Hello everyone! Gracie Jane grabs all of her readers and reviewers, pulling them into a giant group hug. This story which started as an odd first chapter posted when I was not thinking very clearly has really been a joy to write. Love all around, and enjoy the last chapter!
Sallie – Thank you SO much, Sallie! I want you to know that your reviews have gone a long way to keeping this story going and that the character of Sallie was one of the most interesting to write.
AnimegirlH – Here's the update, and thanks for the Italian compliment! I asked somebody who claims to know the language, threatening them that if they gave me swear words pretending they were what I'd asked for there'd be dire consequences, LOL! Thanks for reviewing so faithfully!
Lyz – Here's the big finale, Lyz! I think I've told you that I love your penname. Well, it's still true!
Crystalstorm21 – The chapter is here. It's been great to write (at least when I didn't have writer's block) and I'm glad that you like it.
Disclaimer: Peter Pan and the places, people, and etc. contained therein are not mine. Gracie, Madeline, Lad, Falling Shadows, and my other original characters do belong to me. Most of the orphans are the property of girls nice enough to let me bring them along on this adventure. I'm not making any money, so please please don't sue!
One might hope to hear that these girls stay in Neverland forever. But that would be getting ahead of ourselves –after many moons, six of them make one last brief visit to the mainland.
"Wow," Sallie says, peering into the dusty, abandoned orphanage through a broken window. "How long have we been gone?"
Nora shrugs, flying up beside Sallie. "I don't know. But if we'd ever let the place get that dusty," she says, looking in the window, "Matron would have tanned our hides!"
"I hope she got fired," Raven says.
Gracie, Anna, and Charlie touch down in the backyard. "Come on, guys," Anna calls. "You have to see this!"
"What's up with those marks on the walls?" Sallie asks. The girls stare at a brown line clearly visible about a foot high on all the walls inside the darkened orphanage.
"That looks like flood damage," Gracie says. "Didn't someone leave a hose turned on inside?" They giggle at the memory, then link arms and stroll around to the front of Anders Orphanage, united by everything they went through there.
They hear a definite sniffle coming from a woman seated on the front steps, the same steps where Sallie was found in infancy. The woman hurriedly blows her nose and wipes her eyes dry when she sees them. "What on earth are you children doing out at this hour?" she asks. "It's at least an hour past midnight! And in your pajamas, too," she says.
"We were just in the neighborhood," Charlie says calmly.
"We used to live here," Anna explains, "once."
"Under Matron Hallis? I've heard that she was terrible to those poor girls," the woman says gravely. She looks like she's in her late twenties, but it's hard to tell because of the light. The moon is only a quarter full tonight.
"That's the one," Raven laughs, climbing a step or two to sit at the woman's side. "No mistaking Matron. I'm Rav- well, I guess it's safe to say now. My name's Michelle Beaufont." The other girls gasp.
Not understanding the reason for their surprise, the woman introduces herself. "My name is Maggie Coleman." A round of introductions follows.
"And what are you doing out here at this hour, Maggie?" Sallie asks her skeptically, leaning on a railing by the stairs.
"It's just – I don't know what I've gotten myself into," the woman says sadly, holding out a piece of paper. Anna takes it and holds it close to her face.
"This is a commission from the City Board of Orphans," Anna says. "To Margaret Coleman, hereafter to be installed as Matron of the Anders Orphanage for Girls."
"Once they get it up to code," Maggie says. "You see, the doctors tell me that I can never have children. This seemed like the next best thing."
"You'll be the new Matron?" Gracie asks.
Maggie nods and her eyes start to tear up again. "I'm worried that I can't do it. What if I don't have enough love for all those girls? It's a huge responsibility."
Charlie catches sight of something on the woman's finger. It could be – it might be! "Miss Coleman, that ring you're wearing?"
Maggie gives a glance down at her hand. "Yes?"
"It's too dark for me to tell, but – I think that button's green."
The woman nods. "It is. I've always had it, since I was a girl."
The orphans exchange glances.
"Somehow," Gracie says, "I think you'll do just fine."
Anna smiles. "Me too. I can feel it in my bones."
"Well, we'd best be heading home," Raven says, getting to her bare feet. "Don't want them to worry about us."
"You've all been adopted by the same family?" Maggie asks in wonder. "The six of you?"
"You might say that," Anna says.
"Yeah. We've all found the same home," Charlie agrees.
"It was nice meeting you, Ms. Coleman!"
"Wait!" Nora says. "I…uh, I left something at the… oh, just come with me!" The girls follow Nora around to the back of the orphanage, leaving Maggie sitting in bewilderment.
"What was that about?" Raven demands.
"Gracie, do you remember which rafter it was?" Nora asks.
Gracie's face is totally blank for a minute. Finally, the memory returns. "Oh, I do! Come on!" The two of them fly up into the attic bedroom through a busted window.
"What are they looking for?" Sallie asks the others.
There's a big grin on Anna's face. "You'll see."
"Oh, there you are," Maggie says a few minutes later. "I thought you'd all scampered off into the night."
"We wanted to give you this," Nora says, presenting the woman with a yellowed old hardcover.
Maggie wipes the dust off of it. "Peter Pan," she reads aloud.
"You'll read it to the girls, won't you?" Gracie asks.
Maggie smiles. "Every night."
"Remember to make Hook really terrible," Sallie interjects. "Most people don't read his lines right. You have to boom them!"
"And Peter has a Captain voice," Nora says. "It's different from his normal one, so you've got to try to make it count."
"And crowing doesn't sound like a rooster," Anna advises, "it's more like this!" She gives a pretty weak imitation of Peter's crow, but it's enough to get the idea across.
"Remember to tell them how beautiful the Jolly Roger is too," Charlie says. "With lots of paint, carvings and polished brass."
"And Tinker Bell doesn't actually die," Gracie says, "so you might as well skip that part."
A storm of other directions for telling the story correctly follows. Maggie listens to them all, apparently willing to do her best. "I don't want to keep you out all night," she says finally. "Your family must be worried sick."
They bid their goodbyes and fly home.
Neverland has rarely been more active in its entire history. For the most part, the orphans are all quite happy.
Alicia spends half her time in the Indian Encampment, where Falling Shadows is attempting to teach her his people's traditional Love Dance. Tiger Lily thinks it's hysterical to see her brother so nuts over a girl.
"Falling Shadows, do you think I'll ever figure this out?" Alicia asks, stumbling through the complicated footwork yet another time. She trips and falls into his arms.
"Do you know how I got my name?" he asks, helping her right herself.
"I spent weeks practicing the Healing Dance, sometimes until darkness fell. These things take practice!"
"No kidding," Alicia says, smiling up at him. "Well, we've got the time. Show me again?"
Kaela and Katrina have finally found partners in crime. Together with the twins they've become the practical jokers of the island.
"Blue, do you have the feathers?" Katrina asks in an excited whisper.
"And we've got the sap," Kaela and Black say, coming up behind with coconut shells filled with the sticky stuff.
"Hook's gonna be so mad!" Katrina giggles, and together they sneak off further into the forest.
Nora and Lad are… well, this should give you an idea.
"Lad, what are you doing?" Nora asks, coming up behind the newly made lost boy.
"Carving something," he says guardedly.
"A tree," Lad guffaws, pleased with his own joke.
He steps to the side and lets her see. Lad & Nor, it says inside a heart.
"Oh, how sweet!" Nora says, breaking out into a smile. "But Lad? My name ends with an A."
"I know that," he says, "but you found me before I had time to finish!"
Anna and Switch seem to be in some kind of a relationship, but it's difficult for the others to tell since the majority of what they say to each other is in Italian.
"What's going on, everyone?" Peter asks, entering the cave with Tinker Bell on his shoulder.
Switch says something brief and Anna, looking up from sewing pockets onto something, stifles a giggle.
"They've been like this all day," Madeline tells Peter. "If one person with two tongues is a lot, two two-tongued people in the same cave is silly!"
Raven and Wildcat are also getting along rather well. Nothing's been declared officially, but they're always pairing off to practice swordfighting.
"You're guard's too low," Wildcat says for the millionth time, raising his voice above the clang of metal blades.
"Who cares about guard?" Raven asks carelessly, attacking with spirit. "Offense is way more interesting! Take that!"
"Ravy!" he laughs, fending off the blows.
All of the aforementioned couples are (eventually) quite happy to discover that in Neverland, every kiss is the first kiss.
Life is great for the other orphans too. Anders follows Madeline everywhere, and there are days when he actually does double as a pony for her. Charlie gets to be part of more adventures than she'd ever dreamed of back at the orphanage. Gracie watches her stories come to life every day, which is more than any storyteller could ask for. And as for Sallie, she's finally gotten everything she's ever wanted in a man – a worthy opponent.
"Hook, get on deck, you coward!" she cries, soaring high over the Jolly Roger.
"Yeah, can the codfish come out and play?" Peter asks, knocking a pirate out of the crow's nest and taking up residence there himself.
"I'll get you for this, Pan!" Hook threatens, coming out of his cabin covered with sap and feathers. Peter and Sallie burst out laughing.
"I'd love to take credit for that Captain," Peter gets out between laughing so hard that his ribs hurt, "but it wasn't me!"
"It was us!" The twins, Kaela and Katrina announce, appearing from behind a sail and shrieking with glee when they see that their plan worked.
Each night Matron Coleman, more commonly called Mama Maggie, reads to the girls she loves like her daughters. She tells them stories about Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinker Bell. Sometimes she even tells them the story of the girls who lived in Anders Orphanage long ago, when the wicked Matron Hallis was in charge and worked them to the bone. The new orphans love to hear about how Peter Pan came and led them away to the Neverland, where they have hundreds of adventures all the time. And every now and then whenever a new girl appears, so does a green button on the windowsill.
But our story is not about these orphans. For the ones we know and love there are no more grown-up problems or worries. There are only pirates, Indians, NeverNeverland, and a boy named Peter Pan.
Please read and review, everyone! I hope that you enjoyed Your Adventure in Neverland. Remember that reviews are like lollipops! But no flames, flames are like when you drop your lollipop in the sand!
P.S. – If any of you would like to write one of my characters into a Peter Pan story (so long as my character doesn't grow up and Peter doesn't grow up, which would just be depressing, and there's no slash, which I can't stand), feel free to e-mail and ask. You know what? Just e-mail me to talk if you like. I love you guys!