Dreams of Stars (A Once Upon a Time/Jiminy Cricket fanfic)

This is a New Character fanfiction of "Once Upon a Time", and it's written to be parallel with the original show. It adds backstory to Jiminy and Geppetto.

I've added my own character to "Once Upon a Time"--the girl from this old English fairy tale, "The Stars in the Sky": http://www.essentia.com/book/stories/skystar.htm

In the Enchanted Forest, the little girl--named Kaelin--became friends with Jiminy Cricket in her quest to reach the stars. In Storybrooke, she's 17 and named Bridget, and she has to see Dr. Archie Hopper for her serious struggles with feelings of failure and lack of confidence.

Recommended for people who have watched "Once Upon a Time", but if you haven't, this might get you hooked on it. Just be careful--there are spoilers. ;)

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4. Enchanted Forest

 

            Kaelin’s mother was not better by the next morning, nor did her condition improve the day after that. In fact, it was only getting worse. At night, curled up in her scratchy, straw bed, Kaelin cried and cried. She had been so hopeful, but that hope had lasted only a day. The medicine hadn’t worked.

            But at this rate… she thought in terror, At this rate, she’ll… She couldn’t even finish her thought. It was too terrible. Restlessly, Kaelin sat up on her knees in bed and turned to face the glassless window. Leaning her arms on the rough windowsill, she rested her chin on her wrists and stared up at the sky. The night was mostly clear, with just a few, puffy clouds reflecting the pale light of the moon. The stars were out: infinite little specks of silver against the pitch-black, velvety sky. They were so deep, so perfectly beautiful.

            Stretching out into the cool night, Kaelin reached her hand toward the stars. She had always loved the stars. Some nights, they seemed right at her fingertips. Tonight, however, it felt impossible to reach them.

            Just like it felt impossible to save her mother.

            Kaelin began to cry again, and she didn’t try to hold back her tears. She knew her mother was dying. She would die very soon if Kaelin didn’t do something. But what could she do? Even the special medicine made of mermaid’s tears hadn’t worked. There was nothing left to be done.

            No, there had to be something. She couldn’t just give up. In the corner of Kaelin’s mind hovered a dark possibility. With a little shudder, she lay back down on her bed and pulled the quilts over her.

            There was someone who everyone went to when they had nowhere else to turn. There was one last resort, and he lived close by.

            Rumpelstiltskin.

            The Dark One’s mansion was only about a day’s walk away from Kaelin’s village. If she left early in the morning, she could go there, get help from him, and return by the following morning.

            But Kaelin was scared to seek help from Rumpelstiltskin. Every time he gave someone his aid, he made a deal with them. His deals were infamous. Everyone who struck a deal with Rumpelstiltskin ended up worse in the end.

            Maybe Kaelin wouldn’t make a deal with him. She could just go there to ask his advice. Perhaps he knew something about this mysterious illness that no one else knew. Clearly, the woman who had sold her the Mermaid-tear Elixir had been wrong about what it was.

            Though she was scared, Kaelin was desperate. She decided that she would go, at least, and then decide what to do from there.

            From the bed, Kaelin’s mother let out a soft moan. The sound pierced Kaelin’s heart. She couldn’t fail at this.

 

 

 

 

            At daybreak the next morning, Kaelin helped her mother to eat. Then she set up the last of their food and water on a small, low table at her bedside. She squeezed her mother’s thin hand. “Mama, I’m going on a short journey, to find help for you,” she said, “I’ll be gone all day, but I’ll be back soon, okay?”

            Her mother’s eyes opened slightly. They were a breathtakingly beautiful pale blue, looking like windows to heaven in her dark face. “Oh, my sweet, little girl,” she murmured weakly, “Why are you doing all this for me?

            “I just don’t want to lose you,” Kaelin replied, tears coming to her eyes again.

            “Please be careful, Kaelin. Be safe,” her mother begged, “Don’t put yourself in danger for me. I don’t want that.”

            “I’ll be safe, Mama,” Kaelin replied, “I’m just going to find someone to help you.” She paused, then leaned over and kissed her mother on the cheek. “Bye, Mama. I’ll be back soon.”

            Her mother smiled. “Yes. I’ll see you soon.”

            Not wanting to waste any more time, Kaelin shouldered a bag she had filled with a few apples and set out. The sun still had not quite cleared the horizon by the time she left the village, so it shed a beautiful, orange light across the mossy tree trunks. The forest here was so deep, and the trees were astonishingly tall. There wasn’t much undergrowth, but the forest floor was carpeted with dry pine needles, and gray boulders stuck out from the hills. Breathing in the fresh, morning air, Kaelin was able to forget her fear a little. Looking up toward the tops of the trees ahead of her, she drew strength from them.

            He wouldn’t hurt her, would he? Rumpelstiltskin never really hurt anyone outright—at least, not from what Kaelin had heard. He could only hurt her if she made a deal with him.

            She wouldn’t make a deal with him. She would find a way to save her mother by herself. With this resolution, Kaelin continued through the forest, looking straight ahead. No matter what happened, she would continue forward.

 

 

 

 

            A little before sunset, Kaelin arrived at the huge mansion. It towered above her, imposing and beautiful, and the closer she came to the high double doors, the more frightened she became. In front of the doors, she paused and took a deep breath. She hesitated, but then reminded herself once more that this was her last hope. Stretching up on the tips of her toes, she grasped the golden doorknocker and brought it down twice as hard as she could. Two great knocks echoed through the mansion.

            Stepping quickly back, Kaelin clasped her hands together and waited, trembling. Within moments, the double doors swung swiftly open, and a man stood there. He had chin-length, straggly, dark hair and wide eyes with unnaturally big, gray-brown irises. He wore fancy, dark clothes with wide sleeves. The strangest thing about his appearance, however, was his grayish-green, dark skin which seemed to be sprinkled with gold dust. When he saw Kaelin, he let out a shrill giggle, and his wide grin revealed uneven, grimy teeth.

            “What do we have here? A little child?” Rumpelstiltskin presumed in a high-pitched voice, “What ever could you want with me, dearie?” His manner was eccentric and sprightly, and when he spoke, he gestured expressively with his hands and head.

            Clasping her hands together all the more tightly, Kaelin summoned all her courage and looked him in the face. “My mother is dying,” she said, “And I need your advice.”

            “Advice? Is that all?” Rumpelstiltskin giggled, “I could cure your mother, dearie, but I’m afraid I give terrible advice.” At these words, he winced mockingly.

            “I don’t…want to make a deal with you,” Kaelin replied, trying to breathe deeply, “I just want to know what it is that’s killing my mother and what I can do to fix it.”

            “You mean you don’t know anyone else who could…tell you what it is?”

            “No. No one seems to know. There was one woman who thought she knew what it was, but the medicine she sold me didn’t work at all, so I think she was wrong.”

            Rumpelstiltskin clicked his tongue. “And so you came to me.”

            “She’s only growing weaker and thinner every day, but besides that, the doctors can’t find anything wrong with her body. And the strangest thing is, when she breathes out, a small, black cloud appears in front of her mouth. It looks a little like smoke, but…it’s not.”

            Rumpelstiltskin giggled shrilly again. “Why, that’s no illness, dearie,” he said, “What you’re talking about…is a curse!” He made a grand gesture with one hand.

            “A curse?” Kaelin gasped, “Who would curse her? She’s always so kind to everyone!”

            “That…I might be able to tell you,” Rumpelstiltskin said slowly, beginning to pace around Kaelin, looking her up and down. Kaelin shivered and kept turning to face him so that he wouldn’t be behind her. “What’s your mama’s name?” he asked suddenly.

            “Nycteris…” Kaelin replied cautiously.

            Rumpelstiltskin giggled, bringing his hands together and standing up straight. “Why, that makes it easy!” he declared, “I was guessing as much. You look just like her—but with your father’s eyes.”

            “How do you know about my parents?” Kaelin demanded.

            “Who hasn’t heard about them?” Rumpelstiltskin shot back. Raising a finger, he rolled his eyes up dramatically and declared, “Photogen annnd Nycteris! The ‘Day Boy’ and the ‘Night Girl’! Although I suppose they aren’t so well-known in these parts—not since Watho’s Castle was taken by the ogres.”

            Kaelin knew what Rumpelstiltskin meant by the castle being taken. It had happened six years ago, when she was four years old. In days which were already beginning to fade in her memory, she had lived in a castle with her father Photogen and her mother Nycteris. Her father had been a strong, jovial man with golden hair and striking, dark eyes. Her mother, in contrast, was gentle and quiet with dark skin, black hair, and luminous, blue eyes that were almost too large for her face. Everyone had always said they were like the sun and the moon—like the day and the night.

            Although they were not a king and queen, Kaelin’s parents had owned the castle and a great portion of land around it. Kaelin could still remember the beautiful gardens and woods around the castle, the caves behind it, and the river that flowed past it. There were servants in the castle and people living in a nearby village.

            Then, one day, disaster struck. Ogres had suddenly attacked their castle. Photogen, who had always been a wildly courageous hunter, was a skilled horseman, powerful with the bow. Together with his hunting men, he had rode out to fight the ogres, but they were outnumbered. Kaelin’s father was killed in that battle, and the castle was taken. Kaelin and her mother had barely escaped with their lives. Long they fled until they came to the village where they lived now, but there they had nothing and no one knew them. They had been barely able to make a living since then.

            There was only one thing Rumpelstiltskin had said that Kaelin was confused about. “Who’s Watho?” she asked.

            Rumpelstiltskin widened his huge eyes and looked at her with comic surprise. “Did your parents never tell you how they met?” he exclaimed, “About the wolf-witch who raised them?”

            “W-what do you mean?” Kaelin stammered.

            “Once upon a time, there was a Wolf named Watho,” Rumpelstiltskin began in an overdramatic, storytelling manner, “And by ‘Wolf’ I mean a person who changes into a wolf. But Watho was no ordinary Wolf—she could change at will, not just at Wolfstime. She was also a spellcaster, and she cared about little else than possessing knowledge. She used to own the castle where you lived. One time, she got it into her head to raise a girl in complete darkness but for a lamp—a girl who would be awake only at night. At the same time, she raised a boy in only light, barely letting a shadow fall on him and training him to be awake only in the day. It was a sort of experiment. She wanted to see how they would turn out. That was how your parents came to be, dearie. Long story short, Watho made the mistake of not guarding them enough, and they eventually met. They fled, but when Watho pursued them as a wolf, Photogen—the great hunter!—killed her with an arrow! That is how they came to possess the castle.”

            “How do you know all this?” Kaelin interrupted, distressed. In fact, she hadn’t known her parents’ past and wondered why they hadn’t told her. Maybe she had been too young while her father was still alive, and maybe after he died, her mother had been too grieved to talk about it. But for Rumpelstiltskin to know all about it while she had never known seemed awful.

            “Why, because Watho sought help from me with her little experiment,” Rumpelstiltskin explained, “She invested in a curse! To make her experiment more complete, she considered how day and night depend on each other and cursed Photogen and Nycteris to be the same way.” He was speaking in a sing-song voice now, using rhythmic gestures to emphasize the day-and-night contrasts he was making. “If night were to vanish, everything would be swallowed up in light. If day were to vanish, everything would be swallowed up in shadow. If the curse worked the way I designed it, then ever since your father died, your mother has slowly been turning into a shadow from the inside out—a terrible fate! By what you’ve described, the curse is in its end stages. She could be gone by the end of the week!”

            “No!” Kaelin cried, “No, you’re lying!”

            “What reason do I have to lie, dearie?” Rumpelstiltskin giggled.

            “You…” Kaelin faltered shakily, realizing that he was right, “But how…But there must be a way to cure it!”

            “Quite right!” he cried, “All curses can be broken!”

            “What do I need to do?” Kaelin pleaded.

            “All you need…” Rumpelstiltskin replied, “…is a bit of stardust. But that’s very hard to come by—you’d have to find your way up to the stars and take a bit of dust from one of them! Still, I happen to have a bottle of stardust.” He spread out his hands. “We could make a deal for it.”

            “No,” Kaelin muttered, “No deals.” It took all her willpower to say this, but she had decided that, no matter what, she could not make a deal with Rumpelstiltskin. “I’ll find a way to get to the stars myself.”

            “What an ambitious little girl!” Rumpelstiltskin cried, laughing, “How do you ever think you’ll get to the stars?”

            “I’ll find a way,” Kaelin repeated. She turned to leave, but Rumpelstiltskin stopped her.

            “Wait—” he began, grasping her shoulder, “You don’t think my advice comes free, do you? Just by coming to me, you made a deal to compensate me for my knowledge.”

            A horrible chill ran through Kaelin at his touch. “What do you want?” she asked.

            “As I said, stardust is hard to come by,” Rumpelstiltskin replied, “If my advice should yield results, and you do obtain a bit of stardust, you have to give some of it to me. At least one speck, but half the amount of stardust you obtain if you manage to get more than two specks.”

            “But what if—”

            “Even one speck of stardust will be enough to cure your mother, dearie,” Rumpelstiltskin interrupted her, “But I’ll take my compensation regardless.”

            Kaelin nodded, not looking at him. Then she abruptly pulled away and ran. Hearing his giggles behind her, she fled until even the mansion was obscured by the trees. Even when she felt she was too tired to go on, she kept running, leaving the path and stumbling through the forest. Her mind was reeling with everything she had just learned. It all fit. It explained why her father had been as lively as the day and why her mother was as sweet as the night. But to hear it now, all at once—and from Rumpelstiltskin! It was all too much.

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