Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia
Disclaimer: Chronicles of Narnia belongs to the Estate of C.S. Lewis, not me.
Characters/Pairings: Eustace Scrubb/Jill Pole, Eustace Scrubb, Jill Pole, Edmund Pevensie, Lucy Pevensie
Word Count: 2092
Summary: Eustace is the only one who can wake Jill up from her nightmares, and Edmund doesn't fail to spot how close they are.
Author's Notes: Written out of a desire for more Eustace and Jill nightmare fluff, and more Edmund and Eustace brotherly!fic.
A Rescue and a Conversation
Eustace is the only one who can wake Jill up from her nightmares, and Edmund doesn't fail to spot how close they are.
Lucy was at a loss for what to do. Jill had been tossing and turning for a good fifteen minutes now, and nothing Lucy had done seemed to be able to wake her. She was starting to get worried; Jill seemed to steadily be getting worse, and Lucy had seen the effects of nightmares on Edmund and her other siblings, and wanted to wake her as soon as possible.
It wasn't that Lucy was no good at waking people from nightmares. She'd had plenty of experience waking Edmund, Peter and Susan, plus her old dorm mates whenever they had become enraptured by bad dreams, but whatever she tried, she simply could not wake Jill. She leaned over the girl once again, gently shaking her shoulders in another attempt to wake her, and calling softly to her. It was no good; Jill still wouldn't wake.
She needed help. Peter was all the way somewhere in the attics, and Lucy wasn't quite sure about finding her way there in the dark in Polly's house – she felt sure she'd get lost. But Edmund was at the other end of the hallway, she could go and get him. Lucy looked at Jill, still tossing and turning, and opened the door quickly. It would do no good for her to wake up alone.
Creeping down the hallway, not wanting anyone else to be disturbed by the night's goings on, she opened Edmund's door and stepped softly over to where her brother's sleeping form lay. Looking at the peaceful expression on his face, it seemed a shame to Lucy to wake him, but it had to be done. She gently shook his shoulder, and unlike Jill, he woke pretty much immediately.
"What time is it? Lu?" He mumbled fairly incoherently as he gently sat up and rubbed his eyes.
"It's Jill. I can't wake her and she's tossing and turning something terrible. It's been at least twenty minutes," Lucy replied, whispering quietly, but Edmund could sense the anxiety in her voice.
Edmund got out of bed and reached for the bed robe lying haphazardly on the cabinet. "I'll see what I can do," he said, and made a move to leave.
"Ed?" came the questioning voice of their cousin, sharing Ed's room. He looked up enough to see Lucy and Edmund paused in the door frame. "It's Jill, isn't it?" he asked softly.
Lucy nodded, and Eustace sprang up out of his bed, not caring to reach for warmer clothing (despite the fact it was April and still reasonably chilly at nights), and was out of the room and down the hall before the other two had much time to think. They followed him quickly, watching him pause at Lucy's door, before going in.
Eustace dropped to Jill's bedside, placing his hands on her shoulder's gently, and shook. "Jill," he called softly. "Jill. I'm here. It's okay," he whispered. "Look, you're scaring Lucy. You need to wake up. Please." Eustace shook her shoulder's again.
Jill's eyes opened wide and she sat bolt upright in the bed. Eustace paused for a minute, seeing how she would react, gently grasping one of her hands as a comforting gesture. She turned slowly to him, and said, "Eustace," her voice faltering ever so slightly.
"It's alright, Jill. I'm here. Everything's okay," he said softly, facing her. "Nothing's going to hurt you," he continued.
"You fell, you fell, you fell," Jill said, in that rasping, sobbing voice of hers, almost struggling to breathe. Eustace hated it; it made him feel six shades of peculiar about Jill and always signified she was upset. "You fell, and He wasn't there to save you and I had to do everything alone and I forgot the signs and then Puddleglum disappeared and I was alone in that dark cave and oh Scrubb." Her head dropped and rested on his shoulder, and Eustace would have wrapped and arm around her had Jill not been now clutching both hands.
"Jill," Eustace started. "None of that happened. He saved me and everything worked out in the end. You know that."
"It was so real though," she muttered into his shoulder, and Eustace could barely make out the words. "I saw your body, broken, bruised and bleeding at the bottom of the cliff." Her fingers grabbed part of the shirt he was wearing, tightly curling round for reassurance. Eustace took the chance to wrap an arm reassuringly around her shoulder.
"Not the cliff again. We've been over this Jill, it wasn't your fault," Eustace gave Jill's hand he was still holding a quick, reassuring squeeze. "Just, go back to sleep. Everything'll be fine in the morning." He helped Jill lie down on the bed before retrieving the covers that had got knocked onto the floor earlier. "There. Sleep, Jill, you'll feel better for it."
He made a move to leave, but Jill caught his hand. "Stay with me a little longer?" she asked quietly, not wanting Lucy and Edmund, who were still waiting at the door, to hear her.
"Of course, Jill," Eustace nodded. There was no chair in the room for him to sit on, so he just knelt beside the bed, waiting for Jill to fall asleep again. He heard footsteps going away from the room, and looking to the door confirmed his suspicion that Edmund had gone.
It didn't take Jill as long to fall asleep as Eustace feared, and he soon crept out of the room, passing Lucy as he did so. "I don't think she'll start again, but if she does, don't hesitate to wake me. Her room-mates are always complaining they can't wake her, it doesn't surprise me that you can't," he whispered, and Lucy nodded, before collapsing into her own bed for some much needed sleep.
Eustace thought that by the time he was back to his room, Edmund would hopefully be asleep, but there was no such luck. His cousin was sitting there, on his bed. Eustace tried to sneak in quietly, hoping desperately to be unnoticed, but the fates were not smiling on him that night.
"You and Jill are close, aren't you?" Edmund said, eyeing his cousin.
Eustace knew that anything but the truth to Edmund would just result in more questions. "Yes," he said. "Being in Narnia together does that," he offered as an explanation.
Edmund could tell his cousin didn't want to talk about it, but that didn't mean he was going to leave the topic completely alone. He just went for a slight tangent instead. "How is she?" he asked.
"She's settled back down again, and I don't think she'll wake up again 'til morning. She usually doesn't."
"The Nightmares are recurring?" Edmund asked. Eustace nodded his head. "That takes a lot out of a person." Eustace observed his cousin, noting the dropped head and clasped hands; he knew Edmund suffered from nightmares very similar to Jill, and had even seen part of one, while on the Dawn Treader. It hadn't been nice.
"She tells me she suffered before Narnia, but they've gotten worse since then," Eustace said. He paused yet again. "I get nightmares too occasionally, but they're nowhere near as bad as hers are, despite seeing the same things."
"Susan had a theory vaguely regarding that," Edmund said, and Eustace looked up in surprise, knowing the way Susan had gone. "Something about our memories of Narnia being repressed during the time we're awake here and we can't deal with them, but they're still in our subconscious so we try and deal with them at night, which doesn't usually work very well as you've just seen." Eustace looked at his cousin oddly, trying to process what Edmund had just said. "No, I don't particularly understand it either. Certain memories of Narnia are more vivid than others; you probably have nightmares about the sea serpent and the dragon."
Eustace nodded. "Among other things. I've only had one nightmare about the dragon," he said. "I don't get why she fixates on certain things though. She dreams about none of the things I thought she'd have nightmares over and all of the things I thought she'd be fine about." He wrung his hands. "I wish she didn't come back to the cliff."
"What actually happened between you on the cliff?" Edmund asked. He'd heard things, but Eustace had always skated over it, and Edmund knew from past experience that there were some things were best avoided, but the tone in his cousin's voice made him wonder what exactly had happened.
Eustace squirmed uncomfortably, stayed silent for a bit, and then took a deep breath and said, "I fell off the cliff," very fast. Looking at Edmund's puzzled face, he continued. "Jill was close to the edge and I went to pull her back only I fell off and I suppose Jill almost pushed me, but she didn't and I told her it was all her fault only it wasn't and now she blames herself for it but I wish she wouldn't," he finished.
"Slow down there, Eustace," Edmund said, fully surprised at his cousin – Eustace excelled in staying calm in situations like this, so to see him so flustered was a sight in itself. "You're telling me that you fell off a cliff and it was Jill's fault, only you don't blame her for it now but you did then?" he asked, trying to clarify what Eustace had told him.
"Umm, well, sort of..." Eustace muttered. "Yes," he admitted, settling on the best answer.
Edmund chuckled, and Eustace couldn't help but look up at his cousin. "Dear cousin, no wonder she remembers it so vividly. Her first experience in Narnia and she manages to end up responsible for pushing you off a cliff. And you can hold a grudge for a while when you want to," Edmund pointed out.
"I know," Eustace said. "I feel terrible about blaming her so much for it. And she feels terrible about it being the first thing she did in Narnia. No matter how many times I've told her I was a complete ass when I first came, in significant detail, and that you weren't exactly the best of sports either, it doesn't seem to sink into that pretty little head of hers."
"How much did you tell her?" Edmund asked cautiously. Luckily, Eustace caught onto what he meant.
"Not much. She knows you did things wrong, and that you weren't with the others for all of it, but I've never told her the extent of it. I don't know enough myself to be able to tell her. I always thought you should be able to explain it your way," Eustace said. Edmund looked happier. "What's important is she knows you redeemed yourself."
"Thank you Eustace," Edmund said, meaning every word. He then remembered something Eustace had said earlier. "You think Jill is pretty then?"
Eustace stammered slightly at his cousin's accusation, and was obviously trying to fight any sign that his body would give as to the answer to Ed's question, but the rising blush on his cheeks made it clear to Ed. "It's alright if you do, you know. She's a nice girl," Edmund added.
"She's lovely," Eustace said. Edmund suppressed a laugh at his usually calm cousin being like this. "It's nothing really, Edmund," he added as he looked over at his cousin and saw the smirk on Ed's face.
"You care about each other deeply, that much is obvious," Edmund said. "Don't lose that closeness. She's your best friend, and from the looks of it, more than that." Eustace ducked his head to avoid Edmund looking at the blush on his cheeks. "That sort of thing doesn't come along very often."
"I know," Eustace replied. He wondered about who Edmund had cared about and lost, because it was obvious that there was someone from how he talked. But that was none of Eustace's business, really. "Thanks Ed," he added.
"No problem," Edmund replied. He supposed that they probably ought to get some sleep now, before Peter started complaining at them the next morning about their lack of responsiveness. Eustace dropped off in a few minutes, and Edmund didn't lie there for very much longer before he too joins the realm of sleep.
Lucy and Jill both muttered a thanks to Eustace the next morning, while Edmund sat with a smile on his face. The adults – Peter included here, for once – look on with confusion, as Edmund smirked knowingly as Eustace sat beside Jill and they whispered quietly to one another.