A/N: Well I'm finally ready to try this out! It's been in the works for a while, and I've gained the confidence to post it! This is based off a role play with a darling friend of mine, and I'll have a lot of ideas that are simply mine as well as hers. This takes place in an AU of which Peter Pan is not Rumple's father (much as I loved the twist) and is indeed the boy that never grew up. Takes place in a different universe where Henry's life isn't needed for Pan's, but just his presence to keep the island and everyone on it alive. I hope you enjoy it!)
"What are you doing here?" It's the first thing Henry managed to blurt, his eyes wide and his limbs shaking. Despite the pasty white paleness of the boy's face, Peter could see the pure black hate in those normally soft hazel eyes.
The teenager wasted no time in launching himself through the window, and Henry wasted no time in scrambling backwards to put some distance between them. The boy searched for a weapon, and his hands clambered until he found a pencil. He hastily lobbed it at the teenager.
Peter blinked as the thing bounced off his chest. He looked almost amused. Before Henry could find something bigger to throw at him—or worse—alert any of his family, Peter struck out his hand and trapped Henry in a field of paralyzing magic.
The boy had the nerve to look apologetic as he paralyzed him. "Apologies Lad, but I couldn't very well have you making a racket now, could I?" He walked up to Henry, so he was standing in front of the lad. Henry couldn't say a thing, but his hateful eyes did all the talking.
Peter knelt down to the boy's level. "Will you be quiet if I let you go? If you don't I'll freeze you again." The twelve year old gave a hesitant nod. Peter instantly released him.
"What do you want from me?" Henry demanded, his voice shaking with frustration and panic. He never knew what he was wanted for. He was never told—by anyone. Peter dropped vague clues; something about his belief saving magic, and Neverland. Henry had trusted him, but then he found his family, his Dad, and all of Peter's lies came into light.
"Neverland is in danger without you, boy." Melodramatic as it sounded, it was true. And Henry only snorted, staring the teenager down dubiously. "I don't believe you. I don't believe anything you say. Why should I? All you ever did was lie to me."
"Not about everything," Peter said. As a response, he pulled the drawing of Henry from his pocket. The moment he handed it to the boy, it was crumpled, and hurled back into his face. His stomach twisted angrily and painfully as he un-crumpled it and shoved it back into his pocket.
"I lied to get you to stay with me. I lied so you'd never leave Neverland; so you'd give up believing people were coming for you. Everything I did was for Neverland though! I needed your help."
Henry glared at the older boy, hatred burning with every word he spoke. "Why should I help you? You took me from my family, you threatened my family, and you lied about everything—even about your own name!"
"It's not about just helping me," Peter began harshly, matching the boy's glare. "It's about the lost boys." He watched Henry's eyes soften, and he knew he found his weak spot. "And all of Neverland. It is a land that runs off belief; it's where our magic comes from. Without it, what do you think happens to us? We die, and all the land does too. I know you care about the boys. They never lied to you. They were your friends. You can't just let them die. They need you."
Henry's anger was undeterred and Peter summoned up a wilted, black thing. Peter held it out, and somehow Henry recognized it. "This is a Neverflower. You've seen them blooming in the jungle. A patch of them are beginning to wilt. It's because belief is dying. Magic is dying. We need you."
Henry hated Peter even more for trying to guilt him, because it was working. "You think I want to come back after what you did to me?"
Peter was obviously prepared for this. "I won't keep you, I promise. Neverland needs you to come and make frequent visits in order for it to live, but you don't have to stay there." At this revelation, rage lit up in the kid's eyes.
"Why did you imprison me then?" Henry demanded, and Peter growled. They weren't getting any where like this.
"The island, the boys need you." He looked desperate, holding his heart sincerely. "Henry, lad, I promise I'm not going to keep you prisoner. I'll take you right back in the morning. We just need you to come see us. If you don't believe me, the boys will make sure I take you back."
Henry glared at the teenager, because he could see that familiar, sickening look in Peter's eyes. "And you're going to force me to, aren't you." The teenager's eyes glinted threateningly.
"I have magic."
Henry wasn't at all surprised, but it didn't make him any less angrier. "If you were going to force me to go with you anyway why did you ask if I wanted to come?"
"To see if you'd come willingly."
Henry weighed his options. There weren't many of them. Peter was intent on making him go with him, and he had magic and could paralyze him. He could even hurt him. Henry thought of the boys, and that's what made him look up at the older boy.
"You don't have to force me with magic. I'll go willingly." Peter's grin was impossibly wide, until Henry said the next part. "But on one condition, and one condition only."
"And what's that, Henry?"
The boy's eyes narrowed with hate and disgust. "That I never have to see you again."
Peter's eyes widened, and he felt a stab of hurt even though he had no right to feel it. "I have to come get you every night though."
"Fine," Henry said. "But that's it. You take me to Neverland, to the boys, and leave me. I don't want you to ever talk to me or try to spend time with me. I don't want you to look at me."
Peter felt his chest tighten and his mouth formed a hard, cold line. "Fine."
"I did not!" Peter gaped, affronted by the accusation. As a response, Henry held up the arrows he had shot. The rods had clearly been replaced with weak, spindly little twigs, and had snapped the moment they hit their target. Peter could hardly contain his laughter, stomach shaking.
"You should think about replacing those arrows, boy." He laughed harder when Henry tossed down the arrows and then proceeded to storm off in a huff. His laughter ended abruptly when Henry left him, disappearing through the swinging branches of the bushes.
Peter sighed as he pursued, the smile still on his face despite the fact it was starting to turn guilty. He forgot how much Henry hated cheating. It was just a little joke. "Lad, come on. I was playing. Henry-" He cut off as the branches were suddenly pulled aside and Henry emerged, triumphant looking. Peter wondered why until he realized two of the oldest boys were with him.
"What by the gods?" He stepped back with a yelp as one of them tossed a small stone at him. He glared. "Wells!"
Wells and Hunter smirked as they backed their leader up. Henry just grinned because he knew his friend wasn't in any real danger. "Heard you've been cheating again, Pan." They approached him with their swords and clubs and took deliberately slow swings that they knew the boy could avoid.
"I merely livened up the game," Peter began, yelping as he was very lightly clubbed upside the head. "Ouch!" He tumbled backwards out of target range and used it as a chance to summon up his own sword in a flash of magic. He clashed it against the boys' swords with a playful sneer. "You don't want to start this with me, lads."
He tried to be angry, tried to snap at them, but it was Henry's evil smirk that wore him down to laughter as he wrestled with his oldest lads, and eventually found himself on his back with the swords mockingly pointed at him. "I give, I give!" He stared wide-eyed at the sharp points, and the boys smirked and withdrew. Peter scowled at Henry's victorious little smirk as he pulled himself up off the ground.
"You told on me."
"You cheated," Henry grinned a cheeky grin that only he could get away with when it came to the devious teen. "Someone had to put you in line."
"I'm the leader, you insubordinate boy! No one gets to put me in line!" But he was smirking through that poorly fabricated angry scowl.
The two boys shared a smile that had become a more frequent thing as the months and many nights went by. The first terms of their deal were long forgotten by now. Henry's hatred was unyielding for a while; until he found Peter alone in a tree one night, when there was a party going on below and the night was cold. No one should be alone in that, Henry knew.
"I'm surprised you didn't just try to fly or something," Henry told his friend, and was surprised by the way he stiffened. "With pixie dust or something? Pan?"
"Pixie dust has been in short supply, unfortunately," Peter said. "Not entirely sure why. It's been concerning. As you know, it's my only means of getting to you."
Henry stared at him. "So how am I supposed to get to Neverland now then?"
Peter didn't say anything for a moment, obviously thinking. Then he made his way to a tree of all things, and knocked something down. An acorn rolled to Henry's feet, and Peter scooped it up. The boy dragged a hand over the small nut, and golden light dappled down on it.
Henry gazed down as his friend gently pressed the acorn into his hand. It glowed a golden hue for a brief moment, and then it faded. He pocketed the thing, failing to notice the miniscule crack in it. "An acorn? Is that what's supposed to solve the transportation problem?"
"A charm, actually," Peter told the lad. "It's enchanted. It has the ability to travel to one land, and the land that it's connected to. It'll take you to Neverland when ever you want." His expression became more solemn. "You'll need to come frequently, or Neverland will be in quite a state without you."
Henry nodded in understanding, although he didn't really understand it at all. Peter told him bad things would happen if he didn't frequently visit Neverland, but he never specified. Henry was beginning to wonder if he even knew what the outcome would be.
"But why do I have to come here? You always come to get me."
Peter nodded. "I know, but I can't for the time being. It's probably for the best anyway; it was only a matter of time before one of your family members woke up and found me in your room, or you gone. Surprised they haven't. Then again, your family sleeps like rocks."
Henry rolled his eyes and gazed down at the charm. It wasn't glowing anymore. "So how do I use it then? Do I need magic to do it?"
Peter shook his head. "All you need is your truest believing heart." He must not have phrased that well enough because Henry quirked a playful grin.
"So what do I do then, just fuse it with my heat or something?" Peter smirked.
"No, you simply believe. Just imagine yourself in Neverland, and you'll be there."
Henry looked at his friend, his expression rather stunned and a little warm. "You trust me to come back on my own?" It had been nearly four months now since Peter had hiked himself through his window that one night, and Henry knew without a second thought that he'd always keep returning to Neverland. The fact the boy trusted him though said a lot. Henry wasn't about to let him down either.
"Well I suppose I'll have to," Peter said, expression tight. "Because I have no other alternative. But I know what the boys mean to you, and what Neverland means to you. You wouldn't abandon them."
Henry nodded earnestly. "You're right, I wouldn't."
"Now..." The older boy grinned and gestured back to the jungle, where the makeshift targets were still waiting with the bows on the ground. "Shall we get back to our match? I've only hit two bulls-eyes so you still have a fair shot."
Henry raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, I'd probably have a better shot if you'd stop replacing my arrows with joker ones."
Henry sighed as he tossed his backpack by the door. He knew he was late coming home, and Peter was gonna be mad. Henry wouldn't be surprised if he already went home. He probably had. The boy sighed and prepared an apology for his lateness, which he hoped he'd accept.
Peter was glaring at him through the glass and Henry winced apologetically. "You're late."
The twelve year old pulled at the window, and groaned when he remembered his grandfather had fixed the screen from Peter having popped it right out one night. He wrenched at the sash, finally throwing it above him. He paid no mind to the glue as he moved to help his best friend in.
"Bet you'll be glad when you can use the door?" Henry teased as he moved to pull the older boy in. Peter only laughed.
"Entering by door is overdone," Peter scoffed as he hiked himself through the window. "And it's not often the way you let your enemies in."
"You're not my enemy," Henry reminded him warmly. Peter patted his back fondly, but he didn't smile. "I am your family's enemy though."
"Not for long!" the kid promised with a smile. "Once my family has seen that you've changed—you're better, and that you're not going to hurt anyone anymore, then they'll trust you. It might take time, but they'll give you a second chance."
The kid's unending optimism both frustrated him and lifted his spirits. "We'll see." He swung his other leg into the window and was stopped by an invisible force. The first thing Peter feared was some sort of magic barrier had been put up...but judging by the twitching grin on Henry's face, that wasn't what it was.
"Are you stuck in the glue?"
"Apparently," he muttered, and Henry laughed. The teen just scowled. "Stop your laughing and help me in!"
"On the count of three," Henry said, taking a gentle hold of his best friend's hands. He started to tug, grunting as the glue repelled against them. A few more tugs, and he nearly fell back laughing at Peter's frenzied comment.
"Wait, I think my pants are coming down!" He glared at the boy in the darkness as Henry only laughed harder. "Be quiet!" This day-night was getting off to a perfect start, he bitterly mused, yelping as his friend changed tactics and tried tugging him in by his collar instead.
"Do we count this as a bad omen?" Peter joked, half serious and half toying. It was the most sensitive night of "Operation Fox Ears"-as Henry so adorably named it-yet. It was supposed to be the night where they finally planned the big reveal of their friendship, having dropped dim little hints in the past few weeks. Emma was still looking for her leather jacket, that Henry didn't have the heart to confess had accidentally flown away in an attempt to scatter pixie dust. The family seemed blind to their little clues; Henry's drawings of Neverland, and the dust casually sprinkled about places.
"No, we count this as a little set back, but nothing that's gonna stop us." He pulled more at Peter's arms, but the glue was relentless in its grip, intent to keep the boy stuck to the windowsill.
"Well Lad, we could simply plan our grand scheme from the window here. The breeze is nice. ...Henry?" His friend didn't respond. "What is it, boy?" From his position, Peter wasn't able to see what was going on, but light poured in and stung his eyes. His eyes roved up, and a block of ice hit his stomach as his gaze fell on the frozen forms of Emma and Neal at the door.