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24 May 2008 @ 10:34 pm
The King Haunts Himself  
Title: The King Haunts Himself
Fadom: The Chronicles of Narnia
Rating: PG
Summary: POV, Peter is haunted by his actions in Narnia, but at a very inconvenient time. Spoilers for Prince Caspian, specifically a movie scene.
AN: Unbeta'd. 1043 words. Pevensies and Aslan belong to C.S. Lewis. The movie scene is c/o Disney. I'm not making anything from this. I just felt that Peter saw and felt some brutal things that wouldn't be easy to get over quickly.

The King Haunts Himself

"Mister Pevensie! Mister Pevensie, are you listening?" Professor Powers was staring down his wide nose and long, mouth-hugging mustache at Peter. Peter felt his eyes widen as he took in the professor's stern gaze, the room around him, the eyes of the other students. All attention was on him, and the looks he was getting were alternately mocking, curious, bored, and every other thing a boy might feel while wasting away a Friday afternoon in a class on Algebra at the Coventshire Abbey School for Boys.

"Sorry sir. I'll try to pay more mind."

"See that you do," Professor Powers growled back.

Peter flipped a page in his notebook and tried desperately to keep his attention on simply taking notes.

It didn't work. He couldn't concentrate on math, not now. They'd gotten back from Narnia only two weeks ago, in this time anyway. Aslan knows how much time had passed in Narnia. Peter frowned. Would he never see Aslan again, then? Most likely that was the case. It was a hard outcome to bear, harder even than never returning. He thought of Narnia as home-- always had, in fact-- and he wondered if maybe he always would. Coventshire felt so much like the opposite of home. Lessons were droning. The only fun to be had during term was usually rugby or football. Peter did watch the top-classmen fence sometimes. He didn't join them, though. He didn't have the slightest clue how to handle an epee. No doubt he could learn, but what was the point? It couldn't be nearly as energizing as broadsword, and he'd once heard from the Ambassador of the Narrowhaven Achipeleggo-- whose name he could not recall so well as his odoriferous breath-- the becoming used to drawing an epee ruins one for broadsword. No doubt runs down ones' muscles, Edmund had said, and Peter tended to agree. You ought to expect something monstrously heavy when you pull your sword, and what's more, he was used to sword fighting being as much about bludgeoning with that weight as it was about the sword's sharpness. Fencing might as well be a different beast altogether.

Not that he really needed to preserve his broadsword arm for anything, though, did he? A fresh wave of dejection rolled over Peter.

He had joined the equestrian team, though. That, at least, was the same everywhere, even if styles and saddles varied. The Narnians rode with less in the way of a saddle than even hunt seat, the horses in Narnia being a very cooperative (and generally conversational) lot. They liked to have less on their backs, though they didn't really need the added contact since you could politely ask them to turn a certain way. Peter was already one of the firsts on the team, and it was only his first year.

He wasn't half bad at math, either, but that was going to change if he couldn't make his eyes and ears focus. Recently, any time he was sitting still his thoughts went places he'd rather them not. For that reason, he'd been trying to keep as active as possible, playing sports whenever he could. He wondered if he was trying to work out a frustration or maybe... maybe to punish himself.

He could see it like it was yesterday. In fact it hadn't been very long before yesterday-- what, three weeks ago? The distance between here and Narnia made it seem longer in some sense, but not with regards to remembering the details. There he was, right before Peter's eyes: Aegeus crushed beneath the gate, the noble centaurs and other faithful citizens of Narnia, citizens who had followed their king into certain doom without delay or doubt, trapped. Waiting for their slaughter. While their king rode away like the coward that he was. It flashed in his dreams, only sometimes he was inside the gate-- feeling relief and dread and guilt. Sometimes he was under the gate, and then he felt only relief. In his darkest moments he hoped that history would judge him properly-- cruelly-- for that act of ignorance and blindness. He doubted it; Narnians were really far too generous a people. They had honored and trusted him past his deserving and he'd used that to lead them to slaughter. If Susan were here, she would try to reason him out of these dark thoughts. After all, he had spoken to Aslan about it, who had said that the true strength of hope is not measured by whether we fall, but how many times we can get up again. The people, he'd said, needed an example of overcoming a great defeat, by which he didn't mean the battle, but Peter and his personal demons.

Peter, though, was not convinced that he had defeated those. Maybe he had simply hidden them-- from Aslan, from Caspian, from Su and Ed-- out of pure shame. His stomach turned; this thought felt a lot like the truth creeping out of the cracks in his logic.

"Mister Pevensie! I asked you a question."

Peter brought his gaze to bear on the Powers' light brown eyes, the only young-looking thing about his elderly self. Remembering, dwelling on his nightmares, had drained Peter of good humor, and he was not keen on pretending to care about Powers and his droning. He didn't answer and waited for the hammer to fall. Surely Professor Powers would think of some punishment, send him to detention or the headmaster--

"I'm revoking your Sports and Recreation permissions, effective immediately. You clearly need more time to study!"

Pete didn't groan, he didn't slump or flinch or sigh in defeat, none of the proper reactions of an upper school student. Inside, he felt a hollowing blow, his one retreat snatched away from him. For that reason, he was not surprised. He ought to know by now that retreating from yourself earned you nothing. The true strength of hope is not measured by whether we fall, but how many times we can get up again. The words sounded through his head, in his own voice and not, alas, in Aslan's. This was just one more stumble on a road paved with ditches, but Peter would get up again. For himself. For Narnia.

For Aslan.
 
 
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Kate: SitS Educationathene454 on May 27th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
That was fantastic... I definitely think that Peter's demons would take a good deal of time to get over, if he ever could, and I like the concise way you examined them.

Nicely done!