This is my Secret Santa present to Ariel_of_Narnia. Unfortunately, I could not get my hands on a sword or a bow (the government was giving me a few raised eyebrows at that request), and the yetis and elves were all busy. Hope you don't mind something from a simple human.
To everyone, hope you all enjoy the brotherliness (yes, it is a real word).
Note: Achaius is Edmund's knight title. I never could find an "official" one, so I made one up.
It was a windy day. Actually, just wind would be a great improvement, Peter thought ruefully, as the shrieking gale of snow and ice made the tent poles bend dangerously. He felt the chill and wrapped his cloak around his body tighter, trying to ignore his frozen, swelling fingers and concentrate instead on Oreius.
"We will attack the Giants from the right and left flanks, as well as from the front. The valley will help us remedy our height disadvantage, at least somewhat," he was saying. "I will take the second division and Achaius will take the third," he continued, pointing to the south part of the valley, and Edmund nodded. "We will split here and attack from both sides, the first division to the west and the second division to the east." He put his hands out to show at what point they would split.
"Wolfsbane, you will take our first division and attack from the front. The archers will work from here," he pointed to a large group of rocks to the southeast part of the map; the perfect vantage point for the battlefield. "Reinforcements will stay with the archers and the Gryffins will scout and report where our troops need men." All the officers and soldiers present nodded. It was the final battle plan, created after weeks of preparation during the march from the Cair to the Northern Longpeaks (the northernmost mountains of Narnia, where the fiercest Giants lived). Everyone was exhausted, but knew they had to be prepared to attack at dawn.
"All right," Oreius said. "Then we shall march at first light. Dismissed."
Everyone filed out, glad, for once, to be sharing tents with at least nine other beings, which meant warmth during the blizzard. Edmund and Peter were not so lucky. The two of them shared a tent. During the hot summer campaigns, this was appreciated. During the winter months, they would have welcomed a few more warm bodies.
Oreius was the last to leave. He shuffled his papers together and turned to the two kings.
"Goodnight," he said, bowing to them. "May Aslan bless your sleep."
"And may he bless yours," Peter responded automatically. The traditional nighttime goodbye was familiar and comforting to both kings. It was nice to have something to remind them of home, even if it was only a simple farewell.
Oreius bowed his head again, and then walked towards the tent flap. He paused at the exit.
"And happy Christmas," he added, then left.
Edmund started. "Aslan's mane, Pete! It is Christmas!" He hadn't been keeping track of the days since they had left the Cair, so the news was something of a revelation.
"So it is!" Peter said, laughing a little. "Well, now I am worried. Imagine what Susan will do when she gets her hands on us." They both shuddered slightly, unsure if their sister would be understanding or not.
"I wonder if she will postpone the Christmas party just for us," Edmund said. "I would much prefer if she didn't."
"Well, you know Susan," Peter replied. "Christmas is usually the one time when we all manage to spend time together, and she takes advantage of it."
"Well, I suppose you are right," Edmund said. "But that does not mean we have to wait to return to the Cair to have some Christmas cheer of our own." He turned to his hammock and rummaged around his bag. Eventually he turned around, holding something in a velvet bag. "You have no idea how hard it was to keep it clean the whole journey here."
Peter stared at the bag for a moment, wondering what it might be. Then he realized what Edmund meant by "Christmas cheer". "Actually, I can imagine," he said, going to his own hammock and grabbing something in his bag.
Edmund laughed. "So even though we were both surprised by the date, we planned for something like this to happen?"
"Well," Peter said, "I knew our campaign against the Giants would not be a short affair, most likely, so I planned on the chance that this might happen. Happy Christmas, Ed."
They exchanged their presents. Edmund opened his first, and lifted up a shirt-shaped object that jingled a little as he moved it. In the light he couldn't tell if it was white or not, but he could see and feel an intricate design on the yoke. He held it up to his chest, trying to see how it fit.
"It is a new mail tunic," Peter explained. "Your old one was getting past useful repair, so I had the dwarves construct one out of brightsteel. It's lighter and stronger than your old one, so I think you will find it comes in handy."
"Rather convenient I got this right before the first attack on the Giants," Edmund said, giving his brother a look.
He shrugged. "Fortuitous planning."
Edmund held it up, trying to see it in the poor light. He decided not to try to put it on right then, since it would require him to take his cloak off and he was not eager to do that.
"I had the dwarves take note of your measurements the last time you went in to repair your old mail tunic, so it should be the correct size," Peter said.
"Thanks Pete, this is great," Edmund said. "And you already know I will have plenty of use for it."
"That you will, good brother," Peter replied. "That you will."
"Now open yours." Edmund pointed to the unopened gift.
Peter obliged. He opened it gently, as the material was not very strong (how Edmund managed to keep it undamaged for the entire march to the Longpeaks, he would never know). He was slightly surprised to find it was a handsome leather-bound book. It was an unusual gift from Edmund. Normally he was known for odd gifts, like the time he gave Lucy a tame giraffe (though she had requested that one; she let it go six months later, when its head started to brush dangerously close with nearly every ceiling in the Cair).
He opened up the cover and saw a neat, elegant script bearing the words: A Book of Poems and Tales, by Tumnus the Faun. He turned to the next page and saw one of his favorite poems by the Faun. He smiled as he read it; it was a humorous story about a Hippo and a Fish trying to create fire underwater.
"Thanks, Ed. This is great!" He shared a smile with his brother.
"I tried to remember your favorite poems and stories from Tumnus, then had him help me write them all down. I wrote everything in the book myself, then had Castros bind them together and create the cover. Tumnus was very flattered when I asked for his help; I'm surprised he didn't say anything, all those times we've been to his cave for tea." Edmund smirked, as he remembered the Faun's rather exuberant response.
They both admired their presents for another moment, before Edmund yawned and they remember the lateness of the hour and what was ahead for them the next day. They both sighed slightly, weighed down by the thought of so many men away from their families during this time, and the likelihood that many of them would not return. They took comfort in the fact that they knew they were not alone in shouldering that burden.
"Goodnight, Ed," Peter said, as he lay down on his hammock.
Edmund mirrored his movement, with a sleepy, "Goodnight, Pete."
Neither of them knew what was in store for them the next day, but they focused on what they had right then, in the shaking tent in the middle of the blizzard.
They had each other and that was enough.