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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12. Enchanted Forest

 

            Kaelin awoke the next morning with a start, sitting up suddenly with a soft gasp. “Mama?” she whimpered, turning toward the bed. When she saw that it was empty, shock overcame her, and she let herself fall back on the floor again, staring at the ceiling. For a long time, she felt nothing. Then the grief hit her again, and she wept softly.

            A soft, sympathetic chirp sounded in her ear, and she turned her head to see Archie standing beside her, his three-fingered hands folded together.

            “Archie…” she said.

            “Are you all right?” he asked.

            “No,” she replied, looking back up at the thatched ceiling, “I don’t know what to do. It’s my fault.”

            “It’s not your fault,” Archie said, sounding distressed at this remark.

            “It is. If I had just rested before climbing up the rainbow like you told me, we could’ve gotten enough stardust, but I didn’t.”

            “She still could have died, even if you had rested,” Archie insisted, “Please, don’t blame yourself.”

            “I don’t know how not to,” Kaelin replied, “I was supposed to save her, but I didn’t.”

            “You couldn’t. You did everything you possibly could…It’s a lot for a young girl to bear.”

            Kaelin’s lips trembled. She sat up, then took Archie in her hands and hugged him. “Thank you,” she said.

            Archie didn’t respond. Holding him out away from her again, Kaelin looked at him. He was breathing quickly and seemed anxious. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

            The cricket took a deep breath. “Kaelin, I have something to confess,” he said.

            Kaelin shuddered a little with dread and pity. She knew something awful was coming and didn’t know if she could bear it now, but Archie looked so dejected. “Tell me,” she said gently.

            “I-I have a name, and it’s not Archie,” the cricket began levelly, looking everywhere but at her face.

            “Is that all?” Kaelin laughed a bit with relief.

            “N-no, I’m not finished,” the cricket said hurriedly, “My real name is…it’s Jiminy.”

            Kaelin gasped softly, but she wasn’t quite able to believe the thought that came to her mind. “Wait, you mean…”

            “Yes. I’m the same person who sold you that…medicine,” Jiminy confessed in a tone of utter dejection, his antennae drooping.

            “Jiminy!” Kaelin cried joyfully, hugging him so tightly he couldn’t breathe. “Oh—to think it was you all along! I don’t know if I ever got to thank you properly, and even though…Well, thank you! But how ever did you come to be a cricket?”

            At first, Jiminy was astonished and couldn’t respond, but then he realized that she still might not know that the medicine was fake. Though she had loosened her grip on him a little so he could breathe, he pushed against her shoulder, trying to get away. “Stop this,” he said, a catch in his voice, “I-I don’t deserve this!” He managed to tear free and fluttered down, landing in front of her. “You don’t know what I’m like!”

            “It’s okay,” Kaelin insisted earnestly, “It’s not your fault I had to pay so much for the medicine, or that it didn’t work. I could tell that you cared, and that was worth more than anything to me!”

            “It was rainwater,” Jiminy said.

            “…What?”

            “The medicine. It wasn’t any kind of mermaid-tears whatever. It was just rainwater. It didn’t cost us a copper coin to produce, and it wouldn’t have healed your mother even if she hadn’t been cursed.”

            “What?” Kaelin repeated, her voice beginning to shake.

            “That’s what my parents and I always did,” Jiminy forged on, speaking quickly as if he was trying not to think too hard about what he was doing, “We went from town to town, selling bottles of worthless rainwater for high prices, touting them as extremely rare and expensive medicines. That, and other scams like it. When I was younger, I would pick pockets for them too, while they performed our puppet show.”

            Kaelin stared at him in horror. “No, that can’t be true…”

            “Well, it’s true.”

            “You mean you didn’t really care? You were just pretending to care, so you could get more money?” Kaelin cried.

            “No! I-I mean, in some ways I did care, but not enough. It was awful, seeing that happen to you—taking part in it! But I was just so afraid of my parents. All my life, I had been under their power, stealing for them, but part of me always wanted to escape, to be free to follow my conscience. And—and yet, I couldn’t get away; I didn’t know how! So I went to Rumpelstiltskin.” Jiminy was shaking now, spilling out his story so rapidly that Kaelin was having trouble following along.

            “And Rumpelstiltskin turned you into a cricket?” Kaelin guessed.

            Jiminy shook his head miserably. “No, it was much worse. What happened with you…that was what finally pushed me to do something. I would do anything to get away from them. What Rumpelstiltskin gave me was…a potion. He told me to use it on my parents.”

            “You…wanted to kill your parents?” Kaelin faltered, and the betrayed tone in her voice was more than Jiminy could bear. This, it seemed, was far worse to her than anything he had said so far. Unable to endure the hurt look in her face, he squeezed his eyes shut and turned away.

            “I didn’t want…to kill them, necessarily,” he explained in a voice that was nearly inaudible with shame, “All I wanted was to get away from them. I didn’t know what the potion would do. The next day, we took everything from a young couple, selling them what we claimed was some sort of plague-fighting medicine. I don’t even remember what we called it. In any case, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I took the little bottle out of my pocket and splashed it on my parents. Nothing happened. Then my father laughed. He had always been good at sleight of hand—told me he’d switched my bottle with the one we sold to the young couple.

            “I ran back into the house to stop them from drinking the potion, but they already had. Kaelin, they’d…they’d been turned into puppets! As I stood there, their son—just a little boy—came in and saw them. I recognized the boy. I had met him the day we did the puppet show in your town. It was raining that day. The boy said my life must be wonderful, but when I admitted I didn’t like it, he said I could leave if I wanted. That was my first inkling that I could escape that life. The boy gave me his umbrella…it was the first time anyone had shown me a simple act of kindness like that.

            “But now, there stood that same boy, staring at me in horror as he realized that I had just turned his parents into…into puppets. He ran out of the house, and all I could do was go back to the carriage with my parents and continue along the road.

            “Later that evening, when we stopped for the night, I was standing out by the fence where you found me. Looking up at a bright, blue star, I wished with all my heart to bring the boy’s parents back. Then the star drifted down, and it was the Blue Fairy. She told me it was impossible to bring the boy’s parents back, but asked what I would do if I couldn’t do that. I closed my eyes and listened to the crickets’ chirping, and she understood. She turned me into a cricket so I could escape my parents, so I could find the boy—Geppetto—and help him as a way of making up for what I had done.

            “After the Blue Fairy left, I stood there alone for a while. That was when you came running out of the woods and fell down, crying. I recognized you at once and wondered if maybe your mother had died already. When I learned that she hadn’t, I wanted to help you too. But I was afraid to tell you who I was, because I thought you had already understood that the medicine was fake.”

            Jiminy finished his story with a heavy sigh, and Kaelin stared at him for a long moment, a tear running down her cheek. Finally, she mumbled, “You wanted to get rid of your parents…All I ever wanted was to save my mother, but…you wanted to get rid of yours…” Everything else he had said seemed overshadowed by this one, dark fact.

            Jiminy shuddered, and nodded. “I know you won’t want me by your side anymore, after this…but I wanted to be honest with you. I couldn’t keep lying…to you…to myself.” His last word went up in tone as if he was going to say more, but he didn’t, leaving tension hanging in the air. Slowly, he turned and walked away.

            Kaelin watched in silence as he walked up to an open window, fluttered through it, and disappeared without looking back. Trying to suppress the unspeakable pain rising up in her, she bit her lip until she tasted blood, then shuddered deeply and started to cry again. She didn’t want to see him again. And yet it hurt so much that he had left. All of this hurt. She wished none of it had happened. In that moment, she was angry at Jiminy Cricket, angry at herself, angry even at her mother for telling her to be happy. How could she ever be happy again when this was all her fault?

            For the rest of that day, Kaelin remained helplessly inside her house, not knowing what to do but cry. She paced all over, sometimes lying on the bed, sometimes on the floor, sometimes sitting at the rough, wooden table with her face in her hands. And over the course of that awful day, she slowly came to realize that she wanted Jiminy to come back. Whatever he had done, she would rather have him here than be all alone with her grief. At least he cared. He had always cared.

            That evening, as the stars began to come out, there was a knock at the door. Kaelin started in fear, but then she went to answer it. It was a few men from the village. “How’s your mum doing?” one of them asked sympathetically. He had a friendly, round face.

            “Sh-she’s gone,” Kaelin stammered in reply.

            “You mean she passed away?” asked another man in the group, who was tall with brown hair.

            “Yes, but she was cursed…she turned into a shadow,” Kaelin replied shakily.

            “You mean there’s no body?” the round-faced man asked with a frown, “When did she pass?”

            “Last night,” Kaelin admitted.

            “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” the tall man demanded, “And what do you mean there’s no body?”

            Realizing that he might be accusing her of killing her mother, Kaelin stared at them with wide, fearful eyes.

            “Peter! Just look at the lassie!” the round-faced man exclaimed reproachfully, “Just lost her mother—been crying all day, by the looks of it—and now you’ve got her all a-frighted!” He turned back to Kaelin. “Don’t worry, lassie. We won’t let you end up in the streets. We’ll send you off to an orphanage first thing tomorrow.”

            He reached for her arm, but she suddenly took a step back. No, she couldn’t go to an orphanage. That would mean losing every chance of ever seeing Jiminy again. The round-faced man made another grab for her, but she slipped past him and out the door, running with all her might toward the woods.

            “What are you doing?! Get back here!” the tall man shouted, but Kaelin kept running. She had to find Jiminy.

            For a time, she could hear her pursuers close at her heels. However, after dodging around a few houses, she managed to lose them. She sprinted from the town and into the shadowy woods. “Jiminy!” she screamed, “Jiminy!” She ran farther, calling his name, her white cotton dress tearing on the brambles. Yet there was nothing. No familiar voice responded. No umbrella-bearing, well-dressed cricket appeared in the bushes. Finally, too tired to go further, she fell to her knees in a small clearing, the pale moonlight shining down on her.

            “Jiminy!” she cried once more. There was no response. The chirping of hundreds of crickets echoed in the forest around her, but not one of them was Jiminy. A few, silent tears fell from Kaelin’s eyes. “Jiminy, come back…” she whispered.

            There was a snapping of twigs behind her, and the round-faced man who wanted to send her to an orphanage came crashing into the clearing. He seized her arm, grumbling something about how much trouble she was, and dragged her off back to the village. Kaelin allowed herself to be led away. Jiminy Cricket was gone. 

ne. 

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