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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28. Enchanted Forest

            In the evening, Kaelin, Gus, and Nova arrived at Cinderella’s house. It was a moderately-sized wooden house with a small stable attached to it. Its walls were gray, and its roof had dark brown, wooden shingles. Bushes, flowers, and vines grew close along the back wall, and the forest crowded into it on one side.

            “Good, no one’s around,” Nova whispered as they crept into the stable area, “Remember what I told you. Don’t let Cinderella’s stepmother or stepsisters see you—only Cinderella. I’m sure she’ll like you. Her fairy godmother said she loves animals.” She gave them an encouraging smile. “Think you can take it from here?”

            “I’m ready anytime,” Gus replied. Kaelin nodded.

            “Great. Watch out for mouse traps! If you need me, I’ll be nearby most of the time. Bye!” She waved to them and flew off into the night.

            Kaelin and Gus turned to the task before them. “Do you think we should go inside?” Kaelin asked.

            “I think we should, and I think there’s a way,” Gus replied, “There’s always a space small enough for a mouse to get into a house. You just have to know where to look.” He scampered up to the wall on all fours and poked his nose into the corner formed by the wall and the ground. Kaelin joined him, and they began systematically inspecting the base of the house.

            “How long have you been a mouse?” Kaelin questioned him casually.

            “Well, I lose track of time like this, but maybe five years,” Gus replied, “You?”

            “Something like forty,” Kaelin mumbled.

            Gus stopped, turning to her in disbelief. “Did you just say forty? That’s impossible!” he exclaimed.

            “All I know is, I watched my brother grow old,” Kaelin said.

            Gus returned to sniffing the wall. “Goodness, I feel like a kid,” he muttered.  

            Kaelin wasn’t sure what to say to that, since she rather felt like a kid too around him. She focused on their task for a while. Then, after a few minutes, she cautiously asked, “What…what made you want to become a mouse?”

            Gus laughed wryly. “You think I wanted it? No, it was dark magic that happened to me. I sort of…made a mistake around Rumpelstiltskin, and poof! I was a rodent. My parents weren’t quite sure what to do with me after that, so I decided to go make my own way. Learned the secrets of being a pest.” He winked back at her.

            Kaelin was beginning to understand why the Blue Fairy had sent Gus along with her. Even though she had been a mouse longer, Gus seemed to have far more practical, mousey know-how than she had ever picked up in her years with Geppetto. Kaelin had never had to conceal herself, break into a house, or sneak food out of the pantry. Geppetto, Francesco, and Sofia had always known about her and had taken care of her.

            “So, since you asked me that, I’m assuming that you actually wanted to become a mouse,” Gus observed, “What made you want to become a mouse?”  

            “I wanted to…get away from somewhere,” Kaelin replied quietly, “And be with someone.”

            “Hm.” Gus nodded. “Vague.”

            “Maybe I’ll tell you more about it later,” Kaelin said.

            Gus paused beside a crack in the wall. “I’m going to see if I can squeeze in here,” he told her. Wedging his nose into the crack, he sucked in his belly and began wriggling through. His green, pointed cap fell off in the process. For a moment, it seemed that his haunches were stuck, but then they slid into the crack too. The tip of his tail vanished into the shadows. Then his paw stuck back out through the crack. “Can I have my cap back?” came his muffled voice from inside.

            Kaelin picked up the cap and handed it to him.

            “Okay,” Gus said in a businesslike manner, “I’m in the walls now. I’m going to see if there’s a way inside from here. Are you coming?”

            “Of course,” Kaelin said. She squeezed through the crack after him. It was a little easier for her to get through, but at the very end, a corner of her dress got caught on a splinter, and it tore. “Aww, my dress!” Kaelin moaned. It was a little blue one that Sofia had made for her.

            “Rule number one of being a pest,” Gus said, “You can’t worry about keeping your clothes neat and clean.”

            Kaelin bit her lip, ashamed of having complained about it. She followed Gus through the narrow passage. It was almost pitch black, and cobwebs got caught in her whiskers, but she was able to follow the sound of Gus’s paws. Suddenly, the paws stopped. Kaelin stopped too. There was a very dim sliver of light falling into the passageway.

            “I smell cheese,” whispered Gus. The narrow light flickered as he stuck his nose into the crack.

            “I don’t think you can fit through that one,” Kaelin remarked.

            “Not yet,” Gus returned. He promptly began gnawing on the wooden wall.

            “Wha—Shouldn’t we look for another way through first?” Kaelin protested.

            Gus spat out some shredded wood. “Why? There’s food through this one.”

            “I’m sure Cinderella will give us some food.” Having lived in Geppetto’s workshop for so long, Kaelin hated the thought of anything wooden being ruined.

            “If Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters are as bad as they sound, I doubt they give her very much food, and they certainly won’t give her cheese to share,” Gus reasoned, spitting out more splinters, “Instead of burdening her with our hungry mouths, we should take food directly from the pantry. And from all the smells, I think it’s safe to assume that this is the pantry.”

            Unable to argue, Kaelin reluctantly stepped up and began helping him. Back in the workshop, she had needed to gnaw on the wood shavings from Geppetto’s carving to keep her front teeth from growing too long, so she knew how. They were done in a matter of minutes.

            Gus surveyed their work proudly. “This, my friend, is our own front door,” he said. Then he promptly squeezed through into the pantry.

            Kaelin followed him and found him already digging morsels out of a big wheel of Swiss cheese. “Shouldn’t we be looking for Cinderella?” she said. Gus turned around, but he couldn’t reply because his cheeks were stuffed with cheese. He nodded, then hopped down to her, offering her a piece of cheese. Kaelin accepted the gift and ate it slowly, marveling at what a classic mouse Gus was. Maybe he was acting like this intentionally.

            Silently, they crept toward the door of the pantry, which was cracked open slightly. Warm, flickering firelight shone through it. As they reached the opening, Kaelin hurriedly finished her cheese, and Gus swallowed what was in his mouth. They peered through into what appeared to be a plain dining room with a kitchen attached. There was a wooden table sitting on a patterned rug in the center of the room. It was covered with a white tablecloth and had four chairs around it. Farther back, Kaelin could see cupboards, counters, an oven, and a washbasin. The fireplace was nearer to them, up against the wall to the right of the table.

            On the stone floor in front of the fireplace sat a thin, teenage girl. She had her back turned to them, listlessly drawing patterns in the ashes with one finger. She wore brown, roughly-spun rags and had a plain scarf tied around her blonde hair.

            “It’s Cinderella,” Kaelin whispered to Gus.

            “No doubt,” he replied, “Are you going to go out and meet her?”

            Kaelin nodded. Though she was a bit nervous, she wanted to be the first to meet Cinderella. Silently, she slipped through the door and crept toward the girl. As she drew nearer, Cinderella happened to look around and notice her. Her pale, thin face and blue eyes registered quiet surprise. Carefully, she turned until she was facing Kaelin. Resting the back of one thin hand on the floor, she reached toward Kaelin. “Hallo,” she whispered, “It’s all right…don’t be afraid.”

            She had added the last phrase because Kaelin had shivered visibly, but Kaelin hadn’t shivered because she was afraid. She had shivered because suddenly, in Cinderella’s clear eyes, she had seen a defeated soul. It was like looking into a mirror or a portal to the past. Kaelin could remember that feeling of being shattered, and though she had tried to leave her time at the orphanage behind, her experiences there were still a part of her. Gently, she padded up to Cinderella and climbed into her palm. Standing up on her hind legs, she looked into the girl’s blue eyes.

            Cinderella unexpectedly blinked back tears. “Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked shakily.

            “Because I know how you’re feeling,” Kaelin replied softly, without thinking. Perhaps it was better this time that she hadn’t thought before speaking.

            For a few moments, Cinderella stared at her in astonishment. Then she said, “You can talk! But…what do you mean?”

            Kaelin didn’t know how to answer this. She shuffled uncertainly. “My name is Kaelin Mouse,” she said instead, “And…I’m here to help.”

            “My name is Ella,” she replied, “Or—Cinderella. It’s a nasty nickname I’ve been given, but I respond to it.”

            “I think it’s pretty,” Kaelin replied, “But I can just call you ‘Ella’ if you like.”

            “Well, if you think ‘Cinderella’ is pretty, maybe it’s not so bad,” Cinderella said, smiling. Then she looked up, mild surprise in her face again. Kaelin turned around and saw that Gus had approached and was standing nearby.

            The dark-furred mouse swept off his cap and bowed gallantly. “And my name,” he said, “is Gustave. I’m here to help too.”

            Cinderella’s smile grew, and she allowed him to climb onto her other hand. “Can I call you ‘Gus’?” she asked.

            Gus spat a little in frustration, but he quickly regained his composure. It had probably just looked like a sneeze to her. “Yes, milady,” he said.

            “Oh, none of that,” Cinderella laughed abashedly, “You make me feel like a princess!”

            “We’ll do more than this to make you feel like a princess,” Gus boasted, “We shall be your own personal butler and handmaiden!”

            Cinderella giggled at his antics. “Thank you both so much for appearing tonight,” she said warmly, “You don’t know…I was sitting here, thinking about…” her brows knitted together and a look of horror passed through her eyes, “…thinking about throwing myself into the fire…And then you appeared, Kaelin—and you, Gus. If you hadn’t come, I might have done it. I would do anything to get away from here.”

            Kaelin squeezed one of Cinderella’s fingers with her paw, her heart suddenly burning with the desire to help this girl somehow. “We’ll stay with you,” she said, “And maybe we’ll find a way to get you out of here.”

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