Disclaimer: I own none of it.
Warnings: Angst, torture, character death.
Spoilers: Nothing worth mentioning.
Summary: Let's pretend Peter had tried to rescue Edmund from the Witch.
Edmund kneels with his back to a wall of ice. His eyes are half-closed in exhaustion but he cannot sleep with the cruel iron chains cutting into his wrists and ankles. Whimpering, he struggles for what feels like the thousandth time to free himself. The chains do not forgive him, and he does not forgive himself. His head drops hopelessly to his chest. His eyes close, tears slipping from them to freeze on his eyelashes. He slumps forward and his bonds bite harder, blood trickling from his wrists.
“Edmund,” a cool, silky voice purrs. A sob dies in his throat. “You look so cold.”
They are the first honeyed words she fed him, the first tantalizing promise of a kindness long denied him, the first incantation of the spell she so deftly wove about him, ensnaring him. He thinks of how long it has been and cannot remember. Shuddering weakly, he does not reply.
“You chose this path, Son of Adam,” she says. “You chose me.”
At this he can say nothing, because it is true.
“Embrace the darkness.”
“No,” he rasps. His betrayal will lead to no more captures. His gluttony has already encircled one more than it should have, but here it will stop, and he swears to himself that he will not give in. No matter what.
“Leave him alone,” says another hoarse voice bitterly. There is a wickedly amused chuckle.
“Noble as ever,” the Witch coos.
Edmund imagines his elder brother, separated from him only by a thick wall of ice, yet worlds away. He envisions Peter in the same chained position and wonders why he had to be so stupid as to go after his traitorous younger brother. Why he had to be so noble. He curses him for being so selfless and brave, even with the Witch standing in front of him.
“Edmund,” the Witch says again. “You know where your loyalties lie, don’t you?”
“You won’t find my sisters,” he croaks. It hurts to speak.
“Come now, Edmund. You’ve already betrayed them once, will a second time really hurt so much?”
He forces his eyes shut and pushes back the guilt welling up within his chest. Once, yes, but never again. Peter, yes, but not Susan and Lucy. Not ever.
“No,” he repeats. He can practically see Peter’s defiant smile. He can practically feel the Witch’s burning gaze.
A scream of pain smashes the stillness of the cell and Edmund jolts forward, chafing his wrists badly, a yell of his own escaping from his surprised throat. Blood pounding his ears, he overbalances and finds his cheek pressed to the floor, his limbs twisted grotesquely behind him.
“Peter!” he cries helplessly, but the answer is only harsh, shocked breathing punctuated by sharp gasps of hurt. Peter, he cries again, silently, this time for the sake of his brother, not himself. His chest heaves against the cold ground as he cannot return to a sitting position. The Witch’s satisfied chuckle brings within him an unimaginable amount of wrath and fear and guilt.
“Where are your sisters, Son of Adam?” she asks again.
“Leave him alone!” Edmund sobs.
“Where are your sisters?”
Another scream, and Edmund’s overactive imagination lets him see his brother’s fingers splintered while his overactive conscience lets him feel what it would be like if it was him. His breath catches in his chest. More tears run over his face, dripping off his nose to freeze upon the dirty ice floor.
“Edmund,” the Witch says, more forcefully. “I gave you a chance for greatness. Now I offer it to you again. Speak, and I’ll make his passing painless.”
“Ed,” Peter chokes out. Edmund can hear his haggard breathing and doesn’t miss the watery quality of his voice. “Ed, don’t tell her.” There is a cracking sound, and a shuddering sigh of agony from the elder boy.
Snap. Fresh cries that are half scream and half sob echo around the icy prison. Even if they somehow escape, Edmund knows Peter will never hold a sword again. And he thinks it would be fitting if Peter never spoke to him again. He turns his face into the floor, guilt pushing in on every corner of his heart, stifling his breathing.
“Edmund,” the Witch coaxes, her voice dripping with scorn. “You were always last among your family. I’m giving you an opportunity to be more than them. Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“Shut up!” he pleads. “Shut up shut up shut up!”
“EDMUND!” Peter’s yell is desperate, pitiful, agonized, unbearable.
Peter is beyond screaming. Edmund can only hear the broken weeping of his once proud elder brother, his little gasping cries of torture. Sobbing, he rocks back and forth within the chains’ embrace,
“I’m sorry,” he groans piteously.
“Edmund!” the Witch calls angrily, but he bellows a wordless wail of rage and she is drowned out. When he runs out of air she continues. “You are worth nothing. Don’t deny the…”
“No,” Peter interrupts breathlessly, “No, Ed, you’re not worthless, you’re not…” But he is cut off by his own abrupt, long shriek of anguish, accompanied by the sound of metal sinking deep into flesh and Edmund’s disjointed howl. There is silence except for the jagged breathing of the younger boy. Then, suddenly, cloth slides across the floor and the Witch leaves them. Just before she exits, she turns back and fixes Edmund with a chilled glare, noting as his eyes trail to her fingers. They are covered in his brother’s blood.
“You chose,” she says icily. And then she is gone.