AN: for the record, I've said it once and I'll say it again: I do NOT like Phillip Pullman's HDM books AT ALL. However, I liked the Golden Compass MOVIE and found the idea of everyone having their own little 'animal' following them around kinda cute. So all the Golden Compass themes are pretty much going to be all strictly movie-based. Also, though there will be some characters from the Golden Compass in this, it will very much center around the NARNIAN ones for the most part. This is also very AU and the Pairings are going to be, Peter/Susan and Edmund/Lucy. Don't like it, don't read it, don't know how else to put it.
The night is cold, bitterly cold. The wind whips at the faces of the trembling men unmercifully. They hunch into alleyways. No one must see them, they think. They needn't worry, there is nothing so very alarming about them, even to the most observant of people. They look like nothing more than a few ordinary persons out for a walk, bundled up in long midnight black and blue cloaks only because it is so very cold. And though they do fret about it terribly, they really don't have much reason to obsess about their dæmons. The dæmons that follow them are settled and will not change shape, giving themselves away. One large dog, one stupid-looking bird, one yellow tabby cat, and of course the little ferret which rides upon the shoulders of his human.
Of course, they look like nothing more than well-trained pets...but things are not always as they seem. That is a lesson worth remembering if you are going to read this story at all. Perhaps it may even be the moral, though no good story-teller would be stupid enough to announce such a thing in a pitiful attempt to club a reader/listener over the head with it.
The man who's cloak is the longest, warmest, and darkest, keeps a little bundle concealed in the navy-blue silken lining. It was making a crying noise earlier and they all became fearful, but it had quieted down since then, relaxing them-at least for a few moments.
"What do we do now?" The man to the left of the one with the bundle whispers in a frightened, strained voice.
"We must pick a household, one where we know-in all likelihood-she will be safe." Is the almost-curt answer. His dæmon (the large dog) feels her fur raising upwards along in time with the man's own cold, nervous neck-hairs.
"Don't you think we might have settled that first?" Snaps the man on the right, anxiously eyeing a drunken lout sprawled out in the middle of the dark path, wondering if it could be a trap. "We could have had charts and meetings or something-"
"Don't be a fool," Hisses the figure with the ferret dæmon, who turns out not to be a man like the others after all, but a woman-her face well hidden by her hood. "If anyone had caught us...well, you know what would have happened, don't be such an idiot, all right?"
"Forgive me, milady, twas ill spoken and poorly thought out of me." He whispers back graciously.
She lifts her hood up a little, giving him a forgiving smile as they press on. The others are still too frightened to smile; even the one who receives the lady's forgiveness cannot will himself to smile back.
They step out into the lighted streets below the shinning lampposts, very nearly losing their nerve. The man on the left feels his teeth beginning to chatter and can sense his dæmon is on edge, too.
Watching any lit windows they pass, trying to be as discreet as possible, they creep along. Finally, they spot what might just be exactly what they are looking for, just what they need so badly. The lady smiles again. This time, there is a smile or two exchanged, almost-relieved ones.
Inside that house, there is what looks like a sweet, loving, devoted, brave and loyal, husband and wife. The husband is deep-chested and broad-shouldered, and very handsome, too. The wife looks exactly as a perfect mother should, warm bluish eyes, creamy skin, pretty brown curls. The way the couple smile at each other is a dead give away, they love each other dearly. They are a family.
"I do hope we're doing the right thing." Whispers the man with the bird dæmon.
"I'm certain of it." Says the woman, marching up boldly towards the house and rapping the knocker down smartly, three times, very quickly.
The others seem startled by her firmness, still shaking a little in their boots, but they follow her anyway. The one with the bundle stands just behind her.
The door opens and there is the woman. They ask her name and she, being a friendly, kindly soul, gives it to them. "I am Helen Pevensie."
"May we come in?" The man with the bundle lifts up his hood to reveal his weather-beaten but still strangely appealing face.
Knowing it is cold and also somehow understanding that the people mean her and her husband no harm, she lets them in and even offers to take their cloaks and capes for them.
The woman allows her to do so, as well as the man who had been standing to the left, but the others politely refuse.
Shrugging to herself, Helen calls for her husband, Mr. Pevensie. He arrives and, though he is a little confused by the strangers-and their peculiar animals-coming like this, he greets them kindly and offers the men a glass of brandy. One man takes it, the others do not.
The man with the bundle opens his cloak and shows the contents to the husband and wife. They can't believe their eyes, a baby! A living breathing, little baby! What on earth?
"Quick, Helen, fetch Peter's old cradle, will you? So that the baby will have somewhere to be laid out." Says Mr. Pevensie.
Helen does as her husband tells her and brings out the cradle; the baby is laid in it, and Mrs. Pevensie recoils in horror when she notices what looks like a small deer-mouse clinging to the child's right foot. She tries to shoo it away, but the woman tells her she mustn't do that.
"It's not what you think, it's a..." her voice becomes lower now. "...It's a dæmon, Mrs. Pevensie, the baby's dæmon."
Helen goes quite white in the face. "But I thought...I didn't know that there really were such things...I thought they were just fairy-tales..."
Mr. Pevensie's eyes widen; he has just realized for himself what the other 'animals' in his house really are. "Oh, my."
The men and the woman explain themselves quietly and plead with the couple to assist them. How can they refuse? Mr. And Mrs. Pevensie are just nodding in agreement, dumbstruck as they listen. Their golden-haired little son, Peter, though he is supposed to be in bed, comes downstairs and notices the 'animals'-he reaches to pet the dog, to stroke its fur because it looks oh so very soft.
His father sees this and grabs him before he can do so, before it is too late. Peter doesn't know that it's a dæmon, so he is not scolded, only told he must not touch any of the 'animals' no matter how pretty they are.
Confused, Peter trots over to the cradle and looks down at the baby. It is a she baby, a female. She gurgles up at him and smiles widely; her dæmon seems to like him, too, though he doesn't move from clutching the child's foot.
"Her name is Lucy." The man tells the couple and their son. "Her dæmon is called Reepicheep."
"Lucy," repeats Peter, looking down at the baby as if she is the most beautiful little thing he has ever set his eyes on, in spite of the fact that in reality, she is terribly flushed and growth-stunted, with a turned up nose. Not the most charming baby you could imagine even with her sweet, chubby, cherub-like cheeks.
"Look after her." The woman pleads.
"We will." The husband and wife say.
But it is Peter, their son, the one who is not really needed to do anything except to help keep the secret, who whispers to the baby. "Always, I'll always look after you, little Lucy."
Eight years later...
Peter watched sadly as his little sister, Lucy Pevensie, gently scooped up her dæmon, Reepicheep, and slipped him into a brown leather pouch; they were going out and no one else was allowed to see her beloved Reep. He could have shape-shifted into a smaller mouse or a cat or any other more pet-like form of his and followed her about that way, but how would it look to people if Lucy always had a pet with her? They might just conclude that she was simply an animal lover-which wasn't untrue-but if they should suspect...no, it was safer this way, much as Reepicheep might fuss about now undignified it was and thrash about.
They had both grown a great deal, the little girl and her dæmon. Lucy, now a child of eight, had pretty, wispy reddish-brown hair which in some lightings looked almost fair rather than dark, and she had grown into her round face and button nose so that they didn't seem so out of place anymore. In his mouse form (the form he took most often), Reepicheep was taller, almost the size of a very small cat or particularly long mink or ferret. He was small enough to hide quickly without having to resort to changing his shape right away, small enough to ride on Lucy's shoulder as she wandered around the hallways of the Pevensies' house, but large enough so that he wasn't at all likely to get stepped on. At some point in time, he'd gotten a golden band around one ear with a red feather in it, as well as a fine sword just the right shape and side for him to use. No one could say for certain when these had started to appear with him; only that they were prone to vanishing when he took on a different form.
Peter wished he didn't have to keep little Lucy's dæmon hidden, but there was no other way to protect her. No one else in their world had dæmons (or if they did, they certainly weren't visible to the human eye).
Lucy was more than a little grateful for the love and protection of her elder brother, who, although he made it quite clear that she was a little different from other children, had never told her about where she had really come from. As far as the girl knew, she had been born to Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie just as her brother had. She never could get him to explain-without stammering-why exactly she, and she alone, had a dæmon, but of course that didn't mean he did not love her. In fact, there were times when she thought Peter was the only real friend she had.
Two years before, when she had only been about six years old, some children had come over to play while their parents chatted with Mr. And Mrs. Pevensie in the dinning room. At first, things had gone splendidly; Reep being hidden behind a small dust bin in the corner of her room-shifted into one of his smallest deer mouse shapes-simply watching everything in silence. After a while, however, he got a little bored and longed to come on out and get a good look at his human's new playmates for himself. Knowing better than to just make himself known as a mouse dæmon, completely unbidden, he had cleverly shape-shifted into a golden-brown kitten and crawled a little further out to have a better look at everything.
It was disastrous; the child nearest to him instantly reached over and snatched him up, sticking their jam-stained fingers right into his soft, delicate ears. He wanted to scream for Lucy to help him, but he knew it would only make things worse if the rough child discovered the 'kitten' he was manhandling could speak. Besides, if he was in pain, Lucy was in pain, too. She whimpered and put her hands to her own ears, silently praying for Reep to squirm away and hide himself again.
Another child pulled Reepicheep's tail. Very hard. Lucy cried out loudly-feeling as though someone was twisting off her own arm. One of the children even attempted to swing Reep by his tail before getting a nasty scratch on their left hand. Their simply touching Reeepicheep made Lucy uncomfortable; she knew somehow without being told that you weren't supposed to touch someone else's dæmon, Peter rarely did, and her parents never had. But to have them pulling and swinging and pushing and yanking at him like this was hurting her so much she thought she might die. The room spun in her own eyes when Reep got dizzy; when they hurt him, they hurt her, too.
Nothing else for it, poor Lucy had lumbered across the room and tried to rescue her dear Reep. The other children were bigger and stronger than she was; they pushed her away. As she fell backwards, Reepicheep winced, feeling his own knees and back aching.
The tormented little girl's cries became louder and Peter-who was in another room a few doors down-finally heard her and rushed in. When he saw her, he wanted to cry. Her face was pale and tear-stained and she flinched constantly as if suffering from thousands of invisible bruises.
"What do you think you're doing?" Without waiting for an answer, he had more or less shoved one of the other children out of the way and rescued Reepicheep, placing the poor thing back into the arms of his mistress.
"I didn't mean to let them hurt you." Sobbed Lucy, tightly embracing her dæmon. "I'd never...never...never..."
The other children assumed she was being rather a big baby, over-protective of her pet, and that her brother was a terrible sport about it, spoiling her just because she was his little sister. They didn't like her after that, but she didn't care, she had a very low opinion of them, as well.
It wouldn't be completely truthful to say she had never made any friends after that, but it would be close enough to the facts all the same. There had been one little girl about a year or so ago, Marjorie Preston. Marjorie had been reasonably kind and had even been somewhat acquainted with Reepicheep though she was under the impression that he was Lucy's pet mouse (he had always shape-shifted into a handsome little black-furred mouse with golden eyes, small enough to fit into a decoy cage, whenever she came around). However, Marjorie, had unwittingly said something a little mean about Lucy to an older girl which was taken out of context. When it got back to Lucy-and Reep-they both had their ego bruised so badly that they couldn't imagine being friends with her any longer. They might have forgiven Marjorie in time, but she had moved away before the sting of the matter had faded. They never saw her anymore.
So now, all Lucy really had was her brother. Not that she minded very much, he was as loyal a friend as she could have ever wanted, even if he was a borderline father figure in her life.
"Peter, how long will we be out today?" asked Lucy, eyeing the swaying pouch at her side. "Reep's restless, he doesn't like it."
He patted the top of her head in a gentle manner. "Not long, just a little walk around, a few errands, you..." he looked sort of pained. "...you haven't been out of the house for a week, Lu, you're looking too pale."
She knew he had a point and it wasn't that she didn't like going out, Reepicheep had just been raising some mortal fuss about it lately. It wasn't like she could blame him, he never got to see anything expect for the rare occasions when it was safe to pretend he was a pet.
Peter bent down and helped Lucy with a few forgotten buttons on her coat. "Can't have you catching your death, now can we?"
"You wouldn't let that happen." Lucy teased, grinning up at him as he picked up a hat from the rack and placed it on her head. It was a little too big and it fell over her eyes, blocking her sight until he was ready to adjust it for her. "I haven't been sick in four years."
He took his little sister's hand and opened the door. "Come along, Lu."
From the staircase, they heard their mother's voice calling out to remind them not to forget to buy some more sugar while they were out.
An hour or so later, Peter and Lucy were at the local bakery, only a block from their house. Thankfully, Reepicheep hadn't made any noise or given himself away, it was almost like he was asleep-which Lucy hoped was the case because he had been very feisty lately, very honour oriented and ready to duel and stuff.
Unfortunately, Reep (if he had been asleep, he certainly wasn't anymore), didn't stay down, he poked his head out of the pouch just a little bit to see where they were and what was taking so long.
It was a small, tidy, family-run bakery and there weren't any other consumers present. A very large orange cat laying on a stack of flour bags in the corner yawned and looked over at Reepicheep's peeping head in a very condescending manner. Taking it to be a sort of challenge, the dæmon jumped out of the pouch and ran over to the now-startled cat.
"Peter!" Lucy whisper-cried to her brother when she felt the pouch get lighter.
He didn't seem to hear her at first so she tugged on his sleeve. "Peter!"
"Certainly, Lu, whatever you like." Peter had been right in the middle of telling the baker what sort of bread loafs Mr. Pevensie wanted that week and hadn't heard the urgency in her voice right away.
"Peter!" Whimpered Lucy, tugging harder. "It's, Reep! He's gotten out, he's not in my pouch!"
His eyes widened and he scanned the room for the troublesome little rat. Of course he loved Reepicheep-he was a major part of Lucy after all-but sometimes he felt absolutely furious with him for causing so much trouble. Like now, for instance.
"Reepicheep, you little ass," Peter muttered under his breath so that the baker couldn't hear him. "where did you get off to?"
There was a cat-like muffled-mew and everyone snapped to attention. The baker's cat was all tied up and bound with ropes and cords. A few feet away, noticed-thankfully-only by Lucy and Peter, was Reepicheep in his little black, golden-eyed tiny mouse form waiting for his human to scoop him up again.
Smiling to herself, even though she knew she really ought not to find the cat's humiliation funny, Lucy lifted her dæmon up and placed him back into the pouch.
Peter rolled his eyes and sighed. "Reepicheep, is there no end of trouble with you?" he slipped his arm around Lucy's shoulders and led her back home again where, much to the displeasure of their slightly-worried parents, they had a good laugh over it.
Even though his laughter-tears and chuckles, Peter couldn't help wondering how much longer he would be able to protect Lucy and Reepicheep. He'd made his promise and he intended to keep it, even if he had to die in the attempt. But he had to admit to himself, as he helped tuck Lucy into bed like he did every night, planting a good-night kiss on her forehead, he was more than a little afraid of their future-her future.
AN: Please leave a review and tell me what you thought.