Word Count: 3,940
Rating: R for disturbing contents and mild slash
Disclaimer: I own neither The Chronicles of Narnia nor Harry Potter.
Summary: While exploring the White Witch's house, Edmund has a strange encounter
Notes: I took liberties with the timeline in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. This story is set in the half hour between Edmund's arrival in the White Witch's house and their setting off after Peter, Susan, Lucy and the Beavers.
Beta-read by the fabulous rosina_alcona
, who owns my heart, and, if she so chooses, my firstborn.When at last she was free to come back to Edmund she found him standing on his feet and not only healed of his wounds but looking better than she had seen him look - oh, for ages; in fact ever since his first term at that horrid school which was where he had begun to go wrong.
(TLTWATW, Chapter 17)CrossroadsASLAN IS NEARER
Edmund meanwhile had been having a most disappointing time. When the dwarf had gone to get the sledge ready he expected that the Witch would start being nice to him, as she had been at their last meeting. But she said nothing at all. And when at last Edmund plucked up his courage to say, "Please, your Majesty, could I have some Turkish Delight? You - you - said -" she answered, "Silence, fool!" Then she appeared to change her mind and said, as if to herself, a "And yet it will not do to have the brat fainting on the way," and once more clapped her hands. Another dwarf appeared.
"Bring the human creature food and drink," she said.
The dwarf went away and presently returned bringing an iron bowl with some water in it and an iron plate with a hunk of dry bread on it. He grinned in a repulsive manner as he set them down on the floor beside Edmund and said:
"Turkish Delight for the little Prince. Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Take it away," said Edmund sulkily. "I don't want dry bread." But the Witch suddenly turned on him with such a terrible expression on her face that he apologized and began to nibble at the bread, though it was so stale he could hardly get it down.
"You may be glad enough of it before you taste bread again," said the Witch.
The worst thing - worse than the cold and the hunger and the sickening feeling that had just begun unfurling in his stomach, the feeling of betrayal
- was the fact that they thought he didn't count as an enemy. They didn't so much as lock him in or guard him - it was as though he was not important enough to be considered a danger. The Queen was talking to Maugrim, Captain of the Secret Police, and to a tall, black-clad figure, who had the hood of its cloak pulled over its face and spoke in a sort of low, hissing whisper, while Edmund loitered awkwardly by the throne, clutching the piece of dry bread in his hand.
Presently, he began walking slowly along the wall, on which hung the portraits of hags and sorcerers, dark creatures with red eyes and teeth-baring werewolves. The face of a thin, pale man with black hair caught his eye. The cold black eyes seemed to bore straight through Edmund, who shuddered and averted his gaze. It was like being trapped in a nightmare, and he was sure his right thigh was black and blue, because he kept pinching it to make himself wake up. Never in his life had Edmund felt so miserable; not even that night last autumn when Anthony Collins had crept into his bed for the first time. He had pressed his hand over Edmund's mouth and had rutted against him and grunted, and afterwards, he made Edmund swear he wouldn't tell anyone. Edmund wiped the sticky stuff from his belly and held his tongue. He couldn't tell anyone even if he wanted to, because he didn't know the right words for what had happened. Later, he learned the words. He also learned that Anthony Collins wasn't the only one among the elder boys in the dormitory who visited the younger ones in their beds at night. He learned that John Benwick would bite down on Edmund's shoulder to prevent himself from making noises and that Charles Knightley's nails were chipped and sharp and left painful wounds when Charles Knightley forced his fingers inside
Edmund. He learned that those wounds hurt less than what followed, later. Edmund learned that the younger boys were to the older boys what the older boys were to the masters, and he learned that talking about any of it would be betrayal on the school tradition.
He wondered, at first, why he had been sent to that school instead of the same as Peter. But then he thought it was probably because Peter was supposed to do the same to the younger boys at his school and that it would have been wrong if he did it to his own brother. He wondered why it never occurred to them that Peter could have protected him. Then he thought that maybe Peter didn't want to protect him at all.
"It was the right thing to do," Edmund muttered to himself, staring up at the portrait of the forbidding-looking dark-eyed man. "Peter doesn't care three straws about me!" The man's dark eyes seemed to flicker for a moment and Edmund felt a shudder run down his spine that had nothing to do with cold. He turned away from the portrait and continued walking slowly along the gallery of paintings, stepping carefully around the stone statues that stood between the pillars. Inside the walls of the gloomy castle, lit by the flickering light of a dozen torches, they no longer looked even remotely funny.
He had been walking towards the doorway until he reached the high arch that led out of the Queen's throne room. He threw a tentative look back over his shoulder, but the Queen was still deep in talk with the wolf and the hooded man. Edmund saw another figure crawl out of the shadows; its crouched shape and oddly slithering movements made it look much more menacing than even the large red-mouthed wolf.
No-one paid him any attention when he took a few more steps towards the door. He slowed down until he was moving at a slug's pace and stepped, carefully, around the corner.
'If they want to, they can call me back,' he told himself, his heart pounding in his chest. But no call reached his ears, nor did he feel an enraged wolf leap on him and tear him to pieces and, all of a sudden, Edmund found himself quite free in the long, dim corridor.
There were less statues here than in the throne room, but there were even more portraits of horrid, evil creatures. Edmund didn't want to look at them, but his eyes had developed a will of their own and he took in one picture after the other, each new one more horrible than the previous.
He wasn't looking for the exit, because he had no reason to. The Queen hadn't treated him really badly, and going back to them
wasn't an option any longer. He merely wanted to have a look around the castle. One day, he would be the Prince and then King, and the castle would be his. It seemed much bigger from the inside than it had looked from the outside; Edmund was quite sure that it hadn't taken him so long to get to the throne room when he followed Maugrim there.
No torches were lit here, and the only light came in through the windows. It was the light of a pale moon reflected on snow, and Edmund could barely make out the shape of things around him. He was beginning to fear that he would never find his way back, that he would get lost in those endless corridors, that the Queen would forget about him and make someone else a Prince, and that he would wander around aimlessly, until he would have to curl up in a corner and die. Or maybe he would turn into a statue and spend the rest of eternity standing in a dark and gloomy corner of the Queen's castle. This thought made him feel very sorry for himself, and he spent a few minutes imagining Peter and the others searching for him and regretting all the horrid things they had said and done.
He turned another corner and something at the far end of the new corridor caught his attention. Edmund squinted hard, trying to make it out, and realised that it was shadows dancing across the stone floor. Light was pouring out from the open door at the far left, and Edmund moved closer and peered inside.
The door led to a splendid room, richly furnished and more beautiful than anything he had seen in the Witch's house. In fact, it was more beautiful than any room he had ever seen in his life. It was lit by dozens of candles in silver candelabras, the walls were hung with tapestries in dark green and silver colours, a table was laden with dishes of finest game and fish, bowls with pineapple, oranges, bananas and grapes, jugs of wine and ice sherbet, and a silver plate of what looked very much like Turkish Delight, and in the very centre of the room stood a magnificent, green-and-silver sofa.
Sprawled across the velvet cushions was a boy. He looked a few years older than Edmund, and he had dark hair and eyes and a proud, handsome face. He was watching Edmund with an amused look in his eyes.
For a few moments, Edmund stood very still. The feeling of being trapped in a dream returned tenfold, but it wasn't a nightmare any longer. Now it was a sweet and lovely dream, such as one might dream after waking up at the break of dawn and realising that it is the first day of the holidays, and going back to sleep in the secure knowledge that there will be no school today.
The strange boy was looking at him unblinkingly, as though measuring him up. Presently, Edmund became very aware that he was still holding the piece of dry bread in his hand. Ashamed that the stranger might spot it, he hid his hand in his pocket and let go of the bread. The stranger smiled, and it wasn't a pleasant smile, but Edmund didn't mind.
For a few minutes, neither of the boys spoke. Edmund longed to have some Turkish Delight, but he felt too shy to ask the other boy. Instead, he kept looking at him, and the boy was looking back. The stranger looked very regal and forbidding, and Edmund thought that he looked much more like a Prince than he himself did. What if the Queen wanted to make the stranger King instead of him?
Just as this horrible thought had crossed Edmund's mind, the stranger spoke.
"Hello," he said, and his voice was everything that Edmund thought it would be - low and just a little bit amused, "And who would you be?"
"I'm Edmund," said Edmund, his voice shaking slightly. "I'm a boy," he added quickly as an explanation, "a Son of Adam."
He didn't like the soft laughter the boy let out. But his hunger for Turkish Delight had made him desperate, and he blurted out, "May I have some of the Turkish Delight?"
The stranger laughed again, this time more loudly, and made a wide gesture with his hand. "Help yourself, Edmund," he said, watching amused as Edmund hastened towards the table, grabbed a handful of sweets and plunged them in his mouth. They were very sticky and a sweet warmth spread instantly deep in his belly.
"What brings you here, Edmund?" the boy asked. He was leaning back on the sofa, looking very relaxed. Edmund was very aware how sticky his hands and his mouth were and that his hair was uncombed and his shoes dirty. But the more Turkish Delight he ate, the more comfortable he felt, and so he kept eating, ignoring the boy as well as he could.
"I was invited by the Queen," Edmund said, talking with his mouth full. "She wants to make me King, because she has no children of her own." Presently, a horrible idea struck him. "You aren't her son, are you?"
"Me?" the boy laughed. "Oh no! No, no, I am not her son. I am her... confederate."
Edmund thought that the boy seemed to laugh at some hidden joke that Edmund didn't understand, but he couldn't be bothered to find out what it was. He felt very full and a bit sleepy now, as one feels after coming home from a long walk in the cold winter air. The boy patted the seat beside him.
"Come over here and sit next to me, so we can talk," he said.
Edmund didn't know why the boy was so amused. He laughed at almost everything that Edmund said, and he called Edmund "Muggle". Edmund didn't know what it meant, but the boy said it in an affectionate tone, and Edmund didn't mind. The boy was much nicer to him than the Queen was - he was as nice as the Queen had been when Edmund first met her, and he kept offering Edmund more Turkish Delight.
In spite of his slight feeling of unease, Edmund found himself talking to the boy and answering all his questions. He told him about how Mother and Father would always send him away, first to school and then to that old house in the country, about Peter, Susan and Lucy and how horrid they had been to him, and also how perfectly beastly the other boys at school were.
"Oh yes," said the boy, "I know what you mean."
"Are you at school, too?" Edmund asked in surprise. He didn't think that they had schools in Narnia.
"I was..." said the boy slowly. "But, look here! There are ways to make them stop."
He leaned in closer and, in spite of himself, Edmund flinched back. The boy laughed and put a hand on Edmund's knee.
"Don't worry," he said, "I'm not going to do you any harm."
The hand on Edmund's knee felt warm and strong. It made him slightly uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. He looked down at it and saw that the boy's nails were short and clean, quite unlike his own, which were bitten and dirty. The boy looked much more like a Prince than he did, and he behaved much more like a Prince, too. Presently Edmund began to wonder why the Queen wanted to make him King and not the boy. The boy seemed to sense his question.
"I'm not staying here long," he said. He began to move his thumb in very small circles, tickling Edmund's knee. Edmund felt his muscles clench involuntarily and his stomach gave a sudden jolt.
"Are you comfortable?" asked the boy. "Would you like more Turkish Delight?"
Edmund thought that he very much would, but that he'd probably be sick if he ate any more sweets, and so he shook his head. He was watching the boy's hand, which had begun moving up and down his thigh, his fingers now tickling Edmund's kneecap, now disappearing under the hem of Edmund's shorts. The boy noticed he was watching.
"Don't you like it?" he asked, "I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable. It's just, you look as though you were cold."
Edmund thought he was feeling hot rather than cold. But he was shivering, and so the boy's mistake was an easy one to make. His mouth felt very dry, and he desperately wished for something to drink, but the ice sherbet seemed miles away. It was strange, the table with the drinks was almost within reach, but Edmund didn't think he had the energy to extend his hand towards it.
He heard the boy mutter something, and then, as if by magic, a glass filled with delicious, cool liquid was pressed into his hand. He drained it gratefully, relishing the fresh lemony taste.
He didn't know how, but suddenly, he found himself leaning back against the boy, whose arm lay loosely over his shoulder and whose breath was stirring Edmund's hair. It gave Edmund a very queer feeling; the boy's touch was not the same as Father and Mother's had been when he was a child, but it wasn't like the boys' at school, either. He sensed that the boy wanted to make him feel good, but he was making him nervous, too.
In order to mask his unease, he asked the first question that came to mind.
"Why won't you be staying here long?"
The boy laughed softly against his hair.
"Because I've got to go back to my world."
"You aren't from here, then?"
"Oh no!" The boy shook his head. "I'm only here to learn."
"To learn what?"
"What do you think?" The boy tightened his arm around Edmund's shoulder and pulled him closer. "What do you think the White Witch can teach me?" he whispered into Edmund's hair.
"Magic?" Edmund felt a shudder of excitement run down his spine. If the Queen was teaching the boy how to do magic, she might also teach him, Edmund. And what great sport that would be! He could turn Peter and the others into frogs whenever they were beastly to him.
"Magic?" the boy said thoughtfully. "I suppose you could call it that. The greatest magic of all."
"What do you mean?" asked Edmund. He was very aware how closely he was pressed against the boy; it made his skin tingle. If being able to do magic was wonderful, being able to do the greatest magic of all must surely exceed his wildest dreams. "Like, turning people into frogs or making yourself invisible?"
The boy laughed again, and when he spoke it was in an amused voice again, a voice that made Edmund's blood run cold. "Oh you Muggles, you have no idea about real power. You scrabble around, live your pathetic little lives, blind to what's in front of you, and you never catch a glimpse of true greatness." Edmund knew that he should be offended by such talk, but he got distracted by the boy's hands, which had started roaming his body. It was just the same that the boys at school did, but it felt different. In fact, it felt good, and Edmund gasped, realising that he liked it.
Before he knew what happened, the boy had flipped him over and straddled his hips. His hands slid up Edmund's sides, and that was an odd spark in his eyes, which Edmund didn't like at all. But the hands felt oh-so-good, and then the boy's mouth descended on Edmund's. He had never been kissed before (it was an unspoken agreement at school; boys didn't kiss boys, kissing was what one did with girls), and he didn't know what to do. But the boy knew, and Edmund felt his lips being pushed open by lips and tongue. It was wet and very hot, and Edmund liked it very much. Delicious warmth was spreading throughout his body, from his cheeks, which were burning red, to his toes, which curled in his shoes. There was heat and pressure in the centre of his body, in his belly and his groin. It was good, better than Turkish Delight, and he wished it would never end. At the same time, he knew it must end, because it was getting too much. The heavy warmth lifted suddenly as the boy sat up, and Edmund cried out. A hand pressed against his crotch, rubbed once, twice, and the feeling in Edmund's belly exploded.
Dizzy and disoriented, he blinked several times to get rid of the black fog that obscured his vision. The boy was sitting astride him, a self-satisfied smile on his face. Edmund opened his mouth, but managed nothing but a weak croak.
"No-one's told you it would be like that, did they?" the boy whispered, cupping Edmund's face with one hand. "There is much I could teach you... Edmund." One long, slim finger slid across his bare belly, and Edmund felt the sharp nail leave a burning trail on his skin. His hips arched up and he closed his eyes, biting his lip.
"But, unfortunately, her Majesty claimed you first. You will learn a lot indeed, oh fortunate favourite of the Queen." It was the second time that night that Edmund was called a favourite of the Queen, but he had the feeling that they were making fun of him.
"What will I learn?" Edmund asked when he had his voice back. "What is she teaching you?"
The boy leaned back, propping himself up on his arms. His gaze seemed to be boring into Edmund.
"She is teaching me..." he said, "she is teaching me the greatest secret of all. Do you know, Edmund, how long Jadis has been Queen of Narnia?"
"I've heard she’s ruled Narnia for hundreds of years, and she made it's always winter and never Christmas," said Edmund frowning. "But how can this be?"
"Ye-es," said the boy, his eyes taking on a far-away look. "Hundreds and hundreds of years. And she will still be Queen of Narnia when you and your brother and sisters are long dead and gone. She will rule the country forever and ever... and ever..." he trailed off dreamily. "Isn't this the greatest power of all? Isn't this what all humans want? But of course," he laughed softly; Edmund barely dared breathe. "She is no human. But never mind, Edmund. Never mind. What works for her, will work for a human, as well."
"What?" asked Edmund sheepishly. "You want to be King? Forever?"
"In a way, Edmund." He slid off Edmund's legs and let himself fall back in the seat gracefully. "I want to rule," he said, and there was a hard note in his voice that sent shivers down Edmund's spine.
"Here? In Narnia?"
"In Narnia? Lord, no. Why should I want to rule in Narnia? There's nothing here but beasts and beings. No, what I want to rule are humans. And I shall, Edmund. I shall."
Some of the anxiety Edmund felt must have shown on his face, because the boy added, "But don't you worry, I won't be in your way. I assure you, her Majesty will bestow enough time and energy on you. She will teach you how to pay them all back. This is what you want, isn't it, Edmund?"
Edmund's heart was pumping very hard in his chest and his hands were slick with sweat. Before he could force his dry tongue around words, there was a rustle by the door.
Tall, white-faced and beautiful, the White Witch stood in the doorway, framed by dark pillars. Her thin mouth was twisted in a cold grimace, and her eyes were even colder.
"Get up. We're leaving." Her voice was like a whip crack. Edmund jumped, slipping awkwardly from the sofa. He was all too aware of his messy hair, his sweaty hands, his rumpled clothes. The White Witch glanced at him carelessly before shifting her gaze to the boy.
"Was he a nuisance?"
"Not at all, your Majesty." The boy was sitting back on the sofa, a lazy smile playing across his lips. "Edmund and I were playing."
A thin, cruel smile twisted the White Witch's mouth. "I can see you were having fun. You, human, come with me." Tucking his shirt in hurriedly, Edmund scurried over to the door.
"You wait for me here," she ordered the boy, who nodded, watching her calmly. "And if I find that you have spoiled him for me, I'll make sure you regret it... Tom."
Every time Edmund recalled his encounter with the boy, during the nightmarish trip in the White Witch’s sledge, and later, when he was King of Narnia, he always wondered what happened to Tom after the White Witch had gone and whether he had returned to his own world safely. And there was this nagging feeling, somewhere in the back of his head, a feeling he knew he must suppress but which kept haunting him for many, many years, that he, too, might have preferred to stay. To learn. To be with Tom.