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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22. Enchanted Forest

 

            The years that passed in Francesco’s workshop were, to Kaelin Mouse, painful in a wholly different way than her years in the orphanage. Geppetto proved himself to be a quick leaner at woodworking, and he was soon doing real work as Francesco’s apprentice, taking on more and more responsibilities. However, the presence of puppets in the workshop created problems for both Geppetto and Jiminy. It was a constant reminder of what had happened between them so many years ago.

            Geppetto was serious and calm before Francesco—which often frustrated the old woodworker, who was a merry and eccentric soul. Not understanding the reasons behind Geppetto’s fear of puppets, he would sometimes tease Geppetto with them just to get a reaction. Geppetto remained silent and refused to say a word to Francesco about his past, but he wept silently at nights. For long hours, he wept, and sometimes he raged against Jiminy Cricket.

            Jiminy was faring even worse. While Geppetto at least had success in his career, Jiminy simply sank to deeper and deeper levels of shame. The sight of the workshop’s puppets caused him to have nervous breakdowns. It had been worthless, worthless to become a cricket, he would say. He still could do no good, and worse, he no longer knew what his conscience was telling him.

            Kaelin felt completely helpless as she watched her friends fading away. She didn’t know what to say to them, and she was too weak to do anything much. All she could do was be present, and she didn’t know how her mere presence could do anything when her words and actions failed her entirely. She sat on Geppetto’s shoulder, but couldn’t help with his work. She listened to Jiminy, but couldn’t give advice. She was supposed to be the strong one, but she cried as much as Geppetto and broke down as often as Jiminy.

            One night, overcome with frustration at her helplessness, Kaelin chewed through the puppets’ strings. The puppets—which seemed to cause Geppetto and Jiminy so much grief. She hated them. But Francesco blamed Geppetto and was angry with him. Kaelin, under solemn orders from Geppetto not to speak in front of other people, was unable to defend him. Geppetto falsely confessed to clipping the strings, keeping his “pet mouse” from getting in trouble, but later he was angry with Kaelin. Understanding that Kaelin only wanted to help, his anger melted into confusion, which again melted into tears. Kaelin felt she had made a horrible mistake. However awful doing nothing was, it was better than doing something.

            One winter, when Geppetto was 22 years old, Francesco’s heart failed, and he died. It was expected. From the day they met, Francesco had been training Geppetto to take over the workshop when he died. He had been very old even then, and Geppetto was an investment in his trade. During those four years, Francesco had grown rapidly weaker, and this winter was harsh. Despite all these warning signs, Francesco’s death came as a terrible shock to Geppetto. He had begun to think of the old man as an odd father or grandfather, so losing him was, in a way, like losing his parents all over again.

            Taking over the workshop, however, came quite naturally to Geppetto. Because of Francesco’s failing health, he had already taken over most of the responsibilities. All that was left was to claim ownership. That was quite easy to do, since Francesco’s will contained only two sentences: “Give the workshop to Geppetto. And don’t squabble.” The will made Geppetto laugh with tears in his eyes—it was so like Francesco. Once he had ownership of the workshop, however, he burned all the puppets. Though he hated them and wanted to get rid of them, he couldn’t watch as they burned. Something about it was like burning his parents, and that was too horrifying to think of.

            Finally, when Geppetto was 27, a light came into his life. That light warmed Kaelin too, and it even reached Jiminy with the happiness it spread. That light was Sofia.

            On that day, Sofia came bouncing into the shop like a ray of sunshine, her basket slung over her arm and her apron dirty from work. Her round, smiling cheeks were freckled and burnt with sun, and her brown eyes twinkled under long, dark lashes. Clearly a peasant woman, she was almost in her 30’s as well and worried about becoming an old maid. Yet Geppetto loved her instantly. She took such an interest in Kaelin that she almost forgot what she came for. Then she talked all the while as she picked out wooden cups and plates, placing Kaelin on her shoulder as though she was her own pet mouse.

            “Thank you, come again soon,” Geppetto ventured as she paid for the dishes. Sofia gave him a warm smile and the little giggle she gave everyone. She narrowly remembered to put Kaelin back on the counter before leaving.

            Sofia did come again soon, just to visit. She seemed fascinated with quiet, gentle Geppetto. Though she did 90% of the talking most of the time, Geppetto soon found that she could listen too. They began spending more time together, taking walks in the woods. When Geppetto finally worked up the courage to tell her he loved her, they began to talk about deeper things. Geppetto told her what had happened to his parents. He had never spoken to anyone but Kaelin about this before. He even mentioned Jiminy by name, but he never told Sofia about the cricket who had appeared 7 years later. After a time, he even told her all about Kaelin, how they had grown up together. He still left out the part about the cricket, however, simply saying that Kaelin had been turned into a mouse to escape the orphanage. Sofia, who had seemed in love with Kaelin since the moment she laid eyes on her, loved her even more after that. Kaelin was allowed to talk to Sofia then, but Geppetto wouldn’t allow her to mention Jiminy.

            A year after they first met, Geppetto asked Sofia to marry him. Sofia joyfully said yes, and they were engaged. In the weeks leading up to their wedding, Geppetto became increasingly excited at the prospect of having his own child. He wanted daughter, but Sofia wanted a son, and they laughed at how opposite that seemed. In the end, however, it didn’t matter to Geppetto whether they would have sons or daughters or a mix of both. All he wanted was his own, big family with lots of children. Sofia did too.

            Kaelin admired Sofia to no end. She envied the way the cheerful, bustling farm girl made Geppetto joyful again—more joyful, perhaps, than Kaelin had ever seen him. Sofia’s presence also gave Kaelin more time to spend with Jiminy. When the two wanted to take a walk alone together, Kaelin would leave Geppetto and go to Jiminy. Dear Jiminy. He was at last allowing himself to forget his guilt at times. The puppets were gone, and Geppetto was happy. Things were beginning to look up.

            Geppetto’s and Sofia’s first great grief together came after they were married, when they discovered that Sofia was barren. Though they tried time and time again to have a child, not one child came. Geppetto was crushed. His dreams seemed to slip through his hands. Yet he never once thought about leaving Sofia. Sofia was his dear wife, his true love, and she was as saddened as he was. She had always wanted her own son.

            With no baby to mother, Sofia turned to mothering the small, sweet creature who scampered around the workshop in a dress: Kaelin Mouse. She was well aware that Kaelin was her own age, but that didn’t change the fact that she was adorable. On warm, spring days, Sofia would go out into the woods and gather all the nicest berries to blend into a sweet juice. She would put some juice in a thimble and give it to Kaelin, who always shuttled it off to her hole in the wall (which had moved to another room since Geppetto’s marriage). Sofia thought this a funny, mouse-like habit, but in truth, Kaelin was secretly sharing the juice with Jiminy. Geppetto still warned Kaelin to keep Jiminy Cricket a secret. He knew if Sofia learned about Jiminy, she would pressure him to forgive him.

            One day, however, Sofia saw Jiminy despite all efforts to keep him secret. Kaelin had just run off with a thimble of juice, but this time, Sofia unexpectedly followed and peeked into the mouse-hole. Upon seeing Kaelin with a smartly-dressed cricket, she cried, “Ooh! Look who’ll be marryin’ next!” Laughing, she held out her hand to Jiminy, and he had little other option but to hop onto her palm, holding his umbrella under his arm. “Aren’t you a dapper little fellow!” Sofia said warmly, “And the little umbrella! How sweet! What’s your name?”

            “Archie Cricket,” Jiminy muttered, trying to meet her eyes but failing.

            “And are you little Kaelin’s fiancé?”

            “I-I wouldn’t say that,” he stammered.

            “Ooh, well you two are perfect for each other,” Sofia said. She picked up Kaelin as well and carried them both to the sitting room.

            When he saw his wife sitting on the sofa, holding both Kaelin and Jiminy, Geppetto looked momentarily distressed, but he immediately tried to hide it.

            “This is Archie Cricket,” Sofia introduced him proudly, “Your future brother-in-law.”

            Geppetto let out a scoff.

            “Forgive me,” Jiminy begged, turning to him. There was more in that “forgive me” than simply, “forgive this awkwardness”.

            Sofia patted the sofa beside her, and Geppetto reluctantly came and sat down. He seemed to understand from the name “Archie” that Kaelin and Jiminy had still done their best to respect his wishes.

            “You understand, don’t you,” Geppetto began, poking at the cricket, “That you would need my permission to marry Kaelin? I’m her brother.”

            Sofia laughed.

            “I have no intention of marrying her,” Jiminy said hurriedly.

            “Of course not.” Geppetto poked him again, and he stumbled backwards.

            “Geppetto! You’ll hurt him!” Sofia scolded, snatching Jiminy away, “Honestly! I’ve never seen you do something like this before!”

            “Sorry,” Geppetto mumbled, “It was a mistake.”

            After that, Sofia fully accepted Archie Cricket into the family, and Geppetto was unable to argue. He did his best to tolerate Jiminy’s presence, but when Sofia was away, he urged Kaelin to keep Jiminy out of his sight as much as possible. Jiminy was also uncomfortable in Geppetto’s presence because he knew the woodworker still hated him, but Sofia made him happy nonetheless. Sofia made everyone happy.

            Years passed, and Sofia and Geppetto grew older. Geppetto’s hair turned white and Sofia’s turned silver, and wrinkles began to form in his thin cheeks and at the corners of her eyes. Their friends liked to joke that Sofia was eating all the food and leaving none for Geppetto, because as he grew thinner, she became plumper. This made Sofia laugh merrily, and when Geppetto saw she wasn’t offended, he allowed himself a little chuckle too. They still longed for children, but the hope of that had passed them by.

            Then came the illness. It started as a little, dry cough in the back of Sofia’s throat. At first, no one was worried, but the little cough persisted, dragging on for over a month. Then the cough worsened, and Geppetto sent for a doctor. When Geppetto explained Sofia’s symptoms, the doctor looked concerned. However, he simply prescribed some herbs and lemon tea with honey, and he told Geppetto to keep watching her condition.

            Sofia began to lose weight. Breathing became difficult for her, and the cough seemed to come from deep in her lungs now. At last, the doctor took Geppetto aside. “I’m sorry to say this…” he began, “And I had hoped I was wrong, but this could be consumption.”

            Geppetto trembled at the word. “Is there no cure?” he pleaded.

            The doctor shook his head regretfully. “None that we’ve discovered,” he replied, “The herbs will help her cough, but…we can’t stop the illness itself.”

            And so, Geppetto, Kaelin, and Jiminy had to watch as Sofia grew thinner and thinner. Breathing was increasingly hard for her, and her cough grew continually worse, rattling in her lungs. Her skin became pale and mottled. Even through all this, she remained her cheerful, optimistic self, telling Geppetto not to mope around so.

            When Sofia coughed up blood, they sent for the doctor again, but all he could tell them was that she was in the last stages of the disease. They had best make her comfortable.

            On the day Sofia died, Geppetto wept like his heart would break. Kaelin closed her eyelids with small paws, and Jiminy chirped softly for her. Gently, without words, Geppetto accepted Jiminy. He would no longer be angry. Sofia wouldn’t have wanted him to stay angry.

            After the funeral, Geppetto went home and took the finest wood from his workroom. Sitting down, he began to carve intently, working late into the night. As he whittled away at the wood, a boy’s face with a long nose began to take form.

            “What are you making?” Jiminy asked.

            Geppetto looked at him with burning, dark eyes. “I am making a puppet.”

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