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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10. Enchanted Forest

            Kaelin thought she felt something poking her cheek. She squeezed her eyes more tightly shut and tried to brush it away, but it persisted. Then she heard an urgent, familiar voice: “Kaelin…Kaelin!”

            Opening her eyes with a gasp, Kaelin sat up abruptly. For a moment, the world seemed to be spinning around her, and she didn’t know where she was. Then she realized she was sitting in the wet grass beside a small, wooden house. The house was in a village. Looking around a little more, she understood that she was sitting there beside her own house. For a moment, she felt a horrible sinking in her stomach as she wondered if her entire quest had been a dream. But, then, that didn’t make sense. She wouldn’t have gone to sleep right outside her house instead of in it.

            “Kaelin,” came the urgent whisper again, and Kaelin looked down quickly to see a dark green cricket.

            “Archie!” she gasped happily, picking him up and hugging him as well as one could hug an insect. She held him out in front of her. “What happened? I…” Her memories from the past few days were slowly coming back to her, but they were still foggy, like memories of dreams. “The rainbow!” she gasped, “We made it! But, I…I couldn’t…” Horror slowly enveloped her, and she shook at the realization that she had failed. “I couldn’t reach the star. I fell. But how did we get here?”

            “Can’t say I’m entirely sure,” Archie replied, “When you passed out, we started sliding down the rainbow, and I held on to you. But the farther we slid, the more sleepy I became, and…I’m sorry, Kaelin, I couldn’t keep from falling asleep. When I woke up again, we were back here. I think there must’ve been some kind of enchantment on the road to protect against unwanted visitors—if you start falling, you end up back at your home.”

            “But I fell, because…because I didn’t take a rest when you told me to, and I got too tired. I failed…” Big tears started to form in Kaelin’s eyes.

            “No, listen Kaelin—we didn’t fail,” Archie said eagerly, “Look.” He held out one three-fingered, little hand, which was closed in a fist. When he opened it, a beautiful, tiny light glimmered from his palm.

            Kaelin caught her breath. “That’s—”

            “Right. It’s stardust,” Archie confirmed proudly, “Right before you fell, I was able to touch that star. It’s only one speck, but—that’s enough, isn’t it?”

            Kaelin nodded, speechless with happiness. She held out her hand and let Archie drop the speck of stardust into her palm. She stared at it with wonder. The light that emanated from the speck of stardust was like the light of the stars themselves: so gentle and lovely, yet so cold and piercing. It was perfection and purity incarnate.

            Suddenly, there was a flash, and the speck of stardust disappeared from Kaelin’s palm. With a cry, she leapt to her feet. “What happened?”

            “Just claiming my deposit, dearie,” sang a bright, reedy voice from behind her. Kaelin whirled around to see Rumpelstiltskin standing there, the stardust gleaming from between his fingers.

            Archie fluttered up and landed on Kaelin’s shoulder. “That’s not yours!”

            “Oh, yes it is—just ask her! We made a little exchange.”

            “You got help from Rumpelstiltskin?” Archie asked her in horror.

            “He was to claim at least one speck of stardust,” Kaelin muttered, clenching her fists at her sides.

            “That’s right! A little payment for my…advice!” He said the last word with a gesture like a joker, rolling his big eyes up toward the sky with a grin. He let out a little giggle.

            “But I need that,” Kaelin pleaded, “I truly do. I was only able to get one. If I can’t have that one, my mother will…” She swallowed hard, trying to fight back tears.

            “Not my problem, dearie,” Rumpelstiltskin sang, “Unless, of course, you want to make a real deal with me for this speck of stardust.” He held a hand under the gleaming speck, which was pinched between his thumb and finger.

            Kaelin stared at him, terror settling over her as she tried to make a decision. What should she do?

            “Don’t make a deal with him, Kaelin,” Archie urged her in a whisper, “Please. Whatever happens, it will be much, much worse in the end of you make a deal with him. You can’t do it.”

            “But my mother…” Kaelin faltered.

            “Your mother—” Archie suddenly covered his eyes with his hands, shaking his head. “Oh, Kaelin…I-I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s right.”

            Rumpelstiltskin spoke up with a grimace, pointing toward the window. “Sorry to interrupt this little moment, but…you’d better make your decision fast. Mama’s almost gone.”

            “T-take the stardust!” Archie stammered, changing his mind.

            Kaelin took a step toward Rumpelstiltskin, but fear suddenly overwhelmed her. “No…” she shuddered, “No, I…I’m scared! I can’t!” her shudder rose into a scream, and she suddenly burst through the door of the house. “Mama!” She ran to the bedside and fell to her knees beside her mother. The sight was horrifying. Her mother seemed to be made all up of wavering darkness, except for her dark, graying face, and the thin hand she reached out to Kaelin.

            “Oh, sweetie…you’re safe,” she sobbed, “You made it back to me.”

            “I failed, Mama,” Kaelin wept, taking her hand and pressing it against her cheek, “I couldn’t save you.”

            “That’s all right, dear…as long as you’re safe. Oh, I’m so glad you came back. I thought I would never see you again.” Tears rolled down her face, disappearing in the shadow that was slowly encroaching upon it.

            “But I should have been able to—”

            “Shh.” Her mother gently placed her fingers over Kaelin’s mouth. “Kaelin, all I want is for you to live. I want you to be happy. You can do that, can’t you? Promise me you’ll be happy.”

            “I can’t, if you’re gone!”

            “No, you can. For my sake. Please, Kaelin, I need to know you’ll be happy, or else I can’t bear this.”

            Kaelin nodded. “Okay, Mama.”

            “That’s all I need…” Kaelin’s mother whispered. Then the shadow spread across her face and over her hand, and she evaporated into nothing.

            “Convenient,” came a mocking voice from the door, “No corpse to clean up.”

            Kaelin leapt to her feet and whirled around to face Rumpelstiltskin. “Get out!” she screamed through her tears.

            Rumpelstiltskin held up one hand defensively. Then he snapped his fingers and vanished.

            As soon as he was gone, Kaelin allowed herself to collapse on the hard floor, crying without hindrance. She wailed and sobbed and pounded her fists on the floorboards until they bled. Nothing, nothing could make this better. Every time her fist struck the hard wood, it seemed to say, your fault, your fault, your fault…

            If only she had listened to Archie and taken a rest before climbing the rainbow. If only she had made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to get back the stardust. Or perhaps she should have never gone to Rumpelstiltskin in the first place. She could have found out about the stardust from someone else—the Blue Fairy, maybe. She had been so close—so close—but because of her own, stupid mistakes, she had failed. Her mother was dead now because of her. It was unbearable.

            From somewhere far away, outside her own darkness, a faint, bell-like tinkle reached her. A cricket’s chirp. The sweet sound repeated and repeated, rhythmically, like a lullaby. Very gradually, the turmoil in Kaelin’s soul grew calm, and she sunk into sleep.

 

 

 

 

            Jiminy Cricket sat near Kaelin, rubbing his wings together gently to make his cricket’s chirp. He watched as she slowly became still and peaceful, and her breathing became even, but even then, he kept chirping. It was the only thing he could do to bring peace to her heart.

            Outside, Jiminy Cricket was still and calm, and his chirping remained steady, but inside, his soul was burning up with vicious regret. Kaelin’s mother’s death now weighed on his conscience as painfully as the deaths of Geppetto’s parents. Even though there was nothing he could have done, he still felt directly responsible. He had taken part in deceitfully selling Kaelin the fake medicine that had given her false hope. The thought of that moment made him so disgusted that he wanted to kill himself then and there, but he just kept chirping. It was the only good thing he could do.

            It wasn’t as if not selling Kaelin the “medicine” would have done anything to change the course of events. She probably still would have gone after the stardust, and she probably still would have fallen while she was reaching for a star. Yet now, because of him, she was penniless as well as orphaned. Maybe if he hadn’t been so indecisive when Rumpelstiltskin offered her a deal, maybe if he had urged her from the beginning to take the stardust…But even that might not have changed what happened.

            As he continued to chirp, Jiminy came to the realization that, what tormented him with guilt the most now was having not told Kaelin who he was. Kaelin believed he was some sweet, innocent cricket named Archie who had just happened to be on the fence that night. In truth, he was a sinner who had just been turned into a cricket, running from his parents and from his own guilt. He had hoped becoming a cricket would release him from that guilt and set him free to do good. For a while, he had even embraced his new identity as Archie Cricket as if it could make him a different person, as if he could really be just an innocent cricket who hopped out of the woods.

            Yet in reality, he was Jiminy Cricket, and Jiminy Cricket could not escape his past. Jiminy Cricket had continued suppressing his conscience and lying to Kaelin about who he was, afraid of what she would think. Maybe becoming a cricket had released him from his parents, but it hadn’t released him from what they had fashioned him to be. He was a liar and a cheat, acting against his conscience out of fear. 

            Night fell, and Jiminy kept chirping. His wings began to grow tired, and sleep tugged at him, but he forced himself to stay awake. He wanted to keep vigil over her, to continue bringing her peace with his lullaby. Part of him wished he was big enough to pick her up and place her in her bed, but that would mean not being a cricket. It was better to be a cricket. Even though Kaelin looked uncomfortable on the hard floor, she still slept. So long as she slept, she could escape her grief.

            During that long, dark night, Jiminy came to a resolution. It was a terrifying, horrible resolution, but his conscience confirmed that it was the only right thing for him to do now. He had to tell Kaelin who he really was. To tell her now, after all she’d just been through, seemed cruel, but she had to know the truth. If he had really wanted to spare her, he would have told her right away, and he would have let her continue forward on her own.

            After he told her, he would go away. He was sure she wouldn’t want someone like him to remain beside her. It hurt to think about leaving, and it hurt worse to imagine little Kaelin hating him, but at least he could still find Geppetto. He needed to go back to his original mission. Now, however, he wanted to watch over Kaelin one last time, so he kept awake, and he kept chirping. 

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