A/N: And finally, I present to you the epilogue of Second Star to the Right :) I seriously hope that you've all enjoyed reading this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it and sharing it with you - and thank you for the wonderful response that this story has received :)
Also, if you start reading this, and think: 'Where have Niff gone? I can't see any Niff!' Just keep reading, there's a reason for their disappearance, I promise, I have not abandoned them in favour of other characters! :)
Warnings: Mentions of war, character death (this will become clear at the end!)
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee and I do not own Peter Pan.
Nick and Jeff left after that night, refusing to stay any longer than to help put the children to sleep. Nearly all of them were crying, but they settled down after Nick repeated his promise that if they dreamed of Neverland and his stories, then they would be able to see him again.
And they did.
For every time one of them saw him they would wake up in the morning and loudly tell everyone the wonderful adventures that they'd had with Nick, Jeff and some other boys, known as the Warblers. One boy even claimed to have met an old pirate, who'd taught him how to swordfight, but how accurate that dream was has always been debated.
But then again, it is Neverland.
Mr and Mrs Schuester returned later that night to find Nick gone but we explained that he didn't like goodbyes and so had left with warning.
I don't know whether they believed us, for there was still an upturned drawer in the centre of the bedroom floor, and all of Nick's belongings were still in place, but they nodded sadly and resigned themselves to never seeing their former charge again.
I suppose we were lucky that they didn't believe him to have been kidnapped, for although the police have jurisdiction over London, I don't think their resources reach as far as Neverland.
Nick and Jeff did return to us the next year.
It was spring time, just as Nick had hoped, and Kurt and I took him and Jeff walking through Kensington Gardens to look at the flowers.
They, of course, hadn't changed in the slightest, apart from that Jeff seemed to have matured a little and now acted like a normal seventeen year old; apart from the flying aspect of course, which Nick had to remind him was not suitable for a public park.
Kurt and I had changed in those few months that we hadn't seen them; Kurt had grown a few inches, while I'd begun to think about our future plans. We consulted Nick on these and told him that we planned to find a place together as soon as possible so that we could be prepared to move out when we turned eighteen.
Nick laughed and said that maybe he should have been as organised as we were.
We sat in Kensington Gardens for hours on end and just talked, until Jeff got distracted by some fairies and wandered off. We went round and round trying to find him, until Nick spotted his blonde head above some ornate bushes; of course, we then had to endure the shocked looks from the people around us as we pulled him out.
I think that Kurt and I were more shocked when he claimed that he'd been playing with the fairies, but Nick seemed to understand completely.
I guess that was when we began to notice the differences between us and them, or us and Nick at least; he was still Nick, essentially, but he now found anything extraordinary perfectly normal.
They came in the spring the next year as well, and Kurt and I took them to the small flat that we planned to rent once we both turned eighteen. They both seemed to like it, but I could tell that neither of them really wanted to stay any longer than necessary in such a small and cramped space. I've never been to Neverland, but I imagine that even for an island, it's reasonably vast.
We took all of the children with us when we went to Kensington Gardens that year. Nick told them all one of his famous stories and we had a picnic as well. In the afternoon, Jeff began teaching them all how to look for fairies.
Lots of them then demanded that they wanted to learn how to fight pirates too, but Kurt and I decided that wasn't appropriate in public.
We thought that it had been a successful day when we traipsed home with a large crowd of exhausted orphans, until one little boy came and found me later on in the evening.
"Blaine," he said quietly, "Who were those people earlier?"
I didn't know what to say to him, for I believed that all of the children would remember Nick at least.
"Nick and Jeff?" I asked, "Why, Nick used to live here and tell stories to you; he used to tell stories about Jeff."
"Really, Blaine?" the little boy said, still looking doubtful, "I don't remember."
This was the second change that I noticed; life was carrying on here and the children were growing up, but Nick and Jeff weren't. I'd been hoping that every time that they came back to visit us we could just go back to the way that everything had been before Nick had left, but I discovered that this just wasn't possible.
The third year that they arrived, even more things changed.
They came to our flat, and stayed with us there. Both Kurt and I were older than them now, and that was strange by itself, but we found that Nick was beginning to change as well; one morning Kurt came into the kitchen to find Nick puzzling over the teapot. It was a small and rather insignificant difference, but Nick, who had been making tea for us ever since we could remember in the orphanage, was now baffled by the whole process.
I asked him about it later.
"We don't really drink tea in Neverland," he explained, "There aren't really many tea leaves, but if we do get hold of some, Wes makes it for us."
He even admitted that he'd started to forget what tea tasted like.
Things changed further that week, for both Kurt and I had jobs, therefore we had to leave for different lengths of time each day; Kurt worked in a local tailors, while I was working at a publishing office. We left Nick and Jeff at the flat alone when we went out and told them to amuse themselves; they went out a few times, but most of the time they'd stay in all day and puzzle over normal everyday objects and commodities.
One evening, Kurt asked, out of the blue, if it was possible for us to visit Neverland with them at some point, but we were met with an awkward silence.
"We'd love for you to come with us," Nick said eventually, "But only children can visit Neverland by flying; we can't take you, since you're adults."
Kurt and I nodded understandingly, but we were both sharing the same thoughts; we were adults now, the two boys in front of us were boys still, and that would never change.
That was the last year that they visited.
Spring time came around, and turned into summer without even a trace of them the next year. We knew that they weren't ever going to come back to us, but in our hearts we still kept hope.
"Maybe they just can't bear to see us grow up anymore?" Kurt suggested, "Or I offended them when I asked to go to Neverland with them."
I reassured him that I doubted he'd offended them, but maybe the constant change was upsetting them.
"Maybe it's a good thing that they didn't come this year," I said, "What with the war and everything."
Kurt and I spent the war together. We were both called up at the same time, and we served in the trenches together in the same regiment. We were both lucky to escape unharmed.
We did have one scrape in which Kurt narrowly missed a bullet to his head when an unfamiliar soldier pulled him away from the top of the trench just in time. The man was a lieutenant, with the initials 'HC' stitched onto his uniform, but we'd never even seen or heard of him before. When we asked what he was doing, he claimed to be coming to see an old friend, to which we both laughed, because who uses the trenches as a meeting place?
Later, we saw him engaged in a conversation with a private by the name of Evans, so we assumed that he'd found who he had been looking for.
After the war, Kurt returned to his work at the tailors, but my publishing office had closed the year before due to insufficient funding.
On one of the days that I wasn't searching for a job, I cleared out Nick's room from the orphanage, since it had been empty for several years, and I discovered a stack of papers bundled together under his mattress.
I sat on his old bed and read through a few of them. They appeared to be notes and an almost complete manuscript for a children's storybook that he'd been planning. All the stories were about Neverland and Jeff; exactly the same stories that Nick had always told us when we were younger.
I took the papers home to show Kurt, and it was he who suggested that I revise them and add an ending to the stories so that I could have them published for Nick; since I did have experience in publishing.
I agreed, and while Kurt went to work, I would sit at home and read Nick's notes.
After a while, I had them completed and in a suitable order, so I advertised in the local paper for a publisher who would be willing to help me. I received answers almost immediately from a few, and so I sent off a short description of the basis of the story to each one. Many replied, but one in particular caught my eye; a man expressed great interest in the story as it reminded him greatly of his past. I assumed that he meant it referred to his childhood, so I booked an appointment to meet with him.
He turned out to be perfect for the job; he was in a wheelchair and said that nothing gave him greater pleasure when he could not go out than sitting at home and reading through a good manuscript.
I always thought that he took a particular interest in Nick's work for a reason that went deeper than Nick's talent for bringing a story alive, but I never knew what it was.
Later that year, Nick's book was finally published under a pseudonym to critical acclaim, but I never took any of the credit for it, neither did anyone know that it was me who had organised its publication.
I kept Jeff's name as Peter Pan in the stories, I didn't have the heart to change Nick's writings, and I wanted to keep the real Neverland as a secret, I suppose.
More years passed, and Kurt and I moved out of the flat and went to live back in the old orphanage, for Mr Schuester had passed away, and Mrs Schuester could not run it alone. We looked after the children there, just as they had done for us when we'd been younger, and we continued to do so even after Mrs Schuester had died as well.
Kurt and I were forced, due to a lack of space, to sleep in Nick's old room. I always felt strange sleeping there, for it was as though Nick was still there in many ways. He wasn't, of course, but it still felt like it.
One day, Kurt returned from the tailors with a rather surprising piece of news; he was making a suit for a man who knew Private Evans. It turned out that they'd been talking in the shop and the topic of the war had been brought up. Apparently this man also served but in a different regiment, but he mentioned Evans several times.
"What was his name?" I asked.
"Something unusual," Kurt replied, "I can't quite remember, but I feel that it was something almost mythical?"
"Mythical?" I asked.
"Maybe I didn't put that right," he said, "I seem to think it was similar to a Shakespearian character, which was quite possibly mythical; I don't really know."
He never did remember what the man's name was.
Kurt and I lived through another war together, and while the orphanage was undamaged, the house next door was flattened almost completely. It was a miracle that no one hurt in the incident.
Since we had so many children in the orphanage with us, Kurt and I had to have two Anderson shelters built in the garden of the house. Every time the siren went off, we'd split the children into two groups and lead a group each into the shelters.
We sat in the cold together and kept each other's spirits up by taking card games with us; most of the time, though, we just tried to get some sleep.
The night that the bomb landed next door, we were taken out of the shelters by a group of wardens, led by one of the tallest people I'd ever come across, named Hudson. He helped us to navigate the rubble and the fire that was now surrounding the house and covering some of our garden; the windows in the orphanage had all been blown out, but that was the only damage we'd suffered.
The fire crew put out the fire in the next house before it had a chance to reach our property, and we were immensely grateful to them for that. Kurt and I even wrote them a letter to say thank you, and we received a reply from Station Officer Chang, one of the men on duty that night.
All of the children are gone from the orphanage now, and I live here alone. Kurt died a few years ago of a bad heart, and I miss him every day.
I still go to Kensington Gardens in the springtime, and I sit on the bench near where Jeff was playing the fairies. I look for those little creatures every now and again, but I never see them. I know why; I'm an adult, and fairies can only be seen by children.
They installed a statue of Jeff in Kensington Gardens a year after Nick's stories were published, and, with the influence of my old publisher, I decided on the place to put it. I chose the centre of the clearing where we had that picnic all those years before, and where it would not be far from the fairies, of course.
The statue doesn't really look like Jeff, for the boy depicted is much younger than he was, but it still represents him.
Sometimes I feel that statue needs a companion, and I wish I could commission one of Nick to be placed next to him, but that would require too many questions, and people would say that I was going mad in my old age.
Now, it's too cold to go to Kensington Gardens, and so I sit in bed and I read Nick's stories to myself all day. Sometimes, I turn on the television, but it is full of news on too many riots or other depressing issues, and I have to turn it off.
I have a nurse who visits every day, but she fixes me up with any medication and food, and then leaves me to my own devices.
"If you ever want to talk, Mr Anderson?" she always says, but I always turn her down.
I prefer to be alone with my own thoughts.
I still sleep in Nick's room at the orphanage, and it will always be Nick's room to me, no matter if I've slept in it for more years than he ever did.
Kurt and I always reminded the children of Nick, and told them to dream of Neverland. Some of them did, and some of them said that they saw him and Jeff, but they never really understood the significance.
Nick became the legend of the orphanage, but in truth he was nothing more than a small brunette who appeared in the children's dreams at night.
He was never seen properly by many of the children, and those that had met him had grown up a long time ago, and many either did not remember, or were no longer around to remember.
I've always remembered; I've never forgot.
It's getting dark early now, as winter approaches, and I sit inside all day. I just lay in bed most the time now.
Not too much longer now.
Nobody comes to see me anymore, only my nurse, and she's left early today because of a family wedding.
"See you tomorrow, Mr Anderson," she says as she leaves, and I tell her to have a good time at the wedding.
When she's gone I pick up my original copy of Nick's stories; it's so tattered and worn now that I've thought about having it rebound several times. I don't see the point in doing that now.
Not too much longer now.
I've just got to the bit when the child of the story is about to be flown away to Neverland, when something taps on the window.
I sigh in frustration because that old oak tree is always moving in the wind and hitting the glass.
The tapping happens again, but I keep reading because I can't be bothered to put on my glasses and see anything properly; I'm lucky that I don't need my glasses for reading.
The tapping ceases for a few minutes until a faint click catches my attention; I'm lucky that my hearing hasn't deteriorated that much either.
Trees don't make clicking noises; that is most definitely the lock on the window being opened.
I scramble for my glasses because I'm mildly panicking now; only a person could open a window lock, and I don't really want to be caught not being able to see if I'm about to be burgled. Though, if it is a burglar, then they've chosen the only occupied room in the house to break into, which I suppose is unfortunate for them.
I've just about got my glasses on when the window is thrown open and two figures drop onto the bedroom floor together. In the lamplight, I can tell that they're a lot younger than me, not even adults yet.
"Who is it?" I ask, reaching for the light switch, which I know it just above my bed.
The two figures jump and turn around as the room in bathed in light.
All three of us gasp at once.
Nick and Jeff are standing in front of me, looking barely a day older than they did the last time I saw them, but I do notice that Nick has gained a scar on his forehead; no doubt the remains of an adventure that they've had together.
"Blaine?" Nick whispers, reaching behind him for Jeff's hand, before taking one pace forward.
I duck my head and feel tears welling up inside.
The two boys understand immediately, and from the corner of my eye I see Jeff slip an arm around Nick and hold him tightly.
"What happened?" Nick asks faintly, "We were meant to come back in the summertime of…1915, I think it was." He pauses. "I guess we didn't, did we?"
I shake my head, and try a rueful smile.
"Nick," I say, "It's almost December, and you missed 1915 by sixty years."
Behind Nick, Jeff's mouth drops open in shock and he makes a small noise of shock.
"Time," he says softly, "Nicky, we forgot about the time."
Nick looks up at the blonde with tears in his eyes.
"Time works differently in Neverland," he repeats, before looking back at me. "Oh, Blaine, it's only been a year in Neverland, and it's been sixty here! Oh, Blaine, do forgive us!"
"I forgive you," I say instantly, "It's not your fault; anyway, Kurt and I didn't think that you'd be able to bear to watch us grow old."
There's a silence between us, before I speak again.
"I published your book, Nick," I say, "And they put a statue of you, Jeff, in Kensington Gardens; it doesn't really look like you, but it feels, in a way, as though it is you. And the children from the orphanage are all gone now, but Kurt and I made sure that they always dreamt of you two."
"We saw them," Nick says with a small smile, and then there is a silence again.
Suddenly, I feel a slight jolt.
"It's okay, Blaine," it's Jeff speaking now, and I know that he and Nick have come closer to me. "It's time for you to see Kurt again."
"Kurt?" I ask softly, "Yes, I'd like to see Kurt again."
"Take our hands, Blaine," Jeff says, and he takes my right one, while Nick grasps my left.
They tug slightly, and I feel as though I'm floating.
"Am I flying?" I ask quietly, but my voice feels different now.
"You're flying, Blaine," Nick reassures me.
"But I thought adults couldn't fly," I say.
"Look at yourself, Blaine," Jeff says, and I look down.
I'm seventeen again, I know it, and when I look over my shoulder, I get a shock.
I'm still lying in bed, I can see myself, but I'm also flying across the room towards the open window.
I open my mouth to ask what's happening when Nick beats me to it.
"Your soul lives on, Blaine," he explains, "And you're going to meet Kurt somewhere far from here."
I nod slowly; I think I vaguely understand what he's saying.
"Where is Kurt?" I ask as we leave the bedroom and fly out into the night.
"You'll see," Jeff says mysteriously, and I know that he is smiling.
"Can I at least have a clue?" I ask persistently.
Nick and Jeff exchange a secret smile above my head and Nick speaks:
"Second star to the right and straight on till morning."
And so our story ends as this, though Neverland lives on, and shall continue to do so while enough children dream of it at night.
For as long as Jeff Sterling, the boy who never grew up, and his band of friends, the Warblers, watch over the island, our dreams will be kept safe at night.
A/N: And that, my wonderful readers, is the end of this story :) I hope that you have enjoyed it, and that you will consider reading my new story, of which the first chapter has been posted and it is called On The Home Front :) Also, you can play spot the pirate with this epilogue, so I hope you spotted them all (including a very special appearance from one!) :)
There really is a statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, but it really doesn't look like Jeff at all! (The statue at St. Pancras station, however, does look like Riker from a certain angle!)
Thank you for reading, and please a review to tell me what you thought :)