MFB07: Per’s Story

When the festivities came to an end that night (long after Prince Corin had been sent to bed, rubbing his eyes but still protesting loudly), the Narnians were shown to the rooms prepared for them. Knowing that the mountain stronghold was not used to accommodating many guests, Peter had made it plain in his letter to King Lune that they needed only three rooms: one for “the girls,” including Mrs. Dumplesugar (who was quite comfortable in a large basket with a cushion); one for the Dwarfs and Mr. Tumnus; and one for Edmund and himself. Privately, Peter had offered Mr. Tumnus the choice of staying in their room should the Dwarfs’ snoring be too loud, but the Faun had politely declined.

Which left Peter in a rather tenuous situation: alone in a room with Edmund and, to make matters worse, with the offer of baths. They were, in fact, in desperate need of them, having traveled for two whole days — especially Edmund, who had been scampering about on the ship — so Peter graciously accepted the offer and prepared to be tortured by the sight of his brother’s naked body, beautiful in every inch.

Their host had assigned a page, a boy of about Edmund’s age by the name of Per, to help them wash. After insisting that Edmund go first, Peter retreated to a chair by the window and attempted to read a book. A large metal tub was set before the fireplace and filled with hot water, channeled into the castle by an aqueduct from the hot springs further up in the mountains, and Edmund sighed in pure bliss as he sank into its warmth. Peter tried desperately to keep his eyes glued to the book, even though he could not make any sense of it, but every so often they would wander against his will to where his brother’s milk-white skin could be seen above the edges of the tub.

“It’s no colder here than in Cair Paravel,” the younger king was telling Per in response to a solicitous query. “It catches the wind off of the ocean, you know, so it gets pretty cold in the winter. Here you’re more protected by the forest, even though you’re higher up in the mountains. But I don’t think any castle worth defending is going to be built for comfort, really. Wouldn’t you say, Peter?”

Startled at being called into the conversation, Peter looked up in alarm.

“W—What’s that? I wasn’t listening…” he stammered, swallowing hard as he noticed Edmund’s wet hair plastered to the graceful curve of his neck.

“I was saying, most castles are built to be defended, not comfortable,” Edmund repeated. Per was using a cloth to wash his back for him, and Peter would have very much liked to switch places with the page boy just then.

“Oh… of course. Anvard is very defensible, being so high in the mountains, and since it has its own water supply, it won’t fall easily to a siege, either. As long as there are plenty of food stores,” he replied somewhat disjointedly.

“I think I’d still take Cair over Anvard, though — no offense,” Edmund continued, addressing Per. “We can escape by sea if we’re attacked by land, or vice versa. And the steps down to the shore have a lot of turns so they can be used as traps if need be. Not to mention all the secret tunnels that the Dwarfs have carved out of the rock over the years…”

Peter gazed for a long moment at Edmund’s shoulders and arms, which were glistening in the firelight. The muscles on his upper arms were beginning to develop, though his skin still looked as tender and soft as a girl’s, and a few veins were becoming more pronounced on his forearms. Per poured some clean water over his hair and it ran in rivulets down his smooth back, which his older brother yearned to trace with his fingers.

“…must be miles and miles of them, since they quarried all the rock to build the castle above. I say, Peter, do you know how many miles of tunnels are under Cair?”

“Haven’t the foggiest notion,” he replied, willing his eyes to return to the book. “I don’t think they’ve ever been measured. Maybe the Dwarfs would know.”

As his brother continued chatting with the page, Peter waited for his heart to stop racing. That had been close — if Edmund’s eyes had not been closed against the water being poured over his head, he would have caught him staring. When the younger king was finished with his bath and stood up, dripping and as naked as the day he was born, Peter resolutely kept his eyes fixed upon one word in the book, although for the life of him he could not have said what that word was. Per helped Edmund dry off, then went to get the other servants to empty and refill the tub as Edmund pulled on the fresh nightshirt that Mrs. Dumplesugar had laid out for him earlier.

“What’re you reading?” Edmund asked, approaching Peter while toweling his hair.

“Um… I don’t know. Something boring,” was his vague answer before he set the book down with a sigh. Edmund sat in the chair facing him, a thoughtful expression creasing his brow.

“Pete,” he began, in a rather different tone, “are you all right? I mean, are you sleeping all right? You’ve been looking so tired lately…”

Peter considered his response with care, knowing that an outright lie would not pass muster with his brother.

“I haven’t been sleeping well, no,” he finally answered, in a low voice so as to not be overheard by the servants. “But don’t worry about it, Ed… I’ll be all right.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do? At least get you something to help you sleep?”

“Like what? There aren’t any drugstores here, like in London, you know.”

“Well… what about chamomile tea? Isn’t that supposed to help you sleep?”

“So I’ve heard,” Peter replied dubiously, and Edmund was already on his feet, asking the servants if they might have any chamomile tea in the castle. One servant said he would check in the kitchens, and meanwhile Peter’s bath was now ready for him, so he stripped out of his travel-stained clothes (putting them in a basket with Edmund’s for Mrs. Dumplesugar to wash tomorrow) and stepped into the tub. The warmth was welcome, and although the hot spring water had a faint smell of sulfur, it was quickly overpowered by the scent of the herbal soap that Per wielded to wash his hair.

Edmund noticed how much more crowded Peter was in the tub and frankly admired the thick layers of muscle on his brother’s chest and shoulders. While Peter washed his front, starting with his toes, Per scrubbed the High King’s broad back, and Edmund wondered if he would ever have such a large frame himself. Then, realising that he was cooling off quickly from his own bath and that his hair was still quite damp, he came over to sit an arm’s length away from the tub with his back to the fire.

Peter was surprised to see him come so close but was grateful that Edmund’s lovely face was obscured by the shadows. He concentrated on washing himself, trying not to think impure thoughts that would make his body betray him.

“So, Per,” Edmund asked conversationally, “how long have you been at Anvard?”

“Three years now, your Majesty,” the boy answered. “Ever since… well, ever since my father died.”

“Oh! I’m sorry to hear that,” Edmund said, feeling bad for having broached the subject. “But I would think being a knight here — or at least in training to be a knight — is a jolly good way to live. King Lune is an absolute brick!”

“His highness has been very kind to me,” Per replied, in a rather short manner. Peter would have assumed that the boy was out of breath from his work, but Edmund’s keen perception told him otherwise.

“What’s the matter? Is anybody being hard on you?” he asked bluntly, causing Per’s hand to stop its motion down Peter’s back.

“No, your Majesty — not at all,” was his too-hasty response. Now even Peter knew that something was bothering the boy, and he turned to face him.

“What is it, Per?” the High King asked in a gentle tone. “We are all friends here. It is only by a chance of fortune and Aslan’s good grace that we were made kings and are not servants as you are. Please, speak freely.”

“And you needn’t call me ‘your Majesty,’ either,” Edmund added. “Well, at least not when we’re alone. I suppose you’d catch it if you didn’t in public.”

“Indeed,” the boy said, taken aback, “your Majesties are too kind…”

“Tell me truthfully,” Peter demanded, in a soft yet firm voice, “do any of the knights here mistreat you? For I am certain that King Lune would wish to know of it. He would not tolerate any ungentlemanly behaviour by his men.”

“No, your Majesty!” Per protested. “I am not mistreated at all. In fact, the King himself has sworn his protection over me.”

Peter’s eyes narrowed and Edmund asked, “Why would he have to do that?”

Now Per trembled, but it took the young kings only a moment to understand why.

“Please, your Majesties… my father was on the ship that Lord Bar escaped upon, when he stole away Prince Cor.”

There was a moment of heavy silence, for the treachery of the former Lord Chancellor had cut deep into the heart of King Lune — indeed, of all Archenland. Edmund wished he could find something to say that would make Per feel better, but had no success. When Peter finally spoke, however, his words were measured and sure.

“You were only a child then and can hardly be blamed for your father’s misdeeds. And perhaps, from what I have heard of Lord Bar, he had threatened some harm upon your family in order to secure your father’s loyalty.”

Per bowed where he knelt, still trembling, so low that he nearly hit his head on the side of the tub.

“Your Majesty is the picture of charity,” he said, his voice betraying his tears. “Those were the exact words of my master, King Lune.”

“Then think no longer on it,” Peter told him, placing a kind hand on the boy’s shoulder. “And if any man chooses to think ill of you, or less than you deserve, because of what your father may have done under coercion, remember that there are no less than three kings who would vouch for your character — based upon your actions, and your actions alone.”

Per was quite overcome for a few minutes, but he finally nodded and (after drying his face on his sleeves) continued assisting King Peter to bathe. He noted also that although the water had cooled during their discourse, the High King never breathed a word of complaint, and counted himself lucky to have served one of the noblest men in the world.

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Edmund had watched in fascination as Peter had stepped out of the tub, observing the differences in their physique during the brief moment before his older brother (blushing) wrapped himself in a large towel. Now the tub had been removed from their room and Peter was sitting cross-legged before the fire in a nightshirt that matched his brother’s, combing out his hair and sipping his chamomile tea. Per had left after making sure that they both had everything they could possibly want or need.

“I’m glad you thought of the possibility that his father had been blackmailed,” Edmund remarked, now that they were alone.

“I am, too,” Peter honestly confessed. “I wanted to make him feel better, and the idea just popped into my head.”

Edmund nodded, his eyes never leaving Peter’s hands as they tried to pull the comb through his wet hair.

“Here, let me do that,” he finally said, stumping over on his knees. “It’s tangled. You’ll never get it by brute force!”

Peter sighed and relinquished the comb, which was actually stuck in the tangle, and waited while his brother gingerly picked it loose. He could see Edmund’s slim outline through his nightshirt, backlit as he was by the fire, and could not shut his eyes against such a tempting sight. Indeed, his hands were wrapped around his brother’s waist before he had even realised it himself. Edmund felt a thrill of satisfaction as the familiar warmth begirded him, and a happy smile settled on his face as he worked to smooth Peter’s hair.

When his brother had placed his hand on Per in a kingly gesture of reassurance, an unnamed emotion had stirred within Edmund. If pressed, he might have described it as “pride” as well as “curiosity” or “interest,” but certainly not as “jealousy.” And yet, with this tangible proof that he was still the High King’s brother and would always be special to Peter — the only one privy to such gentle affirmations of kinship (other than their sisters, of course) — he felt as though some shadow over his soul had been dispelled.

“There!” he cried in triumph as the last gnarl came loose and Peter’s golden locks fell free about his head.

“Thanks,” Peter replied, self-consciously taking his hands off of his brother and (for want of something to do) drinking the last of his tea. Edmund sat on his heels, directly between Peter and the fire.

“I hope it helps,” he said, referring to the tea.

“Me, too,” Peter agreed, setting the cup and saucer on a table. “We should get to bed. It’s been a long day…”

Edmund nodded and scurried into the bed closer to the window while Peter slid into the one by the wall. They both took a minute or two getting settled in, and right about when Peter was feeling comfortable, he heard his brother rustling around again.

“Say, Pete?”


“Are you cold?”

“No. Why, are you?”

“A little.”

“You should have got into bed right after your bath,” Peter chided. “Now you’re chilled.”

“I thought I’d be all right in front of the fire.”

“It’s burned down quite a bit. I’ll add another log.”

While Peter got up again to do so, leaving the comfort of his own bed, Edmund flapped his arms and legs to try to get his sheets warm, but to no avail. After Peter had slipped back into bed, he timidly called out again.



“Would it be all right if I slept with you tonight?”

There was a slight pause before Peter answered, “Sure,” in which his better judgment screamed at him to say something, anything, to dissuade his brother. But he had never been able to refuse his brother — at least, not for the past two years or so. And his better judgment was overruled by his own, very selfish desires.

Edmund assumed that the slight hesitation in Peter’s reply was due to his recent exhaustion. He hoped that it wasn’t too much of an imposition, but he truly felt chilled in his own bed (especially after leaving the warmth of the fire and having Peter’s hands removed from around him), and so, not a moment after Peter had assented, Edmund’s lithe young body slipped in under the covers and into his brother’s arms.

“Thanks,” he mumbled as he burrowed closer.

“Don’t mention it,” Peter responded, then added, “Turn around — I’ll warm your back.”

Obediently rolling over, Edmund was rewarded with warmth as Peter wrapped his arms around him, his hands pressed flat against his sides and his chest against his back. Sighing in contentment, Edmund fell asleep in a few minutes, his own hands covering his brother’s larger ones as though holding them in place.

When Edmund’s breathing had slowed, Peter finally allowed himself to press his lips to the nape of his brother’s neck. His body responded with strident desire, which would have been obvious to Edmund were he awake.

“Aslan… forgive me,” he breathed, then tasted Edmund’s exposed skin to his lust’s content, pressing his needy manhood against his brother’s tender backside until it was relieved of its burden. Though he blushed in shame at his indiscretion, he fell thereafter into a deep and restful sleep.

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