MFB15: The Roar of The Lion

Peter was awoken from his sound slumber with a start, and with the roar of a Lion — the Lion, Aslan — echoing in his ears. Heart pounding, he sat up in his bed, pulling the covers with him. He could not remember what, if anything, he had dreamt, but the sound and the terror reverberated in his mind well enough. It took him a moment to catch his breath, and only after he did so did he notice his brother, still sleeping quietly beside him.

Their activities of the previous evening came back in a rush, and now he feared that his heart would cease its beating. For what excuse could he give? That he had allowed his younger brother to pleasure him was bad enough; at least he could claim that his hand had been injured, and that Edmund had begged him, earnestly, to serve him in this manner. But what he had done afterwards was indefensible, for he had sought (with his brother’s permission, of course, but still wrongfully) to pleasure Edmund in the same way, for no other reason than that he wanted to touch his brother with such intimacy and to hear his sweet voice raised in ecstasy. Peter trembled with guilt at what he had done, knowing that Edmund was already confused — or at best, misguided — about what was morally acceptable behaviour, and certain now that he himself had contributed to his brother’s lack of boundaries.

Oh, Aslan, he thought, burying his head in his hands, what have I done? And how can I possibly undo it?

He cast back in his mind to Edmund’s first experience, when his brother had implored him to help with this task. Clearly, that was where he had first gone wrong, for their father had never attempted to touch him, even while explaining the process explicitly and in detail. By giving in to his brother’s whimpered cries for help, he had in effect taught him that it was all right to be handled there by another — as long as it was his brother — and, by extrapolation, that it was all right to reciprocate the gesture. At least he had confirmed yesterday that Edmund considered this acceptable only between brothers, but even that was far removed from the norms of English society.

This must come from not being in the company of other Humans enough, Peter sighed. I ought to have set him a good example, at least! But I’ve already given in to what I wanted myself, so much… It’s my fault that he doesn’t know any better…

He groaned, causing Edmund to stir in his sleep. The younger boy was cold from having the blankets pulled off, and turned to seek warmth, groping for the covers. Noticing his movements, Peter lay back down and tucked the covers around Edmund’s shoulders. Now his brother was facing him, his innocent face still peaceful in repose and as beautiful as ever. He had reached out to stroke that pale skin with a finger before he had even realised it himself, and remembered, with a guilty pang, how his issue had dripped down that face last night. He had spoiled his brother — defiled his brother — under the guise of… what? Fraternal affection?

No. I took advantage of his innocence, Peter told himself with brutal clarity. He might have asked for it, but that was only because I’d never explained to him how wrong it is.

It was still early in the morning, as he could tell from the few shafts of light that entered through the gaps in the drapes. Once Edmund wakes up, he vowed, we’ll have a talk. I need to set this right, and the sooner the better.

He propped himself up on one elbow to gaze down at his brother. He traced the hollow of his lovely cheek with the tips of his fingers — his hand bandaged by none other than Edmund himself — and saw only perfection there.

Oh, Aslan! he silently cried. He’s so beautiful! Why did he have to be so beautiful? But I know… that doesn’t pardon what I did. Why do I feel this way, anyhow? He’s not just my brother, he’s a boy. Why can’t I feel this way about a girl? Is there something wrong with me? There must be… Oh, Aslan, Aslan, how I wish you were here!

Peter sighed heavily, and thought his heart would stop a moment later when he saw Edmund’s eyelids flutter, then slowly open like flowers greeting the Sun. The yawn he made was the picture of childish innocence, as was the smile that played on his lips.

“‘Morning, Pete,” he murmured, his hand reaching out to slip around his brother’s waist.

“Good morning, Ed,” he answered in a soft voice, and something in the timbre made Edmund observe him more closely. He saw an unspeakable sadness there (and, though he did not recognise it immediately, guilt) which made him uneasy.

“What’s the matter, Pete? Didn’t you sleep well?” he asked, wondering why his brother was staring at him with such a somber countenance. He could feel the bees beginning to buzz in his stomach again, and somehow they seemed to be connected to the deep, throbbing ache in a much lower part of his anatomy.

“Oh, I slept well enough, not that I should have a right to,” Peter replied, gently removing Edmund’s hand from his side. “I was just thinking… I need to apologise to you, Ed. I’m afraid I… I’ve not done right by you.”

“What do you mean?” Edmund demanded, confused by his words.

“I mean that… well, I should never have touched you like… like I have. I’m not Father, and even Father never touched me like that, even when he was explaining what I needed to do, and… and I see now that it was wrong.”

“Why? What are you talking about?” Edmund asked, looking alarmed.

Peter closed his eyes for a brief moment, praying for strength and wisdom, before elaborating.

“Edmund, what happens with our bodies is… very special. I told you it’s for making babies, right? Well, think of how important and how… how miraculous that is, that you can create a new life someday! With your wife, of course… So, what you do in preparation for that is also… special. It’s not something I should have helped you with. It’s private, and something that you should keep to yourself until you find the right girl, get married, and… and are ready to share absolutely everything with her.”

Edmund listened to this with growing horror, not wanting to believe his ears. Had he known how deeply it pained Peter to think of his brother growing up and falling in love with someone else, it might have alleviated some of his consternation, but he did not.

“Peter,” he gasped, hardly daring to breathe, “what are you saying? That I… I can’t even help you with… with what you need? Even when your hand is hurt?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, Ed,” Peter answered, seeming to rip out a piece of his heart with each word. “It’s not something we ought to do, even if we’re brothers. No, actually,” he corrected, “especially because we’re brothers! You know it’s wrong to marry your own sister, right?”

“Well, sure,” Edmund said, his brow still furrowed with concern. “You can’t have kids with your own family, ’cause then all the bad traits get stronger. It’s in Mendel’s Law or whatever. That’s why the Dryads make sure the fruit flowers are cross-pollinated with other trees.”

Peter breathed a small sigh of relief. “Right. But if you have… well, relations, with someone who’s closely related to you, that’s… that’s very bad. It’s called ‘incest’ and you could get arrested for it — at least in England.”

“Oh,” he replied, thinking it over for a moment. Then he added, “As if anyone would want to marry their own sister! I mean, I like Su and Lu well enough, and they’re not silly like a lot of other girls, but… that just seems queer.”

“But don’t you see, Ed,” Peter pointed out, feeling a lump of cold lead forming in the pit of his stomach, “that’s exactly what’s been happening to us. We’re close — probably closer than most brothers, having gone through so much together — and it was just too easy for us to forget what we should and shouldn’t do. I’m the one to blame for that, since I didn’t set the boundaries right from the start, and with not many grown-ups around (or at least Human ones, anyway) how were you to know? So, I’m sorry that I let it get so far out of hand, but… this has simply got to stop.”

Edmund felt as though he were being suffocated. The covers were too heavy, the air was too thick to breathe, and he could barely keep his eyes focused on his brother who was looking at him, expectantly and hopefully, from only a few inches away. He grabbed at Peter’s bandaged hand and clung to it with both his own as the room seemed to start spinning out of control.

“Peter… you can’t mean…” he began, but words failed him. He could not express all that he was feeling, when so much of it he could not decipher himself.

A knock came on their bedroom door and was almost immediately followed by Mr. Tumnus walking into the room.

“Ah… Good morning, your Majesties,” he said, taking in at a glance that the two young kings were both in one bed again and (more surprisingly) were both awake. “The skies of Archenland have favoured us with another beautiful day!”

“Indeed, our welcome here has been unparalleled,” Peter responded with some difficulty. Edmund was still trying to wrap his mind around what his brother had just pronounced.

“Shall I stay and assist you, King Peter? Perhaps an extra pair of hands can help you prepare more quickly?”

“That would be most welcome, Mr. Tumnus — thank you.”

“Peter,” Edmund whispered, still reeling in shock. His brother looked down on him with tenderness and sadness.

“We’ll talk more about this later, if you want,” he told him, gently removing his hand from the younger boy’s grip. “Please, Ed, I need you to understand… it’s all for the best.”

Edmund knew that Peter wanted him to agree, or to at least nod in assent, but could not bring himself to do it. Instead, he found tears spilling out of his eyes as his beloved Peter became lost in a blurry, uncertain world.

“Ed… Oh, Edmund, I’m so sorry,” he heard him say, and felt the bandaged hand (still warm and comforting even with the cloth) stroke his hair with proffered comfort. Peter was trying to be discreet, not wanting to embarrass him in front of Mr. Tumnus, but Edmund was beyond caring for such things.

“Is… anything… the matter, your Majesty?” the Faun asked hesitantly, sensing that he was intruding.

“Well… yes. I’m afraid it’s a… private matter,” Peter informed him, his voice hitching at the fateful word. “I’ve upset my brother with some… rather unfortunate news. Please excuse us for a moment.”

“Ah! Of course. I shall be back in… a few minutes,” he said, retreating from the room.

Once the door was closed, Peter bent to cradle his brother in his arms, trying (with difficulty) not to burst into tears himself, for to see Edmund anguished was almost more than he could bear.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… It’s not your fault, Ed, I should’ve known… I should’ve stopped it sooner…” he murmured. And then, wondering at his brother’s somewhat excessive reaction, he begged, “Please, Ed, don’t be upset. I’m sorry that I didn’t make things clearer for you, but I just assumed… well, that you would figure out this sort of thing on your own. I’d forgotten that you couldn’t, since there aren’t a lot of people around us… Please don’t be angry with me!”

Edmund hiccoughed as he clutched at Peter’s nightshirt.

“I—I’m not… angry,” he managed, “I just… I don’t… understand!

“We can talk about this more later,” Peter repeated, rubbing his brother’s back in what he hoped was a comforting way. “I know it’s hard to take in all at once. But, look here, Ed — it’s not like it was something we did often, anyway. I mean, we just got a little carried away yesterday, what with my hand being hurt and all, and… well, you didn’t know any better, which was my fault. Please, Edmund… do be reasonable.”

His younger brother swallowed hard and looked up at him, tears still glistening in his dark eyes.

“But Peter… I thought you liked what I did!”

It was as though he had been stabbed in the heart with an ice pick. Peter gasped as Edmund fixed his imploring eyes upon him.

“I—I did. I’ll admit it, Ed, I did enjoy it,” Peter was compelled to answer. He dared not confess as to why he had enjoyed it so much, for that was a burden which he and he alone must bear. “But it was wrong of me! I shouldn’t have let you do it at all. I… I was selfish, and I wasn’t thinking straight. I’m sorry. Please don’t think it was your fault at all, because it wasn’t.”

For a long moment, Edmund held him in his liquid gaze, contemplating what all of this meant. He could not come to a conclusion, of course, for it was a convoluted and confusing matter to him, but he finally nodded and took a deep breath.

“I… I think I see what you’re saying,” he said slowly, sniffing and drying his cheeks with the sleeve of his nightshirt. “I’m not sure why, exactly, but… I guess it’s stupid to cry about it. I just thought… I must’ve done something wrong…”

NO! Of course not! I was in the wrong, Ed, not you,” Peter hurried to affirm.

“But… so… I can’t touch you like that again? Ever?”

“No. It’s not right. It… It was nice of you to offer, but I should’ve never accepted it.”

“And… you can’t touch me like that, either?”

“No. I’m sorry, Ed, but… well, it’s not like your hands were hurt…”

“Then why did you do it?”

It was a simple enough question, but it left Peter gaping, at a loss for words.

“I… I guess… I wanted to even the score,” he finally said, feeling even guiltier than before due to the new falsehood and not even sure how well it would hold up to his brother’s scrutiny. “You’d done it for me twice, so… it was my turn.”

“Oh,” was all Edmund said. He didn’t know why he felt so disappointed, except that the delight of being pleasured by Peter’s hand was now become a thing of the past. Sensing that he was on the verge of tears again, he swallowed and got up.

“Are you all right?” Peter asked him, his face worried. Edmund considered the question, then pulled off his nightshirt roughly.

“No. But we have to get ready for breakfast, and we don’t want to be late again, do we?” he retorted.

“No, we don’t… I’m sorry.”

Edmund turned to look back at his brother, little suspecting that the sight of his lithe, bare torso nearly made Peter retract all that he had said heretofore.

“I will need to talk about this again,” he declared, wanting Peter to understand that he was not yet fully convinced. “I need to think about it for a while, but… when we have the time, and can really talk, I want you to explain it to me all again.”

“All right,” Peter agreed.

There was another knock on the door.

“Come in,” the High King answered, while King Edmund began washing his tear-stained face in a basin.

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  1. the-great-dragon

     /  2017/02/03

    This is so interesting! I’m glad Peter finally drew a line – it’s so great to see him struggling (I know, I’m cruel) and I’m so excited to see how this plays out (or how long it lasts ;))


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