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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30. Enchanted Forest

            Living in Cinderella’s pantry with Gus was entirely different than living in Geppetto’s workshop with Jiminy. Here, Kaelin was a secret—a precious secret to Cinderella, but a secret nonetheless. She became nocturnal, since it was easier to come out at night than during the day and not be seen by the stepmother and stepsisters. As soon as the stepsisters went to bed, Kaelin and Gus would come out and do whatever they could to help Cinderella with her remaining chores. There wasn’t a great amount of physical help they could offer because they were so tiny, but their presence was enough for Cinderella. She talked to them constantly while she worked. There wasn’t anyone else for her to talk to.

            Kaelin found it difficult to understand Cinderella’s stepmother and two stepsisters. From inside the walls, she could hear them shouting and screaming at her all the time. The sound petrified her and made it nearly impossible for her to sleep, but she had to endure it because Cinderella needed her. She also couldn’t let Gus know how little sleep she was getting, because he could sleep soundly through practically anything. But why all this shouting? Cinderella was far beyond shouting back, but no matter how she responded to them, it was somehow disrespectful. Cinderella seemed to bear almost all the work in the household, and yet they still told her she was more trouble than she was worth. Why treat her like that? Did they resent having to care for her that much?

            Had the orphanage workers resented having to care for Kaelin?

            At times, Kaelin wanted to believe that her situation had been exactly the same as Cinderella’s was now. Yet didn’t Cinderella still do a good job in her work? Kaelin believed she had been shouted at all the time because she actually had not been able to do anything well—perhaps all the shouting at her had been justified. She was wary about comparing herself to Cinderella.

            Still, Kaelin could compare herself to Cinderella enough to understand what she was feeling. She had an empathy deeper than anything Gus could have, though Gus was also indispensable because of his flawless ability to make Cinderella laugh. Long ago, Kaelin had learned to appreciate the healing power of laughter. She had seen it lift Geppetto out of a very dark place when laughing Sofia had come into his life. Now she was seeing its magic again as Gus restored life to Cinderella’s eyes.

            Even so, when Cinderella needed someone to cry with—someone to really understand—she would turn to Kaelin. Very soon, Kaelin discovered that she didn’t have any answers, but she also found that she didn’t necessarily need answers. A tiny hug on Cinderella’s shoulder was enough.

            Often, Cinderella had to mend clothes. This soon became Gus’s and Kaelin’s primary way of helping. To Kaelin’s surprise, Gus was an expert at sewing. Kaelin had sewed a bit as a child, but she had long since forgotten it. Gus taught her how again, and he taught her far more than a simple stitch. Often, after they were mended, Cinderella’s stepmother’s and stepsisters’ clothes looked better than before. “My father was a tailor,” Gus explained, “He had always wanted me to take over the family business, so he taught me how to measure and sew from a very young age. After I became a mouse, though, it was obvious that I couldn’t take over the business. There’s not a customer in this world who would buy a vest or a dress from a small rodent, no matter how well-made it is.”

            Kaelin laughed because Gus had obviously meant this to be funny, but she could sense a sadness behind his words. He really seemed to enjoy sewing. Surely he was disappointed that he would never own a tailor’s shop.

            Whenever they had a break from mending the stepsisters’ clothes (which the girls seemed to tear on purpose to give Cinderella more work), Gus and Kaelin would turn to mending Cinderella’s clothes. This was a greater challenge, since her clothes were nothing but rags, but Gus liked a challenge. He always seemed to know the exact most efficient way to use leftover scraps of fabric. Before long, Cinderella’s dresses didn’t look half-bad.

            In a new house with new friends and a new life, Kaelin had thought she might be able to stop thinking about Jiminy and Geppetto sometimes. Not that she wanted to forget them—she certainly didn’t want to forget them—but she hadn’t expected to miss them continually like this. Even with everything else going on, they were always in the back of her mind—especially, she had to admit, Jiminy. Kaelin comforted herself with the thought that she would see them again, but when? When would she see them again?

            After about a month of missing them, Kaelin received word from Nova that Jiminy was out traveling. The Blue Fairy had sent him on an errand to meet seven dwarves and a young woman who was wanted by a certain queen. At that point, Kaelin didn’t know much about the politics of the land, but she did know that the queen Nova referred to was not a good queen. As for Kaelin and Cinderella, they lived under a different king and queen. However, they were not too far from where Jiminy was now. He was coming to visit in about one week.

            Hearing this, Kaelin went into a state of constant excitement and anticipation. She was practically counting down the hours until his arrival. Now Cinderella and Gus could meet Jiminy! Surely Cinderella would like him. And Gus? Maybe Gus and Jiminy could become great friends. Kaelin would love to see that happen.

            Kaelin had talked to Gus about Jiminy before, so now she told him all about the planned visit. Gus grinned. “How would you like to make your cricket friend a special present?” he suggested.

            “What did you have in mind?” Kaelin asked curiously. She loved the idea.

            “I was thinking something along the lines of a handsome outfit,” Gus replied, “A hat, perhaps. And a cloak.”

            “Oh, will you teach me?”

            “Of course!”

            Thus, whenever she had free time that week, Kaelin concentrated on learning how to sew a little hat and cloak. Fortunately, there were some scraps of matching, heavy brown fabric for them to work with. Gus showed Kaelin how to make a pattern, and she cut out the pieces. Then he showed her how to put the pieces together—and, for the hat—how to make a frame—and she did the stitching. The result was a little top hat with holes for Jiminy’s antennae and a short, brown cloak. Just to be fancy, Gus had Kaelin thread something into the cloak’s collar to make it stiff, and he had her sew a in a short, white pseudo-vest. They used red ribbon for the cloak’s tie.

            Once they were done, Kaelin surveyed their handiwork and beamed with delight. She hoped Jiminy would like it. Surely he would be surprised.

            The next evening, while Cinderella was finishing sweeping the kitchen for the night, Kaelin heard a single, bell-like chirp from the back door. She ran to Cinderella. “I think he’s here!” she reported excitedly, “He’s at the door! Will you open the door for him?”

            Cinderella leaned her broom against the counter and went to the door. She put her hand on the doorknob. Kaelin held her breath and fidgeted because maybe Jiminy wasn’t there. Maybe it was just an ordinary cricket. However, when the door cracked open and a familiar, dark green face appeared—with a familiar smile on the funny, layered mouth—Kaelin squeaked with joy. She ran to Jiminy on all fours, then stood up and hugged him. “You’re here! You’re really here!” she cried.

            Jiminy laughed and hugged her back. Then he looked up at Cinderella. “You must be Cinderella,” he said.

            “Yes,” she replied, kneeling down to be as close to his level as possible. She smiled.

            Jiminy bowed to her, fluttering his wings a little. “I’m happy to meet you.”

            “Kaelin tells me you’ve been her friend nearly all her life,” Cinderella said.

            “Oh, I-I—” Jiminy stammered, with an abashed laugh.

            “Thank you for letting her come. She and Gus have been very kind to me.”

            Jiminy looked surprised. “Gus? Who’s Gus?” He hadn’t noticed the other mouse in the room yet.

            “That would be me,” Gus replied impressively, sidling forward.

            “Oh—a-another mouse…” Jiminy said, and Kaelin was confused to see his antennae droop a little. He sounded strangely disappointed.

            “My name is Gustave,” the mouse introduced himself, holding out a paw for Jiminy to shake, “I’m glad to make your acquaintance.”

            Jiminy forced himself to perk up again and shook the mouse’s paw. “It’s good to meet you too, Gustave.”

            Kaelin might’ve let this pass, but Gus looked so pleased with himself that she couldn’t help it. “But we call him ‘Gus-Gus’ around here,” she added.

            “And we call her ‘Suzy’,” Gus avenged himself as calmly as he could, nodding his head toward Kaelin.

            “Y-you have nicknames for each other…?” Jiminy faltered, sounding oddly sad again.

            Before Kaelin could reply, Cinderella jumped into the conversation. “Jiminy, how are things back at the workshop?” she asked, “Kaelin has told me everything about your friend Geppetto, and poor Sofia, and now Pinocchio.” Kaelin had not, in fact, told her everything. She had left out the part about Geppetto’s long-standing grudge against Jiminy and the reason behind it.

            “Ah, well…Geppetto really has his hands full,” Jiminy replied, and something in his tone told Kaelin that things weren’t going as well as they had hoped, “Did—did Kaelin tell you that I’d been assigned as Pinocchio’s conscience?” He glanced over at Kaelin.

            “She did,” Cinderella said.

            “Well, I’m a poor excuse for one,” he said, mumbling a bit, “He won’t listen to me.”

            “As I understand it,” Cinderella began, “People can choose to listen to their conscience or not, and it’s not the conscience’s fault if they don’t. I don’t think the problem is with you.”

            Kaelin nodded in agreement, wishing she had thought of that.

            “Yes, but you should’ve seen me try to explain the concept of right and wrong to him,” Jiminy argued with a nervous laugh, “I thought it would be a relatively simple concept to explain, but then I realized that there are some things that look right on the surface which are actually wrong, and some things that look wrong which are actually right—if you examine them more deeply. I’m afraid I completely failed when I tried to explain that.”

            “What you said just now makes sense to me,” Kaelin remarked.

            “Well, I didn’t say it like that to Pinocchio. I’ve had time to think it out by now.”

            “I’m sure you’ll get better with practice,” Cinderella assured him, “It just takes experience.”

            Jiminy smiled. “That could be. Thank you.”

            Kaelin bit her lip, feeling a little displaced by Cinderella and trying not to feel that way. Then she felt a claw tapping on her shoulder. She turned to find Gus there, carrying the hat and cloak they had made for Jiminy. He bundled them into her arms, then turned her back around as if to tell her now was the time to give them to him. Kaelin brightened up a bit. “Jiminy!” she said.

            Jiminy looked at her, and she padded forward a few steps with the cloak in one hand and the hat in the other. She tried to hold them in such a way that they would look as nice as possible. “I made these for you,” she said shyly, “With—with Gus’s help, that is—but only because I was just learning. I-I hope you…like them…”

            “Really? For me?” Jiminy laughed. He fluttered the rest of the way to meet her, taking the hat and admiring it. “This is really nice!”

            “Well, as I said, Gus helped me—”

            “Go ahead and take the credit, Suzy,” Gus put in, shoving her shoulder teasingly. He turned to Jiminy. “She did all the snipping and stitching—and with needles and scissors that were far too big for her at that. I only showed her how to put it together.”

            “It was for you, so I was just being especially careful…wanted to do something special…” Kaelin mumbled.

            Jiminy put on the top hat, carefully inserting his antennae through the little holes. Then he held out his claws for the short cloak. Kaelin gave it to him, and he tied it around his shoulders, straightening the collar carefully. “How do I look?” he said.

            Kaelin pressed her paws to her cheeks and lowered her nose a bit. “Oh, you look wonderful,” she said, hoping that her blushing didn’t show in her ears.

            Gus tilted his head to one side and examined Jiminy critically. “It’s good, but it doesn’t go with your black coattails,” he remarked, “I think you’ll have to wear either the cloak or the coat—not both together.”

            Jiminy twisted to look over his shoulder at the coattails. Then he took off the coat. “How’s this?” he said.

            “Now, that works,” Gus decided.

            Jiminy stayed for the rest of the night, telling Cinderella stories from the workshop and from his travels, for she was thirsting to hear about the outside world. When dawn came, however, he said goodbye again and took his leave of them.  

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