Somehow she knew he wouldn't hurt Graham after she left.
She couldn't really explain how she knew this, but Marie was confident that Peter had realized Graham was on the brink of death, and he wasn't one for direct killing.
Marie shuddered to herself at the thought. How she knew how he liked to kill bothered her, and she didn't even know how she knew. It was like he had slowly begun to creep into her mind, her subconscious, and whether they were true or not, she realized she seemed to know things about him, things she didn't know before, and she figured no one else seemed to know. She watched how his eyes moved, flickered through their surroundings, as if there was always someone near him who could hurt him. She saw his seemingly flawless face, until you looked hard at it for awhile, and saw that it was peppered with little scars that had almost completely faded into his skin. She noticed the way his mouth moved into a snarl whenever he was angry, the way his eyes turned dark when he was calm. She watched as he tore himself up inside and the fact that she didn't know why killed her.
The forest was getting darker, and she paused. She knew they would find her faster if she didn't move, and she had no idea if he would send the Lost Boys to fetch her or if he would come and get her himself. Or no one would come at all. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and she huddled against a tree. Hopefully he had at least part of a heart to come and get her before she was struck by lightning.
As if in response, a flash of lightning followed by a shout of thunder echoed close to her. Marie shuddered and moved closer to the tree she was under. The island wasn't that large, but she had no idea where she was. Peter must, as it was his island, but he obviously wasn't doing anything to come get her.
Was he creating the storm to get me to come back to camp? The thought made Marie frown, and she slid down the tree trunk in annoyance. She didn't know her way back, so he would have to come to her, not the other way around. If that was his plan, it would prove all his intelligence and cunning pursuits to be completely awry.
Marie twisted her hair around her finger in thought, the pain of the rough tree bark on her abdomen lost to her. She was so lost in thought about intelligence and the devious nature of the one who was Peter Pan that she neglected to hear the accidental crunch of the very one she was thinking of, behind her.
"Well, well, well," he began, and Marie nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of the unexpected voice. "What do we have here?" Her heart momentarily pounded in her chest, her eyes wide with fear, until they lay their sights on the boy that walked in front of her. His arms were crossed, his nose sticking in the air with a sort of pride, and there was a smug look on his face that showed a bit of teeth. She frowned at the boy, letting out a sigh of relief, even though he probably would her treated worse than any of the Lost Boys who might have come to retrieve her; although she was, truly, quite surprised that anyone had come to retrieve her at all. She was sure one of the younger boys who Peter perhaps had had a soft spot for had begged him to come and get their storyteller, as young boys sometimes do. Suddenly, she was grateful for the little boy, and made a mental point to thank him when she arrived back to the camp—whoever that little boy was. Because she was absolutely sure Peter had not come on his own accord.
But, in fact, that was not the way the situation had happened at all. Peter had heard the breathed words from Marie's mouth, ones which she had not meant to breathe in the first place, and fallen even deeper into his stupor than he imagined possible, though not quite the same stupor as he had been in before.
You see, Peter Pan had almost never been angrier than he was at Marie, at Graham, in that moment. There had been only one other boy to ever challenge his power, but thankfully for Peter, the boy had failed and his power was never really threatened. The entire situation ended quite well, in fact, rewarding him with a most trusted recruit who had not yet left his side, and whom Peter doubted ever would.
But this incident, Peter knew Graham had not wanted to obtain a higher rank—he hadn't only wanted to take Peter's position. He wanted Peter gone. Hadn't Graham realized the only reason he was here, was because of Peter? Did he not know the things Peter had done to keep them alive from everything that inhabited the island? The boys were ungrateful; all of them, but to think they would be better off without him? The idea was hilarious, but not preposterous enough for Peter not to become angry. It was so, so close to being truly funny, but not yet there, that it had sent Peter into a spiral of anger he had never known before.
The breath from Marie had sent him, instead, into a spiral of guilt and anguish, and emptiness—something Peter thought he would never have to feel. Peter stood there, holding the whip he had made from a tree branch, over the bloody body of Graham and felt guilt. He watched Marie recede into the forest without a glance back in his direction—he hated pity, but even a small dose of it would have meant he could have been forgiven. But there was nothing.
Peter had looked around at the boys, all with their eyes on him, waiting for him to do something, and he had done nothing. What could he do? His legs were loose but he felt like he couldn't move them, and his arms were suddenly so heavy he had to drop the whip to relieve some of the pressure. He wanted to collapse on the ground, suddenly, but he couldn't. So he stumbled into the forest without a second glance at the boys and tried to follow Marie. He had no idea where Marie had gone; he had no shadow to tell him, nor the mind to navigate his way to her. He sought forgiveness, for no reason at all other than for his own state of mind. He couldn't have another heavy weight that he had tried too hard to forget. He needed forgiveness, and why from her, he knew not.
So he stood in front of her, his mind recollected enough to throw a false grin on his face and stand in front of her. His arms had become less like heavy iron and more like that of a thick branch from a tree. Time, they say, can heal all wounds, but for him, time could only bandage them. Only the forgiveness he had never had to fight so hard for in his life could. And he slowly began to realize the irony of it all, and let his arms fall to his sides.
Marie, who was pushing herself up from the tree at this point, because she knew better than to keep Peter waiting, had just enough time to look up and notice the subtle change in his disposition. He looked exhausted, she realized, with dark circles under his eyes and a grey tone to his skin. He looked like an extreme victim of sleep deprivation, but she knew that couldn't be the only thing bothering him.
"Thank you." The words hit the air like a knife and shattered the silence, surprising Peter as he looked up at the girl who had said them. Her mouth was tilted into the smallest of smiles, gratitude, he realized, until it fell again and her stare was once again blank. His own mouth hung a little more, pulled down, it seemed, by her own.
Marie stepped forward hesitantly, clutching her hands in front of her. She could feel Peter's eyes on her but refused to look up at him for fear of what she would see. Marie could not afford to feel any pity or compassion for this monster, and she knew that she would if she saw the pain in his eyes. Marie knew she always saw the best in people, and always tried to convince herself everyone was good and it was a horrible, horrible habit, but she couldn't refrain from doing so. And if she looked into his eyes, his heart, then she could never feel the hatred she felt for him at that moment, ever again.
"We should go back to camp." Marie walked forward again, thinking it was best not to ask to leave the island at that moment. She wanted to, so badly, but she knew Peter's mind must have been fragile and next to nothing was good to say when he was that way.
Peter watched her skinny frame walk away slowly, her dirty trousers and shirt tearing at some parts from the woods, and that small leave lodged in her hair. Just that small thing made him smile at the same time Marie looked back. Her eyes flickered from his grin to his eyes and back again, until they rested on the latter, which were focused on her. Marie didn't know how her conviction had broken so fast and she almost yelled at herself for it, but the look on Peter's face almost made it worth it. She didn't know he was even capable of smiling in the way he was at that moment—only joy. There was no malice, no cruelty in his gaze, only amusement. She wasn't able to focus on that for long, as it became apparent that his amusement was a product of her.
"What?" she asked self consciously, looking at the backs of her pants and her bare feet. She was dirty, yes, but it wasn't enough to make someone smile like Peter was.
"In your hair," Peter said, and as she ran her hand through her hair, she could feel the smile in his voice. Peter let out a small laugh, and he began to mentally feel his cuts begin to heal. "Let me get it." In five strides he was right beside her, his hands in her messy blonde hair as he tried to dislodge the small leaf that had become hidden.
Marie stood ridged as he nimbly moved his hands around in her hair, and it seemed like minutes before he pulled a tiny leaf out and held it in front of her.
"There you go," he said, holding it in between them. She kept her gaze down, not wanting to focus on Peter. His heat radiated onto her, even with the small breeze blowing through the clearing. Her mind slowly shifted back into her former conviction of not meeting his eyes, and bit her lip nervously. She wanted to go back to the camp, but was it really better than here?
"Let's go." She made her voice seem as authoritative as she could with her meek tone. She began walking immediately, but Peter made no move to catch her.
"Don't walk away from me," he said snidely. She stopped and turned around, raising an eyebrow at him. There was a pause before Marie responded.
"Then walk with me." Peter stared after her for a moment, before jumping to catch up with her. He couldn't lose her again, not without his ability to think straight.
He fell into step beside her then, both their eyes glued to the trail. Marie thought silently about how the greatest punishment is neglect, promising herself she wouldn't speak to him, and hopefully the guilt would eat away at his insides until he couldn't bear it any longer. And when that point came, well, it wasn't her concern anymore.
But when Peter struck up conversation three minutes later, she responded without a second thought, and cursed herself for it.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly, throwing a sideways glance towards her.
"It's okay." The response was automatic after several years of bad habit reinforcement of being an extreme pushover. Peter looked shocked, his eyebrows rising.
"No." Marie turned her head and glared at him. "You just whipped the hell out of a boy who barely did anything, and you think I think its okay?" She paused, hoping he would respond, but he just stared at her. "Well… it's not." Marie turned back and faced the ground, signaling that the conversation was over.
"Of course you wouldn't understand." She stopped, causing Peter to almost run into her.
"Excuse me?" Marie began to feel her anger build.
"I said you wouldn't understand," he said simply, straightening himself out next to her and leaning against a tree.
"You're right. I don't understand what it's like to whip someone ruthlessly and feel no remorse whatsoever." She glared at him and began to step forward, only to be stopped by Peter with a grasp on the arm.
"You don't understand discipline." She could feel him trying to meet her eyes, his hold on her softening. "The way I do it works."
"What does that even mean?" she cried, finally staring into his green eyes for longer than a second or two. "That makes no sense at all!"
"It's so much easier to be cruel then you might think," he said, and his words were soft and laced with just the amount of sadness that Marie was sure it was practiced, but nevertheless, very convincing. Peter, of course, with his newly gashed open heart, had no room or the mind for lies and deceit at that moment, so he spoke only truth.
Marie stared at him solemnly, his eyes a dark green wall of emotion and a plea—a plea for forgiveness. It startled her, something she wouldn't have expected from this self absorbed teenager. They held eye contact for longer than was deemed acceptable, and it sent shivers down her spine.
Peter wasn't a good person; and Marie knew that for a fact. But as she stared at him, a ghost of a smile on his face, she realized he wasn't a monster. He could be saved—his soft words and truthful promises reassured her of that. He had all but apologized to her, and not for his own gain, but to make sure she was comfortable on the island. She smiled at him and his kindness, sadly yet blissfully unaware of his selfish cunning motives.
"I forgive you." And this time, she meant it.
A/N: Hello… Sorry you guys for not posting this earlier, but I have just now finished it. I lost motivation and have recently been motivated again by the NANOWRIMO competition, so here's your next chapter! It's sort of boring but sort of character-building, and I hope you enjoy it even though it's been next to forever since I've updated.
If you have any tips or suggestions for my story, my PM box is open, or feel free to leave a review!
Points to anyone who can spot the J.M. Barrie quotes!
Please Enjoy, Wren Love.