their desperate, seeking grasp. Edmund was twisting and thrashing on the bed as Peter and Dorjan thrashed endlessly about the floor. Peter pinned Dorjan down; Edmund’s back arched impossibly high. Peter finally wrenched the vial from Dorjan’s hands; all sounds coming from Edmund stopped altogether. There was a single, split second of stillness and silence before everything came together in a rush of sound.
“PETER!” Susan screamed again, her voice finally, finally, breaking through the haze of his mind, cutting sharply through the heavy silence, the certain calm before the storm, “EDMUND!”
Peter head whipped around and he jerked, gasping in agony, before he threw himself away from Dorjan and clambered desperately across the bed, vial held tightly in his hand. So quickly his writhing brother was pulled up and into his arms, once more settled back against his chest. Almost instantly Edmund’s head lolled to the side, the blood draining from his mouth, staining his lips a harsh, scarlet red, smattering across Peter’s tunic and saturating the twisted sheets. Peter squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the warm wetness, though it was invisible against the wine-dark color of his tunic.
“I’ve got you, Ed,” he whispered, finding Edmund’s hands and covering them with his own, crisscrossing his arms over the younger king’s and wrapping them about his waist, keeping him secure, tucked safely away. He did not even have time to set the vial down, yet he knew that unless he could calm Edmund down, the younger king would not be able to take the antidote. Edmund’s head turned, burying into Peter’s neck, as though somewhere in his fever-ridden agony, he had heard the soft sound of his older brother’s voice. A few moments later Edmund’s head jerked back, his body arching painfully against Peter’s. Peter squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, tightening his hold on his brother to keep him from sliding away. He pressed his cheek to Edmund’s temple. “Come on, Ed, breathe with me,” he whispered hoarsely, trying to keep his voice steady, trying to keep his own breaths as slow as possible. But it was so hard to do. Peter needed Edmund as his rock just as much as Edmund needed Peter.
The entire room stood with bated breath; the only movement came from the two figures rocking on the bed; the only sound was Edmund’s anguished gasps and Peter’s whispered words. Edmund’s eyes weakly fluttered open, the agony staining the warm browns wet. Peter held Edmund close, his entire body tensed, trying not to rock with Edmund’s heaves, trying to keep the younger king in place, trying to ground him. Yet despite his best efforts, Edmund’s tortured gasps did not stop. The raven-haired king’s head lolled slowly to the side on Peter’s shoulder and Peter’s head tilted, their temples meeting with such synchronicity, as though two were not two, but one.
“Come on, Ed, I’ve got you,” Peter breathed, his clear blue eyes meeting Edmund’s clouded browns with such a tenderness, a jump of hope fluttering in his chest at seeing those eyes. “I have the medicine, Ed. You just have to calm down. Can you calm down for me?” he asked softly, hopefully, a shaky smile on his face. Edmund continued to gaze at Peter, though whether he could truly see him, whether he was awake enough to understand… He blinked slowly, finding the strength to lift his lids once more, the browns beneath just as tormented. They fluttered once, fluttered twice, and then slid shut again, his brows furrowing in pain as he arched again in Peter’s arms, a mewl escaping between the gasps: the never-ending sound that permeated each soul just as harshly as it permeated the air about them.
And then it stopped.
Peter’s eyes widened as Edmund began gasping silently, no air passing in or out of his starved lungs. He had seen this happen before, they all had.
“No, Ed. Aslan, no,” he whispered fiercely, pressing his brother’s back more firmly against his chest, wincing slightly. “Breathe, Ed. Feel me. Feel my breaths.” He refused to lose his brother again. He refused to lose his brother at all. He forced his own frantic breaths to calm, slowing them even more so than normal. “Breathe…breathe…” he whispered over and over into Edmund’s ear, the words falling into rhythm with his own breaths.
Edmund continued to gasp for breath, his body twisting with the wracking pain.
Susan and Lucy watched anxiously, the older covering her mouth with one delicate hand, the younger not moving at all, afraid that the fragile rhythm created by her brother would break if she did.
Edmund arched again but Peter kept him in place, so that his only movements were to rise and fall with the rising and falling of his older brother’s chest, in rhythm with his breathing.
Edmund was teetering on the edge of a borderline, standing on the rim of the precipice. He still choked weakly, painfully, but so desperately, begging for that one small bit of life-giving air, a chance free from the pain of his abused lungs, pain from the blood that welled up in his throat, splattering out into the air with his coughs. He was falling. He was falling. He was fading. He could not make it, he could not do it.
And slowly…Edmund did. It was not big. Just the tiniest sound that signified the smallest amount of air had passed the blood, and the coughs. …Just the tiniest sound that signified that his lungs had felt the air.
Peter’s eyes remained closed, his willpower lying behind dark eyelids, inside blue eyes. He kept himself focused, refusing to break his rhythm. Susan watched, noting the small difference in Edmund’s gasps with a flutter of hope. Come on, Edmund…come on…
It was as though something suddenly gave way, and with each moment, every breath Edmund took was slower, fuller than the one before it, until everything clicked into place, and he became one with his brother, breathing in synchronicity. And indeed, to everyone in the room, everything felt right. Everything fell into place and slowly, Edmund sank backwards fully into Peter, his body completely lax in his brother’s arms. Only then did Peter open his eyes. He kissed Edmund’s temple with relief.
“Thank you, Ed, thank you,” he whispered, pulling out the hand that held the vial. He quickly uncorked it, shifting Edmund so that he was more sideways in his arms, facing him. He swiftly placed the vial to Edmund’s lips. “Gently now, Ed. It will help, I promise,” he murmured soothingly, cradling Edmund with one arm. “You can do it, small sips now.”
Peter had to tilt the vial himself, trickling the smallest drops into Edmund’s mouth, he waited a moment with bated breath, waited with bated breath until a sigh of relief escaped him as Edmund swallowed a few moments later.
“That’s it, Ed, that’s it…” he tilted the vial again, and slowly, in time, Edmund swallowed the entire contents. Peter pulled the now-empty vial back, watching his brother with concern, unsure what to expect. Edmund slowly sighed out a breath, before his head slipped forwards to rest in the crook of Peter’s neck and his body went completely limp. Peter breathed out a moment later, leaning his forehead against Edmund’s, wrapping both arms about his raven-haired brother once more, content to remain just that way.
“No!” Dorjan shouted furiously, suddenly making himself known. Peter’s head whipped up, just as all heads turned in surprise Dorjan. But Dorjan was too quick; he lunged forward, bloody knife raised, eyes locked intently on the two boys sitting on the bed. Peter knew he would not be able to move in time-could not move in time. Susan screamed something, Lucy screamed something, but it was of no use: they were too far away.
Peter cupped the back of Edmund’s head to keep him in place and curled himself protectively over Edmund, shielding his brother’s body with his own as Dorjan dove towards them from the foot of the bed, eyes locked upon Peter’s unguarded back, malicious intent in his wild eyes.
Well, there you have it. Again, don't hurt me! *hides*