No Copyright Intended. I do not own anything other than the imagination of the plot and writing!
After a long hiatus I have returned! Since publishing the first two chapters on tumblr, I've decided to publish it here at last! I've combined the first two chapters into one for your enjoyment. Graphics can be found at my blog thatbluebox ! Hope you enjoy!
CHAPTER ONE: NEVER FORGOTTEN
Wendy Darling, the girl who once took up arms to fight pirates, soared through the air without fear, and talked to mermaids with silvery scales up their arms and fingers, was to be thwarted by a simple teacup.
"Wendy, your dress!" Aunt Millicent rose from her chair as Wendy looked down at the mess in which she had created. Tea splotched its way down her lace petticoat, and tea was dripping onto the hardwood floor. The tea service had strewn teacups on their sides and her own teacup, which she had put down, was tipped frightfully over the edge. She stepped back, feeling her cheeks burn as her Aunt brought out a handkerchief and fussed over her. "What on earth were you thinking!" She spoke low, so that the others in the room would not overhear.
Well, what Wendy was thinking was of many things. The first being how much she didn't want to be there. They were visiting the Brandon's; high upper-class society, good connections and a son with praised 'charming manners'. Although Aunt Millicent had never out right said their visits were in hopes of a match, Wendy had guessed it ever since she had raved about Phillip, the golden boy, for the past two months. And although he was a nice enough young man- he did have a rather handsome smile - he seemed to be as interested in her as she was of him.
After moving in with Aunt Millicent when she was fourteen, it had all been about becoming the 'refined lady' her Aunt was determined she would become. Leaving home and the lost boys had been rather difficult, and although her Aunt was more lenient with her ever since the arrival of her new 'son', she was still Aunt Millicent. Now that she was eighteen, Millicent still had dreams of Wendy becoming a sophisticated lady of her time, and it was all for the man who she would give that hidden kiss to, the one who she would one day call husband.
The thing was, she had already given that kiss to someone else. But that someone else had never wanted to grow up, and painfully, she had come to realize that she must.
The fact of the matter was that the blasted tea service had been right next to a wall of books that was in the Brandon's parlor. And of course her eyes would catch the title of Tom Sawyer, which reminded her of pirates, and of course she had forgotten she had been pouring herself tea and-
With sudden indignation, she grabbed at her own handkerchief and dabbed at the stains. They'd need a good scrubbing or they would never come out. This whole marrying and husband rouse had just brought back too many memories of that heedless boy, memories she thought she had gotten over, and it was getting to her. That ridiculous boy who she had never seen again. She reached out and righted the tipped teacup with a certain fierceness, just as a parlor maid made her way over to clean up the mess.
Over the maid's shoulder she caught Mrs. Brandon's curious grey eyes, as she watched the scene calmly. She jerked her hand back awkwardly, her thoughts focusing more on the situation at hand.
"Wendy, my poor dear, such a waste of a fine dress! But please do not worry about the mess, Agatha will clear it up." Mrs. Brandon said from her stiff position on the overstuffed chair.
She forced the image of the blonde boy from her mind, and smiled apologetically at her hostess. "My apologies, Mrs. Brandon, I'm a bit tired today." She could feel her Aunt's gaze on her, but she didn't move to face her. "I do feel rather lightheaded, and fear I may be not of use in conversation. I think some rest would do me well." Mrs. Brandon seemed taken off guard with the sudden abruptness of their visit, but didn't protest. Aunt Millicent seemed to make an effort to not to say anything, but smiled appropriately. "As always, thank you for the tremendous company you have bestowed upon us both."
The party excited from the parlor after a small conversation on arranging another date, and some faint concern on Mrs. Brandon's part on Wendy's health. When they finally reached the door and the coats were buttoned and parasols in hand, Aunt Millicent gave her an expected look.
Immediately, as if a trained dog, she turned to Phillip who had followed them into the foyer. "Thank you so much for the tea Mrs. Brandon, Phillip. It's been an absolute pleasure to see you again." She inclined her head, relief bubbling up inside her as she half turned for the door.
"And you, Miss Darling. I hope to call upon you next week, if that is amiable? Perhaps a stroll through Hyde Park? If you are well enough, that is." She froze, and saw Aunt Millicent share a look with Mrs. Brandon. This was the first time Phillip had ever stopped her at the door, or said anything about seeing her again. Her heart raced inside her chest as she swallowed hard. Turning back around to face him, she tried smiling as she looked up into his eyes.
"That would be lovely, thank you, Phillip." Was about all she could manage. Outside the church bells chimed three, and all Wendy could think of was the dreadful noise of wedding bells.
Inside the carriage Aunt Millicent seemed to bloom into the world's most active talker. It would appear that although the tea accident was rather embarrassing and improper, it was overshined by Phillip's inquiry for another date.
"A stroll in Hyde Park!" She exclaimed dreamily, clutching at Wendy's hand. "Oh what a beautiful idea! We must prepare. I'm sure you are due for another dress, this one is ruined after all." Self consciously, Wendy tugged at the material of the stained dress, wishing her Aunt would stop. The excitement was completely one sided inside the carriage.
She stared out the window; London was alive and busy beyond the glass. Grey, ominous clouds had clustered in the south and sun spilled in-between. She had never felt so strongly the urge to leap from the carriage and fly out towards the clouds like so many years ago.
"Oh and such a strapping young man, he'd do fine-"
"Stop the carriage!" Wendy shouted, taking her hand from her Aunts and unbuckling the door's handle. With a lurch, the carriage stalled and she heard the angry shouts from behind them.
"What is going on, Wendy-!" Aunt Millicent stared at her in horror as Wendy clutched at her hat, gathering her skirts in her gloved hands and hopped from the carriage. "Wendy Darling, get back in this carriage this instant!" She cried, the noise of the street making it hard to hear.
"I need some air," Wendy stated flatly, doing her best to avoid direct eye contact. "I'll be home in time for supper, I promise."
"Wendy you need an escort, at least let me come with you!" She moved towards the opening of the carriage and Wendy fought the urge to slam the door shut.
"No, no stay there. I'll be fine. I'll stop by and see Mother." She lied, knowing the Darling house was only a couple of blocks over. Millicent hesitated then sat back down, disapproval coming off of her in waves.
"Home by five, not a moment later." And with that, the carriage door closed.
Wendy watched as the carriage disappeared before continuing. She had no desire to go home at the moment; she couldn't bear the thought of talking anymore. She just wanted some privacy where there would be no mention of marriage, or clothes or even the weather. She was so tired of having to keep up with being, well, a grown up.
It was days like these where she distinctly remembered Peter's revulsion to adulthood and responsibilities. And where a hole in her chest grew as she thought of him. No matter how hard she had tried to get rid of him from her mind in previous years, he always managed to creep back in the most inconvenient way. Would she never learn to love again? And did she really love Peter? They had been children after all! But she always got those fluttering butterflies whenever she thought of him. More than when thought of Phillip by any means.
She turned onto another cobblestone street, and she felt a few splashes of water hit her. Wendy looked up at the darkening sky and frowned, but couldn't find it in herself to care. So what if she got drenched, perhaps Phillip would see her and cancel their plans! She smiled at that, imagining his face in true horror at the image of her hat drooped over her face and rain running in streams down her dress and coat. Not too far off would be Aunt Millicent's voice shrieking about how 'improper' she looked, and Mrs. Brandon fainting from the comfort of her carriage. Maybe she could become a lost girl? But of course, she would never become a lost girl again, she was eighteen. A grown up. Neverland was only for children and pirates. She would be stuck marrying some stuffy-
She froze as something blonde bobbed across her vision. He walked purposely down the street in front of her, hands at his sides and tension in his strong shoulders. He turned his head to show his profile, a drop of rain running down his forehead. Her heart constricted and for a moment, the world seemed to fade in all its colour and brilliance to focus on the blonde ahead.
She blinked; Wendy was sure her mind was playing a trick on her like it had many times before. But no, there was his familiar jawline, the slope of his nose… But he couldn't be Peter. He was… older.
Before she knew what she was doing, she was running. It was almost impossible under the heavy skirts and enormous flopping hat, but she was determined. She was the Wendy who had fought pirates on the Jolly Roger for goodness sake. Her throat was closing up, and before she knew what she was doing, she was shouting. People stared, but this time she couldn't care what they thought of her. In that moment, she was Wendy, just Wendy. Not a lady of society nor aspiring adult, but Wendy the girl who went straight on till morning.
All the times she had denied herself the feelings she had felt for Peter, how she had forced herself to move on, to accept adulthood, was all crashing down around her and all she felt was this incredible emotion of the need to be with him.
And then she was beside him; hat flopped to the side, panting and flushed. Rain came down harder from above, and her braided bun was loose from her excursion.
"Peter? Is that you?" She caught hold of his wrist, adrenaline pumping through her. "It is! It is you!" The boy turned around, momentarily shocked. He was older; sun bleached hair curling at the tips and big, broad shoulders and strong arms. He was wearing a tight white shirt, open at the front and soot was smeared over it. But her eyes met his and she knew, she just knew, that this was the boy she had dreamed about for years. How on earth he had grown up puzzled her, but a part of her heart was selfish with happiness. He had come back to London, come back to her.
"Wendy?" His voice caught, and something flickered bright and warm within her.
"You came back."
She had imagined this moment multiple times, in her dreams and even her nightmares. Wendy had thought endlessly on what she would say to him. But now that he was here, she found herself speechless in his presence. She gripped him tighter, overwhelmed by multiple emotions all at once. Surprise, happiness, exhilaration, astonishment, joy and anger pushed through her veins like adrenaline. His own hand reached down to grip hers, a hesitation and urgency reflected in his eyes.
Those eyes, in which her own searched, were so familiar, but there was something else to them. They were no longer the eyes of a little boy, she thought wearily, but the eyes of someone older; with secrets and distance. They matched his alien face; a strong jawline and tanned skin from days in the sun that looked different upon closer inspection. Her left hand rose to cup his face, but she faltered.
Wendy's lip trembled as she fought desperately against the crushing sensation she was experiencing; how much she wished she could be happy with him here in front of her! This is what she always wanted. What she dreamed would save her.
What was stopping her from embracing him right now?
But she couldn't do it, not with this stranger in front of her, not with this man who was as familiar and unfamiliar to her as Mr. Brandon. He was Peter, but he wasn't Peter Pan. She bit back a sob as she pulled back, disappointment staring right back at her.
He had grown up without her.
The words lit up in her mind like burning letters, making her cringe under their weight.
"You're," She started, her throat closing up. Peter, who had noticed her retreat, looked conflicted, a hand still gripping hers solidly. He was unnervingly quiet, for such a reunion. "… older." She finished lamely, her voice small. Peter, who had been taking a step forward, stopped abruptly at her comment.
"I didn't think you'd have an objection to my age," His brow was furrowed, and although he probably meant it lightly, there was a tinge of something else in his voice.
Wendy felt her stomach twist when she heard him, his voice lower and huskier than before. He had most certainly reached puberty, as his words were confident and smooth. Strangely, it made her want to push him away even more. It was all wrong, or perhaps right, but not the right she had wanted. He had grown up without her, a promise not broken, but a betrayal of the unspoken.
"That's all you have to say?" Her voice was hollow even to her own ears. Wendy brought her hand back to her side; Peter's awkwardly pulling free from her own. She stared up with him, her eyes wide and shining. "You promise to return," She started slowly, trying to translate her thoughts and feelings into words. The rain came harder, relentless and cold, as she spoke.
"… and years after I had given up on the foolish dream that you'd come back to me, you show up…" She gestured to him, eyes catching onto the obvious muscle under his shirt. A blush crossed over the bridge of her nose and cheeks, which only fueled her anger even more. "A- a man! After you swore to me you'd rather stay a boy!" He looked as if she had slapped him.
"You've grown up Peter, and you never thought to-!" She cut herself off, knowing if she continued she'd cry. She would not cry over him. Especially when he was looking at her like that. She turned her head away, now close to being soaked completely, feeling silly and cold in the rain.
He had forgotten about her. After he had promised, he had forgotten about her. She was cursed into never forgetting him nor Neverland, when he had enough distractions and memories to blot her out completely. It was cruel, and the worst of her nightmares.
The foulest was that he was silent. He wasn't defending himself, nor begging for forgiveness like a sensible gentleman. Even though had the appearance of a man, he most certainly did not act like one, she thought unkindly. She stuck out her chin, not daring to look at him. There was a thick silence between them that seemed to drain all of the remaining happiness from her.
"Why are you here in London, Peter." Her hat flopped pathetically from the rain, covering her eyes. But she felt too proud to lift it. She stared at his boots, darkened with mud and dirty water.
"Wendy-" Her gut clenched involuntarily. A hand reached up and lifted a part of her hat away from her face and she thought of how it must be ruined. "Wendy Darling," There was a smile on his face, coming up at the corners. "Duck."
Her eyes flickered up at him, confusion written on her face. After all that, 'duck' was all he was going to say? "If this is some form of a joke, your time is wasted-" She didn't get to finish because he was already grabbing her by the waist and pulling her to the side. Her first thought was that his hands were on her, more contact than she had been exposed to for the past few years, and her ears went pink. She cried out in surprise, her wet skirts spraying mud and water as he pulled her to his other side.
"Peter, what-" There was a ping and a sharp movement just inches as to where she had been moments ago, her eyes wide as chips of stone sprayed up from the ground. Wendy squealed, turning her head about to see a man with a pistol share a look with her from inside an alleyway. He wore a long dirty trench coat with brass military buttons, a belt of weapons hidden when he stretched his arm. A Pirate.
Eyes wide, she stared in horror as he looked to aim again. "Peter, look out!" She cried, pulling at his arm. Instead of firing at them, however, he turned and fired down into the street at a hooded figure she had never seen before, hidden underneath an enormous black umbrella. The figure was misshapen under its cloak; there was something monstrous about it, even from a distance that sent chills up her spine. Shouts were heard and she could see the hat of a policeman running towards the scene.
"Wendy, we have to go. Now." She turned to look up at him, water dripping from his hair and making his shirt completely transparent. She couldn't help another blush, feeling like an hour with Peter was more than an entire year out in society.
"Go, where?" She cried as he took her hand and started to run, suddenly feeling the weight of indecision. Reasoning was fighting its way to her mind and yelling for her to get out now. "Peter I can't, surely!"
He turned sharply to face her and she blinked up at him through the rain. There was no longer any confliction or hesitation within him, the familiar light of excitement clear in his eyes. It had seemed he had made a decision, and that decision included bringing her along.
He cupped her face with rough hands, a gesture she hadn't been able to do herself. "One more time, Wendy. Come with me." No explanation, no responsibility, nothing other than adventure to lure her. She put her hands around his, a war of reason and desire pushing against her mind.
"Peter," The sour taste of disappointment still lingered in her mouth, and she was indignant he hadn't even apologized. And now they were being shot at? She had been so keen on adventure before, but now that it was dangling in front of her, she wasn't sure if she should take it. "I can't, not until-"
His eyes widened and she wondered how much her refusal hurt, faltering her words. It wasn't until he plucked her up once more, his strong arms lifting her up and shoving her roughly to the side, that she realized it wasn't her he had been reacting to. Her shoulder hit the side of a brick building with a bruising force and Wendy cried out in pain, his body pushing up against her. Another shot was heard and horses skittered down the street. Peter went rigid in front of her and she stood still, realization hitting her fiercely.
"Peter!" She cried as he slumped forward, his face twisted in pain as he grabbed at his shoulder. He grunted, one hand clutching the fabric of her coat as he tried to hold himself up. The water running down his shoulder came off dark, trailing down his white shirt in stains. Her hand, in which she clutched at him to hold him upright, came away dark and sticky. She shook, unable to keep her eyes away from the blood. "Peter, you're-"
"Can't you see the urgency now?" For being shot in the shoulder, he still managed for his tone to sound like he was in good spirits. She stared at him in shock as he gingerly looked over his wound, wincing as he did so. "Bugger got me in the shoulder, did he. I'll live. But we have got to move fast before he nicks me clean off," He gave her a pointed look at her frozen position as she stared up at him, horrified.
Wendy, felt her heart thumping in her ears, shock ebbing its way down to her toes. She wasn't sure if she was shivering from the cold or from the shock. "I-I know the way to the hospital, they can help-"
"No, not there." He winced again as he prodded her forward, Wendy holding him up as they moved quickly. "I have somewhere else in mind." She looked up at him, trying to discern his tone, eyes still wide. "Don't suppose you've forgotten about Tink, now."