Wendy's parents, of course, were quite deliriously happy to have her return safely to them, but it must be allowed that they were somewhat less pleased when their beloved daughter -- dressed, one must remember, quite extravagantly as an Indian princess -- informed them that she had chosen to marry a handsome young man dressed only in leaves who was not only painted in a rather alarming explosion of colored paints upon his body, but who also had absolutely no family and no prospects.
Knowing their daughter's stubborness, and also able to clearly see the love between the two young people, George and Mary Darling resigned themselves to a most unusual son-in-law, and set about trying to help the young couple get established.
Wendy had her annuity, of course, as well as her dowry, but truth was that Peter simply must find work if they were to live comfortably. George Darling, now a manager at the bank, might have helped Peter obtain a job with his office, but Peter quite blanched at the very suggestion, and Wendy gently explained that Peter might prefer a less ... confined ... work situation.
Thus it was that Aunt Millicent used her extensive social connections to help Peter in obtaining a position as a gardener for The Royal Parks Service. He was, ironically, assigned to Kensington Gardens, where he was quite pleased with his duties. In fact, he showed himself to be so creative and talented in his work that he rapidly rose through the ranks of The Royal Parks to become the youngest ever Head Gardener in Her Majesty's Service. The other gardeners held him in awe, for it did seem that the plants and flowers grew and flourished under his care almost as if touched by magic.
Little did they know, they were not so very far from the truth, for one cannot live so long in the company of fairies without ever retaining some indefinable hint of specialness. And it was this lingering bit of magic that made Peter so very good at his job.
He also gleaned much enjoyment from his position, for he spent very little of his time indoors, and even occasionally conducted his work in his bare feet, though this lack of foorwear was considered exceedingly eccentric by his fellow gardeners. English gentlemen simply do not walk about unshod, even in private! Sometimes, though, Peter just missed the feel of earth and grass against his toes, and so he would walk about the normal rounds of his daily work, and leave his shoes behind.
He and Wendy found a lovely house in Bloomsbury, rather near Wendy's parents and brothers, which was quite convenient for joining the family at Sunday dinners. Also, the boys all quickly came to adore Peter, particularly as he was ever prepared to join them in a sword fight or other raucous play. And he told the most deliciously dangerous stories!
Now, it must be admitted that Wendy and Peter were considered quite odd by most of their neighbors, but then -- people whispered among themselves -- the Darlings had always been rather strange. Did you know that they had a dog for a nurse? Indeed! And they adopted so very many noisy and ill-mannered young boys of a sudden one night!
Those who wondered about Peter's sudden appearance upon the social scene were informed that Wendy had met him while in America visiting a distant -- and fictional -- cousin. Saying that Peter was American seemed to answer almost all questions about his strange behavior and lack of manners, for everyone in London's good society knew for a fact that Americans were simply barbarians, with absolutely no breeding and no appreciation for the social graces. How a young lady as beautiful and well-bred as Wendy Darling could bear an American husband, they professed they could never quite understand.
And so the gossip flew, for not only was Wendy married to a barbaric American, she also was a novelist! And, indeed, Wendy did write several very fine books, one of which was so very popular that a statue was erected in Kensington Gardens to represent the boy of whom she had written. It was a tall tower representing greenery and animals, atop which a wild-looking young boy played a set of pipes. Peter found it quite amusing to pass the statue so frequently in his work, and always gave it a private smile.
On their evenings at home, Wendy would often play the piano and sing, sometimes even singing Hook's ridiculous "frisky plank" tune, because it could always make them laugh. Peter would sometimes accompany her upon his pipes, which he had brought with him from the Neverland. On other evenings they told stories, for each had many to tell, and each enjoyed listening to the other. Yet other evenings, they spent little time downstairs at all, and occupied themselves quite happily at length within their private quarters above.
Outside the home, Peter also took up fencing, and won every match at the local club, except those which he forgot to attend. He had a terrible tendency to neglect engagements, though Wendy tried to remind him about those which were especially important. He took up cricket and nearly any other sport others invited him to. He remained a physically robust and energetic man, well into his greying years.
So, indeed, the Pans were considered quite extravagantly eccentric by their neighbors and acquaintances ... and yet as time went on this same eccentricity seemed to slowly begin to charm the more established members of London's good society. The gentlemen were charmed by Wendy's beauty and gentleness, by her kindness, her good humor, her intelligence, and her occasional display of extraordinary spirit. If a gentleman wished to engage in political debate, he would find her a witty and well-informed opponent. She had many opinions and no fear of speaking her mind. She was most assuredly an unusual lady in London's better society, but many considered her a very welcome change from the usual simpering simpletons.
The ladies, for their part, were charmed by Peter's sly smiles and devilishly sparkling eyes, never mind the fact that he was quite extraordinarily handsome. He moved, too, with an almost feral grace which drove the young ladies almost to distraction. He is American, you know, they whispered among themselves, and indeed this seemed to explain the courseness of his manners as well as the animal-like sexuality he exuded. And it must be admitted that his clear and passionate devotion to his beautiful young wife, too, made him only that much more thrillingly attractive, especially to the more romantic of the ladies. How I would wish, they whispered to each other between their giggles, that a man shall someday look at me that way!
As time went on, it became well known throughout their set that a party that included the Pans was sure to succeed, for they were simply never boring. In society, this was an extremely rare trait, as well-bred Londoners are all too often the most boring creatures ever to tred upon the earth. And so many society folk found the eccentric Pans to be a breath of fresh air, an influx of humor and excitement into their own rather dull lives. One never knew what they might say or do, and the unexpectedness of the whole situation was a welcome addition to their stuffy lives.
And it was absolutely required that one invite them to any social event which involved dancing, for when Wendy and Peter Pan danced together, all eyes turned to them with awe and wonder. They danced as if no one else existed in the room, or perhaps even in the world. They had eyes only for each other, secret smiles passing back and forth between them, and they moved with a grace that made it seem almost as if they were floating on air. It was truly a sight to be seen.
And so, though they knew not how it had happened, Peter and Wendy Pan at length found themselves quite the most sought after couple in the best society in London. They were the most beautiful, most charming, most amusing, most exciting couple in London, and found themselves in high demand. Invitations to teas, to dinners, to parties, to dances, to concerts, to fox hunts, to picnics, and to so very many other events arrived nearly every day, sometimes several at once.
But the Pans did not accept every invitation that came to their door, for that would have left them very little time alone together. And, above all, they were utterly, delightedly, eternally devoted to each other ... and, when the time came, to their children as well.
For though Peter might fence and hunt and excel at archery and join a rowing crew and go on long walks through the city in search of hidden adventures, the real truth is that Peter had found his greatest adventure in the last place he would have expected it. Growing to know himself, living to love his wife, and learning to father his three children provided far more adventure than Peter could have imagined, and certainly enough to keep him happy forever and more.
No, it was not the same as fighting pirates or speaking with mermaids or dancing with Indians ... but it was a man's adventure, and every new day presented him with myriad opportunities to see the magic that was possible in the everyday world. He made sure each day to grasp those opportunities for all they were worth, rather than allowing them to pass by as so many of us do.
For it is true that we each are presented with adventures and mysteries more often than we realize, but we view the world with tired eyes, jaded and complacent. The world viewed through eyes willing to see magic, however, is a very different place, full of wonders and opportunities. Peter Pan retained always his ability to see the adventure in life. We may only wish that we might someday have some small amount of his ability, for the world would then be to us a far more magical place. You only need try. You only need truly believe.
Each night, as they lay in their bed together, Peter would kiss Wendy softly upon her lips and gaze down into her lovely face. And he would smile. He loved her most of anything he had ever known, and every day with her was as a gift to his heart.
He had traded Neverland to grow old with her, and in all his years with Wendy, in all their years of youthful marriage, in all their years of parenthood, and in all their years of old age, he never once regretted his decision, not even for a single moment.
Not even for one moment. Ever.
She was his Wendy. He had needed her without knowing so, before ever he had even seen her. She had been the first ever to kiss his lips, and she would be the only and last as well. His lips would never be touched by another, save for their dear children.
And when, at last, so very many years later, he lay upon his deathbed, Peter Pan would remember with gladness that he had had a glorious boyhood in Neverland ... and a glorious adulthood with Wendy ... and he would feel clear certainty in his heart that, given the chance, he would do it all the same. It had truly been an awfully big adventure, and he would do it all the same.
Every lovely bit the same.
Author's Note: Thanks again to everyone who gave encouragement. You guys are all great, and I'm very grateful. Reviews really do make a huge difference. I don't have any immediate plans to work on another fic, but I must admit that I'm kicking around some ideas. So we'll see. :)