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The Ice Prince

Chapter Text

“Ed, are you sure you don’t want to come with us?”

Yes, Lu, I’m certain. I’ve said I was certain at least five times at this point, and that’s only this conversation.” Edmund sighed, a small smile on his face as he shook his head. He was trying to sketch the view of the sea as he could see it from his rooms, but the picture lay only partially-completed on his desk, forgotten as his siblings (namely Peter and Lucy) tried to drag him along on their hunting trip. 

Looking at the two of them, he could see how much they wanted him to come. They were both already dressed for the occasion, since they were set to go in less than an hour. They had been begging him to go (especially Lucy) for weeks now, and this was a last-ditch attempt to drag him along. 

But he had responsibilities , he had a kingdom to run, in fact, they all did, and while Edmund understood their reasons for going, he just didn’t see the need in all four of them leaving the castle. What if something happened? What if they don’t even find the stag and it’s all for naught? He had to stay to hold the fort. Narnia needed a king, and he wasn’t about to abandon that position unless something drastic happened. 

Besides, he didn’t have a good feeling about the trip. Something was going to happen, he could tell. And it wasn’t necessarily going to be good. 

Susan poked her head around the doorframe, apparently having just finished getting ready. “Are you two done yet? I can hear you pestering him from the kitchens.”

“You can not!” Peter scoffed, immediately shrinking back at the look Susan gave him.

“Besides,” said Lucy, “We’re not pestering him. We’re politely asking him to come with us. Pestering is for children.”

“And I have been politely declining your offer. For weeks.” Edmund shot one last smile at Lucy before turning back to his desk and pretending to examine the scenery outside. “Besides,” he continued, “I think you’d still count as a ‘child’.”

“I’m nineteen, Edmund!” 

“Oh really? Your height suggests ten.”

In the doorway, Susan snorted in laughter, immediately covering her mouth when Lucy spun around to glare at her. 

Peter, on the other hand, gave Edmund a disapproving look. “C’mon, Ed, that was uncalled for.”

“Anything to get you lot to leave. I’ve got work to do, you know.”

“And what work is that, hmm?” Peter walked over and peered over his brother’s shoulder, catching a glimpse of the paper as Edmund scrambled to cover it up. 

“Edmund.”

The young man in question had finally found a (only somewhat) natural pose that managed to cover up the paper he was drawing on. He looked up at Peter. “Yes?”

“You’re drawing .”

Ed paused, looking aside as if trying to find a good answer. After a few seconds, he smacked his lips and answered, “Maybe so.”

“It’s not even good , Ed, how is this ‘ important work’ ?”

“I think his art is good!” Lucy exclaimed from behind them.

“See, Lucy thinks my art is good, Pete, why can’t you support me as a follow my true passion of… uhh…” Edmund glanced under his arm at the piece he was working on. “Sketching… the sea?” 

Peter rolled his eyes, ignoring everything Edmund had just said. “You know what actually is important? Providing for Narnia. For our kingdom.” He pointed his hand out the window, driving his point home. “And if we catch this stag-”

Edmund cut him off, finishing the speech with as much sarcasm as he could muster. “It’ll give us, no, give Narnia the prosperity it deserves and the economic stability it needs. It’ll provide this palace with a long line of heirs that will continue the golden age for thousands of years, ones who will be just as magnificent as we are today. And You! Ed! You can help us achieve this!” 

“I- uh- Yes! Exactly that.”

“You’ve only said those exact words to me eleven times since Wednesday .”

“That’s not his point, Ed,” Susan sighed, walking further into the room.

Edmund turned to her to respond. “Eleven times seems a bit much for a speech that’s not even your main point, though, I must say. I should know, I’m a diplomat.”

Lucy walked over to the desk and hopped onto it, forcing Edmund to move his arm from over the drawing. “What Pete’s point is, what our point has been, is that we’re going to miss you, Ed. We usually split up into pairs, we’re not used to having you gone from the group again. It’s a month-long trip, of course we want you along.”

Edmund sighed, finally giving a heartfelt smile to his siblings. “I get it, I really do. And trust me, I’ll miss you a lot, too. Don’t think that that’s one-sided, I’m not staying here because I hate you, quite the opposite, really. It’s just…” he paused, thinking about what to say next, then continued, “Hunting isn't really my thing? And, of course, I’d feel better if someone was here, at Cair Paravel, watching over everything.”

“We’ve been away on trips before. All four of us,” said Peter. “Mr. Tumnus and the Beavers have always kept everything running smoothly.”

“Yes, but not for a full month . Besides, the Telmarines have been seeming… restless lately, if nothing else.”

“The Telmarines?” Susan asked. “I visited them recently, nothing seemed amiss to me.”

Edmund’s face scrunched up. “You haven’t noticed? The last few diplomatic meetings I’ve had with them have been incredibly tense. Too tense to just be speaking nerves. They’re up to something, I can tell. I want to keep an eye on them, and I can’t do that if I’m off hunting.” 

Peter opened his mouth to speak, but Susan stepped forward and pulled him back before he could do anything. He jerked out of her grasp as she spoke. “We understand, Ed, we really do. And even if some of us don’t ,” she paused to glare at Peter (who stuck his tongue out at her in response), “we’ve got to get down to the stables now. Everything's ready and packed, and I’m sure the horses have been waiting for us for ages by this point. C’mon, Lu, let’s go.”

Lucy hopped down from the desk, then turned and gave Edmund a hug. “I love you”

“Love you too, Lu. You’ll be great out there, I just know it.”

“So will you, you know.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Being a king tends to be enough, most of the time.” She pulled away with a smile, walking back to the other two, nudging Susan forward with her foot when neither of them moved to say goodbye. 

Susan hugged him, too, short and sweet. “Don’t be stupid here.”

“I’ve been a king for the past eleven years and a major diplomat for the past nine. I have beaten a centaur in chess. I doubt I can be stupid at this point.”

“You never know what might happen! Stupid happens to the best of us, sometimes.”

Edmund chuckled, hugging her her again. “Love you, Su.”

“I love you, too.” She pulled away again, gave him one last smile, ruffled his hair, and walked back to Peter and Lucy. 

As Edmund tried desperately to fix his hair (he learned to not protest at the action at this point, seeing as the last time he tried to do so (“I am twenty-one years old! I’m too old for this kind of treatment!”) she just messed it up even worse (“As long as you’re younger than me, you’re young enough for ‘this kind of treatment’, you ass!” “ You’re the ass- No- stop!”)) Peter awkwardly took a step forward. By the time Ed had finished Peter was right in front of him, making Edmund start back a bit. They both smiled, until Peter rushed forward and pulled Ed into the tightest hug he had ever given. 

“I will miss you, you know.” Peter muttered.

“Even though I’m a, to quote you on a regular basis, ‘pain in the ass’?”

“I’m gonna miss you because of that, to be quite honest.”

They both laughed at that, as Edmund pulled away. Peter, unlike the others after their hug, stayed for a second, looking at something over Ed’s shoulder with a concentrated look on his face. Eventually, he looked back at his brother, whose brow was also furrowed, but with more confusion than anything.

“It’s actually a pretty good sketch, I’ll give you that.”

“Huh?”

“Your sketch? Of the ocean, you silly.”

“Oh. Uhh, thanks?

“The perspetive’s off, though.”

“There’s the Pete I know and love!”

Peter laughed again as Edmund just smiled. After a second, Ed reached behind him and picked up the sketch in question, folding the paper up and wordlessly handing it to Peter. The other almost didn’t take it, trying to push it back down onto the desk, until Edmund forcibly shoved it into his hands. 

“I hate to break up this truly heartwarming sibling bonding moment, but we’ve really got to go Pete, Ed,” Susan called. “This isn’t goodbye forever, you know, you’ll see each other in a month.”

“And I’m sure you’ll be back to hating each other within the week,” added Lucy.

“Exactly! Lu here gets it.”

Peter stayed where he was for a second, before giving a quick one-armed hug to Edmund as he shoved the sketch into the pocket of his own tunic. He walked over to the others, then past them, then out the door. “Well? What are we waiting for? We’ve got a white stag to hunt!”

Susan was the next out, waving quickly as she left. “See you next month, Ed!”

Then, finally, Lucy. She ran forward and gave him one last quick hug, as if he hadn’t gotten enough within the last couple minutes to last throughout the season. As she ran out, she grabbed all the stuff she needed for the trip that she had dropped in the room as she was arguing with him earlier. She also turned back to wave, and Edmund could see the excitement she had for the month to come written all over her face. 

“See you in a month Lu. Have fun out there.”

“Will do!” He saw one last flash of her smile before she disappeared out the door.

And with that, Edmund was left alone.

Chapter Text

Everything would have been fine had they just come back in a month like they said. Like they had planned. Like they were supposed to.

It had all started when, three weeks into the trip, their horses had nearly ran into the castle with how fast they came back. They came back, noticeably, with no riders. A panic was already starting to rise. 

When the news reached him, Edmund was shocked. Then of course, came the disbelief. “Of course they’re not missing,” he said (mostly to himself, Mrs. Beaver, and Philip, his horse), “they’re just not here. But they’re somewhere. We just have to find them.”

And find them he tried. The creatures of Narnia searched everywhere they could, in caves, on mountaintops, in valleys, by rivers, in the treetops. 

Four months had passed since they left. Three since they were supposed to return. Nothing had been found, not across all of Narnia. 

The queens and High King of Narnia wouldn’t leave without a trace, right? (My siblings wouldn’t leave without a trace, without telling me, without trusting me, right?) So, naturally, foul play was assumed. 

Of course, Susan’s horn wasn’t used during the disappearance, but it wasn’t found on her horse, Charlotte, either. Which could mean that they were kidnapped, that someone stole the horn before Susan could use it.

Charlotte (among many others) claimed otherwise; they claimed that she, and the other two horses, would have seen such a thing happening. That a ransom would have been called for at this point. 

But Edmund was desperate. He wanted his family back. He was willing to do anything at that point. 

That point. Five and a half months after they left. Four and a half months past when they were supposed to come back. The day Mr. Tumnus talks Edmund out of doing something drastic, like declaring war on Telmar on uncertain terms. 

He said that he understood what Edmund was going through (Did he though?) but that Edmund was the king (But what did I ever do to deserve that title?) and he needed to step up, understand that they were gone, and bring the country back together again. (But how? I’ve only made it worse. Look at where we are now.)

Now. Six months after they left. Half a year. 

They were supposed to be gone for a month it had been half a year where were they.

Narnia was grieving. After months of searching far and wide, throughout Narnia and every surrounding territory, they had found nothing. Three of their rulers had left, for good, and the fourth wasn’t doing much better. 

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Edmund knew that he should have been able to rule on his own. He knew he had the strength, he had the kindness, he had the courage, and he definitely had the smarts. He knew that he had grown in the years since his coronation, physically and emotionally. 

But he also knew that it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t who his people needed in this time, he wasn’t even who he needed in this time. He wasn’t his siblings, and while he might have been fine alone hypothetically, in practice, he shattered under the weight. 

The longer Edmund waited to face his people, the more he feared that they hated him. And the more he feared, the longer he waited. His friends (Can I even call them that? I haven’t talked to them in… Oh, Aslan how long has it been…) would check on him often (or perhaps it wasn’t often at all, he couldn’t quite tell) and make sure he ate. Tried to get him out of bed. Try and get him to understand that his family was gone, and that it was ok.

But something in the back of Edmund’s mind told him that they weren’t gone. He knew that here was a piece he was missing, if only he could concentrate for long enough to fit all the pieces together. 

He knew that they had disappeared in the lantern wastes.

He knew that they had walked into a thicket and disappeared without a trace. 

This was all he knew for certain.

It was only two tidbits of information, two tidbits that seemed so insignificant at first glance, but there was something about them that seemed so achingly familiar to Edmund. He just couldn’t quite put his finger on it-

England.

The thought hit him like a freight train, breaking down a wall of repressed memories, of a war, of different technology, of a different world, of a professor with a mansion in the countryside, of being a child, of a wardrobe.

How did he not figure it out before? How did he not see? How can he get them back? He hastily put on some clothes and sprinted down to the stables, ignoring everyone as he passed by. He knocked someone over as he ran, but barely noticed as he helped them back up and continued on his way as fast as he could. 

Which brings us to today. Exactly one year since they left. Edmund, however, was unaware of the specific date, and was instead focusing on driving Philip as fast as he could through the current thunderstorm and to the Lantern Wastes. 

Philip, for one, was not having a good time. By the time he finally reached the Lantern, he was out of breath and soaked to the bone. Edmund sliding off his back and promptly ignoring him was no help. 

Philip watched as Edmund looked up at the lantern in awe, watched as he looked at the rain-soaked woods surrounding them and tried to remember everything. After a few too many seconds of this, the horse cleared his throat to try and get the King’s attention. 

“If you don’t mind me asking, sire,” he said when Ed finally looked over at him, “but what are we doing here? You never explained at the stables.”

“Oh! I’m sorry about that, Philip. I’m just… checking something.”

“In the middle of a thunderstorm? I’m older than I look, you know.”

“Yes. And I’m sorry, truly. I know you’re tired, I shouldn’t have dragged you out here.”

Philip raised his eyebrows (the best that a horse could raise his eyebrows), but got no response besides a soft smile and nose rub. And then Edmund turned around and walked through the thicket. 

As he walked, he paid close attention to the trees around him. Eventually, they started to change, and when he reached out and got a handful of fur instead of fir, Edmund started to run.

But he didn’t run far. Because he quickly found himself on the wet ground, staring up at the roof of the wardrobe and his nose feeling broken. Or, at the very least, smashed. He could feel the blood trickling down from it already. 

Edmund sat up and tentatively reached his hand forward until it hit wood. The door of the wardrobe. 

He pushed.

It didn’t move.

He pushed harder. 

It didn’t move. 

He started knocking on the door, crying out. He cried louder and louder until he was practically yelling at the door, punching it as hard as he could.

It didn’t move. 

He was crying now, the tears mixing with the blood from his nose. How could he be so close and still so, so far? How could he fail so miserably? His punches became weaker and weaker until he was just resting his forehead against the door and sobbing.

It didn’t move. 

Edmund felt someone next to him, someone who reached out and nudged his arm reassuringly. It was Philip. 

“What’s this place?”

Edmund sniffled, wiping his face on his sleeve, grateful for the avoidance of the obvious topic at hand. “The wardrobe.”

“Wait, you mean the wardrobe? The one that brought you and the other Pevensies to Narnia?”

“The very same.”

“If, again, you don’t mind me asking, why are we here, sire?”

Ed sighed. So much for the change in topic. “On the other side of the wardrobe is England. Where I’m from -- my siblings, too, of course.” He turned his head to look at Philip, never taking his forehead off of the door. “I think they went back. To England, that is.”

“Oh. Not on purpose, I presume?”

“No, no! Oh, Aslan, I pray not.” Edmund wiped his face on his sleeve again, now taking his forehead off the door and instead leaning his back against it. It still didn’t move. “We… I guess we left the door open a crack when we came here, then forgot about it. And they ended up falling through it, right back to England. To who we were before.” He paused, considering this. “Damn, it must be hell for them, too, being on the other side of this.”

“Must be.” The two of them stood in silence for a minute, before Philip spoke again. “But you never really answered my question, sir. Why are you here?”

“I wanted to find them.”

“But if they’re in England, then h--"

“I was going to go back to England, Philip. If the door was open, I would have gone back and sent you home. And if it wasn’t, I would have sent you home anyways.”

“Sire, I could not leave you here alone.”

“You’ll have to.” Edmund looked over at Philip. “I’m asking you to now.”

“But sir, you’ll die out here if you’re al--"

“Good.”

“Sir. I am not leaving you.” When he got no response, Philip sighed and laid down next to the king. “At least tell me why you won’t come back.”

Edmund looked over at Philip, who looked right back at him, then also sighed and sat next to his horse. “I feel like I’ve betrayed them. Again. By not trying my best to find them as fast as I could, by not going on the fucking hunting trip with them, by -- by -- Aslan’s mane, I’ve even let Narnia down, the whole kingdom, Philip. I was supposed to be a good king! But look at me! I’m… I’m just as bad as a person as I was before I was king, but worse , somehow. Because I’m a different kind of bad, one that lets people down and can’t even make up for it.

“And all of this is bringing back memories of who I was before , and how horrible I was, and I can’t help but compare myself now to who I was then. And it -- it’s all lining up, Philip, I’m just as bad, except now I feel even worse about it. I feel like there’s no choice but to become who I was before, and I know it’s going to happen. Soon. If you’re on the verge of spiraling, well, why not just let it happen, you know?”

“Sir, if I may, I don’t think that’s true at all. And if I may, again, I think we should get out of this wardrobe, the walls here feel like they’re closing in on us.”

“Sure.” Together, they stood up, and Edmund let Philip lead him back to the lantern. The rain had let up, leaving the remaining droplets clinging to the trees, illuminated by the lantern. The rest of the world was dark, isolating the two of them in the sphere of light. 

“Sir, as I was saying, what you said back there is not true. You have not betrayed your family, and you do not have to become the person you used to be. You are not a bad person, and if you think you are, there are ways we can work to fix that.” The horse paused, but Edmund didn’t respond, instead focusing on a leaf from the tree he was next to, so Philip continued on, “I don’t know what you’re planning on doing tonight, Edmund, but I implore you to not do it. Come back to the castle with me, please, you can work everything out there.”

“But I don’t want to go back to the castle.” Edmund was still looking away, and, having taken the leaf into his hands, was now picking at it absentmindedly. “I don’t think I can, to be quite honest.”

“Your Majesty, of course you can come back to the castle, it’s your castle--"

“It’s Pete’s castle, really.”

“The point is, sire, that you can go home. You are far more welcome there than you apparently think.”

“But it’s not home, Philip. Not without them.” Edmund had picked the leaf bare, and threw the remains to the ground, staring at them. “I have an idea.”

“Oh? What kind?”

“Probably not a good one.” Ed looked up. “But it’ll let me see them again.”

“How do you mean?”

“I can see that look on your face. I know you’re worried.”

“Of course I am! I care about you.”

“You shouldn’t,” Edmund muttered.

“What was that?”

“I said go home. I’m not going back to the castle, no matter what you say.” Edmund turned around, walking away, apparently done with the conversation.

“Wait, sir--"

Edmund paused, but didn’t turn. “Don’t follow me, Philip. I know you’re going to, but please , don’t.” Philip was silent. So Ed just sighed and continued, “Tell the People at Cair Paravel what you will, but I’m not going back there.” There was another pause, a heavy one, before Edmund called back one last “Goodbye” and walked forward. Philip didn’t stop him. 

And so Edmund trekked north. He knew how to get to where he was going; it had been years since the directions were given, but it wasn’t exactly something you forgot. When an eerily beautiful, evil witch tells you where she lives, it tends to stick with you.

I took him a full day to get there, with the rain pouring on and off. A full day of wondering if this was the right plan. A full day of wondering whether or not She would do what he wanted. A full day of reassuring himself that this was the only way. It had to be. 

The castle was in ruins, the gate crashed down and the towers crumbled. As Edmund walked forward into what was left of the courtyard, he felt ten years old again. So young, so afraid, starting to think that maybe this wasn’t the best idea. He paused, trying to ground himself.

But now, instead of coming here because he never wanted to see his siblings again, he was here because he needed to see them. And nothing was going to stop him from doing so. He wouldn’t rest until he saw them again. He continued on, stopping only when he reached the throne. Despite everything that had happened there, it was still intact. His hand and breath was shaky as he reached out and touched it. His breath fogged around him, the air suddenly growing cold; as his hand made contact with the chair, his finger burned as if it touched a block of ice. He jumped back. 

“Son of Adam,” came a deep voice from behind him. Edmund spun around quickly, breaths coming out in short bursts. He could still see them lingering in the air, but the area was starting to warm up. When he saw who it was, he glared. 

“What are you doing here?” he hissed.

“I was just about to ask the same of you, Son of Adam,” said Aslan, taking a step forward. 

“Stop calling me that.”

“You never answered my question.”

Ed glanced back at the throne, then stared at the Lion. “What does it look like I’m doing?”

“Making a terrible decision.”

“It’s the only choice I have, Aslan.”

“No, it’s most definitely not. You need to go back to Cair Paravel. Narnia will be lost without you.”

“Yeah, well, they’ve been doing pretty fine without you around for a good while now. I don’t see why they’d need someone like me .”

“Your siblings are gone, Edmund, you are the only one left--"

“Yes! I’m quite aware!” Edmund’s shout echoed throughout the ruins, his face twisting to match his tone. “And you know what I just realized? That it was you, yes, you , the one who’s supposed to be the good one, who took them away . I can’t just forget that. I can’t just go back and pretend that I’m a good person, not after this! Pretend that I’m happy to be alive, pretend that I trust, that I -- I love the creature who saved my life twelve years ago, when just last year he  ripped my life from my fucking hands -- This is the only choice I have. Trust me.”

“Edmund, you do not know what you are getting yourself into--"

“And have you heard nothing of what I just said?” 

“You will see them again. It doesn’t have to be under these circumstances.”

“And it won’t be in this life, either!” Edmund’s voice broke on the last word, tears starting to stream down his face. Aslan, on the other hand, looked frustratingly calm. Frustratingly pitying .

“You were supposed to go with them. It was never meant to be like this .”

Edmund sneered, turning back to the icy throne. “Well, it’s too late now. It is like this, so accept your mistakes like the rest of us. And leave .”

There was no response, and the silence seemed to stretch into eternity. Edmund turned around, only to see that he was alone. Again. He sighed, and after a couple seconds of a final deliberation, sat back onto the throne behind him. 

The cold engulfed him, stealing his breath away in shock. Looking out, Ed watched as shards of ice and stone shot out from the chair and floor, continuing until they hit the crumbled walls of the throne room. Only one path was clear in the whole room, one that went straight out from right in front of Edmund. At the end of the path was Her. 

Jadis. 

The White Witch.

Or, at least, what was left of her. 

“Edmund, dear.” Her voice rang like bells as she floated closer to the throne. “You’ve grown quite a bit since I last saw you. And you’ve taken my throne as well, how… darin.” She was close now, close enough for Edmund to feel her breath across his face as she talked. He gulped. She smirked at his reaction, and continued in barely a whisper, “You must have been quite desperate to call on me for help.”

“Quite.”

She laughed, never stepping back, always staying close. “And what is this thing that you’re so desperate about?”

“My siblings. They went back to England.”

“So I’ve gathered.” Jadis reached her hand up and started softly petting Edmund’s cheek, only following his face as he shied away from the touch. “Ironic, isn’t it, that when you first came to me you wanted nothing to do with them. And how much trouble that caused you. But look at you now! You’ve grown up, little prince.”

“I’m a king now. In case you haven’t heard.”

“Oh, I have heard! But I’ve also heard that you haven’t been a very good one as of late. Amazing, the things you hear when you’re a ghost, aren’t they?”

Edmund could feel her body growing colder, along with the throne. He felt frozen there, in every sense of the word. “I just want to see my family again. My siblings.”

Jadis clicked her tongue, finally drawing her hand back. “Well, there’s a problem with that. I doubt I could get you to England, with the limited powers I have. And any major spell I cast will be my last. No more me. And that would be the greatest tragedy of them all, wouldn’t it?”

“Sure.”

“Oh, drop the tone, Pevensie. I was just about to say I had an idea, one that could help us both .” Her hand was suddenly back, now gripping Edmund’s chin, forcing his head onto the back of the throne and his face up towards towards hers. “Are you in?’

“Will it help me see my siblings?”

“Yes, of course. I’ve heard from somewhere that you wouldn’t rest until you saw your precious siblings again. This can help with that.”

Edmund thought. “And what will you be getting out of this?”

Jadis smiled, and icy smile that was colder than the air around them. “I want you to continue my legacy, that’s all. A simple transfer of power.”

Her face had drawn closer to Edmund’s as she spoke the last few lines; Ed could feel her breath going down his throat, freezing his insides. He was terrified.

But he was also certain. Certain that he needed to see the others again, certain that this would let him do that. 

“I’m in.”

“Good,” she said, then leaned down and kissed him. 

Edmund’s first reaction was shock, the fear he had been feeling suddenly amplified by infinity. He jerked back, trying to get away, but he was boxed in by the throne and his own frozen body’s lethargy. 

And then he felt cold . It started from his mouth, spreading out until it reached his fingertips and toes. It felt like his blood was freezing, turning his entire being into ice, cell by cell, bit by bit. Which was, in fact, exactly what was happening. He wanted to scream, to break free, to do something , but the White Witch was still at his mouth, pinning him down and not letting anything come out. It was worse than anything he had ever felt before. 

And then it was over. 

And Jadis was gone. 

Edmund kept his eyes closed for a second, letting the leftover feelings of the coldness wash over him, waiting for whatever process he had just been through to stop. When he opened them, he suddenly realized that he was still feeling a few things.

The most noticeable was the rage. I filled his whole being, fueling his body with enough warmth to get up and move. It felt stronger than it ever had before, as if it was all he was supposed to feel, a leftover emotion from before the Cold that was amplified to its greatest extent. 

And then there was the longing, hiding beneath the layers and layers of anger and hatred. It gave him purpose, purpose enough to step out of the throne room and into the courtyard. He was looking for people. He was looking for his family. He could never forget that. And as long as he remembered, he knew that he would never rest until he found them, that nothing would stop him from doing so. And now, he had the means to do just that, and to do it for all of eternity.

Chapter Text

Caspian learned a lot of things from living in the palace with his uncle. And not just academic things, either. There were some lessons that tended to focus more on subjects such as:

Don’t go into the kitchens when the cooks are making dinner (because the head chef will smack you with a rolling pin)

Don’t drop your sword during lessons (because the sword master will smack you with the flat of his sword)

Don’t talk to Uncle Miraz when he’s in a meeting   busy in any way   ever , unless addressed first (because he’ll ignore you. Or he’ll smack you, depending on his mood that day)

Don’t talk about anything Professor Cornelius teaches about Old Narnia to anyone besides Cornelius himself (because you’ll get smacked and he’ll get fired, and he’s such a good teacher) 

Don’t go outside during winter, unless it’s an inner courtyard or the only option you have (because…)

Well, to be quite honest, Caspian didn’t know the “because” to the last one. Everyone he asked about it gave him a different answer, ranging from swiftly changing the topic (from his old Nurse, when he was first told that he couldn’t play in the “cold white stuff” that was outside), to a curt answer about frostbite and hypothermia (from one of the guards, who had stopped him from going out at the door just last year). 

And then, of course, there was Professor Cornelius's answer, which was the wildest of all. Whether or not Caspian believed it for the first fifteen years of his life is up to great debate.

“There is a man who controls the winter, who makes it unbearably deadly, unbearably harsh. Much harder than it used to be, in fact. Few have seen him. but all have felt him every year. Most call him ‘The Ice Prince’”.

Caspian shivered, despite the summer heat that night up in their tower. The name held great power, even now. The Professor continued on, telling the boy everything he knew about the Prince. After a while, though, it started to seem to Caspian more like a tall tale mothers would tell their children to keep them inside when it was cold, and he told Cornelius as such. 

The old man just laughed, shaking his head. “Oh, but my boy,” he said, “This is one of the few stories your Uncle actually believes. Though he might not fully admit it to himself, he has seen the Ice Prince with his own two eyes.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No! I’m not. He appears in the bedroom of every freshly crowned or queen. He stands there, still as a statue, staring them down the whole night, radiating cold. He appeared in Miraz’s chambers the night he declared himself king.”

“No, I think you are kidding! You’re making this all up because you know I can’t ask my uncle about it.”

“Suit yourself! Refuse to believe the tales I tell you. I guess this means you don’t believe in Aslan, either, then.”

“What? No , that is an entirely different thing!”

The topic moved on from there, the young prince enjoying his teacher’s stories as they did every few nights. Caspian almost forgot about the Ice Prince, except when the memory of the conversation would arise from the back of his mind whenever winter rolled around. 

But he especially remembered it his fifteenth winter. And especially the night his cousin was born. 

Cornelius had sent him off with a satchel full of supplies, an ancient horn, a hug, and an incredibly worried look in his eyes. And as Caspian rode off into the distance, he started to grow worried, too. The discussion of the Ice Prince from years ago was growing into irrational fears as the snow fell around him and the thunder boomed overhead. 

When Caspian had gotten far enough into the forest that he was sure he had lost whoever could have been following him, he started to slow down. He was pretty sure he was safe for the night; the trees were close enough to provide some protection, he had thick covers to survive the night, and the snow that had gotten through the branches provided a blanket of silence throughout the surrounding woods. He relaxed his shoulders, sliding off Destrider, his horse, and gathering some blankets to make a nest to sleep in. 

But when he looked up, someone was there who certainly wasn’t there two seconds before. It was a man, wrapped in a dark blue cloak with the hood down. He had dark hair, with ice crystals stuck throughout the short curls and in his small beard. His nose was bent at an awkward angle halfway through, and there was a small trail of dried blood beneath it, as if freshly broken. Caspian stealthily took the horn out of the case he had brought it in and put it in the bag on his side as he took a step forward. 

“Hello?” said Caspian. He took another step forward. “Who are you? What are you doing out this time of night?”

“I was about to ask the same of you,” said the stranger. He didn’t move. 

“I’m running away. Long story.” Another step. “But you never answered my question.”

“You asked more than one.” Caspian took one last step, close enough for comfort, as the stranger continued, “But I’ll humor you. To the first question: who’s to say anyone knows who they are? I certainly don’t. Not truly.”

Caspian blinked.

“And to the second: I guess you could also say it’s a long story. But to make it short, I’m looking for my family.”

At the last word, coldness started to come in waves from the stranger. Caspian stepped back in shock, reaching for the horn. This is the Ice Prince , he realized, I’m gonna die .

The Ice Prince did nothing, only looking at where Caspian’s hand had reached. When he saw the horn, his eyes went wide, and Caspian watched as his features suddenly changed. The dark hair started growing lighter, until it was white — no, until it looked almost like clear crystal. Like ice . His face became paler and paler, the ice crystals that were one just stuck to him growing until they were a part of him. His eyes changed, too — what once seemed light brown changed until they were almost as white as the whites of his eyes, with the faintest hint of blue in them. He was now radiating cold and towering over Caspian (who was, quite frankly, on the verge of shitting himself).

Where did you get that horn? ” the Ice Prince hissed. Caspian, for his part, did the bravest thing he thought he had ever done in his life up to that point and raised the horn to his lips and blew as hard as he could. The sound echoed throughout the once silent woods, disturbing snow off the branches of nearby trees. Destrider whinied in the background, bolting off.

No ! ” The Prince’s voice was thundering as he tried to grab the horn from Caspian, covering the other’s hand in the process. Caspian cried out in agony — the Ice Prince’s touch burned him; the pain shot up his arm, coursing through his body, throbbing in his head. He let go of the horn, watching the Ice Prince run off into the night with it before he finally blacked out. 

~*~*~*~

Caspian awoke to voices. They were being spoken outside the room he was in, far enough away that he couldn’t make out the conversation unless he really wanted to. And at that moment, he didn’t really want to listen to that. Instead, he focused on the place around him, which looked almost like an underground tunnel. But a furnished one. 

At least he was warm. 

In fact, as Caspian focused more on how he was feeling, he realized more and more that he didn’t feel much from whatever injuries he must have had after the scuffle the night before. Or, at least, what he assumed was the night before. His right hand, the one the Ice Prince grabbed, did feel strangely numb, though.

He looked down at it, and immediately thought, Oh, well, of course it’s numb! I don’t have a right hand.

Wait I don’t have a right hand what the fu -

Caspian screamed. 

“Guess that means the bastard’s awake,” came one of the voices from outside, a gruff one, now speaking loud enough that Caspian could hear him. 

“Oh don’t call him that,” came a second voice, only a bit higher but infinitely nicer. “Just because he’s human doesn’t mean you have to hate his guts. I’ll go check on him.”

“He’ll just scream again, Trufflehunter, I wouldn’t bother.”

“He is our guest , Nikabrik, and I am tending to his wounds . I am going to go check on him, whether you like it or not.” There was a faint sound of a chair scraping back, and a couple seconds later, the door next to Caspain opened. 

There was a giant badger there.

Caspain did indeed scream again. (Though it was a softer one, he’ll admit.)

The badger, presumably named Trufflehuner, raised his hands in a peaceful motion as he shuffled around the bed to get to the table beside it. “Hey! It’s ok!” he said.  “I totally get it, you’ve never seen a talking creature before, you’ve probably never even heard of them—"

“No, I have. My Professor tells me about old Narnia sometimes. How good it was.”

“Oh! Well, that’s nice. Fills in a lot of blanks that would have been too much trouble for me to explain myself.” Trufflehunter chuckled, pulling out a small vial of what Caspian hoped was medicine as the boy chuckled nervously alongside him.

“Hey, uh, quick question I’ve gotta ask while you’re fixing that medicine.”

“Yes?” The badger looked up with a kind smile, putting the vial down.

“What the fuck happened to my hand?”

“That! Yes, well,” Trufflehunter started back at working on the vial as he spoke, pouring it’s contents into a spoon, “The nerves in your hand were completely destroyed by frostbite. There was nothing we could do about it besides amputate, that makes the whole thing less painful. Open up.”

Caspian opened his mouth as instructed, letting Trufflehunter put a spoonful of medicine into his mouth. It was surprisingly sweet. He looked down at his arm, now taking the time to fully look over what was left of it.  As he looked, he asked, “What am I doing here? Last I remember, I was in the woods. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

“Well, your whole scuffle with the Ice Prince happened right outside our front door. We saw the whole thing from the kitchen, and really had no choice but to help.”

“We…?”

“Nikabrik, Trumpkin, and I. Trumpkin went off after the Prince, he’s trying to get the horn back. Or, at least, whoever it had called upon.”

“And who are they? Nikabrik and Trumpkin, that is. Are they other badgers?”

“Other badgers?!” came the voice from the other room, presumably Nikabrik. “Pah! Blasphemy!” 

Trufflehunter sighed, shaking his head. “Oh, calm down, you old fart!” He called out. “The boy was just wondering!” There was silence from the other room except for the shuffling of feet, so Trufflehunter continued, “No, they’re both dwarves. Although, Trumpkin is much more agreeable than Nikabrik, even on the best of days.”

The conversation continued on like that, with each filling one another in on their stories and Nikabrik occasionally yelling his input from the other room, never entering. Caspian eventually learned that he was going to stay for the rest of winter (which, thankfully, was only a couple more weeks), until Trufflehunter and Nikabrik could call a council of all the hidden creatures of Narnia. Also that Trufflehunter had convinced Nikabrik to make Caspian a new hand (but that Caspian wasn’t to utter a word about it to the dwarf, for he’ll surely stop making it if he thought Caspian knew about it). 

The next couple weeks were… interesting. It was nice, a homey, soothing sort of nice, at the best of times. Trufflehunter would make a stew and Nikabrik would forget to be moody and they would share stories back and forth as Caspian watched them from the corner, hugging his bowl close with his hand and a soft smile on his face. Other times, however, Nikabrik would shout something nasty or try to attack Caspain for the umpteenth time (or both, as it may be) and Trufflehunter would sternly tell him off and then they wouldn’t talk to each other for days. That didn’t happen too often, thankfully. 

On the last day he was supposed to stay there, which was the day before the council was set to meet, which was also a week after winter had ended, Caspian woke up with a parcel on his chest. Puzzled, he opened it carefully (as carefully as one can when only using your non-dominant hand and a couple weeks of practice), until sitting there in front of him was a mechanical hand. It was covered in a coppery-gold plating, but when Caspian picked it up and looked through the wrist, he could see the clockwork running through it. It was beautiful. 

He placed it on his right arm, where his hand used to be, and quickly found that it worked just like a normal hand would — there were no buttons he had to push, no wires he had to pull, nothing incredibly fancy or difficult. He simply had to think about moving it and it would move exactly like his old hand did. 

Caspian was beaming as he sat down for breakfast that morning. “I can’t believe someone would give me a gift as great as this one. I mean, a fully functioning magic mechanical hand. That’s quite the feat.” He made direct eye contact with a glaring Nikabrik. “If only I could find whoever made this, maybe then I could get the chance to thank them properly.”

Nikabrik grunted, still glaring, then stiffly got up and put his bowl in a bin to be washed. “Don’t forget to oil it, you little shit,” he whispered as he passed by Caspian. The boy could almost swear he saw a glint of pride in his eyes. 

“Will do!” Caspian called back, still smiling. Nikabrik slammed his door behind him.

Chapter Text

“Do you think Edmund was happy?” Lucy asked. 

The group was sitting in Aslan’s How; this was the first night they were all together (“The group” being Peter, Susan, Lucy, Caspian,Trufflehunter, and the Dwarves). People all over the How were starting to settle down for the night, and in the room they were all in, the Pevinsies took one side while Caspian’s group took the other. It wasn’t necessarily on purpose, it was simply a need for something familiar after how wild their past few days had been. There was a short pillar with a fire on top, providing warmth and separating the two groups. That fire, combined with a hot meal and friendly faces, made everyone feel at peace for the first time in a while. 

Peter looked up from his bowl, food barely touched. “Hmm?”

“I said , do you think Edmund was happy? Without us?” Lucy was standing, having already eaten her fill, and was walking around looking through the murals painted along the walls. “I couldn’t imagine what our disappearance must have been like for everyone in Narnia, but it must have been so much worse for Ed. I mean, just think about—"

“I’d really rather not think about it, thank you very much,” said Susan, then pulled Lucy down to sit between her and Peter. “We’ve thought about it more than enough in the past year, and now that we know what’s happened, I think we need to stop. Thinking, that is. It’s in the past now, there’s no need to worry about it.”

“But there is a need to worry about it, Su.” Peter finally stopped picking at his food, pushing the bowl away, apparently giving up on trying to convince himself to eat. “We did, in fact, abandon Narnia, and we did, in fact, abandon our brother. And the consequences of those actions are affecting us, they’re affecting all of fucking Narnia, today. Right now. Whether it be politically or emotionally, it’s affecting us.”

“No need to go on one of your grand speeches or anything, Pete. It’s not like that was what I was trying to avoid or anything.”

“And why are you avoiding it? Do you not care about Ed, Susan? Do you not care about our brother , who died , all because we left him?”

“Of course I care about Ed! How can you even suggest that? You’re the one who—"

“Will both of you stop ?” Lucy interjected, glaring at the two of them. From the other side of the room, Caspian, Trufflehunter, and Trumpkin had stopped eating and were watching the argument go on. (Nikabrik apparently didn’t care, and was stealing what was left in Caspian’s bowl.) Ignoring them, Lucy went on. “I know you both blame yourselves for what happened last year. And so do I! But Pete, Su is right, this isn’t the thing we need to be worrying about right now. And Su, wipe that smirk off your face this instant because Pete’s right, too. We do need to talk about it. We need to get through it. Together. But right here, right now, isn’t the time or place for that. Ok?”

They both nodded (at varying levels of agreeability) and Lucy nodded back, satisfied. In the silence that followed, Lucy hugged both of her older siblings closer to her, resting her head on Susan’s shoulder. 

After a couple more minutes like that, Caspian made his way over to their side of the room and sat in front of the siblings. 

“Hey, uhh…” he started, then cleared his throat and started again, “I heard your argument earlier, and I… this is probably a bad time but… I was just wondering—"

Oh, just spit it out, bloke,” said Peter, pulling away from Lucy’s hug in the face of other people. Lucy pouted, but didn’t try to bring him back. 

“What was your brother like? Since I won’t get to meet him and all that. Again, I’m sorry if this is a bad time—"

“No, of course not!” said Lucy, sitting up with a smile. “We can tell you all about him, can’t we?” She turned to her siblings, who shrugged (Susan) and didn’t respond, instead pointedly looking away (Peter). “I’m taking that as a yes,” Lucy said, mostly to Peter, then turned back to Caspian. 

“He was sweet, most of the time,” she started. “He tended not to show it if could be helped, though. If he gave you a gift he was either going to make it not look like a gift or give it to you in secret. He didn’t like to be credited for the things he did for people. I think he said—"

“He said he ‘didn’t deserve their praise’ or some bullshit like that,” Susan said, scooting closer to be a part of the conversation. “Every. Single. Time. And always to me, too, as if I was the one who was getting those people to thank him for things.”

“Oh don’t deny that! You totally were.”

“Only because he didn’t want me to!”

Both girls laughed at that, and Caspian found himself smiling, too. Then Peter also moved forward a bit, completing the circle that they were starting to form. He had something in his hands, a folded piece of paper, and he was fiddling with it. But he was smiling along with the rest of them. 

When the laughter died down, Peter soke up. “He was a sarcastic little shit, too.”

“Oh, Aslan, don’t remind me.” Susan was still smiling, despite her tone.

“Yes, exactly!” Peter nodded with a grin. “You wouldn’t think that someone so just or diplomatic or whatever would have a snarky comeback for literally everything , but he did! Every time! I remember there were some times when meeting other rulers and whatnot that I could see him physically restraining himself from saying something that would get him kicked out for treason. Or from fighting them, he was good at that, too. He had this weird fighting style where he was better with two swords than with one, which I always said was too expensive, but he was like ‘oh we’re the kings, we can have two swords if we want to’ and I was like ‘ sure but that doesn’t make that a good fighting style-’”

Wait, wait, wait, back up a bit. Treason?” said Caspian with a gasp. “Surely not.”

“Oh, there was this one time where he actually almost did that,” said Lucy. “Get kicked out for treason, that is.”

“I remember that,” Susan said, snapping her fingers when she got the full memory. “That trip to Terebinthia? With that asshat of a governor there?”

“Yes, exactly!” said Lucy, then she turned back to Caspian to explain. “So, to make an extremely long story short, the governor of Terabenthia at the time was absolutely horrid . We went over there to see what was going on, because we had gotten messages from citizens there complaining about him, and we all had to sit through this meeting where he tried to convince us that he was actually good somehow?”

“He said he was, and I quote, ‘manipulating the population to generate greater income for the state.’” Peter pursed his lips, scowling at the memory. “Can you believe that? He admitted that he was manipulating his people into giving him more money. And he expected us to sympathise with them! Wha—" He cut himself off, shaking his head with an exasperated sigh. 

“You looked like you were on the verge of declaring war on him the entire meeting,” said Susan.

“I was! Quite honestly, I was. He was such a bad person I was ready to kill him myself.”

“Yeah, and Edmund didn’t look much better,” said Lucy. “He was fuming the whole time. From the moment that governor opened his mouth, Edmund decided he hated him. With a burning passion.”

“And there’s not much you can do when Ed hates you that much.”

“Unless he can make a deal with you,” said Peter.

“Unless he can make a deal with you.” Susan nodded. “And he’ll be smug as shit during the deal, because he knows he’s the better person. Unless he’s scared of you, but Ed’s not scared of that many people. Especially that governor. But a deal’s pretty much it. If you get to that point, you’re irredeemable in every other way.”

“Yeah,” Lucy said, “And if he can’t make a deal with you, well… How do I put this…”

“He’ll argue his mouth off?” Pete suggested.

“Yes! Exactly that. And that’s exactly what he did with the governor. He argued every point that guy made, cornered him in his own argument at every turn, forced him to use contradicting logic the whole time. It was beautiful to watch.”

“Watching Ed argue with anyone is beautiful to watch,” Susan said, sighing as she thought back on memorable examples of just that. “He’s always saying he’s a diplomat, but he says it so often that you forget how good he is until he’s actually doing it.”

The other two siblings nodded, also reminiscing. Lucy was the first to remember that they were still in an actual conversation with another person, and continued the story. “Anyways, the argument with the governor escalated until Ed outright insulted him (in an intelligent way, of course), so the governor kicked him out.”

“But we had enough evidence against the governor at that point to kick him out of office,” Peter said. “I almost threw him in a dungeon to boot, but Susan said that that wasn’t a good decision.”

“Because it wasn’t , Pete. I let you make enough bad decisions as it is.”

“Not enough, I think.”

“At this point, I’m not sure if you think anything .”

Peter stuck his tongue out in response, which made Susan roll her eyes and Lucy and Caspian laugh. 

Suddenly, a burst of cold air rushed through the room. The fire went sideways for a second, and the piece of paper was knocked out of Peter’s hands. He scrambled after it as the other three’s brows furrowed.

“We’re pretty far indoors, right?” asked Lucy. “Where did that come from?”

Caspian clenched his right hand, the metal one, looking down at it. After a second, he shook his head and blinked his eyes. “It was probably nothing. Best not to worry about it. Hey, Peter—" Peter, who had just sat down after fetching his piece of paper, looked at him. “—What’s that paper you’ve got? I saw it earlier, when you were talking to Glenstorm and the others.”

“Oh, this?” Peter looked down at the paper in question, turning it around in his hand. The edges were worn after over a year of the same action. “It’s just a nervous habit, really. I think I’m hoping it’ll make me a bit smarter. I haven’t actually opened it in months.”

“The same paper over the course of months?”

“Yeah, it… It’s what’s on the paper that counts, I guess. I don’t know how it’s even stayed around for this long, really, he might have gotten a spell placed on it or something. That seems like an Ed thing to do, actually. Magically preserve a sketch you’re making.”

“Wait, is that…?” Lucy asked.

“Yeah.” Peter nodded, and started to pry at the edges. “Here, I’ll open it.” 

After a couple seconds of struggling with the worn paper, he finally got it open. He flattened it out on the ground, letting Caspian finally see what was on it.

“A sketch of the sea?”

“And not even a good one, I know!” Pete picked the paper up again, looking at it with a sparkle in his eyes. “Ed gave it to me, before we… left. We were trying to get him to go on the hunting trip with us, and he was making this as we argued. I told him it was bad, so he shoved it into my hands and forced me to take it.”

“If I remember correctly, you said it was good at least once,” said Susan.

“No,” Peter corrected, “ Lucy said it was good, I said the perspective was off.”

“No, you definitely said it was good,” Lucy said. “You immediately said the perspective was off after that, but you said it was ‘actually a pretty good sketch’ at some point.”

Peter rolled his eyes and folded the paper up again, sticking it in his pocket. “Nonetheless, it reminds me of Ed. Which… I appreciate. Especially now.”

“Now?” asked Caspian.

“Now that we know he’s dead. That we came back too late.”

“Oh.” Caspian looked down, not meaning to have intruded. He had been telling the truth earlier, when he said he had heard the argument, and he never meant to bring the topic up again. 

However, Lucy was swift to turn the conversation, also anxious to not start another fight. “Caspian, I’ve actually got a question for you.”

“Yes?” His head snapped up.

“I’ve been hearing a lot about this ‘Ice Prince’ guy lately. Do you know anything about that?”

“Do I—" Caspian blew out an exaggerated breath, raising his eyebrows at Lucy. “You could say that, I guess. He only took off my hand last month.”

“He what—"

Caspian continued, ignoring Peter’s interruption. “I’m surprised you three haven’t heard of him, actually. Based on what I know, his story’s been around just about as long as yours has. Was he really not around when you three were queens and king?”

The three siblings looked at each other, then back at Caspian as they shook their heads no. 

“Well,” Caspian said, “It’s a bit of a wild story. I didn’t believe it myself until I met the creature. And most of what I’ve learned about him has been from Nikabrik and Trufflehunter, so some of it might not be true.”

“I take offence to that!” Nikabrik shouted from the other side of the room. The four on the Pevensie side of the room started, having forgotten the others were there.

“This isn’t your conversation, Nikabrik,” Caspian shouted back. “Shut up and let me continue!” He sighed and rolled his eyes, shaking his head as he turned back to the siblings. “As I was saying, it’s wild . And there’s a lot of parts, so I might not even get to it all because I’ll forget something or another.

“So, long ago, what was presumably around the time you three were crowned, but now I guess it was some time after, there was a man. A simple man. And one day, his family died, and in a single day, with a single accident, he was left alone.

“Now, here’s where the story branches off a bit. Some people say that he immediately went insane, some say he was in a deep depression for ages, and others still say that it was simply desperation. Regardless of what happened, he did something drastic — he summoned the ghost of the White Witch of Old. Whom I suppose isn’t too old for you three, but ah well. This is how I was told it.

“She gave him her powers to aid him in his search, in exchange for him continuing her legacy. However, she cursed him as well, turning his skin into ice and his heart into a ball of rage. Some say that he forgot about his family at this point, consumed by her power. One thing’s for sure, though — he’s definitely not as horrible as she was. He tends to stay within his own season, only terrorizing people a quarter of the year. Much better than year-round. 

“That isn’t to say he doesn’t terrorize people, though. His heart is still filled with rage and unimaginable power.”

“I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for him,” Lucy said. When everyone else looked at her, she bowed her head, sorry for interrupting the story. “Go on, go on,” she said. “I was just thinking out loud, sorry.”

“As I was saying,” Caspian continued, “he’s still harmful. It’s dangerous to go out during winter, unless absolutely necessary. He’ll come to you when you’re at your weakest, disguised as a traveller. He’ll get close enough to touch you, and that’s where he’ll get dangerous. Wherever he touches gives the most extreme frostbite, which is what happened with my hand —" he held up his metal hand, showing them, “— but more importantly, he’ll read your mind.”

“He’ll what ,” said Peter, who was just barely starting to disbelieve him.

“Well, it makes sense,” Susan said. “Remember what Professor Kirke told us about his trip to Narnia when it first formed? If his Jadis and our White Witch are the same person, and Jadis could read minds, and the White Witch transferred her powers over to the Ice Prince, of course he can also read minds.”

“I—" Peter thought on that for a second, then bit back, “Are you going to let Caspian finish or not?”

“Of course I am!” she said. “Go on, I’m sorry about that.”

Caspian just smiled before continuing, “Once he reads the mind, he’ll usually go. In my case, he took your horn with him, Susan, I’m sorry about that.” She just shrugged, allowing Caspian to keep talking. “And then, if you’re still outside, or of you go back out, he’ll eventually come back to you again. Except this time he’s disguised as someone you love, like a family member. At that point there are two chioces you have.

“The first is, of course, run. That’s self-explanatory and also has the highest survival rate. Always go with run if he comes to you like that.

“And then there’s the option where he kills you. Which is never fun. I’ve never experienced death, myself, but I must assume that it can’t be the most pleasurable thing in the world. And when you’re almost dead, frozen from the inside out, he’ll loom over you and his form will change back into his true one. So you know that you left the real version of that someone you love, just like his family left him.”

Peter whistled. “That — wow , I think that’s a bit much.”

“He’s been mourning the loss of his family for what? Two tousand years?” Susan said. “I get it, to be honest. He needs to get over it, but I get it.”

Murdering innocent people isn’t something you just ‘get’, Su.”

“He wanted to see his family again, and he was desperate. While it is his fault he made a bad deal with literally the worst person in the history of Narnia, I really think he’s doing his best given the situation. The situation being, of course, the fact that he’s possessed by, as I said, literally the worst person in the history of Narnia.”

“What are you even talking about —"

“Ok, you two,” Lucy said, pushing her two older siblings apart from where they were starting to grow closer. “Break it up, I don’t want another fight right now. Actually, I think it’s a good time to go to sleep. We’re going to need it.”

“Oh! Yes, I should probably go over to where I put my blankets, it’s getting late,” Caspian said, getting up and walking back to his side of the room. “Goodnight, Lucy, Susan. Peter.”

Peter nodded, while Susan and Lucy called out a final “Goodnight!” before they, also, went back to their blankets and into sleep. 

~*~*~*~

A few days had passed, and the group had planned (and then failed to execute) a raid of Miraz’s castle. Everyone was healing from their wounds, both physically and emotionally, mourning fallen teammates.

Peter had apparently decided he hated Caspian now, as far as the younger teen could tell. Which is how Caspian found himself sulking in one of the main hallways in the caverns of the How: he was avoiding Peter. (And, in part, his people, but Caspian told himself that it was just Peter he was avoiding, for the sake of his peace of mind.)

Nikabrik found him, then pulled him away to the main room of the How. “We can help you,” he promised. “You need power now, we’ve got it.”

“Who’s we?

Nikabrik just chuckled, bringing Caspian ever closer to the main room. “You’ll see.”

The dwarf opened the door, revealing two creatures the boy had never seen before, but had heard a great deal of (not very good) things about: a werewolf and a hag. He walked into the room nonetheless; he needed all the help he could get.

The promises they made were like silk over Caspian’s mind; they smoothed over his worries, circling him as their words spun a web of lies around him. As they circled, they chanted, summoning something (but what, Caspian wasn’t sure). He didn’t realize that he was trapped until it was far too late. 

Suddenly, a freezing gust of air coursed through the room. The fires along the walls blew out, plunging the room in total darkness until there was a light that seemed to come from the air itself. Caspian shivered; the others in the room were still. Icicles started to form along the floors and walls, but when they got about as big as a finger, they flew towards the center of the room, under the arch in front of Caspian. Slowly but surely, a figure started to arise. The light that had been coming from the air was now coming from the figure; a cold blue light that welcomed none. 

“The Ice Prince,” Caspian whispered. The creature in question looked up at Caspian, his mouth twisting into a grin. Caspian started to back away, looking back at Nikabrik for help, but the hag grabbed onto his arm like a vice, holding him in place. “This isn’t what I wanted,” he said, but the hag just pushed him further forwards. 

“And why? Why don’t you want me?” The Ice Prince stepped forward, starting to pace circles around Caspian. “I’m plenty powerful enough, you know. I’ve been waiting in the wings for an opportunity like this.” He stopped in front of Caspian, staring him down. With one hand, he reached out and took the werewolf by the paw, who whimpered. Continuing to stare at Caspian, the Ice Prince squeezed the hand that was holding the werewolf, who howled, then dropped to the floor. He was frozen. He was dead. “All you have to do is say the word.” 

“You took my hand.”

“And I could have taken your life.” He nodded down at the body of the werewolf, then started circling again. “Be grateful.”

Caspian gulped, watching as the Prince repeatedly walked past him in his circle. “I can’t give you what you want, you know.”

“And what is it that you think I want?”

“Your family.”

The Ice Prince stopped, just to the left of Caspian. Caspian would have turned to face him, but the hag continued forcing him forward. After a few seconds, the Prince continued pacing, only now with a darker tone in his voice. “ True . You cannot. However, I want your Uncle dead just as much as you do. He has no right to the throne, and, contrary to popular belief, I do still care about Narnia. Just a bit. Somewhere in here, deep in my heart of hearts, there’s still some patriotism.”

“And why should I trust you?”

“Why should you trust me?” The Ice Prince stopped again, once more directly in front of Caspian, and laughed. His form started to change; he grew shorter, and plumper. The icicles on his body retracted, replaced by a long, white beard. Cornelius, for that is who the Ice Prince took the form of, turned to Caspian. The wicked grin on his face was the only thing out of place. “Have you not trusted me all your life?” The voice that came out of the mouth was that of the old dwarf, which was the most terrifying part of all.

“You are not my professor,” Caspain spat.

“And how can you be so sure?”

“Because we rescued him just last night. Our mission failed because I took the time to rescue him. He is sitting in another room, in this very same tunnel system. You cannot fool me.”

“Hmm.” The Prince’s form started to change again, back to the frozen monstrocity he had been seconds before. Suddenly there was a clash from behind Caspian, forcing the Prince to look up and back away. 

Caspian finally managed to break free from the hag’s grip, drawing his sword to face her, but found that she had already gotten away. Looking around, he realized that Peter, Lucy, Susan, and Trumpkin had heard the commotion from earlier and stormed the room. A fight was raging all around him, Nikabrik and and the hag against the Pevensies and Trumpkin. 

He moved forward to join the fight, but he found he couldn’t move. He turned, only to find that the Ice Prince had taken hold of his metal hand, forcing him to stay. 

Just say the word .”

Caspian’s eyes were wide as the Ice Prince drew him closer. He didn’t know what to do; he wasn't sure what would happen if he said no. He let himself be drawn in wordlessly.

“Get away from him!” Caspian was suddenly pushed back, falling on his butt. In front of him, standing where he had just been, was Peter. Peter, whose wrist was grabbed by the Ice Prince, who hissed when the contact was made, who made the Ice Prince step back immediately, letting go of his wrist.

“Peter?” The Prince sounded weak, weaker than he had ever sounded up to that point. His form started to change, with the icicles again retracting. After only a couple of seconds, he looked a lot like the stranger Caspian had meet in the woods, only a bit younger and far healthier. His nose wasn’t broken, his was face clean, and he wore very old fashioned, yet incredibly fancy Narnian clothes. There was a thin braided ring of silver upon his head that shone against his dark hair, marking him as some sort of royalty. He looked… scared, almost, with wide eyes and a gaping mouth. 

“What…?” Peter whispered. His sword, which was drawn, started to relax.

“Pete? Please… I—"

Peter’s grip on his sword tightened, nostrils flaring and eyes wide. “You are not him.” His voice and hands were shaking as he raised his sword, bringing it up and slashing forward, making a gash along the other man’s cheek.

The Ice Prince reached up and touched it, bringing his hand away to look at the blood on his fingers. He swallowed dryly as his form changed again, this time growing younger. It seemed to be the same man, only now he was prepubescent, maybe a year or so older than Lucy. The clothes changed as well, to a thick fur coat too large for the child’s body, with clothes unlike any Caspian had ever seen before peeking out from underneath. 

He looked up at Peter, who was shaking even more now. His sword was still high, but now it reached the kid’s forehead instead of his neck like it did when he was an adult. 

The Ice Prince, whose eyes had started to fill with tears, looked up at Peter, who refused to make eye contact. “Peter, I’m sorry—" 

“You are not him!” He didn’t move his sword at all, but the Ice Prince flinched at the tone, nonetheless. “You are not him, so how dare you take his form and say that. He has nothing to be sorry for, he is dead .”

“I have everything to be sorry for—"

You are not him! ” The Ice Prince shrunk back, blinking the tears from his eyes before they fell, but his form never changed. “So please —" Peter’s voice broke, “— please leave this place or Aslan help me I will melt you.”

The Prince looked down, back at his hand that was still covered in blood. “I’m sorry,” he said, one last time, before his form disintegrated into thousands of shards of ice and he flew out the room. 

The second he left, the fires turned back on all at once, Peter’s sword clattered to the ground, and a sob broke out from behind Caspian. Peter, who had fallen on his knees alongside his sword, looked back at his two sisters. Lucy was the one who had cried, and now tears were running down her face as she was held by Susan (who looked to be on the verge of tears herself). 

Caspian finally picked himself off the floor, looking around at the wreckage. The werewolf was still frozen on the ground, and the hag’s body lay beside it. And by looking on the other side of the room, it was apparent someone had killed Nikabrik, too. Caspian wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but he definitely wasn’t mourning. 

Peter walked back to his sisters, then softly joined the hug. Caspian and Trumpkin stood awkwardly to the side, unsure of what to do. 

After several tense seconds, Caspian cleared his throat, making the Pevensies look up at him. “Who was that?” he asked. “The form he took — you seem shaken by it.”

“It was Ed,” Susan said simply. “It was our brother.”

Chapter Text

It had been a week since they won the war, a few days since Caspian had been coronated, and the whole time had been filled with celebrations all around. Since the How had gotten destroyed in the battle, people had set up camps throughout the Plain of Beruna, which allowed them to finally enjoy the fresh spring air. Aslan was still among the troops, talking to people at times, but most often just sitting in the middle of the camp, letting small children climb over his mane with a laugh. 

The Pevensies were walking back to their tent after yet another feast, the lights around the camp starting to die down, when they saw him. 

The Ice Prince.

He was standing right outside their tent, completely still. He was in his icy form, with a cloak that hid his face in shadow. Though they couldn’t identify his features, the cold that radiated off him and the frozen hands that were showing gave him away.

“What do you want?” Peter asked, moving his hand to his sword.

The Prince looked up, his hood falling back, staring directly into Peter’s eyes. As he did so, the cold in the air grew tenfold, and Peter softly cried out and dropped his sword back into its scabbard, the hilt becoming too freezing to handle. “I’m here to issue a challenge. To the king of Narnia.”

“Caspian?” Susan’s hand was on her bow, the wood undisturbed by the cold. “But why would you go through us—"

“No, no, no. The High King.” He nodded at Peter, and another wave of cold rushed from his body. “The magnificent one.”

“Why?” Peter asked. His hand didn’t go to his sword again, but it was twitching as if it wanted to. 

“You said yourself you wanted to melt me. Here’s your chance.” A faint smirk painted his face for the briefest of seconds, then the Prince started to walk forward, past the siblings. He stopped beside Peter, not facing him. “High noon tomorrow. Where you faced Miraz.” He leaned in and whispered his next words, breathing cold air down Peter’s neck. “ Don’t be late .”

Peter shivered, but quickly recovered and pushed forward, walking into his tent with a huff. His sisters quickly followed. 

Word of the fight quickly spread throughout camp, despite the fact that the challenge was issued in the middle of the night. The people and animals were excited; the peace and quiet (the latter part of the saying becoming increasingly boring) of the past week had started to get to them. 

When the time finally came for the fight, Caspian helped Peter put his armor on, just as he did when Peter faced Miraz. Right when Caspian finished up, he spoke for the first time since they started. “I saw him, you know.”

“Who?”

“The Ice Prince. You now, it’s funny, the part of the tale my professor told me that I believed the least was that he showed up in the chambers of the freshly crowned king. But I guess he was right.”

What?! Are you ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” Caspian smiled, the confused smile that shows when someone else doesn’t get the point. “He just stood there all night, watching.”

“Sounds creepy.”

He laughed. “It was, yeah. I saw him look through my books at some point, mostly the ones about Old Narnia. About you guys.”

“Maybe he was studying up,” Peter said with a chuckle.

“Maybe so.” Caspian looked thoughtful for a second, then apparently decided against what he was going to say and patted Peter on the shoulder. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.” Peter smiled one last time before continuing, “I’ll need it.”

They nodded at each other, then Peter walked out onto the field, where the rest of Narnia awaited.

Before he made it to the ring, however, Aslan stopped him. “There is more than one way to win a fight, Peter.”

“How do you mean?”

“Your—" Aslan sighed. “The Ice Prince , as you call him, does not wish to kill you. The human part doesn’t, at least. He is torn, King Peter. The part that I just spoke of, the part of him that was once human, is coming to the surface and taking the lead for the first time in over a thousand years. Taking the lead and realizing the consequences of his actions, which he hasn’t exactly been in control of, for the first time in over a thousand years. The part of him that is Jadis wants that dead, and the human part agrees . He thinks he will be forgiven if he is killed. He will not, and you will find that you’ve regretted what you’ve done.”

Regret killing him? Aslan, this creature has been terrorizing Narnia for years. This needs to be done.”

“It does, but not with the ending you’re intending. If you win, give him the chance to apologize. Give him the chance to be human . Fully human. He needs it, and he does mean it when he apologizes.”

“What do you know about how he feels about this?”

“Far more than you think. And so do you. But promise me you will not kill that man.”

“He’s not a man, not anymore.”

Peter .” Aslan glared. The boy shrunk back.

“I promise.”

“Good. Now go. You’ve got a fight to win.”

Peter nodded, then finally stepped into the ring. Nobody was there against him, not yet, and silence fell across the plain. 

Then, suddenly, a long gust of wind blew, and icicles started forming in the space across from Peter. Similarly to what happened in the How, they eventually started forming the shape of a man. But not a fully grown man, like he was before. He was younger, younger than Peter, but still completely ice. The gash from where Peter had struck him with his sword was still there, the white from the scar almost indistinguishable from the paleness of the rest of his… everything. The High King blanched, recognizing the face, but steeled himself and drew his sword. 

The Ice Prince put his hands down by his sides, then lifted them up slowly. Twin blades started to grow between his hands and his body, until they were long enough to be usable, then he flicked his wrists and they fell into his hands with ease. 

“Ready?” The Prince cocked his head, crouching down into a fighting stance with both swords firmly in his grasp.

“How dare you show up like this.”

“I said , are you ready ?”

Peter took up a stance, too, then slammed the visor of his helmet down. “Yes.”

“Then let’s begin.” And with that, The Ice Prince lunged forward, thrusting his right-hand sword towards Peter, who blocked the blow. The crowd around them cheered. 

As the fight progressed, Peter started growing into the rhythm of it, finding that he was almost able to predict the Ice Prince’s moves. Almost like they had already been sparring for years. Neither was able to touch the other, instead blocking every blow, dancing around each other. 

A break was called fifteen minutes into the match, allowing Peter to go over to Caspian, Lucy, and Susan.

“What’s wrong?” Susan asked. “I can see on your face that something’s wrong, tell us.”

“It’s just—” Peter paused to catch his breath, sitting down on an old pillar. “He’s not going easy on me, I know that much. And I’m not going easy on him, either. We… This is weird to say, but I know his moves. I know his strategy. I’ve seen it somewhere, I’ve fought it somewhere, I just can’t exactly place it.” His rubbed his forehead, concentrating. “It can’t be Ed’s, because that’s preposterous. How could he have adapted an entire way of fighting from reading my mind for one, maybe two seconds? But I’ve never fought anyone else who fought with two swords before.” He muttered the last sentence as he took off his helmet, wiping sweat from his forehead. “None of this makes sense, and I hate it. I hate him .”

Lucy hummed, looking over at the other corner of the arena. The Ice Prince stood alone; he seemed to be arguing with himself. She looked back down at Peter, then furrowed her brow and shook her head.

“What is it, Lu?”

“Nothing, Pete, I was just… thinking about what you said. I think the break’s over now, though.” She smiled, her previous worry gone from her face. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Peter placed his helmet back on, stepping into the ring once more as the people cheered. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Lucy talking to Caspian about something, but decided to not worry about it. He took up his stance again, beckoning the Ice Prince towards the arena. “Are you ready? ” There was more than a hint of malice in his voice.

As the Prince turned around, his form changed again. He grew older now, looking much more like the stranger Caspian had seen in the woods all that time ago. He was still crystalline, but seemingly… less so, like some of the ice had melted. He stood there for a beat, staring at Peter with a blank face before finally forming his swords again and stepping into the arena as well. Some jeers came from the crowd. “Ready as I’ll ever be, my king .” He mock-bowed, sneering when his head reached low enough to be eye-level with Peter. A rush of freezing wind pulsed from his body. 

Peter took the first step this time, pushing forward to slam into the other’s icy body with his shield. There was a clang as the Prince crossed his swords and held Peter back, however, and the fight was on again. 

A few minutes into the round, Peter watched as Lucy went from talking to Caspian to talking to Aslan. He couldn’t tell what the topic of conversation was, but it had to have something to do with the fight given how many times Aslan had nodded in the two men’s direction. Through the flashing of swords and the heat of the moment, Peter could tell Lucy looked… pensive. Or worried. Maybe both. To be quite honest, he shouldn’t have been paying this much attention to what was going on on the sidelines, but the fight had almost become monotonous enough that Peter felt that he could spare some thought. 

And then, against what seemed like all odds, the Ice Prince stumbled. He had jumped over a fallen pillar to attack Peter from above, but his foot caught and he fell on his knees, swords clattering away. They were only a few inches from his hands, but still, in these few moments, Peter had a chance. 

A chance to kill him.

Peter raised his sword to do just that, seconds away from completing the action, when he looked up and saw Aslan. Lucy wasn’t beside him, apparently having moved somewhere else among the crowd, allowing the lion’s face to fill his whole vision. The stern look his eyes flooded Pete’s thoughts and froze him in place. Peter quickly looked down to avoid the gaze, which he quickly considered to be his next mistake.

The Ice Prince was looking right back up at him, forcing the few seconds they sat there, unmoving, stretch into eternity. His face was flushed, filled with more color than it had truly held in, well, a thousand years. It was wet, as well, along with his hair and beard (which were both a bit darker) as if the ice on them had melted. His nose was still broken, with a trail of dried blood coming from one of the nostrils. There was a wildness in his eyes, but when he blinked, it was quickly replaced with desperation.

But the moment quickly passed. Peter’s sword flashed, but instead of hitting a fatal spot, he just slashed at the Prince’s shoulder, letting blood flow down against the white crystal of his skin. He quickly got up, reaching for his two swords. Cold air suddenly swarmed the arena, freezing the Prince’s features and blood back to ice, freezing the wildness back in his eyes, and freezing Peter within his armor. The Prince rushed forward, an evil grin on his face, two swords aiming for Peter’s neck. The king leaned back, narrowly avoiding them.

“Wait! Stop!” A sudden voice rang out from behind Peter, making him twist around to see who it was. Lucy was running towards the pair, a desperate look on her face. 

“Lucy?! What are you—” Peter back around just in time to stop another blow from the Prince, forcing the blades to glance off his shield. “Get out of here, Lu!” he called back. “It’s not safe!”

“Will you stop and just listen to me for once in your life?” She forcibly pulled her eldest brother back, shoving him behind her. She stuck out her hand in front of the Ice Prince, which, to the surprise of literally everyone, stopped him from advancing. However, he kept his swords at the ready, maintaining the scowl, though hidden behind the blades, on his face. 

Lucy turned back to her brother, who was trying to pull his arm out of her grasp. “Pete, please . Didn’t you see it?”

“See what?”

“And people say you’re the best one. Him , Peter. Haven’t you put the pieces together by now? He needs our help, and you’re not giving him that.”

“Who are you talking about, Lu? You’re not making any sense again.”
Him.” She turned and gestured at the Ice Prince. “Edmund.”

“No,” both men said at once, though with completely different tones. Peter’s face was scrunched in anger, and he finally tugged his arm hard enough for Lucy to let him go. The Ice Prince, on the other hand, sounded desperate. He was starting to back away, back to his corner, the swords still hiding him. 

Lucy started to march up to him before Peter grabbed her arm. “What are you doing? ” he hissed.

“Just trust me.” And she twisted out of his grasp, walking the rest of the way to the Prince. 

He stood in silence for several seconds, the swords still up in their defensive position. “Why are you doing this?” The words, while quiet, echoed throughout the now silent arena.  

“Because I love you, Ed. It’s been a long time, too long, really, but I still love you. And I miss you. So does Peter, and Susan.”

“Peter doesn’t miss me.”

The young man in question had started walking towards the pair, stopping a few feet away as Lucy responded, “Of course he does. He even kept that horrid sketch of yours you made.”

“You’re kidding.” The swords started to come down, tears welling in his eyes.

“I’m not . He’s kept it all year like the idiot he is. And you know why? Because he misses Edmund. He misses you . ”

The Ice Prince chuckled, a dry one, and a singular tear rolled down his cheek. Where it went, the ice melted, showing the true color of his face beneath the white like ruined makeup. “I’m— I’m not exactly Edmund anymore, I hate to break it to you.”

“But you are . Somewhere in there, you’re still you, still human. Underneath all the layers the White Witch stuck over you, underneath all the layers you’ve stuck over yourself , underneath all the things you’ve had to go through, underneath everything , you’re there . And I know you can break through. I know you were looking for us, Ed, and Pete, Su, and I — we’re here . We’ve been looking for you too, just in all the wrong places.”

A sob escaped the Prince’s throat as more tears started to run down his face. His face started to return to what it had been minutes before — mostly human, soaked with melted ice. Then it continued, Edmund still sobbing as he fell on his knees, dropped his swords, and planted his face in his hands, with his hair returning to its old black and his skin becoming a more natural tone. He was shivering as Lucy kneeled down and hugged him; then he was crying harder. 

The two of them were an odd duo, kneeling on the ground in the middle of an arena of ruins. Edmund was still twenty-two, dwarfing his sister in her nine-year-old form. The strangest part of all was how Lucy was still the one above, reaching over her brother to hug him tightly as he sank lower, still sobbing. 

“I’m sorry ,” he said, hiccuping along his words. “I— I’m so fucking sorry and — oh, Aslan what have I done ?”

“A lot of things,” said the Lion, walking towards the siblings. Peter, who was still several feet away, started to sneak towards the sidelines. Aslan, however, gave him a glare and gestured towards Edmund with his head, a silent order Peter found he couldn’t refuse. Susan walked forward as well, joining the tight group that was forming in the center of the ring. 

“And a lot of those things were caused by the White Witch,” he continued, reaching forward with his paw and lifting Ed’s face up towards his, letting Lucy slide out of her hug. He didn’t keep it there, instead placing his paw back on the ground and trusting that Edmund would continue watching him. He did. “However, it was you who decided to make that deal with her in the first place. I did try to warn you, Son of Adam.”

“Yes. You did.”

“Some of that curse will still be within you, even now. For as long as you live, there will still be the effects of the powers you once held. Most of it is gone now, the most dangerous and powerful parts especially, but some of it remains. Let it serve as a reminder of what you’ve done, and let it tell you to never be so foolish again.”

“I understand. And I — I’m sorry. It’ll be a burden, but it’s one I put on myself.”

Aslan nodded, tears starting to gather in his eyes. “Are you still angry at me?”

“I—” Edmund let out a shuddering breath, casting his eyes down for just a second before looking back up at Aslan. “I’ve been angry for the past one and a half thousand years. I don’t think I can be angry anymore. And if I can, then I don’t want to be. Truly, I’m sorry for all of that, everything I said before I made the deal. I can’t… There’s so much I have to be sorry for, but I can’t get it all out. All I can say is ‘sorry’ over and over and hope it makes up for something, when it really doesn’t. Not at this point.”

Aslan nodded again, contemplating something. When he spoke, there was such sorrow in his voice, sorrow that seemed to go down to the very core of his being, that even the trees wilted. “I am sorry as well, King Edmund, for this has indeed been partially my fault.” The other Pevensies (particularly Lucy) gave small gasps at this, but the Lion continued on as though he did not hear them, giving his full attention to Edmund, “You were right, all those years ago, when you said I took your family away. As I said, it was not supposed to go like this; you four were supposed to face this obstacle together , but, as you said, it was too late. I have made mistakes, deep ones, deeper than yours, Edmund, and I must take your advice and own up to them.”

“But why make them go through it at all ?” asked Edmund, desperation clear in his voice. He started to sit up a bit straighter, still on his knees, but now closer to eye-level with Aslan. “Why make them — make us , as was your plan, leave Narnia in the first place? It was a Golden Age , Aslan, one that was cut far too short.”

“Because you were needed here . Right now, for this battle.” Aslan finally turned his attention to the other Pevensies, whose expressions were on a range from betrayed to pensive. “And if you had stayed in Narnia for too long, you wouldn't have left it at all.”

“And how is that such a bad thing?” Susan asked. “Why shouldn’t we have stayed here? I don’t get it, Aslan. I haven't, for a whole year, and right when the pieces started to make sense, the whole puzzle fell apart on me.”

Aslan sighed, bowing his head. “Because it simply had to be done . After your inevitable death, there would have been no heirs, the Telmarines would have still captured Narnia, Miraz would still have taken control of the throne, and all of this would have still happened. But there would not be the four of you here , right now, and Caspian would not have been rescued by the good creatures of Narnia, and this whole battle would never be fought and won. Narnia would still be in peril with nobody to save it.” 

“But our lives , Aslan,” Lucy said. “We were ripped away from the people and the country we loved back into… England .”

Aslan nodded, tears falling from his face. “And I am sorry for that, Queen Lucy. And I am sorry, High King Peter, and I am sorry, High Queen Susan. I beg, I truly beg for your forgiveness.”

The Pevensies were silent as Susan helped Lucy stand up from where she was kneeling before. Edmund stayed where he was, however, and he looked Aslan in the eyes and whispered:

“I forgive you.”

And then he stood up and walked away, through the remaining crowd, ignoring the people who tried to follow him along with everyone else, and went back to the camp. Those who watched him found that he quickly disappeared among the tents. The people’s attention quickly turned back to the remaining Pevensies, who were still looking back at where their brother left.

“Did you mean it when you said that Su and I aren’t coming back?” Peter asked, never turning back. Lucy’s eyes widened, mouth opening as if about to ask a question, but her brother just caught her eye and shook his head and she quickly shut it.

“Yes,” Aslan said simply. “You will not come back in this lifetime, but someday. Someday you will return to Narnia, and it will be forever. I can promise you both that.”

Peter nodded, thinking. “I… I think I’m starting to understand. I don’t forgive you, not yet, but I do understand. For Narnia, right?”

“For Narnia, indeed.”

Pete chuckled dryly, nodding again, then he also walked back through the crowd and to the camp. 

Susan didn’t watch him go, instead taking to time to stare at Aslan. “I don’t get it, you know. Your whole plan. Or forgive you for it. I might, one day, but not yet. It still hurts.”

“I understand.”

“And it will hurt for a while.”

“As wounds do. But, as wounds also do, it will heal in time. And I hope that you will let it heal correctly.”

Susan smiled, a sad smile, bringing tears to her eyes as she nodded. “So do I.” Then she turned and followed the paths her brothers took, leaving Lucy alone. 

You will be coming back,” Aslan said to her. “Very soon.”

“But I don’t want to leave in the first place.” There were ears in Lucy’s eyes as well, tears she wiped away hastily as she continued, “This place is all I’ve ever known , Aslan. I grew up here, I walked here, I ate here, I loved here, I… I lived here. More than I ever have or ever will in England.”

“I know, my child, but—”

“But what , Aslan?”

The Lion sighed, bowing his head once more. He stood in silence for a while, thinking about something, weighing options in his mind. After a full minute, he lifted his head and spoke. “Do you wish to stay here?”

“Do I— yes ! Of course!” 

“Then I will allow you to do so. In three years — and remember this part — in three years you will have to make this decision again, to decide whether to stay or to leave and go back to England. And that decision will be final.”

“That… ok. I can handle that.”

“And keep in mind that if you choose England that time, you will be back again within five years.”

“Really? But if it’s final, then how—?”

“That’s all I can tell you, Lucy, I’m sorry. But keep that in mind when you make your next decision.”

“I will. And thank you.”

“Of course.”

“I mean it, Aslan, I really do. And though I might feel like Susan right now, who doesn’t understand what your plan has been and why you’ve done all these things, I do forgive you. I don’t know why, but I do.”

Aslan smiled, sadness still in his eyes, but the gratefulness in his face was starting to repel it. “Thank you.”

Lucy smiled back, then reached forward and hugged Aslan around his mane. Mirth radiated from his locks, dispersing what was left from the cold of the Ice Prince. Then Lucy turned around and walked back to the camp, back to her siblings, to tell them the news.

Chapter Text

“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?”

“Of course.”

“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—”

“Literally.”

“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’m sorry.”

“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.

“I’m done.”

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?”