If Growing Up Means Staying with You

Wendy stared at him. "You . . . what?"

"I said: 'I love you.'"

"I heard you, it's just— Peter, that is a very grown up feeling."

"I know," he said, but his voice wasn't as tinged with regret as it would have been at an earlier time, and of course if it had been an earlier time he would not have been declaring his true feelings. "Do you . . . well . . . love me back?"

Wendy's arms tightened around his neck. "Of course, you clever boy, I always have."

Peter grinned from ear-to-ear and holding her tightly by the waist twirled in the air, laughing joyfully. When they stopped they kissed with a passion for a while. Make it a lot of whiles.

"Wendy," he said breathlessly when they parted. "I-I . . . I want to grow up."

"But, Peter—" the young man put a finger to her lips.

"If growing up means staying with you, then I shall grow up, and I know I shall like it. I won't have to worry about you growing up and forgetting me any more, or being afraid of your window being shut and barred, I will just come to your door."

Wendy smiled, liking the image of Peter coming to court her. "But, who shall take care of Neverland?"

"Why, Will Wood, of course."

Wendy frowned in contemplation then looked up into Peter's eyes. "You are sure this is what you want, Peter Pan?"

Peter's grip on Wendy tightened with affectionate urgency. "I am more sure of it then I have ever been of anything. Ever."

"Then let us grow up together, Peter."

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Peter did return to Wendy's home and when Wendy told her parents of Peter's story and gave her request of their finding a home for him. Mr. and Mrs. Darling agreed. The Lost Boys were very overjoyed to be once again reunited with their leader and now it would be for much longer.

Weeks had gone by and still Mr. and Mrs. Darling could not find someone to take in Peter. Pan had to sleep with the other Lost Boys in the nursery, which was no problem; it was something he was used to from sleeping among them in the Underground Hideout. Mr. Darling gave Peter a strict lecture about staying away from Wendy's room at night, to which he paid close attention, but could not help being pleased by the image of Wendy peacefully sleeping.

Then, one Sunday whilst the family was in church they observed a couple that came in late. The couple hurried to quietly find a seat and ended up sitting right in front of the Darlings. The two appeared to be of middle age.

During silent prayer, Mrs. Darling heard the wife whisper to the Heavenly Father: "Please, Dear Lord, I pray you will, if it is your will, provide us with another child to fill empty place left by the one we lost. Amen."

"George," Mrs. Darling whispered excitedly, gripping his arm.

"Yes, Mary, I heard it, too. We will try to catch them if they stay for the tea and cakes after the service."

The Darlings were able to catch the couple and after a few minutes of light conversation they told the couple of their predicament and asked the husband and his wife if they would join them for dinner that evening. The couple, known as Mr. and Mrs. Pembery, happily accepted the invitation.

"We lost our son seventeen years ago," said Mrs. Pembery as she and Mr. Pembery sat in the Darling's parlor room. "We did have another but, w- we have always . . ." there Mrs. Pembery's voice broke.

"There, there my dear," Mr. Pembery said putting his arm comfortingly around her. He then turned to the Darlings. "We had taken in a child a year later, a little boy. A poor neighbor of ours asked us to take care of him until she and her husband had enough money to support him and themselves. Finally, that day came and Mr. and Mrs. Groves took him back. They looked so happy . . ." Mr. Pembery then looked as if he could not go on, his emerald eyes began to fill with tears. He turned away and gently reached out and tucked some of his wife's stray sandy blond strands behind her ear.

Mr. Darling nodded his head sympathetically and Mrs. Darling reached out and covered Mrs. Pembery's hand with hers.

"Would you like to meet Peter?" Mr. Darling asked.

Mrs. Pembery looked up sharply, her countenance brightened a bit. "You say Peter is his name?"

"Yes."

"There are many Peters all over Britain, Cordelia." Mr. Pembery said quietly. Mrs. Pembery's eyes filled again. "You are right. I know . . ."

Mrs. Darling looked at her husband, a question in her eyes. Mr. Darling shrugged his shoulders slightly. He then caught sight of Wendy walking towards the study.

"Wendy, dearest," he called to her, "where is Peter?"

Wendy smiled brightly at the mere mention of the marvelous boy, then answered, "he went to Kensington Gardens to play ball with the Lost Boys and John and Michael. He should be back soon."

As if on cue, Peter burst through the front door, the other boys trailing loyally behind him. When Peter caught sight of the Mr. and Mrs. Pembery sitting in the parlor he stopped short and stared. The couple also stared and slowly they both rose to their feet.

"Our son's name was Peter . . ." said Mrs. Pembery

The boy looked at her. He knew that face . . . he had seen it many times in his dreams. Her sandy blond hair was the same color as his own. The man's eyes were of the same color green.

"Peter . . ."

He knew his voice. He remembered that voice. Could his great mistake be rectified? Could he still be that glorious boy he meant to be to his mother? If it was indeed them?

"I lost my son in the Kensington Gardens. I was talking to a friend of what he was to be when he became a man. When I turned away from my conversation the perambulator was gone . . . and so were you . . . Peter."

The boy could not stand it any longer. His countenance dissolved into tears. "Mother!" he cried and ran into her arms. The three collapsed to the floor and sat there hugging each other until they could no longer breathe. "Father . . ." Peter croaked as Mr. Pembery wrapped his strong arms around his son. It was all a very wet reunion. Everyone, including the Lost Boys were crying, in happiness of course.

So, Peter found his home again and when the time came he was granted permission to court Wendy. Then when the time came again Peter married Wendy and they moved away from London to the country. Many fairies moved from the Kensington Gardens to the woods surrounding Peter and Wendy's cottage. Peter and Wendy spent many nights floating and waltzing in the air around the forest among the fairies. And when their daughter Jane was born she was gifted with Peter's emerald green eyes and Wendy's chestnut brown hair. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Pembery told their daughter the fantastic stories of Neverland and how Peter was Peter Pan, the greatest hero ever in Neverland.

So, Jane, at thirteen years of age, was not surprised at all when William Wood came by the cottage one night to listen to these stories and after Wendy and Peter had gone to bed, asked her to come away to Neverland and help him battle the dreaded pirate Vicious Violet, whose right leg he had cut off in a battle and threw it to the infamous crocodile. The monster liked her taste as much as it liked the taste of her brother and took to following her around too.

"She now fashions an ivory peg leg," Will told her.

Peter woke up with a start. His keen senses recognized the smell of the Neverland forest. He woke up Wendy and they arrived in Jane's room just in time to see Jane about to fly out the window.

"May I go mother?"

"It is up to your father."

Peter looked at Jane then at Will with a raised eyebrow, a smile tugging at his lips. Will smiled and bowed gallantly to Wendy, then saluted Peter.

"Yes, you may go."

With a whoop of delight from Jane and a cocky crow from Will, the two took off out the window.

Peter and Wendy, with their arms around each other's waists watched them as they, like two shooting stars, headed for the second star to the right and straight on until morning.

The End

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