“What are you doing up there? Wait, no, scratch that, how did you get up there?”
Peter shaded his eyes as he looked up at Edmund, who was sitting on top of a pillar in the Cair Paravel ruins. The Pevensies that were leaving knew that they didn’t have much time left in Narnia, and the older two of the three wanted to try and rebuild the old castle. They wanted something to remember them by, a piece of them that was still in Narnia. Of course, they wouldn’t be around for the entire construction, but they were helping architects get the layout down by going to the site of the ruins and showing them around there. It was nice, really. It gave the Pevensies a few more days to reminisce, and a few more days to spend time together with all four of them in relative peace.
Edmund, however, seemed to want to spend most of his time by himself, unless he was pulled along by one of his sisters. When asked, he’d claim that it was due to his newfound age gap with his siblings. Sometimes, he’d even smile and say that he stayed away so that he wouldn’t be tempted to ruffle Susan’s hair as retribution for her doing it to him so often in the past; now that he was physically older, she couldn’t do anything about it. That’s what he thought, at least.
“I’m drawing. And as for your other question, I flew up here.”
“That’s new — ”
“I climbed , Pete, don’t be so dense. I may have some of that curse still in me, but that doesn’t mean I’m able to fly. I never have been, never will be. I’m not that cool.”
“That is a lie, I saw you fly out of Aslan’s How myself.”
“I discorporated , there is a difference .” Edmund shook the end of his pencil down at his brother. “Besides, can we not talk about that? I’m up here in the first place to avoid questions about it.”
“It”, of course, was referring to Ed’s time as the Ice Prince. It had only been about a week since he had changed back, and the topic was still obviously a sore one.
“Oh! Yes, of course, sorry about that.” Peter started walking around the pillar Edmund was sitting on and one that stood next to it a good ten feet away, looking for a way up. “But how did you climb?”
“The vines. And don’t tell me you’ve gotten out of shape in just one year. That’d be a shame, truly.”
Peter scoffed, then went over to the second pillar and started up the vines. He stumbled a couple times, to which Edmund laughed, until he was finally sitting on the top looking across at his brother. Those two pillars seemed to be the only two that hadn’t been touched throughout the entire ruins; they were still full, and there was a large platform, more than big enough to sit on, atop each. Looking over, Peter could see that Ed had the sheet he was drawing on sitting on a wooden plank he had somehow brought up, and there was chalk sitting next to him that he was using to color with.
“What are you drawing?”
Edmund looked down at the piece in his lap, then up at the sea in front of him, then back down as he drew in another bit. “You remember that sketch I gave you all that time ago? That you held on to all year for some ungodly reason?”
“Well, I stole it from you last night, and I’m finishing it now.”
“ That’s where it went. You’re an ass, you know.”
“Only the best for my stable.” Edmund looked up, a smile on his face. “And here I was, thinking you hated it.”
“It was a sketch , it was bad at the time. It’ll probably be better once you’re done.”
“You’re the one who kept it with you for over a year. At all times, may I add. Stalker tendencies are very unbecoming, you know, especially for a King.”
“Yes, well—” Peter broke himself off with an exasperated sigh and a smile on his face. He could never win against Edmund in a duel of words, he had forgotten about that. “How are you even going to finish it? Your rooms are gone, along with the window you were drawing from.”
“Why do you think I’m on this pillar? It’s about where my rooms were, and the sea’s the same as always.”
They fell into silence after that, with Edmund moving on to coloring the page in and Peter enjoying the view and a bit of peace away from the other Narnians. It was cold up there, colder than Peter would have expected for a mid-spring day, but he supposed that was just from being close to Edmund.
Aslan had been right in saying that the curse wasn’t completely gone; Ed was still freezing to the touch (though not dangerously so anymore), and the air around him was perpetually chilled. While it had only been a week since his re-transformation, the powers didn’t appear to be getting any weaker. Every once in a while, if he was particularly emotional, the cold would grow a bit more, with the edges of his clothes and the ground below him starting to grow ice crystals. He’d always calm down before it got out of hand, though, and he’d always be thankful that he wasn’t too powerful anymore.
He had hurt more than enough people, he told himself, and now was the time to turn a new leaf. For the better. And for good.
“I’m sorry,” Peter said, after about half an hour of sitting up there and completely out of the blue.
“What for?” Edmund put down the piece of chalk he was working with and looked at his brother. Pete wasn’t looking back at him, instead looking out over the ocean and letting the wind blow his hair back.
“I tried to kill you back there, Ed. During that duel we had. Before the fight, Aslan told me that I would have regretted it if I did, and I almost didn’t listen to him.” He sighed. “He was right, though.”
“Well, you did listen to him, so there’s really nothing to be sorry for.” Edmund stared blankly back down at the drawing, now almost finished, but didn’t continue with it.
“But you’ve got to understand, Ed, I almost didn’t . And then where would we be?”
“Well, I’d be dead, for one.”
“And I’d have killed you.”
“You’ve killed people before, Pete. You’re a war general as well as High King.”
“But you’re my brother . I think that’s a bit different, don’t you?”
Edmund pursed his lips, still looking down, then sighed. “Yes. It is. But don’t forget that I tried to kill you . That I— I’ve killed people, innocent people, in cold blood—”
“Shut up. ” Ed finally looked at Peter with a smile on his face, who was tentatively smiling back at him. “As I was trying to say, I think we’re a bit even. A bit un even, actually, with the debt on my end of the scale. You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. Quite honestly, I would have done the same in your shoes.”
“You would have killed me , your High King, your eldest brother —”
“I will push you off that pillar right now , don’t think I won’t. I’m a thousand years older, it counts in a lot of ways.”
Peter sighed dramatically. “Don’t remind me.” Edmund laughed at that, big and loud, and Peter laughed, too, if only because it was the first time he had head that laugh in far too long.
When they finished laughing, their conversation lapsed into another comfortable silence, one that lasted until Peter spoke up again.
“How did you break your nose? It wasn’t like that when we left, I’ve been wondering but kept forgetting to ask.”
“Oh, that?” Edmund reached up and touched his nose, running his finger over where it bent. “I… uh… I ran into the wardrobe.”
“ The wardrobe? Not a wardrobe?”
“Yeah, it was the one that brought us to Narnia. The one that took you guys back.”
“Oh.” Peter looked over at his brother, whose hand was still on his face. He was staring blanking off into the distance, as if he wasn’t really there, at least not mentally. “How did you find that?”
After a second, Edmund put his hand down, but kept the blank look in his eyes. “It took me a year to realize what had happened to you three, you know. It… I wasn’t good that year. In a lot of different ways. One could say I abandoned Narnia exactly when you did, not when I became the Ice— when I became that thing .”
“We didn’t abandon Narnia.”
“Yeah, well, I did.” Ed sighed, finally focusing back to the present, but not looking his brother in the eyes.
“You never explained the nose.”
Again, Edmund took a second to respond, still looking away. “Well, when I figured it out, I went to the Lantern Wastes as fast as I could. And when I got there, I ran to where I thought the door was, and I found it. Head-first. Literally.
“You three had accidentally locked the door behind you, apparently. And when I realized that, I… broke. That’s really the only way to put it. I was already broken, but when I realized that I was possibly feet away from you guys but that I still couldn’t get to you, still couldn’t find you after all of Narnia spent the whole year trying and failing to do just that, after a year of mourning and insanity and isolation but still not finding the pieces of the puzzle that would make that all go away , I broke even more.”
There was another silence as Peter longed to reach aross the wide gap between them and comfort his brother. There was tension in the air, filled with a thousand unspoken words. After a minute, Peter managed to sum them up in only two:
“I know. So am I.” Edmund went back to drawing, keeping his head down, forcing the conversation to another halt. This one, however, only lasted a couple of minutes, for Ed quickly looked up and held his picture out for Peter to see.
Pete leaned forward on his pillar, squinting to see the picture from where he was. After a couple too many seconds of that, Ed sighed and stretched out for his brother to grab it, which he did. Looking down at it, he almost gasped. It was breathtaking, especially considering the original draft. With the way the lines moved, the way the colors danced in the late-afternoon light, he could almost believe the waves were real.
“This is amazing , Ed. Show this to Su and Lu, they’ll love it.”
“I knew you’d like it,” Edmund said with a smile as he took it back. “Since I fixed the perspective problems and all.”
“It’s not just that and you know it. I may not be an artist, at all , but that is the best drawing I’ve seen this month. Or year.”
“You haven’t seen any art this year, let alone this month.”
“That’s not true! There were the murals in the How. And that—” Pete pointed at the picture in Ed’s hands “—is a lot better than any of them.”
“Thank you. Seeing as it’s been literal ages since I’ve drawn anything, I’ll take that as a complement.”
“It was a complement.”
“I know you, Pete, you disguise complaints in the prettiest packing possible.” Edmund swung his legs over the edge of the pillar, threw his art supplies down beneath him, then dropped down lightly after them.
“Hey, wait! Where are you going?” Peter rushed to follow Ed’s movements, and ended up landing with only slightly less grace.
“I’m going to show to Susan and Lucy, like you said. Where do you think they’ll be, the old orchards?”