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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14. Enchanted Forest

 

            The carriage ride to the orphanage was long. Kaelin stared silently out the window the whole way, unable to feel anything anymore except a dull, throbbing grief. Every mossy tree that passed took her farther away from her home and from Jiminy. Farther, farther, farther. The last person who really cared about her was sinking farther into the distance.

            Kaelin didn’t even think about what the orphanage would be like. She was too busy replaying all her memories in her mind. They came back to her in a jumble, out of order in time. Her mother. The rainbow path. Meeting the cricket. Four Feet. No Feet. The grumbling, old watermill. Going on that quest with Jiminy had been a beautiful experience, but did it all matter now? In the end, they had not reached their goal. It had all become meaningless.

            The carriage stopped for the night, and Kaelin slept, covering her ears to block out the noise of crickets in the woods. When the sun peeked over the horizon the next morning, they set out again. By sunset, they arrived at a large, plain, wooden shack with many windows.

            The orphanage was uncreatively built: a huge rectangle with two floors, divided into various rooms. On the lower floor, there was a reception, a dining hall, a kitchen, a storage closet, and a few bedrooms for the workers. On the upper floor, there was one, big bedroom for all the children. Behind the building, there was a dry, featureless yard with two, small outhouses. Still, being used to simple settings, Kaelin didn’t mind the plainness of the place at all.

When the man who had brought her from the village signed her in, the woman behind the desk hardly glanced at her. Then the woman led her through to the dining hall, lecturing her on the orphanage rules all the way. Kaelin was still too distracted to hear anything she said, but in any case, she had always been a good, quiet girl, so she didn’t have any fears that she might break the rules.

The woman left her alone almost immediately, and Kaelin stood looking around the empty dining hall, wondering what to do next. She saw through the windows that there were kids playing outside. Not wanting to meet any of the other children, she went to the corner, sat down, and leaned her chin on her knees. She wasn’t going to cry again. In fact, she didn’t even know if she would ever be able to cry again. Right now, she just felt empty.

After a while, the back door opened, and a little boy came in. The boy was about Kaelin’s age, maybe little younger. He had slightly curly, black hair and earnest, black eyes. As soon as he saw Kaelin, he walked up to her and held out his hand for her to shake. “You’re new here, aren’t you? What’s your name?”

Reluctantly, Kaelin stood up and took his hand. “I’m Kaelin,” she replied.

            “I’m Geppetto,” the boy introduced himself, “I’m pretty new here too, so maybe we can be friends.”

            Kaelin looked up in surprise at the name. “Geppetto,” she repeated. A tiny light of hope began to burn in her chest.

“Yeah, I know, it’s kind of unusual,” Geppetto said with a sympathetic grimace, “But I like it. It’s my name, after all.”

            “Yes, it’s nice,” Kaelin responded absently. Jiminy Cricket was looking for Geppetto. As long as she remained here with Geppetto, she might someday see him again. For the first time since Jiminy left, she smiled. “Okay, let’s be friends.”

            Geppetto smiled back a little. Despite his simple friendliness, he seemed sad. Kaelin knew why, too. She knew what had happened to him. But then, she was sad too. Surely everyone here was sad.

            “So, what do you wanna do?” Geppetto asked.

            “I don’t want to do much of anything right now,” Kaelin admitted, shuffling her feet.

            “I could show you my rocks game,” Geppetto offered, “I don’t really feel like doing much either, but this isn’t much.” Kaelin agreed silently, so he led her out through the back door, slipping around the corner of the building as though he didn’t really want to be noticed by the other kids. Most of the kids were playing ball or running around, and though a small part of Kaelin wanted to join them, she didn’t feel like running at all.

            Geppetto stopped just around the corner and sat with his back to the wall. There was no grass here, but the dusty ground looked like it had been purposefully smoothed out. Geppetto drew a large circle in front of him with a twig and invited Kaelin to sit facing him. Then he reached into a crevice under the building and brought out several smooth rocks. He scattered them inside the circle.

            “So this is what you do,” he began, picking up the only black rock in the circle, “On your turn, you have to toss this up,” he threw the rock into the air, “And get as many other rocks as you can before it comes down—and you have to catch it.” As he was speaking, he scrambled for rocks with one hand, then caught the black rock as it came down. “I only managed to get two,” he said, showing her the rocks he had, “But you get to keep the rocks you get on your turn. It gets kind of harder when there are less rocks in the circle, but whoever ends up with the most rocks wins.” He handed her the black rock. “You try it.”

            “I’ve played something kind of like this before,” Kaelin said, “It wasn’t exactly like this, but it was kind of like it.” Concentrating very hard, she tossed the black rock up and grabbed three others while it was in the air. However, when she tried to catch it, it bounced out of her hand.

            “Oh, you don’t get any rocks if that happens,” Geppetto said regretfully, “But…you can keep those if you want, since it’s your first time.”

            “No, I’ll play by the rules,” Kaelin returned proudly, scattering her three rocks back in the circle.

            “Your choice,” Geppetto said. He held out his hand for the black rock. “Okay, it’s my turn now.”

 

 

 

 

            There are two types of people who work in orphanages: those who really do care about children, and those who only do it to gain the admiration of others. The workers at Kaelin’s orphanage were unfortunately of the second type. Even on her first day, she was being scolded for things she didn’t even know were wrong, so as she lay in bed that night, she had an awful premonition about what life would be like there.

            Before her mother’s death, Kaelin had been a determined and hopeful girl, but in its aftermath, in the overwhelming shame of believing it to be her fault, the workers’ emotional abuses only served to solidify that notion. She lost hope, and in losing hope, she lost her determination. When a person, especially a child, is told over and over again, every day, that they’re troublesome, and lazy, and disrespectful, and senseless, then they start to believe it regardless of any evidence to the contrary. They become either withdrawn and timid, as was the case with Kaelin, or they become angry and resentful, like what happened to Geppetto.

            Geppetto and Kaelin immediately became best friends, and they stayed that way. They did everything together. They played together when they had the chance, and they worked together (for there was so much work the children had to do). Some days, they would hide together to escape the wrath of one of the workers. Some nights, they would stay up whispering until they were caught and whipped. When one or both of them was unfairly punished, they would cry together. Often, when Kaelin was being shouted at for dropping something or forgetting what she was supposed to do, Geppetto would jump in and shout back, receiving a whipping for it every time. Kaelin saw his resistance as strength, because all she could ever do was endure the abuse with shame. She admired him for it. Geppetto, however, didn’t admire himself for it: he was a gentle person at heart who longed only for love and family.

            It was almost a year before Geppetto and Kaelin felt ready to talk about what happened to their parents. One night, when they were secretly staying up late, Kaelin told him about her mother and the shadow curse. She told him about how she had gone to Rumpelstiltskin for help, and then about her failed quest to obtain stardust. However, she left out the part about Jiminy selling her the fake medicine, and she didn’t mention that a cricket had joined her in her quest. She held back, waiting to see what Geppetto would say.

            Geppetto replied that his parents had died of a curse too, and he went on to describe the incident. It was just as Jiminy had described it, except from Geppetto’s perspective. Geppetto didn’t understand that why that man—who had seemed so kind—had turned his parents into puppets. He didn’t even know the man’s name.

            “Sometimes, when I remember that moment, I think he looks sad,” Geppetto recalled, “But…I feel so betrayed. I hate him. If I ever saw him, I would…well, I don’t know what I would do.”

            Kaelin was afraid to tell Geppetto everything she knew about Jiminy Cricket, but she replied, “You know, it might’ve been an accident.”

            Geppetto shook his head. “Maybe, but even if it was, I don’t think it would change anything.”

            “I think he must feel very sorry about it,” Kaelin said gently.

            “I doubt it.”

            “But if he did…would that change anything?”

            “I don’t know,” Geppetto sighed, “Every time I think about it, I get angrier. It’s his fault I’m in this awful place. I don’t know if I could forgive him, even if he was very sorry.”

            “It’s only my fault that I’m here,” Kaelin murmured, lowering her eyes.

            Geppetto looked at her out of the corners of his eyes, still somewhat sulky. “Don’t say that. You’re the best, kindest person here, and I’ll protect you no matter what.”

            “Thanks, Geppetto,” Kaelin said with a shy smile.

            Except for Kaelin’s friendship with Geppetto, living in the orphanage was one, never-ending nightmare. She was constantly afraid and ashamed, she had to get up early and stay up late, and food was scarce. Often, she was sent to bed without any supper because of some reason or other. The orphanage workers took the best of everything but still complained about the accommodations.

            The one thing Kaelin looked forward to besides playing rocks with Geppetto was her dreams. In her dreams, she escaped to a beautiful world: the world of the past. Sometimes, she would dream that she was with her mother, doing those things they always did together: cooking, playing hide-and-seek, going to the market…Those dreams were as real to Kaelin as if she were actually living them. When Kaelin woke up from those dreams, it was like being painfully torn out of a better reality. Then there were her dreams of riding Four Feet and No Feet At All, and of climbing the rainbow. Those dreams seemed like a fleeting illusion, but Jiminy Cricket was always present in them. Kaelin still thought about Jiminy every day.

            In fact, as the years went by, Kaelin began to associate her hope of Jiminy’s return with her hope of being delivered from this place. She felt that, if Jiminy would just appear, she could somehow escape this nightmare. Some nights, she would stay up very late, staring out the window at the stars and listening to the crickets chirp. She would strain her ears and search the dark forest outside, hoping and hoping that he would be there. He never was. 

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