I recently saw the latest Peter Pan movie, and it made me want to go back and rewatch my old Disney version. Well, after that, I just sat down at my computer, started writing, and this came out. I hope you like it. I apologize for any O.O.C-ness that may result, but this story is really Wendy-centric. Also, I wrote this with the Disney version in mind, but I don't think it's bound to that universe.
Disclaimer: Don't own Peter Pan. Never have, never will.
(it is right to learn even from an enemy)
When the pirates come, Wendy shushes the Boys as best she can and walks out of the Treehouse to meet with them.
The Boys cling to her skirt and grab at her hands, but she walks stiffly and proudly, her head held high and her eyes firm, into the circle of vicious men with glinting swords and malicious grins.
" If I go with you quietly, will you swear not to hurt any of the Boys?" She asks, and while her voice is soft, it is steel, and Captain Hook finds himself just the slightest bit impressed with Pan's taste in women.
" Wendy, what're you doing?" One of the Boys tugs at her arm and tries to haul her back into the safety of their fold. She breaks free of him with one flick of her wrist (she knows how to handle rowdy boys) and steps forward.
" Do you swear not to hurt them, Captain?" There is something proper yet improper in her voice, a strength that Hook doesn't think a woman would have or know how to use, but Pan's Girl (Wendy, his mind fills in the blank, and he can't quite figure out why) wields it like a sword master wields his blade.
" Do you swear?" Her eyes are blue, many of the pirates notice, and she looks no older than a child. It would be a shame, they decide, if they have to kill her, because she's a feisty little thing and none of them like to see a fire snuffed out too fast.
Hook raises a brow.
" You will come without a fight?" In his voice there is a threat; an 'or else' that would send a lesser man to his knees in terror. But Wendy Darling is equal to it, because she is a woman.
" As quietly as a mouse." Her face is blank. " If you swear you will not hurt the Boys."
A hostage is what Hook wants, because a hostage can not only get Pan to him, it can offer him some leverage over the boy. Hook's stump of a hand itches, and he smiles a smile that never reaches his eyes.
" I swear it."
" On what?"
She's a clever girl, Hook decides. Brave and clever. Pan picked a winner, and Hook will bet his whole ship that the boy treats her like she's nothing.
" What oath would you trust?" He bows, just a little, to her, because he is a gentleman at heart, and she is a lady in the truest since.
" Swear on your hook." She says softly, and when he does, she walks forward with all the grace and dignity of a queen, despite the sobs and pleas of the Lost Boys behind her.
" Wendy! Wendy, where are you going?" The one in the fox suit cries, and when Wendy turns to smile at him, her face is so achingly tender it both soothes the Boys and breaks every one of their hearts.
" The Captain promised not to hurt any of you if I go with him." She can tell the Boys don't understand but she doesn't mind. She doesn't expect them to, never having had a mother before. She thinks of her own, gentle mother, and wonders if what she would think of her little Wendy right now. Wendy thinks she might be proud.
" But-But..." The boy in the rabbit suit calls after her. " But...why you?"
And this time Wendy doesn't turn, because if she does, she knows she won't be able to hold up her end of the deal. Hook gives her a knowing look, and she strives to control her tremble, because weakness now will only destroy everything.
" Because a mother will always protect her children."
And as the pirates lead her away, the Lost Boys learn that words like 'mother' and 'sacrifice' go hand in hand sometimes.
The pirates aren't cruel to her.
They aren't kind of course (she never expected them to be. Kindness from cutthroats, how preposterous), but they never starve her or leave her to cower with red-eyed, hideous rats or torture her like she saw Hook do to poor Tiger Lily (she thinks of Peter dancing with the pretty Indian and pushes the image away; she can't afford to cry now).
She refuses to eat the food out of principle. She is their prisoner and she came quietly enough, but she never promised to remain quiet and docile. It isn't in her nature to scream and shriek, so she humbly pushes the food tray back and ignores the growing ache in her stomach (so like and yet so unlike the ache in her chest and the ache in her head and the ache ache ache all over her body).
Mr. Smee clucks disapprovingly as he takes her unfinished meal.
" You should really try to eat more, Missy." She doesn't answer, and Smee's brows furrow. " Why, you're nothing more than skin and bones."
Wendy shifts so that her back is to him, but never says anything.
(Don't answer, don't talk; if you talk, you acknowledge them; if you acknowledge them, then you can't pretend that this is nightmare anymore, and you won't really be back home, safe in bed.)
And when she says home, she wonders sometimes if she means London or the Treehouse.
Smee clucks again, and walks off with the tray, leaving Wendy alone in her dark, but not cold or cramped, cell. She curls deeper in on herself.
(Peter is coming for you, remember that. Peter is coming for you.)
She is surprised and not, when Hook comes bearing her meal the next night.
He is dressed in red and velvet, his hat swept off and his long, black curls tumbling down around his shoulders. He tries to look her dead in the eye, but she hangs her head, because she knows The Great Captain Hook won't bend his head to accommodate a little girl.
" I understand you haven't been eating." His voice is smooth and cool, but not like honey or poison. It's low and rumbling, like a contented lion after a large meal, and Wendy finds herself thinking of her father, leaning back in his armchair, pipe in hand and a smile on his face as he pats her head and calls her a good girl when she reads a passage for him.
" A dead hostage is no good to me." His bluntness sends a shock through her, and she shakes before she can stop it. Dead, dead, dead. The word hangs over her like a dark omen, like a damning prophesy. Dead, dead, dead. Wendy's seen dead things before. A bird that flew too hard into her nursery (hers, it's hers. It's where she rules supreme and her word is law, and it's the only thing in the whole wide world she can really lay claim to, and her father wants to take it away from her) window and fell, twisted and broken to the ground below. Wendy remembers looking at it, at its stiff, cold little body, and remembers her mother yelling at her for her dirty fingers at suppertime.
Wendy's seen dead things, and she wonders if, if she doesn't eat and she doesn't talk, if she dies quiet and skeletal in this cell, she'll look like that little dead bird on the ground did so many years ago.
Wendy shakes before she can stop it, and Hook places the food down and walks away. She doesn't eat, but it doesn't matter.
Hook won that round, after all.
Hook strikes her only once. It's a week after she walked silently away from the Treehouse, and Wendy's fairly sure she's gone mad in the darkness of her cell. The scratching of the rats below her sound likes nails on a chalkboard and voices whisper to her out of the shadows when she knows for certain that there is no one and nothing there. She's stolen quick little bites of food when Smee wasn't looking, and she's slept only a few hours each night, but the night before she slept nothing and ate nothing, and was tormented by waking horrors, striving frantically to push a thought out of her head.
So when Smee brings her her food she throw it at him, screaming and shouting to high heaven and back, scrambling for the dinner knife that clattered to the floor and pushing against Smee, trying hard to stab and failing because she is a twelve-year-old girl and Smee, regardless of his jiggling belly and grandfatherly traits, is a pirate through and through. He dodges her with such ease it only makes her angrier, and she stabs and stabs and stabs at thin air because all around her she can see the mermaids laughing at her (We were only trying to drown her. She'll cut off all their pretty hair, like the sisters did for the little mermaid back in that old story. How did it go again? She remembers a deal and a dagger), and trying to pull her down, down, down, into the murky, dark water. They claw at her skin, vicious and cruel and hateful, because Peter Pan brings boys to Neverland, and why has he now brought a girl? Why has he brought a girl with the power of tales and the courage of a woman and the strength to stand against even Hook?
Why has Peter Pan brought a girl who can undo it all and unravel every dream to Neverland?
And she understands their horror and their anguish but refuses to submit to it because she is mad now, and her madness lends to her a certain strength that propriety and wholesomeness locked away. Instead of bowing to their wishes and ending their pain (by ending herself; how morbid and self-centered and utterly romantic. She wonders if she could ever be Juliet if she has no Romeo), She fights back, snarling and cursing like a woman possessed, stabbing at the thin air and seeing red blood paint the wall.
And then Hook is in front of her, and the water the mermaids (the ones she hasn't killed; dead dead dead, and the word no longer scares her because she doesn't know who she is anymore, so how can she be scared? Wendy Darling, who's that? She is little more than a dream, caught in a tangle of nightmares. The rats scratch more furiously, and she digs the knife into the pale arm no one but her can see that is around her waist and pulling) are dragging her into sloshes ice cold and heavy at her waist.
He eyes her dispassionately and digs his hook into her cheek (the water chokes up over her throat and cuts off her air and for a split second, as everything goes black and when she plunges the blade into the heart of the last mermaid, she thinks of the dead bird in the yard and wonders if anyone will bury her cold body like she did to it).
And it isn't until much later that she learns that the scream she thought came from the mermaid actually came from her.
The line drawn on her face by the hook extends from her left cheekbone to almost her chin. It is an ugly, bright red thing, and if she was the girl she had been when Peter came for her at the window (what was that, weeks ago? Or was it years? Wendy no longer knows. Wendy no longer knows anything but three very important things), she might have lamented it. But all she does is touch it gingerly and wonder if it is punishment or salvation.
The pain brought her back, and it was Wendy Darling who fell to the ground, clutching her face and sobbing even as blood wet her hands and made her fingers sticky.
" Wear your scars with pride." Is the only thing Hook says to her when she comes to, tied to her cot to keep her from hurting herself. Wendy looks at him, at his cold blue eyes and his fine red coat and his gleaming black hair, and thinks that he might allow her to be buried, if she dies. Dead, dead, dead, and the word scares her again, because she is Wendy Darling, and she fears death more than anything in this world.
" I think it's safe to untie her now." Smee bustles out from behind Hook and makes his way to her. " Little Missy didn't know what she was doing. It's to be expected when you lock a pretty young thing like her down in the dark. Traumatized, that's the word. All she needs is a little light and a little food, and maybe later I could take her up on deck for some fresh air. Children always need fresh air, Cap'n, or else they'll wither away."
Hook gives Smee a suffering look, something that Wendy thinks might mean 'Why must I put up with your blabber?' (but then, what does Wendy know? She only recently remembered who she is and she only knows three things), and turns to leave.
" See to it that she doesn't do any more damage." And whether he means to his crew or herself, Wendy can't figure out and doesn't try to, because she head aches something fierce and her body hurts all over and all she can remember about Before is mermaids and cruel laughter and something about birds flying up on high.
" Right, of course, Captain!" Smee salutes and Wendy watches his red coat swish as he walks, and doesn't even notice when her cheek stings as she moves her mouth.
Smee's smile dims a little when he looks at her, but she doesn't turn her head from him. She meets his gaze head on and looks at his white hair and funny little glasses and red, bulging nose, because she is Wendy Darling, and right now, she only knows three, very important things.
" Are you alright now, Miss?" Smee asks cautiously, and Wendy notices that there is nothing sharp around her.
(Wendy Darling knows that she is Wendy Darling.)
She can't quite bring herself to answer, but she nods slowly, her head going up, then down, and making her neck creak and snap from disuse.
(Wendy Darling knows that she is now 13-years-old, because no 12-year-old can go through what she has and remain only 12.)
" Well," Smee smiles at her, " that's very good to hear. Now, I've got a lovely bit of breakfast here." He points behind him. Wendy tilts her head a little and the smell of porridge and cinnamon makes her mouth water. " So, if you promise to not try anything funny, I'll untie you and you can have something to eat, alright?"
And somewhere, something inside her screams and claws and begs her not to. (Don't answer, don't talk. Don't acknowledge them or this or anything! Keep quiet and this can all be a dream, and you can be home again and safe under your blanket and you can wake up and tell stories! And you won't have lost your mind and you won't have a scar on your face and you will be safe and happy! Peter is coming for you, do you understand? Peter is coming for you! So don't you act nice with the pirates because Peter is coming for you and he will take you away from them, and you will never have to see Hook or Smee or any of them every again!) But she is Wendy Darling, and she knows three, very important things, and the most important of these things is the one thing that drove her mad and dragged her under the mermaids' waters and gave her the mark on her left cheek.
" He's not coming, is he?" Wendy asks when Smee unties her. The elderly man freezes for a second, but says nothing. Wendy watches him with a blank expression, and then, knowing he is watching and knowing he will see, picks up her spoon and digs into the porridge.
(Wendy Darling knows that Peter Pan is not coming for her.)
Hook tells her that Pan is being held up by the Indians. He doesn't know why he seeks to reassure her, but the cut on her cheek lies straight and red as an iron brand against her pale cheek and it hurts his gentleman pride to know he struck a woman, even a girl. To his credit, she had clearly lost her mind, and his blow brought it back to her, but it still twists his stomach uncomfortably. He can shoot scores of men without a drop of remorse, but drawing blood from a true lady is something only the lowest, worst bred scoundrel can do, and Hook fancies himself above that classification.
She doesn't talk much, he notices when she accompanies Smee up on deck to get some fresh air. Her hands are bound and she's carefully watched, but all she does is stare out at the gulf with a mixture of fear and reluctant longing. Hook wonders if she's ever been to sea before and thinks she probably hasn't. Her legs are too wobbly on the deck and her wrinkled nose tells him she is still unused to the salty smell of the ocean.
When he tells her about Pan, she looks up from her book (Smee leant one to her. An educated young girl, he calls her. She's got a brain under her hair, that she does. Bright little thing. Of course, Hook knows this already. His hook twitches and he remembers the vow he made. He's harmed none of her Boys, and now their oath is strengthened with her blood), her face blank.
" Oh, I see." She says in her flat, soft voice, and then looks back to the book. Hook wonders if he should question her response (lack thereof, and it makes him want to laugh, just a little. Pan may find himself rushing to the rescue of a very comfortable young girl who has no desire to be torn from her current standings. Hook loves irony more than anything in the world, because it is beyond Pan to comprehend it and it thrives so beautifully in the makings of man), but he decides to leave her to her stories.
As he leaves, he glances at the title of the book. Romeo and Juliet glares back at him, and this time, he lets himself laugh as he realizes she's filched it from his own shelves.
Wendy doesn't question it when Captain Hook puts a sword in her hand and tells her to come at him as though she wants to kill him. She simply leaps forward half heartedly and swings the blade like she's seen the older boys swing baseball bats, not caring and not expecting anything to come of it (she has so few expectations now. What happened to her nights filled with dreams of adventures and fantastical creatures? Gone, lost, taken away in the dark cell under the deck where the scratching of the rats sounded like nails on a chalkboard and Wendy Darling lost her mind).
The Captain bats her aside and knocks her down as if she is nothing. She falls, yelps with surprise but not pain, and looks up at him.
" Show a little passion, Miss Darling." He addresses her like she is already a proper lady. Wendy thinks this might have upset her before, but now she is so numb, so covered with scabs from every blow she's taken since coming to this world, so frozen and filled with the water the mermaids dragged her down into, that she can barely feel anything at all.
" Get up." There is no argument in the Captain's voice and Wendy obediently pulls herself to her feet. She runs at him again, and this time there is the ring to steel meeting steel before she is pushed back again, stumbling over her feet. She falls, and this time hops back to her feet before Captain Hook orders her to. She doesn't know why she scrambles back up when she has no reason to, but the sword hangs heavy and real in her palm, made slick by the sweat of her hands.
" Come at me like you intend to kill me." Captain Hook instructs her. Wendy points the sword at him and rushes forward, wondering, briefly, at the pleasant rush that enters her senses.
The Captain catches her sword again, but this time she leans her weight into the blow, and when she is thrown back, she only fumbles her feet a little, and pulls herself steady without falling over.
He teaches her how to fight with a sword for hours. She's sweaty and sticky, and everything a true lady should never be, but the sword finally feels right in her hand and although her body is bruised and hurting everywhere, her breath feels good, rushing into her lungs, and the ache of her muscles (she has muscles. Did she have muscles before Neverland? Did she have muscles before pirates and Indians and Lost Boys? Did she have any strength, back in her London nursery?) slides in under the numbness.
Wendy raises the sword again, her arms screaming in protest and lunges forward. Captain Hook knocks her back and this time she stays down, panting and gasping and unable to even move her legs.
" I shall expect you here tomorrow." His voice is the same, cool and smooth like the blade he is sheathing, as it was on that night that seems so very long ago. Wendy thinks of Peter and his boyish calls, and decides the Captain's voice is more pleasant.
Wendy hauls herself to her feet, still panting, and watches the red coat swish.
" Of course," she replies, and before she can stop it the word slips out, " Captain."
It feels right.
The clash of steel rings out over the Jolly Rodger, but none of the crewmen take much heed. It's just the Cap'n. They reassure each other. Just Cap'n 'ook teachin' the Little Missy 'ow ta foight.
Because that, most definitely, is what it is.
Wendy crashes her sword against Hook's and pushes her body weight against it and swears and spits like a true sailor when he pushes her off. He's bigger than her and stronger than her and been fighting for so many more years than her, but every time her blade meets his she expects to come out of it the victor. Because Wendy Darling expects things again and knows infinitely more than she did, and that means something.
(Wendy Darling knows she is Wendy Darling.)
She's traded her faded and worn night dress for a pair of trousers (trousers, on a lady. Her mother would have a heart attack and Wendy finds this ridiculously funny) and a long shirt that she belts at the waist. It's a man's shirt and far too big for her, and the salty air stings the skin of her collarbone. Wendy finds it refreshing.
(Wendy Darlings knows she is 13-years-old.)
The cut on her cheek has grown and changed and crystallized into a scar, stark white and plain against her cheek, because now her cheek is brushed with the sun and stung with sweat and hardened by the sea breeze. The scar blazes white against her skin and Wendy admires it and wears it like a badge of honour like Captain Hook told her to long ago. (Was it so long ago? Wendy thinks of the nursery and thinks of London and thinks of Peter Pan kissing Tiger Lily. It hurts, just a little, and then Wendy thinks about kissing a boy at a port as the ship pulls out; how adventurous and exciting and utterly romantic. Wendy laughs at Juliet and the foolish little mermaid who died rather than stab her prince and save herself. Wendy tells the tale to the pirates who laugh along with her and pat her on the head)
(Wendy Darling knows that Peter Pan is not coming for her.)
Captain Hook asks her if she would like to see a little more of the world someday. Wendy answers him only with a smirk and a twinkle in her eye. Her Captain gives her a nod and tells the crew to make ready to leave. They're going on a little treasure hunt, to show the Little Missy what pirates can do!
The cheer erupts from behind her and Wendy leans over the edge of the ship, holding onto the rope as she blows a kiss to Neverland as it shrinks away. If she squints she can almost pretend that there is a figure in green shooting off of the island to the waters where the ship was anchored only moments before. She blows a kiss to that figure to, and then leaps back onto the deck to help her shipmates.
(Wendy Darling also knows that she doesn't care.)
I tried really hard to use one of my favourite elements in this story- that of 'Life, Death, and Rebirth'. In this story, Wendy undergoes each one of these. She has her 'life' before beign capture and on the pirate ship, which is followed by her 'death', or the scene where she goes mad in 'the darkness'. The darkness can be representative of the passage to the underworld or Wendy's own lost sense of self or even her insanity at that point. It is open for interpretation. Then there is the part of the story where Wendy changes, becoming a completely different person due to her experiences on board the ship. From: 'Wendy Darling, who's that?' to 'Wendy Darling knows she is Wendy Darling', she has undergone a very important transformation. She is 'reborn'.
Of course, it can be argued that Wendy 'died' when she sacrificed herself for the Lost Boys, because she made her life forfit for them, and then everything up until the point where Hook cuts her is her death and her dealing with death.
I think the bird symbolism should speak for itself, but just in case: birds usually equal freedom.
Hook - I think Hook would spare her. In the 2003 movie, he seemed ready to spare her when he made her the offer after he'd captured everyone. And while he threatens her, he never actually cuts her or draws blood from, even though he can shoot his own men without any guilt. Hook, as I remember being described by the animators, is a gnetleman, although a ruthless one. I can see him beign indulgent of Wendy, and, at the end, relishing in being able to steal her away from Peter. Also, Hook was present at Wendy's 'life', 'death', and 'rebirth'. Hook is the one who brought her back to herself, and is the one who 'expanded' her self after she came back. ('Wendy Darling expects things again, and this matters.') In a way, Hook is representative of her father at certain points, because he essentially 'raises' her after her brief spell of insanity (teaching her the sword), and he dotes on her a little (offering to take her on an adventure).
Wendy being afraid of death - The idea came to me when I wondered why Wendy might not want to grow up. More responsibilty, sure, but Wendy takes it upon herself to play mother to teh Lost Boys, a role which carries with it a certain level of responsibility. I wondered, and then stumbled upon the thought taht maybe Wendy didn't want to grow up and die. So that is where Wendy's fear of death comes from. But, by the end of the story, is she still afraid? Even I can't tell.
Thank you so much for reading, and tomorrow, check up on The Academic for my 'Going Away to University Special'!