I stare at Peter as he sits on the railing, watching as what I've said sinks in. My heart squeezes as I wait for his reaction. I close my eyes as Peter studies me, comprehension dawning on his face. The door leading from the ballroom opens again and I hear John call my name. My eyes fly open. Peter keeps his curiously-shocked expression as my brother walks up.
"Wendy? The party's over and Mary and John wish you to see them off," John says, openly staring at Peter.
Peter's studious gaze switches to John. Sadness washes over his face. "John, right?" he asks, offering his hand to my brother for a shake.
John takes it, his businessman's smile at the ready. "Yes, that's me. Father mentioned that there was a gentleman out here with my sister. Unfortunately, my father is terrible with names so forgive me asking again."
"I'm Peter," he says to my oblivious brother.
For a moment – a brief, brief moment – something akin to recollection crosses my brother's face. "May I ask your surname?"
My heart flutters as Peter gives a small, sad grin. "It's Pan, Peter Pan."
My brother's eyes widen for a short second before he chuckles. "My sister has been telling you her silly nonsense, I wager. Good one, chap."
I find myself gritting my teeth to keep from shouting at him. How can eh so readily and completely forget Peter? John was every bit as awake as I was when Peter whisked us away to Neverland. He wanted to stay just as much as I had. The fact that he called that which I love silly nonsense doesn't bother me anymore, though. My family turned against me long ago.
"Wendy? Are you even awake in that imaginative head of yours?" I hear my brother question me.
"I'm awake, John," I practically bark at him.
John chuckles good-naturedly. "She's always grumpy at these parties. Absolutely hates them, she does." Peter chuckles with John until John says, "She especially hates that Mother and Father use these get-togethers as an excuse to push suitors at poor Wendy."
Peter's face goes carefully blank, but not before I glimpsed his scowl. Curious. John asks me again if I'll say goodbye to his children as Peter and I are having a stare down.
"Yes," I mumble as Peter gives me a small nod. John says goodbye to Peter and heads back to the house, waiting at the door for me.
"Leave your bedroom window open, Wendy," Peter says quietly.
"I've never closed it, Peter," I say, giving him a small nod. I gather my skirts and head after John without looking back at Peter. It feels like an army of fairies are flying around in my stomach. A few party stragglers pepper the room as my brother and I pass in to the hallway. His darling little Darlings are standing beside Lucy, looking as if their almost asleep while standing. I pick little John up as he reaches for me and Mary clings to my skirts. John takes Lucy to get the car as I stay with my little ones.
Kneeling onto the floor, I pull both children in for a giant hug. "I need you two to listen carefully to what I'm about to say."
Mary pulls back and tears are in her eyes. "We already know, Auntie Wendy. The fairy came to see us."
I wipe her tears gently with the back of my hand and hold her cheek in my palm. "Don't cry, my Mary, please."
Sniffling, she says, "Sorry, Auntie Wendy, we should be happy. You're going to be with your Peter Pan, aren't you? And the mermaids and the fairies, too?"
I give a sad laugh. "Yes, with Peter and the mermaids and the fairies. I so do not wish to leave you, dear ones." I hug them back to me, tighter than before.
"Visit with Tink, Wendybird," John whispers to me.
"I want to meet Peter, Auntie Wendy!" Mary whisper-shouts.
I give a water laugh as they give me a kiss. "I'll see you again, dear ones. I love you," I coo.
They chorus their love back to me, making sure to not say good-bye. John comes in and collects them after hugging me and gifting my forehead with a soft kiss. He must have seen my sad eyes. Sighing, I straighten my skirts and head towards the staircase. These parties tire me out easily.
"Goodness, Wendybird, you look like you'll never see them again," Michael remarks from the bottom of the stairwell.
I give him a half-hearted shrug and go to move around him, but am stopped by his slender fingers encircling my wrist almost painfully. My brow furrows. "Michael? Michael, let go of my hand; I'm tired." My brother ignores me and starts to pull me towards the gallery. My paintings of Neverland surround us as Michael brings us to a stop in the middle. "Michael?"
"You need to be more obedient, Wendy," Michael tells me. His grip on my arm tightens and pain throbs through my arm. "What do you think you're doing, Wendybird?"
"Michael, you're hurting me," I whimper.
He looks down at my wrist, trapped by his hand. Shock flashes through him and he let's go. "Sorry, Wendybird. I – I just overheard you…"
"Overheard what, Michael?" I rub my wrist gently.
"You can't leave me, Wendy. I won't let you run off with some suitor." Michael says with tears in his eyes. "Pick that Jenkins fellow if you decide to finally marry, but don't leave me."
I glare at the floor and stand there, awkwardly silent, as my brother calms down. There is no way I am going to correct him; that I'm running off to Neverland and not getting married. He'd have Mother and Father lock me away. Peter wouldn't have a chance at finding me.
"Who's going to tell me stories? Who am I going to meet that would keep me from being a stiff? Wendy, please, don't go. I'm sorry about what I said earlier. You don't have to grow up, but please don't leave me." My brother sobs, letting his tears fall.
My heart aches for my little brother. "I'm sorry, Michael. Truly, I am so, very sorry."
"I've run you off!" He croaks. "I knew it; you're leaving because of me. I don't want you to leave…"
"Michael I'm not-"
"No! Do not lie to me! I heard you tell that fellow you'd go away with him. You've never thought of anyone else, have you? Always staying in your dreamland and tarnishing Mummy and Father's reputation. You can't even act happy when they throw you a ball. Why can't you do what social status dictates for once, Wendy?" Michael shouts; his sorrow turning to anger.
Tears fill my eyes and I swipe away the few that escape. "Do I embarrass you that much, Michael?" His mouth opens to release his protest – regret at his words clear on his face – but I hold my hand up to stop him. "I'm sorry; you won't have to worry about it anymore, Michael. I'm going to bed. Goodnight, dear Michael."
I hear a thud as I turn away. I assume Michael just punched the wall, so I continue to my bedroom. My heart hurts. I'm not only thinking of myself am I? I definitely wasn't thinking of myself when I left Neverland the first time; thoughts of Mother and Father kept me from staying. Oh, Michael…
Wendy goes still, very still, for a moment. Her soft grey eyes go wide, wider than you'd think possible. "Come on, Wendy, say something," I chuckle. I feel my grin start to slip. Why is she being so quiet? "Wendy?" I ask, reaching my hand out to grab hers.
Her hand flinches right before I can grab it and she moves it to swipe a few tears that escaped. I hadn't even noticed she was crying. A pang of disappointment shoots through me; she doesn't want me to touch her?
"Sorry, sorry. P-Peter? You – you look so –"
I interrupt her with what the mermaids say is my cockiest smile and a wink. "Devilishly handsome?"
"Grown up," She croaks. Her voice is barely above a whisper.
Shock courses through my body. Grown up? Never! I feel my brows crease. "No, Wendy, I didn't grow up. I'm still me, still the Peter you knew. I just look a little different is all."
Wendy offers me a dry laugh. "Oh, is that all?" Her own face is a mask of confusion and – and disappointment? "Wait, Peter, what are you doing here?" She asks, her sweet voice as soft as if she were about to tell a story. I love hearing that voice.
"Well, I –" I start to tell her why when :
"WENDY!" Comes a shout from the other side of the balcony.
Wendy and I both turn quickly towards the sound of a brooding man. He was probably handsome – not as handsome as me, of course – when he was younger, but you can only see hints of it now. My eyes flit towards Wendy's face just in time to see the color leave her beautiful face. She makes an adorable sound, but I recognize it as a squeak. Is this man a threat to my Wendy? I take a step slightly in front of her petite frame – just in case.
"Your mother is in there speaking to your guests! What in the world are you doing out here?" The man states, his face turning red and his gaze glazing onto my face. "And who the bloody hell are you?
Nodding, I offer him my hand to shake. "My name is Peter, sir. A pleasure," I lie. It isn't a pleasure at all.
Hesitantly, her father – as I assume he is – takes my hand in his. His grip is sweaty, I don't like it. "Yes, sure, a pleasure. What are you two…" His eyes suddenly light up. He's suddenly a very, very happy man. Strange. "Oh, bother, pardon my intrusion. Go back to your conversing, children." Mr. Darling practically skips back to the party. What an odd man.
Wendy turns to me, the remains of a blush fresh on her face. Even with her slight frown, Wendy is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. "I should go back to the party now, Peter." She says.
Warmth spreads through me and I feel like flying in circles at the sound of my name on her lips. "Then I shall join you, Wendy," I respond.
She shakes her head at me. "No, that's quite alright. I – I need to go be a hostess or something."
Wendy turns before she can see my face fall. My heart starts hammering quickly; she's walking away. I can't let her walk away! Before I can reach out I see a little ball of shimmering light whizz past my head. "Tink, no, don't!" I shout, but I'm too late.
Wendy turns back to me, confused, a half second before Tinkerbell starts tugging on a strand of hair. Wendy reaches a hand up to swat at her, obviously not realizing what's going on. I cannot stop my laughter as she starts to spin around. "Get it off! What the bloody hell is it?! Ah! Is it a bat?!"
"Tink, she's had enough. Be polite!" I gasp out between laughs.
"Tink? Who – wait, Tink as in Tinkerbell?" Wendy asks, stopping her rotations and staring right at me. Her face looks so disbelieving it has my laughter choking in my chest. All chuckles disappear.
Still the same ol' reaction when something touches her precious hair, eh? Chuckles Tink naughtily. Silly jealous fairy.
"Oh," she gasps. Wendy holds out a hand and Tink and the fairy lands gracefully onto it. Tink's gaze flitters between Wendy and me.
She forgot me? Tink jingles at me.
My frown deepens. "No way, she wouldn't forget us. Right, Wendy?"
"Of course I remember you all, Peter. It's just…"
"It's just what, Wendy? I told you I'd be back." I walk closer to Wendy, so close we're almost touching. She has to tilt her head back to look at my face. Tinkerbell flits up and circles us, so as not to be in the way. I reach my hand and brush a strand of hair away from Wendy's face. Her beautiful, beautiful face. My voice comes out hushed, "I've come back for you, Wendy. Come away with me."
I don't know what I expected when I asked her, but tears were not what I expected. Did I misinterpret the paintings? What about the storytelling? I was almost expecting her to jump into my arms and we'd fly away right then…
I also didn't expect the words that came out of her mouth.
"I can't," she whispers, her eyes trained on my chest.
My entire body goes still. Pain shoots through my heart. I take a small step back, away from my Wendy. "Why not? Am I too late? Did you grow up?" The hurt in my voice is thick, but I cannot mask it.
Wendy shakes her head, her voice broken as she tells me, "It's been nine years, Peter, and I've forgotten how to fly."
Is that all? "I can teach you," I boast. I did it once before, didn't I?
"What about my family and life, Peter? I can't just run away, not this time."
"I," my throat feels thick so I force myself to swallow. The gulp was like thunder in my ears. "I understand," I lie. Well, I guess it isn't a lie. I do understand; my Wendy is so unselfish. She always puts herself before anyone else. Isn't this the same reason that she said when she came back last time?
She said no, Peter. Tink tells me. Even her voice is sad. No matter how jealous she gets sometimes, Tink has always loved Wendy, too. We should just go; I don't want you to hurt more.
A clock somewhere starts to strike the hour 11. My eyes burn into the clock and switch to the star; the star I was hoping to take Wendy back to… Panic courses through me. I really do have to leave her… Nodding to Tink, I jump up onto the railing. It takes a second for my happy thoughts to come back, but I'm Peter Pan. The boy that flies.
I refuse to look back at Wendy, knowing that if I did right now I would want to stay even if it meant growing up.
"Peter!" Wendy's voice screams at me.
I school my features into a blank face, and try to turn off my heart. Turning towards her I ask, "Yes?"
The clock rings it's final time and applause can be heard from the ballroom. Silence spreads quickly and Wendy sucks in a deep breath. Her face is wet with tears and I just want to hold her in my arms… No, Peter, she said no. Don't torment yourself.
Wendy's eyes pierce my own gaze as she tells me what she wanted to;
"Take me with you, Peter; take me to Neverland."
What? Did she just – she did! Sitting on the railing, Wendy and I stare at each other until Wendy closes her eyes. The door to the balcony opens again and I hear a man's voice call for Wendy, but I'm too shocked to move my eyes from her face.
"Wendy? The party's over and Mary and John wish you to see them off," he says, staring openly at me.
My studious gaze switches to him. Oh, no. Sadness washes through me. "John, right?" I ask, offering my hand to him.
John takes it, a sophisticated aura about him. "Yes, that's me. Father mentioned that there was a gentleman out here with my sister. Unfortunately, my father is terrible with names so forgive me asking again."
There's a moment, a small moment, when I think John almost remembers me. But no one remembers me in the long run. Except for my Wendy…
"May I ask your surname?" John asks in his most adult tone.
I give him a small, sad grin; knowing what his reaction will be. "It's Pan; Peter Pan."
John's eyes widen for a short second before he chuckles. "My sister's been telling you her silly nonsense, I wager. Good one, chap."
Wendy's face flushes, but not from embarrassment this time. Her jaw goes tense as if she's angry. Why would she be angry? I can accept that he's forgotten me; all of the Lost Boys forgot me as well. Even little Michael won't believe in me anymore. No one remembers me once they've left Neverland – no one, but Wendy.
"Wendy? Are you even awake in that imaginative head of yours?" John questions her.
"I'm awake, John," Wendy practically growls at him.
But John chuckles good-naturedly. "She's always grumpy at these parties. Absolutely hates them, she does." I chuckle with him until I hear, "She especially hates that Mother and Father use these get-togethers as an excuse to push suitors at poor Wendy."
I have to force my face to let go of my scowl. No one is allowed to have my Wendy – no one but me, of course. John asks Wendy again if she will say goodbye to his… children as Wendy and I lock gazes.
I give her a nod, letting her know I understand. Vaguely, I recall John telling me goodbye and going to wait for Wendy by the door.
"Leave your bedroom window open, Wendy," I tell her quietly.
"I've never closed it, Peter," Wendy says, giving me a small nod. My heart swells at her words as she gathers her skirts and heads after her brother without looking back at me.
Jumping from the balcony, I rush up to settle myself on her rooftop, right about her window. I'll let her say her goodbyes and then I'll teach her how to fly. I'll have my Wendy back.
A/N: Sorry, I meant to have this up sooner. I injured my shoulder when I was riding my horse a couple weeks back and the ER said my clavicle separated from my scapula. Ouch! But- Thank you guys for reading! I love ALL of the reviews (: You guys have kept me writing! Exams finished last week, and this week is Fall Break. Know what that means?! Yep! I plan to have the next chapter up by Tuesday or Wednesday. Depending on how my doctor's appointment goes, it might be Thursday. But I will have it up; I promise!
P.S.~ If I didn't reply to your review; sorry! I usually try to send a message back (: Don't be afraid to message me or anything! I love hearing from people!
-Eathelynn (: 3